The story of my experiments with truth

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Sat Nov 15 15:09:54 CST 1997

On Fri, 14 Nov 1997, Greg Goode wrote:

> I understand your point about Krisna's arguments for karma yoga meaning the
> duties of caste.  True, this is how Krishna's point instantiates in the
> case of Arjuna.  But the emphasis on duty is generalizable to other
> cultures and other sources of duty, as well as referring to the duties of
> caste.

To a Vedantin of any stripe any source duty which does not derive from the
Vedas is illegitimate.

> To deny this generalizeability would be to assert that Krishna is
> arguing, "if you belong to no caste, you have no duties," which is plainly
> false.

To a traditionalist the idea of a person with no caste is an

As an aside, here, Advaita Vedanta is a little at odds with the
mainstream of Vedic tradition because it says that there can be such a
person.  For one who is on the path of Moksha there is no obligation to
follow any of the ritual observences and no obligation to society
whatsoever. This is probably why modern Indians seized on Advaita as the
putative "source" for their thinking (when it was really 19th century
Western liberalism)  However looking at the facts it is obvious that
Advaita is not at all revolutionary and it was never its mission to
"reform" or uproot the traditional way of life.  For Shankaracharya the
only person who is capable of rejecting the duties of caste is the
sannyasi and a sannyasi rejects _everything_.  Thus any antinomian
potential the Advaita way of thinking may have had is effectively negated.

> Every society has some notion of duty, the notion being contingent
> upon the society.

This is a modern notion.  Prior to the modern era, it wouldn't have
occured to anyone anywere to compare societies in such a relativistic
manner.  For the pre-modern person, there was their own society and there
were the unbelievers.  Sometimes the unbelievers were hated, sometimes
feared, but mostly they were ignored.

> This is partly why the Gita is such a profound book.
> Though emanating from one culture, it is relevant for all.

Maybe.  But your culturally translated Gita is different from _the_ Gita.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>

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