Jaldhar H. Vyas
jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Mon Apr 6 12:05:01 CDT 1998
On Sat, 4 Apr 1998, Ravi Mayavaram wrote:
> I request that may we all stick
> to advaita-vedanta, as rigorously and as orthodoxly possible.
> This list was created only
> for the purpose of discussing shankara's advaita-vedanta.
Given your goals as stated above (with which I agree 100%) the question is
what is the best way to achieve those goals?
Not allowing certain topics to be brought up would be a bad idea for
several reasons. First of all, these is what our Acharyas themselves have
done. They extensively discuss Buddhism etc. In fact apart from some
small prakaranas all shastras include the purvapaksha as well as the
siddhanta. It is a essential part of the learning process to be able to
determine on what basis a particular conclusion was reached. All teachers
worthy of the name will explain instead of just telling. Growing up in
the '50s my Father had the typical education of most Brahmin boys. He
wasn't going to become a pandit or a pujari or anything so he went to an
after-school pathshala where they just taught the basics, Sandhya, some
stotras, Ramayana etc. Even there, the Maharaj would divide up the boys
and make them debate the lesson of the day. So you can see that it is a
basic part of our tradition to ask questions and to disallow that would be
just as much a distortion as anything the New agers do.
Secondly, it is bad for us. Take for example the criticism against
Advaita that it is "pracchana bauddham". Many people are misled by this
because of their superficial similiarity. It is only through a proper
review of the facts that one can determine that the comparison is invalid.
Opponents give you the opportunity to clarify and sharpen your own
Lastly, spare a thought for the new generation that is growing up outside
India and the Vedic environment. I know so many people my age and younger
who grow up with a mechanical understanding of their religion. Their
parents break their backs to get them into Harvard etc. but completely
neglect their dharmic education. So they grow up thinking some
mumbo-jumbo they don't understand is all there is and finds some other
religion or drop out altogether. When they learn about depth and variety
our traditions have to offer they get genuinely excited and interested.
Now that I am a grhastha and have obligations to society not just myself,
I'd like to help people like that and the list could be a great tool. But
not if people feel afraid to ask the questions which are on their minds.
The FAQ is a good idea. People should stick to the topic of this list.
However we should realize it is inevitable that they will stray. So if
off-topic or inaccurate posts are annoying, correct the problem at the
source! Force the ignorant to become knowledgeable. But please don't
stifle debate. It is bad for everyone and will act against your goals.
Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
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