A moment please !!!

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian rbalasub at ECN.PURDUE.EDU
Fri Feb 14 15:25:29 CST 1997

Padmasheela Rayala wrote:

[ ... ]

>  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
> group based on the assumption that who ever is participating or reading these
> articles have to be a brahman by birth?

[ ... ]

>         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
> have a lot of desire to try to understand and learn everything..And that was
> reason I joined this group thinking I can learn something new...But now, I
> think I will ask that question as the people who are participating in these
> discussions are not actually understanding the very basic principles of

I don't think anyone meant that advaita or spiritual pursuits are valid only
for men or brahmins only. Let us see what one of the modern jIvanmukta-s, HH
abhinava vidyAtIrtha mahAsvAmigaL has to say about this:

D: As some people are not brahmins, they do not have the opportunity to attain
moksha, Some raise an objection to this effect. Are they justified?

HH: Whoever said that only he with upanayanam can get jnana? Vidura was a great
soul. He was not a dwija. That veda should not be studied does not mean that
one cannot follow the path to moksha. We can find the essence of the upanishads
in texts like the yoga vasishta and vichara sagara. All can study such works
and certainly acquire jnana. Every one is competent to get jnana. Shankara
Bhagavatpadal has said this conclusively.

D: Can those without upanayana read translations of upanishad?
HH: Yes, there seems to be nothing faulty with it.

(pages 84-85, The Jagatguru replies)

This should make it quite clear. Further Vidyasankar once mentioned in srh that
HH has ordained women into sanyAsA. He'd hardly do that if he thought women
were not entitled for liberation.

> advaita...If your arguments are true, how come Sankaracharya even considered
> 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..

One thing of course is that there are some restrictions on mantra-s which every
one agrees should be followed. Let us see it this way: I believe that a mantra
X is efficacious and want to chant it. But, if for some reason I am prohibited
by the same books and traditions which give this mantra, how can I believe part
of it and reject part of it? It's like keeping half the egg for hatching and
half the egg for cooking! For example, the kUshmANDa homaM is prohibited for
brahmins, but they can learn the mantra-s. Now I can't say "Oh, so and so says
that this homaM gives this benefit, So I'll do it and ignore the same guy's
instruction that brahmins should not do it".

Only on this aspect, i.e., _chanting_ mantra-s all seers have been unanimous in
saying proper guru and authorization is necessary. This includes a jIvanmukta
like shrI ramaNa maharshhi. Now, he was known for not differentiating on basis
of caste, wealth etc. Now he himself has explicitly said that the restrictions
on mantra-s have to be followed. Why would he do so, unless he saw some truth to
it? Why is this rule present? It can be called a law if you wish, but that's
it. It has the same rationale as believing that the mantra will give certain

Thus it's only on certain things some regulations are strictly enforced.
Neither the principles of advaita nor any such thing fall under this realm.
Anyway the upshot is that every one is entitled to moxa, and can study texts
which HH has mentioned. Further, translations of upanishhad-s can be read
without upanayanam. It is only when chanting mantra-s one needs proper
authorization. I hope this answers some of your questions.


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