Gayatri Mantra and Agarwals - request to moderators

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Wed May 29 22:55:54 CDT 2002

Ravi Chandrashekhara wrote:

> So you say you are a Sudra, but how ?

Vishal has an agenda, facts be damned.  With such people you can only have
a shouting match so in a way it is good it ended as quickly as it did.

Ravishankar Venkatraman wrote:

> I joined this list to learn more about Sri Sankara's philosophy. When I
> joined here, we used to have good discussions on Brahma Sutra Bashyas.
> Later unfortunately, I find that there are elaborate discussions on more
> mundane things about food, marriage and castes, when compared to the
> actual philosophy.

But 99% of life is mundane isn't it?  Our religion is a total way of life
so it has to cater to the ordinary man as well as the philosopher.

> It has got nothing to do with Sri Sankara's life and philosophy.

Oh but to some extent it does.  Shankaracharyas' views on the subject are
in the bhashya to the apashudradhikarana of the Brahmasutras (1.3.34-38)
He upholds the idea that non-dvijas are not entitled to study the Vedas
but his concluding words are the most important.

yeShAM punAH purvakrtasaMskAravashAdviduradharmavyAdhiprabhrtInAM
jnAnotpattisteShAM na phalaprAptiH pratiSheddhuM jnAnasyaikAntikaphalatvAt
shrAvayechchaturo varNAn iti chetihasapurANAdhigame chAturvarNyasyAdhikAra
smaraNAt | vedapurvakastu nastyAdhikAraH shudrANamiti sthitam ||

"To those Shudras like Vidura and the Dharmic hunter [whose story comes in
the portion of the Mahabharata I have been fitfully translating] who
because of their former good deeds have attained jnana, the fruits of
their jnana cannot be denied since jnana inevitably brings about its'
fruit [i.e. Moksha.] [Also] it is known from the Smrti [this is a quote
from Mahabharata] "One should teach the four varnas" that they are
qualified [for learning] through the Itihasa and Puranas. However that
the Shudras do not have any adhikara for the Vedas is a settled conclusion."

Women are counted as shudravat in this context because they do not receive
upanayana.  Those outside the 4 varnas are not mentioned explicitly but we
know by the example of the Chandala Shankaracharya met in Kashi and by our
contemporary Gurus treatment of foreigners that this can be extended to
all people.

sathya J. wrote

> ONLY Talking about topics like food , marraige, will NOT help us
> understand the Philosophy.

In American schools there is government program to provide free breakfast
to students from poor families.  What does breakfast have to do with
arithmetic or geography?  They observed that students who are hungry are
not in a good state to concentrate on learning.  So too we have readers
who due to the upheavals of our times may not have been brought up in a
traditional way or may be completely outside Indian culture altogether.
It is natural that they maybe "hungry" to know about topics you might
consider elementary or boring.  I think the statistics show that these
topics are interesting to many so we should cater to them too.


My purpose in these debates is not to insult or even to convert just to
honestly explain and defend the views of our acharyas.  Vishal evidently
found it distasteful and left but I neither forced him to leave nor begged
him to stay.

Vivek Anand Ganesan wrote:

> Based on past discussions ( I have been following this
> list since 1998 ), the following was agreed :
> 1) shrI shankara has upheld the view that women and non-
>   dvijas are ineligible to study the vedas.  But, AFAIK,
>   such a view has been upheld by every single vedAntin.
>   So, it is not that shankara or advaita alone is
>   "casteist" and "misogynist".
> 2) Again, it was pointed out that there is absolutely no
>    restriction when it came to j~nAna and to talk about
>    adhikAram etc. with respect to j~nAna is ridiculous.
> 3) I have a set of books by H.H. Holenarasipur Swamiji who
>    also states 1) but adds that it is OK to discuss shruti
>    in any language other than Sanskrit ( he sort of implies
>    this in one place ).  Since this list is English-based,
>   I don't think it is a problem as long as we discuss
>    advaita-related texts.  So, there is no limitation on
>    this list ( I believe the moderators concur, judging by
>    the diversity of the membership ) based on birth or
>   gender.

Thanks for the useful summary.  I hope this will clear any lingering
doubts readers have on the subject.

K Kathirasan wrote:

> Unfortunately, from my observations, publications of Kamakoti deal more
> with aparavidya than paravidya. Hence, Kamakoti pitha's works may not be
> the best option to understand the Advaitic vision.

This is entirely in keeping with the Advaita Vedantic outlook.  Let's face
it the jnana marga is hard.  Not many are prepared for it.  Even amongst
those, not many will achive the goal in this lifetime.  So our merciful
acharyas have defined a path for those who are left out too so that they
may be slowly weaned from a worldly outlook to a more spiritual one.

Ravishankar Venkatraman wrote:

> I am not learning anything new which should be the case with many of you.
> We have some really erudite people, who can tell us good things.

Sathya J. wrote:

> We need to keep our FOCUS on ATMA JNANA

K Kathirasan wrote:

> we should spend more time on Jnana Kanda than Karma Kanda.

What you get out of the list also depends on what you put in.  The people
who post regularly have their own interests but you don't have to wait for
them.  Why wait for "experts" when there is an expert hidden in all of
you?  And the beauty of the Internet is it never fills up.  There is
plenty of room for new topics as well as the old.  If I might make a
suggestion, there was a request for an English translation of
Narasimhakaravalamba stotra of Shankaracharya.  That might be a good
project for someone.  Or if that doesn't interest you go right ahead and
write about something else that does.

I'll answer any remaining questions but personally I think I've said all
that can be usefully said on this topic so I'll be moving on to things you
might find more interesting now.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>
It's a girl! See the pictures -

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