[Advaita-l] shaDdarhana and other unorthodox schools

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Sat Jan 20 22:15:51 CST 2007

--- Ram Garib <garib_ram at yahoo.co.in> wrote:

> Thanks Sri S Jayanarayanan for your very detailed
> reply. I stand chastised and corrected.

Certainly I didn't mean to "chastise" you, but I don't disagree with
the "correct" part :-)

It is a fact that Sankara and other advaitins write both in the realm
of philosophy as well as theology. When they discuss things like
Reality, Knowledge, Perception etc. it is a philosophy, and when they
discuss Ishvara, Prayer, Reincarnation, etc. it is a religion. The
advaitins hardly seem aware of a clear-cut distinction between the
two subjects, which points to one of the key differences between the
East and the West.

For example, Karl Jaspers says that some strains of Buddhism are
actually very close to Kantian philosophy, but goes on to point out
the distinction between the two -- the former makes it a part of
"religious practice", but the latter does not. In my experience of
the West, the philosophers think the theologians are "weird" and
sometimes poke fun at them, and the theologians return the favor.
They "tolerate" each other, that's about it.

IMHO, this is because Western religion emphasizes FAITH as the goal
in itself, whereas Eastern religions (especially Advaita and
Buddhism) emphasize WISDOM as the goal, with faith being merely a
means to the final goal of wisdom, and NEVER faith as an end in
itself. I liked what Subhanu Saxena said sometime ago in this list:


"The form of faith recommended by Shastra is not blind, but leads to
a truth (which is the anubhava of point 1 above)

The very word SraddhA, which is poorly translated as faith, can be
constructed from 'srat dadhAti', or 'that faith which leads to truth
or reality'. Faith in the Western context is a faith in something
that will happen after we are gone that must be followed without
question. I hate translating SraddhA as faith. I always just use the
Sanskrit word.  The simple analogy here is that SraddhA is the same
SraddhA we have in, say, a physics teacher.  When he /she explains
how an electric motor works, we don't accept it blindly and move on
(accept for f grade students!), we go out and perform the experiment
and have an experience of what it is.  We have faith that the
teaching will lead to some practical truth that we can experience,
that is all."

Anyway, this "problem" of understanding Sankara arises only because
we are all, in spite of our allegiance to Vedanta, primarily
Western-educated, and it has shaped our outlook on everything,
including our "darshana". After all, this list's discussions are in
English, which is actually an alien language to discuss Vedanta. If
we do want to write and understand in English, it MAY help to
distinguish where Sankara is writing philosophy and where theology.
But OTOH, it may also hinder it.

> With regard
> Ram Garib


Don't pick lemons.
See all the new 2007 cars at Yahoo! Autos.

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list