sada at ANVIL.NRL.NAVY.MIL
Thu May 7 07:38:30 CDT 1998
Dr. Giridhar wrote:
>Dr. John Grimes writes:
>>How un-vedanticand tragic that the orthodox have, in a parrot-like
>>fashion, blindly anddogmatically declared that the mere act of a male
>>birth in a brahmin familyis an indispensable prerequisite for
>>Self-realization! Commentators, scholars, and apologists have gone to
>>great lengths in an attempt tojustify this interpretation. To mention but
> I do agree with you that everyone can attain mokshha, but I do not
>think the above sentences are justified.
> We can call the present Shankara-acharyas to be very orthodox,
>right ? But they often say that realization of the Self is open to
>everyone and cite various examples. If you read their books, it becomes
>Has not Lord Krishna made it clear that
>maa.n hi paartha vyapaashritya ye.api syuH paapayonayaH .
>striyo vaishyaastathaa shuudraaste.api yaanti paraaM gatim.h .. 9.32 BG..
> Now, the jain community is split as to whether women can attain
>mokshha etc., but NOT the vedantic community. Anyone who is decently
>versed in vedanta or even in hinduism, whatever may be his orthodoxity,
>will agree that anyone can attain mokshha.
Discussion pertains to two aspects: one qualifications to the study of the
scriptures and the second qualifications for mOksha. They are not
For the study of any field there are always pre-requisites: For the study
of the Vedanta too, justifiably, there are prerequisites. The first Brahma
athataou brahma giJNaasa -
The atha, meaning - now - has been interpreted exhaustively by various
acharyas. From Shankara's point of view - now - refers to after having
completed the vedavihita karma-s or after realizing the futility of gaining
the liberation through action as illustrated in the Mundaka verse:
pariiksha lokaan karma chitan brahmano
tat viJNaanaarthaam sa gurumevaabhi gacchet
samit paaNiH sotriyam brahma nishTam||
By examining and analyzing ones experiences that though finite actions one
can not gain the infinite happiness that one is seeking, one has to
approach a teacher, who himself is knowledgeable of the scripture (a
teacher who knows how to teach, with sampradaaya or with guru parampara)
and has personal experience of the state of liberation, with an attitude of
service to gain that knowledge that paves the way for liberation.
Essentially one should have a mature mind.
One way to access is that one should have performed all the ashram
dharmaa-s, which also require the study of the vedas. To study of the
vedas, prerequisites are stated, being a Brahmin, with samksaaraas and
being a male has been imposed by tradition. As Anand's mail indicates that
references are there that it is not by birth that one is Brahmin, but by
gaining knowledge. - There is catch 22 situation here. By vidya one
becomes a Brahmin and to gain knowledge one has to be Brahmin. Whether we
like it or not the practice has been that study was restricted to Brahmin
by birth and only to males. When this tradition was actually introduced,
one can argue until heaven freezes. Whether it is right or wrong is not the
question, but it was there is a fact. Shankara's Upadesha sahasri
emphasizes in the qualifications of the student these aspects clearly.
Hence there was no question that the study of scriptures were restricted to
dwijaas, particularly to Brahmins by birth, whether it is right or wrong.
Qualifications for mOksha is a separate issue. Study of scriptures is
neither necessary nor sufficient. In fact a Mundka sloka emphsizes this
aspect too. Here it is nothing to do with being a Brahmin or male etc. It
is the four fold qualifications that are emphasized - viveka, vairaagya,
shatsampatti and mumukshutwam these are the only qualifications for
liberation. What constitutes a vairaagi -led to interpretations that one
has to take up sanyaasa ashram - without initiating again an endless
debate, in my understanding, - it is sanyaasa that is important and not
the sanyaasa ashram. Hence any one who has these four qualifications is a
qualified for mOksha.
While the qualifications for the study of the scriptures is debatable, the
qualifications for mOksha is not. The success of all the yogas ultimately
rest on the availability of the mind conducive for God- realization of
Thus as long as we separate the two sets of qualifications one to the
study of the scriptures and the others for mOksha, which are not
necessarily mutually dependent, our understanding is clear. Insistence that
one set of qualifications applies to the other, result from the failure to
appreciate the nature of the mOksha or self-realization.
Naval Research Laboratory
Washington D.C. 20375
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