viprataa (was Re: Sadhana)
sada at ANVIL.NRL.NAVY.MIL
Tue May 12 07:42:15 CDT 1998
I appreciated Charles Wikners post.
>Another objection of the outsider, is that the Vedas apply to the
>entire creation and not just the Indian sub-continent: there is
>not a separate Reality for the United States, for example.
Yes - Vedanta (not necessarily the purva miimamsa or the karmakanda aspect,
which has more relevance to a particular time and region - desha kaala
parimitam - since they mostly discuss the rituals pertaining to ashrama
dharma and kaala dharma) is the science and hence it pertains to true
aspect of Sanatana Dharma - and hence is universal and has relevance beyond
time and region.
> The glory of Advaita is that it is
>all-embracing, all-inclusive: it offers an explanation for all
>physical and subtle creations; it accepts all philosophies,
>even the materialist caarvaaka; it accepts everything very
>positively and points out that, whatever it is, is limited
>and is not the final Truth. Then it explains the limitations,
>and gives practical advice to transcend those limits in order
>to finally realise the Truth. It is indeed marvellous and
>glorious, and is the only system that speaks so clearly of
>the Absolute (Nirguna Brahman).
While I endorse your views on Advaita from my own scientific background, I
am sure you are aware that parallel systems of philosophy were also
developed in India by great acharyaas using the same Prastanatrayam as the
reference. Frankly I learned more about Advaita by reading the criticism
of Advaita. The greatest tradition that our fore-fathers have established,
while I take pride that I am born in that tradition, is the methodology of
vedantic discussions that they established. Before any one ventures to
propose another explanation, Bhaashya or commentary on the scriptures, he
has to present the purva paksha, the prevailing interpretations, stating
where the problems are in those interpretations (using both shastra and
anumaana as pramaaNa-s) and then propose a new siddhanta that can address
the short comings of the previous explanations. I am amazed at the depth
of analysis and their scholarship and some times even mind-boggling
hair-splitting logic. When we read these, we cannot but bow down with
But again, study of these help pacify ones questioning mind, but it is not
necessary nor sufficient for moksha.
>The oral tradition that has flawlessly preserved the Vedas
>over thousands of years, is a miracle. It is incomprehensible
>to the individual mind: I stand in awe before it; it is worthy
>of unqualified respect.
Hence an unqualified respect to Veda Vyasa Bhagavaan whose vision was far
beyond which helped preserve the system.
>Given the quantity of scripture to be learnt by heart, and the
>understood and put into practice, before teaching or expounding,
>this would mean starting very young. (That is what I understand
>by study of the scriptures, not the part-time dabbling that most
>members of the list indulge in.) To support this implies a
>division of labour in society, and since the division needs to
>be made at a very young age, the wisdom of a family-based caste
>system is obvious.
True. But system that is well intended or justifiable, is also prone to
abuses if there are no checks and balances, similar to some of the welfare
programs in this country. We can only learn from history and perhaps make
amends so that defects can be corrected for better future. That is the very
purpose of the intellect that humans are blessed with.
>That is a subtle point that I had not appreciated before the
>discussion arose on the list. I had assumed that the orthodox
>view summarised by Jaldhar (Re: Sadhana, Wed 6 May 1998) was
>the only one:
Jaladhar presents faithfully a view that he learned and understands and
appreciates. But that is not necessarily the only orthodox view. What he
presented is prevailing orthodox practices. In retrospective, we living in
the present can judge the past and the future will be judging us. But
these judgements calls are meaningless unless we learn from them use them
for the betterment of the present and future.
>> Brahman is known through comprehension of Shruti
>> (Cf. Brahmasutra 1.1.3) Only the male dvija and amongst
>> them the Brahmans are eligible to study the Vedas.
>> Therefore only they are eligible to know Brahman.
>(Jaldhar did stress that this is but _one_ orthodox view.)
Yes he is right.
But in Vajrasuchi Upanishad the caste system was discussed extensively.
Clearly the caste classification is scientific and is based on the guna the
mental qualities rather than janma. It is intended for ones own growth and
not for judging others. Anand's sloka from Munu justifies that. But
theory is different from practice and Jaladhar is right in terms of
orthodox practices and their justification to support their practices.
Krishna's declaration in B.G. - chatur varnyaam mayaa sR^ishhTam is often
used by the orthodox, ignoring the next paada, to justify the prevailing
But I fully agree with the you- Vedanta is universally applicable.
- Krishna being a Universal Personality, the teaching has to be universally
applicable. Hence should be interpreted and understood correctly.
Naval Research Laboratory
Washington D.C. 20375
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