[Advaita-l] RE: Advaita-l Digest, Vol 36, Issue 17

Siva Senani Nori sivasenani at yahoo.com
Wed Apr 19 02:08:00 CDT 2006

Vidyasankar Sundaresan <svidyasankar at hotmail.com> wrote:
  >Yes, it is nuanced and I would draw attention to yet other nuances in the 

>Notice the intriguing word svabhAva in Sankara's bhAshya - has relevance to 
>modern debates on varNa and jAti based on svabhAva. Also, the commentary 
  >This puts an entirely new light on what is meant by "varNa by birth". I 

  I am inclined to read similar meaning into the commentary, and feel that somebody like Swami Dayananda (Disclosure: I am NOT an Arya Samaji or a sympathizer, except in the broadest sense) would develop such a line more forcefully - with etymology and all that.
  However what struck me was that both the original drashta and hence[?], the reverred commentator put such a construct ('ok, never mind we dont know your origins, but ah! your behaviour reveals it perfectly') in stead of a much simpler one (and more in line with contemporary thoughts) of 'Never mind your origins, you have genuine quest for truth, and that will suffice'. 
  Of course, one major difference between modern philosophers and the vedic ones is that the latter were more responsible in the sense they preached theory after considering the practical aspects. From Plato to Lenin, and to today's neo-cons in Iraq, thought is happily divorced from the practical aspects of its implementation - with disastrous results. From that point of view, it is easy to understand why existing order had to be upheld, and of course the progressive elements of the society were accomodated. In fact, my respect for, and attempt to understand and internalise, the orthodox point of view is, amongst others, due to this 'responsibility' of the orthodoxy, so unlike the radical thinkers. 
  While on the topic, a good treatment of the 'changing' dharma can be seen in Sri Kashinath Tryambak Teling's introduction to the translation of Bhagavad Gita (Oxford Press, Sacred Books of the East series) where he discusses the change of brAhamaNa's duties from the Upanishads to Gita to Uttara Gita to the various dharmaSAstras to AshtAvakra Gita. According to him, the original 'desire-to-know-brahman' definition of a brAhmAN has seen elaboration of temporal duties with the famous 6 duties being added, and then gradually emphasis shifted on to the latter.

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