Why do we trace our lineage in chanting Gayatri mantra ?

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vidya at CCO.CALTECH.EDU
Thu Aug 29 12:24:05 CDT 1996

On Thu, 29 Aug 1996, Gummuluru Murthy wrote:

>           Exactly the reverse is what I have in mind.  That tracing of our
>           origin and saying it is Gummuluru Murthy, coming from the
>           ancestry of such and such great rishiis, has an ego element in it.
>           That is the point I am trying to get clarification about.  If my
>           original posting gave the impression which Sri Sadananda reads
>           into it, my sincere regrets.

What you say regarding the ego element in describing ancestry is true. At
this stage, one should become a sannyasin. Giving up the connection to
family, gotra and proud ancestry is the ultimate vairAgya. As the jAbAla
upanishad says, "yadahareva virajet, tadahareva pravrajet" - one can
renounce the world the moment one reaches complete vairAgya. The one who
has completely renounced has no family, gotra and varNa-ASrama do not
apply to him. Till such a time, one does maintain that ego element.

>           We do prostrate to father and mother, to learned people, to gurus,
>           to rishiis ..... There is no difficulty with that and, in fact, we
>  enjoy
>           that.  My  question simply is  " To say that it is such and such
>           individual, coming as part of such and such a (great) lineage, doing
>           abhivaadanam has an ego element to it. Why do we say we are part
>           of such a great lineage ? And identify ourselves as such and such an
>           individual going by the name which the worldly customs give us ?
>           Is that consistent with the Advaitic thinking ?"

That it is consistent with the advaitic thinking is what Sadananda was
pointing out. "yatra tu dvaitamiva bhavati, tatra itaretaram paSyet, ...,
yatra tvasya sarvam AtmaivAbhUt, tatra kena kim paSyet, ....?" Doing
abhivAdanam means that one recognizes another to whom one wants to pay
one's respects, i.e. one is necessarily in the realm of dvaita in order to
do abhivAdanam. In the realm of dvaita, one can talk about advaita at an
intellectual level only. One has to transcend the realm of dvaita to have
the advaita experience.

The vedas and SAstras are addressed to all different levels of aspirants.
Given the fact that one has already identified the Atman with the body,
they prescribe gotra, r.shis etc. as part of abhivAdanam. Till such
time as the AtmA-anAtmA viveka does not arise, one conforms to these
teachings. There is nothing contradictory about it.

S. Vidyasankar

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