[I've listened that there are 2 separate accounts of Karma: Like one is for Papa (sins) and one is for Punya. Both get accumulated as per our activities.] Correct.
[Only when both are equal, we get Moksha.] I don't think so. But here is a story about Sri Krishna trying to show us who is allowed and who is not. This story clearly shows us that there is no fixed list of rules/actions that will open the gates to Moksha. Following is the story.
[My question is, since, we by default, knowingly or unknowingly commit many sins and accumulate our papa karma. In that case, we need to focus on getting more punya karma by doing good deeds.] Since there is no list like the commandments given in other faiths, Dharma chosen upon Desha (place) and Kaala (Time) is the answer. That is what Sri Ram did.
[So, my question is, can you please tell me what are the things that can be done to get Punya karma and help ourselves. For example, Like, going to a gosala and feeding the cows is a punya karma. Like that, can someone tell me what are the punya karma that a simple person can do, from small to highest?] Again, there is no list like the commandments given in other faiths, Dharma chosen upon Desha (place) and Kaala (Time) is the answer. That is what Sri Ram did. The following Story might give you some insight.
[It goes without saying, that thinking and chanting the various names of God gives punya karma. Besides that, what are the others?] Liberation is the crux of many Upanishads and various hymns in the Vedas. I am adding one more story from the Veda, to shed light into your question.
- Sri Krishna's Story From Itihasa:
After the war of Kurukshetra, Krishna (Kṛṣṇa) went back to Dwaraka, and on a certain day He took an afternoon nap – next to Him was Satyabhama – during which He entered a conscious dream. This nap was not an ordinary sleep, it was a metaphorical nap, similar to the yogic sleep (yoga nidra) that Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu himself takes during the period of Dakshinayana. In this dream, He witnessed an endless procession of people coming in and heard them discuss dharma. They were talking and asking about dharma, specifically human choices. Sri Krishna, in this dream, felt that even His own answers about dharma weren’t satisfactory. So, He looked back at all the events during the war and before. Śrī Krishna (Kṛṣṇa), in His life, always made sure to experience a part of the events that happened to people around Him; He never shielded Himself from their joy or suffering. He did so to witness His own dharma towards them; otherwise, it would become a barren and lifeless Dharma. He took into His experience a part of the pain of Panchali, the victims of war, the pain of the Pandavas, the people He fought, and the people He helped. Such was the intensity of His life. All these experiences took expression in the form of a dream. In this dream, Krishna asked these people one by one what their dharma was.
The first to come was a skinflint (miser), a profit-stricken man who said, my dharma is making a profit; and taking whatever I can with my skill, I accumulate and seek more. Krishna said, your Dharma is the child of greed, I know you are not. But, I shall let you pass.
The second came and said, I am pious, I never stole, murdered, nor hoarded, never committed pápa, so my way is the only righteous one, so, this is Dharma; for this Krishna said, your Dharma is the child of fear, I know you are not. But, I shall let you pass.
Another came, a daredevil, and said, I fought and destroyed my enemies and proclaimed victory, whoever opposed me committed pápa, I performed sacrifices and gave charity, I fed the brahmins and was praised by them, so my way is Dharma; for this Krishna said, your Dharma is the child of vanity, I know you are not. But, I shall let you pass.
Another came, who was meek and gentle and said, I know dharma, it is humility, I suffer wrongs and pain cheerfully without resisting, I bear cold, heat, hunger, thirst without complaint. This is my way, and so this is Dharma; for this Krishna said, your Dharma is the child of a slave, I know you are not. But, I shall let you pass.
A man cunning and sly like a fox said, I avoid risky actions and always stay on the beaten path of safety, I never anger the supernatural beings, hence this is dharma; for this Krishna said, your Dharma is the child of cowardice, I know you are not. But, I shall let you pass.
Another came and said, I always try to please the Devatas in return for their grants and favors of wealth, I preach the hope of salvation and prosperity to those who have not. Immersed in my preaching, they get drunk in belief and dance in joy, this is Dharma; Krishna said, your Dharma is the child of fraud, I know you are not. But, I shall let you pass.
Then came another with a condescending tone of superiority and said, I resist the colors and drama of life, live in seclusion, suppress the longings of my body and revere in detachment, this makes me superior; hence, this is Dharma. Krishna said, your Dharma is the child of arrogance, I know you are not. But, I shall let you pass.
Another came, satisfied and confident in himself and said, I give money to the poor in order to accumulate puńya, I keep a list of my charities, which I will collect with interest from the Devatas (Chitraguptha) in order to get pleasures in the afterlife. Krishna said, your Dharma is the child of business and trade (vyapara). I know you are not. But, I shall let you pass.
Then came a wicked man who was a murderer, a robber, and with a desire to avenge, one who did not care about his actions and said, the Divine is merciful, and I will be forgiven when I chant and sing the glories of the divine. Krishna said, your Dharma is the child of deceit and deception. I know you are not. But, I shall let you pass.
Then came another with words of wisdom and the attire of a saint and said, I endure all pain and suffering in silence and do not fight back against evil. In silence, I let the time pass. The wicked and evil can seek their own desired destination as it is not of any concern to me, whereas I will reach Swarga loka. Krishna said, your Dharma is the child of inaction. I know you are not. But, I shall let you pass.
Finally, came a cynical man, smug, with a smirk, an egocentric, with glamorous attire bursting with fragrance and glitter and said, there is no such thing as Dharma, it is an illusion created to suppress our desires. I enjoy my senses and feed them what they wish. I dwell in desire and seek comfort and pleasure as the highest goal. I worship my body as a temple as it is the only means to all pleasure. There is nothing before and nothing after me. I live in my own conclusions as this life and creation are for me to enjoy and squeeze all the pleasures by whatever means. For this Krishna said, you are a child of a demon; I shall never let you pass.
About this metaphorical nap of Sri Krishna, Sadhguru says, “Śrī Kṛṣṇa is not talking as a living man; He made his humanity sleep and His divinity speaks in His sleep”.
(Even narrated by Sadhguru K.I.O.D. 2017, during Mahabharata Pravachana/discourse, at evening/sandhya times at Isha Coimbatore)
As we have seen above, Dharma is not a rule or a set of rules, nor a set of commandments. Dharma is an ingrained property in all entities, in all phenomena, in all choices and their consequent actions. Dharma is not just for one, it is for all. The great Bhisma himself fell short of Dharma and its comprehension. However, this is not something to be demotivated about, as Dharma is a vibrant spectrum that one has to slowly try and comprehend, grow, cultivate, learn, and implement. The comprehension grows gradually in life, but as it grows, one has to implement and strive; this is called Ḍharma Sādhanā and Ḍharma Anustana and Ḍharma Anveshana. The one Ḍharma that all entities have ingrained in them to seek that divinity in all shapes and forms is the one Sanātana Ḍharma, the one everlasting, and eternal dharma.
- Story from Vedas and their summary in Upanishads
The famous Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra has its linkage from Rig Veda to Yajur Veda Saṃhitās, but the Caraka-Katha School (Śākhā) of Kṛṣṇa Yajur Veda places this homage into implementation as a part of its Pravargya Yajna, so let’s see how the Yajamana of Yagna goes beyond death giving us a practical relevance to this hymn. So let’s start with a little background of Katha Śākhā’s basis and move to the context of Mrityu:
The Pravargya is said to beat off recurring death (punarmrtyum
apahanti, III 219). The discussion of recurring death represents the
intermediate state in the development of Upanishadic thought, emerging
as the theory of rebirth with karma in the Upanisads. How
‘second-death’ is to be affected seems to be dependent on the effect
of this additional and more severe diksa. It is significant that the
undertaking of this special observance results just like that of a
normal diksa — in a kind of rebirth of the yajamana. In the present
case he not only becomes another consecrated person with a new name, a
diksita, but in addition, he also separates himself from death by
undergoing the avantaradika in the wilderness. The Katha (Katha Shaka)
clearly stands at the crossroads of traditional brahmana ideas and the
beginnings of Upanishadic thought. The idea of punarmrtyu (Katha III
219 apa punarmrtyum jayati, ya evam veda) is one of the steps leading
to the Upanishadic concept of Karmic rebirth. In fact, there were
several strands of belief that. for the first time in Vedic thought,
resulted in the idea of constant rebirth, seen gradually developing in
the older Upanishads.
Now, let’s understand what is rebirth (punarmrtyum) mentioned by Katha Śākhā, and how is Rudra related to this, and finally how the Yajamana can achieve what is mentioned in Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra by Rśi Vaśiṣṭha:
The Yajamana is implicitly identified with Rudra during the Pravargya
(II 100-101). Like Rudra, he gains a new bodily form, svargakrti (II
143, cf. III 225), a ‘heavenly body’. This can be done in several
ways. After taking the Pravargya vessel and the other utensils
eastwards (III 177), all are laid out in the form of a man. This
action creates a new body for the Yajamana, with the Pravargay vessel
that glowed during the ritual as his head. In sum, the sponsor of the
ritual also becomes adiyavarna ‘sun-skinned’, and goes to heaven like
Rudra (III 183). In the Katha Aranyaka, this is the Pravargya, a
ritual in which a blazing clay vessel (mahavira) is identified with
the Sun and Rudra Mahavira. This ritual also aims at giving the
sponsor of the ritual (Yajamana) a new, heavenly body. This is
established by multiple Upanishad-like identification between various
entities of microcosm (man), ritual (Yajna), and macrocosm. Please
note: this heavenly body is a subtle body to ascend to heavens (sargo
vai loka auttaravedikas III 233: 91.1-2)
From reading the above, as a seeker one must ask two questions, Is Rudra Adiyavarna “Sun-like luster”? Second, does the famous Katha Upaniṣhad concur with the above? The answer is yes to both. Rig Veda itself addresses Rudra with Sun-like luster along with other Vedic Saṃhitā. Coming to Katha Upaniṣhad which itself is a primary Upaniṣhad that belongs to Caraka-Katha Śākhā says:
अङ्गुष्ठमात्रः पुरुषोऽन्तरात्मा सदा जनानां हृदये संनिविष्टः। तं
स्वाच्छरीरात्प्रवृहेन्मुञ्जादिवेषीकां धैर्येण। तं विद्याच्छुक्रममृतं
तं विद्याच्छुक्रममृतमिति ॥2.3.17 The Purusha, the Spirit within, who
is no larger than the finger of a man is seated for ever in the heart
of creatures; one must separate Him with patience from one’s own body
as one separates from a blade of grass its main fiber. Thou shalt know
Him for the Bright Immortal, yea, for the Bright Immortal.
Katha Upaniṣhad 2.3.17
We will go into detail about Caraka-Katha Śākhā soon but let’s explore other Vedic Saṃhitā in relevance with liberation. Here is how Atharva Veda 7.42.2 addresses Soma-Rudra, with hymns also found in Rig Veda 2.74 & 6.74.2 & 6.74.3:
सोमारुद्रा वि वृहतं विषूचीम् अमीवा या नो गयम् आविवेश । बाधेथां दूरं
निरृतिम् पराचैः॒ कृतं चिद् एनः प्र मुमुक्तम् अस्मत् ॥१॥ Cast away
(वृह), and separate us (विषूची) from all bondages/sicknesses (अमीवा)
from us and our families (गय) O Soma and Rudra (सोमारुद्रा ), drive
away (पराचै) afar ( दूरं) our pain/suffering (बाध) and
death/destruction (निरृति) liberate us ( मुक्त ) from those (अस्मत्)
even if (चिद्) they are committed (कृत) sins/papa ( एनः) 7.42.1
सोमारुद्रा यु॒वमेतान्यस्मे विश्वा तनूषु भेषजानि धत्तम् |अव स्यतं
मु॒ञ्चतं यन्नो अस्ति तनूषु बद्धं कृ॒तमेनो अस्मत् ॥२॥ O Soma and Rudra
(सोमारुद्रा ) always bestow (ध – धत) upon us (यु॒वम +एतानि +अन्य्) the
cure, with all (विश्वा) your medicines (भेषजानि) tied to our bodily
realm (तनू) | liberate us/untie us (मुञ्चति) from those (अस्मत्) we
have (अस्ति) done(कृ॒त) , which (य) are connected (बद्ध) with our
physical/bodily realm (तनू) 7.42.2. Please note: (यु॒वम +एतानि +अन्य्)
means all these for us, used as 2nd person pronoun. Soma and Rudra!
Bring all these medicines to our bodies! Untie, get rid of from us the
sin committed that is bound to our bodies.
मा नो रुद्र तक्मना मा विषेण मा नः सं -स्रा दिव्येनाग्निना 11.2.26
Rudra (रुद्र) untie (सं -स्रा) for us (नो ) those diseases (तक्म – ना
) and those vicious poisons (विषेण मा न) and from the divine fire
(दिव्येनाग्निना) Please note : सं -स्रा = untie where as सं-स्राव =
Atharva Veda 7.42.1-2
The synopsis of immortality and liberation and knowledge ended in the Upaniṣhad as:
या ते रुद्र शिवा तनूरघोराऽपापकाशिनी।तया नस्तनुवा शंतमया
गिरिशन्ताभिचाकशीहि॥3.5 You (या) Rudra of Auspicious (शिवा) body (तनू),
and of fierce form (अघोरा) resident of highest place (गिरिशन्त) with
your brilliant design/thought (अभिचा +काश्) which removes our avidya
and karmic cycle of pāpa (अ-पापकाशिनी ) make us (नः) realize our
blissful clam self(शंतमया + तनू +तया ) ततः परं ब्रह्मपरं बृहन्तं
यथानिकायं सर्वभूतेषु गूढम्।विश्वस्यैकं परिवेष्टितारमीशं तं
ज्ञात्वाऽमृता भवन्ति॥3.7 Henceforth/moreover, further than (ततः परं)
Greatness known to us/our personal God (बृहन्त) is Brahman/infinite
that is further/superior (ब्रह्म+परं ) thought each enjoyed their own
bodies/individuality (यथानिकायम्) He is the indweller hidden in all
(सर्व+भूतेषु+गूढम् ) he along encompasses all entirety and is its
authority (विश्वस्य+ एकं+ परिवेष्टितारम + ईशाम् ) knowing/realizing
that one becomes amṛta/immortal (ज्ञात्वा+अमृताः ).
Svetasvatara Upaniṣhad 3.5, 3.7