Pannirselvam Kanagaratnam pkanagar at RSL.UKANS.EDU
Wed Feb 19 10:10:46 CST 1997

On Tue, 18 Feb 1997, Jaldhar H. Vyas wrote:

> > How do you decide if a person has  knowledge in Dharmic matters?
> >
> "Chodanalakshano'rtho dharmah" as Maharshi Jaimini says.  The main
> characteristic of Dharma is action."  I didn't have to read books to
> know you're supposed to eat with with your right hand, or fast on an
> ekadashi day or say "Jai Ambe" when you sneeze.  These are all things I
> picked up just by looking at the people around me.  The various shastras
> are records of what wise elders of previous generations taught.  Together
> with what we see our own elders doing, they form the standard of behavior
> to which we must adhere.  To test if someone has knowledge in Dharmic
> matters just requires seeing if his behavior matches the standard.

        If there is something Adharmic about Swami Vivekananda's and
Paramahansa Yogananada's behaviour, I would like to know what it is. Right
now I am trying to live up to their standards and I am curious to know
what it is that they have neglected or performed wrongly.

> > Whatever I know about our religion is based on books I have read by Swami
> > Sivananda (I can't thank him enough for expounding the essentials of the
> > Vedas in simple English so that people with inferior intellects and no
> > knowledge of Sanskrit like me can understand a little about our Indian
> > philosophy).
> It is unfortunate that in the present era things have gotten sufficiently
> disrupted that people don't always have a "Shishta" around to guide them
> and they have to rely on books but this is an aberrent state of affairs.
> It's not that we're against books whether in Sanskrit or any other
> language but texts are subordinate to tradition.  By all means study the
> Bhagavadgita and Bhaja Govindam etc. but don't stop there.  Look at the
> meanings in their proper context not as isolated fragments.  I know Kansas
> is a little off the beaten track but surely there is some kind of Indian
> community thereabouts?  If not you should first chance you get move to
> somewhere where there is one and proper people to guide you.

I have not neglected my tradition. In fact I am trying to get established
in the ethical culture and I also perform the rituals, i.e. applying
sacred ash & kumkuma (this has attracted a lot of stares and queries. Is
it the same in your place too or is it just in Kansas?), feeding the
animals, birds, etc. All these I picked up from my parents and my
Paramguru's book "All About Hinduism"  has helped me to understand why we
do these things.  It is in the language department that I am an extremely
slow learner. You are right, after my studies I should go learn under a
qualified teacher.


  Pannirselvam Kanagaratnam
  E-mail: pkanagar at
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