Relationship of Advaita Vedanta to other religions

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at YAHOO.COM
Thu Jul 11 09:47:23 CDT 2002

--- "Jaldhar H. Vyas" <jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM> wrote:


> One thing that should be emphasized about
> Shankaracharya is he does very
> much care about religious externals as well as
> internals.  The Mar Thoma
> Christian sect was established in Kerela by an early
> date.  If we accept
> 788-820 as dates for Shankaracharyas' life, it is
> quite conceivable that
> he knew of Christians as well as Jews (also
> well-established by that time)
> and perhaps Muslims.  Yet there is no mention of
> them anywhere in his
> works.  Shankaracharya viws himself as simply being
> the latest in a line
> of interpreters of the Vedic religion.  He allows a
> measure of diversity
> in its' forms but where non-Vedic religions are
> mentioned (Buddhism,
> Jainism and even "Hindu" sects such as Bhagavatas,
> Samkhya/Yoga etc.) it
> is in a negative way.  He may allow some utility to
> the atleast partially
> astika ones and some have argued that
> Gaudapadacharya is somewhat
> sympathatic to Buddhism but all in all the view of
> the Advaita acharyas is
> that all these religions are inferior to the Vedic
> religion which is best
> interpreted by Advaita Vedanta.

There was a discussion sometime ago in this list,
around the first week of April, 2000, about Ramana
Maharshi's interpretation of certain Biblical verses.

As I've begun reading "Talks" again, I notice that RM
is more than sympathetic towards the Bible. In fact,
he freely quotes it as scripture, treating it on par
with the Upanishads. Here's an extract that you might
find interesting:

" 'I am' is the name of God. Of all the definitions of
God, none is indeed so well put as the Biblical
statement 'I am that I am' in Exodus (Chapter 3).
There are other statements, such as Brahmivaham, Aham
Brahmasmi, and Soham. But none is so direct as the
name Jehovah which means 'I am'. "

When one of RM's Christian devotees had to leave
Ramanasramam because his church had warned him that he
would not be accepted any more into the Christian
fold, RM said that the devotee was already realizing
the essence of Christianity by being at Ramanasramam.

Later, he said that Christ-consciousness was the same
as Self-realization, and that it required a mature
mind to grasp the real meaning of Christianity.



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>From  Thu Jul 11 09:15:03 2002
Message-Id: <THU.11.JUL.2002.091503.0700.>
Date: Thu, 11 Jul 2002 09:15:03 -0700
Reply-To: venky at
To: List for advaita vedanta as taught by Shri Shankara
From: "Venkatesh ." <venky at OREKA.COM>
Subject: Weekly page from Hindu Dharma: No Concept of God in Mimamsa

This week's page from Hindu Dharma (see note at bottom) is "No Concept of God in Mimamsa" from "Mimamasa - Karmamarga". The original page can be found at

Next week, you will be emailed "Nyaya and Mimamsa :They brought about the Decline of Buddhism" (from "Mimamasa - Karmamarga")

Best regards

(this email is being sent on an automated basis)

No Concept of God in Mimamsa
from Mimamasa - Karmamarga, Hindu Dharma

      Why should the Acarya have sought a debate with Mandanamisra, the mimamsaka? ( A mimamsaka is an adherent of Purvamimamsa. We Uttaramimamsakas are called "Vedantins". ) The Acarya it was who revivified the Vedic religion and re-established it on a firm footing. Why, then, should such a preceptor have been critical of Mimamsa which is an Upanga of the very Vedas we prompted?

 Before answering this question, we must consider the goal of any sastra or system, whether it be Mimamsa or anything else. Any discipline, to repeat what I said before, must have the ultimate purpose of leading us towards Isvara. I further observed that even subjects like grammar, lexicography, prosody had such an end in view and that was the reason why they were included among the fourteen branches of Vedic learning. Now what is the concept of God like in Purvamimamsa?

 We must here consider how Vedanta or Uttaramimamsa views God, for it is the system to which is the Acarya gave his whole-hearted support and which he also commented upon. After all, it is the Acarya who chiefly matters to us. And to him it is that Vyasa's Brahmasutra matters most. What does this text have to say about Isvara?

 The Brahmasutra declares : "Karta sastrarthavattvat. " It means Isvara is the creator of the cosmos. Even adherents of other religions call God " Karta ". But Isvara is more than a Karta and has one more function. We do good and bad - good actions and bad actions. It is Isvara who vouchsafes us the fruits of such actions: "Phalam ata upapatteh". Isvara is the "phaladata" (giver of the fruits of our actions) of our karma. We do good and evil with our mind, speech and body. The lord is witness to all this and he dispenses the fruits of our actions. These are the two characteristics (laksanas) of Isvara according to Uttaramimamsa.

 What does Purvamimamsa say about Isvara?

 Both Sankhyas and mimamsakas belong to the Vedic system. But the Sankhyas believe that Isvara is not the Karta or author of the jagat (universe). "Isvara is pure knowledge, jnana, " they say. "This cosmos is insentient, made of earth and stone. What constitutes jnana cannot be the cause of insentient matter. To believe that Isvara is the author of the universe is not right. "Such is the Sankhya view. Supporters of Sankhya describe Isvara, who unattached to the universe and is pure jnana, as "Purusa". It is this Purusa that our Acarya calls the ultimate "Nirguna-Brahman" (the Brahman without attributes). However, he criticises the Sankhya concept maintaining that the Nirguna-Brahman itself becomes the Saguna-Brahman of Isvara to create the world and to engage itself in other activities.

 To mimamsakas only such rites matter as are enjoined on us by the Vedas. They are silent on the question of Isvara and of who created the world. However they are emphatic on one point - that Isvara is not the one who dispenses the fruits of our actions. They don't quarrel on the point of whether or not Isvara is the Karta of the universe. They declare : "It is wrong to claim that Isvara gives us the fruits of our actions according to whether they are good or evil. He is not the one who metes out the fruits of our actions. It is the Vedic works performed by us that decide the fruits to be earned by us. "

 So adherents of both Sankhya and Mimamsa, in their different ways, reject the view of the Vedas and the Brahmasutra that Isvara possesses the two laksanas mentioned earlier). The mimamsakas believe that Isvara doesn't dispense the fruits of our actions because, according to them, the Vedic works we perform give rewards on their own. We earn merit or demerit according to how the Vedas and sastras view our actions. So it is our karma that brings its rewards or retribution, as the case may be, not Isvara.

 Among the religious systems that accept the Vedas, Sankhyas and Mimamsa alone hold the view that Isvara is not the creator of the world, that he does not award the fruits of our actions.

Hindu Dharma is a translation of two volumes of the well known Tamil Book "Deivatthin Kural", which, in turn, is a book of 6 volumes that contains talks of His Holiness Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Mahaswamiji of Kanchipuram. The entire book is available online at .

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