[Advaita-l] Re: Tantra

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Wed Feb 4 14:39:47 CST 2004

I'm combining responses to several of your posts in one.

Raghavendra N Kalyan wrote:

> In view of Sri Vaidya Sundaram's reply, let me change "renunciation of
> action" to "renunciation of duty" which is essentially what a sanyAsi
> does.

It should be noted here that Advaita philosophers like Swami Vidyaranya
distinguish between a seeker after jnana (vividisha) who renounces duties
because he feels that they will be an impediment and one who knows Brahman
(vidvan) who does not act because the circumstances and assumptions in
which actions take place are no longer valid.


> In what way were they self serving? Is he not trying to avoid bloodshed?

Yes but because _he_ will feel bad not because he thought bloodshed was
wrong.  Remember prior to this Arjuna had been involved in many battles
and adventures.  Where were his scruples then?

Or compare his treatment of Ekalavya and Duryodhana.  Because Ekalavya was
a low-caste nobody he got shoddy treatment from a jealous Arjuna even
though he was a noble soul.  But all kinds of rationalizations are made
for Duryodhana simply because he is a brother.  A sthitaprajna sees all
beings with equanimity because to him they are no different than his own
self.  He would not say "this one is mine, that one is a stranger."

I may be making Arjuna out to be a lot less heroic than usual but actually
I think this enhances the values of his example.  The Mahabharata doesn't
describe morality through cartoon characters but real men and women.  The
Gita was not revealed to one of the many great sages and scholars of the
era but a flawed human being who struggles to understand just as we
struggle to understand.  All the major figures on both sides of the
conflict have such flaws but can still attract our sympathy.  Incidentally
this is why I believe the core of the Mahabharata is historically true.
If it had just been a mythical concoction, its redactors would have
censored out all the uncomfortable bits.

>  Suppose Arjuna really realized the truth of the world as mAyA. Is it
> possible then that Krishna would have permitted him to renounce the
> battle?

He had plenty of time to decide that.  By the time of kurukshetra it was
too late.  Krishna Bhagavan didn't ask Arjuna to fight on a whim.  All
other options had been exhausted first.  Now all that remained was to
fight and fight well.


> Is such cowardice not better than causing bloodshed?

We cannot categorically say one or the other.  It depends on the situation.

I don't want to get too much into it because it is offtopic for this list
but the recent battles against terrorism are an apt example of when
appeasement is the wrong choice IMO.

> The main responsibility that Arjuna or any other Pandava had is towards
> the people of Hastinapura.  We know from the Mahabharata that Duryodhana
> was a good ruler as far as the people were concerned.

I don't know if Duryodhana did anything hugely wrong but the Mahabharata
does indicate that the people prefered the Pandavas.

> Why then try to change the ruler and assert one's own right on the
> throne, especially when you know that it is going to cause a lot of
> hardships? Does it not sound like a "forced" responsibility?

Again if Arjuna didn't want that he should have renounced long before.
Bhishma renounced the throne to avoid problems but he did that before the
problems started.  He is an example of a true brahmachari, controlled in
mind, body, and spirit.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
It's a girl! See the pictures - http://www.braincells.com/shailaja/

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