Statements in our shastras

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Mon Mar 24 08:29:35 CST 2003

On Thu, 13 Mar 2003, Bhadraiah Mallampalli wrote:

> Sri Adi Sankara was also a reformer-type like Sri Dayanada Saraswati,

By that standard we should also consider Mahmud of Ghazni a "Hindu reformer"
as he was also opposed to Shiva lingams.

> but with a difference. The former silenced all his contemporaries before
> he got down to reform, whereas the latter didn't. There were many among
> Hindus who opposed Dayanada's reforms.

The latter couldn't have because he was in an entirely different
conversation.  More than any particular idea of theirs, it is the deceit
which I detest in the reformers.  In order to justify their untenable
ideas, they are forced to lie to others and ultimately to themselves.  Is
it any wonder such movements are unstable and quickly collapse?

The genius of someone like Shankaracharya is displayed in the way he
transformed rather than reformed.  Take for example this issue for
rituals.  From early times, there were misgivings about the meaning of the
yajna.  One needn't assume that such speculations were always radical
revolutionary attempts to overthrow "the system" rather they arose from
the logic of ritual philosophy itself.  If desires lead to acts which
lead to more desires, when is the cycle ever complete?  The so-called
Shramanic movements were an attempt to answer that.  Although the term is
associated with nastika philosophies, it is not necessarily so.  In e.g.
the samkhyakarikas you can also find anti-ritual sentiments.

The problem with these movements is that while a good solution for
solitary or small groups of monks, they didn't recognise the needs of
society as a whole.  To rebel is easy but to make it stick is another
thing altogether.  Take the medieval Sant Kabir.  Illiterate and hailing
from a caste of weavers only recently converted to Islam, his was a simple
philosophy of direct encounter with God.  In his poetry there are many
sarcastic observations about both the Hindu and Muslim establishment of
the day.  Now today he is widely recognized as a saint in Northern India,
people do arti to his picture and study his vani and there is a Kabir
pantha with temples.  Doesn't time play wonderful tricks?!  The man who
had no use for rituals, and scriptures, and organized religion, now has
rituals, and scriptures, and an organized religion!  But one shouldn't be
dismayed.  We have to accept that his is just human nature.  Anyone who
thinks they can fight it is merely mouthing slogans.

Due to the able efforts of Kumarila Bhatta, Mandana Mishra etc.  the
anti-social tendencies of the shramanic ideologies were dealt a decisive
blow But in the process, Vedic society had swung to the other extreme and
denied the role of jnana altogether.  Shankaracharyas' most important
legacy is the way he harmonized the relationship between karma and jnana.
Like the Shramanas he taught the supremacy of the quest for jnana above
all other human endeavors but he gave a place to those who for whatever
reason were incapable of it.

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

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