Kaivalya Upanishad, Class 1


Swamiji started his teachings on Kaivalya Upanishad with an introduction. The purpose of the introduction was to summarize the main points of the Upanishad. Vedas, the primary scriptures, are classified as: 1) Vedapurvaha, meaning beginning portion of Vedas and 2) Vedantaha, meaning ending portion of Vedas.  Vedapurvaha deals with Karma or action or Karma-Kanda, also considered ritualistic portion of Vedas. The ritualistic actions are of different types, depending upon the instruments used. Thus, there are:

1)   Kayika Karmani: These are physical actions backed by words and thoughts. The many Yagas and Yagyas fall under this category.

2)   Vachika Karmani: Here physical body does not play a role. It is mainly spoken or oral activity. Chanting of Vedas, Parayanams including Nama Japam fall under this category.  Once it has the status of a Karma, it will also result in a Phalam, says Swamiji. This is reason all mantras have a Phala Sruthi.  Jata Patha, Samhitha (brahma samhita), Ghana Patha are all Vedic chants. Vishnu Sahasranama, Rudram , Shri Suktam, Saundarya Lahari are examples of chants that come under Vachika karmani. They all produce results for the chanter as well as for people listening to it.

3)   Manas Karmani: This is the third type of Karma. Here it is purely a mental activity, directing my thought to a field or an object. Chanting of mantras performed mentally becomes a Manas Karmani.  Nama Japam also can fall under this category. Puja is a ritual. However, when performed mentally it is also Manas Karma. The Mental Activities are of many types. In fact you can do an entire Puja or Sandhya Vandanam mentally; this is called Manasa Puja (mental ritual). Whatever you do physically, you can do the same mentally.   In Dhyana Shloka, when you visualize the Devatha, this also is Manas Karmani.  The Manas Karma also produces results. Thought makes me a Kartha; I also become the Bhoktha. Others may not know my thoughts. Here also the laws of Karma apply. Bhagawan knows our thoughts.

Manas Karmas are Upasana while other two (Kayika and Vachika) Karmas are not considered Upasana.

Thus, we have three Karmas: Kayika, Vachika and Manas.  All Karmas produce results. Every action has a reaction. The results are felt at the physical and moral levels. The Phalam goes to the person performing the Karma, the Karta.  At the end of each Karma, including Parayanam, there is a Phala Shruthi. By performing the Karma, you will get the phalam. There are three types of phalams. Depending upon the phalam we can choose the Karma to perform.

The three types of Phalams are:

1)   Upaadhi Prapthi. This deals with improvement of instruments of our own interaction namely body, mind and sense organs. Instruments are essential for enjoyment of ilfe. Thus, we have Tejo Vrithhihi and Ojo vrithihi.  Either I want to improve the efficacy of the body or if there are any sicknesses I want to get rid of that. When I say improvement of the body, I am also including the subtle body. This is because a human being knows that any enjoyment requires a healthy body- mind complex.  Imagine a wonderful music program on the radio and you are deaf! Where is the question of enjoyment?  If we cannot improve our instruments in this life, then at least let us work for a better instrument in the next life.

2)   Vishayaha Prapthi:  If I have the instrument, but not the best sense object to enjoy, does it help? Pleasure depends upon the interaction between sense organs and objects of their experience. I may have the best car in the world, but if I am driving on the worst road, will I enjoy it? There are rituals for better objects called Vishaya Prapthi. These objects include one’s wife, children and family as well. Their compatibility with you is very important.

3) Lokaha: The environment or ambience surrounding you should be harmonious, peaceful and favorable. While Kashmir is very beautiful, with all the violence there, can one enjoy it? Or if you see poverty around you, you can never enjoy your posh house because whenever you open your window you will see the other people suffering.  If we cannot improve the Lokaha we can migrate to six higher Lokas such as Bhur, Bhuvar etc., which are more conducive.

Thus, we have trividham karma phalam; threefold fruits of actions i.e. Upaadhi Phalam, Vishaya Phalam and Loka Phalam.  Now scriptures say while all these Karma Phalams are wonderful, they also have in-built problems. It is like the Rose flower, it always comes with the thorn.  All these phalams have intrinsic Doshas. The three types of Doshas that accrue to phalams are:

  1. Aarjana Dukha: None of the phalams can give pure happiness. It is always mixed with Dukha. To obtain a Karma Phalam one struggles a lot in life. Also, to maintain what one has accomplished takes work. This is called Arjana Dukham.
  2. Rakshana Dukham: Maintaining status as a winner is also difficult. This includes maintaining relationship. It is not enough to get married, but maintaining the relationship is difficult. This is called Rakshana Dukham.
  3. Nasha Dukham: In spite of all your efforts everything in creation will be lost. Every Karma Phalam exists in field of time and will end one day. This is called Nasha Dukham.

Now Veda points out that if a person goes through life enjoying a healthy body, possessing sense objects and having a healthy environment and if such a person is a thinking person who is willing to learn from his experience, he will discover some important things.  He will discover that, although these results of actions are all wonderful and they give pleasures; all of these pleasures have certain intrinsic defects. They are their minus points. For every result you have to pay the price. And this generally is something people do not understand. This is because for most of the people life is purely mechanical.

Three types of defects are present in all Karma Phalams. They are:

1) Dukha Mishritatvam :All these pleasures are mixed with pain also. They are not unalloyed pleasures. While the pleasure is higher so is the competition.

Accomplishing an object is not enough. One has to retain it. As the Tennis Ace will say, “Getting to the top of the ATP rankings is easy but retaining it is more difficult”. That is why there are upsets in Sports. Retention is as difficult as accomplishment.

Someone said: – “First I want Status. Then I want Status Quo”. That Status Quo is almost impossible.

In Sanskrit, the first problem is called “Yoga” – union problem. And the second problem is called Kshema – “Retention problem”. If Accomplishment involved pain, maintenance involves even more pain. And despite all the efforts taken to maintain the status quo, whatever is accomplished will be lost one day.

And when loss takes place, despite my best efforts, then that is the greatest pain. Therefore, acquisition is Dukham (pain), preservation is Dukhataram (more pain), and loss is Dukhatamam (highest pain).

2) Atripti Karatvam: Whatever we accomplish with our actions is going to be finite. The rule is “As the Action, so is the result. Every Action has a proportionate result.”

And we know that all actions are finite in nature. Any Karma phalam is therefore going to be finite and no one is going to be happy with finitude. No Karma Phalam will give total satisfaction. It only provides a pseudo satisfaction or Atripthi-karatvam.

As long as I am finite, I am going to keep looking for the next higher possibility. Until I get one house, I may be craving for that. But once I get that house, then I immediately feel that I need another house in Ooty or Kodaikanal, so that I can spend my summer holidays there.

A man buys a lottery ticket and gets first prize as a Cycle. Next day’s lottery’s first prize happens to be a scooter. The man is upset and feels cheated.

Whatever you have, you always think of the next possibility. The other people may be envious of you, but you always feel that something more is possible.

Even richest man thinks he is in middle class.

3)  Bandha Tatvam: – All the Karmas have an enslaving capacity. They all can cause dependence like the dependence causing drugs. If you regularly take a sleeping pill to sleep then after some days you cannot sleep without one. A smoker, after sometime, becomes a slave of cigarette and a drunkard of his drink.

Scripture says that if I need Karma Phalam to be happy then I am dependent on it. I need crutches; not necessarily physical crutches but mental Crutches or psychological ones to be happy. Thus, I have progressed from strength to psychological weakness.

Every object has the capacity to bind. Thus, we travel, not from dependence to independence. When analyzed, we are travelling from dependence to greater dependence. And we call this – Success! We call this success because we can order so many things- however Vedanta says that you are a failure. Why? You are a failure because you are dependent psychologically.

So to summarize, you have to remember these nine Terms

Three Types of Actions – Physical, Verbal and Mental

Three Types of Results :- Improvement of the Body, or Acquisition of sense objects or improving the environment

Three Types of Defects: Mixed with pain, Never Infinite and Tend to Bind you more

Most of humanity is in Karma Kanda enjoying as well as suffering.

There are some rare individuals who wonder if there is any other benefit or goal that is free from the Trividha Dosha or Nirdosha Purushartha. Such a Nirdosha Purushartha unfortunately is not available in Karma Kanda. For this, one has to go to Vedanta. Vedanta introduces Nirdosha Phalam also known as Moksha. Moksha is without Trividha Dosha. As per Vedanta, the Brahman that you seek, you do not get at all, since You are that Brahman. You are seeking yourself. Just like a musk deer, that keeps searching for the smell that emanates from its own body.  So too, we are running after ourselves and failing in the process. The only way to get to YOU is to stop running. We need to check if our direction is appropriate. This creates a problem for us, says Swamiji. I have been thinking all along, “I am full of defects”. Now Vedanta comes and tells me “I am free of all Doshas”. How can I accept this contradiction?

If somebody tells you “I love you”, you doubt it, as we cannot accept our own selves, says Swamiji.

I also cannot dismiss the Vedas as it is our primary scripture and it does not commit mistakes. Therefore I have two opposite ideas about myself. So, now, I have a doubt. I have to make an enquiry into myself or perform Atma Vichara, to decide which is correct. If I understand myself, the benefit is infinite. This should lead to the right knowledge.

How to do this enquiry? What are the instruments or Pramana to know this? Paurusheya Pramana is the instrument available to us and they are five in number.

With best wishes,

Ram Ramaswamy