[Advaita-l] Swami Satchidanandendra Saraswati
rama.balasubramanian at gmail.com
Sat Jul 10 17:27:39 CDT 2004
[The following is strictly MY opinion]
Swami Satchidaanandendra Sarasvatii (SS) seems to attract mainly two
types of reaction 1) "How absurd, how dare he go against padmapaada,
et al" by the traditionalists and 2) "How profound, he is the only
person to interpret Sa.mkara correctly, everyone else in the last 1200
years is wrong" by the non-traditionalists.
My opinion is that neither are true, though I consider myself more of
a "traditionalist" (which many people here may agree whole heartedly
:-)). I have benefitted from SS'swritings immensely. They have
clarified many points and have shown me how to approach "sa.mkara.
But, perhaps because he had faced hurdles from the traditionalists, he
a) ignore places where "sa.mkaras writing seems to equate avidyaa with
maayaa and just deny that they can be interpreted that way. Michael
Comans has a good critique of this tendency in his book on early
advaita. I refer interested readers to this excellent book. SS's
explanation of sure"svaras verse in the b.rhad vaartikam where he
directly equates maaya and avidyaa - "scribal error"! The verse has
no possiblilty of scribal error as far as I can see.
b) have the "throw the baby with the bath water syndrome". Yes,
perhaps some advaitins confused yogic samaadhi with j~naana. But that
doesn't totally invalidate yoga. But that's what SS implies in his
works - "yoga is totally useless - period". I have quoted in a mail a
long time back from sure"svaras nai.skarmya siddhi where he clearly
spells out yoga as an acceptable and even necessary practice after
taking up sannyaasa. "Sa.mkara also supports the usefulness of yoga in
his suutra bhaa.sya.
That said, it will be good to read a few books like Clarification of
certain vedaantic concepts, Misconceptions about "Sa.mkara and
Introduction to Vedanta Texts before going to his magnum opus. He is a
fine writer and his books are a pleasure to read. He has written many
texts in English himself, which obviates the possibility of errors in
translations. The big book is quite technical and is best studied
after getting introduced to the smaller works.
I also hope to provide a balanced critique of his work in a future
article, mainly regarding the maayaa = avidyaa equation.
PS: There was a thread a long time back on this with me, Shubanu
Saxena (seems not to be on the list anymore) and a few others. You
should be able to get this from the archives. At that time I strongly
argued for the maayaa = avidyaa equation. I have since then changed my
opinion and do agree *mostly* with SSs comments on "sa.mkaras usage of
maayaa and avidyaa. I later sent a personal mail thanking Shubanu for
providing the impetus to study SS's works. I had not read any of them
before Subanus excellent series of mails.
On Sat, 10 Jul 2004 04:08:01 +0100 (BST), S Venkatraman
<svenkat52 at yahoo.com> wrote:
> Vanakkam Stig-ji,
> I am sure Ramaji will soon provide us with the details of Swamiji's work on the first 4 sutras. I would like to have some advice on how best to approach the works of Swamiji; everything that I know about him is from the postings in this or the advaitin site.
> I find that there are 2 types of works by the swamiji - on the one hand is the magnum opus 'The method of vedanta' and on the other there are several smaller books. Where should one start - the smaller books or 'The method of Vedanta'? Also are the smaller books sub-sets of various topics dealt with in the bigger one - in other words will reading the bigger one alone suffice?
> Would be grateful for whatever advice that you could provide me.
> Venkat - M
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