Vivek Anand Ganesan v_ganesan at YAHOO.COM
Thu May 30 02:27:31 CDT 2002

Namaste Kathirasanji,

--- K Kathirasan NCS <kkathir at NCS.COM.SG> wrote:
> Namaste Vivekji
> In your point 1, you have mentioned that 'every single
> vedantin has held
> such a view'. May I know who these vedantins are please?
> So do you consider
> Swami Chinmayananda, Swami Vivekananda, Swami Sivananda,
> Swami Dayananda
> Saraswati (not the arya samaj swamiji), Swami
> Paramarthananda, Ramana
> Maharishi etc.... vedantins?
Oh, this is a loaded question.  Opinions vary. Almost all
consider bhagavAn Ramana to be an advaitin and even a
jIvan mukta. That was easy. Swami SivAnanda also came from
a traditional lineage ( I believe he was related to
Appayya dIxitar ).  The others are often classified as
"neo-vedantins" by the traditional/orthodox people.
I have great respect for all of them as I believe each of
them played a very important role. My contact with advaita
in the US is primarily through chinmaya mission and the
RK mission.  Sometimes, I think Swami Vivekanada tends to
oversimplify things somewhat but it is entirely
understandable as he was speaking to an audience which had
not the faintest idea about advaita or hinduism.

  Coming to their views on vedAdhikAram, I believe this is
where the "old" school and the "new" school differ ( they
also differ on general traditional aspects, I feel ).  Here
is my personal take on it for whatever it is worth (
forgive the lengthy detour ).

  I have interacted with many jews in the USA and have even
visited a synagogue once. I have always been struck by the
many similarities between the jewish approach to religion
and ours ( let us ignore the "semitic" and "indic" divide
for a moment ).  Traditional Judaism places as much
emphasis on following Judaic Law as does Hinduism on
following dharma.  For much of their residence in Europe
Jews had been sequestered in to their own colonies ( called
ghettoes ) where they were quite comfortable in their own
life-style. But, in the 19th century, educated and upwardly
-mobile jews began to leave the ghetto and started moving
in to traditional gentile occupations and neighborhoods.

  This caused a major crisis in this people.  On the one
hand they desperately wanted to "fit in". On the other they
were being pulled by their traditional culture.  Many sort
of evolved a compromise and retained their customs as best
as they could. Some, however, were genuinely repelled by
some aspects of Judaic Law ( such as the status of women )
but also felt restricted by some other aspects ( such as
the insistence on eating only Kosher food ).  So, a new
form of Judaism was invented - Reform Judaism, which
allowed a person to be Jewish but without Judaic Law! To
this day, there are 3 kinds of jews,
  Orthodox - Those who follow the Law to the letter
  Conservative - Those who accept a via media
  Reform - Those who basically don't care for Judaic Law

  Why this lengthy essay you may ask.  For I see that
hindus (not just advaitins) are in the same predicament. I
also foresee that eventually we will also divide ourselves
along the lines of Orthodox ( possibly only a hanful ),
Traditional/Conservative ( maybe the vast majority ) and
"Reform" ( again a handful ).  So, there may eventually
be "orthodox" advaitins and "reform" advaitins. I place
Swami Vivekananda et al. in the "reform" category. I have
great respect for all learned exponents of advaita and
prefer not to take sides.  I feel that to learn classical
advaita the "orthodox" approach is absolutely essential.
But, the "reform" school captures the catholicity and
openness of advaita better.  This is my personal opinion
based on what I know now.  Enough said.



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