Antiquity of Advaita Vedanta (was Re: An Open Letter to All)

Ram Chandran ramvchandran at JUNO.COM
Fri May 19 14:34:30 CDT 2000

Hari Om Nandaji:

nanda chandran <vpcnk at HOTMAIL.COM> writes:

When even Advaitins find it difficult to understand the highly abstract
concept of MAyA, how can we expect those who do not even pursue the jnAna
mArga to understand it?
It doesn't surprise me why Advaitins find the concept of mAyA to be
First, we are honest to admit our difficulty and more important, we
recognize the fact that understanding mAyA and realizing the Brahman is
synonymous. Consequently, we believe (correctly from the Advaitic point of
view) that mAyA will disappear with the appearance of Wisdom (Viveka).  The
non-advaitins refuse to believe that their ignorance is the cause for the
spell of  mAyA.

The people that we come across in our life can be categorized as follows:
Those who recognize their ignorance;
those who seek others  to remove their ignorance;
and those who believe that they have the full wisdom and completely  ignore
their ignorance.

Those who do not fall into jnAna mArga fall into this third category and
consequently they have misunderstood Advaita and also mAyA!

I only said that the end of both the schools is the same. Though not
absolutist even many of the other schools affirm that the end is infinite
peace. So are all the schools the same?

We have no means to make any prediction about the "end" and how can we be
sure that the end is the same?  Conceptually, how do we define ‘peace,'
‘happiness,' etc., According to the Vedas, it is beyond our intellect.  This
statement is quite fundamental and essential to make everything consistent.
The statement "Truth is a pathless land" made by JK is quite accurate.  It
does not mean that all paths necessarily lead to the same goal. What it says
is that we have to have an open mind in the pursuit of Truth. We have to
leave dogmatism if the goal is just the Truth.
No religion is free from dogmatism and  violence did play a significant role
in its establishment protection. If we go back and trace all the religions,
we can gather enough evidence to support this contention.

The Vedic religion has undergone many changes from its inception. Vedavyasa
was a great reformer and he condemned rituals conducted for ‘selfish goal.'
He propagated his reforms through Gita and also through Mahabharat.  Later
Shankara reinforced Vedavyasa through Advaita.  No one ever said that
everything was perfect in the Vedic Religion. Also Hindus were not prepared
to abandon the Vedas in order to accommodate Buddhism.

I feel quite uncomfortable in making comparisons between religions because
it will be just an intellectual exercise.  Some will agree, some will
disagree with all such comparisons.  Once again, we get into personal
preferences, beliefs and convictions and it is very difficult to avoid
during any such comparisons.  In my profession, I am obligated to evaluate
"Econometric Models" which are developed using different assumptions
(equivalent to beliefs) and different frameworks (religions). In these
comparisons, I find advantages and disadvantages of different models at
different points of time for different culture and environment.  These
exercises that I undertake give my intellect a chance to prove its worth.
However that the issues that we are dealing while comparing religions go
beyond an intellectual exercise!  Consequently, I have to be humble and
admit my inability to make a judgement!


Ram Chandran

bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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