[Advaita-l] RE: e-vEdAnta course

Ram Chandran rchandran at cox.net
Tue Nov 11 17:32:15 CST 2003


The question on the relevance of the e-vedanta course and the
appropriateness of charging a fixed fee is quite complex. I like the
approach taken by Sri Vaidya Sundaram and Vidyasankar and would like to
offer my observation on the same line.

We have been participating using thee cyber space Satsangh (Advaita-L and
Advaitin lists) to learn and understand the virtues of  our scriptures such
as the Vedas, the Upanishads, Brahmasuutras and Bhagavad Gita and to enhance
our understanding of  Vedanta. Though we are aware of the pitfalls of
learning Vedanta through the means of email correspondence, this is not an
end to our Sadhana. The members who participate in the cyber satsangh are at
different levels of spiritual maturity and they sincerely want to learn from
each other. Spiritual seekers look for various means of achieving internal
peace and each one approach it differently. This is explained beautifully by
the Tamil saying of the existence of more than three hundred and thirty
millions of gods (muppathumukkodi).  The purpose of learning Vedanta to get
rid of our ignorance and ignorance does exists at all levels. I don't
believe that Swami Tejomayanandaji has ever claimed that by completing the
e-mail course, the students can get rid of all their ignorance. I have
attended several of Swamiji's lectures on Gita, Vedantic texts and Tulasi
Ramayan. He is a learned scholar of Vedanta studied under Swami
Chinmayandaji and Swami Dayanandaji of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam. Swamiji is
quite brilliant in his exposition and well versed in Sanskrit, Marathi,
Hindi and English. I happened to down load the trial lesson (available in
pdf format at  http://www.chinmayamission.com/evedanta/) and  I am quite
convinced that it will be quite useful for getting a basic understanding of

Now let us try to understand why the Chinmaya Mission wants to charge $350
for this course and why a certificate is being provided after completing the
course. No institution in India or in USA can function without public
support and institutions just like individuals seek several means to collect
the funds.  I have been an office bearer (voluntary basis without any
remunaration) of several Insititutions both in India and USA and I am fully
aware of the difficulties of fund raising to pay the monthly bills which
include, mortgage, utility and maintenance bills. Almost all of those who
engaged in running the day to day operation of those institutions are honest
and do not want to impose burden on the public who provides funds
voluntarily.  Swami Tejomayanandaji is  fully aware of the pitfalls of
conducting an e-mail  correspondence course and charging a fee of $350.00.
What Swamiji is trying to do is to help his devotees who sincerely want to
learn the basic of Vedanta in their spare time. The right question, one
should ask, what will Chinmaya Mission do with the funds collected through
this electronic course.  The Website provides the details including the
goals of Chinmaya International Foundation established at the birth place of
Adi Sankara:  Chinmaya International Foundation (CIF), established in 1989,
is a research centre for the advanced study of Sanskrit and Indology. It is
a cross-cultural forum for the exchange of knowledge. Pujya Gurudev Swami
Chinmayananda visualized CIF as a bridge between the East and the West,
science and spirituality and between the pundit and the public. CIF is
located at the birthplace of Adi Sankaracharya at Veliyanad in Kerala, which
is about 30 Kms from the city of Ernakulam. Originally known as the Melpazur
Mana, and named by Pujya Gurudev as Adi Sankara Nilayam, this is the home of
Aryamba, the holy mother of Sri Sankara. Set in Kerala's lush green and
sylvan beauty, amidst sacred shrines and water ponds, Adi Sankara Nilayam
has an ambience that is at once academic and spiritual.

Several members of this list seem to jump into quick conclusions without
understanding all the facts.  As Vedantins, we should be broad minded and
should not judge others using our own yard scale. The scales of measurement
do vary and with change in time, we need to be accomodative to the change in
circumstances.  I have been associated with Chinmaya Mission and I know they
serve the community by educating the children and adults on Hindu Culture
and its rich heritage. I greatly respect Swamiji Tejomayanandaji,  Swami
Dayananda Saraswati, and the heads of Sankara Mutts for their scholarship
and wisdom. All these institutions do need funds for their existence and to
provide their services to the millions of people spread across the globe.
Let us not try to judge without knowing all the facts.

Finally, these are only my observations based on my understanding and they
are subject to errors and require necessary correections and additions.  I
hope my observation help all of us to provide a more sympathetic evaluation
on the purpose and intent of the electronic course on basic vedanta. As
Vedantins, we are obligated to use our 'discriminating intellect' and avoid
judging others using an inappropriate yardstick!
warmest regards,

Ram Chandran

"Sundaram, Vaidya (MED)" <Vaidya.Sundaram at med.ge.com> wrote:

>  In my opinion, paying for the course is no different from going to the
>store and buying a book. Especially, when you can ask questions in return,
>and get answers, unlike in a book. The knowledge is priceless, accepted.
>That should not mean that it should not be structured or terms set for its
>access. It's human tendency to value something more only when you have to
>part with something else. Especially money. In olden days, one had to wait
>for the teacher to accept you as a valid disciple to ask the question. You
>can end up waiting 10 years to ask one question. None of us today are
>qualified (or even ready!) for that level of discipline.

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