Statements in our shastras

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Wed Mar 5 14:33:36 CST 2003

On Tue, 4 Mar 2003, ravi chandrasekhara wrote:

> Dear Members,
> Thank you for the responses to my questions.  I can
> "deal" with shastras stating considering women as
> flesh, etc to develop vairagya or even "considering
> vedic sacrifices as useless" compared to one seeking
> moksha.  But to see a statement of pouring metal into
> a Sudra's ear is contradictory to our morals.

You say "our morals" as if it was crystal clear what that was.  You imply
that statements uncomplimentary to women are not so important.  Do  you
see that e.g. our female members might have a problem with your
priorities?  Therein lies the problem.  What we call "our morality" is
based largely on our personal prejudices.  It seems so simple to say "let
conscience be your guide" but conscience is the easiest thing in the
world to subvert.  Look at the countless historical examples of this.

There is a similiar argument in the Brahmasutras.  An objector says the
Somayajnas mentioned in the Vedas are immoral because they involve animal
sacrifice and non-violence is th rule.  Shankaracharyas' reply is on what
basis do you think non-violence is the rule?  Because it is said in the
Vedas?  If you believe the command against violence is authoritative then
why not the commands to sacrifice?  If the sacrifices are not binding then
why not ahimsa?  If you believe one part of the Vedas is worth more than
another, on what basis?  You are admitting that the source of your
morality isn't based on the Vedas at all then why  even bring them into the
picture?  The correct answer is that non-violence is the general rule but
there are specific exceptions when it is considered acceptable.

As Astikas, the Shruti, Smrti, and the conduct of the wise is the basis of
our morality.  When these appear to be in conflict we can and should try
and use our divine gift of reason to fathom the correct course of action.
But if reasoning is to be valid it has to have an objective basis not the
subjective capacity of what individuals can "deal" with.

> Another qustion I have is about non dvijas not being
> being taught Vedas.  Does it apply also to sanyasis of
> non-dvija background ? (that is their purva ashrama)
> For example, Swami Chinmayananda was of the Nayar
> caste in Kerala (which belongs to the Sudra varna) and
> he gave discourses on Upanishads.  Are upanishads
> limited to sanyasis of dvija background only or
> available to all ?

No.  Upanishads being Shruti are subject to the same restrictions as other
portions.  However there are other extenuating factors which make this
issue more murky.

1. Sannyasis are beyond the notions of caste, gender etc.  That's why
   Advaitin monks stop wearing shikha, yajnopavita etc.

2. The goal of Advaita Vedanta jnana is not "caused" by knowledge of the
   upanishads or any other worldly means.

3. Teaching is a worldly activity and Sannyasis are supposed to renounce
   all worldly activities.

4. But on the other hand, Sannyasis should speak of Brahman.  In fact that
   is _all_ they should speak about.

5. Is a translation or paraphrase of an Upanishad equivalent to chanting
   it in the original Sanskrit?

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

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