[Advaita-l] Fw: moxa-sAdhanA

Ananta Bhagwat ananta14 at yahoo.com
Wed Jun 11 06:14:16 CDT 2008

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Jaldhar H. Vyas
Sent: Wednesday, June 11, 2008 5:06:55 AM
Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] moxa-sAdhanA

<In several of your messages I've seen you assume that by shastras we mean 
written books and then you contrast them with traditions or history. 
Actually its almost completely the other way around. ...>

Well, this is also my position; tradition (oral transmission and observance) first and then came SAstra. But is it the position of those who demand rigid interpretation of SAstra? Recall your own stand. When you interpret shruti or smRti rigidly you interpret words and not the traditions because shruti and smRti are culminations of very many traditions which are shrouded in antiquity.

<Despite not being written in a fixed form we find that different classes 
amongst those that are called Hindus have very fixed, consistent ideas of 
how one is supposed to act.  This is their dharma.>

Very debatable; which classes you are talking about? Perhaps this may be true to some extent of priestly (Brahmin) class, not otherwise. From times of yore each caste has showcased its own tradition. There are hundreds of casts.

<Then it is not a pramana i.e an objective measure.  Anyone can invoke 
"conscience" for whatever reason and there is no rational measure by which 
you can determine if it is valid or not.  Any discussion of this 
"conscience" will end up as a shouting match because it only one persons 
word against another.>

Conscience has a subjective element no doubt; but it can always try to connect to universal conscience projected by gItA. Also,  see below.

<Hmm if you know who Turing is you most probably know who Goedel is.>

Hmm, very good example indeed! The famous incompleteness theorem of Godel says, in any mathematical system no set of axioms can capture all the procedures whereby mathematical truths are ascertained. This is true for all logical systems. This is where conscience comes into picture. I referred to the term non-computational to show that there can not be any exclusive criteria (like birth, cast, class etc) whereby this conscience is formed or raised. A Valya Koli can become sage Valmki when his conscience is raised. A vikarNa can stand up against all the assembly of seniors and vidvAn-s to protest disrobing of draupadI. That is what I call as conscience. It can (but need not always) comes from SAstra.

<Who defines "injury" and "innocence"?  In the case of the himsaka yajnas 
it is believed that the sacrificial pashu goes to  heaven.  Since a goat 
cannot read the Ramayana or fast on ekadashi, this is in fact the only way 
it can go to heaven.  What kind of selfish wicked person would deny them 
that?  (In other words it is a matter of perspective.)>

ajA putra balI dadhyat devO durbala ghAtakaH! Here our perspectives differ.

<No it is not clear at all.  I deny your very premise and if you intend to 
assert it, you need to back it up with some facts.
The devil is as they say in the details.  If you don't want to back up 
your arguments, drop them we can't take them seriously.>

There is very little motivation for me to take this bet; but still you can refer to section V and VII of manusmRti and incantations of Atharva Veda as example. Referhttp://www.sacred-texts.com/hin and go Atharva Veda English translation. You will also find manusmRiti and some other smRti-s there. If you know Sanskrit you can see all 18 smRti-s and upasmRitis onhttp://is1.mum.edu/vedicreserve and you will understand the futility of this whole exercise. My lack of motivation is not due to lack of data but because of the very fact that some of this material is also used by the vested interests to malign Hinduism as also by some to validate their black-magic activities. I do not want to join or support any of these groups.

<The contradiction is this.  You say that Arjuna causing the deaths of over 
one million people including his teachers, elders, and other family 
members for the sake of artha (a kingdom) is dharma but a somayaji killing 
one goat for the sake of artha (heaven) is not>

Not a correct example. In second world war more people died. But do you suggest that the world should have succumbed to Hitler's ambitions and tolerated Jews' massacre?. Can it be used to justify the killing of even one innocent person? The war for Dharma (for just cause) is different; there the participants and their non-fighting supporters too are aware that they can die. You can not justify killing of an innocent by giving this example. Then why not sanction murders etc. Why not nara-balI (human sacrifice) also? Some may even justify all that but it is not acceptable to conscience of very many people including mine.

> We assume that shruti, smRti, purANa give a unified clear message all 
> through which is universal and all-time.

<Yes indeed we do.  Actually with  one qualification: there are two unified 
clear messages.  One is how to pursue dharma, artha, and kama for limited 
rewards in a finite world.  The other is how to pursue moksha which is 
eternal and infinite.>

We are talking about details and they differ considerably as to how to pursue these two courses. If every thing was crystal clear then why debates continued for centuries even amongst SAstrI-s? The hows are to be detailed out, other wise they are meaning less. The devil is as they say in the details :). If you say follow 18.66 of gItA then SAstra-s are not required at all. (Though I do not rule out that possibility in specific cases).

<As others have pointed out, modern sensibilities permit the slaughter of 
animals on a vast scale.  Even if you restrict the picture to religious 
rituals, animals sacrifices are going on all over India this very day. 
True most of these are tantrokta rather than vedokta but even the latter are 
not unknown. (And what about halal or kosher sacrifices?  Those are 
practiced by modern people whose consciences are apparently untroubled)

So by "modern  sensibilities" it seems you mean "my sensibilities"  Which 
is ok except you said conscience is more than the "whims and fancies of an

When I say modern sensibilities I say modern ethical view. Modern people do lot many things which are not compatible with this ethical view. Animal rightist who are concerned with the plight of animals are growing in number. I have explained their concerns elsewhere. That animal sacrifices are going all over India (and its implicit universality in Indian context) is an exaggerated view. But suppose for the sake of arguments these things are really happening then these are not compatible with the spirit of gItA.

It may interest you to see the discourse of Sw Chandrashekharendra Bharati, a modern SAstri and a videha mukta of Kanchi Kamakoti who explains that though animal sacrifice is sanctioned by dharma, satya (truth) and ahiMsA (non-violence) is much better course of action as per SAstra only. See the link
http://www.kamakoti.org/hindudharma/part5/chap23.htm , 

<It was the same in my family including the early 20th century.  So where 
are you getting the idea that is is not in tune with the manusmrti?>

Have you read manusmRti? Some where above, I have given site link and section numbers for your perusal.

<I think you will find the number  of families that treated women badly then 
are not that different than the number that treat them badly now.>

Here I agree; we have to find a mean between excessive materialism and blind adherence to scriptures.

<Therefore get up and seek fame.  Defeat the enemy and enjoy the prosperous 
kingdom.  (11:33a)>

This is for motivating Arjuna, elsewhere gItA not only decry vedavAdarata (2.42-44) but clearly says that those who cook only for them selves without giving the remnants of yajna to good people eat sin (3.13). In this context the five yajna-s (deva, brahma, pitR, nR, and bhUta) involve feeding the hungry as also feeding the lower animals. If the householder has inadvertently killed 'life' by use of pestle, grindstone, oven etc. these yajna-s free him from the sin. (SAstra can be as ennobling as that; but one has to have pravRtti to imbibe this nobleness).

<Unlike the life-denying Shramanic movements before it, Advaita Vedanta 
does not consider rituals to be inferior because there is something wrong 
in pursuing worldly pleasure or power.  These are also given by Bhagavan 
and we are only the instruments.  Even when done  for selfish ends, such 
things can lead to public good.  Perhaps a modern parallel can be how 
capitalist countries are more prosperous than socialist ones even though 
capitalism is selfish and socialism is not.>

I don't think it is Sankara bhahavtpAda view. He separates jnAna-mArga from karma-mArga and puts later on the lower step. moxa is possible by only jnAna-mArga. Further, in vyavahAra if every body seeks selfish motives disregarding societal interest there will be friction and anarchy. Frankly, the examples of capitalist or socialist systems to draw parallel is not relevant. It all depends on who is implementing the system. If a socialist system succeeds in Scandinavian countries, the same system may fail (or rather not acceptable) in US. And a monarchy is successful in Saudi Arabia the same may not work in UK. Again these things are temporary and no permanent conclusion can be drawn from them. 

Any religious doctrine can be viewed from the angle of (1) philosophy (ontology, epistemology, and ethics) (2) theology (mysticism and dogma) and (3) sociology (history, sociology, humanities). I believe many of the todays controversial doctrinaire issues can be understood better from the third angle if not from first two. I can discuss them some time later. Enough for the time being :)



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