[Advaita-l] Traditional Scholarship vs Modern Pseudo-Intellectualism

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Tue Jul 23 13:01:47 CDT 2013

On Tue, Jul 23, 2013 at 8:31 PM, Venkata Subramanian <
venkat_advaita at yahoo.com> wrote:

> since the teaching methodology for Sanskrit is here, this point is
> relevant.
> I have observed that in the famous Sringeri Sadvidya Patashala there, not
> many students are able to talk simply in Sanskrit...they listen, they may
> quite understand well.   They have a four year first semester system where
> they learn by heart the entire Amara kosha with meaning, Laghu Sidhanta
> Kaumudi in full, parts of Sidhanta Kaumudi, parts of pancha kavya of
> kalidasa ....in addition to the vedAdhyayana...but still...the Bangalore
> Sambashana people have made so many people speak fluent sanskrit....without
> so much of rigour.....  I have observed those students unable to reply to
> simple sanskrit questions put to them.......

I do not know which year students you tested.  I have observed students of
senior classes conversing quite freely in Sanskrit.  They, even while in
the graduation classes, participate in oral exams conducted by various
institutions in different places and win prizes too.  About two years ago I
was witness to a shalAkA parIkShA in nyAya, vyAkaraNa and raghuvamsha
conducted by the Aksharam people in Girinagar, Bangalore.  I sat in two or
three examination halls as an observer (uninvited) where the entire
shalAkA  parIkShA was in Sanskrit alone and each examinee tested in some
nine rounds involving various degrees of complexities of the subject.
Students from all over India had come.  I noticed students of the
Purnaprajna VidyapeeTha, Bangalore and Sringeri pAThashAla from Sringeri
winning prizes.

The sambhAShana shibira-s are no doubt a fine catalyst for Sanskrit
awareness and interest-creation.  As in any course, much depends on the
participating students too.  Not everyone who attends the ten-day course
take the learning further.  It is only a small percentage who take up the
follow-up studies seriously.  In the course I attended, I appreciated the
interest of a young householder Madhva working in a senior position in the
IT sector, side by side taking up Dvaita Vedanta exams conducted by the
Govt.Sanskrit College here.  He manages to attend the classes also there
sometimes. He attended the conversation course only for some four days out
of ten, owing to work pressure.  On days of inability to attend the
classes, he would give me a call on my cell phone and listen to the class
at his office, amidst work.  Every night he would call me and get an update
of the proceedings.  He saw to it that we converse in Sanskrit alone, right
or wrong.  His love for his shAstra and samskrita is an ideal for everyone
to emulate.  We became friends since the shibira and he invited me to his
gruhapravesham.  At the function I could see so many scholars of Dvaita
vedanta.  He built his house as a twin to his brother's  house (also new)
and the two houses are named 'sarvamUla' and 'anantAsana', terms very
important for their siddhAnta.

> Of course that sambhashan is not fully grammatic....which students are
> expected to improve later....but the point worth noting is that - even
> Chamu krishna sastri once wrote that this sambhashana method had been in
> vogue in tradition much earlier...before the Vibhakti memorisation method
> took up its place....
> Moral:-  what i am trying to say is that....what is "Modern" may always
> not be wrong.....we have an example of Swami Dayananda Saraswathi's
> classes, that are lucid to us....while many of us may not understand the
> proceeding at the Ganapati Vakyartha Sabha...am NOT into the language
> here...am into the method of oration, the style of exposition, the modern
> way of putting a traditional thing......it all matters.....
> I personally feel that when topics of given to traditional scholars, who
> lack modern day college training, they write essays but dont know how to
> present things in comprehensible manner.....we cannot ignore that.

I think for everything there has to be an apt adhikAri.  What is taken up
for vAkyArtha in the annual sadas is not an every-day topic of Swami
Dayananda Saraswati or Swami Paramarthananda.  The topics are from the
Brahmasutras, an adhikaraNa where there is the method of viShayavAkya,
samshaya, pUrvapaksha, siddhAnta.  Sometimes the topics are from the
Upanishad bhashyam. Those are topics where apparent contradictions across
upanishadic sentences are settled after due deliberation.  Such are not the
topics that the Swamis take in a class.  Even if they teach Brahmasutra
bhashyam in English, they do not get into the detail that happens in the
sadas.  Also, the sadas is not meant for ordinary, non-sanskrit people.
The audience is another group of vidwans.  Only they can appreciate the

The Advaita scholars in Chennai too take classes aimed at non-sanskrit
people.  They take even Advaita siddhi classes in Tamil.  Many people
attend them. For example, one can see how nicely Dr. Mani Dravid Sastrigal
teaches the Vedanta paribhAShA in Hindi which is being uploaded now
periodically.  His commitment to make tough concepts understandable by
using apt examples can be appreciated.

आचार्यात् पादमादत्ते पादं शिष्यः स्वमेधया ।
पादं सब्रह्मचारिभ्यः पादं कालक्रमेण च ॥

This verse implies that a quarter of a student's knowledge comes from the
teacher; a quarter through one's own intelligence; a quarter from peers and
a quarter in due course (through experiences in life).



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