[Advaita-l] Fw: moxa-sAdhanA

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Thu Jun 12 00:23:56 CDT 2008

On Wed, 11 Jun 2008, Ananta Bhagwat wrote:

> 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.

This is a crucial difference between the traditionalists and the moderns. 
For the latter the experience of shastra (whether in written or oral form) 
is from the outside.  Some of them may be reformers and some may be 
revivalists but they are equally estranged from the parampara.  For the 
former it is an immediate and living reality.  I am not defending the 
shastras because I read somewhere that I should but because of observing 
actual living practitioners of those shastras. And such observations are 
not "shrouded in antiquity" unless one considers the 1990's onwards to be 
remote antiquity.

> 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.

Yes and the traditions of each of those castes are precious and are 
shastra for them.

Shankaracharya gives the example of Dharmavyadha from the Mahabharata.  In 
brief, a Brahmana named Kaushika was meditating under a tree when a bird 
defecated on him.  In anger he looked at it and instantly killed it with 
his yogic power.  A woman passing by rebuked him for being consumed by 
anger and his wrath turned on her.  But to his amazement his curse had no 
effect and chastened he asked her why.  She replied that she is a 
pativrata and followers her own dharma as best as she can whereas you, 
though learned, are not in control of your senses and thus are violating 
your dharma. Thoroughly humbled, he asked her to tell more but she 
suggested asking Dharmavyadha in Mithila.  Kaushika goes to Mithila and 
is surprised to find a hunter in a slaughterhouse.  Dharmavyadha says that 
athough his occupation may seem objectionable, he is following the dharma 
of his ancestors and from the merit of that has become a sage.

This is why from the astika point of view this business of having all and 
sundry chant vedas or whatever is not progress at all.  In fact it is the 
worst kind of intellectual colonialism.

> 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.

If this conscience is not a logical system then it is arbitrary and 
useless.  If it is based on some logical system (e.g. modern ethics) then 
it suffers the same defect as that which it purports to criticise.  once 
again it is just A's word against B.

Astikas take the injunctions of shastras as axioms.  One can reject that 
view entirely or accept it entirely but one cannot pick and choose pieces. 
In fact the brahmasutras explain this using the very example of the pashu 
yajnas.  In 3.1.24 the purvapakshin suggests that the descending souls 
enter into plants because of the bad karma of having performed himsa in 
yajnas.  The rejoinder is in 3.1.25 ashuddhamiti chet na shabdAt "if you 
say impurity, no because it comes from shabda (i.e. shastra)" 
Shankaracharya expands on this.  How do we know killing is bad?  Through 
the same shastras that say yajnas give good results.  So it is 
hypocritical for the purvapakshin to invoke dharma against dharma. 
Although shabda in the text refers to shruti, the principle applies 
mutatis mutandis to smrti and shistachara which have validity being based 
on shruti.

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

The difference for advaita-l is my perspective is based on Advaita Vedanta 
and yours is not.

This is why we mention in the list guidelines that the list is based on 
Advaita Vedanta as taught by Shankaracharya and his parampara and make 
new members agree to abide by that.  Perhaps we lose a few interesting 
discussions with this limit but atleast it forestalls endless bickering 
about perspectives.

> 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.

Then why even bring it up?  If it bothers you that there are people 
misprepresenting Hinduism you must correct them.  I fail to see how 
inventing a bogus "spirit of the gita" in opposition to a bogus "spirit of 
the shastras" is going to help matters.

> 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?

Actually Advaita Vedanta is the outlier for even having a discussion about 
the role of karma and differentiating between dharma and moksha.  All the 
other schools practice jnanakarmasamucchaya and say that the nitya and 
naimittika Vedic vidhis are obligatory until death even for the sannyasi. 
Even concerning the kamya vidhis they don't have the negative view you are 

>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).

The Advaitic view is dharmas are not required at all.  _IF_ one "ekam 
sharaNaM vraja" in Bhagavan. I.e. if one has taken sannyasa (note the word 
parityajya in that shloka)  Until such time, the injunctions of dharma are 
fully operative.  Even the sannyasi does not invoke conscience or do any 
ninda of shastras.  He gives up shastras simply because they do not apply 
to his current environment.  It's like if I don't make modakas today on 
the grounds that today is not Ganesh Chaturthi, does this indicate an 
anti-modaka sentiment or a simple recognition that it is the wrong time?

> 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.

If they ignore massive egregious violations of their supposed ethics then 
to hell with those hypocrites.  It's an interesting opinion they have but 
I'm sure the Pope or Osama bin Laden also have some interesting opinions 
on shastras.  One needn't pay any attention to any of them.

> 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 ,

And if that is all you had said there would not have been a lengthy 

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

Yes I have and so did my ancestors yet somehow women avoided being 
imprisoned.  Why isn't that "the spirit of Manusmrti"?  It's the penchant 
for picking out random passages and spinning theories upon them I object 

> <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)

for those who seek to be free of the three gunas.  For those who are still 
enmesheshed in worldly life, the message (see 2.47) is different.  Perform 
the action but give up the expectation of results.

> but clearly says that those who cook only for 
> them selves without giving the remnants of yajna to good people eat sin 
> (3.13).

No if you read carefully it says the sacrificers themselves should subsist 
on the yaGYashiShTa and thereby be freed from sin.  But if theu eat 
without offering then they incur sin. 
> I don't think it is Sankara bhahavtpAda view. He separates jnAna-mArga 
> from karma-mArga and puts later on the lower step.

Yes and this was the departure from e.g. Purva Mimamsa.  But it still a 
valid step.  This is the big departure from e.g. Buddhism and Jainism.

> 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 agree.  Unfortunately as we saw from the Vivekananda thread it is the 
moderns who want to avoid that discussion.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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