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Karma or Jnana: What Is the Path to Liberation?

karma or jnana

To someone who wrote expressing the idea that eliminating all karma is the way to liberation.

The basis of our wandering in samsara and undergoing continual birth and death is not karma–that is a side effect–but our state of consciousness which is ignorance: avidya. It is not true that we have to “work out” or “fulfill” our karmas or somehow “roast” our karmic seeds. We need not even bother with the idea of karmas except to understand our past and present in relation to them.

The Bhagavad Gita as a guide

What we have to do right now is dissolve all our ignorance. Then we no longer have any karma. And there is only one way to do that: yoga sadhana. This is why in the Bhagavad Gita Krishna keeps speaking of yoga. And that is why during Gita recitation at the end of every chapter we say: “Thus in the Upanishads of the glorious Bhagavad Gita, the science of the Eternal, the scripture of Yoga, the dialogue between Sri Krishna and Arjuna….”

The entire body of wisdom found in the shastras is meant for our successful practice of meditation. For Krishna tells Arjuna: “For him who does not meditate there is no peace or happiness” (Bhagavad Gita 2:66).

Atmajnana (Brahmajnana) is the fruit of meditation, and without Atmajnana there is no liberation (moksha). This alone should occupy our attention, for when that is attained compulsory rebirth and karma are ended. Again: rebirth and karma are not causes but effects.

“He who just desires to know about yoga goes beyond the Vedas. By persevering effort and mastery, the totally purified yogi, perfected through many births, reaches the Supreme Goal. The yogi is superior to ascetics, and considered superior to jnanis and superior to those engaged in Vedic rituals. Therefore be a yogi” (Bhagavad Gita 6:44-46).

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