[Advaita-l] Yoga VaasishTa and Science

Aditya Varun Chadha adichad at gmail.com
Mon May 8 00:56:23 CDT 2006

>From a recent conversation with Amuthan the following points emerged:

* advaita is usually equated to "advaita vedAnta"
* advaita vedAnta holds the vedas as infallible
* This list should be about understanding the philosophy of Adi shankara.
* Whatever shankara states explicitly should be beyond questioning
* The purva mImansaka view that the vedas are infallible when it comes
to karma kANDa has been fully supported by Sankara,
* There is some explicit quote by Sankara saying that women do not
have vedAdhyayanAdhikAra

As long as Sankara says something explicitly, I think many people on
this list hold the view that _that_ something is beyond _debate_ (it
may be discussed within the assumption that it is true, but it's
validity should be beyond questioning). Since Sankara makes an
explicit statements about women not having the right to read the
vedas, the founders of this list believe that the issue is not open
for debate on _this_ list. Against that I ofcourse have no argument.

If all the above statements are true, then sure, I am not a student of
"advaita" as such, only of non-dualism. It is interesting that if
taken _literally_, "non-dualism" is an exact translation for
"advaita", but when important words are being studied, it becomes
important to give credence to the social baggage they carry. Hence I
concur that "advaita" is a very special term reserved for vedic
traditionalists who accept Sankara unquestioningly.

That according to the above I am not an advaitin _and don't aim to be_
probably disqualifies me from posting on this issue on this list. I
suggest others take cue or argue against the statements that have been
made in the beginning of this post.

I for one am convinced that I am not an advaitin (or a follower of
advaita in the strict sense talked about above). Moreover, I don't
intend to be.

On 5/8/06, Siva Senani Nori <sivasenani at yahoo.com> wrote:
> m w <all_discussions at yahoo.com> wrote:
>   Amuthanji,
> I would suggest you one good scripture to read, if you haven't before, and it will open up all the pores that are still to be opened yet. I know you don't want to talk to me still there is a point in it. The scripture is "Yoga Vasishtha." Another one is Ashtavakra Gita. Yoga Vasishtha by Swami
>   ---------
>   Yoga VaasishTam is a fairly long text, about 32,000 verses long. To put this in perspective, RAmAyaNa is about 24,000 verses long, and MahAbhArata about 100,000 verses long. So it is usually available in its 'laghu', small, version. A good extract, definitely one that supports Manishji's views, is Sri Roddam Narasimha's 'Verses for the Brave' (the original word is dheemAn) containing less than 150 verses in beautfiul sanskrit, and a good English translation. The import of those verses is:
>   1. adyatana - pertaining to today - karma is under our influence, prAktana karma or sanchita karma - the opening balance of karma in this janma so to speak - is not. So focus on the now, and try to do good.
>   2. adyatana is more powerful than prAktana because it can change the effects of the latter.
>   3. Daivam - or vidhi or Fate - is roundly rejected. What you are is as per your efforts.
>   4. na devo puNDarIkAxah ... Punadarikaksha is not a god, so is not Siva and so on (a pure purva-mimaamsaa-position).Only karma reigns. And of course, within that what you can do today and tomorrow is the only relevant part.
>   5. Similarly it states the advaitic position of pure essence (chaitanyam) being the only Reality. And yet, comes back to the action point in a sort of: So, what are you supposed to do? Not brood over some miseries that you (Rama) happened to see. Act, and for the Good.
>   In short, it is less about metaphysics and more about ethics, and within that on one particular aspect: no tradition, no scripture, no philosophy allows for your current state (Rama is initially portrayed in a Gautama-like state, whereupon VasishTa teaches him the text. This was suppposed to be before ViSvAmitra came to take Rama and Lakshmana with him). You can only act for the good, and hence do it.
>   The author is purported to be Valmiki. Internal evidence shows that this was composed after the advent of the Buddha (usage of buddhisht technical terms, Rama portrayed initially like Sidhdhartha etc.), and contemporary with the development of advaita, as the Truth as per the author corresponds to the advaitic position. Though the author in his introduction mentions otherwise, it is said that Sri Sankara refers to yogavaasishTam in his commentary on the SvetaaSvataaropanishad. Interestingly, in the YV, vedaprAmaanyata is kind of rejected, though I am not sure, directly. Definitely, an interesting and stimulating work.
>   Now, the second of my two cents. Science has been spoken of as a very fundamental thing with a lot of answers etc. Admittedly, I was trained as an engineer, but I find something very curious about science. Take for instance, the turbulent layer that forms around things (beyond the laminar layer) when they move through any fluid, most commonly air. A proper understanding of this is very important, given all the flying we do today, and the importance of satellites in modern life. Yet, this aspect is little understood from a fundamental point of view (the laminar layer is better understood). That is, the issue of 'why the turbulent layer has the properties that it has' is not understood from, say, the first prinicples of physics at the atomic level. However 'what the properties of the turbulent layer are', is well understood, and so all of us fly safely, use telephones, watch TV, check weather and so on. But all these activities are based on an understanding of only the
>  what, not how or why. Such being the case with purely physical things, is it a wonder that gentlemen like Sri Amuthan hold the views they do about Science, in relation of the Ultimate Knowledge?
>   Incidentally, Sri Roddam Narasimha, mentioned above, is a scientist at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.
>   Regards
>   Senani
> ---------------------------------
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