[Advaita-l] Did Sankara have non-brahmin disciples?
rajaramvenk at gmail.com
Mon Oct 18 14:21:31 CDT 2010
Vidyasankar, I have perhaps not clearly stated the relevance of the
question. Anyone can read the text and even publish research thesis if they
are sharp. Many scholars discuss advaita vedanta over a cup of tea or even a
glass of wine in top notch universities. For such people, is this a positive
mental impression of higher ideals or a sinful activity that will retard
their progress in spiritual evolution? There are women, sudras and even
mlechhas in movements such as Chinmaya, that learn advaitam. Many of them
are even renowned teachers. Are they allowed to learn first of all? Even in
sankara mutts, there are many devout kshatriyas and vaishyas who learn
advaita vedanta from books and listening to lectures. For them, is it
better to focus on their svadharma rather than try to learn the nature of
reality? Are grahastha brahmanas allowed to learn and teach advaitam as they
are not practising renounciation?
As a liberal, I would like to think that the modern day situation is not a
degradation but every one can learn at least theory. I you dont know the
theory, how will you ever progress towards practice with conviction? But
instead of making convenient assumptions, I would like to know if Sankara
did have non-brahmin and / or non-sannyasi disciples? I dont think history
is indeterminate always. If we are lucky, we may be able conclude this
through direct evidence from Sankara's writings, works of his direct
disciples and sankara dig vijayas. If they are completely silent on this, we
should be able to decide based on sastras whether vedanta is universally
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Vidyasankar Sundaresan <svidyasankar at hotmail.com>
To: Advaita List <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org>
Date: Mon, 18 Oct 2010 08:25:16 -0700
Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] Did Sankara have non-brahmin disciples?
It never ceases to amaze me how much time and effort we seem to want to
waste on hypothetical questions for which the answers have almost no data to
support them. Yet, even when hard facts are placed in front of us, we refuse
to accept them and we refuse to make the right conclusions. Is this a
Indian malaise? I certainly don't see this sort of speculation being
by people of any other nationality that I have come across.
When Sankara "must" have lived, what he "must" have said and when, whom
he "must" have taken as disciples - all these sorts of issues seem to hold a
more interest to us. We fail to pay attention to what he *did* write in his
commentaries and whom he *did* teach, even though these can all be easily
deduced from the texts that are available to us.
So, in response to "did Sankara have non-brahmin disciples?", the only
answer is a counter-question, "if he did, how would we know?" Did any of his
disciples who wrote texts tell us whether they were born brahmin or not? It
a reasonable assumption that they were, but would we know if they were not?
Do we have any hard data that will allow us to make a conclusion one way or
the other? The answer is a resounding NO. We can ask as many questions as
we like, but the situation is that anything that passes as an answer is
no better than wishful thinking.
> Date: Tue, 12 Oct 2010 21:37:40 +0100
> From: rajaramvenk at gmail.com
> To: advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
> Subject: [Advaita-l] Did Sankara have non-brahmin disciples?
> In his Gita commentary, Sankaracharya says that previous commentators have
> commented on every sentence and word but the meaning is not clear to lay
> people. And that he is writing this to make it clear and that this message
> would spread. Did he teach advaita to non-brahmins and accept them as
> disciples? In Manisha Panchakam, he accepts as guru a low born jnani but
> dont know if scholars accept that this incident took place at all.
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