ADVAITA-L Digest - 11 Sep 2002 to 12 Sep 2002 (#2002-231)

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Thu Sep 12 23:09:58 CDT 2002

On Thu, 12 Sep 2002, yogafarm wrote:

> Namasté, Stigji and group -- many thanks for your enlightening
> comments.  I should also apologize for bringing Sai Baba, Vivekananda
> and Ramakrishna into the discussion, not realizing that this was
> contrary to the group's rules

There is no rule against quoting those people.  Do mention them if they
are relevant.  Just realize that more often than not, they won't be.

> Of course, opinions are like bowel movements: Everyone has them, to a
> greater or lesser extent.  But if the only way to know Shankaraji's (or
> any guru's) message is by direct discipleship, we are all in deep
> trouble ... especially if we exclude all the "modern" gurus, as well.
> So I wonder: If not for what the participants have learned in books,
> classes, from gurus and via other types of second-hand instruction, then
> how can a "discussion group" regarding a long-dead sage operate?
> For none of us knows for a fact that even the most careful written
> teachings of Shankaraji were not, in some manner, mistranslated along
> the way.  Or misinterpreted by well-meaning interpreters.  And
> completely FORGET about any oral teachings ...!

Well Shankaracharya had four major disciples who he placed in charge of
four maths in the different corners of India who had their own disciples
and so on until the present day.

Shankaracharya produced numerous written works.  There is some controversy
over the minor ones but there is enough information in the ones that are
unanimously considered genuine to get a good picture of what Shankaraharya

There is the accounts of Advaita Vedanta in the polemical treatises of
rival schools.

There is the testimony of foreign visitors to India such as Al-Biruni,
missionaries, colonial administrators etc.

All of these make it quite easy for us to be sure of what Advaita Vedanta

> Regarding Advaitin sages who preceded Shankaracharaya, why was not Shri
> Vasistha mentioned?

He is not exactly a historical figure though where exactly the dividing
line is between myth and history is very much up in the air.  But sure, we
claim him as one of us.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>
It's a girl! See the pictures -

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