Ramakrishna and Vivekananda

Ashish Chandra achandra at WNMAIL.WNDEV.ATT.COM
Tue Mar 16 22:29:56 CST 1999


                Please read this email without taking offence.
None taken although it would have been better had you addressed it to me.

>including Gautama Buddha. While Sri Shankara may not have used such words
>as did Swamiji, the idea is that only age brings about wisdom. The youth

                The concept of age brings wisdom can not apply to
For the simple reason, one is a jivanmukta only after destroying the ego.
Then, how can the age of the body affect Atman ? or knowledge ?
The point that Shankara matured with age etc., has been also put forth
by western "scholars" and please see Rama's refutation of this.

Yes, that is true. I am wrong about the age aspect.

                If we agree with this statement, we might also want to
reject the
brahma sutra bhashya and the bhashya of upanishhad-s Shankara wrote
at a young age.

Shankaracharya's commentaries are vital for any aspirant of Advaita. Since
I consider myself new to Hindu philosophy per se, I don't know what to tell

>As to why the Pundits of Kashi were opposed to him; why just Kashi, almost
>all of orthodoxy; the answer is not so simple. The frontline of criticism
>that the Pundits leveled at Swamiji was that he was a Sudra and had no
>right to read the Vedas.

                This is not just the stand of Pundits, but the great
Acharya, Shankara
Even to this day, followers in the lineage of Shankara forbid people
adhikara to read the Vedas. Please see the talks with the heads of Sringeri
Kanchi maths.
                If you feel everyone is entitled to chant vedas (and you
can feel so),
just remember that you are contradicting Shankara's teaching. That's all.
That's fine. I have no compunction about disagreeing with anyone,
Jagadgurus included, that Jnaan has to be universally available to anyone
who shows a desire to learn. Just to clarify things, Swami Vivekananda was
not a Sudra, he was a Kshatriya. But he was labeled a Sudra by the people
who were unhappy with his teachings/preachings. Even according to the
tradition of the Traivarnikas having access to the Vedas, Swamiji was well
within his right.

Jagadgurus may have had reason to sustain a system of Brahminical learning
when it was possible to do so. In today's world, there are very few true
Brahmins that one comes across. I, even though being a North Indian
Brahmin, have no clue about what Advaitam is or what our scriptures say.
And then if I go about trumpeting a claim that I alone have access to study
such and such literature, that is unsustainable.

Look, I think we are digressing from the actual topic, which is to teach
and learn here. I am not able to fathom if there is a certain glee factor
involved in raking all this up and micro-examining who said what.

I simply don't agree with Adi Shankaracharya or the Sringeri/Kanchi Mathas
about Brahmins having the sole claim to learning the Vedas because I
believe that even Shankaracharya, himself, would today have advocated a
universal availability of this esoteric learning. It has been correctly
pointed out that those who stick to such beliefs do so dogmatically, and
when one agrees to being dogmatic, what has anyone else left to say anymore

>today. And yes, Swami Vivekananda did make the society fall at his feet
>although he did profess his distaste for hero worship.

                It is difficult to see how a materialistic society like the
West or India
can fall at the feet of a saint. Are you now saying the majority in the
are spiritual ? Saints influence the society, but the majority of the
do not follow any teaching of the saints.

What are you asking me ?

Some Personal Thoughts : I am not sure what is driving this discussion.
Hopefully not my comments, but in case that is so, I have no problem in
endlessly engaging with any and all of you in any discussion, bitter or
otherwise. I may not know too much and my temperament has not been nurtured
by any meditative practices or receiving Jnana at the feet of a Guru, but I
know stupidity when I see it. There are people present on this list that
jump at the very mention of the name Vivekananda as if a bolt of lightning
went through them. And they somehow arrogate to themselves the right to
criticize a great personality, without any ryhme or reason. And then when
one objects, more jump into the fray. This email from you is nothing more
than another jump, regardless of your note not to take offence. Why should
I take any offence ? You want to be in favor of Brahminical learning, fine,
stick to it. I am not, and support those who want our scriptures to be
available to anyone who seeks them out. Is it not possible to follow the
teachings of Adi Sankara and refute him on adhikAra ? Is it that impossible
that one can be expelled from the Advaita fold ? I doubt it very very much,
and in case I am wrong we need to do some serious rethinking about these
things, keeping in mind how the world exists today.

I may be misjudging quite a few of you in writing what I have in this
laboriously long email but some of you guys are just arrrggghh when it
comes to the V word. I hope to learn in peace here but if you want me to
leave, just write me an email and I'll leave.


"bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam"
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