[Advaita-l] Idea of Namaskaram

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Tue Dec 21 13:00:24 CST 2004

--- Navin Rajaram <navinr at moschip.com> wrote:

> Hari Om,
> Shankara notes the above verse of Gautama in his GItA BhAshhya
> 5.18-19
> and explains that it is referring to those who are filled with
> conceit
> and are offended when treated equally along with those they perceive
> to
> be inferior. Therefore, one ought not to show equal respect to all
> jIvas when in the presence of those who possess conceit, but
> otherwise,
> one may show equal respect to all living beings.
> Kartik, could you kindly elaborate on why one ought not to show equal
> respect to all jIvas when in the presence of conceitful people? Is it
> the actual presence of such people that will sully the respect shown?
> Should we not show equal respect to all jIvas(without assuming higher
> moral ground) inspite of their blatant limitations as individuals ?

Anywhere anytime anyone is respected, the recipient of that respect is
Ishvara only. It is a fundamental mistake to assume that there is an
ego aside from the Ishvara that enjoys the honor. Note that the verse
from the jIvanmuktiviveka is talking about respecting all jIvas as
*representations of the Ishvara*, not the outward forms of the jIvas. 

However, there are problems when unequals are treated as equals in any
society. It may not be that there exists a special "conceit" in people
occupying high positions, but only that the position the person
occupies is to be respected. For example, when one honors an
individual's achievements, one ought to applaud that achievement and
treat the individual with special honor. In this case, treating them as
equal to dogs is a grave sin, and not to be tolerated. Similarly, a man
convicted of a crime ought to be punished, and there is no harm in
treating him with severity as a convicted criminal deserves. Treating
him as equal to an innocent man is simply wrong. These are false ideas
of equality, and is the "tumult" being referred to in the

There are examples among great people who treat everyone as equal, but
still show such special respect for the position occupied by a
particular person when it is required. Ramana Maharshi has said that he
sees everyone as equal, yet he asked for a special seat for the Puri
Shankaracharya when the latter came to visit Ramanasramam, saying that
the "position of a Shankaracharya is to be respected." The
Shankaracharya, in turn, denied the special seat, since he saw everyone
as equal before RM.

Of course, if the person who is being awarded respect imagines that it
is his or her ego that commands the respect instead of the Ishvara,
they are making a mistake. This may be the "conceit" that Shankara is
referring to in his BhAshhya on BG 5.18-19.

There are always instances when everyone in the society can be shown
respect, and these are the instances that are pointed out in the

> Hari Om,
> Navin

My 2 cents,


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