Spiritual Progress

Vaidya N. Sundaram sundaram at ECN.PURDUE.EDU
Mon Jan 5 17:41:50 CST 1998


On Mon, 5 Jan 1998, Jaldhar H. Vyas wrote:
> The problem is that the English word God does not directly map to a single
> Sanskrit equivalant.  Does God mean Parameshwar or Ishwar?  If the former
> than I would agree with you but if the latter it is well known that we in
> India worship many different Gods.  The Vedas prescribe the worship of
> both for different purposes.  Without further qualification, statements
> such as the Vedas teach the worship of one God are highly simplistic and
> misleading.

 By God, I mean Parameshwar. I understand that there quite a lot of
ambiguity of meaning in the word God, but the vedic doctrine refers to
demi-Gods, if you will, as Devtas or Ishwars of specifics. By that I
mean, specific realms are added to the word Ishwar and then stated as
such; so Purusha or Parameshwar may be safely considered as referring to
the Supreme God. So the Sanskrit texts are clear.

> As for one world and one humanity, this is demonstrably false.  Nobody
> anywhere thought in these terms until modern times.

 I would again disagree. To point out why, I would have to rely on the
many stories of the Puranas and the Srimad Bhagavatam. For example, it has
been stated in the Srimad Bhagavatam, of a great King Ambareesha, who was
a excellent devotee etc. His realm is described as consisting of "the"
seven "dveepas". I draw attention to two words here. the word THE is as
significant to me as Dveepas. I have seen translations referring loosely
to the continents as dveepas. The names of the seven dveepas are also
referred to, although I do not know them by heart now. To give another
example, there is, in the MahaBhArata, a listing of all the Kingdoms that
supported Yudhistra and those that supported Duryodhan. Also, it gives
reason as to why each supported etc etc. There are references to kingdoms
that have been positively identified to be in the African continent. As
before, I am referring to stories and the interpretation of present day
historians. So, I quite safely assume that the concept of a single world
and unity of religious thought was very much present.

> There is no historical basis for any of this.  For all of our recorded
> history, The Vedas were taught by Brahmans to Brahmans.  Which is not to
> say that nothing was taught to others.  That's not what I'm saying.
> Puranas, Mahabharata etc. also the products of Rshis containing the
> essence of the Vedas are meant for those to whom Vedic study is off-limits
> as they themselves explicitly state.  If the Vedas were for all that
> entire category of shastra would be redundant.

 The Vedas were not off-limits for any body. But it was recognised widely,
that the level of comprehension of the Vedas was not the same everywhere.
Comprehension of the Vedas and the proper method of rendering it is, you
will agree, quite an ordeal. The numerous Bhasyas and the Bhasyas of the
Bhasyas will testify to this effect. In order that the ordinary man was
not left out, these Puranas come to the rescue. And who is better
qualified to impart the essence of the Vedas in an easily accessible and
comprehensible form than the very Rishis who wrote it? So, it is not that
the original Vedas render the Puranas redundant or the other way round.
Rather, they serve as introductory texts. I could give you the example of
Introductory thermodynamics that just gives a set of equations to use and
advanced texts that actually tell you why and how they were arrived at.
That the more detailed and elaborate books are available and being taught
does not in any way imply that every one could actually do it and
understand it. And one does not make the other redundant. See the

> Why not give some real life examples?  Who were the teacher of Veda to any
> old person in the 15th century? how about the 10th? or the 5th?  There
> aren't any.

 Again, I could give examples. There are recorded stories of Appaiya
Dikshidhar (whom many believe was in the 16th century) having taught
Vedas to any one who was willing make a commitment to go through the
rigour for the 7 or 8 years it took to learn the Sakas. In fact, even
today in Madras, India, there are teachers who trace their lineage
directly back to Sri. Dikshidhar's disciples.

> I don't call Mantra japa a pseudo science.  It's some of the more
> extravagent claims that are made about energy waves and such which I
> object to because this is simply not true. Moreover it is disrespectful
> to the dignity of the mantras to assume they are worthless without a
> "scientific" explanation.  Our Grandfathers didn't need any of that.  They
> learnt because it was their duty and their tradition and that's all.

 I do not know enough of the claims being made, but, overall, I guess
there is tendency among todays zealots to over do it and state things
beyond verification. They they do the needful is sufficient to me.

> In some of those interpretations Mukti is something given by God (who is
> seperate to a greater or lesser degree from His creation) at will.  This
> is not the Advaita doctrine.

 I agree. As I had stated in a follow up posting, Sri. Shankara mentions
that the sword of discrimination is got by the grace of Parameshwara. He
does not state that Mukti is given by Parameshwara Himself.
 I think the doctrine of God giving liberation has come to be confused
with Mukti. Obtaing God's grace and going to Kailasha or vaigundam is
diffent to me from attaing Mukti, which is realisation of Brahman.


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