Shankaracharya on Ramana Maharshi

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Thu Apr 11 10:09:51 CDT 2002

On Tue, 9 Apr 2002, hbdave wrote:

> Yes, you are right, but I think we should have a well thought out,
> comprehensive plan for this "highjacking" of things Indian. While doing
> so, instead of dividing ourselves in very narrow groups, search out
> common ideas and work together. Keeping the essential character of
> Indian approach to religious, spiritual and philosophical matters, like
> openness, tolerence, etc. we can still insist on certain minimum
> adherence to tradition and fundamental concepts. I do not know who will
> do this or how we can do this. Perhaps other list members have something
> to say.

The first thing we need to do is to start being honest with ourselves.
How many so-called Advaitins misrepresent the teachings of Advaita Vedanta
to fit their own pet theories?  Perhaps they have their reasons but the
problem is once you become a liar you lose the moral authority to
criticize anyone else for lying.  And you encourage cynicism.  Right now
in the US, the Roman Catholic church is the midst of big scandal and while
people like my neighbors are not suddenly about to leave their faith, it
has badly tarnished the image of religion in their eyes.  In Indian
culture there is still a tremendous amount of respect for religion but if
pepole persist in trying to peddle fantasies, the growing number
of educated people will lose respect.

Second we need to become more educated ourselves.  Don't get me wrong,
through this list I've met many wonderful people who despite not being of
Indian origin have had a sincere interest in our philosophy, but I've also
come across many of these "new age" types and it has been my observation
that they are only really interested in exotica and "experiences".  If
they expressed their weird ideas in terms of Christianity no one would
give them the time of day because whether they believe it or not everyone
in the Western world knows what Christianity does and doesn't stand for.
But if you wrap it up in some mumbo-jumbo from the "mystic orient" then
noone can say anything.  There are an estimated one million Indian
immigrants in America.  Even allowing for the fact many of those are not
Hindus, that's still a lot of people.  If they demonstrate, not in the
lecture hall but in daily life, what Hindism really stands for, people
like this Cohen will be unable to maintain their charade.

> I am quite innocent in such matters, but, for example, can a group, properly
> consituted, copy-right the word "Advaita"?

The word Advaita is public domain so that would be impossible.  Also how
would it be maintained?  With an army of special lawyers?

> Can our dharmacharyas, e.g.
> Shankaracharyas,  announce exactly what is (and what is not) Advaita Vedanta?
> Or, some kind of "Open University" where a Vedantin can establish his/her
> capability and credentials by say, submitting a Dissertation (in the old
> tradition
> of PrasthanaTrayii)?

That's top-down thinking.  The problem is not with the acharyas and other
experts.  They are teaching the truth.  But who is listening?

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>
It's a girl! See the pictures -

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