Jaldhar H. Vyas
jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Mon Jul 29 06:24:59 CDT 2002
On Sun, 28 Jul 2002, gaurav goel wrote:
> Pranam, Respecte members.
> i want to know what is Advaita Lifestyle. If it is there, are we
> required to follow it like other ways of life like yoga etc.. Are there
> strict rules for diet etc.? If theses are there then why so?
Yes there is an Advaita lifestyle. We can say that whatever
actions further the goals of Advaita Vedanta--the knowledge of Brahman as
the one true reality--is part of that lifestyle. Actually Shankaracharya
says that all actions even those done with the noblest of intentions are
tainted by the notions of subject and object so the only recourse for the
genuine seeker of jnana is sannyasa or the total renunciation of actions.
So we can say the life of the sannyasi is the true advaita lifestyle.
Shankaracharya recognizes that for some reason or another only a relatively
few people will be equipped to take sannyasa. So for the rest, he
recommends following the way of life as described in the shastras. Karma
is of two kinds, that which is done for reward or to avoid punishment, and
that which is done is a purely selfless way. The first kind even if
recommended by all the Vedas cannot be considered part of an Advaita
lifestyle. But the second which is called karmayoga will gradually remove
the sense of ego until one is ready to take sannyasa.
> Should we
> not avoid making choices of any sort including this one.
That seems to be a fashionable way of thinking nowadays but one will not
find any support from our acharyas for it. One cannot avoid making
choices and sometimes the choice is not between a perfectly good thing and
a perfectly bad thing but between the lesser of two evils. How choices
have to be made and their consequences are the central message of the
Mahabharata. Today we were watching the Mahabharata TV series on Zee TV
and they had the episode of Duryodhana getting caught up in the illusions
in Indraprastha and falling in a tank. Draupadi laughs at him, and this
sets the humiliated Duryodhanas' heart to war. There is a saying: if
Sita had spoken up there would have been no Ramayana and if Draupadi had
kept silent there would have been no Mahabharata! Every choice you make
will have some consequence, good or bad.
An episode of the Mahabharata which has become quite famous is the
Bhagavadgita. Arjuna asks the same thing. Seeing his entire family
arrayed against him, he makes what seems to be an Advaita argument. Is
something as inconsequential in the long run as a kingdom worth committing
the henous sin of killing your own family for? He seems to give an
Advaita answer: Better to retire to an ashram and give up materialistic
pleasure to those who are interested in them.
Krishna Bhagavan has to set him straight. For Arjuna to shirk his duty as
a kshatriya to protect the people just to salve his guilty conscience
would have caused untold misery to countless people. And do characters
such as Duryodhana or Jarasandha or Shakuni strike you as the type who
would let the main threats to their power just fade out of the picture?
No doubt they would have agreed to the retirement in an ashram and then
sent assassins to kill the Pandavas in their sleep or something. Evil
(and ignorance is the greatest evil per our philosophy) cannot be appeased
it must be challenged at every step.
Some people are surprised to find that much of the Advaita
Vedantic literature (not to mention discussions on this list) deals with
disputing the views of other schools. Why not live and let live? As long
as we are free to follow our path why bother with anyone elses? The
answer is we need to increase our own mental clarity and stop others from
being misled. Yes this is dualistic thinking. But if it helps dispel a
greater amount of duality then it too can be considered part of an Advaita
> If there is no
> such lifestyle then it poses the danger of forgetting the advaita way of
> thinking (which may get reminded in day to day rituals) etc. etc. I am
> confused. Please clear this doubt. Please let me know how to get
> affirmed in the advaita thought process?
One should do ones duty (religious and secular) without regard for the
results, associate with others who are committed to noble thoughts, shun
the wicked, and reflect deeply on the tenets of Advaita Vedanta.
Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
It's a girl! See the pictures - http://www.braincells.com/shailaja/
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