[Advaita-l] Importance of Ashram

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Wed Dec 12 22:14:55 CST 2007

Sorry for the delay in my reply, been busy lately.

--- Anuj <whereisanuj at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hello Ravi, Thanks for taking the time to review the website, and
> for
> the reply and concern. You are correct in assessing that
> self-management is a critical component of the teachings there.
> Buthtt
> then, I am not planning on becoming a monk or an ascetic (by the
> usual
> definition of the word). I am looking to live the rest of my life,
> a
> potentially 50-60 year additional commitment :) (I'm 28 now) in a
> more
> balanced and practical manner.

That pretty much sums up the way many in the list want to live their
lives, so you're not any different in this sense.

> I say practical because my current
> lifestyle steeped in ignorance of the way things really are is
> quite
> unsustainable if I want a happy life (as illusionary as it may be
> in a
> vedantic context).
> I read Swamiji's book "Vedanta Treatise" and couldn't help but read
> it
> over and over again because of the wealth of knowledge and simple
> way
> it was all explained. Mind you, after having read many more books
> on
> Advaita and Vedanta etc. since then I realize there was nothing
> particularly novel in the content, and they all have the same
> message,
> but that's comforting I guess.
> Isn't it strange that texts try to explain the unexplainable by
> using
> words that one can't really understand/experience to begin with. I
> mean who can conceive of eternity, omnipresence, and omniscience,
> yet
> those are the words used to describe God- a concept we struggle to
> understand. So trying to explain the unexplainable by using words
> we
> can't really understand - this is what most do...and it makes no
> sense.
> Now I have no doubt many of you know much more technical terms and
> have done a lot more research and search within than I have so I
> don't
> intend to refute your point or wisdom. I am just saying, I am not
> looking to technically learn so much as I am dying to experience
> the
> reality. I have faith in where I am going and look forward to the
> contemplation that lays ahead.

That's fine, and I hope you will take my criticism of the
organization in the right spirit.

My assessment of the organization: Since we live in a Capitalist
world today, where everyone earns their livelihood by holding a job
under circumstances of severe economic competition, the job
eventually takes its toll on most of us by causing a great deal of
physical and mental stress. Working to beat the competition purely
for the sake of money is not spiritually fulfilling, and being
bulldozed by the competition leaves a bad taste in one's mouth. One
observes that the management of a company is only keen on succeeding
in the market-place (where "success" is wholly defined in terms of
"profit") and wants to improve the work-efficiency of their employees
for obvious reasons (i.e. Corporate Greed). So one feels
dissatisfied, and yearns for something better than one's present way
of life.
-> Enter "Vedanta world", whose leaders show the organization's
members how to "use" Vedanta to increase the work-efficiency and
productivity of their members while at the same time reducing stress.

In other words, this organization teaches a "FUSION of Capitalism and
Vedanta for the Modern work-force". Bluntly put, this feels like a
"Cult with good intentions".

Here's what they advertise on their website:


The program lays emphasis on the following topics: 


Every single topic contains the jargon of Capitalist Management! It
is interesting that as a part of "self-management", one is taught the
"Science of Productivity". Where does Vedanta talk about the science
of productivity, may I ask? If so, how can it be called "Vedanta" -
why not simply call it "Balanced Teachings for Modern Everyday
Living" or something equally descriptive of the organization's goals
instead of cheapening the good name of a glorious religious and
philosophical tradition? IMHO, it is quite sneaky on the part of the
"Vedanta world" to get the "Vedanta" stamp on these teachings, no
matter how "helpful" some people find the teachings to be.

Is it not strange that neither Sankara nor any of the great Vedanta
Teachers say nothing about how to "use" Vedanta for increasing
productivity, whereas all the so-called Modern teachers of Vedanta
inject Capitalist Management ideas into their own version of Vedanta?

I recently came across a book claiming that Krishna was imparting the
knowledge of Modern Management Principles to Arjuna in the Gita!
People read all sorts of things into the Gita depending upon their
mental makeup, without ever consulting a good commentary on the text.
It is true that the Gita can definitely be interpreted in the Modern
context in a slightly different manner than the ancient commentaries
- Ramana Maharshi has done so for instance - but to read Capitalist
Management Principles into the scripture is a stretch of the

I'd rather learn from a traditional teacher of Vedanta any day!

> In appreciation,
> Anuj

Good luck with your spiritual pursuits,

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