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

Ramesh Krishnamurthy rkmurthy at gmail.com
Sat May 17 01:55:21 CDT 2008

Dear Sri Ramanathan,

2008/5/17 Ramanathan P <p_ramanathan at yahoo.com>:
<<I have a couple of questions regarding the Shastra based tradition,
in particular the stress on karma kanda.>>

These issues have been addressed by list scholars by Vidyasankar,
Ramakrishnan etc many times.

Traditional scholars are generally in agreement that:

1. Anyone, by following his/her svadharma, can attain ciitta-shuddhi
and develop the 4-fold qualifications.

2. jn~Ana may be obtained from various sources (bhagavad gItA, for
example). Hence anyone, including even those outside the varNa system,
can attain mokSha.

In the book "Exalting Elucidations" HH Sri Abhinava Vidyatirtha of
Sringeri says in response to a question put forth by a seeker:

"Whoever said that only a Brahmin can get j~nAna and, hence,
liberation? vidura, for instance, was a great, enlightened soul. He
was not a brAhmaNa. That formal study of the veda is traditionally
done after upanayana does not imply that the path to liberation is not
available to all. We can find the essence of the upaniShad-s in texts
like the yogavAsiShTha and the vicArsAgar (Hindi). All can study such
works and acquire j~nAna. Everyone is competent to get jn~Ana.
Sa~NkarabhagavatpAda has said this conclusively".

//End quote

On saMnyAsa, one finds differing views in the tradition. Some opine
that there are restrictions on who can enter this path, others say
that anyone can. But the point is that all this talk of restrictions
applies only to formal saMnyAsa, that which is entered into after the
virajA homa, complete with external symbols such as the ochre robes,
danDa, kamaNDalu, etc. But strictly speaking, saMnyAsa is the outcome
of vairAgya, and no shaastra or guru can put a restriction on vairAgya

The point is that shaastra/guru/tradition can put restrictions only on
certain actions. There is no way to restrict j~nAna or vairAgya.

The jAbAla upaniShat, one of Sa~Nkara's favorites, says: "yadahareva
virajet tadahareva pravrajet" (one may renounce as soon as one gets
intense vairAgya)

The AtmapurANa, an old text, has a reference to the
yAj~navalkya-maitreyI saMvAda in the bRhadAraNyaka. It says that after
yAj~navalkya retired to the forest, maitreyI also did the same and
lived the life of a saMnyAsin, even though she did not have the
external symbols such as daNDa etc.

In more recent times, Ramana Maharshi, though born a brAhmaNa, never
took formal saMnyAsa. However, he was recognized as a saMnyAsin by
those who were formally so.

On the necessity of saMnyAsa (whether formal or otherwise) per se, HH
Sri Abhinava Vidyatirtha says in the same book: (D: Disciple, A:

D: Does Acharyal opine that householders cannot get jnAna and attain mokSha?

A: No. They can definitely attain mokSha. However, their path is more
ardous. One desiring mokSha alone can take saMnyAsa and lead a life
just for that purpose. But for householders, freedom from distracting
influences is difficult. Nevertheless, it is improper to say that they
cannot secure jn~Ana. janaka and other such were jnAnin-s though they
were householders. It is, however, wrong to quote this and say that
the life of brahmacarya is not necessary for anyone

// End Quote

bhava sha~Nkara deshikame sharaNam
santoShaH paramo lAbhaH satsa~NgaH paramA gatiH I
vicAraH paramaM j~nAnaM shamo hi paramaM sukham II

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