[Advaita-l] Reform, etc

Ram Garib garib_ram at yahoo.co.in
Fri May 5 06:39:53 CDT 2006

--- Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian wrote:

> Take for
> example crossing oceans. Apparently it is forbidden
> because throwing
> urine and faeces into the ocean is against shaastra
> (shaayana
> bhaaShya). Sri Ganesh Prasad of shrouta list
> provided this
> information. If that is indeed the case, pretty much
> everyone in
> Madras, including ghaNapaaTis and agnihotris, must
> be equivalent to
> ocean-crossing-sinners, without even crossing the
> ocean. As is well
> known to Madras-vaasis, all garbage ends in the
> coovam (a Madras
> term), which finally goes into the ocean. Claiming
> people who cross
> oceans are sinners without understanding facts seems
> incorrect to me.
> As a matter of fact, in the US all these things are
> filtered out and
> then thrown into the ocean. So perhaps it's time for
> rethinking
> things, *without* throwing out tradition, namely the
> idea that
> throwing garbage into the sea is sin, but *applying
> the same tradition
> to the current scheme of things*. I don't see anyone
> in positions of
> responsiblity doing this.

I appreciate your point. We constantly need to go back
to roots if we do not want to make make dharma a relic
in the museum. However what I do not understand is why
restrict this spirit only for the cases that benefit
only a particular group?

A fundamental principle of fairplay is that no one can
decide in a case that directly benefits him. In hindu
society, we have put this principle on its head.
Traditionally, male brahmins have been the
interpreters of dharma. Therefore, you can see the
shishTa-s going back to roots to re-interpret the
tradition where interests of this group are at stake
-- whether it is crossing the sea or taking up a
secular vocation. Which is fine, I can daresay, since
no one can survive today without taking into
consideration, the changed realities of time. However,
when it comes to other groups, no such urgency is seen
to rush back to roots and make the interpretations
consistent with the time. On the other hand there is a
distinct resistence to any change.

Because of historical traditions of hinduism, any
reform if it has to have any real impact on hindu
society, must come from the interpretations of
priestly class (read male brahmins), who do not see
any need of going to the roots where their own self
interests are not at stake. Even profound thinkers
like Chandrashekaharendra Saraswati have hardly tried
to look beyond the needs of this group.

With regards,
Ram Garib

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