foreign travel by a sanyasin (forwarded message)

Sankaran Jayanarayanan kartik at ECE.UTEXAS.EDU
Thu Feb 10 18:11:53 CST 2000

On Thu, 10 Feb 2000, Vidyasankar Sundaresan wrote:


> 1. That one should live in the region where the black antelope roams freely
> was never a limiting factor even a thousand years ago. In India, this animal
> is not found in the southern peninsula, nor in the Himalayan region. A
> little reflection will show us that at the time texts like Manusmriti were
> written, the most eminent brAhmaNas lived in what is called Aryavarta. In
> later times, brAhmaNas came south at the invitation of southern kings, and
> east into Indo-China. If an independent Smriti text had been written in the
> 14th century, only southern India would have qualified as the place where
> the best brAhmaNas lived. Nowadays, people have moved everywhere in the
> globe. The motivation of each individual person is different, but that is
> the complexity of life.

I want to know more about this. In most of the dharmashAstras I've read,
Aryavarta is mentioned as the best place for enquiry into the nature of
dharma. But are you trying to imply that this is because there were no
BrAhmaNas in the south to begin with, and that the ones presently settled
in the south are all descendents of those who migrated from the north?
Is there any other evidence for this theory?

> 2. I know that our Sringeri Sankaracharya will not travel overseas. However,
> it would be better to directly ask for his opinion about it, rather than
> second-guessing it.

But there does seem to be a conviction on your part that he wouldn't :-)

> 3. Swami Bharati Krishna Tirtha, who was Sankaracharya of Puri from
> 1925-1960, had first spent eight years as a vidyArthI at Sringeri, and
> studied directly under Swami Saccidananda Sivabhinava Narasimha Bharati,
> before he became a Sannyasin. I'm sure he was aware of all the Dharmasastra
> texts, and in a much more comprehensive manner than any of us on this list.
> If he made a trip outside India, for what he estimated to be a Dharmic
> reason, I don't think we have much right to judge that.

I didn't say anything about sannyaasis when I first started this topic. I
only to know whether or not it is the practice of orthodox BrAhmaNas to
perform a rite of penance after a trip abroad. IMO, this is still pretty
much the case. I sincerely doubt if the Sringeri AchArya would say that
this is not required. This is also part of shishhTAchAra.

> 4. This takes us back to point 1 above. Granted that the notion of India
> being the Karmabhumi and Punyabhumi has much strength behind it, but we
> should also ask what it is that makes it so. Clearly, no one place is
> intrinsically more sacred or less sacred than any other place on this earth.
> What distinguishes a particular place is the character of its people and its
> leaders.

I guess you must have also included the people who lived in the past.
RamaNa has said that anyone (even if he be an athiest?) who lives
in the aruNAchala mountain will get enlightenment (Rama said so in an old
posting). This may be because a GYAni like RamaNa had lived there. But
this is a fact -- that the place aruNAchala has special sanctity.

It is precisely in this sense that India is a puNya-bhuumi. It has had the
privilege of being home to many saints, and Shankara has travelled all
over its many kingdoms during his time. There is a great sanctity
associated with the country.

> Vidyasankar


bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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