A moment please !!!

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vidya at CCO.CALTECH.EDU
Tue Feb 11 20:54:20 CST 1997

On Tue, 11 Feb 1997, Padmasheela Rayala wrote:

> Hi,
>         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...

Since my recent post is included in your post, I presume you mean the
above statements about me?

Please note that I have avoided getting into this caste discussion, except
to point out that,

1. Gayatri mantra is not for Brahmanas only, it is meant for all who have
the proper initiation, i.e. the yajnopavIta, and

2. If your approach to advaita is as vedAnta, in addition to philosophical
interest, then the authority of the Vedas is paramount. There is no point
in quoting "tattvamasi" from the upanishads, if one holds that the
upanishads themselves become irrelevant or unauthoritative because of
current societal conditions.

To me, it does not matter if a person is born to Brahmana parents or not,
or whether one is a man or a woman, as far as the thirst for knowledge is
concerned. Be that as it may, the varNASrama system has existed in India
for centuries, and advaita vedAnta and vedAntins have coexisted with it
for all these centuries. Except in the recent past, sannyasis belonging to
the larger advaita fold have not felt the need to reform or change the
social system around them.

Teachers of advaita take mantropadeSa seriously. They also take
adhikAra-bheda seriously. There are numerous mantras which they regard as
suitable for those who do not undergo yajnopavIta initiation. The powerful
SrIvidyA mantra is open to all, so are the mantras on Siva and vishNu. But
they are not out to change society, by waiving the requirement of a proper
yajnopavIta for the gAyatrI mantra. By their very nature, true sannyasis
renounce society and its relationships, including that of caste.

>         Basically, I got an impression with the earlier postings that it
> 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
> unable to understand is about the mention and discussion of caste system.
> people...who are supposed to have gained atleast a little bit of knowledge
> 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

The recent discussion was about losing one's caste upon migrating
overseas, and for expiations to this. It was not about moksha at all. The
very question about sin and expiations presumed difference, between a home
land and an alien land that one has settled in. It also assumed that one
had a caste, which was given by birth. In my opinion, the discussion had
nothing to do with knowledge or liberation. If your point is that the
discussion was ultimately fruitless, I agree with you. But please do not
draw wrong conclusions about eligibility for moksha from it.


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