[Advaita-l] Shankara and Madhusudhana

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Wed Jul 27 01:27:14 CDT 2011

On Wed, 27 Jul 2011, Venkata sriram P wrote:

> So, what are the actions you found with vivekananda that were "objectionable".

The observation was about Shankaracharya not Vivekananda.  Now, below, you 
acknowledge that Vivekananda criticised the teachings of Shankaracharya. 
If that is the case then what if he occasionally complimented him?  An 
acharya is meant to be followed not serenaded with sweet nothings.

> Yes Sankara Bhagavatpada do mention about this.   Vedanta & Sankara 
> Advaita is studied in closed circles and that too the eligible 
> candidates were brAhmaNAs who were well-versed in pUrva mimAmsa.  
> Moreover, the teachings were in dEva bhASha.   So, how many shUdrAs 
> could know that Sankara opened the gates of liberation even to the 
> downtrodden.   

How many of them could read a Buddhist sutras or comprehend the heights of 
Madhyamika philosophy?

> The problem is how to reach the masses.  That is why, Buddha adopted 
> non-sanskrit lanugage.

Pali the language of the Tripithaka was a prakrit but also a literary 
language which was no more understandable by "the masses" than, say 
persianized Urdu of the ghazalkars is understandable by a Bihari farmer 
today.  Indian Buddhism is extinct (precisely because it _wasn't_ a mass 
movement and couldn't survive the loss of elite patronage like Hinduism 
could.) but looking at the archaeological evidence and comparing the 
existing Buddhist cultures of e.g. Thailand, there is no reason to believe 
that the lay Buddhist had any greater understanding of the finer points of 
his religion than do lay Hindus.  For the typical man in the street, being 
a Buddhist would have meant doing "Jey-Jey" to Bhikshus, and making 
donations to temples to gain merit and cleanse sin.  Just like an ordinary 
Hindu.  And they had access to preachers and popularizers and simplified 
vernacular renditions of their shastras.  Just like Hindus do.

This notion of the Buddhists as popular, universal, reformers versus 
elitist, narrow-minded, Hindus (or specifically Brahmanas) is a creation 
of 19th century politics not a reflection of historical fact.

>  To reach to the common people, Samartha Ramadas & Sant Jnaneshwar
> wrote their works in Marati Language. 

Did these Marathi works teach the principles of Advaita Vedanta?  Then you 
have proved my point.

> In the name of tradition, the core human values should not be forgotten. 

Fine so don't then.  In this thread we have been discussing whether Swami 
Madhusudan Saraswati deviated from Shankaran siddhantas or not.  I 
personally don't believe so but I do think he expanded Advaita Vedanta to 
areas not covered well or at all by Shankaracharya but he did it in way 
that didn't do violence to tradition.  Isn't it obvious that Vivekananda 
did not?

> Vivekananda was not given the entry in a south indian temple just because he was a
> non-brahmin.  When he was dying with pangs of hunger, not even a single traditionalist
> offered him food & water. 

And where were the modernists while he was dying with pangs of hunger?

> I have read else where your article about vivekananda consuming beef !! 
> Where is the proof and in which book you studied this blasphemous 
> article.   

I think you are responding to a thread in viprasamhitha which I didn't 
originate but only responded to.  But I thought this was pretty well 
known?  Bhaskar has given a reference I'm sure if you search the web you 
will find more on this topic.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list