[Advaita-l] Modern science and Vedanta.

Rajaram Venkataramani rajaramvenk at gmail.com
Thu Jul 21 14:44:28 CDT 2011

On Thu, Jul 21, 2011 at 6:55 PM, Vidyasankar Sundaresan <
svidyasankar at hotmail.com> wrote:

> MS is indeed offering a critical comment on the SAnkara bhAshya. He may be
> right or wrong in the content of his criticism, but as far as I am
> concerned,
> there is nothing wrong with the fact that he chooses to offer a critical
> comment.
> This is precisely why I wrote that MS boldly differs from Sankara in some
> of his
> interpretations. In any case, there is no rule within the advaita tradition
> that
> Sankara's words are to be blindly accepted without any critical reflection
> on
> them. Neither Sankara bhagavatpAda nor any of his successors claimed that
> every single word of theirs should be accepted as unquestionable dogma.
> They
> never claimed to be infallible, unlike say the doctrines of dogma and
> infallibility
> in the highly organized Roman Catholic Church.
> RV:  Quran claims itself to be inerrant which Bible does not. Roman
> Catholic Church does not say it is infallible but says Bible is inerrant
> though our interpretations could be wrong. I do not know if you represent
> the tradition correctly because I have heard other traditional scholars
> accept that the the Lord and realized teachers are infallible because they
> are one. How can one who knows everything make a mistake? It does not stand
> to reason. If one claims to be an aparoksha jnani but is ignorant of even
> basic grammar, he is but a cheat. Here is Sankara and Madhusudana (I
> believe they are right and you may hope they are) saying that you become a
> sarvajna. In his commentary to BG 7.2, Sankara says, "Thus, 'he who knows Me
> in reality becomes omniscient.' This is sthe idea". Madhsudana exposits,
> "Everything is known when One is known (Mu1.1.3 & Br. 2.4.5)". In case you
> come up with what sarvajna means, here is a pre-emptive refutal. In his
> commentary to BG 6.15, Madhusudana says,"To one who has only the realization
> of the difference between the intellect and the Person comes rulership over
> all things and knowledge of everything. From the renunciatio of even that
> comes Liberation following the destruction of the seeds of evil (P.Y.Su.
> 3.51)". If you say that an advaita teacher is not all knowing, then you are
> saying that he has not even realized the difference between the intellect
> and the self. You accept sruti, smrti and apta valkyas as true and logic is
> applied in special conditions to reconcile differences (Yajnavalkya Smrti
> explains that).

> If you think the Hindi translator is offering an apologetic comment about
> no
> deviation in philosophy between Sankara and MS, I fail to see how your own
> take on this is not apologetic. Rather, it seems to ne that you take
> SrIdhara,
> rAmAnuja and madhusUdana sarasvatI as all taking one kind of view of the
> word yatra, which is distinctly different from the view taken by Sankara.
> How
> is it that you claim that MS does not differ from Sankara then? You cannot
> have your cake and eat it too.
> RV: If you unduly call me apologetic when I offer reasons for my position,
> I will complain to the moderator about your rude post and ask for it to be
> expunged from the proceedings. Or like the frog, in the story, who was
> crushed by Rama's bow, keep quite :) When Rama asked the frog is said to
> have replied,"When others hurt me, I cry to you Rama for help but who do I
> call now?"

> As for Anandagiri's comments on the SAnkara bhAshya, he talks about states
> of mind because Sankara himself also talks of states of mind. And Sankara
> talks about states of mind, because the gItA verse in question itself talks
> of
> states of mind. The only bone of contention then is whether the word
> "yatra",
> by itself, indicates a state of mind, a mano'vasthA viSesha or the kAla
> when
> that state of mind is attained.
RV: I did not say that Sankara or Anandagiri is saying anything different
from the Gita. What is your point?

> Actually, if you read the SAnkara bhAshya carefully, you can see that 6.20,
> 6.21 and
> 6.22 are all to be taken together. There are two yatra-s in 6.20 and a
> third yatra in
> 6.21. In all three instances, for Sankara, yatra = yasmin kAle, and you
> have to read
> his comments on 6.21 together with 6.20, or else a full sentence is not
> obtained.

RV: You are confusing between the connection and lack of it in the verses
and how Sankara reads them. If you simply see any decent translation like
Gambhirananda, you will see that for Sankara 6.20 makes sense independently
as separated by a ";" and so does 6.21 and 6.22. But in the case of
Madhusudana, the connection is implied by "; -" at the end of 6.20, 6.21 and
6.22 which ends with a "." in 6.23. It is not only in the use of punctuation
but also in the actual translation. For Sankara, it goes like "At the time
... one remains contented in the Self alone" (6.20), "When one experiences
that ..., being established, this person surely does not swerve from
Reality" (6.21) and "Obtainining which ... one is not perturbed even by
great sorrow" and ending with "One should know that to be what is called
Yoga" (6.22).  For Madhusudana, it goes like, "Where ... mind becomes free
from modifcations and where ... one remains contented in the Self alone
(6.20), where one experiences ... and where ... this person does not swerve
from reality (6.21) and obtaining which ... superior to that and ... one is
not perturbed even by great sorrow (6.22), you should know that severence of
contact with sorrow to be what is called yoga (6.23). I think [{()}] have
value in programming but not in grammar. I dont want you to take my word for
it but study it along with a grammarian instead of coming to a conclusion
without required knowledge of grammar.

However, it should be obvious that except for the difference in interpreting
this one word,
MS and Sankara are saying the same thing.

RV: You are missing the whole point of the discussion. There are many places
where Madhusudana differs in the meanings given to words and even
conclusions. These differences are admissible within the framework of
advaita. Nowhere does Madhusudana say Sankara is wrong and neither does he
do so here.

So, to sum up, the difference in interpretation offered by our two authors
is not merely
a result of pATha bheda. BOTH of them take verses 6.20 and 6.21 together.
The gItA
itself connects the two verses through its usage of the word yatra twice in
the former
verse and once in the latter verse and no commentator can afford to ignore
that. Both
authors have the SAME pATha of the source text, but their interpretation of
a word "yatra"
differs. In the larger picture, the difference in interpretation is of minor
consequence, but
it is nevertheless there. One cannot pin it down to pATha bheda, nor can one
brush it
away with a claim that MS does not differ from Sankara, because MS most
does differ from Sankara in his interpretation and explicitly so.
RV: As I have tried to show about, it is how they read verses together and
separately. I rest it here.

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