Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Tue Oct 28 23:52:48 CST 1997

On Thu, 2 Oct 1997, Ram Chandran wrote:

> Namaskar.
>         First, there is nothing ironic about what I said about orthodox.  It is
> a subjective definition and it is no wonder that we have different
> interpretation!  I am coming from an Orthodox Hindu Brahman and my
> grandfather, Vengu Sastrigal was a great scholar served the Diwan of
> Thriuppuvanam (a small town located near Madurai, India) more than a
> hundred years ago. My father, Viswanatha Sastrigal also became a Vedic
> scholar after completing 12 years in the local Vedic school under the
> tutelage of my grand father.  He and my mother, Sita raised 14 children
> and I am the youngest of his fourteen children.  My grandfather died
> longtime before my birth, my father died when I was 11 and my
> grandmother died when I was 12.
>         My grandmother who was a great Krishna devotee has strong influence in
> my religious beliefs. I still remember the day of her liberation from
> this worldly life. She was seventy nine years old and I was twelve years
> old.  As per her daily routine, she woke up at 5:00 A.M., took her
> morning bath, completed all household duties (cleaning, washing, cooking
> and taking care of everyone's needs) and conducted an hour long daily
> Puja between nine and 10.  She served food to everyone during 10 and
> 11.  At about 11:00 A.M., she said that she had chest pain and was
> liberated from this world before Noon without eating her food!  As per
> my memory, she had demonstrated her unconditional love, service and
> devotion to all family members, neighbors and Lord Krishna.
> According to my notions, my grandmother is orthodox who believed in her
> Vedic religious convictions and lived a life full of sacrifice and
> service.  Though she was a great devotee of Lord Krishna, she had never
> expressed any hatred toward other people, Gods and religions. The
> Sanskrit Slokas and the religious convictions that she taught me at my
> young age are fortunately still in my memory and I hope will never
> disappear. My grandfather, grandmother, father and mother never had any
> time to get into intellectual debates on Vedas!  I started my school
> education in a Christian school and somehow I never had Sanskrit
> language education.  I became the first Ph. D in my family and
> ironically, I am the only one without knowing Sanskrit.
>         Contribution is again subjective and there are no objective ways to
> measure their values.
> >From your past postings I find that you are very bright, knowledgeable
> on Hindu scriptures and Sanskrit.  All of us have the tendency to make
> mistakes.  We are better of when we correct our mistakes sooner than
> later.  The win-win approach for all of us to ignore and forgive the
> offenders.  When we react, we likely become the victims. We should
> determine to ignore the ignorant and dissolve them with our knowledge
> and wisdom. We should avoid using inappropriate and blunt words such as
> "nitwits."   We seem to assume that such blunt language can strike right
> at the target.  Such hits divert the focus of the discussion from topic
> to personalities.  They are neither necessary nor called for!   The
> purpose this listing is to help all of us to learn to grow
> intellectually, socially and spiritually.
>         I want to thank both Vidyasankar and Sadanand for an enlightening
> discussion on -
> On Brahmasutras and VisishtAdvaita.  Vidya wrote: " I beg to disagree
> .........."
> Sadanand replied: " Well, Let us agree to disagree ................."
> They have demonstrated to us that we can also communicate our ideas and
> express our disagreements without offending others. This is a win-win
> approach to learn and enhance my knowledge horizon!
> Ram Chandran

I am not suggesting that argumentation is some litmus test of being an
astika.  There are many orthodox people who as you suggest do not engage
in debates.  It would be hard to master all the shastras in 120 years let
alone 12.  Traditionally people only did an in-depth study of Vedanta if
they were sannyasis.  Nevertheless in his own field of study I am willing
to bet he would have brooked no criticism.  You know first hand the way
Veda is traditionally taught.  The boys are not allowed to progress one
step further until they have mastered their current lesson.  The Acharya
acts swiftly and without equivocation to correct any errors.  It is only
because of this vigor that the tradition of Vedic study has remained
intact for thousands of years.  The same goes for Vedanta and any other
field of study.

There are many questions that people ask which I do not like but you
cannot expect strangers to have a priori knowledge of what is a good or
bad question.  Rather you have to look at the spirit it is asked in,
whether the questioner is genuinely seeking knowledge.  That's how I took
Allans question and that's how I answered.  What is more disrespectful?
To give someone an answer they may not want to hear or to toss aside their
questions as if they were worthless?

Intellectual rigor and a willingness to confront error are a hallmark of
our way.  The idea that we can be in two minds about the Siddhanta ("the
straight path") is an alien notion one which was only introduced by the
modern weeds in the garden of Vedanta.  They are the "modern nitwits" I
referred to.  Those who mislead honest sadhakas are worthy of choicer
epithets than nitwit.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>
>From ADVAITA-L at TAMU.EDU Wed Oct 29 01:22:31 1997
Message-Id: <WED.29.OCT.1997.012231.0500.ADVAITAL at TAMU.EDU>
Date: Wed, 29 Oct 1997 01:22:31 -0500
Reply-To: "Advaita (non-duality) with reverence" <ADVAITA-L at TAMU.EDU>
To: "Advaita (non-duality) with reverence" <ADVAITA-L at TAMU.EDU>
From: "Jaldhar H. Vyas" <jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM>
Subject: Re: (modern nitwit = Brahman) ?
Comments: To: "Advaita (non-duality) with reverence" <ADVAITA-L at TAMU.EDU>
In-Reply-To: <199710022203.PAA02649 at>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII

On Thu, 2 Oct 1997 un824 at FREENET.VICTORIA.BC.CA wrote:

> Namaste,
> I would like to sincerely thank Vidyasankar and others for the very
> good service of providing such detailed and patiently presented
> information in response to my questions.  As the vedas are part of
> the "context" of Advaita which is not appreciated by  "unassimilated"
> "modern nitwits" like myself, I sought and received some clarification
> of that context.

I don't blame you in the least for not knowing  the context.  I for one am
only offended by those who make a virtue out of being dense.

> I get the partial impression that it may not be so un-orthodox after all
> (at least from the Advaita point of view), to seek the paravidya (higher
> knowledge of truth itself) in the Upanishads and basically ignore as much
> of the aparavidya as you like. It may *not* be the mandatory "package deal"
> which I had feared it was being presented by some to be.

This is Shankaracharyas view.  However he was equally firm that the only
person who could successfully reach that paravidya was one who had
renounced everything.  For all those who aren't sannyasis it is indeed a
package deal.

> Suffice it to say, IMO, Advaita Vedanta will have a much larger role in
> the non-Indian world if the wheat can be presented with the chaff clearly
> labelled as "optional", "not required", "only there to be `backward
> compatible' culturally", etc. People who grew up in that culture may feel
> this is too high a price to pay for sharing their spiritual wealth with the
> spiritually impoverished modern world -- but there you have it.

The reason much of the world is spiritually impoverished is because of
overzealous chaff-seperating.  When I look back at the influences on my
life it was greater lesson to have learned to say "Jai Ambe" when I sneeze
than to have learned the Upanishads.  The same goes for any other culture.
One can only progress far on firm foundations.

> Believe it or not, my personal interest includes my concern for the
> spiritual rootlessness of my fellow man (and women too of course) and
> I would not be bothering to participate here if I did not think Advaita
> Vedanta had the "real goods" to offer. I am aware of the necessity of
> preserving the original tradition in some form in order to provide the
> rest of us with a benchmark. I am aware the "baby could get thrown out
> with the bathwater" if only part of a tradition is transposed in the
> wrong way. I was trying to assess the possibilities, that's all.

It's a noble aim but it's doomed to failure for the same reason all other
previous attempts have failed: These are not your roots.  Western cultures
have their roots but you (collectively) have made a decision to reject
them.  That's what it means to be modern.  Modernity  has many benefits
but has exacted a psychic price.  I don't think the exoticism of a foreign
culture is going to help.

> I hope my intentions and methods are not too disreputable or disrupting
> for you to keep giving me your valuable time and consideration.

Not for me anyway.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>

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