[Advaita-l] Re: Pa~nchapAdikAchArya

K Kathirasan NCS kkathir at ncs.com.sg
Wed Sep 27 20:43:44 CDT 2006

Namaste Ramaji,

I have always admired your posts for its objectivity. But this one seems
to have a more defensive tone. I do not belong to any camp while I
appreciate the teachings of all camps. But I do see a sense of loyalty
to whatever tradition you subscribe to (my hunch is that it is
Sringeri). In any case I look forward to your other posts. I would
appreciate if you could keep to refuting SSS's views on the
'fundamentals' of Advaita Vedanta and not what his disciples thought
about him. I wish you quote his words from his writings and refute them
systematically using the rules of engagement that SSS and many other
Advaita Acharyas have employed. 

I hope that all of us benefit from your observations. Thanking you in

Vidya Dadhatu Vinayam. 

-----Original Message-----
From: advaita-l-bounces at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
[mailto:advaita-l-bounces at lists.advaita-vedanta.org] On Behalf Of
Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian
Sent: Thursday, September 28, 2006 9:07 AM
To: A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta
Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] Re: Pa~nchapAdikAchArya

I fear I might just be flogging a dead horse, but I'll continue. Sorry
for the long gaps in response, but I have just been too busy at work

First, it's not my intention to be rude or anything, but some glaring
facts present themselves as I read books from the kaaryaalaya. If we
can be abstract about 1200 years of advaitins being wrong, we should
be able to consider that assumption may be wrong in the abstract also.

I'll address a few points, I have problems with:

1.  Definitions of traditional teaching and otherwise.
2.  Repeating "Let Sankara speak for himself" and asking everyone to
ignore sub-commentaries - Does this even make any sense?
3. Cherry picking things to choose and discard from tradition,
completely arbitrarily, to suit ones own fancies.
4. Followers (a very large percentage, but not all) of SSS riding the
high horse, and calling everyone else a scoundrel or cheat, or at best
an idiot, without even knowing the full facts in many cases.

Unfortunately I'll have to deal with this piece-meal over a few days
and will choose one topic per post.

First, traditional teaching and otherwise: Sri Venkat said that
Satchitdaanandendra Saraswati Swamigal (SSS from now) belongs to the
same "tradition" as Vidyaaranya et. al. The reason being even
Sureshvara disagreed with Sankara, and by extension SSS disagreeing
with 1200 years of advaitins does not mean he is not from that

a. Sureshvara did not dismiss Sankara as a blind man leading the
blind. The disagreements are somewhat tangential to the main theory if
you look at it carefully. But from a practical stand-point, sometimes
these do make a difference, e.g., who can take sannyaasa. Note that
both agree *everyone* is qualified for brahmaj~naana. The disagreement
is only who can choose sannyaasa as a *means* to realization. In some
sense it is not all that important,

Or the puraaNa-itihaasa reference in vedas. *Both* agree puraaNas and
itihaasas are pramaaNa, being smR^iti. That is the most important
thing. The disagreement is ONLY over whether the reference to puraaNa
and itihaasa in the vedas mean the bhaarata, etc., or the stories in
the veda itself. This argument does NOT affect the fact that the
bhaarata is considered a pramaaNa by BOTH. The argument is arcane in
some sense, and seems to reflect two different views within the
mImA.nsA school.

But SSS dismisses the entire writings of the last 1200 years as wrong.
In fact we would be hard-pressed to find him giving any
credence/praise to any one, The only instance I know is he grudingly
praises citsukha in his vedaanta-prakriyaa-pratyabij~naa. He questions
the very fundamental statements of vidyaaraNya, et. al, and so that
affects EVERYTHING. In essence he claims that they are COMPLETELY
wrong and that it is NOT possible to attain brahma-j~naana by
understanding vedaanta through these works such as pa~ncadashii.
That's a big difference, and a loose comparsion to Sureshvara is not
going to help.

Just because he was a student of viruupaxa shasstri also means zilch.
Especially after deriding him implicitly (or should that be
explicitly) as one of the blind people led by the blind. I am
continuosly amazed by people not understanding the implications of a
statement. When he makes a general statement like "blind being led by
the blind" etc, if you don't see what it actually implies in a
*particular situation*, it just doesn't seem like much.

b. I think we should be careful in talking about whether SSS belonged
to the tradition. The key issue is if SSS thought that he belonged to
the tradition as we (non-followers of SSS) know it? The answer seems
to be no. Here's what his direct disciple says in the book published
by the kaaryaalaya itself.

"On their own, both the mentor Iyer and pupil Subbaraaya considered
seriously the paradoxical question .... They could pinpoint and point
out the distorted interpretations of the original bhaashya sentences
by the vyaakhyaanakaaraas were in themselves the real culprit .,.."

Note the "on their own". Obviously they had to - poor viruupaaxa
shastri, their guru, was only the last in a procession of blind men,

Even Mr Gangolli asks the same question I asked, namely - how could
the tradition stop with Sureshvara and only SSS discover it after 1200
years? He comes to the rather unsuprising conclusion that it is
because SSS is an avatara of Sankara. This is *not* a digvijaya type
of *glorification*, but what he actually thinks is TRUE, because
*even* Gangolli is *completely amazed* by this 1200 year gap.  Now
this has 2 assumptions, that SSS is correct because Gangolli thinks
SSS is correct. Also it presumes that anyone else who disagrees with
SSS is wrong because Gangolli knows SSS is correct! To top all of it
he comes to the conclusion that SSS is an avataara of Sankara! Such
presumptuosness about the idiocy of anyone who dares to disagree with
SSS is the *norm* among SSS's students. We can judge only by writings,
and not stories about personalities. More on this later.

It is also clear then that SSS  and at least his direct followers,
accept that a tradition can be rejuvenated (if lost in the first
place, which I most emphatically disagree) by studying books. If not,
who was his vidyaa guru, in the sense Sankara was for Sureshvara? If
it was Krishnaswamy Iyer, who was his guru? Avataara arguments suffer
from the fallacy of infinite regress, who is to reliably certify
someone as an avataara. If someone does, then who is to certify that
this someone is correct and so on.

To be continued..


On 9/18/06, Vidyasankar Sundaresan <svidyasankar at hotmail.com> wrote:
> I have been following the posts in this thread with more than a little
interest and some concern. I think
> a few general statements are in order here.
> No one, and I'm sure I may safely include Ramakrishnan here too,
questions that Swami Saccidanandendra
> Saraswati was part of the tradition of advaita vedAnta. Inasmuch as he
not only wrote treatises in his
> student days, but also renounced the world and took to formal sannyAsa
within the living monastic tradition
> of Sankara, Swamiji was very much a representative of the tradition.
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