introduction from VISWANATHAN KRISHNAMURTHY (fwd)

Prashant Sharma psharma at BUPHY.BU.EDU
Sun Apr 5 03:36:37 CDT 1998

shraddhAspadeshu Ravi,

On Thu, 2 Apr 1998, Ravi Mayavaram wrote:

> namaskAram Prashant
> Thanks for sharing your views.  Silence need not mean acceptance. It
> can also mean ignorance. Often I am quiet because for a little-read,
> ignorant person like me, the correct thing is not always obvious. Like
> many in India these days, I was also lost in the agnosticism and
> wasted my precious youth reading useless modern day philosophers. Like
> many I also started the journey from the new age junkyard. But I am
> not proud of my ignorance, rather ashamed of it.

        Let me tell you that I was brought up in Varanasi where alongside
the advaita tradition, J Krishnamurti's anti-vedic new age stuff also
reigned supreme.   Infact, the reason why I had never to spend a penny on
buying any of his books was because one of our Professors was
quite a fan of his (is currently the director of Krishnamurti centre at
Varanasi), and made it a point to show videos of his talks and
initiate discussions with some of the traditional philosophy students.
I think it is courtesy of that environment, that I was forced to read
and listen to traditional philosophy and thereby realise, albeit in small
measure, that the new age philosophers are  holding a candle in
front of the brightness of advaita (or even dvaita). It is indeed
unfortunate that we can't see that brightness immediately, but I believe
the candle does lure us to it.

> But such feelings
> alone do not help. One has to take corrective action and read the
> right thing.  One has to read what shankara and our what our achAryas
> have said, at least make an attempt. By discouraging unnecessary
> new-age discussions, we can accelerate the right by focussing on the
> right things.
> Often the discussion go on and on, with little benefit also. Take
> for instance the discussion on freewill. What can one say. Personally
> I think one should use technical terms in sanksrit, that may make it
> clear. What is free will in sanskrit? ...

        That is precisely why the discussion began at the first place. As
soon as one asks "is there free will?" it comes with "whose free will?".
My understanding was that the denial of one leads to the denial of the
other which, at the "vyavahArik" level at least, means that one cannot
deny free will. As soon as I realized that Jonathan Bricklin was talking
about something similar, although couching it in different (more academic
terms) the discussion was over for me. But it was never pointless for me
or for Jonathan Bricklin (I believe!).

> On the these complex issues we should rather see what shruti and
> smriti says, what our Acharyas say, otherwise these discussions are
> pointless...

        True.  Unfortunately, as you have pointed out, there is no word
equivalent to free will in Sanskrit.  Its unlikely that any text will say
something like no (or yes) to the question "is there *free will*".
However, the notion of free will is something which exists for me and is
reason enough for its enquiry. And the mode of inquiry which comes first
to mind -- that of asking an AchArya -- is unavailable in this part of the
world. Which means that I am left with using the list as a means of
continuing the quest. So the list serves the dual role of bringing a
question to the fore and of finding an answer to it. In this way the list,
in its current way of functioning, is serving a very important purpose.
Since you think some serious changes are necessary I can only hope that
these do not rid the list of an environment of healthy debate, but only
change the nature of the topics to be discussed.  I also hope that
whatever new bounds are set for the list we shall always find the need
of reassessing them.


> shrI rAmajayam

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