[Advaita-l] 'End' not 'Means'

Ramesh Krishnamurthy rkmurthy at gmail.com
Fri Apr 28 14:08:42 CDT 2006

Jaldhar wrote:

> There are some historical examples I think are relevant.  For instance,
> Modern Hinduism is said to begin with Ramamohan Roy whose Brahmo Samaj
> scandalized Calcutta society at its inaugural meeting by: having a woman
> read from the upanishads.  Where is the Brahmo Samaj now?  The Arya Samaj
> also made a tenet out this issue.  How successful has the Arya Samaj been?

This is probably the hundredth time Jaldhar has made this point since
the start of the list and I must say its a load of bunkum. The Brahmo
Samaj may be dead but that doesn't mean its effects are too. Calcutta
society will no longer be scandalized if a woman reads from the
Upanishads. In fact there would be quite a scandal if a worthy like
Jaldhar says that women shouldnt read them. Who in Raja Rammohun Roy's
time would have imagined that such days would come?

As for the Arya Samaj, its far from being dead. And in many ways it
has been quite successful too. It has one of the largest and best
networks of schools operated by any Hindu organisation. It was among
the earliest Hindu movements to welcome back people who had converted
to foreign religions. Many of its members were freedom fighters during
the British Raj. Even today it has an active social programme.

Advaita-Vedanta is essentially a moksha-shaastra. So non-sannyaasis
have to look beyond it at other aspects of the Hindu tradition when it
comes to the details of dharma. The primary impact of all these
"reform" movements has been at the social level i.e. pertaining to
dharma, and they have a legitimate and in fact crucial role here. The
other option is to leave the field open to marxists, leftists,
missionaries and misguided secularists who have no regard for Hinduism
itself. In fact the last four have dominated independent India and
people like me who live in India are facing the consequences.

The irony here is that a person born and brought up in a foreign land,
where people eat beef and use toilet paper instead of water, is
pretending to be "orthodox". He has no qualms in crossing the seas and
shaking hands with beef-eaters. All these things are of course trivial
superstitions that our ancestors had. But when it comes to matters
that impact people's self-respect, reform is a four-letter word.

The choice is not between tradition and waywardness but between basic
reform and suicide. In fact, I wouldnt even call it reform, just

I too want to preserve and practise traditional Hinduism. I am more
traditional than most other people of my age. But certain things are
just not acceptable.

By the way, what about the Paasupata-s, Kapalika-s, and a whole lot of
other Hindu groups that disappeared over the long course of our
history? Where are the Saankhya-s today? Were they all reformers bound
to fail? Though these schools are not extant today, the philosophies,
practices and traditions of these groups had a long term impact on
Hinduism.  So it is with the "modernists".

And what about the Advaitins themselves? By saying that a person
without access to the Veda could still achieve moksha, the Advaitins
would surely have ruffled a lot of orthodox feathers. The case of
Bhatta Bhaskara has already been cited on this list. So are the
Advaitins, being reformers, bound to fail too?


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