[Advaita-l] Fw: Re: waking, dreaming, sleeping, as mutually supportive

Shrisha Rao shrao at nyx.net
Mon Oct 26 12:11:33 CDT 2009

On Mon, Oct 26, 2009 at 4:57 PM, Ramesh Krishnamurthy
<rkmurthy at gmail.com> wrote:

> 2009/10/26 Shrisha Rao <shrao at nyx.net>:
>> Correct, actually; both were neo-Vedantins.  There may be numerous
>> such examples from recent times, but it would be a lot more persuasive
>> in determining the way tradition goes if it were the case that, say,
>> Vidyaranya was a क्षत्रिय or that Madhusudana Saraswati was a वैश्य.
> If you are looking for scholarly personalities from pre-modern times
> then the search may be difficult. However, if you look at the
> tradition in more general terms then things are quite different. The

We tend to forget that there are actually said to be scriptural
injunctions behind all the rules that tradition is supposed to follow;
we merely pick whatever real-world community we consider our own and
consider its practices as normative, but this is not strictly correct
though शिष्टाचार does have a role.  There are scriptural injunctions
covering all kinds of behavior, including that one is not supposed to
scratch one's head idly (I kid you not).  Sometimes, differing
understandings of these injunctions can and do lead to variations in
practice; I once heard a scholar describe how someone once asked a
Bengali Vedic scholar how it is that in his community it is considered
proper to eat fish, and further wondered if they drink alcohol too?
The Bengali gentleman bristled at the suggestion, and noted that there
is a specific श्रुति injunction न सुरां पिबेत् that forbids drinking
spirits, but there is no blanket injunction against all meat, and no
specific injunction against fish.  There is an injunction न कलञ्जं
भक्षयेत् where कलञ्ज means विषदिग्ध बाणहत मृगस्य मांसम् -- the meat of
an animal that has been killed with a poison-tipped arrow.  Thus,
there is an injunction against eating the meat of an animal that has
been felled by a poisoned arrow, but apparently not against its meat
otherwise.  So as long as the Bengali gentleman did not use
poison-tipped arrows to get his fish, he was okay.  We (those of us
who are vegetarians) have to seek recourse to शिष्टाचार to justify our
preference, and I have also heard of "clever" uses of श्रुति to cover
this case (e.g., तेन त्यक्ते न भुञ्जीथ rather than the more standard
parsing, to mean that whatever is rejected by Bhagavan as unsuitable
for worship is also ipso facto unsuitable for consumption).

>> It is said that the Visishtadvaita tradition was once very inclusive
>> and open to anyone, but now it is as insular as they come, so these
>> are not valid examples either.  Or at any rate though these relatively
>> recent groups might profess allegiance to Ramanuja, they definitely do
>> not set the standard for what is traditional in Ramanuja's own
>> unbroken line.
> The Ramanandi-s are far from being a recent group. They have been
> around for 700 years.

"Relatively" is key; further, they are no closer to being
absorbed/unified with the "parent" community than ever.  (I do not
believe the Iyengars, for instance, consider the Ramanandis as their

Anyway, my apologies for these intrusions.  I guess I have already
said more than enough, and will stop now.  I would really just like to
know what scriptural authorities have been cited by different scholars
on this issue; that is the only thing of serious interest.  On the
question of what is merely traditional, different people can have
different views on what constitutes hoary tradition, and that aspect
of the discussion is perhaps pointless.


Shrisha Rao

> Ramesh

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list