Advaita and Christianity

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Tue Mar 28 21:52:07 CST 2000

On Mon, 27 Mar 2000, Sankaran Kartik Jayanarayanan wrote:

> Although Jaldhar's posting was comparing advaita-Vedanta with Christianity
> *as practised by a majority of those who claim to be Christians*, I was
> very careful to avoid the term "Christianity" in my reply. I only claimed
> that the *Bible* was strongly leaning towards the philosophy of advaita
> *as taught by Ramana*, in the opinion of Ramana Himself.

Then perhaps you are right but I question how useful such a comparison
is.  Even before I knew anything about Indian philosophy in a formal
sense, I had the feeling that it is not so much about what to believe (or
not believe) but what to _do_ (or not do).  I call this a dharmic view of
life as opposed to a "spiritual" one.  Such a view entails looking at a
given text not just from the philosophical point of view (although that is
certainly important) but from a historical and sociological perspective
too.  If this is the way we look at say the Gita, it is only fair that it
is the way we look at the Bible.

> My point is: if one accepts Ramana's views on the Bible, and at the same
> time wants to dispute the claim that the Bible's teachings are in line
> with advaita Vedanta, he's only attempting to show that 1=2.

That's a question:  Should we accept his views on the Bible?

> There is almost a whole chapter devoted to an interpretation of the Bible
> in the light of advaita Vedanta in Arthur Osborne's book `Teachings of
> Ramana Maharshi,' where Osborne has culled quotes by Ramana on the Bible
> and presented the views in a consistent manner. There can be no doubt as
> to the fact that Ramana was of the opinion that the Bible taught pristine
> non-dualism. I have already provided a couple of quotes in my last posting
> on this subject. There are LOTS more.
> IMO, the comparison of the philosophies of the Bible and Vedanta has to be
> done ONLY along the line of interpretation of the Bible as suggested by
> Ramana. If one goes by the interpretation of the Bible as suggested by the
> Pope, sure, one is left with dualism. For that matter, if one goes by the
> interpretation of the GItA as suggested by mAdhvAchArya, one is again left
> with dualism, albeit of a different nature. There is little use in
> bringing up the views of Catholics and Protestants into this discussion.

The reason is because as Christians go Catholic and Protestant Christians
outnumber the Osbornes of the world 100,000 to 1.  If we truly belive in
tolerance than we cannot simply dismiss the views of so many people as not
relevant.  Instead we should take them seriously even if we wind up
disagreeing with them.

> Arthur Osborne grew up in the ramaNAshram learning Ramana's teachings from
> his father Adam Osborne, who was one of the close followers of Ramana.
> Arthur Osborne correctly understands that Ramana was not representing any
> particular tradition, but was simply teaching from his own experience of
> the Truth and the reflections of the same in the religious books that he
> came into contact with. The Bible was one of them, and Ramana fully
> endorsed it as a book in line with the teachings of the GItA. If Ramana
> felt so, I should think the discussion ends right there.

That just opens up another discussion.  If as you are saying Ramana
doesn't represent the views of Advaita Vedanta (and other people on this
list would disagree with that) then we need to examine what his views are
and how valid they are.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>

bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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