[Advaita-l] Re: Advaita-l Digest, Vol 42, Issue 23

Siva Senani Nori sivasenani at yahoo.com
Mon Oct 30 03:37:10 CST 2006

Siddhartha gaaru

I am not that sure that Bhishma's situation is as clear as you seem to put it. Putting the rules of succession aside, if you look back at the original bet in the game of dice, that is, 12 years of dwelling in forests and 1 year incognito, the reason behind this structure is that any person absconding for so many years is technically on par with the dead, and by implication that kingdom can be absorbed by whoever is maintaining the status quo. So, as per the prevailing dharma of that time, it seems that Duryodhana's stance was technically the correct one. If one goes through the sabhA parvan, all the advice offered / opinion expressed is along the lines of a) the entire kingdom was consolidated / strengthened by King Pandu, b) Yudhishthira makes a sterling king and c) war will destroy the Kurus (both sides) and the Pandavas are likely to emerge winners; so peace be made. The strain of "usurping your brothers kingdom is adharma" is never heard.

Looking at the whole thing from a different angle, if any of the advisors don't like what a king is doing, the technically correct position is to say so clearly  and crisply,  not abandon the king. In the case of Vibhishana, he was thrown out by the king; Vibhishana never even hinted that he would not fight to defend the king. It is like an American w.r.t. Iraq: an American can internally say a thousand things about why it is not good to meddle in Iraq, but when it comes to the actual fighting, it is expected that he support America. The modern name for this ancient code of honour is patriotism. It does sound irrational, but there we are. Bhishma, Drona etc. did not foolishly cling to their words (in fact Drona was not duty-bound: he actually tells Duryodhana in full assembly that he was living not on Duryodhana's money but on Bhishma's, and says where Bhishma is, there Drona would be), but were merely patriotic. If any one actually gave more importance to honour than
 practicality and the well-being of his own self, it is Karna who refused to ditch Duryodhana at war-time and switch sides.

Finally, with respect to dharma, all vedantins - advaitins, visishTAdvaitins, dvaitins, and others - or, I dare say, Hindus (vaidikas, technically) would be expected to follow the same broad set of prinicples, and any difference in the dharmic interpretation of an episode or situation, is more due to regional differences, accumulation of historical experiences etc., rather than to doctrinal issues.


----- Original Message ----
From: Annapureddy Siddhartha Reddy <annapureddy at gmail.com>
To: advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
Sent: Saturday, October 28, 2006 1:21:59 PM
Subject: [Advaita-l] Re: Advaita-l Digest, Vol 42, Issue 23

namaskAramu Siva Senani gAru (and others too),

To me that shows the AchArya's boldness, an attempt to speak his mind
> without being fettered by established conventions, a supreme confidence that
> his knowledge is right; and the fact that seven hundred years down the road
> those positions are not held mainstream tells another story.

Could you tell me why the tradition (advaita vEdAnta and others) supports
bhIShma in this regard. From the pros/cons presented in my previous mail,
the case seems to go against bhIShma. Also, are there any standard
traditional authorities/books on the interpretation of such moral issues in
the advaita vEdAnta tradition?

There's a good, potentially non-traditional, explanation that is

The point the author makes (leaving aside talk of "modern notions of
democracy" etc.) is that shrI kR^iShNa proposed a "new" interpretation of
dharma than was existing at the time. It seems very reasonable (at least
historically), as there seems to be a marked parallel between the kind of
dharma shrI rAma and bhIShma followed. Both stuck to their word against all
odds. Both felt themselves obliged towards duty rather than justice in the
strict sense (Just so my statement is not misconstrued, I am referring to
sIta dEvi being exiled by shrI rAma. If shrI rAma adopted a course of true
justice, He should have given sIta a fair trial, and since He was convinced
of Her innocence, He should have taken all the pains to make sure a
righteous person was not punished. And similarly with bhIShma in the case of
the episode of draupadi vastrApaharaNa.) Please let me know of your

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