III-1 Śrī Bhāshya | Rāmānuja | 2

Topic 2 - The souls descending from heaven have a residual Karma, which determines their birth

Sutra 3,1.8

कृतात्ययेऽनुशयवान्, दृष्टस्मृतिभ्याम्, यथेतमनेवं च ॥ ८ ॥

kṛtātyaye’nuśayavān, dṛṣṭasmṛtibhyām, yathetamanevaṃ ca || 8 ||

kṛtātyaye—On the exhaustion of (good) work; anuśayavān—possessed of residual Karma; dṛṣṭasmṛtibhyām—as is known from the Śruti and Smriti; yathā etam—as (it) went; anevam—differently; ca—and.

8. On the exhaustion of (good) work (the soul) with the residual Karma (descends to this earth), as is known from the Śruti and Smriti, along the path (it) went by (from here) and differently too.

The text declares that those who only perform sacrifices and useful works ascend by the road of the fathers, and again return to the earth when they have fully enjoyed the fruit of their works, 'having dwelt there yāvat sampātam, they return by the same way' (Kh. Up. V, 10, 5). The question here arises whether the descending soul carries a certain remainder (anusaya) of its works or not.--It does not, since it has enjoyed the fruit of all its works. For by 'anusaya' we have to understand that part of the karman which remains over and above the part retributively enjoyed; but when the fruit of the entire karman has been enjoyed, there is no such remainder. And that this is so we learn from the phrase 'yāvat sampātam ushitvā,' which means 'having dwelt there as long as the karman lasts' (sampatanty anena svargalokam iti sampātah). Analogously another text says, 'Having obtained the end of whatever deed he does on earth, he again returns from that world to this world to action' (Bri. Up. V, 4, 6).--Against this prima facie view the Sūtra declares 'with a remainder he descends, on account of what is seen, i.e. scriptural text, and Smriti.' The scriptural text is the one 'Those whose conduct has been good' (V, 10, 7), which means that among the souls that have returned, those whose karman is good obtain a good birth as Brāhmaṇas or the like, while those whose karman is bad are born again as low creatures-dogs, pigs, Chaṇḍālas, and the like. This shows that the souls which have descended are still connected with good or evil karman. Smriti also declares this: 'Men of the several castes and orders, who always stand firm in the works prescribed for them, enjoy after death the rewards of their works, and by virtue of a remnant (of their works) they are born again in excellent countries, castes and families, endowed with beauty, long life, learning in the Vedas, wealth, good conduct, happiness and wisdom. Those who act in a contrary manner perish' (Gautama Dha. Sū. XI, 29); 'Afterwards when a man returns to this world he obtains, by virtue of a remainder of works, birth in a good family, beauty of form, beauty of complexion, strength, aptitude for learning, wisdom, wealth, and capacity for fulfilling his duties. Therefore, rolling like a wheel (from the one to the other), in both worlds he dwells in happiness' (Āpast. Dha. Sū. II, 1, 2, 3). The clause 'as long as his works last' (yāvat-sampātam) refers to that part of his works only which was performed with a view to reward (as promised for those works by the Veda); and the same holds true with regard to the passage 'whatever work man does here on earth' (Bri. Up. V, 4, 6). Nor is it possible that works, the fruit of which has not yet been enjoyed, and those the result of which has not been wiped out by expiatory ceremonies, should be destroyed by the enjoyment of the fruits of other works. Hence those who have gone to that world return with a remnant of their works, 'as they went and not so'--i.e. in the same way as they ascended and also in a different way. For the ascent takes place by the following stages--smoke, night, the dark half of the moon, the six months of the sun's southern progress, the world of the fathers, ether, moon. The descent, on the other hand, goes from the place of the moon, through ether, wind, smoke, mist, cloud. The two journeys are alike in so far as they pass through ether, but different in so far as the descent touches wind, and so on, and does not touch the world of the fathers, and other stages of the ascent.

Sutra 3,1.9

चरणादिति चेत्, न, उपलक्षणार्थेति कार्ष्णाजिनिः ॥ ९ ॥

caraṇāditi cet, na, upalakṣaṇārtheti kārṣṇājiniḥ || 9 ||

caraṇāt—On account of conduct; iti cet—if it be said; na—not so; upalakṣaṇārthā—to denote indirectly; iti—thus; kārṣṇājiniḥ—Kârshnâjini (thinks).

9. If it be said that on account of conduct (the assumption of residual Karma is not necessary for a rebirth on earth), (we say) not so, (for the word ‘conduct’ is used) to denote indirectly (the remaining Karma). Thus Kārṣnājini (thinks).

In the phrases 'those whose works were good' (ramanīya-karanāh), and 'those whose works were bad' (kapūyā-karanāh), the word kāraṇa does not denote good and evil works (i.e. not such works as the Veda on the one hand enjoins as leading to certain rewards, and on the other prohibits, threatening punishment), for, in Vedic as well as ordinary language, the term kāraṇa is generally used in the sense of ākāra, i.e. general conduct. In ordinary speech such words as ākāra, śīla, vritta are considered synonymous, and in the Veda we read 'whatever works (karmāṇi) are blameless, those should be regarded, not others. Whatever our good conduct (su-karitāni) was, that should be observed by thee, nothing else' (Taitt. Up. I, 11, 2)--where 'works' and 'conduct' are distinguished. Difference in quality of birth therefore depends on conduct, not on the remainder of works performed with a view to certain results.--This prima facie view the Sūtra sets aside, 'not so, because the scriptural term Karaṇa connotes works; thus the teacher Kārṣnājini thinks.' For mere conduct does not lead to experiences of pleasure and pain; pleasure and pain are the results of works in the limited sense.

Sutra 3,1.10

आनर्थक्यमिति चेत्, न, तदपेक्षत्वात् ॥ १० ॥

ānarthakyamiti cet, na, tadapekṣatvāt || 10 ||

ānarthakyam—Irreievancy; iti cet—if it be said; na—not so; tadapekṣatvāt—on account of dependence on that.

10. If it be said (by such interpretation of the word ‘conduct’ good conduct would become) purposeless, (we say) not so, on account of (Karma) being dependent on that (good conduct).

But if conduct has no result, it follows that good conduct, as enjoined in the Smriti, is useless!--Not so, we reply; for holy works enjoined by the Veda depend on conduct, in so far as a man of good conduct only is entitled to perform those works. This appears from passages such as the following: 'A man who is not pure is unfit for all religious work,' and 'Him who is devoid of good conduct the Vedas do not purify.' Kārṣnājini's view thus is, that the Karaṇa of the text implies karman.

Sutra 3,1.11

सुकृतदुष्कृते एवेति तु बादरिः ॥ ११ ॥

sukṛtaduṣkṛte eveti tu bādariḥ || 11 ||

sukṛtaduṣkṛte—Good and evil work; eva—merely; iti—thus; bādariḥ—Bādari.

11. But (conduct) is merely good and evil work; thus (the sage) Bādari (thinks).

As the verb ā-kar takes karman for its object (Puṇyam karmā karati, etc.), and as the separate denotation (i.e. the use of apparently equivalent words, viz. ākar and karman) can be accounted for on the ground that one of them refers to works established by manifest texts, and the other to texts inferred from actually existing rules of good conduct; and as, when the primary meaning is possible, no secondary meaning must be adopted; nothing else but good and evil works (in the Vedic sense) are denoted by the word kāraṇa: such is the opinion of the teacher Bādari. This opinion of Bādari, the author of the Sūtra states as representing his own. On the other hand, he adopts the view of Kārṣnājini in so far as he considers such items of virtuous conduct as the Sandhyā--which are enjoined by scriptural texts, the existence of which is inferred on the basis of conduct as enjoined by Smriti--to have the result of qualifying the agent for the performance of other works.--The conclusion therefore is that the souls descend, carrying a remnant of their works.--Here terminates the Adhikaraṇa of 'the passing of works.'