[Advaita-l] How can one claim to know Brahman?

Sanjay Srivastava sksrivastava68 at hotmail.com
Tue Mar 22 08:25:11 CST 2005

>... may I also add that the study of vedAnta,
>IMHO, is *traditionally* not done without an initiation into sanyAsa?

> > ... one must not forget the dictum - you do not find a Guru,
> > the Guru finds you...

The above are two interesting observations and combinedly give a fuller 

I have had the fortune of spending some time with very traditional vedantins 
at Rishikesh. For accepting someone as a student, they have their peculiar 
preferences. Some of them will insist on taking only a Brahmin male as a 
student, others will accept males from the three varnas and yet others will 
not even ask for caste or gender. Nowadays, most of the established ashrams 
have the official policy of non-discrimination -- either due to 
philosophical conviction or to avoid legal problems. However, it has to be 
taken with a pinch of salt. Swamis keep on moving from ashram to ashram and 
one should not be surprised finding a swami's practice in direct conflict of 
his maTha.

Sannyasa is a big qualification for advaita study and usually overrides 
other limitations based on caste, gender, religion etc. However, I have seen 
some teachers making a distinction between a legitimate and an illegitimate 
sannyasa based on caste, gender, indian or foreigner etc. Then again some 
teachers do not explicitly insist on sannyasa, but the classes are 
structured from morning to evening and build upon the previous ones. So 
practically, one has to be a sannyasi for learning from them.

The moral of the story is that even among the traditional vedantins, there 
are different world views and personal preferences in vyavahara. While 
approaching a teacher one has to respect their preferences. It makes search 
for a teacher more challenging for some students than others, but not 


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