Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Sun Jun 18 02:45:09 CDT 2000

On Sat, 17 Jun 2000, T Swaminarayan wrote:

> A very relevent question especially in these days where literate
> people who are actually neither adept nor knowledgable in the shastras
> are acatually dangling between karma and gyana .

A very bad state of affairs.  Shankaracharya and his successors completely
denounce the idea that karma and jnana can be mixed.

> In these days where
> the shastrigals are also out to only fleece the poor householders
> (like us) by seeing to it that they part with quite a sum in the name
> of shrardham for ancestors and take away all the danams to their own
> homes without even sharing the "booty" with their fellow shastrigals
> who come with them to perform the rituals,we wonder whether we should
> continue this shrardham at all .

It seems to me if the householders were that poor they wouldn't be chasing
money to the ends of the earth.  If we are getting richer and richer why
quibble over giving the learned scholars their due?  If we allow colleges
(Harvard for instance has a billion dollar endowment yet charges the
highest fees of any educational institution.  There education is good but
not that good,) governments (do you think every penny you pay in taxes is
properly spent?), and businesses to "fleece" us (what is the profit motive
if not "fleecing"?) why should anyone all of a sudden get worked up about
the relatively modest demands of some shastri?  Take a look at the
situation in Northern India.  For one reason or another they did not
support their scholar and has it made them better or more educated?  The
opposite in fact.  South Indians should thank God every day that your
Pandits are economically sound enough to continue and foster our ancient
traditions.  I'm not suggesting there aren't con men but the best way to
handle them is to not let them have the upper hand.  A local clothing
store has the slogan "An educated consumer is our best customer."  This
adage is doubly true in spiritual matters.  But insisting that shastris
should somehow exempt themselves from normal economics is an invitation to

> We are told that the time cycle for
> the departed souls is different than for humans.For our dead
> ancestors, our one year is equal to their one day and that is why we
> have this ritual of offering the pinda (rice ball) annam as a day's
> meal for them every year.I asked my shastrigal as to why all my
> brothers who are at different cities should perform this act of
> feeding the same individual's soul from different places on the same
> day and will that not amount to overfeeding the poor departed one for
> which I have yet to get a convincing answer!

First of all it is not the soul (which needs no feeding) but the bodies of
the pitrs which need to be fed.  Your question is a variant of one which
is asked in the Mimamsa shastra (and discussed in the Brahmasutras too I
think.)  If we accept that a particular God will be present in a yajna to
accept the offerings, how is it possible for someone to perform a yajna to
let's say Indra in place A and for someone in place B to do so at the same
time.  Indra cannot be in two places at once can he?  The answer given if
I recall correctly is that we should not assume the Gods have the
restriction of mortals.  Indra can take up two bodies and be in A and B at
the same time.  The main function the Gods is to accept offerings.
Extrapolating from this, what is to prevent the Pitrs from being in
multiple places at the same time to receive the offering which is their
main function?

>From the Vedantic point of view karma should be given up completely, no
ifs or buts.  If for some reason it cannot, it cannot be practised
half-heartedly.  It must be performed diligently with no interest in loss
or reward and be offered as a sacrifice to Bhagawan.

> We will end up in talking about Nitya karma and being hindus we have
> to then debate whether we should remain in the karma portion of the
> Vedas or whether we should proceed into advaitic thoughts and start
> analysing the pros and cons of it all!

Given the Advaita position as outlined above where is the room for
debate?  Either take sannyasa or follow your Dharma diligently.  These ae
the only two choices.

> We all have to look for advice from venerable persons and as far as I
> am concerned the search is still on----------------------.
> Coming to the subject of finding a proper guru I am looking for a
> Brahmanishti . Is it not proclaimed like this in our scriptures:
> Shravanayapi bahubhiryo na labhyaha
> Shrunvantopi bahuvo yam na vidyuhu
> Ascharyo vakta kushalosya labdha
> Ascharyo gyatha kushalanu shishyaha!
> Hari Om!
> Swaminarayan.

I certainly don't want to dissuade you from your quest but in the meantime
you should not stand still.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>

bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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