[Advaita-l] The Evolution of Advaita from Sankara till Date

Ananta Bhagwat ananta14 at yahoo.com
Thu May 15 06:39:07 CDT 2008

This has reference to May 15 post of Jaladhar Vyas:

<As you mention it not "shastric and rigid in the representation of 
non-dual philosophy."  That's important don't you think!>

Well, that is not important!

<Both Vivekananda and Ramakrishna (especially the latter) were products of 
Bengali culture where the dominant religious strain is vamachari tantrik. 
The form of tantra practiced there is advaita but it is not Vedantic.>

In Vivekananda's writing and speeches about Vedanta his Bengali culture or his (supposedly!) vamachari tantric strain is not reflected. Further, mere reflection of culture in presentation need not disqualify any body from vedantic tradition in so far it does not contradict the basic doctrines.  Language too is part of culture; but advaitin should not be disqualified on that basis.
<On the practical side:
I can see how that is attractive. 
Perhaps it was even necessary and if there hadn't been a powerful 
apologist for Hinduism at that juncture we would all be Christians or 
something by now.>

The last sentence is unnecessary exaggeration; Vedanta had survived for more than 1000 yrs till that point in adverse conditions, it would have continued to do so. Anyway it is besides the point.

<Does that mean Vivekananda is necessary now? .....Younger generations don't feel that sense of inferiority and defensiveness towards the West and they are at home in modernity.  In fact 
in fields like IT, Indians are helping create the modern world. 
than ever before.>

One can ask similar question about all historical icons (Vedantin or otherwise) of the past. Our IT profile can always be evaluated in terms of our numerical strength vis a vis the original research, patents, owneship of code etc, but that is another topic of discussion.

<The nature of the West has changed too.  It is more tolerant now and more 
familiar with other cultures.  Westerners don't need to have Hinduism 
watered down for them.  In fact they tend to insist that it is not.  Look 
at another Bengali import, ISKON.  It is much more popular in the west 
than the RK mission and that is precisely because it is _less_ 

Debatable points except the first two statements. Even the tolerence has the genuine aspect as well convenience aspect (compulsions of market forces).

<Vivekanandas synthesis has had the unfortunate effect of freezing 
"modern" Hinduism in the modernity of the 19th century.  This is the cause 
of the continuing intellectual backwardness of the majority of the Hindu 

First sentence: not true; second sentence: irrelevant.

<Well I suppose these views make me one of those condescending people 
Gerald talked about :-) but I hasten to add these are my personal views. 
If someone feels they have benefitted from Vivekanandas philosophy then 
good for them.  I would just remind them that they can do better>.

Jaladharaji is entitled to his personal views. In spite of his reminder, I hold that Vivekananda is advaitin in the truest sense of this word.


Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
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