Antiquity of Advaita Vedanta (was Re: An Open Letter to All)
vpcnk at HOTMAIL.COM
Sat May 20 08:54:00 CDT 2000
I think I've stirred up a hornet's nest on this list with this topic and I'm
not too pleased with it. Anyway I'd like to point out a few things regarding
the questions raised on this topic.
Regarding Ravi's questions about the need to study the MAdhyamaka ShAstram
to understand MAyA, I'd like to point out something :
It's true that the Advaita tradition doesn't ask us to study Bauddha texts
to learn Advaita. But again to be eligible to learn the texts our AchAryas
state some basic qualifications. AFAIK, such qualifications are met only by
a samnyAsin. If you're one, there's no need to learn what mAyA is
intellectually, for the realisation of that itself will be the reason why
you renounced the world.
But most of us being young and from what I've seen in the introductions,
working in the corporate sector and living abroad, we hardly fit the bill.
It's very easy to talk about what samnyAsam is and whether mental
renounciation is enough. But the real thing is a whole different cup of tea.
It is negation of life as we know it. The psychological implications of
this act cannot be understood and realized unless one has really tried to
walk the path - in short it's a life of pain and misery - which the katha
Up. equates to walking on a razor's edge and Krishna equates it to poison.
Here I'm not implying that I've tried out samnyAsam. It is just that I've
tried it in bits and found it extremely tough to handle.
It's in this situation and context that I said that an intellectual
understanding of MAyA will help the aspirant. And whatever modern life has
given/deprived us, it has developed our intellects quite well with a
scientific education. So it would be of benefit to the sAdhaka to use it to
overcome challanges of modern life and the mAdhyamaka shAstram is a very
good tool for such a purpose. Again as I said if you've the mental maturity
to take up samnyAsam, there's no need for it. Ofcourse this is just my
And about Ravi's suggestion to follow Dvaita or VisishtAdvaita, that would
be throughly anti-Advaita. Whatever might be their errors atleast all the
schools - nAstika or Astika - before RAmAnuja agreed that reality can be
attained only through knowledge. That's inviolate in Advaita - Knowledge is
the liberator. Ofcourse bhakti can be useful in the vyavahAra level to help
develop chitta shuddi, but to take it beyond its limit of efficacy would be
to lose the purpose.
Regarding Anand's question about the nature of mAyA, why do you think
Advaita has two levels of reality? Why is vyavahAra only of relative value?
Why is paramArtha considered the higher reality above the intellect? The
definition of mAyA is directly linked with this. Behind all the subtle
speculation in Advaita, there's razor sharp logic. To say mAyA means
illusion in the normal sense can never be supported by logic and it would be
a pity if Shankara is loaded with such an preposterous theory.
I'm at the moment caught up in a few things and so don't have the time to
answer all the queries. So give me a few days and we can start a real
discussion on the concepts of mAyA, shUnyata, Advaita etc. Though I'm tired
of arguing, I still think it is very necessary here. For what I understood
in the study of the texts and in my own meditations is quite different from
the views epoused here. Again maybe I'm wrong and if so I'm willing to
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