viprataa (was Re: Sadhana)

Charles Wikner WIKNER at NACDH4.NAC.AC.ZA
Wed May 13 09:46:33 CDT 1998

On Tue, 12 May 1998, sadananda <sada at ANVIL.NRL.NAVY.MIL> wrote:

> 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.

Yes, but it is advaita that resonates (/vip :-) with this vya.s.ti,
whereas dvaita the others inbetween seem flat.

> 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
> humility.

Yes, indeed.  I have always read Shankara's commentaries as exposition
of advaita rather than discrediting other views (although that no doubt
played its part historically in re-establishing the tradition).

> But again, study of these help pacify ones questioning mind, but it is not
> necessary nor sufficient for moksha.

The W's always get me into trouble -- Who?  Which?  What?  Where?  When?
Whence?  Whither?  And the all-time favourite: Why?  :-)

> Hence an unqualified respect to Veda Vyasa Bhagavaan whose vision was far
> beyond which helped preserve the system.

I take that as an epithet for Shankara, in which case I must agree.

> >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,

I was referring to the ancient causes of the system.  Checks and balances
only become necessary when the underlying wisdom no longer governs.

> 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.

I don't have that one: sounds like it will settle my concerns about the
caste system -- but your posts have already done that quite effectively.

> It is intended for ones own growth and not for judging others.

Ouch!  That's worth remembering!

> Anand's sloka from Munu justifies that.

Yes, that was an eye-opener for me.

> 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
> caste system.

Thanks for the pointer (4:13).  It was useful to re-read that with
Shankara's commentary pointing to the caste karma (18:42-44).
I confess that the quality that I associate with the vociferously
orthodox is arrogance (darpo vidyaadhanasvajanaadi nimitta utseka.h
is Shankara's commentary to 16:4) -- but that just illustrates that
this mind is unduly influenced by such agitation, and all too easily
misses the underlying gentleness in measured responses such as yours.

> Krishna being a Universal Personality, the teaching has to be universally
> applicable. Hence should be interpreted and understood correctly.

It is indeed a privelege to be on this list and to have my limited
interpretations refined and misunderstandings corrected.  This is
especially so for one working on his own, as I am.

I have thoroughly enjoyed your posts, both in tone and content, which
have illuminated an area that has been dark and troublous for me.
Thank you very much.

Kind regards, Charles.

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list