viprataa (was Re: Sadhana)

Anand Hudli anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue May 12 11:07:39 CDT 1998

 Vivek Anand Ganesan wrote:

>ShrI John Grimes wrote :
>> As Sadananda put it, one should be aware of ALL the meanings of a
>word and
>> then and only then, should one "guess" as to its use by a particular
>> author. One would be foolish to contend that "vipra" came to mean a
>> "brahmin" but, and there is the rub, what else does it mean and what
>> exactly did it mean to a particular individual at a particular time?
>> when was his time? And who was he speaking to? And why? All these are
>> factors too. It seems as if the original meaning of the word should
>> least be noted - especially since the person we were discussing
>seems to
>> have had an excellent grasp of those original texts.
>> John

 I would add one more crucial factor to what Dr. Grimes has suggested
  above in order to arrive at a meaning(s) of terms used by an
 AchArya. One should also consult other works of the AchArya to see
 in what sense and how he has used the term in question. Surely,
 it is not reasonable to assume that the AchArya may contradict
 himself by using the same term or concept in different and
 mutually contradictory ways in different texts.

 Also, it is not unreasonable to consult other Gurus in the same
 line. It is to be assumed that such Gurus in the same paramparaa
 have also studied the original AchArya's works and are competent to
 interpret the terms and explain the usage.

>   Sir, I fully agree with you.  I was merely stating the commonly
>held view.  IMHO, the notion that the study of the vedas should be
>restricted to male DvijAs and Brahmins at that, is a conservative one
>at best.  The primacy of the Vedas in Vedanta is unquestionable.  As
>ShrI Giridhar had opined, the import of the Vedas can be obtained from
>Smriti.  But, for a  more serious study, the primary source of
>knowledge ( Shruti ) would have to be consulted ( IMO ).  So, to
>restrict scriptural study is to restrict a full and complete
>experience of Vedanta.

 I find the de-linking of vedAdhikAra and mokShAdhikAra interesting,
 but I do not fully agree with it. Here is why. Let us state the
 known facts.

 1) Shankara denies VedAdhikAra to shUdras in the BrahmasUtra-bhAShya.
    I am using the term "shUdra" as one who has not had the dvija-
    saMskAras like the upanayana (thread ceremony). (This also assumes
    of course that the person is performing at least the prescribed
    and obligatory nitya karmas.) Just by being born from brahmin
    parents will not guarantee that one is dvija. If one is born from
    Brahmin parents but has no proper saMskAras he is the same as
    a shUdra.  This is all in agreement with the Smritis and I am
   quite certain that Shankara was aware of the Smriti injunctions as
   he quotes from them in his works. Additionally, Shankara mentions
   the four fold qualifications viveka, vairAgya, shamAdi-ShaTka, and
   mumukShutva as prerequisites for Vedantic study.

 2) Shankara, Sureshvara (in the Sambandha vArtika, for example),
   and others in their line are emphatic in saying that the mokSha
  is from the VedAntic texts alone. See also the explanation of
 the Brahma sUtra "shastra-yonitvAt" in Shankara's bhAShya.

 3) The prakaraNa granthas and others such as the Yoga vAsiShTha
   explain the knowledge of the upaniShads. These prakaraNa granthas
  may be studied by all, including shUdras, women, etc.  This is
  similar to saying that purANas explain the Vedas and these purANas
  can be read by anyone without restrictions. It has been stated that
   by practising bhakti one can attain mokSha.

 4) HH the Swami of Sringeri has said that anyone can get mokSha by
  studying the jnAna-yoga texts such as the prakaraNa's, yoga
  vAsiShTha, etc.

 5) It may appear that the concluding sentence of 3) contradicts
   2), but such is not the case. MadhusUdana Saraswati has explained
  how one may get krama-mukti through bhakti. This is different from
  sadyo mukti or jIvan-mukti which is liberation here and now in this
  life. Such jIvan-mukti is achieved through Vedantic study. The
  krama mukti achieved through bhakti makes one go to Brahma loka and
 then eventually leads to mokSha.

 6) It may appear that 4) contradicts 2). But this cannot be the case.
   HH the Swami of Sringeri, himself a scholar in tarka-shAstra, can
   never contradict Shankara. So we should interpret 4) in the manner
  indicated by 5). That is, by studying the jnAna-yoga granthas, one
  may get krama mukti. In other words, the study of such works
  _eventually_ leads one to mokSha, not to jIvanmukti. Perhaps, by
  such study, one gets an excellent birth in an excellent family in
 the next life. Then every opportunity to study VedAnta directly
 will become a certainty.

 7) There are always exceptions to a generally established rule.
    One might cite examples such as that of Ramana Maharshi who
    attained jIvan-mukti without following the canonical path. But
    we have to ask ourselves: Do we possess the same qualities and
   commitment as Ramana Maharshi? Just about anyone cannot become a
   Ramana Maharshi. So the probability is quite low that we can get
   jIvan mukti in this life if we do not follow the established
   rules. But that should not be a cause for pessimism. We can
   study the prakaraNa granthas and try to make sure that we will
  eventually  be eligible for mokSha. By the very fact that we have
  taken birth in the Kali Yuga shows that we have spent millions,
  nay innumerable, births in the transmigratory cycle. What difference
  does it make if we spend a few more lifetimes in trying sincerely
  to attain mokSha?

 So my conclusion is that we can de-link VedAdhikAra and mokShAdhikara
 provided we understand that mokShAdhikAra does not mean liberation
 here and now. Liberation-in-30-days-or-your-money-back won't work.


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