[Advaita-l] ***UNCHECKED*** RE: Qualifications and Life style choices for a modern educated youth

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Wed Jan 7 13:07:30 CST 2015

Dear Sri Srikrishna,
I will answer to the best of my ability about specifics. 
1. An institution like the Sringeri Peetham, being a highly traditional one with a long history, needs 
a leader who combines depth in vaidika learning, SAstra scholarship, high levels of qualification in
the well known sAdhana catushTaya, and nowadays, a bunch of additional secondary qualities as
well. There are so many social, cultural and political expectations that people have on the head of
such an institution, which don't bear much relation to the central traditional criteria for a saMnyAsin
who has also to be a maThAdhipati. Fortunately, in the case of Sringeri, successive AcArya-s have
been very careful in their choice of successor. Through the last century, the AcArya-s have also had
the experience of routine education in regular schools, but have chosen, at a very young age, to
focus their energies outside the usual career trajectories that the rest of us have chosen.

2. At Sringeri, the candidate for succession is chosen from among those who have an aptitude
for traditional SAstra learning at a young age, in addition to standard vedAdhyayana. By that, I
mean those who study saMskRta in depth and go on to study nyAya/tarka before getting into
mImAMsA and vedAnta. Typically, it is someone who has intelligence, discipline and scholarship,
along with demonstrating to the current AcArya's satisfaction that he is capable of meeting the
highest standards in saMnyAsa dharma. Some of the upanishads would have already been learnt,
as part of vedAdhyayana, but indepth vedAnta learning happens after the saMnyAsa dIkshA, which
includes mahAvAkyopadeSa. Think of the rest of the training as part of nididhyAsana, if you will.
3. For people who come to advaita vedAnta without the benefit of a very traditional educational
pathway, but with the benefit of a more modern education, there are multiple choices available.
Most people who get involved deeply with the Ramakrishna Math, Divine Life Society, Chinmaya
Mission and Arsha Vidya Gurukulam have such backgrounds and some among them go on to
saMnyAsa also. In these cases too, it takes an enormous amount of discipline and time to build a
Guru Sishya relationship for adhyAtma learning to mature. (I don't much like to use the English word
spiritual in this context.) 
4. Re: technology usage, yes, multiple adaptations to change have been made historically, but
not without other sorts of consequences. Addressing a larger audience than two hundred years
ago using microphones and broadcasting technology or using cars to travel is one thing. Using
email and social media seems like an entirely different thing altogether and the Sringeri AcArya
is very selective about personally using them, and for very good reason. These technologies
require users to become deliberately bahirmukha in everyday behavior, as a result of which we
are all becoming even more entrenched in what the kaThopanishad describes as parAn^ paSyati
nAntarAtman. We are constantly directing our attention outwards, to the multiple objects, actual
and virutal, that attract our attention, to the not-Self. In contrast, advaita sAdhana requires what
sureSvarAcArya calls cittasya pratyak pravaNatA, an inward vision, an orientation that turns away
from external objects. So I'm afraid that our expectations about eager adoption of the latest
technologies with smartphones, email, twitter and facebook can be fundamentally at odds with
the traditional discipline required of a newly initiated saMnyAsin, which is what I can guarantee
the Sringeri AcAryas, both current and designate, will be very concerned about over the next few 
 Best regards,Vidyasankar 


> Date: Tue, 6 Jan 2015 16:58:11 +0000
> To: advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
> Subject: [Advaita-l] Qualifications and Life style choices for a modern	educated youth
> From: advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
> Om!
> The intention of my original mail was not to pass or seek judgment on the happenings at Sringeri, in terms of specific selection. It is not my job.
> My main intention was to explore and compare how a modern youth who does not go to recite Vedas but has engaged in other studies, would develop to be a complete spiritual being. How to compare the mental development, and chances of such a person reaching the same Vedic goals.
> Then I wanted to know the general profile of education of such 'pool' of students available for selection of an Acarya, as Sri Vidyashankar mentioned in his mail. Are they Veda pathis or Vidwans of (6 or less) Darshanas. Are there facilities now a days for regular high school and college education as well, as they grow up? 
> I know that a sanyasi in general is not a scholar, as we see in the world. But, mahA vAkya upadesha, in the sense of making one understand, is not a small job that can be done in a brief time. Also, in such an important ceremony as sanyasa deeksha, that step can't just be a upachara, leaving the actual study for later time. But, if the student has already done, say Vedanta Shiromani, but now takes sanyasa, then mahA vAkya upadesha is just a upacara. So, I wanted to hear any ideas on this matter.
> If the current Acharya can use a microphone to address, perhaps there is nothing wring in typing an email, if it works for them, or have someone else type. How does it matter? Keeping up and propagating Dharma is the goal.
> So, if people can comment on these, without getting into pro or against the present Sringeri situation, that will serve the purpose.
> Om!
> Srikrishna


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