saattvika tyaagam

Sankaran Jayanarayanan sjayana at HOTMAIL.COM
Fri Oct 15 12:19:38 CDT 1999

"Jaldhar H. Vyas" <jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM> wrote:

 > Btw, Karthik should be resubscribed by now.

Yes, thank you.


 > I just want to comment on this part because I think it has a lot of
 > bearing on how we look at tradition.
 > > Well, there are great minds in other traditions too.
 > Certainly.
 > > And tradition is for
 > > Man, not Man for tradition.
 > Such a formulation implies that both tradition and Man are static.

Not so. I shall explain.

 > Just
 > as tradition is the sum total of all the generations of Man.  Man is
 > moulded by the traditions he has inherited, sometimes willingly and
 > sometimes unwillingly.

Still, you must admit that Man is greater than tradition. All tradition is a
product of Man, but not all of Man is contained in tradition.

I meant to say that if the final goal of Man is wisdom, then the sole
purpose of tradition should be to lead him towards it. In other words, there
is no use of tradition if it does not benefit/help Man in his quest for
wisdom. If advaita is a great tradition, it is because it is associated with
great men and has helped countless men in their search for wisdom.

If it be an absolute fact that a person would actually come closer to wisdom
by adopting alien practises than by staying in his own tradition, he ought
to do so. In such a case, remaining in one's own tradition would get him

That being said, I do appreciate the fact that taking up the practices of
another tradition does not usually benefit oneself -- it may actually be
detrimental to one's spiritual progress. The GIta warns against such a step
in (3.35) -- that it is better to err in the discharge of one's duty than to
perfectly do another's. But then again, the GIta (or anyone for that matter)
doesn't really point a finger at a person and tell him,"Your duty is to
study physics" :-) Does that mean studying physics causes one to stray from
the advaita tradition?

If a person who is supposed to be part of the advaita tradition has taken up
studying modern physics, he is actually studying and practising the works of
another tradition -- in this case, one originating from Archimedes and
Thales onto Newton and Einstein. If it makes him a better man, so be it. If
studying Vedanta makes him a better man, then he should quit studying
physics and turn towards Vedanta. If Christianity is better for him, he
should get baptised and become a Christian.

One should make tradition(s) benefit oneself, not remain in a tradition if
it pulls oneself down.


 > >  One ought to choose whatever helps one the most.
 > > If there is something in a tradition that is good for a certain person,
 > > he/she could/should take it up whole-heartedly, IMO.
 > >
 > A "not invented here" mentality is not good but we must ask ourselves
 > to do what?  A sampradaya gives a framework, goals and an objective way
 > judge the value of things.  We should think very carefully about what
 > kind of help is being given and why.

I agree that a person who thinks he can "improve" on a tradition is only
pampering his own ego.

But specific cases cannot be dismissed this way. For instance, many on the
list have strayed away from the advaita tradition by not only learning the
ways of other traditions (engineering, medicine, etc.) but also by making
active use of that knowledge in earning their livelihood, even though much
of this knowledge contradicts some precepts of the advaita tradition.

Giri was telling me the other day how the scriptures accepted by the advaita
tradition as authentic describe a Lunar eclipse as due to Rahu/Kethu (in the
form of serpents) swallowing the moon. Scientific knowledge gathered from
other traditions, which is bread and butter to several of us, plainly
contradicts this. How many list-members honestly believe that the  moon is
swallowed by a snake during a Lunar eclipse?

 > Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>


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