[Advaita-l] Importance of Ashram

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Tue Jan 1 23:35:03 CST 2008

On Tue, 1 Jan 2008, Anuj wrote:

> Yes, he is a businessman, and a really good one at that, but considering
> that most of the influence and problems lie at their root in the working,
> materially attached world, I see nothing wrong with addressing that
> audience who need this knowledge the most.

Well that's the question isn't it?  Does this kind of thing really address 
the problems materialist businessmen face or is it just a palliative?

As I mentioned in the other post I wrote on this topic today, there is 
part of the broader Smarta or "Hindu" tradition that does address the 
issues of living in this world but Vedanta is something else.

> It's great that Vedanta is
> preached the world over to all but most people like my mother and other
> people in their retirement years that tend to really take this knowledge to
> heart are not going to make the kind of difference it will take to make
> society at large a better, truer, wiser place.

Advaita Vedanta is not trying to make society better.  It is 
self-admittedly "other worldly" But it is part of a greater corpus of 
beliefs, which I am refering to as smarta, one of which is that "other 
worldliness" belongs to the last stage of life.  Other things are expected 
of younger people and I think those other things would do more to address 
the immediate problems they face than Vedanta would while preparing them 
for Vedantic sadhana later.

The confusion over these matters is a deliberate historical and cultural 
phenomenon.  A critical thinker should ponder why.

  So I feel the niche Swami
> Parthasarthy appeals to is quite an important part of the generation that
> can make a real, practical difference in their society and this is for the
> greater good for the most people. Let's just say, for someone like me with
> an MBA who has withdrawn from the American corporate banking/consulting
> lifestyle I can connect with this version of Vedanta that leaves me more
> positive for the state of humanity - that there is hope if only the
> knowledge is shared in a digestible context.

Well speaking as someone of a similar background, I drew a different 
conclusion (even though I found it pretty damn indigestible at first.) 
*shrug* Go figure.

> Rather than sharing all the
> complicated Sanskrit terminology and debating over Which Swami is more or
> less authentic and wiser, I prefer to concentrate on finding this out within
> and if the environment and guidance is conducive to that, that's where my
> home will be.

But by deciding against complicated Sanskrit terminology or debating 
which Swami is authentic or wiser, you have already biased your answer.

I congratulate you for making the efforts that you are.  It is my eternal 
regret that when I was younger I didn't go to India for a good period of 
time and study in depth.  While I think I've done a decent job of studying 
and practising shastras, I feel I could have done better.  Now I'm 36 and 
married with children my family duties prevent it.  So what you are doing 
is--despite all that has been said--overall a good thing.  But nevertheless 
my opinion is you would better use your time travelling around and 
observing the range of views rather staying in one place and listening to 
only one opinion.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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