Advaita and Christianity
anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Apr 4 16:52:03 CDT 2000
On Tue, 4 Apr 2000 13:15:28 -0500, Sankaran Kartik Jayanarayanan
<kartik at ECE.UTEXAS.EDU> wrote:
>This will be my last posting on this thread.
>I only want to re-iterate something I said in a prior posting of mine, and
>I only claimed that the *Bible* was strongly leaning towards the
>philosophy of advaita *as taught by Ramana*, in the opinion of Ramana
Let me say something at the cost of being misunderstood as arrogant.
IF (this is a big IF) Ramana indeed made the identification of the Bible
and advaita his *main* teaching, I will have no hesitation to disagree
with him. I feel that his teachings are not being interpreted fairly if
the gist of what you say includes a claim that Ramana's *main* teaching
was to study the Bible for advaitic realization. I very much doubt this
is the case. He could have advised Christian disciples of his, about the
advaitic interpretation of the Bible but the way you have presented this
issue makes it appear as if the Bible is equivalent to vedanta in every
way and that this was a *central* message of Ramana.
Another important thing that is missing in this whole discussion is that
any Indian philosophy is not just an armchair philosophy. When you compare
Vedanta with another system, you cannot divorce the practice of Vedantic
discipline from what is said in the Vedanta texts. The practice and
theory go together hand in hand always. This is the pitfall in making
comparisons with other religions/systems. The correct way to compare
Vedanta with any other system, say the teachings of the Bible, should
also include the comparison of practices. I don't know how one goes about
practicing the teachings of the Bible, but I know it is going to be very
very different from the practice of the teaching of Vedanta. On this
ground alone, one can categorically reject the notion of the equivalence
of the Bible and Vedanta.
Still, assuming that Ramana made a strong case for the complete
identification of advaita and the Bible, something that is yet to
be shown, I can reconcile it with Shankara's tradition.
Let us remember what Sureshvara says in his Sambandha vaartika:
tvamasyaaditastasmaadaagamaadeva naanyataH |
aikaatmyavastunaH saakshhaadvyutpattiravichaalinii ||
Therefore, from scriptural sentences such as "tat tvam asi" *alone*
and not from any other source, arises the direct knowledge of the One
Self, in an unwavering manner.
Note that Sureshvara's categorical remark on the exclusive ability
of the shruti to give us the *direct* experience of the Self does leave
room for other scriptures to give us *indirect* knowledge.
So if Ramana said the Bible is an advaitic text, it can only mean that
the Bible, like other texts such as the ashhtAvakra gItA, the
avadhUta gitA, etc., can give us the *indirect* knowledge of the Self.
The (direct) sAxAtkAra can come from Vedanta and Vedanta alone.
In my opinion, his remarks on the Bible, should be interpreted in this
way. It does not mean we should all start studying the Bible!
If you say that Ramana himself realized the Self without Vedanta, the
reply lies in his own teachings which you quoted in connection with
J Krishnamurti. Ramana said that effort such as meditation is required
and no one can realize the Self effortlessly. Even if someone realizes
it with doing anything, that person should be assumed to have
undergone some practice of "chitta-shuddhi" in his previous life. The
same applies in Ramana's own case. He must have studied Vedanta in a
bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam
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