[Advaita-l] RE: e-vEdAnta course

Srikrishna Ghadiyaram srikrishna_ghadiyaram at yahoo.com
Wed Nov 12 22:14:11 CST 2003

hariH Om !!

I am forwarding this e-mail to the list, because I
think it is still within the scope of the original
topic, i.e right method and tools of
teaching/propagating Vedanta for its bright future

--- "Sundaram, Vaidya (MED)"
<Vaidya.Sundaram at med.ge.com> wrote:
> I am responding to you in private as I think the
> matters are getting out
> of hand from the theme of the list. You may choose
> to respond or not.
> ==
> > > The $ 350 is not a donation, it is a FEE. If
> there
> > is
> > > genuinity, I should have donated to a US center,
> > so
> > > that I could save Tax. Why should I pay Uncle
> Sam
> > for
> > > reading Vedanta e-mails ? I could use my Dollars
> > > fully, for the benefit of a charitable cause as
> > > approved by law. Did some one think about this
> > aspect
> > > of Fee ? sorry, ...DONATION.
> > 
> > Lets see for a moment ... you want to "donate"
> only
> > if it's tax
> > deductible, and that too only "for your own
> > satisfaction". 

> Did I say, ""donate" only if it's tax deductible," ?
> ==
> Read your own sentence - "I should have donated to a
> US center, so that
> I could save Tax."
> There is only interpretation possible for this - you
> have given it
> yourself "so that you can save tax" - that is
> exactly your words. Don't
> throw it back at me for pointing it out. If you
> don't like what you
> write yourself, don't blame me for it.

No, put both English sentences together and compare:

I said, "I should have donated to a US center, so
that I could save Tax. "

You said that I said, "I want  to "donate" only if
it's tax deductible". 

Are they same ? I guess, I do not know as much English
as you know. 

Even if you interpret what you are saying is the only
meaning, where is my hypocricy ? What is wrong in
donating to US CM center, just as we did for Gujarat
Relief ? 

If I earn $ 500, and I donate, the organisation gets $
500, but if you want me to pay after tax the
organisation gets $ 350. 

You told me that you ran a charitable organisation.
What happened to that experience to see simple math
and benefit to the patrons, who are the sole
supporters of the mission  and the mission itself with
the possibility of the mission getting more money. The
same incentive is offered to Bala Vihar Program
enrollment. I guess you know that.

Whether I donate before Tax or after Tax, it is still
a "Donation". or do you have a different name for that
? It becomes a donation, if I am not getting in return
any service/product, and/or the same is available for
anyone seeking it, without obligation of money.

I feel sad that the word "Donation" is being
mis-interpreted, and conveniently mis-used by you and
in turn you are branding me a "hypocrite"
> ==
> "Atmanastu kamaya sarvam priyam bhavati". Without
> satisfaction, not even a fool will do any thing.
> ==
> Wonderful. Then what's wrong if the CM gives a
> certificate for this?

Did I discuss with you in any of my mails about the
certificate ?? 

I said, donations are given for one's own
satisfaction. That is all. Only then it becomes a
donation, otherwise it may be extortion.

Certificate is a different matter. If someone is going
to donate for the satisfaction of certificate, you may
do it, as you please. It does not concern me. But,
when it becomes a possible tool for appeal, all I said
is that it defeats the purpose.

> ==
> I am saying you can not 'extract' money
> from me, but I can give out of my choice for its own
> satisfaction. Otherwise, one has to regret like your
> sanyasi friend who donated all the money before
> becoming a sanyasi and later to be kicked out.
> ==
>  You don't want to succumb to their "extraction"
> tactics, don't do so. I
> am not asking you to take that course for $350. You
> started the whole
> thread - I don't have the post to quote you - but
> you implied if I
> remember correctly as to why anyone would want to do
> it, and if it was
> morally right or something like that. There can be
> two points of view,
> so don't blame me for pointing another point of
> view. If you think that
> your's is the only point of view, you're wrong
> there.

HEY ! (just like you) who said my point of view is the
only valid. I thought we are still debating pros and
cons, all with the best interest of vedantic education
and teaching methods.

Yes, I continued the thread, when some one (I do not
know if it is you)  posted informing the public about
this eVedanta course on the list. But, I knew about
the course before that. But, the post on the list was
a good starting point for debate. Possibly some
feedback will go back to the Mission, as there are
many CM patrons on this list. Let whatever good should
come out of this debate come out.

> ==
> > That's not
> > donation. That's quid pro quo. Same with students
> > expecting a
> > certificate in return ... lets not be hypocrites
> > please.
> There is no hypocricy here. Just because you can not
> force me to buy your argument, do not call me a
> hypocrite. You can not win me like that, for I have
> no
> fear of intimidatiion. 
> ==
> I am not looking to win you over to anything. The
> discussion forum is
> not to defeat some one or to make them do something
> they would not
> otherwise do. It's about pointing errors in
> judgement. Just as you have
> done in the past.

Another one !! ?? You call me a 'hypocrite', that is
fine, on what basis ? Do you know the meaning of
'hypocrite' ?. I just saw the meaning on www.m-w.com 
It says "a person who puts on a false appearance of
virtue or religion"

What false appearance am I making in presenting my
argument ? I am not trying to hide any thing. Only
thing is I am being fearless in calling a spade a
spade. I am not judging any thing. I am just
presenting what has been the traditional practice, and
what is being done now. Let individuals decide what
they please. This being a forum, I voiced my opinion.

> ==
> In this context, we are not
> talking of "certificate" Do not link arbitrary
> topics
> and derive your own conclusions. Where in the above
> two paragraphs referred by you, did I talk about
> certificates ? Also, because you conveniently,
> plugged
> the paragraphs from different places, they may lose
> the sequence of thought and context. Please pay
> attention to that. I am writing in-line, only
> because
> of that fear. Not because I can not write
> independent
> treatises. I want to make sense in appropriate
> places,
> appropriately.
> ==
> I specifically kept myself to only your emails when
> responding to you,
> and to Jaldhar's when responding to his. There
> is/was no mix-up. I don't
> type inline becasue it makes it very very difficult
> for me to read and
> make sense other wise. I know I am not out of
> context. I don't save the
> list mails to quote back to you. If you are so
> interested, check it
> yourself.

I did not say that you mix-up my paragraphs with Sri
Jaladhar's. Did I ?

You mixed up paragraphs from my writings, from two
different places. That is enough to mis-interpret and
draw wrong conclusions.  

I have the e-mails and I read a couple of times before
I post, and I even read after posting. You can read
the archives. I guess, you know how to.

How you write is your convenience. But, as you know,
the objective is to make others understand, not for
your convenience only. What all I am saying is that if
you read them in the way they are written, without
taking pieces out of order. They make more sense.

> ==
> > > learn, as service to Narayana. It just can not
> be
> > to
> > > build larger and bigger
> > > Missions/Buildings/Infrastructure etc. If the
> cart
> > is
> > > placed infront of the horse, it does not go
> > anywhere.
> So, charging $ 350 will not make it more genuine or
> dependable, unless you declare that to be the rule.
> ==
> What are you talking about - you were the one who
> raised the issue f
> building larger missions and buildings and naming it
> after the
> individual. I did not. I am not in any way saying
> that $350 is going to
> make it genuine. Stick to your suggestion and read
> the post fully first.

You are just talking meaningless. Please read the
thread which I am reproducing below:
> [ --- ]
> > may not be
> > able to see the clarity of the sacred purpose of
> > Vedanta tradition. This is just Maya. You need to
> see
> > from the perspective of an ordinary seeker, who is
> > un-informed of the solutions of Vedanta for his
> > problems, and out of compassion you should let
> them
> > learn, as service to Narayana. It just can not be
> to
> > build larger and bigger
> > Missions/Buildings/Infrastructure etc. If the cart
> is
> > placed infront of the horse, it does not go
> anywhere.
> >From the perspective of the ordinary, otherwise
> uninformed seeker, whom
> is he to believe? Any one who will give him free
> advice? And do you
> realize just how many people there are out there who
> will give lots of
> "apparently" free advice? With so many people out
> there to cheat you out
> of your money, whom would you rather trust. A
> mission that is generally
> recognized as a charitable org. which is run
> ethically, morally and
> legally? or some other ...?

So, charging $ 350 will not make it more genuine or
dependable, unless you declare that to be the rule.

Can you see clearly, that you are mis-quoting ? Why
did you omit the middle paragraph of yours for which
my reply was "So, charging ...". But, you skipped the
middle paragraph of yours and confusing yourself, and
possibly some other gullible fellows.

And to that you added additional comments in this mail
from your side ...
I said originally that "teaching" comes first, and the
objective of buildings comes later, if it has to....

As I said several times, I read the posts that come to
me and also those I post. 

> ==
> Also, this belief that people are out there to cheat
> you and only Chinmaya Mission is there running the
> business is also a superimposition by your own mind
> on
> others. 
> ==
>  yet again, stick to your own suggestion and read
> what I said. I did not
> say CM was the ONLY such mission. In fact, in my
> other mail, I had
> specifically raised the work done by RKM just to
> avoid this thought in
> the readers. Obviously you missed it.

I did not miss it. I added two more names to that, of
Divine Life Society, Arsha Vidya and also said
countless others. Infact, I have referred to
> ==
> You know inspite of all the kinds of people,
> Sanatana Dharma is as strong. Infact the direct
> method
> of teaching as referred by Sri Jaladhar is the
> testimony for this. To seek education from a worthy
> teacher who is in turn a worthy student of a worthy
> teacher. None can go wrong. Even for Chinmaya
> Mission,
> it runs now only on the name of Swami Chinmayananda
> who inturn gained credibility by referring to
> Parampara only.
> ==
> I agree. But why do you bring that up here? There is
> no argument about
> that. The only point of contention is the merits or
> lack thereof in the
> opinions of the members of the list with regards to
> the e-vedanta
> course. 

That is what I precisely said. I did not use the words
'Swami T' or some one else. That is not my concern.
What is the right method of propagating and delivering
eVedanta course. How to encourage the organisations
doing it.

The point is being raised here because, we are looking
for Credible people/teachers who are not out there to
cheat us. Parampara ensures that the method delivered
by them will probably take us where we want to go,
because in our eyes they have demonstrated it. It is
not a concoction of some neophyte. For example, I look
towards Divine Life Society becasuse it produced
realised souls for two generations. (if it can be
generated.) I feel probably, their methods work.

> ==
> > > be so. But, my primary objection to this vision
> to
> > run
> > > a 24 e-mail, 1 year certificate course in
> Vedanta
> > for
> > > $ 350 MINIMUM donation. It is no way different
> > from a
> > > scam Internet University degree/certificate.
> > 
> > But you are ok with spending money to buy a book
> > which has 24 chapters? 
> > 
> yes/may be, for $ 10 for what it is worth. 
> ==
> I am not asking you to personally join this
> e-vedanta course. I am just
> asking that it not be ridiculed in the list.

I am not rediculing the course per say, but I have
negative opinion on the method of delivery and a huge
price barrier for that. I have a concern that a rich
and world-wide organisation like Chinamaya Mission to
which probably a million people look to for right
guidance in the spiritual context has taken an
approach which is detrimental, in my view, for the
said objectives of the Mission and Sanatana Dharma
propagation at large. and a hindrance to the East-West
bridge, which is stated to be the purpose.

By the way, here the word 'East West Bridge" does it
mean Indians in the West and the Indians in the East
?? If not will this particuar method of eVedanta,
bridge that gap ?
If you felt that the method is questionable and
someone may ridicule it, I am glad. Let the message go
back to the organisers of the course. It is good that
an 'insider' like me is commenting, than an 'outsider'
with whom the organisation wants to bridge the gap
says it loud.

Let us teach Vedanta in e-way, which can not be
rediculed by any one.

> ==
> "righteous indignation" is positive I guess. It is
> not
> unjustified anger. There is an unjust attempt to
> sell
> Vedanta and justify forcefully, so it naturally
> diasppoints those who favor its growth.
> ==
>  Unjust in whose view? And why would running a
> course like that be
> unjust? And who is trying to forcefully trying to
> justify?  You take it
> or leave it. Don't stand up to the pulpit and argue
> that it is a waste
> and not worth the money.

It is not a mere argument. It is my right to voice my
opinion. I am not taking the course. I would have
loved to  read, as an enthusiast of any spiritual
activity. But, because of my dislike for this MINIMUM
$350 Donation, I do not like that idea.

I have not even debated whether it is worth the money.
Infact, I have specifically said that I am not worried
about the efficacy of the course. I myself know by
personal study and svadhyaya that all these techniques
are useless, atleast in the short term. Unless one is
dedicated to the pursuit by rigorous commitment, no
clarity will come. These are my conclusions, having
reached some stage of understanding, by the grace of
several teachers, at my differnt stages, I can look
back and see how the road was at my back.
I would have loved to see this course, open to all
with no fee. Then the CM would have truly done a
service to bring the family of seekers together.
Please see many positive ways of achieving integration
I have spoken aloud in my mails.

> ==
> Oh!! Yes, in the US current going rate for a
> satsanga
> is $ 10 to $ 15. I know how much many patrons donate
> when they attend yajnas. (atleast, I suppose). An
> e-mail is no match for a the costs of arranging a
> Satsanga I guess.
> ==
>  Why are you contradicting yourself? You earlier
> supported the view that
> it is supposed to be free etc., and yet you
> acknowledge the "going rate"
> ... double standards?

I am not contradicting myself. An Indian organisation
in our San Francisco bay area when organises such
program, including CM, do not ask for a MINIMUM
donation. They may appeal at the end by citing the
services they are providing. But, the American managed
organisations such as Gangaji Foundation for example,
so that you are not confused again, ask for 'suggested
donation' of $ 10 - $ 15. 

Double standards, not for me... 
> ==
> You are fooling someone if you say that in India
> they
> ask for a minimum donation for 'hari katha' or
> 'upanyasam'.
> ==
> What do you mean "fooling someone" - it happens all
> the time. 

You seem to have a different India in mind than what I
know. In the past none asked me a minimum donation for
a 'harikatha'. Generally a kathakar who is not a
sanyasi solicits donations in the name of god, for his
family needs etc. For bigger celebrations, organisers
go out collecting funds from patrons and businesses.
They also ask donations from individuals during the
program. I know that the hooligans collect minimum
donation during Holy etc. and for Dasara. Tell me
about the India you know...

> ==
> You are conveniently mixing up things with karma
> kanda
> of vedas. I thought you are the one advocating the
> current-times concepts, why are you talking about
> karma kanda here ? What is the relevance. 
> ==
> The relevance is that people look for something in
> return when they do
> something or part with something. Just like
> yourstatement above "
> "Atmanastu kamaya sarvam priyam bhavati". Without
> satisfaction, not even
> a fool will do any thing."

karma kanda portion suggests rites for merits to live
in heaven and better life on earth. It does not call
for certificates. Karma kanda suggests rites on the
basis of 'duty' also. All in the name of 'happiness,
peace, satisfaction', you can call it by any names.

> ==
> Yes, Vedas talk about purushartha and also say that
> by
> doing the rites enjoined in the karma kanda dharma,
> artha, kama can be fulfilled. In which Veda is it
> said
> that we should charge a minimum fee for teaching
> Vedanta as times have changed ?? Please clarify my
> ignorance.

> ==
>  What are you talking about ? Did I ever say that
> the vedas say that? I
> provide the relevance/context as well. Read it again
> if you want to.

That is what I am saying, you can not say that for
this purpose of gaining any merit, eVedanta course
will not  help. It is for Knowledge. Its methods of
teaching are well tested for centuries. So, you can
not  give me any reference. So, bringing karma kanda
discussion here is irrelevant.
> ==
> I have already mentioned in a separate mail, that I
> want to know which books are subsidised by Chinmaya
> Mission. The "Transformations" book published during
> the Centenary Mission was $ 70 (or more). Normally,
> I
> would buy any book if I like. But, this book I
> hesitated to buy. (I buy books in tens/hundreds and
> read many, OK.) You know that it did not sell in
> 100s,
> so it is now reduced to $ 30 or so. You compare
> similar coffe-table editions from Divine Life
> society
> or Ramanasramam or Ramakrishna Mission  - they are
> priced $ 10. The Ganesha CD and Gita CD are priced $
> 30 or so. How many would care to buy them at that
> price. You know that all of them are reduced now. I
> know you advocate this pricing-to-market approach.
> Hope we learn from these failures.
>  I have personally bought paper back editions in
> india for Rs 25 or so
> for some really good books. I don't have all my
> collections with me here
> to tell you which one. That you have not seen it is
> not reason enough to
> say that it does not exist.

I have  many books published by Chinamaya Mission
(most English, and many Telugu books). Some I bought
in USA and some I bought in India, because US prices
are unaffordable as I tend to  buy all the book and
attempt to read what I buy, some time.

What I am saying is that even those prices are
un-comaprable to the books published by RKM or Divine
Life Society. They are no less worthy, OK.

For the same paper back books in the US, we pay in
Dollars dearly, you know that. OK. It is upto them how
they price it. I am only countering your view that CM
publishes low-priced editions, in the spirit of
reaching masses. Before you argue with me compare
other large and small spiritual organisations. It will
tell a lot.

> ==
> You are just silly. Either you do not read patiently
> and understand or you have no control on your mind
> at this time out of your emotional association with
> the mission.
> ==
>  yet agin, let me request you to read your own
> words, where you said the
> money was to be used for building missions named
> after this or that
> person. Don't call me silly for pointing it out. And
> just FYI - I
> decided after my own adventure for a philantrophic
> org that I will never
> actively be part of any such org, no matter how well
> intentioned. Hence,
> I can assure you I have not emotional attachements
> for the same.

I too request you to read my mails in context with
respect to the other's points I am answering. 

> ==
> I have explained enough to suggest you that you can
> not justify the fee $ 350 for Vedanta course in the
> name of building a mission in your name (say
> Chinmaya
> Mission, Adi Sankara Trust, Chinamaya Fouondation
> etc.). Building/Organising/Promoting the Mission is
> incidental. Teaching Vedanta is not the tool for it.
> It is teaching Vedanta which may/should call for
> some
> setup, so services are effective. Not the cart
> first,
> please. That is all I am saying.
> ==
> Hmm ... if they have some knowledge that others are
> going to want, and
> if you can structure and deliver it, so that the
> profits from that can
> be shared among other activities, then what's wrong?

Probably there is nothing wrong, in your view. I am
not against it either. What all I am saying is that
the MINIMUM fee of $ 350 sends a wrong message to the

Let us take the example: say I can afford to donate
only $ 500 to the charity per annum, and I am already
a member of the mission and I am doing my bit for 'my
own satisfaction', or let us say, I donate to some
other society, Veterans organisation, now when you
have a message of hope to deliver in the name of
Vedanta, and prescribe a minimum fee of $ 350 for me
and $ 700 for me + my wife, you have already ignored
me. This is NO WAY TO TEACH VEDANTA. That is all I am
saying. We need better minds to manage/make a
successful delivery of the eVedanta course and
spiritual organisations in general.

This course has no pre-requisites. Could the mission
have asked the student to go to a Temple once a month
? or done 1 hour social work for a week/month ? Could
it have asked the aspirants to fast one day in a month
?Could it have asked the aspiring student to meditake
for 30 min per week, to be eligible for the course. I
am very optimistic that it will yield better results,
than to think of $ 350 as the first rule and nothing
else after that. As it stands now, it is another book
reading. OK, is that  all a great Mission like CM can
think ? You and some others approve(d) it. That is why
the course has taken this route.

I already asked other questions, why did not CM
integrate the entire community of CM patrons and send
a monthly e-mail newsletter from Swami T ? It would
have inspired the whole community much better, in my
limited opinion. Do you see some value to my
resistance ?

> Think about it ...
> even in olden times, when the disciples go asking
> for food for the
> gurukula, some may get a lot of bhiksha, while
> others may not. THey are
> all pooled together with the guru pathni, and she
> distributes it evenly.
> I see a similar analogy here. Go out and get funds
> from sources  you can
> so that you can help other activities of the
> mission. As simple as that.

So, that all the people can be taught; not only those
who can pay $ 350. I am talking your language only.
But, you are not willing to change your
interpretation. Before you decide to spend money for
other programs, decide what you want to do to "bridge
the gap between East and West" which was the stated
objective of CIF and for which this course is supposed
to help.
> ==
> Repeating myself:
> This means and refers to the CIF and AdiSankara
> foundation and even Chinmaya Mission and other
> details
> that Sri RamChandran explained else where. I said it
> is irrelevant to this $ 350 course, whether you do
> it
> or not, none questions. I said the teaching does not
> belong to inventions of Chinmaya Mission or others,
> yes, the delivery is your own "unique" as pointed by
> Sri Jaladhar also. There are other free Vedanta
> teaching sites on-line. So, I said do not charge $
> 350
> so that you can build a mission/building (no person 
> like 'Swami T Mission' is intended or referred here,
> Is it clear, enough ?)
> ==
> repeating myself, I am not asking you to take this
> course. If others
> want to take it so that the mission can build other
> charitable
> instituions, there is nothing wrong with that. Is it
> clear enough?

I just typed above .. it is OK. But, before that build
other people interested in the same eVedanta course
but who are not ready to see the value for it or who
are not ready for it or who can not pay for it. How
about the so many youngsters who just joined college
and at the most critical time of their life, who being
dependent on parents or working in Burger King etc.
can not afford to pay $ 350. Why don't you serve them
first. Why do you deny the opportunity to them. The
right way of saying is , why do not you offer the
opportunity to them pro-actively and encourage them,
to build a stronger CM for the future. You and I will
live only a few more decades, they will form a
valuable link to future. Are we thinking about it ?
How easy it is to accomplish it with this right first
steps, instead of putting a $ 350 barrier !!
> ==
> "this money is going
> > to be used to build
> > a new mission in his name." MEANING THAT I MEAN
> ==
> HEY! caps in the internet etiquette is screaming -
> don't bother. Your
> point gets no more validity by screaming at me ...
> take it easy ok?

Screaming, Yes I have to do because, you forgot the
human values and call me a 'hypocrite' that too based
on your mis-understanding.  And you hope to avoid the
conversation without answering my objections.

Also, CAPS are being used to draw your attention. 

> ==
> I suggest you have the courage to go through all the
> points and prove my hypocricy, only by establishing
> that you understand the things in context. You can
> not
> claim to have 'seen hypocricy' and run away from
> facing reality. I hope you understand. Let this
> forum
> of learned people decide from their own perspective
> who is hypocritical.
> ==
> Needless to say, I repeat the same back to you. Read
> your own mails.
> Your own words. I have pointed out enough in my
> opinion. It's up to you
> to take it or leave it.
> Good bye.
> Vaidya.

I keep my mails some time, and already I have read a
couple of times. If you decide not to  continue
conversation and leave it,  that is fine. You will
reamin thinking that all are 'hypocrites', except you,
and it will do only so much good.

BTW, I am really not worried that you called me a
'hypocrite'. I am just having fun, how people can not
face 'truth' and label others and stick to their own
thoughts and how detrimental it is to the larger good
and mission of an organisation.

Have fun.

Om Namo Narayanaya !!


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