[Advaita-l] Logical Basis of Apaureshyatva

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Thu Nov 10 04:01:24 CST 2011


Today the 10-day kAryashAla (workshop) on the VivekachUDAmaNi concluded.
The hosting organization, Poornaprajna Samshodhana Mandiram, Bangalore, did
a splendid job.  About 15 participants were there of whom about 7 were from
the VidyApeetha itself.  The rest comprised of some lay people like me and
some others from various parts of the country who had memorized the entire
work aiming to participate in a final competition called 'shalAkA

Conceived by Dr. Kutumba Shastry, the then Vice Chancellor of the Rashtriya
Samskrit SamsthAn, New Delhi, this 'test' involves the following modus

A text is selected for the test and announced well in advance.  The
participants are expected to memorize the entire text.  On the day of the
test a 'needle', 'shlAka', is inserted into the book at random  just as one
would find a book/page mark in a book.  The book is then opened and
whichever line the needle points to is the starting point for that
participant to start reciting from memory.  Sometimes one will also be
asked to explain the context too - all in Sanskrit.  The idea behind the
text is to make the study extremely demanding and make the students put
forth solid effort and finally retain the contents in their memory.  This
is done in all shAstras.

Last year the text selected was the ShAnkara Brahmasutra bhashyam and the
top ranker was a Madhwa student from the Bangalore Vidyapeetha.  This year
at the state level a Madhva student, again, has topped by memorizing the
entire 580 verses of the VC and is quite thorough with the commentary of
Jagadguru Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati SwaminaH.

Three Advaita Vidwans were given the task of teaching the entire text
during the workshop and they did their job extremely well.  The
participants evinced great interest by asking quite a lot of questions.
The entire proceedings were in Sanskrit.

Several Madhva boys expressed their opinion that -  Before coming to these
classes our idea of Advaita was something completely different.  What we
see here is really revealing to us.  We are enthused to study more works on
Advaita.  Which other work should we study to gain a good knowledge of

The Director, Dr. A.V.Nagasampige too had expressly stated that getting
Advaita Vidwans to teach Advaitic works would be the best way of gaining
authentic knowledge of the Advaita shastra.  Hence this workshop in this
form.  There are plans to take up other texts like the Vedanta Paribhasha
and Panchadashi in the forthcoming workshops.

Every day there used to be a special lecture on one Darshana by an eminent
scholar. On the first day the scholar, Dr. Subbarayudu, could not make it
to the workshop/venue and Dr.Nagasampige himself rendered, in his place,
the lecture on Advaita and on Vishishtadvaita the next day. Both talks were
very well rendered.

I stated all the above as part of concurring with what Shri Omkar has
said.  I found that some of the important misconceptions about Advaita
among non-Advaitins are:

1. Advaita is atheistic - they deny Ishwara.

2. Advaita, holding the world to be mithya, has no way to accommodate
guru-shishya relationship, moksha sadhana, etc. Their adherence to nitya
karma etc. is only half-hearted as they know that there is no punya-papa,
svarga-naraka, etc. all being mithya.

3. There is the problem of 'by one person becoming a mukta all others also
become muktas' in Advaita.

4. Advaitins admit of Jivanmukti which is an impossibility by any means.

I found that even very well read scholars of Dvaita vedanta holding such
views about Advaita.  In the backdrop of this it was really surprising to
see young Madhwa participants of the workshop on VC expressing what I have
stated in the foregoing and willing to study more Advaitic works to gain a
first-hand knowledge thereof.

Coming to what Omkar has said, I would also point out the case of a close
friend of mine, a very orthodox follower of the smartha sampradaya and
Vedanta, holding the work 'The Practice of the Presence of God' by Brother
Lawrence very dear to his heart.  He has kept a copy of the book, for
several years, for his daily reading, wherever he goes.  His appreciation
of the sentiments found in the book is very high and considers it an ideal
for anyone who wants to practice bhakti and karma yoga.  The commitment to
erase the ego to allow God to 'enter' one's life and take possession of
one's very being found in that book is greatly appealing to my friend. It
is not that my friend goes in search of Christian literature constantly but
this one he chanced to lay his hands upon and a fine connection with it got

In fact Dr.Nagasampige had a very intimate talk with me where he expressed
the thinking that despite the differences between the various schools of
Vedanta we must be able to engage with each other wherever there is
'samvAda' and learn to live in harmony instead of highlighting the
conflicts.  If we are able to send this message across to our younger
generation it would be a great achievement in our lives as understanding


On Thu, Nov 10, 2011 at 4:11 AM, Omkar Deshpande
<omkar_deshpande at yahoo.com>wrote:

> He recognizes that comparative religion/theology can deepen his insights
> about his own religion. There is a cliche in comparative religion - he who
> understands only one religion understands no religion.
> See for instance:
> http://www.press.georgetown.edu/book/georgetown/beyond-compare
> Quote:
> In his commentary, Clooney achieves multiple goals—the book is a
> contribution to Christian spiritual theology, highlighting for today the
> beautiful insights into love by St. Francis de Sales (1567-1623), Doctor of
> the Church. At the same time it points out how even in our world of many
> religious paths, we can recover and deepen the ancient tradition of loving
> surrender into God's hands by opening ourselves to the wisdom of India and
> one of Hindu India's most famous traditions of loving God, explained to us
> by the south Indian Hindu theologian Sri Vedanta Desika (1268-1369).
> Clooney goes further, offering a comparative study of these classic works
> in which he self-consciously writes about the process of reading the two
> works and the impact this approach has on the reader. The good advice found
> through this deep engagement with these texts offers a deeper insight into
> how we can most fruitfully and spiritually think about religious pluralism
> in the 21st
>  century, remaining open in heart and mind while loyal still to our own
> tradition.
> Not merely a book about loving surrender to God, Beyond Compare offers us
> the opportunity to advance along that path ourselves, learning from the
> wisdom of St. Francis de Sales and Sri Vedanta Desika, meditating on their
> two paths together, deepening our own love and willingness to surrender in
> love to God.
> Also see
> http://groups.creighton.edu/sjdialogue/documents/articles/clooney_frontline.html
> Quote -
> My other major project is on Vedanta Desika, the great Sri Vaisnava
> theologian of the 14th century. I am reading one of his greatest works, the
> Rahasyatrayasaram, which is one of his last works, written when he was over
> 90 years old and living in Srirangam in Tamil Nadu. In it he wrote a
> complete Sri Vaisnava theology stressing prapatti (perhaps, surrender to
> God). I am trying to study the text, and through it to understand what he
> meant by prapatti, how he interpreted the Tirumantram, the Dvaya Mantra,
> and the Carama Sloka, and what he saw the Sri Vaisnava theology and
> practice to be.
> As I develop the book, I intend to draw a parallel with one of the
> classics of Christian spirituality and study how a Christian theologian
> like St. Ignatius of Loyola [founder of the Society of Jesus] or St.
> Francis de Sales tried to inspire people to love God. Here too, the goal is
> how a Catholic can learn from Vedanta Desika. I want to ask, can Vedanta
> Desika inspire Catholics to love God more than they did previously?
> ==========================================
> Another reason for studying other religions is to understand other
> cultures in today's globalized world threatened by religious conflicts:
> Quote -
> But I think in today's world we have such fragmentation that it is worth
> the effort for people to cross over to the other religious tradition. Even
> if you do it imperfectly, you still are building bridges, even if they are
> not 100 per cent perfect bridges. But you are making connections, you are
> helping people talk to each other.
> Ignorance is the great danger. People are caricaturing others, they are
> hating others without knowing them. So building up knowledge and making the
> connections is worth the effort even if it cannot be done perfectly. Again,
> that is my goal - to make the bridges, make the connections. And I hope
> that other people would do the same in other contexts. So if I am doing
> more Brahminical work, somebody could go and do something more at the
> popular level that I cannot do. If some Sri Vaisnava would like to read the
> Catholic tradition closely, that would be wonderful because that would be
> the reverse of what I am doing. So you need other people to do more, but I
> am doing only what one person can do.
> ==================================
> These are all pretty well-known and well-appreciated reasons in academia
> for why someone may want to study another religion. There are even people
> arguing today in the US that a study of the major world religions should be
> a compulsory part of the undergraduate curriculum for all.
> Regards,
> Omkar

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