ADVAITA-L Digest - 15 May 1999 to 16 May 1999 (#1999-26)

Ashish Chandra achandra at WNMAIL.WNDEV.ATT.COM
Sun May 16 13:47:57 CDT 1999

Maadhavan Srinivasan wrote :

Then whats the use of your 'full enthusiasm' to reform the world. You place
greater emphasis on the teachings of jnani's like Ramana Maharishi than
reforming the society. Can you place greater emphasis on teachings of jnani
than to keep your job safe, to get good hike in your salary, to get good
comfortables etc.?
In my point of view, 'practical vedanta' means : helping others, reforming
the society by eradicating - castism,religious differences,etc.

Ashish Chandra :
Maadhavan, with all due respect, I think you might not have considered the
importance of having Atmajnanis in society, like Sri Raman Maharishi
himself. Jivanmuktas, though free from the fruits of Karma, nevertheless
affect society in benevolent ways; their mere existence is beneficial, as
most of us agree that he(Jivanmuktas like Sri Ramana Maharishi) is an
individual to be looked up to, and not in the sense that one might look up
to Hitler etc.

Today, especially in India, we see all the evils of society. There is, as
you put it, casteism, corruption, nepotism etc. There is no way to tackle
these problems. More societies have tried to eradicate these evils than you
can count. These are not evils unto themselves, i.e. they are a reflection
of the state of society at a particular point in time. The only long term
solution to all these problems is reforming the individual. Having said
that, what do you reform the individual to ? What is the starting point and
what is the end point of this quest ? We can at least agree that the
individual should be moral and firmly rooted in Dharma. If that is the
ideal, where is the inspiration ? That (inspiration) comes from our
Acharyas, our Rishis and Munis who have firmly laid down the duties of an
individual towards one and all in accordance with Dharma. The ideal is
Brahminism (i.e. a society composed only of individuals firmly set in the
pursuit of Brahman - Supreme Truth). Even our Varna Vyavastha has been
structured such that the financial and military prowess of society is
reined in by a moral authority (Brahmins). While that has degenerated over
the ages, the ideal itself stands vindicated. Our duty to society is as
much a part of our Dharma as duty towards ourselves. Those that fail to
realize this, suffer in one way or the other. Neither type of duty ought to
be neglected. You cannot reform the society unless you yourself, the
individual, are adequately prepared for such a task. That comes from
studying the scriptures and sincere Saadhna, something that ultimately
leads to Chitt Shuddhi of the individual involved. While this task of
equipping oneself is going on, other secular tasks can be taken up (like
starting a family, taking up social work (like RSS Prachaaraks do). Its up
to the individual, based on his inclinations and tendencies, as to how much
time he/she can devote to these secular activities. Some do it full time,
others do according to their abilities and circumstances. However, the
study of scriptures and the pursuit of Self should never be denounced. It
might be that it is more appropriate to take the pursuit of Self full time,
i.e. when one becomes a sannyasi. However, even the practice of seeking
Self is beneficial and this translates into some type of benefit for the
society. With the little mind-purification that comes from my own effort, I
find myself a calmer individual than others around me. And right now, all I
do is read the Bhagavad Gita.

I do think that service, in present day and time, comes before personal
emancipation. I think one who is firm in his Saadhna can hardly be a mute
spectator to whatever evils are around him/her. He/She will do he/she can
do help ameliorate the problems. World is reformed better when the
individual is more enthusiastic about reforming himself/herself.


More information about the Advaita-l mailing list