Reason, Faith & Experience.

S. V. Subrahmanian svs_shankara at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Jun 27 14:09:31 CDT 2000

Shri Jaldharji, Shri VidyaShankarji, (and Shri Daveji),

What I am writing below is a collective response to some of
the threads(questions) I and others initiated and received explanations,
clarifications and corrections from you.  I understand the
intent of  your answers, but I would be lying if I said that
I am fully satisfied with the content.  I am not appalled or
frustrated, but somehow the feeling of complete satisfaction
of having solved a riddle does not arise in me.  The following
threads have been kept in mind when writing this mail:

1.  SrArdham
2.  Is gitA an Upanishad
3.  Kathopanishad
4.  Introducing new member Taina K...,

I have also been reading what Shri Anandji, Shri Nandaji and
Shri Ramakrishnanji have been writing on various topics.

As I am writing below I may sound a bit harsh, but please be
assured that that is not the intention.  I come from a family
that have honoured the Shankaracharya of Kanchi (former) in
a very personal way and have firm faith in God in a form
handed down by traditions.  I have lived not perfectly but
to some extent upto what has been handed down, but I am
not satisfied with the progress and hence am attempting to
know more about the process of sadhana, so that one can
"manage the process" better (allusion to Shri Jaldharji's
reference to arduous _directed_ effort in thread4 above).

The very purpose of the site that you have put up states that
a group of people (most of you included) are doing research
to understand Vedanta.  Research implies analysis and reasoning
which may or may not lead to a conclusion.  Here comes the
rub, when do you analyse and when do you accept in faith.

I see a lot of arguments in the list, fine, great.  Now here
we have some who are trying to reason out, but when you
read the answers, we are not really reasoning till the end.
We abruptly switch to faith.

For eg., Shri VidyaShankarji's reply:
 >that every utterance of a God-realized person is really Shruti for one who
 >is one with God, there is no separate identity, in which case when he
 >God speaks, which for the hearers is Shruti.  Does it work that way ??

Not directly.  (WHY NOT ?)

or for that matter Shri Jaldharji reply (to Shraardham):

(paraphrasing)...Those who do not have the true spirit of
sanyasa should perform all nitya karma enjoined by scriptures.
End of story. (WHY ?)

Shri Daveji's clarification about the 5 gods(things) mentioned
in Kathopanishad
(paraphrasing)...They are awarers at different levels. (WELL ?)

All these answers have one fundamental thing in common, faith in
the words of Acharyas.  Without that one does not seem to be
getting anywhere in your answers.  The above are clearly prescriptions
to be followed by devout followers.  May be that is the way to
go, I don't know.  But that leads to the main topic :

When do you employ reason to understand Divinity (please substitute
appropriate terms brahmavidya, atmajnana, nirvana ... help yourselves).

How long do you employ reason ?  Can divinity ever be attained by
sheer reasoning (the answer for this part, I am expecting is no) ?
Can divinity be attained only by faith and with no reason.

What is faith ?  If it is belief without proof, clearly it is beyond
the realm of the mind.  Where does it reside ?  How is it created ?
How is it fostered ?  I am not asking for the steps involved for
I know that 6 billion people with 6 billion steps.  But what is
the process ?

How does one get faith in an Acharya ?  Again if you give karma as
the answer you are taking me beyond the realm of senses and mind.
If that is the case then why bother with reason at all.  Discard it
on day one of your sadhana and blindly accept somebody as the Guru
and go ahead (whereever it leads you).  But I am sure one of you
is going to say, but you have to use your God given faculty of reason
and find the right path, person etc.....So,

How long should I use reason ?  Is there a systematic sequence
where I can say, I have to understand so much with my reason,
then discard it and place faith and then do something.....
Does any of the Acharyas (specifically Shankara) take a disciple
step by step in the process of understanding from zero to reason
to faith to experience.  I am aware of Vivekachoodamani, but that
also needs faith for within the first few pages you come across
the need for viveka, vairagya, shad-sampatti and mumukshu.

But there is no explanation as to why these are needed ?  All your
replies have an in-built feature in them - faith in Shastras and
Acharyas.  Right ?  For eg., Ratnakara chanted 'Ram' with faith,
he became Rishi Valmiki who foresaw the entire Ramayana.  Great,
but he seemed to have no use for reason.  What caused the
transformation.  How ?  What is the process ?

Another line of thought is that all of you have accepted the
Acharyas, fine.  Good.  But there also seems a be stagnation in
its acceptance (tamasic propensity).  I personally have max. faith
in God-realized persons more than Shastras (to me words  of
Shri Ramakrishna and his likes weigh much higher than what is in the

Why do we have to accept the Shastras in toto ?  Let us take
Manusmriti.  Though there are umpteen references to Manu having
conversed with gods, I don't recollect having read anywhere that
Manu was a God-realized person (or god or whatever).  So why
should we accept it.  Or for that matter other Shastras.  People
take Varahamihira's brihat jataka as a classic of jyotish text,
but was he a realized master, may not be.  If all these people
are not god-realized, but only wiser than we are, then it is
quite possible that they could have made a mistake.  His system
has failed in the current age.  Was not the system failure
tolerant, in which case it was not robust.

We are not even contemplating a possible scenario that these
people could be wrong.  For eg., How come Manu missed forseeing
the misuse of varna system ?  How come Manu missed forseeing
the gender-polarized socities of future generations.  When we
see these things we get an impression, he was just a wise man,
who gave better prescriptions of social life than others
during his time.  But what about now ?  Can't we revisit them,
alter them ?  I know your answers (NO!), but why ???

I will continue in my next posting about the 3rd
confounding word - experience.  These 3 words are giving me
sleepless nights (reason, faith and experience).

Thanks for your patience.


Shri VidyaShankarji wrote:
I think in today's times, many God-realized souls would be thinking,
"why throw pearls before swine?"

Would yo think about your children like that ?  If you cannot,
how can a God-realized Master in his infinite compassion think so ?
You can be true in anything, but most certainly you are wrong
in the above.

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