[Advaita-l] Brahmins and Vaishnavas

Venkatesh Murthy vmurthy36 at gmail.com
Fri Jul 30 21:50:34 CDT 2010

Namaste Sri Vidyasankar. Dhanyavada.

Request you explain Adi Sankara's comments in BSB 3.4.20 -

'To these objections we
make the following reply. The term ' brahmasamstha '
denotes fulfilment in Brahman, a state of being grounded
in Brahman to the exclusion of all other activity. Now
such a state is impossible for persons belonging to the
three former asramas, as scripture declares that they suffer
loss through the non-performance of the works enjoined
on their asrama. The mendicant, on the other hand, who
has discarded all works can suffer no loss owing to non-
performance. Such duties as are incumbent on him, viz.
restraint of the senses and the like, are not opposed to
the state of being grounded in Brahman, but rather helpful
above those lower penances, indeed, there rises renuncia-
tion ; ' ' Those anchorites who have well ascertained the
object of the knowledge of the Vedanta and have purified
their nature by the Yoga of renunciation ' (Mu. Up. Ill,
2, 6)
to it. For the only work enjoined on him by his asrama
is the state of being firmly grounded in Brahman, wherein
he is strengthened by restraint of the senses and so on
just as sacrifices and the like are prescribed for the other
asramas  and loss he incurs only by neglecting that work.
In agreement herewith texts from scripture and Smriti
declare that for him who is grounded in Brahman there
are no works. Compare ' Renunciation is Brahman ; for
Brahman is the highest ; for the highest is Brahman ;
above those lower penances, indeed, there rises renuncia-
tion ; ' ' Those anchorites who have well ascertained the
object of the knowledge of the Vedanta and have purified
their nature by the Yoga of renunciation ' (Mu. Up. Ill,
2, 6) '


'In this way we understand that, although there is a
reference to the other stages of life, that which is indicated
by the quality of being grounded in Brahman is the state
of the wandering mendicant. '

Adi Sankara says sanyasa asrama is must for brahmasamstha. Other
asramas people commit sin if they do not perform duties . But these
duties will not allow them to be Brahmasamstha. They cannot be
Brahmasamstha. Only Sanyasi can be Brahmasamstha. Who can be sanyasi?
Brahmins. not non dvijas definitely . How can they get Brahmavidya?
Vidura is exception case because he had good samskaras from previous
births. Conclude non dvijas  not eligibile for Brahmavidya.



On Sat, Jul 31, 2010 at 3:51 AM, Vidyasankar Sundaresan
<svidyasankar at hotmail.com> wrote:
>> This website has questioned Brahmanas today. Have they become Sudras?
>> http://gosai.com/writings/the-ontological-position-of-the-vaishnava-over-the-brahmana
>> A is a Brahmin settled in USA. He has crossed ocean and he is working
>> for foreigners. Sudra Vrutti.
>> B is white American come to India and doing devotional service in Iskcon temple.
>> C is Indian non dvija doing devotional service in Iskcon temple.
>> How is A better than B and C? Iskcon says B and C are converted to
>> Brahmanas but A converted to Sudra.
>> Any counter arguments from learned members ?
> Dear Venkatesh,
> I've seen this webpage many years ago and dismissed it without much thought. To raise social
> and political issues to the status of ontological debates is a fruitless exercise. In such debates,
> as far as they have to do with the social order, one has to first address whether varNa is quite
> completely determined by birth or not. To say that A has lost brAhmaNa status and become a
> SUdra presumes that brAhmaNa-tva is determined by birth. To say that B and C have acquired
> brAhmaNa status presumes that brAhmaNa-tva is not determined by birth. Which is it?
> ISKCON leaders may have a vested interest in privileging those who perform devotional service
> in their temples. How about those Indian groups of non-dvija-s who have performed devotional
> service for generations over generations in temples that are hundreds and thousands of years
> old in India? What about their caste status? These would include cowherds who supply milk, the
> women who provide flowers, the devadAsI-s who provided music and dance services in temples,
> the shehnai and nAdaswaram players who played music for ritual processions and festivals, the
> farmers who donated a portion of their agricultural produce to the temple - the list goes on. And
> how about those born in dvija families, who never leave Indian shores, work for multinational
> companies, i.e. foreigners, but still find time for devotional service in temples or to keep up their
> rituals at home?
> One can argue back and forth and ask many such questions and give many answers, for ever
> and ever, but how is that going to help gain insight into vedAnta, the primary focus of this mailing
> list?
> It seems to me that you are highly engaged with brAhmaNa-tva and its attendant privileges and
> responsibilities. I would suggest a study of the sanatsujAtIya bhAshya. Those who want to stick
> only to the prasthAna trayI bhAshya-s may contest that it is by Sankara bhagavatpAda, but the
> fact remains that it is a text accepted within the advaita vedAnta tradition as authentic.
> The sanatsujAtIya is a portion of the mahAbhArata epic, containing vidura's dialogue with the blind
> king, dhRtarAshTra. At one point, dhRtarAshTra asks for clarifications on adhyAtma vidyA and
> vidura uses his yogic powers and summons the Rshi, sanatsujAta, to talk to the king. The reason
> is that vidura says that being born a SUdra, it would be better if he did not teach the king himself.
> The bhAshya on this introduction is very important to read and keep in mind. Here, vidura is
> described as Sruta-vAkya. Clearly, his being a SUdra did not stand in the way of his "having heard
> the vAkya-s". Lest you think this is a very nebulous term and does not mean that vidura had heard
> the veda-s, he is further described as recalling the nArada-sanatkumAra dialogue in the chAndogya
> upanishad and thinking to himself that sanatkumAra would similarly address the king's questions.
> Clearly, according to this bhAshya, vidura's SUdra status did not prevent him from not only being
> a jnAnI, but also being someone who knew the veda, and specifically the chAndogya upanishad.
> If hot molten lead should have been poured into his SUdra ears for having heard and remembered
> the veda, the sanatsujAtIya bhAshya is totally silent about such a punishment. Also, in the epic,
> vidura's SUdra status did not stand in the way of his having the power to summon an ancient
> Rshi and introduce him to the king. All of which goes to show that one can talk of caste and varNa
> and jAti and class and social status and sundry other topics till one is blue in the face, but in the
> end, jnAna alone counts.
> Regards,
> Vidyasankar
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