Practical Vedanta

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed May 19 04:16:52 CDT 1999

>> Is it not that these (social works) are essential social
>>obligations of the present age, which must be forsaken for AtmavicAra only
>>if at the same time the "good" things of social life, like comfort,
>>pleasure, etc. are aso forsaken? Is trying to use Ramana Maharishi's
>>philosophy as a justification for not doing social service while enjoying
>>the benefits of the society, not a form of escapism as Madhavan Srinivasan
>  I can understand your concern for social service but I cannot
>  understand your line of reasoning. As I see it, you seem to be suggesting
>  that since we cannot follow our dharma, we must take to social service.
>  While there may be some merit in saying that it is better to be involved
>  in social service than not following any dharma, this is missing the

I will reply from a larger philosophical perspective. Let me begin by
replacing the much misunderstood term "social service" with the general
term, "action" or "karma".

There have always been people who misinterpret advaita vedAnta and turn it
into mere sophistry, while failing to conquer even one of their desires.
Simply put, duty (karma) and right/responsibility (adhikAra) pertain only to
him who has a sense of doership (kartRtvam). The real jnAnI knows himself as
a non-doer (akartA), and he *is* an akartA. The false pretender says he is
an akartA and selectively quotes Ramana Maharishi, but only when he wants to
pass the buck. All the teachings of Ramana Maharishi cannot stop him from
hankering after various other things, nor his drive to acquire the objects
of his desire. And as an aside, this is the reason why our traditional
teachers did not talk about advaita vedAnta with anybody and everybody.
However, evasion of responsibility is not the way out of the cycle of
doership. This has been discussed ages ago, in the gItA.

Now, replace karma and related words above with "social service" and the
answer is obvious. Anand's earlier response fills in the other things. It is
always best to ask ourselves if we are behaving in a dhArmic way, instead of
asking that someone else take the initiative, or that some organization
should do "social service" instead of studying the scriptures in a
monastery. Society would actually be a much better creature if those who
have a duty to study the scriptures actually study and live by them.


More information about the Advaita-l mailing list