[Advaita-l] Shankara and Madhusudhana

Venkata sriram P venkatasriramp at yahoo.in
Wed Jul 20 04:21:58 CDT 2011

Namaste Bhaskarji,
Swami Vivekananda indirectly implied in his works that shankara was mere 
dry philosopher (shushka vedAnti) with a brilliant mind!!  And somewhere 
he insists that we need people who have shankara's brilliance (mind)  and 
buddha's compassion (heart).  However, swamiji's views would not get much 
currency in traditional advaitic circle.  Our Sri Jaldhar prabhuji also of 
the same opinion here I believe.
Sankara was never a dry vedanti otherwise He wouldn't have composed such
beautiful hymns.   This is an apavAda on Sankara.  
As regards Swami Vivekananda too, he was an highly misunderstood personality
because of his rational outlook.  Vivekananda never criticised Sankara. Infact,
he was an ardent admirer of Sankara and his letters speak of his respect.  
Vivekananda's opinion was that the philosophy of Sankara couldn't reach the masses
unlike that of Buddha & Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu owing to the strict
adherence of varNa Ashrama rules.  
According to Sankara & acharyas of traditional advaita siddhanta, shudras are not
eligible to study vedanta and sankara clearly prohibits this which is evident from
apaHShUdrAdhikaraNa.   And hence, a seemingly apavAda against Sankara. 
Whereas, Buddha & Chaitanya Mahaprabhu reached out to the downtrodden.  Chaitanya Mahaprabhu initiated even the street robbers (jagai & magai) in Navadwipa into the 
hare krishna mantra who later turned out to be great saints.  
So, it is the accessibility & acceptability among the shUdrAs, downtrodden, 
untouchable chanDAlAs that was talked about by Vivekananda.  And it seems,
Vivekananda demonstrated that in his own life.  Vivekananda's mind was
compared with Sankara because of his brilliance and his heart was
compared with Buddha & Chaitanya because he reached to the downtrodden masses.
Just my 2 cents...

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