[Advaita-l] RE: e-vEdAnta course

Srikrishna Ghadiyaram srikrishna_ghadiyaram at yahoo.com
Wed Nov 12 16:22:49 CST 2003

hariH Om !!

I am writing some comments for your consideration:

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

I am yet to come across ONE book from Chinmaya Mission
which is subsidised. Instead I agree, Ramakrishna
Mission books are affordably priced, and they also
offer low priced editions. I buy several books from
Divine Life Society where they sell great literature
almost on weight basis, without regard to
market-pricing. I also buy several audios from Arsha
Vidya in Pennsylvania and they sell each lecture for $
2.5 etc (in compelte lessons) versus I pay $ 4.00 for
a cassette in Chinamaya Mission. I also see that not
many buy and listen cassettes in Chinmaya Mission. May
be price is the reason. 

Recently I came across an organisation of Swami Veda
Bharati in USA which sells his lectures on Patanjali
Yoga Sutra. There are 100 cassettes each one for $
7.00. I could not afford and I kept quiet. Similar
service from an Indian shop like Arsha Vidya would
have been available for $ 250 (probably equivalent to
the cost of my driving everyday to the lecture).

In my opinion Chinamaya Mission is not for average
people, it is for the rich. How in the world you would
ask a person in India to buy a Ganesha CD for Rs. 1500
or ask them to buy a Meditation cassette for Rs. 100+
I have my nephew who earns Rs. 5000 a month in India.
There are a few million interested people who can not
afford those prices, but need guidance.
Are we talking subsidizing ? How much of literature
was distributed free during the 50 year event for
common people ?

>Especially when their
> methods like offering
> this course for a fee is quite moral, and for ends
> which we as a society
> want.
> 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
> and
> > offer 28 free email lessons on Advaita Vedanta to
> anyone who wants
> them.
> > No charge, give whatever you think its worth to me
> or to the charity
> of
> > 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? 

Why did not RK Mission start a fee based Vedanta
course ? There is no match to the services offered by
RK Matha Vs Services offered by Chinmaya Mission.

>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? 

Now, it is being run like a business only, identifying
the target market and pricing to the market etc. like
collecting Rs. 1000 from India and $ 350 from USA for
the same e-mail course. Then it is called a Business
Organizatin. What else do you need ? It is certainly
not a Spiritual service. Compare it with what Divine
Life Society does.

>  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

You are talking of a donation and it is encouraged
even by a CAPITALISTIC USA govt. It is not only an
erudite Easterner's idea of charity but even a
westerener knows it well that social organisations
need patronage of people. Infact, I hear that many
Americans have a yearly budget for Donations. 

If I am donating money for public benefit, ehy not I
give it to an organisation which will be more
productive ? as the Govt. wants me to do that way ?
> > I notice the sample lesson you reference does not
> mention any shastras
> at
> > all just unspecified "Indian masters"  In fact
> exactly two Sanskrit
> words
> > 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?

Then you can go to a University and take a MA in
Religious studies and we do not need Spiritual
organisations like RK matha, Divine Life Society,
Chinmaya Mission, Arsha Vidya and countless others.
Did you make a donation to your university ?

> > What I disagree with is not new ideas but this
> underlying premise that
> the
> > best is infeasible and we have to settle for
> second best.  In what
> field
> > 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?

I always wondered, I would withdraw from the list if
they asked me to pay to be a member of this list !!

> > Why not?  Did you follow the link sent by Prasad? 
> All these
> Pathashalas
> > are open right now.  All of them are accepting
> pupils right now.
> These
> > _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.

But, they are not selling the course for different
price for different people. Also, know that they
charge Rs. 5000 or Rs. 10,000 or so per annum for the
school studies. (I do not remember the amount). But,
it costs more to study outside. The kanchi matha
solicits donations from the society, not necessarily
from the students.

>  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.

Does it also say that paying for the eVedanta course
absolves one of sins ?

> >> 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.

I have heard of some such incident in one asram. Does
the Chinmaya Mission treat with respect and love the 
brahmacharis and sanyasis who left the Mission ? I
guess, rivalry prevails at the level of missions as
well !! Ofcourse we can justify it as Mission rules
etc. It is not my concern.

> 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
> Vaidya.

Om Namo Narayanaya !!


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