message to my friends

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vidya at CCO.CALTECH.EDU
Tue Aug 11 15:47:43 CDT 1998

The problem is this - if the answer that is given by the intellect and by
logic is not the Truth, and also if Sri Shankaracharya uses "impeccable
logic" - how does one decide that a particular logic is impeccable except
through the use of the intellect? And how about the concept of "viveka"?
Isn't it a reference to the right use of the intellect?

The question I ask is not only not unfair, it is one of the most important
concerns within all Vedanta. To say that the jagat is in me, again raises
the same questions, which have been asked for thousands of years now. As I
see it, the beauty of Advaita teaching is in using logic and the intellect
to ultimately overcome logic and the intellect. This does not mean that
you simply ignore logic and intellect.

If one throws out logic and intellect completely, it is worse than
throwing the baby out with the bathwater - it is a refusal to even bathe
the baby in the first place. That is not very useful, is it? You bathe
the baby, then you throw out the bathwater.


>From  Tue Aug 11 23:31:16 1998
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Date: Tue, 11 Aug 1998 23:31:16 -0700
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To: List for advaita vedanta as taught by Shri Shankara
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From: Ram Chandran <chandran at TIDALWAVE.NET>
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Maadhavan Srinivasan <maadhavan at HOTMAIL.COM> writes

> If we are true advaitins, we can see the existence of advaita principle
> in all the sampradaayaas or religions. So, it is not necessary to
> realize that other sampradayas are lower level than Advaita Vedanta.

> Let us concentrate on Advaita Vedanta, which transcend
> sampradayas,country,religion and all other differences.

Greetings Shri Maadhavan:

Thanks for expressing the viewpoint that resembles the subtle message of
the Upanishads. I like to state that I  strongly endorse the essence of
your point of view and I am adding additional points in support of your
contention.  I believe that  Advaitins who participate in this list have
the obligation to  take more time and effort to understand what others
to say before jumping into their own conclusions. We may or may not
agree with other view points. Who are we to judge the intelligence and
scholarship of others?  This forum is a great opportunity for all of us
to enhance our understanding of Advaita Vedanta as taught by Shri
Sankara.  When others make mistakes, they help us not to repeat those
mistakes ourselves.  Until we become the JUDGE who judges everyone, let
us avoid judging others!

In more recent times, certain discussions became more arrogant and
narrowly focused.  Few in this Forum, seem to treat this forum as a
battle field and want to establish their scholarship and superiority.
This is unfortunate and I request those scholars to change their
attitude and be gracious and kind to their fellow list members.  Let us
not treat this Forum as a battle field and let us not try to develop an
environment that curtails healthy discussions and forces reasonable
people to quit or retire.  We  know very little and we have a lot more
to learn from others and let us take more time to understand and
appreciate other viewpoints.  Destruction is lot easier than protection
and/or construction!

Let us remember the  debate that took place long time back  between
Sankaracharya and Mandana Misra.  The debate was not decided by
intellectual abilities of these two masters.  Instead, the debaters were
garlanded with two identical flower garlands. These two great intellects
had the humility to bow down to faith in the miracle of whether their
respective garlands withered away or not.  The debate continued for
several weeks.  Sankaracharya was declared the winner by the
adjudicator, the wife of his opponent!  The seers and sages of India
including Sankara have demonstrated scholarship with humility.  They
have attributed their scholarship and success to the Grace of Narayana.
The simple looking stothram,  Bhaja Govindam, is an extremely important
work of Sankara  The fundamentals of Vedanta are taught in simple
musical verses with deep meaning.

A popular story describes the circumstances in which this great poem
broke out from the inspiring heart of the Teacher. It is said that once
in Banaras, as Sankara was going along with fourteen of his disciples
(followers), he overheard an old pundit repeating to himself grammar
rules, and at this futile effort put forth for a mere INTELLECTUAL
ACCOMPLISHMENT and thus wasting his time in life without realizing the
spiritual unfoldment in himself. Acharya Sankara composed the Moha
Mudgara stanzas, now popularly known as Bhaja Govindam: "Grammar rules
will never help anyone at the time of death. While living, strive to
realize the deathless state of purity and perfection."  In Bhaja
Govindam, Acharya Sankara laughs at the unintelligent ways in which
human beings make life miserable and unbearable  for themselves!  The
members of Advaita Forum have lot to learn from the essence of Bhaja
Govindam and it can help the members to avoid unintelligent discussions.

Ram Chandran
Burke, VA

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