The story of my experiments with truth

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Sun Dec 14 21:46:27 CST 1997

On Wed, 3 Dec 1997, Vidyasankar Sundaresan wrote:

> Jaldhar, while you make certain valid arguments, I don't think one can
> describe the RK Mission as a moribund organization. Rammohan Roy's Brahmo
> Samaj may be, but that is due to other factors. The prime motivation of
> answering/challenging Christian missionaries is no longer important in
> Indian society.

There was a time when the RK mission stood for the future.  To people like
my father growing up in the '50s with a traditional background but eager
to take part in the new world unfolding before them, the RK mission
symbolized progress and enlightenment and all that good stuff.  I remember
the last time I went to the RK mission in Rajkot I noticed a sign
forbidding photography of the murtis just like in a real mandir.  A big
difference don't you think!  I agree that some of its monks are scholarly
but that also I think shows a change in their ideology.  Previously their
conception of a sannyasi was a "karma yogi" a sort of social worker which
was obviously an imitation of Christian missionaries.  That they are
paying more attention to traditional sannyasi activities is a good thing
IMO but it means they didn't really convince people with their distinctive
doctrines.  Of course this is the view from Gujarat which is let's face it
a backwater for modern thought.  The situation might be different in the
"heartlands" of RK mission activity.

 > And yes, a bewildering number of people from across the spectrum
> Vivekananda, but that is because of the contemporary political culture in
> India. The RK Math and Mission does not lend its support to all those who
> quote Vivekananda.

If people are distorting his views, shouldn't they be setting the public

> To the best of my knowledge, it continues to have quite a few learned
> monks in its midst. Even its recent administrative problems arose out of a
> wish to avoid undue government interference.

This is another example.  There has never been a time in history when it
has been easier to stand up to a Communist especially ones with ideas this
stupid.   Yet they just rolled over.  This hardly squares with their
activist past.

> And its popularity in the
> West may be declining, but that is because they make bhakti to Ramakrishna
> and Sarada Devi an important part of their teaching, and not many people
> can relate to that nowadays. For that matter, how many people can relate
> to bhakti towards Sankaracharya? Outside the age-old traditional Indian
> groups, very few, and among the traditional groups, the numbers are
> declining, for a number of reasons. In the long run, organizations
> flourish or decline for a number of social, political and economic
> reasons. It is not necessarily the founder's philosophy that keeps them
> going.

I think the difference between the groups in decline and the ones that are
flourishing (or at least holding their own) is the degree to which
membership requires a commitment.  Take this Swaminarayan Sampradaya for
instance.  It makes no pretense of being "up-to-date" it's moral code is
downright puritanical even by traditional standards yet it has many young
followers over here, including many who are barely aquainted with Gujarat.
In contrast much of what passes as Advaita these days is lightweight,
intellectually confused and has no impact on peoples lives.  The
continuing vitality of Advaita thought depends on these trends being

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list