Passage to Bharath!!!

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Wed Feb 18 13:18:48 CST 1998

On Fri, 6 Feb 1998, Chandran, Nanda (NBC) wrote:

> I'd been to Bharath for a short vacation and returned just a couple of days
> back. The advantages of being in Bharath for somebody who is interested in
> Vedanta is tremendous.

Indeed but don't sell this country short.  Everythings a lot more
disorganized and it's hard to find the time but if you make the effort
there are people here you can learn a lot from too.  Still I'd love to be
able to spend some time there.  I hope to be able to go at the end of this

> One morning I turned on the TV and on one of the local cable channels there
> was a program on Ramana Maharishi. At the end of the program I switched
> channels and there on another channel was Jayendra Saraswati (the pontiff of
> Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham) discussing the five kosas and the merits of
> Advaitam! The swami made a remarkable sight - for even while he talked his
> half lidded eyes revealed that he was simultaneously immersed in meditation
> - One has to see it to understand what I'm trying to say! Right after this
> there was a scholarly discussion on Thirukural. I heard that these were
> regular programs.
> Another morning accompanied by my brother and sister, I went to Kanchipuram.
> When I entered the small hall which adjoins the entrance of the Kanchi matt,
> I was greeted by rows of bare backs with the traditional sacred thread
> clearly visible, gazing with reverence at a small dias. On the dias, with
> almost his back to the crowd sat the young Shankaracharya performing pooja
> to the Lord. So intense was his concentration and sublime his posture, that
> I was drawn down the ages and felt that it was the young Adi Shankara
> himself performing the pooja. My kin impatient and not too eager to witness
> the whole pooja dragged me out so that we can pay our respects to other
> deities and return just before the pooja was over.
> We went to the Kamakshi Amman temple. Legend has it that the Amman was very
> ferocious and Adi Shankara, at the request of the populace, had placed a
> chakra or a wheel, before the idol of the Amman, so she couldn't get out.
> The chakra is still there even today for all to see! This is the only temple
> where I've seen Adi Shankara as part of a temple's deities. We went to
> another ancient temple and the architecture was just magnificent - Pallava
> architecture. The Pallava dynasty had Kanchi as their capital.
> We came back to the matt and the pooja was still on. There was a series of
> paintings on tile, on the wall detailing the life of Adi Shankara. The
> crocodile incident, learning from Govinda Jatti, meeting Kumarilla Bhatta,
> defeating Mandana Mishra, getting the sacred Spathika Lingams from Lord
> Shiva etc. Adi Shankara, since he's quite young during all his exploits is
> generally pictured as young, handsome, with his face radiating divinity. I
> was surprised to find even Gaudapada and Govindapadacharya pictured the same
> way. Trivial, I suppose, but I felt that somehow it reflected their purity
> and purpose of existence and also questioned mine.
> My uncle who lives in the matt, I heard was quite close to Jayendra
> Saraswati. Just when I thought I could probably use his influence to see the
> saint, I heard that the saint had gone to Coimbatore the previous day! The
> pooja completed the young Shankaracharya was giving holy water to all. All
> men, bare chested, went up to him to receive it, I followed suit. I, who am
> always full of questions, at his presence realized the futility of all such
> questions! What should I ask - Should I take Samnyaasa? Is Brahman, Saguna
> or Nirguna? Is a Guru necessary?  Are the non-Brahmins not eligible to study
> the Shruti? Or the Paul Brunton question! - Futile, because in my own heart
> I know the answers or question the necessity of my knowing the answers or
> even my right to ask such questions! For I realize that, until I've full
> control of my senses and steadied my mind against the troika of lust,
> jealousy and anger, there's no point even asking such questions!

This is why our shastras proclaim the glory of satsang.  Just being in the
presence of the great can be so beneficial.  Nevertheless you missed out
on a good chance to ask questions.  As the word acharya suggessts, that is
his main function.

> There were more surprises in store for me. My best friend turned out to be a
> descendent of Appaiya Dikshitar! Yes, he confirmed that the saint had
> declared that he would teach the shruti to anybody who would undergo the
> rigors of the years of training. He also told me that Dhayananda Saraswati
> preached the same thing.

Intrigued by Vaidyas comment, I've been doing some research on this.  See
my post on the subject.

> I'd been to atleast a couple of book shops and the
> collection they have just defies description. I had wanted to meet an Indian
> Buddhist monk, but due to the short period of my stay I couldn't search and
> from what I hear they're a rare breed. If anybody has any information on
> Buddhist monastries in India, I would be grateful for the information.

If you want to meet an Indian Buddhist, your best bet is to find an
archaeologist.  Maybe he can dig up the remains of one for you.

> As they say, if one's not really looking, even the most obvious doesn't meet
> the eye. I suppose most of what I saw during my trip was always ever present
> before me when I lived in Bharath, but in my ignorance I'd failed to see it
> before!

It's true.  Sometimes you have to be at a distance to see what you took
for granted before.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>

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