Practical Vedanta

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed May 19 03:46:24 CDT 1999

>>         People being what they are, I really think sooner or later people
>>with much power, the brahmins will become corrupt, and those with no power
>>will suffer under oppression. The amazing thing is that the oppressed
>>suffered silently in India, and didn't revolt as they did in other
>Anand has painfully pointed out the flaw in your approach. I am not sure
>paid any attention to it. I am taking the liberty to point out that this
>list is only for discussing advaitA as taught by sam.kara. Please keep that
>in mind and continue your posts.

Ahem, let's not scare away the "new kids on the block" at the outset. This
whole thread on Practical Vedanta has become a war of words that is
unhealthy and unnecessary. At the very least, in any discussion, let no one
accuse the other of not listening properly, unless of course, the other is
being absolutely perverse. Perhaps there is something in the response that
we ourselves are not following.

To those who feel that the Indian cultural elite have traditionally been
lacking in social responsibility, go ahead and do what you can to rectify
it. Sure, there are many faults in every society, and Indian society has
more than its share. Charity begins at home, so to speak. Rather than asking
for large scale organizational effort, just do your mite. Generally,
experience has shown that so-called non-profit organizations are fertile
breeding grounds for corruption, and this is especially so in India, with
all its contemporary social and political upheavals. This not only does not
achieve the stated goals, it also breeds negative karma for those in charge.

The kind of dedication needed to bring about social improvement is largely
lacking, so that is what must be developed first. Begin by being kind to
your domestic help and helping educate their children. If a larger
percentage of the Indian population is educated, everything will improve,
including material prosperity. In Indian tradition, we have artificially
ended up creating animosity between Sarasvati and Lakshmi. It doesn't have
to be so.

Seek out other ways of showing your compassion and kindness, but don't get
too preachy on mailing lists. Above all, don't take your-self too seriously
(or else, there will be no place left for the Self). We modern people are
very cynical about those who preach, and especially of those whose preaching
tends to get shrill and repetitive. Our first reaction is one of cynicism,
leading to a suspicion that the preacher is phony. The reason behind this
suspicion is exemplified in one recent post, which said, "I don't want to
think about brahman and jIvanmukti any more, I want to do this, I want to do
that." To work for removing caste animosity and untouchability is all
well-intentioned enough, but the strong ego and the stronger sense of
doership that goes behind such a statement is obvious. It is a great
philosophical misnomer to call it vedAnta, and an even greater error to
align it specifically with advaita vedAnta.

In any case, rest assured that all this service to society is dhArmic, in
the sense that it is a way of earning some puNya. If you lose your interest
in claiming credit for your service, wonderful. You are on the road to
nishkAmya karma. If you feel more comfortable being part of a larger
organization, devote some time and energy to the local hospital or the local
orphanage (yes, these are still around in India) or some other worthy cause.
If this gives you some manas-SAnti, good. loko bhinnaruciH. There is no
dearth of good things to do, there is only a dearth of dedication to do
them. But you don't have to call this vedAnta; it is simply part of being a
good human being. The vedAntic goal is beyond the duality of good and bad,
but within the world of duality, good is any day better than bad.

To the ones defending our tradition, the discourse can be less harsh and
less intimidating. Let's all remember the upanishadic message, datta,
damyata, dayadhvam. dayA and dAna aside, we all need to develop Sama, dama
etc. It is a defeat of our purpose if we claim to discuss SankarAcArya's
teaching, and fail to even develop the basic sAdhana-sampat. A mailing list,
even one with a defined focus such as ours, necessarily includes people of
various backgrounds and thought processes. There is no harm in giving a
patient hearing to questions, especially if there is sincerity behind them.


More information about the Advaita-l mailing list