WIKNER at NACDH4.NAC.AC.ZA
Mon Jan 19 01:51:11 CST 1998
On 15 Jan 1998 Miguel Angel Carrasco wrote:
> I was quite shocked (but promised myself to count up to a million) when I
> read the comment: "As a woman and a foreigner you are not entitled to
> learn from the Vedas anyway."
> Having finished my count ...
So, a million times have you re-inforced your association with some
notion in the mind -- that was not very intelligent.
Why be upset by the views of any fundamentalist fanatic? There will
always be those who take scripture literally, without appreciating
that it is but a pointer to the Truth. Rather ask for scriptural
authority: if it is smrti, you can usually ignore it; if it is sruti,
then examine it closely for its true meaning.
Vidyaranya's bhasya on taittiriyaranyaka (18.104.22.168) gives:
"Women who have realised Brahman-Atman by the grace of the Guru
are truly men -- purushaah -- in spite of their outward womanly
form, since they have secured enlightenment worthy of a purusha.
Those men who have not secured Self-realisation are considered
by the wise as women in spite of their male appearance. Similarly
the terms "blind" and "non-blind" also have meanings which are
entirely contrary to the common meaning attributed to them. He
who sees things only through his physical eyes and does not attain
Self-realisation, is called the blind one. On the contrary, a
person who, though deprived of physical eyes, attains the true
knowledge of Atman is considered to be endowed with the faculty
of "sight". In the same way father-hood and son-hood are dis-
tinguished extraordinarily. A boy who is able to see Atman in
all things and does not perceive difference is really the "father"
to his father, if the latter has not attained Self-realisation,
since such a son is able to save the father by imparting true
knowledge. What more! The purport is that Self-knowledge is the
supreme, all other knowledge is inferior."
[Translation from D.S.Subbaramaiya's Sridakshinamurtistotram, Vol 2, p232]
Subbaramaiya continues further on (page 236-7):
"Women, children and the blind are taken to illustrate generally
those who do not study the Veda, are not capable of abstract
reasoning and are not alive to the truths which even the world can
Since the lady in question appears to be studying the Vedas, she is, in
this sense, not a woman at all. The pertinent question is , are _you_
studying the Vedas?
You will, of course, need to study Sanskrit as well, otherwise you are
totally at the mercy of the interpretations of the translators.
Incidentally, as a Westerner, you will have a mind-set that seeks to
_discover_ the Truth -- thus does the ego (the embodiment of ignorance)
set itself an impossible task. Likewise, the speculative and inferential
theorising of Western philosophy is doomed to failure (see Katha 1.2.9,
B.S. 2.1.11). The equivalent activity in India is only to discuss the
rationality or otherwise of _given_ statements embodying positive
experiences of the transcendental Truth (only vicara on what is given
as sruti). You would find the book quoted from above a useful example
of this: it also answers many of the points that have been raised on
Another problem that Westerners have is the habit of divorcing theory
from practice (the Sunday Christian syndrome): there is a great interest
in jnana, but only as a theory, as an intellectual mind-game, whereas
jnana in fact needs to be confirmed by direct personal experience
(anubhuti) at each step -- this is why real teachers insist on karma-yoga
as a means of putting the theory into practice _systematically_ so that
it becomes one's own living knowledge, a part of one's being. The point
is simply that, in removing a sheath of ignorance, there needs to be
_at_the_same_time_ a shift in the perception of that sheath from vyashti
(individual) to samashti (universal), which leads to compassion for
others still trapped therein: without this movement towards samashti,
all that you have is a sophisticated dreamer whose ego is even more
difficult to shift.
If my opinions have set you off counting again, then do at least bear in
mind that anything more than one is not advaita :-)
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