discussions on advaita

Subrahmanian, Sundararaman V [IT] sundararaman.v.subrahmanian at CITIGROUP.COM
Thu Oct 24 15:50:39 CDT 2002

Dear Sri Vaidya Sundaram,

Thank you for highlighting this.

> We need all types of knowledge). I think all of us would
> immensely benefit
> by constant repeating to ourselves this as if it were a mantra!

While I appreciate the spirit with which you say I am afraid that it might
not help.  The reason being that what paramaachaaryaH has expressed is not
an emotional sentiment of compassion but something that requires
understanding.  It is important to "understand" how advaita is able to
accept all other theories and still remain vindicated and not negated.  And
for somebody to say so, one has to know advaita very well.  The statement
was the culmination of deep/proper understanding.  If we have to feel the
way paramaachaaryaH feels, then we should understand advaita as well as He

While on this topic, I would like to narrate a small conversation I had with
Swami Dayananda Sarasvati which might be an interesting read to some.
Below, the Q is myself and A is Swamiji.

Q:  Swamiji, While you teach Vedanta in your institutions can you also teach
nyaaya and mimaamsa also?

A:  By mimaamsa you mean poorva mimaamsa?  Uttara mimaamsa is already being
taught (refering to brahmasutra classes held by Him frequently).  Regarding
nyaaya, it is a very difficult subject.  It will take years for me to train
somebody in nyaaya.  After all the efforts, I will have to negate it ie.,
prove to him that nyaaya falls short and that it cannot reveal the Truth.
[Another Swamiji added:  we won't have anybody in the class, at the most one
or two people turn up for such classes].  Some nyaaya is needed to
understand Vedanta.  But that much of logical thinking is obtained from
modern education (meaning regular school/college education).  The logic
obtained from regular science and math subjects is enough preparation to
handle the requirements of logical thinking in Vedanta. [The thread on
poorva mimaamsa was lost in the conversation].

Q:  Swamiji, but won't it be necessary to read texts like advaita siddhi etc
and for that isn't nyaaya necessary.  Can't we have classes on advaita
siddhi etc?

A:  Texts like advaita siddhi was written primarily to handle poorva
pakshis.  Those objections don't exist these days.  It is enough if you
understand Shankara.  Stick to Shankara.  Even the Tiikaas, I will recommend
only if you have doubts in understanding Shankara.  If you can understand
Shankara, you don't need other texts.  [Another Swamiji chipped in and said
that they were planning to teach brahmasutra beyond the chathushrii].  The
first four suutraas are enough to understand Vedanta.  You can read the rest
if you want to continue reading "within the context" (ie., to spend time
thinking on surrounding topics, instead of straying here and there).  But
the first four is important for understanding Vedanta.

Q:  Swamiji, does the word mityaa ever occur in the Upanishads?  How come a
term as important and central to Sri Shankara's exposition does not find
mention in the Upanishads?

A:  The word "iva" (as though existing) should be taken as meaning mityaa.
The whole of Vedanta can be summarized in the word "iva".  There are various
verses in the upaniShads that indicate the meaning mityaa.  We don't have to
have the exact same word, but the idea is there.  "vaachaarambaNam vikaaro
naamadheyam" etc. - all these should be taken as mityaa...

... at this point the conversation had to end as there were other claimants
to His attention.


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