What is adhikAra?

Vaidya N. Sundaram sundaram at ECN.PURDUE.EDU
Mon Jun 1 14:52:38 CDT 1998

On Mon, 1 Jun 1998, Jaldhar H. Vyas wrote:

> > From: Vidyasankar Sundaresan <vidya at cco.caltech.edu>
> >
> > Before we take this to mean
> > something tangible for today's world, let us first ask ourselves
> > (especially those on this list who are of brAhmaNa birth) if we have
> > always spoken the truth. If yes, and this is really so, I salute you.
> > If no, let us honestly accept that birth in a brAhmaNa family does not
> > entitle one to any presumptions.
> You are right.  There is no one here who can claim never to have lied.
> However part of the Brahman worldview is the ideal of never telling lies.
> Despite reality falling short of the ideal, that we feel an obligation to
> be truthful (bluntness on my part is because I value truth over peoples
> feelings) gives us the right to presume.  This applies to other situations
> too.  For instance, despite only one person on this list meeting the
> minimum qualifications for Vedantic sadhana, we presume to talk about
> Moksha etc.

Please pardon me for addressing only one of the points of the whole

 Are we trying to establish here that;
 If a Brahmana Then speak the Truth "ALWAYS"
 If speak Truth "ALWAYS" then a Brahmana
 If ever lied, never a Brahmana.

 I am not so comfortable with this line of reasoning. Again, quoting an
example: why does Vishwamitra make Harishchandra go through all those
miserable events? It all started with Indra asking Vasista in his court (i.e
Indra's court): Is there one who has always spoken the truth?  Vasista's
reply was, Yes. Harishchandra is one such, and he has not even thought of
lying even when his mother's womb, and Vishwamitra tries to prove Vasista
wrong, as he is so fond of doing.

 The point I am trying to make is, Harishchandra says in the end that if he
has been a true "Kshatriya" etc etc ... thereby denoting that he has spoken
the truth always, is aware that he has spoken nothing but the truth always
and is also aware that he is a kshatriya. And I believe it is also a very
well recognised fact that to have one who has "never" lied is a "Rare" event
with very low probability. So, being a Brahmana, has nothing to do with
saying the Truth "always". Truth is what should be said, irrespective of the
status / stature of the person. The qualification or disqualification from
being a Brahmana does not arise because of Truth of the lack of it.

> Despite reality falling short of the ideal, that we feel an obligation to
> be truthful (bluntness on my part is because I value truth over peoples
> feelings) gives us the right to presume.  This applies to other situations

 Where is the "obligation"?. Truth is Truth, irrespective of perceptions.  It
is better called "duty" (to say the Truth). And "to presume" comes not from
feeling an "obligation to the Truth", rather an feeling of "Knowing better"
and hence "inform the other of his/her mistake"


                      Vaidya N. Sundaram
 Kandavar Vindilar      : Those who have seen (Brahman) have not spoken
  Vindavar Kandilar     :   those who speak (about It) have not seen (It)
    satyakAma, satyasaMkalpa, Apatsakha, kAkutsa, shrIman nArAyaNa
        puruShottaMa, shrI ranganAtha, mama nAtha, namostute.

>From  Mon Jun  1 15:56:46 1998
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Date: Mon, 1 Jun 1998 15:56:46 -0400
Reply-To: chandran at econ.ag.gov
To: List for advaita vedanta as taught by Shri Shankara
        <ADVAITA-L at TAMU.EDU>
From: Ram Chandran <chandran at ECON.AG.GOV>
Organization: Economic Research Service
Subject: VairAgyam
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Chandran, Nanda (NBC)" <Nanda.Chandran at NBC.COM> writes:

> Can you please explain what's so unique in the shruti which is not
> present in the smritis? If I remember right, there's a saying that
> what's not present in the Mahabharatham is not present anywhere else!
> IMO, the smritis like the Gita, Brahma Sutras, Yoga Vashista and
> Ashtavakra Gita are much more explicit on subjects Advaita Vedanta, than
> some of the Upanishads themselves. OK, I accept that Adi Shankara said
> that the shruti is indispensable to the sadhana. But considering that he
> was a religious leader who undertook the mission of rejuvenating
> Sanatana Dharma in Bharath, he might have had quite a few reasons other
> than the obvious, for his statement.

Greetings Nanda:

We the human beings possess something unique and consequently we can't
explain all our experiences to anyone.  What "I" experience is Unique
and Eternal.  On the other hand, my perception through my mind undergoes
changes due to time and environment.  Shruti represents the experience
of "I" and Smritis correspond to mind perceptions of different human
beings at different points of time.  This may explain why Smritis such
as Gita, Brahma Sutras and others needed commentaries.  Shruti is the
Absolute Truth and Smritis represent the Relative Truth.  If Shruti is
Gold, then gold necklaces, bangles and rings could be the Smritis.  If
we represent Ganges at the Gangothri as Shruti, then the Ganges at
Allahabad and Banaras will become Smritis.   In summary, Smritis don't
exit without Shruti and we have no means to question the existence of
Shruti.   We can also understand the distinction between Shruti and
Smritis using the distinction between "theorem" and "example problems."
The example problems are useful to understand the fundamental concepts
and theorems.  However, any example is neither NECESSARY nor a proof for
the TRUTH of the theorem.   Finally, we need to understand that both the
theorems and the examples are important for our learning and
understanding.   Now it may become clear why Adi Sankara said that
"Shruti is indispensable to the Sadhana!" Adi Sankara is a  Missionary
and a great Visionary.   Intellectual integrity and honesty though
essentials are not sufficient to question the Truth of Vedas or the
Vision of Sankara.

Note: I agree that what is not present in Mahabharat is not present any
where.  No one has the time and energy to search and find what it
contains? In this computer, era, generating the past, the present and
future discoveries using random generators of letters, numbers and
symbols is quite feasible. The computer generated volumes of work will
also contain mountains of useless garbage!  Truth is an inner experience
and none in the past, presents or future can generate the TRUTH!

Ram V. Chandran
9374 Peter Roy Ct.
Burke, VA 22015

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