Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Tue Aug 19 21:20:41 CDT 1997

On Sat, 16 Aug 1997, Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian wrote:

> Jaldhar, I have read many works of shrI sha.nkara and shrI sureshvara
> and know quite well that GYAna and karma cannot be combined. All I said
> was in a few and rare cases GYAna may be obtained without going through
> the physical Ashrama of sannyAsa. shrI sha.nkara very clearly says so in
> his BG bhAshhya and also in the BSB. References were provided and please
> do look it up. Read the orginal sanskrit itself. It's the same shrI
> sha.nkara you are also quoting. You have said nothing about those
> quotes, except that shrI sha.nkara is not the pope.

The question at hand was whether a _householder_ could be a sannyasi.  I'm
saying they cannot.  You're saying that physical sannyasa is not
neccessary exactly 100% of the time.  These views are not incompatible.
So what's the arguing about?

> If you are saying that these exceptions should not be used as an excuse
> to be a householder, yes I fully agree. Actually in many cases GYAni-s
> do karma so that the ignorant are not misled. Take H.H abhinava
> vidyAtIrtha mahAsvAmigaL for example. H.H told one disciple that when
> his guru taught him the upanishhad-s etc, he thought "Oh, the
> upanishhad-s are saying the same thing what I already experienced". Why
> should such a person do chandramaulIshvara pUjA, etc with atmost
> diligence? It's only to set a example to disciples that he did so. Once
> a person asked Ramana Maharshi, how he as a person who always taught
> ajAti vAda could write poems on aruNAchaleshvara and asked if it was for
> setting an example to others. He answered in the affirmative. If you
> don't want to believe these two persons, Ishvara makes it amply clear in
> the BG.

No I agree.

> All in all, I find your method of argument rather strange. You don't
> hesitate to quote shrI sha.nkara et al when they agree with your views.
> When they do not, you claim that they are not the "pope". All in all you
> seem to think that you yourself are the highest authority. Either that
> or there is some other advaitin who has written bhAshhya-s on the
> prathAnatrayI whose views are the same as yours. To be an Acharya, one
> has to either write bhAshhya-s on the prasthAnatrayI or one's teachings
> should conform to the views of a person who has written bhAshhya-s on
> the prasthAnatrayI. If there is one, it's not anyone any of us have
> heard of. I am talking about your views on sannyAsa, brahmaloka and many
> others here.

Now about that Pope remark.  In the Catholic church the Pope is the
authority on interpretation.  When he makes some announcement there is no
arguing about it.  That's the law.  This is not Shankaracharyas role.
Rather he is part of a larger conversation (or argument if you will)

We see a big problem on this list is people who may have read a little or
a lot but are led to erroneous conclusions because they don't understand
the _context_ of the words they read.  For such a person one doesn't just
quote chapter and verse, first they have to understand _why_ it is
important to know what Shankaracharya said and _then_ you can quote him.
I doubt if anyone can really understand the works of Gaudapadacharya and
Shankaracharya that well unless they were also familiar to some degree
with Mimamsa, Sankhya, even Buddhism.  Similiarly it is hard to fully
appreciate Shri Harsha or Swami Madhusudana Saraswati unless you know they
are engaging in polemic against the Dvaitins and what the issues are.  All
this requires use of ones critical faculties.

Of course there is a danger that the enquirer will not be convinced and
choose some other interpretation but Advaita Vedanta has withstood
challenges for hundreds of years.  I do not fear it crumbling now.  I do
not see all these great thinkers as being from the past.  Rather I imagine
them being my own teachers and I question them and argue with them and
listen to them just like my real teachers.

What do I consider authority?  First of all I take the term Smarta very
literally.  What did my grandfather do?  How did his grandfather behave?
In the case where there is a discrepancy between what some book says and
what was actually done, it is time honored tradition that takes
precedence. This is what informs many of my views on "controversial

My father was reminiscing about the after school pathshala he went to in
the 1950s.  This was the kind of education Brahman boys who were not going
to become professional Pandits got.  By that age they had already started
learning Sanskrit in school and sandhyavandana, puja etc.  They would have
learnt at home so this institution was organized around an indepth study
of the Ramayana (actually the Awadhi Ramacharitmanas of Tulsidas which is
_the_ Ramayana in the North and West.)  The Maharaj would treat the text
not as a story but as a guide to dharma stringing along at appropriate
points passages from the Puranas, Valmiki Ramayana, and Dharmashastras.
The boys would have to memorize it then every week they would have to
debate the issues raised therein.  So the idea of approaching the shastras
in a rational and critical way is not some invention of mine, this is how
it was done.  Another thing.  During the adhyatmic parts, the Maharaj
would introduce passages from the Gita or Panchadashi etc.  This was
considered a big innovation at the time (probably happened due to the
influence of the RK mission and other "reformist"  groups)  Orthodox
people didn't study the upanishads etc. _at_all_ unless they were
sannyasis. So we can discuss the theoretical possibility of householders
being sanyasis but the fact is the people who are learned and worthy of
being followed do not believe it.  Therefore neither do I.

It is precisely because I _don't_ believe that only my views count that I
bother posting to the list.  One danger of being rational is you can lapse
into narcissism.  By putting forth my views as strongly as possible I
sharpen them.  Mostly i'm right but I think the record shows that where
I've been wrong I've acknowledged that.  (like with the Brahmaloka
thread.)  If I was right a 100% of the time I wouldn't need to talk or
write to anyone.

Lastly on this whole mainstream issue, various members of this list have
had various arguments with each other but if you look at the areas of
disagreement, they are much smaller than the areas of agreement.  I think
there is a clear demarcation between those who follow the siddhanta and
those whose philosophy is a delusional mess.  I am quite confident I am on
the right side of that line.

Jaldhar H. Vyas [jaldhar at]   And the men .-_|\ who hold
Consolidated Braincells Inc.                          /     \ -)~~~~~~~~  Perth->*.--._/  o-
"Witty quote" - Dead Guy   /\/\/\ _ _ ___ _  _ Amboy       v      McQ!

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