[Advaita-l] Status of Traditional Learning in India (was Re: Interesting URL)

Siva Senani Nori sivasenani at yahoo.com
Wed May 14 07:28:36 CDT 2008

----- Original Message ----
From: Ramesh Krishnamurthy <rkmurthy at gmail.com>
To: A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org>
Sent: Wednesday, May 14, 2008 11:35:49 AM
Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] Interesting URL

Given the way Indian society is changing, I for one think it is a fond
hope that future acharya-s will be schooled in the Sanskrit legacy at
all. The small south indian vaidika community is pretty much a last
Dear Sri Ramesh
Your comments on vaidika community, lack of scholars in North India etc. have set off some thoughts. First some observations:
1. When one tries to get a good book in Sanskrit, Chaukhamba is one of the best sources and all the authors published by Chaukhamba that I have seen (admittedly not many) are North Indians. Another publisher that is going strong is the Gita Press of Gorakhpur. Their standards of editing are amongst the highest in the country.
2. Even at the time of my Sanskrit teacher, about 30 years ago, Bengal was the place to go and learn tarka, a foundation in which is considered essential for studying vedanta. I am sure Bengal remains a strong seat of Sanskrit learning, if not advaita. 
3. I personally know a large and growing group of committed persons initiated into Sri Vidya, which is very sadhana-focussed. As an aside, our family's purohita commented that 50 years back his teacher lamented whether people would care enough in the future to perform the annual SrAddha for the departed, but that the practice did not wean away alarmingly.
4. How many Indians live in the USA? 1.7 million or so, some sites say. That compares with, say, about 50 million Brahmins (going by the ~4.5% of population being Brahmins in the 1931 census). Given this huge difference in number, and the general dislike of not being able to maitain their culture of worship and practices in USA that traditional Brahmins have, I am surprised to know that "most of the young scholars are in USA, not India".
5. And, it is not merely Brahmins who are scholars; scholars are found from all varnas. In AP, 'vaidika' is a separate sub-sect of Brahmins, as opposed to "Niyogas", "KaraNams", "Golkonda vyApArulu" and so on. I wonder if Shankaracharyas can come only from the "vaidika" sub-sect of Brahmins or if they are allowed from all dvijas. In Kurtalam peeTham in Tamil Nadu, I know that traditionally a Niyoga Brahmin is the head, but I know of no traditional peeThAdhipati who is not a Brahmin. Some non-brahmin scholar-sannyasins are very popular on Telugu devotional TV channels, but they seem to be more popular than the institutions they head.
I wonder if the situation is as alarming as Sri Ramesh portrayed and would like to know the feelings or anecdotal evidence from other members as well.
Best regards
N. Siva Senani
Disclaimer: I am a South Indian, Telugu, vaidika brahmin of the gotra of sage Harita. Thus, no personal axes to grind.


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