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

Kripa Shankar kripa.shankar.0294 at gmail.com
Thu Sep 22 11:46:50 CDT 2016

Namaste Praveen 

The title and the subject are incoherent you say. ‎Let me make myself cle‎ar. I hope I will be able to communicate well. 

‎The question was to determine if Ramana was Advaitin or Neo Advaitin. Now what is Advaita? Is it just theory or does it involve noble conduct? Can I say everything is mithya and indulge in indiscriminate enjoyment? Hence it is quite natural to take into account both theory and practice. Hence for the same reason it is important to know about both the teacher and the teaching. While considering the qualifications of the teacher, we should also take into account the association of such a teacher. 

Now the origin of Advaita is Vedas. Hence we have to analyse the teacher from vedic perspective only. Another key aspect is Advaita is not separate from Vedas. Hence all points were considered while trying to classify. Now in any of these benchmarks, even if one thing is different from the orthodox, it is considered neo Vedanta. ‎
Kripa ‎

Vyasaya Vishnu roopaya Vyasa roopaya Vishnave 
Namo vai Brahma nidhaye Vasishtaya namo namaha 
  Original Message  
From: Praveen R. Bhat
Sent: Thursday 22 September 2016 9:47 PM
To: Kripa Shankar
Cc: Advaita-l
Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] Ramana Maharshi - Advaitin or Neo Advaitin?

Namaste Kripaji,

Your subject line and content seems all over the place. None of the content really matches up to reach a conclusion of calling Ramana Maharshi's teaching as Neovedanta. You seem to have confused with tons of Maharshi followers who may be Neovedantins handpicking what they like and ignoring the rest. The following reply is inline...

On Thu, Sep 22, 2016 at 8:28 PM, Kripa Shankar <kripa.shankar.0294 at gmail.com> wrote:

I am a student of Vedanta and I want to study the authentic works.

Please do. And if you really do believe in authentic traditional Vedanta, learn it from a traditional teacher, not from reading books yourself and internet, though you may think they are great sources. 
I see a lot of sources on this subject around me. RK Mission, Ramana, J Krishna Murthy, UG, Mooji, Nisargadatta 'Maharaj', some random muni, random paramahamsa etc.

Your whole idea of study sources seems to be wrong to me from the above lit. The idea of self-study itself is rejected by Bhagavatpadacharya, unless you have learnt in the tradition first. Else you will fall into the same category of Neovedanta. You may be referring to authentic works, but that will not be called as study in the traditional sense. Moreover, you just group a bunch of names together which proves nothing. They all don't belong together!
First of all I don't know how they lived their own personal lives.

How does anyone know that about anyone? The whole idea is the benefit of doubt unless proven otherwise.
They are all stories and some even bordering on hilarious fiction.

Maybe, maybe not, but what does that have anything to do with categorizing anything as Neovedanta is beyond me. Moreover, your reference of stories seem to be some author writing something about someone, saint or not. Why not read what the saint wrote to drive you to an unbiased conclusion of your own than someone else's that you anyway start by distrusting in the first place? What would you call someone who finds Bhashyakara's parakAyapraveSha story "bordering on hilarious fiction" and then saying that why bother reading what he taught?
So I can't trust their words and so I lack shraddha.

I think you got it the other way round! You lack shraddhA, that is why you can't trust their words. 
‎On the other hand we have the good old orthodox school which has records of unbroken lineage.

That is undoubtedly true. And I particularly have a preference for this myself. But I wouldn't go out everything else in town with the same shade of black.
Everyone knows about their conduct.

Who is everyone here? The people you trust I presume. 

It's like a cell phone, say Sony. You can get an exact replica of Sony cell phone made in China. It does all the same things perhaps better than original :D but it's not Sony.

You bet. :)
That's all I am saying,

I wish you were really saying that, but go back and read your own mails and even this one; you are clearly not.
there is an orthodox school and there is a school outside of it. This is undeniable.

And no one denied it as far as I see from any of the thread mails!
Now if any one wants to use this rule - A sampradAyavit..... selectively based on assumptions, that is merely a personal bias.

and vice-versa.
Those who have no affiliation will obviously reject it. ‎Because there is no room for assumption when it requires faith. 

No, in fact there is indeed an assumption in faith that there is no reason for a person to lie unless proven so. This is the fundamental basis on which a human being lives! When a kid is born, it has nothing but complete faith in the person holding. Till life cheats him of such trust, the faith continues. A normal person doesn't go around asking for directions and think that the director is lying! So as Venkatraghavanji said earlier, the onus would be on you to prove that something that you not only don't trust but call it outright against Vedanta teaching. And you haven't done so. Just pick up Upadeshasaram to know how wrong you are.

Secondly regarding the scriptures. Vedas are A paurusheya. It's not an individuals doctrine. The shruti is the unbroken lineage. This lineage is a parameter which safeguards the original teachings. Any one who is familiar with the scriptures will not accept anything outside of the lineage.
I have no clue why you bring this to the discussion table. I supported the idea in my earlier response, but you seem to be using "Shruti is unbroken lineage" to prove that "any statement from anyone who belongs to that unbroken lineage" is Shruti. If not that, then there is no argument about one teacher in the tradition against another not in the tradition if both teachings are inline with Shruti. 
Just as a bastard cannot ascertain the origin, those outside of the lineage cannot tell the source of their doctrine. Such a doctrine is Aveda, by definition.
What a weird example!  Still, if one can see that a doctrine talked of is traced in the Shruti teachings, it is the source.
To assume that one could have learnt in previous births is not supported by Vedas. 
Pray tell how you land this conclusion. Shruti and Smriti both support that a student most likely goes through many lives of sAdhana before mukti. Gita's kalyANakRt is precisely such a person.

Sadashiva Brahmendra was a great renunciate. He was sky clad and roamed about as if he was dumb or mad. But he followed all principles of conduct before that.

A person in your shoes of shraddhA may rightfully counter you so: "by which trustworthy records"?  :)
I hate my guts to do this but Ramana although wore a single piece of cloth he had quite comfortable seating arrangements within the Ashram atop the hill. He had many servants around him all the time. He used to have Mrishtanna bhojana and was always surrounded by people. How this is Atiashrama no one really knows. The British man Paul Brunton discovered Ramana in 1931. I suppose he was in his fifties then. But there is a picture of an adolescent Ramana posing for the camera, very calmly. Any explanation without assumptions?  

I wonder what makes you trust the source that talks rubbish of what kind of seating Maharshi had, what bhojana he had, etc, in comparison to distrusting sources that talked of what he taught?! Its no wonder though that you hate your guts. :)  Paul Brunton "discovered" Ramana for whom? You? The Western world? Or are you saying that Ganapatimuni, Sringeri, Kanchi, Mahatma Gandhi, etc, all of them learnt of Maharshi from Brunton and/ or his writings?! Moreover, whether Maharshi was well known before Brunton or not is not a question on which you should decide anything about his teachings or even the ashram. All your biases towards Maharshi seem to be nothing but your hatred towards Brunton. I couldn't care less for Brunton myself, but you have all your sources wrong. You don't even seem to know how Maharshi survived till the discovery you claim that Brunton made. Did you know that Maharshi ate bhikShA food? Even in the ashram, he mixed up all the served food cooked together?

Most people said I didn't bring his teachings for discussions.
Rightfully so.
I wish to drag that as well. But we should also consider this. The teachings should reflect somewhere. 
Yes, it should. Not in an ashram, but in his writings and "authentic" records, especially since he didn't live a living tradition. Why else do you think Upadeshasaram, Saddarshanam, etc, commands the respect it does in traditional teachers and followers of Vedanta?
We cannot altogether say that Ramanashram is irrelevant in this discussion.

Why? It is indeed irrelevant. I can't conclude that Bhagavatpada's teachings are so and so, based on some maTha I see doing something somewhere!
Now please keep in mind that I am not saying whether Ramana's teachings are right or wrong.
Oh! But you are, by saying that they are contrary to Vedanta teaching.
I am contrasting it with Shankara's teachings and trying to conclude that both are in opposition. 
And what do you think that means? We all here on the list at least agree that Shankaracharya's teachings are right. What would opposition be, but wrong?!!

1) Ramana tries to reconcile his teachings with teachings of other popular names like Christ. Shankara reconciles his teachings with Shruti smriti Puranas.
For the questioner's sake only, please read context there. He doesn't say Christ says so and so in Upadeshasaram! So what should a person do when a Christian asks a question with no background in Hinduism, let alone Shruti, etc? Do you think Bhashyakara deals with Buddhists and other non-Vedic opponents by quoting Shruti, Smriti and Puranas? The answer is based on the questioner's background.
2) Ramana does not emphasise on following the duties of order. In other words, Vedas are stripped from Vedanta. Shankara emphasises on following the duties of respective order.
That sounds like an ignorant's opinion. I wonder if you even know of a work called Upadeshasaram, let alone referring to it even after quoting multiple times. Else, please explain where do you think ईश्वरार्पतं नेच्छया कृतं चित्तशोधकं मुक्तिसाधकम् stands in your so-called analysis.
3) The terminology and definitions are different from the Vedic ones. A newbie will not be capable of reconciling his words which allegedly are always in Paramarthika calling everything as mithyA.
Did he claim that he is teaching newbies? How will a newbie understand Vedic terminology even if he used them? Will a newbie understand tat tvam asi which is a vyAvahArika statement?
Hence the basic tenets are lost.
Not true. Basic tenets are in self-inquiry.
Without a foundation collapse is imminent. 
True, but out of context.

4) consider a new student of Advaita without traditional background approaching Ramana or his books in our case : that student will only get counter questions or silence as an answer. Such a one can neither comprehend nor reconcile because he / she would have only learnt to build castles in the air. 
I agree with what you say here, but that doesn't fault the teacher or teaching. As I said earlier, your argument is all over the place. You are using anything to prove anything. All that this proves is that this is precisely why a newbie (or not) should approach a shrotriya and brahmaniShTha teacher or a just a shrotriya teacher to learn. Just a brahmaniShTha should be the last choice. That doesn't prove that brahmaniShTha teacher teaches something opposite to tradition. 
5) I don't know if it is silly if I mention the language difference. But that is what distinguishes the orthodox from the other. 
To my recall, I mentioned the language difference to counter you show for some reason that Maharshi's words are not apaurusheya, and my response was that in which case teachings in all languages except Sanskrit and even including Sanskrit except for Shruti statements will become Neovedanta.

6) A student of Ramana (who is ignorant of orthodox school of shankara) would relate to the stories told by Ramana about Christ, Buddha, some random Paramahamsa, some random Mahatma.
That is the student's problem who reads things out of context meant for the questioner and not everyone.
Orthodox school has a rich history of Yogis of innumerable kinds. It is but natural that we emulate our ancestors. So this aspect should be kept in mind.
Sorry, I don't even know what point this statement is trying to make! 
7) we have taken many assumptions into account. So I will assume as well. Tomorrow if Ramanashram says reincarnation was never mentioned in the Vedas but a creation of bigots, the devotees will be perplexed. It might be silly to assume so.
I thought you already said that Ramana Maharshi himself made a statement similar to this from some random wiki quote, let alone Ramanashram saying something in the future as an assumption!
But look at it this way, we have no idea who is running this international organisation which is self sustainable.
Why should we care about the organisation and who runs it? Leave that to the Rajiv Malhotras who have a herculean job to do, which is completely unrelated to ours which is the pursuit of moksha via the teaching. As I started so shall I close. We should take to traditional Vedanta study in a traditional way, leaving whom we don't trust or don't understand aside. Why go ahead and try to prove that what we don't trust is not Vedanta, while not knowing Vedanta itself?!
What is their background, what happens within no one knows.
And why should one care!
So there is a lack of credibility. 
 Unless one wants to go and learn from the ashram itself, no one should care for the credibility, unless of course one thinks that the teaching records themselves are made up by the ashram! :)

I rest my case, its been a long reply considering I wanted to keep the the earlier one short.

Kind rgds,
--Praveen R. Bhat
/* Through what should one know That owing to which all this is known! [Br.Up. 4.5.15] */

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