[Advaita-l] Importance of Ashram

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Tue Jan 1 00:31:04 CST 2008

--- Ramesh Krishnamurthy <rkmurthy at gmail.com> wrote:

> On 31/12/2007, Mahesh Ursekar <mahesh.ursekar at gmail.com> wrote:
> > b. Swamiji himself has studied in the UK and so is comfortable &
> conversant
> > with ideas of the West. In this respect, his teaching is a
> wonderful blend
> > of the East & the West
> > c. His teaching is 100% rational with no element of superstition
> or
> > ritualistic leanings or blind beliefs.
> This talk of "blending east & west" always makes me squirm in my
> seat.
> Most people who make such claims are actually 99% west and 1% east.
> Our problem is not the need to assimilate western paradigms but the
> need to first understand our own.


But there is hardly any doubt that Swami Parthasarathy is first and
foremost a businessman who happens to be incidentally interested in
Vedanta. For instance, here is the advertisement on his website:


  "... you will learn in a personalized setting with
  Swami Parthasarathy, the world authority on ancient wisdom
  in modern business."

As to his credentials of being a great Vedanta teacher:


  "Above all, at 6 feet he has maintained a 32 inch waistline,
  148 pound weight and ideal blood pressure and sugar levels
  for the past 60 years! Born to a premier business family,..."

Swami Parthasarathy's waistline and weight are important selling
points for his being a great teacher of Vedanta! Note the emphasis in
"Above all, ..." - implying that his maintenance of waistline and
weight is a clincher establishing him as a great Vedanta teacher.
Does anyone care if Sankara or Sureshvara maintained a certain
waistline or "ideal" blood sugar levels?! Bodily characteristics are
inconsequential details to a Vedantin.

The above link also says:


  "If you cannot find happiness in your work,
   you will never find it."

Advaita Vedanta teaches us that it is the RENUNCIATION of work
(Sannyasa) that is the ideal to true and steady happiness. Isn't it
strange that Swami Parthasarathy teaches us that it is IN work that
happiness is found - a doctrine that is never found in the teachings
of great Vedantins, all of whom unanimously teach us to either remain
detached from the results of work (Nishkamya Karma) or renounce work
altogether (Sannyasa)?

Swami Parthasarathy respects Vedanta enough to incorporate it into
his "version" of Vedanta and "Corporate Management", so he may have
good intentions, but this still feels "cultish".

The "Self-management" that is being taught here is what Vedantins
would call "EGO-management".

Gita 3.27 is very relevant in this context:

  ahaMkAra vimUDhAtmA kartAham iti manyate .
  "The soul deluded by the ego (ahaMkAra) thinks 'I am a worker'."

> I am not sure what you mean by "superstition" and "blind beliefs"
> but
> rituals are quite central to Indian ways of learning. All our
> philosophies are children of the ritualistic tradition, and not
> rebellions against ritual as some modern historians would like us
> to
> believe.
> Ramesh

Just a small note: Dharma encompasses all righteous action, not
merely rituals.


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