[Advaita-l] Spiritual Study Guidance

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Mon Aug 25 11:35:06 CDT 2003

--- Min <min at nwlink.com> wrote:
> As a relatively recent seeker in Advaita Vedanta,
> I find that I need to post the following for both
> my own and other non-Sanskrit reading aspirants:

The Advaita Vedanta tradition itself proclaims that the study of
Shankara's commentaries is unnecessary for an earnest spiritual
aspirant. So there is no need to feel that one is missing something by
not studying the commentaries, just as it is incorrect to imagine that
studying them in scholarly detail will render one closer to

HH Chandrashekhara Bharati, a past pontiff of the Sringeri Math and
certainly one of the greatest Advaita Vedantins of the 20th century,
has emphatically declared this to be so. Here's an extract from HH's
biography, "Saint of Sringeri", in the chapter on "Method of Teaching":

"It is now ordinarily thought that for a modern advaitin, it is
indispensable that he must study the commentaries of our great master
Sri Shankaracharya. He was certainly a great seer. Did he become one
after studying his own commentaries? Even if we are prepared to say
that he became one only after writing them and cogitating over the
thoughts contained therein, what about his predecessors Govindapada,
Gaudapada, Suka and Vyasa Himself? Did they study the commentaries of
Shankara to become seers? This clearly shows that a study of the
commentaries is not indispensible for a genuine aspirant of
Self-realisation. Further we are seeing everyday very many persons who
are very proficient in their exposition of these commentaries and other
allied literature. Can we say with any truth that they are in any way
nearer to Self-realisation than others? Catch hold of a single truth
enunciated by the Vedas and stressed by our ancient seers and try hard
to make it your own. God will certainly reward your honest efforts and
guide you aright."

That being the case, I would like to make one suggestion:

> 1. What are your suggestions for the study of
> translations and commentaries of the Upanishads?
> 2. What are your suggestions for the study of
> translations and commentaries of the Gita?
> 3. What are your suggestions for the study of
> translations and commentaries of anyone (in
> addition to Sankara) who has ever written? What
> order should these be studied in?
> 4. What are your suggestions for the study of
> translations and commentaries of any spiritual
> leaders of the past 150 years? What order should
> these be studied in?

I think you may want to read some books on Ramana Maharshi, considered
by the Advaita Vedanta tradition to be a fully enlightened sage who
taught from direct experience of the Truth. Most the books on him are
well-translated into English and easy to understand. But the only
caveat (and a very serious one at that) is that you should be careful
when you come across someone claiming to be a "disciple of RM", since
they're all fake (with the exception of a rare few whom you will not

The following resources may be useful in this regard:

"Ramana Maharshi and the path of Self-knowledge," by Arthur Osborne.
"Collected works of Ramana Maharshi" published by Ramanasramam.

> 5. What are your suggestions for the study
> commentaries on living a spiritual life in
> Vedanta? What order should these be studied in?
> If you would add any explanatory comments to your
> recommendations, I would greatly appreciate it.
> Also, this newsgroup seems far above my level of
> understanding. Are there any other newsgroups that
> are more for beginners or intermediates?
> Many thanks.
> Min

Do you Yahoo!?
Yahoo! SiteBuilder - Free, easy-to-use web site design software

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list