Karma – Action and its limitations

Any action is finite. There is no infinite action.
Only when the action completes, then the result is produced.
Anything produced is finite.

Hence NO Action (Karma) can produce the result called “Moksha” or Unlimited being, consciousness and Bliss. Only Knowledge of Self leads one to Moksha.
The Karma (RIGHT ACTION) can generate finite results of obtaining the other three purushardhas i.e., Dharma, Artha, and Kaama.

In Bhagavad Gita bhashya XVIII-66 Sri Sankaracharya explains:
(From the Swami Gambhirananda’s English Translation of Sankara Bhashya)
In this scripture, the Gita, has knowledge been established as the supreme means to Liberation, or is it action, or both? Why does the doubt arise? (Because) the passages like, ‘…by realizing which one attains Immortality’ (13.12), ‘Then, having known Me in truth, he enters (into Me) immediately after that (Knowledge)’ (18.55), etc. point to the attainment of Liberation through Knowledge alone. Texts like, ‘Your right is for action alone’ (2.47), ‘(you undertake) action itself (4.15), etc. show that actions have to be under-taken as a matter of compulsory duty. Since both Knowledge and action are thus enjoined as duties, therefore the doubt may arise that they, in combination as well, may become the cause of Liberation.

Objection: What, again, would be the result of this inquiry?
Vedantin: Well, the result will verily be this: The ascertainment of one of these as the cause of the highest good. Hence this has to be investigated more extensively. Knowledge of the Self, however, is exclusively the cause of the highest good; for, through the removal of the idea of differences, it culminates in the result that is Liberation. The idea of distinction among action, agent and result is ever active with regard to the Self because of ignorance. This ignorance in the form, ‘My work; I am the agent; I shall do this work for that result’, has been at work from time without beginning. The dispeller of this ignorance is this Knowledge regarding the Self-in the form, ‘I am the absolute, non agent, free from action and result; there is none else other than myself because, when it (Knowledge) arises it dispels the idea of differences which is the cause of engagement in action. The word ‘however’ above is used for ruling out the other two alternatives. This refutes the two other alternative views by showing that the highest good cannot be attained through mere actions, nor by a combination of Knowledge and action. Besides, since Liberation is not a product, therefore it is illogical that it should have action as its means. Indeed, an eternal entity cannot be produced by either action of Knowledge.

Objection: In that case, ever exclusive Knowledge is purposeless.
Vedantin: No, since Knowledge, being the destroyer of ignorance, culminates in Liberation which is directly experienced result. The fact that Knowledge, which removes the darkness of ignorance, culminates in Liberation as its result is directly perceived in the same way as is the result of the light of a lamp which removes ignorance the form of sanke etc. and darkness from objects such as rope etc. Indeed, the result of light amounts to the mere (awareness of the) rope, free from the wrong notions of snake etc. So is the case with Knowledge. As in the case of the acts like ‘cutting down’, ‘producing fire by friction’ etc., in which accessories such as the agent and others operate, and which have perceivable results, there is no possibility of (the agent etc.) engaging in any other activity giving some other result apart from ‘splitting into two’, ‘seeing (or lighting of) fire’ etc, similarly, in the case of the agent and the other factors engaged in the ‘act’ of steadfastness in Knowledge which has a tangible result, there is no possibility of (their) engagement in any other action which has a result different from that in the form of the sole existence of the Self. Hence, steadfastness in Knowledge combined with action is not logical.

Hence, the action and any combination of action with knowledge are ruled out and the PURE KNOWLEDGE OF SELF only culminates in the liberation.



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