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

Ramesh Krishnamurthy rkmurthy at gmail.com
Fri May 16 09:41:09 CDT 2008

Dear Sri Ananta,

Personally, I used to read Swami Vivekananda's works as a schoolboy
and found them greatly inspiring. So I have always had the greatest
respect for him. His place in the galaxy of our sages is assured. At
the same time, his works are not a replacement for the classical
Sanskrit tradition.  From the perspective of the Vedantic tradition, I
feel that if some of our youngsters are inspired by Swamiji's works to
study the classical tradition in greater depth, then the purpose is
served. I think his works are a useful beginning for the average Hindu
trying to learn more about his dharma, but for a proper understanding
of the philosophies, one will have to go beyond and study the
classical tradition - and that too not merely book study. What is
important is interaction with people who are well-schooled in the
tradition, if not formal learning under a guru. Otherwise, one can
easily misunderstand many things.

Anyway, here's something you wrote that made me sit up:

<<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......... The spirit of
advaita transcends all that! It is the principle of unity but not
homogenization. See gItA XIII.27 and 28 to understand true advaitin.>>

Why only "unity of all human kind"? Why not all creatures, or even all
phenomena - living or non-living? As you said, it is the principle of
unity but not homogenization. I think this a crucial point for us to
understand the Hindu dharma in general, let alone advaita in
particular. Our earlier acharya-s were more than positive in this

I am far from being an expert or scholar in these matters, but this
business of unity has often bugged me and with some effort, I think my
perspective has changed substantially over the years (and even though
I have often disagreed with Jaldhar, he has been one of the many
contributors towards this change). What gItA 13.27 and 13.28 are
emphasizing is the inherent divinity of all phenomena, whether
sentient or insentient, pleasing or disgusting. The j~nAnI is beyond
all the pairs of opposites, indeed he is even beyond dharma & adharma.

This kind of sentiment can arise only when feels one with nature, one
with the world all around. All phenomena are unique in their own way,
and yet they are all united in their divinity. In fact their
uniqueness is their divinity. "sarvam khalvidam brahma", as I
understand, is only an expression of this recognition that everything,
in itself, is divine. This is a far cry from modern notions of
equality, fundamental rights, etc, which often end up in a
one-size-fits-all aggressive approach (I need not mention the
ideologies that are aggressive in this manner).

I am not suggesting that modern notions are all bad, but they are
positively nothing when compared to what the ancient sages came up
with and which our ancestors lived over the millenia. In some respect,
the sages only articulated what even the illiterate ancients always

santoShaH paramo lAbhaH satsa~NgaH paramA gatiH I
vicAraH paramaM j~nAnaM shamo hi paramaM sukham II

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