A moment please !!!

Padmasheela Rayala prayala at METRICOM.COM
Tue Feb 11 17:40:59 CST 1997

        I also have been reading the Advaita discussion group articles with a
great deal of interest but since yesterday, I feel that the group is diverging
from its original discussions.  And also, it came as a shock to me that the
people who I have been thinking that they have a lot of knowledge about the
vedas and all are talking these things.  It is really hurting too...

        Basically, I got an impression with the earlier postings that it doesn't
matter what a person does for a living etc. but if a person has a thirst for
knowledge and want to know about self, they can go about all these
ways..(advaita, yoga etc...).  I can understand about the questions if a
householder can do it successfully with all the responsibilities...but what I am
unable to understand is about the mention and discussion of caste system.  These
people...who are supposed to have gained atleast a little bit of knowledge from
all these vedas and advaita and what not...they still didn't come out of one
basic principle that any person can have a thirst for knowledge and thus can
attain or acheive brahmanatvam.  Do you guys really mean to tell me that any
person who is not a brahman(brahmin..)by birth is not eligible to attain moksha?
 Is this what our Vedas really tell us?  How can any person get a right to
become a Brahman just because he is born to brahman parents?  Doesn't Brahman
mean that the person has attained knowledge about self and thus these caste or
the human-made boundaries do not exist at that point?  Is this whole discussion
group based on the assumption that who ever is participating or reading these
articles have to be a brahman by birth?
        I lost most of my respect for the people in this group after realizing
that however much knowledge you might achieve by reading books, by working with
a guru, that knowledge actually didn't sink into their heart.  If you think that
self realization or moksha (or call it by any name) is possible only for a
person who wears yagnopaveetha or a brahman by birth, I really don't think that
is neither a way to realize that nor are you a brahman just because you think
you are...

        I almost asked a question the other day--as to why is this path or
advaita and everything limited to men?  I am a woman and a non-brahman but I
have a desire to learn about these things..I may not be able to achieve the
highest point or maybe I maynot even take off from the first level itself but I
have a lot of desire to try to understand and learn everything..And that was the
reason I joined this group thinking I can learn something new...But now, I don't
think I will ask that question as the people who are participating in these
discussions are not actually understanding the very basic principles of
advaita...If your arguments are true, how come Sankaracharya even considered the
principles of buddhism?  Why didn't he just thrash it saying they are not
brahmans?  Did Sankaracharya actually said anywhere that these cannot be
attained by anybody else?

If somebody can provide me an answer for this, I would really appreciate it..
______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re: A moment please !!!
Author:  "Advaita (non-duality) with reverence" <ADVAITA-L at TAMU.EDU> at INTERNET
Date:    2/11/97 3:13 PM

On Tue, 11 Feb 1997, VP Nandakumar wrote:

> Hi,
>         I've been part of the Advaita discussion group for the past few days
> have observed that the Vedas and the Upanishads are being used as the ultimate
> references. Even if these are so, can it not be that due to the passage of
> (that's understating that actually!) and the civilization of mankind in
> some of the content might've been outdated or no longer relevant.

The orthoprax advaita position is that the Vedas and upanishads are
eternal, and therefore never outdated, and never irrelevant. How do we
decide which portions are outdated and which are not? Maybe "Tattvamasi"
is outdated, and therefore advaita does not hold true any more. Of
course, the smritis may grow outdated, but never the Vedas and upanishads.
Beyond a point, quoting the Vedas and upanishads is a question of faith.
But I don't see how if we can quote the upanishads for some things, we can
conveniently neglect them as regards other things. Advaita as Vedanta has
to always quote from the Vedas and Upanishads as the ultimate references.

>         Even if the content is relevant, are we sure that we're interpreting
> them correctly? I was under the impression that ADVAITA, DOESN'T ASK YOU TO
> KNOW REALITY. If these are the fundamental concepts, why is it that we take
> whatever is in the scriptures for granted and the ultimate answer? Is it not
> duty to analyze the statements in the scriptures and explore the reason WHY?

Of course, we have to analyze the scriptural statements, but the analysis
is done within a particular frame of reference, dictated by the Mimamsa
and Brahma Sutras. Not every statement in scripture has to be explained
why. When you are told by the Veda that performing a certain rite ensures
the birth of a son, that is to be taken as it is. There is no "why" for
such a statement.

>         For example, the question about a Brahmin becoming asudh if he crosses
> the ocean. Can it be that in those ancient times, lands across the seas were
> truly barbaric and crossing the seas were so difficult and a totally degrading
> experience that the sages might've felt that these experiences would soil a
> man's mind and soul and so made such statements in the scriptures?

How do we define barbaric and degrading experiences? The Vedic Aryans are
described as barbaric nomads in 19th century books written by Europeans.
Were they truly barbaric? If you think otherwise, how do we know that
other people across the oceans in those times were barbaric? Furthermore,
how could the sages have known about these barbarians if they had not
interacted with them themselves?


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