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Prashant Sharma psharma at BUPHY.BU.EDU
Fri Jul 31 13:26:57 CDT 1998

On Fri, 31 Jul 1998, Giridhar wrote:

> >>
> >>         They leave their motherland with the sole objective
> >> of fulfilling their material ambition, which itself is the antithesis
> >> of the true practice of Hinduism. They do not want to be in the
> Since you did not comment on the sentence above, I presume that
> you agree with the above statement. As I remarked earlier, this
> applies to _everyone_ who forsakes spirituality with the objective
> of fulfilling their material ambition. Of course, that includes me.

        I did not comment on this because there is nothing like
a non-material ambition. Even for what people call a "spiritual" ambition
one needs some material things for which one has to work (like building an
"ashram", or even a residence). So you can't just live without material
ambitions, unless one is a sannyAsi.  But then we are not talking about
such great people. Also I am not talking about jnAnis like
BhagvAn RAmana here who have *no* ambition but about people like us. For
example I am here in the US to do a PhD in theoretical physics. It has
some material contents to it of course, since it will lead me to a job
(well, hopefully :-) even though what I am doing is just trying to make a
few theories to explain certain natural phenomenon, hardly materialistic.

> >> common folk of this country. They want to be hygenic, clean and
> >> economically high-placed.
> >
> >        This is a social problem that has nothing to do with religion at
> >all. Who doesn't want to be hygienic, clean and economically well-off.
>  Was Ramana Maharshi economically well-off ? Did He ever
> _want_ to be economically well-off ? Well, there's your answer to the
> question, 'Who doesn't want to be ... economically well-off ?'  Did any of
> our other saints want to be rich ? Have you heard of Ramakrishna paramhansa
> constant warning against attachment to kanchana ?
        And have you read about rAmakrishna paramhansa saying that
religion is not for people who are starving? Or have you anywhere read
that he was advocating living in as miserable a condition as the poorest
folks in West Bengal were living in those days and asking that people learn to
live like that?
I have spent the last 20 odd years of my life in Banaras, its only in the
last three years that I have had to move out for my PhD to Boston.  And I
see much of the attitude reflected in this article prevailing in that city
and really hindering basic necessities of life being provided to people.
Please realise that for an average  Indian, economically well-off means
making both ends meet. It is rather unfortunate that learning to live with
less materials is as much an effort (mentally) as is learning to live with
more. There is an optimum balance somewhere, but it is to be arrived at by
experimentation and not prescription. One has to understand that given a
social structure that no longer supports a brAhmaN for performing priestly
duties, it becomes necessary for that person to contribute materially to
the society.  Of course, you might take the view point that a person
should live on alms no matter what they get, to which I can only say that
such people belong to a different category and neither the person who has
written that article nor the readers belong to this class. So why are we
talking about them.  This is not to say that I dont know of such a person,
for one will find, if he seeks, such great souls (atleast in Banaras). But
such people do not have any conflict of interests like we are having. They
are least concerned about whether the culture or the "hindU" dharma is
being harmed by NRIs making big money and pumping it into the country or
taking it away, whichever be the case.

> >Does "Hinduism" preach that a man should not be any of these?
> No, but it does say that these are not _as important as_ having bhakti or
> jnana. To extend it further, any one who forsakes
> spirituality for being clean and economically  well-off is living a life which
> is antithesis to moksha. Just imho.
        Dont you think that as long as there is *somebody* living a life
it shall always be antithetical to moksha?

> >that the mind creates. And now the "followers" of the "Hindu" dharma are
> >so righteous and so great that they will protect the dharma from being
> >harmed. Personally, this is a ridiculous attitude that has lead to as much
> >"harm" as its absence might have done.
> Maybe.
> >>
> >>         First we have to become rightful insiders to understand
> >> the subtlelities involved in religion. Only then we will have a
> >> right to criticize. [A]
> >
> >        Perhaps the only sensible thing written in this article.
> Ah ! Then you agree that you should become a rightful insider to
> understand the subtleliyies. Well, then to understand Shankara, don't
> we have to listen to acharyas in that lineage and not impose our own
> ideas and thoughts. Think about it. All that was presented here were
> several quotes from HH from Sringeri and Kanchi to clarify various
> issues on fate, free will, puja, dharma etc.
> Is it right of us, without becoming a rightful insider, to criticize
> the views of these great acharyas _without_ any logic or reason ?

        I responded to the newspaper article that you had appended to your
full mail.  That article dealt only with how NRI's and RI's are harming
the hindU culture by trying to be clean and economically well-off.  It
had no quotes from any Acharyas nor any talk about fate and free-will. I
fail to see the reason why you are asking me these questions.  Infact I
dont see any quote  from the Acharyas, the newspaper article was
trying to support.  Other than saying that what most NRIs think is "hindU"
culture is not so and that in someway this attitude is harming that true
culture which is preserved by not thinking about cleanliness and
economics, the newspaper article serves no purpose.  It gives little
reason and no logic to justify this claim. My comments, therefore, are of
the same character.

> >        Notice that nobody talks about improving the situation, of
> >removing inconveniences so that culture can flourish. They all talk about
> >some doomsday predictions.
> Who is this nobody ? Do you read all the articles which appear in various
> newspapers and magazines ? Even a cursory glance would reveal that there
> are several social organizations which spend their time and effort so that
> the culture flourishes. Of course, there are numerous obstacles and problems,
> but there are enough articles on removing inconveniences so that the Hinduism
> culture can flourish.
        Unfortunately, I do spend a lot of time reading articles from
atleast 4 Indian newspapers, once in a week.  The nobody refers to many
such cynics (there are many such social workers and politicians, I can
name them if you want me to, but I want to spare this list of these
issues) who have the idea that hindU culture is all about doing nothing.
I can list you many (enough to keep you busy for a day atleast) foreign
documentaries on India that use such statements to put forth there
doomsday hypothesis.  The nobody doesnot mean no single person.  I have
been well aware of some social organisations that help improve conditions
in India for quite sometime now.

> >for perusal of course.  I remember the issue of copyright violations
> >coming up then, and it being recommended that no such articles be posted
> >on the list. I just hope that Shri Giri's posting doesn't fall under that
> >category.
> Don't worry about it.
        Ravi was kind enough to send me a mail educating me on this
matter.  I have since, stopped worrying about it.

> AUM shaantiH



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