[Advaita-l] RK Math and other institutions

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Fri Feb 3 12:10:28 CST 2012

(Was RE: [Advaita-l] Did Madhusudana Saraswati Reconcile Bhakti and Advaita?)
> Dear Sri Subramanian, The swamiji must have said so out of respect for
> Sringeri and due to Bangalore's proximity to Sringeri. The RK matt has its
> origins in West Bengal and is not connected with Sringeri matt. The
> headquarters of the RK matt is Belur Matt in West Bengal.
> http://www.belurmath.org/home.htm
> The ideology of the mutt also does not match that of traditional advaita as
> one can verify here -
> http://www.belurmath.org/Ideology.htm
> That said, I have lot of respect for RK mutt. My point is that there is no
> need to force-link everything good to the Sringeri mutt.

Kalyan, I think you are missing a few key points here.
First, yes, Ramakrishna Math is an independent organization in all ways,
but the Swamis of RK Math themselves regard Sringeri as the root of their
lineage. Just as Sri Subrahmanian cited the RK Math Swami in Bangalore,
I have heard a similar statement from Swami Swahananda of the Vedanta
Society in Los Angeles, which has no geographical proximity to Sringeri
whatsoever. The connection goes deeper than a matter of general respect
or geographical proximity. And it goes deeper than registering a presence
in the kind of sammelan that get organized in today's increasingly politicized
atmospher. Similarly with the Divine Life Society in Rishikesh. They have
developed a practice of issuing paper credentials upon initiation to their
Sannyasi-s, which explicitly state their lineage affiliation with Sringeri.
For sanAtana dharma traditions, the SikshA and dIkshA lineages of people
take prime importance. The concept of highlighting institution names and
the proliferation of institutions is a very recent development in history. If
you look at lineage branching, then from Swami Sivananda to Swami
Chinmayananda to Swami Dayananda, one would have to trace Chinmaya
Mission and Arsha Vidya Peetham also as third and fourth generations
derived from the Sringeri lineage. Not that either today's Sringeri Matha or
these other institutions make a big deal about it, but in all these cases, the
so called "non-traditional" organizations have strong paramparA connections
to Sringeri and they maintain them too. Swami Dayananda of Arsha Vidya
Peetham has also written in the same publication that Sri Subrahmanian
cited. Similarly, the Self-Realization Fellowship of Paramahamsa Yogananda
explicitly traces its roots to the Puri Matha.  So, in a sense, this dichotomy
that we tend to see between "traditional" and "non-traditional" institutions
is of our own making, not something that the said institutions themselves
subscribe to. The demographics of the followers of these institutions are
quite varied, of course. To my mind, it is ironic that we should even call
these newer institutions "non-traditional" at all. They are all a lot more
traditional in many important ways than what most of us on this list are
able to be.
Second, RK Math Swamis have been pioneers in publishing translations and 
independent books in English and reaching out to a broad audience. Swami
Paramarthananda in Chennai, a disciple of Swami Dayananda, lectures in 
English, to an audience that is predominantly Brahmin and largely native
Tamil by speech, but English by intellect. Most members of this audience can
probably quote Shakespeare or Wordsworth more readily than Tiruvalluvar
or Kalidasa. There is no need to compare these with the activity of an old
institution like Sringeri in contemporary times and judge either of them in
an unfavorable light.
We should all be grateful to those who choose to address themselves to an
English educated urban population. We tend to look towards the past, but
institutions and their leaders look to the future. We need to recognize the fact
that maThas like Sringeri address themselves, as they have done throughout
the centuries, to the Sanskrit educated pundit population, which is still largely
based in rural India. Yes, the latter group is declining in numbers, but just
because most of us tend to be urban and English educated, there is no need
to discount their existence or importance or to expect that old maThas should
take their focus away from their traditional and historical constituency. It
would be a waste of their institutional expertise to try and duplicate the efforts
of institutions like the RK Math. There is need and ample room for both types
for sustaining the advaita tradition through the future.

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list