[Advaita-l] Fw: Sankara Mutt

narayan iyer z1e1b1r1a at yahoo.com
Sat Sep 20 06:03:03 CDT 2008

Respected Sri Vidyasankarji,

I am a great admirer of your write-ups.  On seeing your reply, I also reflected on the matter for a whole day.  Initially, I thought of dropping the subject altogether.  But on better judgement I decided that I should respond, since the subject was initiated by me.  So here goes my reply:

The first query of my post was "Is there a charter of functions of Sankara Mutts?" This was inexplicably not touched by any of the respondents.  Not even an i dont know; i dont care; you are not entitled to know response.

Second, why I presumed that may be Sankara maTha can help me with a translation was because a book entitled "YaajuSha suurya namaskaara kalpaH" was compiled by Sri Sundararama Diskhitar with an English translation by N. S. Anatakrishna Sastri,Astanavidwan (at that time) of Sringeri Mutt, and published by Sri Sringeri Jagadguru Sanatana Dharma Vidya Samiti, 1967.  This book has Srimukham of Sri Mahasannidhanam, the previous Sankaracharya of Sringeri.  (This message is in our archives of June 05 - courtesy Sri Ramakrishnan Balasubramnian).  This book contains the entire Aruna prasna of TA. 

Now response to other points,

> There are different aspects of discussion that have already
> come up -
> knowledge of Sanskrit, translations of Vedas, role of the
> Sankara maThas
> in the modern world, maTha-s not being able to make even
> their followers
> follow brAhmaNa dharma, etc. Here are my 2 cents on this.
> 1. It is not the job of the Sankara maThas to make
> available online versions of Veda translations.

My query simply wondered whether Sankara maThas can do something to alleviate the non-availability of translation of vedas for persons so placed as I am.

Please note that "online versions", "job of Sankara maThas etc." are neither stated nor implied in my letter and you have unreasonably inferred something which is not there.  However, as you have elsewhere stated/concurred that Sankara maThas do not approve of translation of vedas:

Please clarify whether it is a stated policy of the Matha, a fact which is not in public domain (but a fact none-the-less)or knowledge arising out of certain matters or inference.

> Nor is it the job of other old traditional institutions belonging to other vedAnta traditions. It is also not the job of newer and perhaps richer institutions like Maharishi TM and Sai Baba to do so.

That makes me wonder as to the purpose of providing links of somether's translation on their websites. 

> 2. If available translations appear unsatisfactory, it is
> not that
> difficult to make some effort and figure out why it is so.

That is the reason of quest for better translations, if possible

> One should
> already know a little bit about the original, in order to
> say that a
> translation is not good. The onus then lies on the reader
> to explore it
> further and study the original more carefully.

That is what I am doing presently and that is why I was searching. 

> Unless one is living in interior Africa or south America, finding some guidance from a more learned person is also not all that difficult. In the USA or Europe, you cannot always expect the local temple priest to guide you beyond a point, but you can certainly find help from a host of other

Here there is exaggeration  or presumption of one's own experience takes over.  I am staying in Surat, Gujarat, India.  I belong to taittiriya shaka of KYV and I couldnt locate a traditional teacher possessing knowlege of sanskrit and TS of KYV.  I was not alone in search and there were others in search as well.  I am not a net-geek seeking internet access to everything.  I would love to learn in the personal company of my guru.  Absence of that company is what making me to turn to other resources.

> At the very least, if specific questions are asked on this
> forum, there is no dearth of very helpful scholars here, young and old, who will respond.

That they have been doing (your goodselves included) is definitely appreciated and thats what makes subscribers stick to advaita-L.
> 3. How the maTha-s function can be easily seen by anyone
> who follows the news in India.

I live in Surat,Gujarat, India.  I didnt come across any news regarding Dwarka maTha in local media in the last one year and I dont think I was careless to miss one.  If I had missed any and you had captured the event, please correct me.

 I am not considering the two instances when Acharya's name cropped up.  I have seen your compilations on Sankaracharyas and presume that you know the two instances.  These two occasions had nothing to do with activity of the maTha.

>Throughout the year, there is a wide variety of scholarly and religious activity that goes on.

> For most of the well-known maTha-s, their followers and well-wishers come from all castes and communities.

Where did someone infer otherwise?

> It is silly to think that only brAhmaNa-s are followers of the
> traditional maTha-s.

It is sillier to presume that brAhmaNa-s think like that.
> 4. How many people in a maTha converse amongst themselves
> in Sanskrit? Well, you can hardly expect the man in charge of stocking
> groceries in the maTha kitchen or the manager of its guest houses to
> speak Sanskrit. If you make the effort and talk in Sanskrit to the >priests and paNDitas associated with the maTha, they will talk to you in
> Sanskrit. Their basic assumption, which is very valid, is that the general visitor to the maTha cannot speak Sanskrit. So, they will speak to you in other languages, and in your presence, will not speak to each
> other in Sanskrit. It would be incredibly rude to an infrequent
> visitor, if the maTha people conversed amongst themselves in a language
> that is not understood. There is an entire culture of appropriate
> behavior that needs to be understood and appreciated, rather than
> imposing your value judgements upon them.

Even during the historic meeting of the four Sankaracharyas, Sanskrit was not reported to be the medium of conversation amongst the acharyas, so why grapple with admin. staff, kitchen staff, room manager etc. 

> 5. The maTha-s do not exist in order for a sannyasi to
> secure high
> approval ratings from the general mass of people. They also
> do not exist
> to construct hospitals or do social work. However, when
> people start
> pouring in money as donations, what is one to do with the
> surplus? Why
> not take it for what it is - a modern form of
> institutionalized charity?
> It is not the sannyasi who is doing social work; it is the
> institution
> that supports the sannyasi, which is also doing some social
> work. There
> is absolutely nothing wrong in that.

This precisely takes us back to my unanswered question. Sankara Mutt is a institution. What is the charter of functions of this esteemed institution.  The above points do not clarify that. 
> 6. Srikrishna, I would like to know whom you have in mind
> in the
> following statement.
> >Just because their depth of Sanskrit scholarship takes
> them
> >only to the level of Upanishad commentaries, and they
> do
> >not have the guts to study and practice the other
> rituals
> >mentioned in the earlier portions of the texts, having
> taken
> >to other studies and jobs, utterly disregard others
> rights to
> >know Veda in the medium of their understanding. 
> Are you talking of the renunciates who are learning
> upanishads from
> their gurus and who are not members of this list, or are
> you talking of
> people on this list? In the former case, they have already
> renounced
> rituals. In the latter case, what do you know about the
> guts, study or
> practice of rituals of other list members? In either case,
> it takes a
> fair level of Sanskrit knowledge to read and understand
> Upanishad
> commentaries. Also, nobody is disregarding or denying
> anyone any rights.

Pl. permit me to take on the following issues as they pertain to me as well:

> As I read Siva Senani's post, all I saw was an explanation for why
> providing an online translation of the Veda is not a project that a
> traditional maTha would or should do at this time.

Once again I beseech you to read the passage without word "online" because it is maya and it isnt there in the original.

I have to rebutt here that Sri Senan's post wasnt such a bland simple explanation as you put here in your message.  Such a tone of language in a letter is sure to bring in responses.

> 7. Specifically in the case of Sankara maTha-s, and more
> generally for
> any Hindu institution, it has NEVER been in our tradition
> to "make"
> followers do anything by force. The AcArya-s preach to the
> general
> public and they influence those who come into closer
> contact with them.
> Scare tactics and physical or psychological force have been
> used and are
> being used by preachers of other religions. These
> approaches are ALIEN
> to the AcArya-s of the truly traditional maTha-s. A century
> or more ago,
> there was a fear of being outcasted and socially boycotted,
> but today,
> that is hardly an issue, especially in urban India.
> 8. Rather than make a hundred other points on this list, I
> would suggest
> (with thanks to Kennedy) - ask not what a traditional maTha
> is doing for
> you, ask what you can do to help sustain a traditional
> maTha. If we feel
> strongly about our tradition, there is no better way than
> to personally
> get in touch with some of our traditional institutions,
> find out what
> they are doing and help their growth. I can think of many
> more worthy
> institutions that one can support, not just the famous
> Sankara maTha-s.

The point is well taken.

> Regards,
> > Vidyasankar
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