[Advaita-l] Re: Pa~nchapAdikAchArya
svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Mon Sep 18 18:37:20 CDT 2006
I have been following the posts in this thread with more than a little interest and some concern. I think
a few general statements are in order here.
No one, and I'm sure I may safely include Ramakrishnan here too, questions that Swami Saccidanandendra
Saraswati was part of the tradition of advaita vedAnta. Inasmuch as he not only wrote treatises in his
student days, but also renounced the world and took to formal sannyAsa within the living monastic tradition
of Sankara, Swamiji was very much a representative of the tradition.
It is obvious to anyone who reads his works that he was not a blind follower of the tradition though. During
his lifetime, he was questioned by senior pundits within the tradition and was even regarded as a rebel in his
thinking. He did not believe in observing diplomatic niceties and in diluting the strength of his conviction.
Rather, one might say that he was deliberately provocative in some of the stances that he took. However,
we must note that he and his writings were as much a product of his times as any of us here. He was perhaps
the first to combine the tradition with a critical scholarly outlook that was a feature of Western higher
education in the 19th-20th centuries, rather than only reacting to Western criticism of Indian thought.
Coming to the current discussion, our list member, Ramakrishnan, also does not dilute the strength of his
statements! Followers of Swami Saccidanandendra Saraswati are understandably dismayed by his posts, but
to my eye, this quite parallels the dismay that many within the tradition felt when Swamiji himself wrote his
This is both the strength and the weakness of inheriting a tradition. At the time Swamiji wrote, he challenged
the self-understanding of traditional pundits, while Ramakrishnan is challenging the self-understanding of
Swamiji's disciples and followers. In the interests of avoiding heat and generating light, I would suggest,
a. In addition to the content of a mail, please pay a little bit of attention to its tone too. There is no point in
b. Please keep an open and a critical mind. This is the best tribute that followers can pay to the memory of
Swami Saccidanandendra Saraswati. Undoubtedly he was right in many of his conclusions, but it is also possible
that he was wrong about some of them. There is nothing wrong in saying this and still considering him one's
guru or paramaguru. Let us all remember that even suresvarAcArya, well-known as the most faithful follower
of SankarAcArya, explicitly tells us where he differs from his guru, because he thinks a particular point in the
upanishadbhAshya is mistaken.
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