[Advaita-l] RE: Vedic Shakhas for kshatriyas and vaishyas?

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Tue Jan 18 12:42:27 CST 2005

On Fri, 14 Jan 2005, Sanjay Srivastava wrote:

> She is a research scholar and she would not be doing justice to her
> "research dharma" if she did not refer the roots.

Ah, this is an entirely different matter.  A researcher has a totally
different agenda to a dharmic person.  Also, what people often don't
realize is the academic field is as prone to fads and fashions as any
other.  It used to be historians deliberately restricted themselves to
books so as not to "taint their objectivity."  Now they are encouraged to
participate in order to get a better understanding.  But tomorrow there
maybe a new idea.  We can consider historians as allies in our effort to
keep sanatana dharma vital, but unreliable ones at best.

> Even otherwise nowadays
> more and more traditional swamis are accepting women students-- esp. for the
> jnana kanda. Swami Dayananda of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam has given sannyasa
> diksha to some women.
> The most traditionalist of them --Kailash Ashram of
> Rishikesh-- has also started accepting  female students-- many of them
> non-hindu foreigners. Their star scholar, Late Sw. Tarananda Giri also had
> female students untill his demise this October.

For that matter, the Jagadguru of Shringeri also gave sannyasa to
foreign women.  However nice and sincere they were (and they were --
I've met them,) they were too mixed up in new age silliness and failed to be
much of a force in American Dharmic life.  This is another sociological
point to consider.  Many people who are "discovering" the Vedas (both
Indian and Western) are more attracted to the allure of "mystical secrets
of the orient" than to the actual contents themselves.  Saying no to them
actually makes it more enticing.  Atleast until the next interesting
thing comes along.  I remember being amused when all the Indian newspapers
were excitedly reporting that Madonna was coming to Kashi to study
Sanskrit.  That same Madonna is now Esther the kabbalistic Jew.  Do you
think she remembers any Sanskrit?

I hasten to add I am not tarring all foreigners with the same brush.
Through this list I have been privileged to know some who have atleast as
much chance of moksha as I do.  But I think people who are serious seekers
know that you cannot find the authentic self by copying other people.

But in any case the propriety of anyone taking sannyasa is not what I meant
to discuss.  I'm talking about transmission of Vedic recitation.

> The point is these saints are rishis of our age and many of them as
> qualified as Gautam, Manu or Angiras to start a new Smriti.

Swami Yajnapurushadas is the president of Akshara Purushottama Sanstha one
of the biggest branches of the Swaminarayana sampradaya and one of the
fastest growing contemporary movements in Hinduism.  Shouldn't he be
considered one of the Rshis of the age?  But in his panth, women are
rigidly barred from contact with monks.  (I remember when we were going to
our Kuladevi, we stopped by at the villages Swaminarayana mandir, and the
pujari literally dove under the table to avoid looking at my mother, an
elderly woman who was completely modestly dressed.)  So appealing to Gurus
will not ease the crisis of authority.  It will just lead to people
picking and choosing which "authority" suits them and said authorities
pandering to their "customers."

And it is based on an incorrect understanding of Smrti.  Manusmrti for
example, is not authoritative because Manu wrote it.  Manu is
authoritative because he wrote the Manusmrti.  I.e. the tradition came
first and the recording later.  It seems odd to us because modern culture
is so based upon the written word.  But pandits traditionally distrusted
it.  That's why there is such an emphasis on memorization.  That which is
"in the throat" (kanthastha) is reliable.  Books may be a necessary crutch
for the mentally inadequate but they are not the source in the way the
Bible or Koran is a source.  Smrti means memory.  The real Smrti is what
is remembered through the ages not any particular volume.

The same logic comes up in the Brahmasutras.  (sorry can't give you
the reference right After establishing  that
smriti is also along with Shruti, an authoritative means of knowledge, the
question is what about the Kapilasmrti?  (By this is probably meant
Samkhya/Yoga rather than a particular dharmashastra.)  Samkhya is of very
ancient lineage.  Bhagavan Kapila has impeccable credentials, a Prajapati,
the mind-born son of Brahma, even an avatar of Vishnu Bhagavan Himself
according to the Bhagavata.  So it should be accepted.  But the siddhanta
is that it should not because its contents contradict Vedantic tradition.

> I would like to make a simple point. Manusmriti 2.21-24 lays down rules for
> the place of stay of dwijas and makes exception only for Sudras distressed
> for subsistence.

Your point is flawed but I'm not going to address this right now as I'm
researching a full examination of this issue.  But I would like to point
out that if one parks illegally and doesn't get a ticket, it does not give
him a license to start robbing banks.

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

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