[Advaita-l] Ramana Maharshi - Advaitin or Neo Advaitin?

Kripa Shankar kripa.shankar.0294 at gmail.com
Wed Sep 21 08:08:21 CDT 2016

Namaste Venkatraghavan 

Yes there are some issues with my phone.

I am not saying study of Shastras is futile because then I would be contradicting myself. A Vedantin considers Shravana manana and nidhidhyasa as an anugraha of ishwara. Otherwise it is just revelling in ahankara(I will study, I will be free). It is again for this reason that shAstra vidhis are central to orthodox Advaita. Because a sadhaka performs a‎ll actions because they are mentioned in the shastras and not moved by own will / obligation. Otherwise if the sadhaka deluding himself or herself to be intelligent, performs anything as per own inclination, is firmly bound within the confines of ahankara. 

‎If we cannot identify Karma, then how can Akarma be achieved. Karma is not mithyA. Karma is the law of causality. How can * understanding * which is a kriya itself lead to the * conclusion / understanding * that Karma is mithya. ‎

Ramana taught what he taught. Those who want to believe it ‎believe it. Ramana, a true saint or not is irrelevant. The only contention is that his teachings cannot be considered as orthodox Advaita because :

1) By his own/Ramanashram  admission 
2) His words are not shruti (paurusheya)‎
3) He cannot be considered a Guru in orth‎odox sense, for he was illiterate of Shastras, outside the lineage and mostly maintained silence when asked about anything. This is considering for the sake of argument that he was jnani. 
4) Judging by the affairs of the Ashram 

I am not mentioning his teachings because then it will be a matter o‎pinion. In fact, his teachings matter the least in order to classify. But nonetheless I have already stated my opinion. 

You have admitted that Ramana himself never claimed to be either shAstra vid or sampradayavid. Then why is it an issue to classify him as a great soul outside the orthodox school of Advaita? 

Vyasaya Vishnu roopaya Vyasa roopaya Vishnave 
Namo vai Brahma nidhaye Vasishtaya namo namaha 
  Original Message  
From: Venkatraghavan S‎
Sent: Wednesday 21 September 2016 5:40 PM
To: Kripa Shankar
Cc: A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta
Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] Ramana Maharshi - Advaitin or Neo Advaitin?

Namaste Kripa ji,

Perhaps you meant to copy the group. in your original message.

On Wed, Sep 21, 2016 at 12:05 PM, Kripa Shankar <kripa.shankar.0294 at gmail.com> wrote:
Namaste Venkatraghavan 

The classification is not only relevant but a duty of every student. This is because mukti or liberation is not obtained by mere study. Shastras are mere delusion. So how can de‎lusion remove delusion? The student should rely on guru vakya, for it is only by 'Guruprasadayet' that we can attain freedom from Karmic cycle. Any sAdhana is again a karma. How can one become kritakritya by relying on another karma? 

Well let me stop you right here - mukti is not something to be obtained. It is our very nature. The purpose of shAstra and guru is to help remove the ignorance that blinds us to this fact. Also, what do you mean by "mere study" of shAstra? What is shravaNa, but a "mere study" of shAstra under a guru? What is manana but contemplation of what has been "merely studied"? What is nidhidhyAsana but the invocation of that knowledge and dwelling on that knowledge? Therefore not only is study relevant, it is the *most relevant thing* in understanding our nature.  

More pertinent to the original point of the discussion, how are you demonstrating the relevance of the classification into Vedanta and NeoVedanta by saying that "mere study" is not enough? What else is? 

Secondly, the very karma that you refer to also are part of the same delusion that is shAstra. It is not as if there is some magic in the guru's words that renders karma powerless. Rather, the understanding of shAstra, as correctly interpreted by the guru, leads to the *understanding* that karma is mithyA. So samsAra nivritti is samsAra falsification -  through knowledge. The guru's role is to correctly interpret shAstra to help the student's understanding, not for the transfer of some mystical experience. 

So a Guru is of paramount importance and if we don't investigate well, we will be led astray like blind led by the blind. Considering impersonators to be well wishers, is like mistaking a crocodile for a log. It is also quite logical to ascertain the nature of anyone before confiding. ‎For ex: if I had to undergo a treatment, I should first trust a doctor by his/her credentials not simply because he/she claims to be a doctor

Indeed, I am not arguing that one should pursue Atma vichAra independently, it has to be through a  guru only. How is that relevant to the discussion on Ramana - are you saying that Ramana Maharishi does not understand reality? or he is a fraudster? or that he does not have the qualifications to teach you? If you are, what is your proof? Show evidence of where Ramana's teaching and description of ultimate reality departs from the Upanishads. Of where he has defrauded anyone. Of how he is lacking in qualifications.

If we take Shankara's advice, then in the very first test Ramana fails to clear as he does not belong to any lineage (and hence started a new one) . The chain of Shruti is lost. In the Mahabharata , there is an instance where it is said "one who disregards one thing (shAstra vidhi) is sure to disregard another". I think it was said by Upayaja. 


First of all it must be understood in what context Shankara made the statement you allude to, and in what context. He said in the bhAshya of Bhagavat Gita 13.2 असम्प्रदायवित् सर्वशास्त्रविदपि मूर्खवदेव उपेक्षणीयः, that is, a person who does not belong to a sampradAya, even if he is well versed in shAstras is comparable to a fool. Firstly, Ramana Maharshi never claimed to be a shAstra vit, let alone belonging to any sampradAya. So not sure how this statement can be directed at Ramana. Secondly, Shankaracharya made that statement in the context of scholars who were reinterpreting shruti statements in a manner that led to shrutahAni - ashrutakalpana - that is which were contradictory to what was the said by the shruti elsewhere, or something independent and new which is not found anywhere in shruti. So what Shankara rejected was not the lack of sampradAya, but shrutahAni-ashrutakalpana - which he attributed to the speaker not being part of a paramparA. 

Nothing that you have presented thus far as Ramana Maharshi's teaching has demonstrated that his teaching is shrutahAni - ashrutakalpanA. The mere fact that he never belonged to a sampradAya does not automatically dismiss his teaching as contrary to vedAnta.

There have been several instances in the vedA where people outside the varNAshrama system, or not ostensibly within a sampradAya that are acknowledged to be muktas - Raikva in the ChAndogya upanishad for example. 


Vyasaya Vishnu roopaya Vyasa roopaya Vishnave 
Namo vai Brahma nidhaye Vasishtaya namo namaha 
  Original Message  
From: Venkatraghavan S via Advaita-l
Sent: Wednesday 21 September 2016 2:03 PM
To: A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta
Reply To: Venkatraghavan S
Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] Ramana Maharshi - Advaitin or Neo Advaitin?


OK, if you are willing to set aside bias, why don't you inquire into the
teaching, as opposed to the teacher?

The classification of the teacher as Vedantin and NeoVedantin is only
relevant if you think the teaching is suspect or if your interest is in the
history of Vedanta development.

If your interest is in the history of Vedanta, fine, but that is not of
interest to me.

If you consider the teaching to be suspect then it would be helpful if you
can identify where it differs from a philosophical perspective with
traditional Vedanta. You identified the denial of reincarnation as one
area, however as it has been pointed out, it was spoken from the
perspective of pAramArthika satya to a specific student at a specific time.
Extrapolating a statement made in one context as a general teaching is

The second aspect you questioned was if Ramana Maharshi was a jnAni. Any
answer given to that question is only speculation, as no one but the person
in question can know this.

The third claim you made was that his statements were vague and formulaic
in their responses. Firstly on vagueness, there could be several reasons
attributable for it, including your possible own lack of understanding of
traditional Vedanta. Only you can judge this.

The other reason why it may be perceived as vague is as follows.
Traditionally a guru in Vedanta is described as a shrotriya brahmanishTha -
that is he is well versed in the scriptures and whose identity is firmly
rooted in the self. Typically where the latter qualification is present and
the former is absent, the teacher while having gained the self knowledge
in some fashion, lacks the communication tools prescribed in shAstra to
teach it. The statements of such a guru appear mystical to a student new to
Vedanta. Ramana Maharshi not having studied Vedanta under a guru would fall
into this category - assuming we provisionally accept he is a jnAni for the
sake of argument. However, to a student who has studied Vedanta in the
traditional manner, his statements make a lot of sense and are in line with
the shAstric teaching. That is why you see so many members in this list
defend the teaching of Ramana Maharshi as being in line with Vedanta - it
is not out of respect for the man, although that may be present too, but
because of the underlying message.


On 21 Sep 2016 8:46 a.m., "Kripa Shankar via Advaita-l" <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> Namaste Bhaskar
> I am willing to set aside my bias! You have admitted that he may not be
> following the orthodox school of Advaita, which is evident. This does not
> mean he was a fraud. This means that Ramana has given birth or adopted
> another school of Advaita. The term Neo Advaita was already there and well
> defined. ‎In fact, Ramana asram themselves say so.
> Everyone does not have to follow the scriptures. Yathecchasi tatha kuru.
> But in my sincere opinion, classifying the schools accordingly is important
> so that we don't mix up things.
> I personally don't like to mix up our ancient Rishis/culture with people/
> culture from other faiths. That is my own inclination. Others may not have
> an issue. My own parents have high regards for Ramana and they travel to
> Tiruvannamalai frequently. I try to argue with them but they disregard me :)
> Regards
> Kripa
>> ---
> Vyasaya Vishnu roopaya Vyasa roopaya Vishnave
> Namo vai Brahma nidhaye Vasishtaya namo namaha
> Original Message
> From: Bhaskar YR
> Sent: Wednesday 21 September 2016 12:52 PM
> To: Kripa Shankar; A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta; D.V.N.Sarma
> డి.వి.ఎన్.శర్మ
> Subject: RE: [Advaita-l] Ramana Maharshi - Advaitin or Neo Advaitin?
> So it's definitely not personal. I started this query in true spirit of
> inquiry.
> praNAms Kripa Shankar prabhuji
> Hare Krishna
> Would it be possible for anyone to get his doubts clarified when he has
> his 'own' uncompromised opinions on the same subject already prabhuji?? I
> don’t think so. You are already doubting ramaNa's associates writings, you
> have already concluded that the 'image' ramaNa has been hyped by media and
> white skin Apta vAkya-s, you are already clear in your mind that ramaNa
> quotes only Osho, Tai etc. and never cared to quote shankara and his answer
> to any 'deep' philosophical questions was monotonous & vague :-) Under
> these circumstances and preconceived notions about a particular person how
> can your inquiry be objective prabhuji?? Just wondering.
> Hari Hari Hari Bol!!!
> bhaskar
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