Spiritual Erudition

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vidya at CCO.CALTECH.EDU
Tue Aug 20 02:19:01 CDT 1996

With respect to the recent discussion on intellectual nitpicking vs.
realization, I wish to offer a slightly different perspective.

Anybody who wishes to discuss advaita will be the first to concede that
all the intellectual debate on philosophy, on interpretation of
scripture, and on the rightness or wrongness of a view only takes one so
far and no further. That is why the best advaitin scholars do not
hesitate to dismiss even the Vedas, once the highest level is reached.

However, we must remember that as a system of philosophy, the Vedanta
performs another function also, viz. one of scriptural exegesis.
Those of us who come from the tradition of Brahminical interpretation of
the scriptures cannot help but analyze and interpret, in an effort to
understand the non-dual basis of all the universe, including the
scripture. In the process, a lot of attention is paid to details that
looks as if it is nitpicking, but I believe that such nitpicking helps
in the process of self-enquiry also. Let us remember that
Sankara, Suresvara and others who spend a lot of of their effort talking
about scriptural interpretation, only mention their own personal experience
tangentially. They do not emphasize their personal experience over and
above that of scriptural testimony.

In my opinion, this is necessary because this minimizes the possibility
of any Sukla, Misra and Tiwari claiming to be self-realized and
misleading other seekers. This century has seen quite a few such gurus,
who have turned out to be disappointments in many ways. This is
understandable, because not everybody can be a Ramana Maharishi.

I would hesitate to describe my personal experience and my own road to
self-enquiry, because I am not confident about it. That in itself is
possibly a sign that I haven't personally known the non-dual. In the
meanwhile, I can only talk about non-duality at an intellectual level.


S. Vidyasankar

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