Advaita and Christianity

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian ramakris at EROLS.COM
Tue Apr 4 19:47:02 CDT 2000

Anand Hudli <anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM> wrote:

> Let me say something at the cost of being misunderstood as arrogant.
> IF (this is a big IF) Ramana indeed made the identification of the
> and advaita his *main* teaching, I will have no hesitation to
> with him. I feel that his teachings are not being interpreted fairly
> the gist of what you say includes a claim that Ramana's *main*
> was to study the Bible for advaitic realization. I very much doubt

I agree 100% with you.

> is the case. He could have advised Christian disciples of his, about
> advaitic interpretation of the Bible but the way you have presented
> issue makes it appear as if the Bible is equivalent to vedanta in
> way and that this was  a *central* message of Ramana.

It was not. The Talks with RM book is about 600 pages long, the
references to the Bible are scanty. Let us take the collected works of
RM. About half the book is Tamil translations of sha.nkaras works!
Nothing from the bible. That should tell something.

>  Therefore, from scriptural sentences such as "tat tvam asi" *alone*
>  and not from any other source, arises the direct knowledge of the
>  Self, in an unwavering manner.
>  Note that Sureshvara's categorical remark on the exclusive ability
>  of the shruti to give us the *direct* experience of the Self does
>  room for other scriptures to give us *indirect* knowledge.

>  So if Ramana said the Bible is an advaitic text, it can only mean
>  the Bible, like other texts such as the ashhtAvakra gItA, the
>  avadhUta gitA, etc., can give us the *indirect* knowledge of the
>  The (direct) sAxAtkAra can come from Vedanta and Vedanta alone.

Sha.nkara says in his brahma sUtra bhAshhya that GYAna can also come
from smR^iti texts. That would include the bhagavadgItA, mahAbhArata
etc. But as you rightly point out the ashhTavakra gItA (not smR^iti)
etc cannot give aparoxa GYAna. But I am not sure if I would even agree
with equating the position of the Bible and the ashhTavakra gItA.

>  If you say that Ramana himself realized the Self without Vedanta,
>  reply lies in his own teachings which you quoted in connection with
>  J Krishnamurti. Ramana said that effort such as meditation is
>  and no one can realize the Self effortlessly. Even if someone
>  it with doing anything, that person should be assumed to have
>  undergone some practice of "chitta-shuddhi" in his previous life.
>  same applies in Ramana's own case. He must have studied Vedanta in
>  previous life.

He has said so directly. Giri posted that quote sometime back. It's
impossible otherwise.

BTW, I consider Ramana's teachings and sha.nkaras to be identical. But
I would caution using the "Talks with RM" or any such book like some
scripture and hope quotations from that override everything. This is a
judeo-christian mentality and cannot fit in with the exegetical
methods of vedAnta. I am not denigrating any religion here, but the
fact is that the methods and approach of the vedAnta and the
judeo-christian traditions are  poles apart. That's the bottomline.
People are free to choose what they please, but then adherence to
vedAnta cannot be claimed.

Further, there's no absolute unanimity among even some of RMs
disciples on what he taught. Take for example the books
sad-darshana-bhAshhya and mahAyoga, both published by the Ramansahram.
They were published even when Ramana was alive, both by Ramanas
"disciples". The former book is hardly advaita. The latter adheres to
shA.nkara vedAnta and actually criticizes the previous book
explicitly! Someone has actually asked Ramana Maharshi about this,
it's there in the Talks. Vaidyas comments on disciple's transcriptions
were right on target. Arthur Osborne has also made many statements
which are in *direct conflict* with some statements in the Talks. He
has made many "editorial" comments in the "Mountain Path" which
clearly show that he has not understood what chitta shuddhi means and
keeps misinterpreting such simple things.


bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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