The Vedas

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Mon Jan 19 05:49:16 CST 1998

On Mon, 19 Jan 1998, Charles Wikner wrote:

> Why be upset by the views of any fundamentalist fanatic?

Better yet why call someone a fundamentalist fanatic when they are not?
Actually I suppose I am a fundamentalist in the sense that I base my views
on a certain body of doctrine but that's true of all Vedantins.  I suspect
you are using fundamentalist in a derogatory rather than descriptive

> There will
> always be those who take scripture literally, without appreciating
> that it is but a pointer to the Truth.

Like all Vedantins for instance.  The second Brahma Sutra is "Shastra
yonitvat."  Truth for Vedantins is the words of Jnana kanda of the Vedas.

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.

You are pulling this stuff out of a hat.  Smriti cannot be ignored unless
it is in contradiction with Shruti.  That has been the Mimamsak view from
day 1 and no Advaita Vedantin has interpreted it differently.  Besides
which the Bhagavad Gita is a smriti.  Are you going to ignore that?  How
about the Yoga Vasishta or the Avadhuta Gita?

Vidyaranya's bhasya on taittiriyaranyaka ( gives: >
>      "Women who have realised Brahman-Atman by the grace of the Guru

But not you will note through the study of the Vedas.

>      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."

This statement by a major Vedantin (assuming it is translated correctly)
is far more uncomplementary to women than anything I've said.  But even
there the focus in not on women.  The author is a man, his audience are

> [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
>      teach."
> Since the lady in question appears to be studying the Vedas, she is, in
> this sense, not a woman at all.

You've got the meaning of this passage exactly backwards.  It's because
she is a woman she is not studying Vedas.  She is not a Vedic student at

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>

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