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

Siva Senani Nori sivasenani at yahoo.com
Fri May 16 08:31:47 CDT 2008

----- Original Message ----
From: Ananta Bhagwat <ananta14 at yahoo.com>
To: A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org>
Sent: Friday, May 16, 2008 3:31:41 PM
Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] The Evolution of Advaita from Sankara till Date

was the ultimate expression of Hinduism. His whole life was epitome of advaita without differentiating between cast, creed, and class. For me advaita is not only ghatApatAdi Sastra but transcends beyond that. The person for whom you-me difference is over, who believes in the unity of all human kind is advaitin. On that criteria I am not sure even our earlier AcArya-s can test positive. On that criteria perhaps vivekananda is the only advaitin. I have read enough about advaita (all bhAshya-s of Sri Sankara and 
Dear Bhagawatji
I have not read a fraction of what you have read; and generally appreciate your posts; but am at a loss to understand the central tenet of your above mail. First let me state my understanding of your stance.
"Amongst other things, a true advaitin should not differentiate based on caste, creed and class"
Students of advaita insist that, in the worldly framework, or vyavahAra point of view, Sruti and Smriti are valid and binding and both of them do differentiate in no uncertain means based on caste and to a lesser extent based on creed and class.
In the absolute framework, that is the pAramArthika viewpoint, not only is there no difference based on caste, creed and class, but there is no Second to differentiate. The BhagavatpAd takes great pains, in the TaittirIya Upanishad bhAshya, to explain that adjectives do not the serve of function of differentiation when they describe the Brahman (as satyam jn~Anamanantam brahma).
Now, who is a true advaitin? Is he the student who studies SAstras with SraddhA? Is he the one who had studied and understood the SAstras? Is he the one who lives exactly as the SAstras preach? Is he the one who has sAdhana chatushTaya sampatti? Is he the one who has Brahma j~nAna, or the jIvanmukta?
Except the last, for everybody else only the worldly framework applies, and if those definitions are right, true advaitins do differentiate based on caste, creed and class.
If it is the last who is a true Advaitin, being incapable of knowing one way or the other, I stay quiet. Assuming it is not the last I think your definition of a true advaitin is not really correct.
The above is not a censure of your stance. If anything I am more inclined towards your stance regarding certain traditional restrictions than the very orthodox stance. Sri Jaladhar Vyas, a few years back, very evocatively captured this difference by saying that he was a fundamentalist (not in a broad sense, but in a narrow sticking-to-what-the-SAstra-says sense); if I am less fundamentalist, and you even lesser so, I think we should not be apologetic. For instance it is my considered stance that if a woman is truly interested in learning the vedas, and is sincere about it, she should be taught. I recognise that is is not in line with traditional practice, and that the orthodox have every right to censure me for this stance, but I am agreeable to that and have considered that before arriving at that stance.
So, may be it is more like Swami Vivekananda is not orthodox, but he appeals more to you; rather than Swamiji being the true advaitin and not "our earlier AchAryas". Or put differently, let us not attribute certain "virtues" to advaita or vedanta or SAstra, when plainly those "virtues" do not obtain.
Best regards


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