[Advaita-l] RE: e-vEdAnta course

Sundaram, Vaidya (MED) Vaidya.Sundaram at med.ge.com
Wed Nov 12 15:41:07 CST 2003


(I am trying to collate my responses to more than one post from Jaldhar
on this topic, so ...)

> Ah the old "times have changed" argument.  Sorry but _right_now_ not
> the mythical past, you can get a thorough education in Advaita Vedanta
> free of charge and free of hype.

Are you kidding me? This type of education is neither free of charge nor
free of hype nor objective in today's world. You pay for books don't
you? How can you say it is free? If you are saying that you pay only a
few dollars, and not a higher amount like $350, then please think again,
how the book came to be just a few dollars. Some one subsidized it. Some
one, like a Ramakrishna mission, or Chinmaya mission ... don't hold
their methods against them. Especially when their methods like offering
this course for a fee is quite moral, and for ends which we as a society

And if you think this education is free of hype and is objective, then
you need to only read one book, and totally believe it. Even if you say
that there are books like that, for example, Shankara bhashya, I am
sorry, I don't understand Shankara directly. I need lots of stepping
stones to get there. And so I need to read more etc. 

> I'll tell you what.  I'll put "my money where my mouth is" so to speak
> offer 28 free email lessons on Advaita Vedanta to anyone who wants
> No charge, give whatever you think its worth to me or to the charity
> your choice (even CIF :-)
[ ... ]
> Unlike a business, one expects an organization that purports to be
> religious to only make money by moral means.  Is it worth selling ones
> soul for the sake of mortgage, utility and maintenance bills?  

 No offence, and I don't know if you have tried to run a charity
organization, so please don't take this personally ... rather than run a
free intro course on advaita vedanta, why don't you then try running an
organization like RK Mission, or Chinmaya mission, that funds charity
projects then? I have myself tried in a small way, and given up. People
are not as charitable as you might think. Running a course over the web
hardly counts as selling ones soul. 

 And why should a charitable org not be run like a business? Or are you
implying that a business can be run immorally? 

 People on this list have professed that they would rather give to
charity only when they can make it tax deductible ... do you call that
charity? I
> I notice the sample lesson you reference does not mention any shastras
> all just unspecified "Indian masters"  In fact exactly two Sanskrit
> are mention in the first two lessons.

Guess what, I don't understand as much sanskrit as I really need to be
able to. I am sure there are many more like me who would prefer to start
with a language I understand. So, please don't measure the quality of
the work by the number of sanskrit words it has.

> There is no way such a rigid framework could meet the
> needs of such a wide range of students.

 What would you have then? A course tailor made for each student?
Unfortunately, in the world we live, that's just not possible. Without
frame work, everything breaks down. Look at our own system - there is a
segregation of the people into varnas, and there are specific
responsibilities, do's and don't for each ... a rigid system. Why is
that ok?

> God provided us with brains.  Why must religion be the only subject in
> which we are not allowed to make use of them?

God also provided us with wealth. Why must an organisation providing
education in religion be denied a share of that?

> What I disagree with is not new ideas but this underlying premise that
> best is infeasible and we have to settle for second best.  In what
> of human endeavour do you hear of such a thing?  

 In every field of human endeavour. Ideally, I would like to test all
the code that my developers write for me, and testing for all the use
cases is the best. But, lets be honest. It never happens. 
 Ok, you may say that things have to be different for religion or
philosopy. Well, lets see - if you can do sandhya vandhanam in its best
way, then what you are saying is that you must do it only that way. Then
we cannot have the "luxury" of doing the sandhya vandhanam at 30 mins
past sunrise. Then, more importantly, do not use the prayaschitta
portions to atone for any sin, because the best thing is to not sin in
the first place.

 We all know that the best thing to do is to give free education for
all. If that is not possible, the next best thing is to give education
at a price.

> I've yet to see anyone other than myself with a
> tripundra.  Because Smartas are paralyzed by these low expectations.

 You probably have not looked ... lets leave it at that. If by not
"seeing" the tripundra, you come to the conclusion that in general
smarthas have low expectations, you open the door for a looooottt of
statements about vedanta and students there of. 
> Btw, let me make it clear I consider advaita-l to be a poor
alternative to
> finding a proper Guru also.

 But you still participate, and even help us all run it right? Given
that it is not the best, we still choose the alternative right?

> Why not?  Did you follow the link sent by Prasad?  All these
> are open right now.  All of them are accepting pupils right now.
> _are_ Vedic times as much as ever.

 Do you even reflect for a moment how they are able to run these
institutions where free food and clothing is provided? Do you think it
is all run by just people giving simply for charity? There is a lot of
other activities run by the mutt such as the sale of books, cd's etc.,
the profits of which goes into this.

 And as Shri Ram Chandran rightly mentioned, there are gradations of the
pupils and when they graduate, they are given titles. And after that,
people perform specifics yagjnas just so that they can get a title of
"vajapayee" etc.

 And even when people give for charity, its only because our vedic
religion says that it will wash away such and such sin. Quid pro quo
again. There is no escaping this fact.

>> We need to be more realistic and understand the difficulties of
>> raising funds in the modern context
> And this is why I'm spending so much energy on this topic.  I don't
> believe it is well thought out or properly cognizant of the modern
> context.

Jaldhar - I am spending so much of my time for the exact same reason - I
don't believe that you have fully thought this one out. The modern
context is that there are many many institutions and individuals,
whether you like it or not, who are providing false information, or half
baked information. Without getting into details, I can confidently tell
you of how some of my closest friends have been beguiled into giving
everything they had for some organization to accept them as sanyaasiis.
You can argue that they did not use their "god given brains" ... well,
guess what, we cannot leave such people out. The only way to fully
counter this false propoganda is to run propoganda of the kind that
makes sense and will help people choose the right path. 

bhava shankara desikame sharaNam

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