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Re: Question.

From: Mani Varadarajan (
Date: Tue Jun 20 2000 - 10:57:30 PDT

Hi Suresh,

I was waiting for the learned members of our list to
respond, but seeing as they haven't, I will venture a

You asked:
> Dear bhagavathas,
>                  I have a question regarding slokha 37 of
> chapter 4 of Bhagavad gita,where Lord Krishna talks about the
> purifying effect of the Knowledge of the self and he says :
>        yathaidhamsi samiddho 'gnir 
>        bhasmasat kurute 'rjuna 
>        jnanagnih sarva-karmani 
>        bhasmasat kurute tatha
> Meaning : Just as a well kindled or blazing fire reduces
> firewood to ashes,so does the fire of knowledge(i.e knowledge
> of self in the present context) nullifies all karma.
> Question: Logically speaking "Knowledge can nullify ignorance
> as it is opposed to knowledge".But "Karma, is understood as
> result or fruits of our past deeds".Then How can knowledge or
> gnana nullify karma,which is not opposed to the same?.At
> best,knowledge can enlighten us about our true nature,but how
> can it destroy our karmas?.

I think the key here is to understand what 'karma' means in this
context.  If one acts in accordance with his true nature and
in accordance to the dictate of shastra, God is favorably disposed
to him and blesses him. If one acts in a manner contrary
to one's nature and shastra, God is infavorably disposed and
punishes him.  Such blessings are expressed in the jIva
as various states of consciousness, conferred by God upon
the jIva in accordance with his actions and attitudes. 

The dawning of the true knowledge the self, i.e., Atma-avalOkana
or self-vision, implies a change in the state of consciousness of the
individual.  Since karma expresses itself as a "dent" as it were
in this consciousness, Atma-jnAna is definitely opposed to it 
and can destroy the *effect* of the karma, which I believe is
what is mentioned here.

This is what I can gather from the context, and from my reading
of Sri S.M. Srinivasa Chari's "Fundamentals of Visistadvaita", pp.
360-66. All errors are mine.

mani rAmAnuja dAsan


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