[Advaita-l] [advaitin] How “Neo” is Swami Vivekananda‘s Vedānta: A Response to Rambachan.

Raghav Kumar raghavkumar72 at yahoo.com
Thu Jul 8 08:56:36 EDT 2021

Namaste Subbu jiThank you for that interesting article on Swami Vivekananda and Rambachan. And your lucid comments on it.
The links sent by you are not opening, except for the introduction.
An illustrative example of how Indologist narratives are built was a passage in the introduction where Rambachan quotes Vivekananda partially in a passage while culling the later part of the same passage where the Swamiji quotes the Upanishad. Rambachan goes on in this vein to substantiate his thesis that Swami Vivekananda's project was political and that Swamiji distorted traditional Advaita (because Advaita does not attempt any samanvaya and  is unsparing in doing khanDana of opposing views) intended to show Hinduism is more inclusive than Christianity. Rambachan understandably wishes to debunk any claims of Hinduism's inclusiveness vis-a-vis the purely faith-based historical religions. Rambachan's need to present Hinduism as no less dogmatic than Christianity is obvious given his being embedded in the "indological" (read: hinduphobic) academic establishment and other commitments towards 'ecumenical dialogue' with the Vatican. This is easy to accomplish by selectively presenting Advaita sAmpradAya as being starkly in disagreement with all other darshanas while glossing over the paramata maNDanam of eulogizing other darshanas by Shankara in his bhAShyas *without diluting Advaita* of course.
The author Hejjaji has missed the other lines of argument mentioned by you of countering the Rambachan type of narratives from 'Indology' by showing the later mainstream Acharyas of the 1500 CE etc., adapting yoga practise and jargon without compromising Advaita. This may be because other authors mentioned by your reference like Maiodi (2018) and Maharaj (2020) have dealt with the significant continuities between mediaeval developments in vedAnta epistemology through VidyAraNya and Madhusudana Saraswati in Jivanmuktiviveka and gUDArtha-dIpikA (Gita 6th chapter bhAShya by Sri Madhusudana is cast in pAtanjala yoga phraseology) and Swami Vivekananda's ideas. 
The author Hejjaji does not seem clear enough about laxaNA vRtti and about svaraHprAmANyam of advaita but his scholarly rebuttal to Rambachan is a noteworthy effort.
Swami Vivekananda's idea of four yogas can easily be amplified to show divergence with Shankara. There are obvious differences in articulation and emphasis. Or they can be accommodated without compromising Shruti as a pramANa the way Gita shlokas like 13.24 are handled by Shankara.
For example an modern Indologist who is interested in amplifying intellectual faultlines within Advaita to subserve his own agenda of showing how Hinduism lacks any coherence being merely an amalgamation of sects, would likely read gitA 13.24 as neo-vedAnta; if taken out of the larger advaitic samanvaya of gitA by shankarabhAShya etc. That is because advaita is a living and dynamic tradition which is exemplified and embodied in shiShTAchAra as much as it is a textual tradition. That is why Ramana and Ramakrishna are advaitic even though the western Indologist establishment is loathe to admit that. 

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  On Thu, 8 Jul 2021 at 1:17 pm, V Subrahmanian<v.subrahmanian at gmail.com> wrote:   Here is a post on the above topic:  


How “Neo” is Swami Vivekananda‘s Vedānta: A Response to Rambachan. A wonderfully written and well researched article by Vinay Hejjaji. It is a good rebuttal not just to the likes of Rambachan in the academic arena, but also to some adamant "textbook" Advaita adherents or folks in the orthodox and traditional molds with a sectarian, narrow view of Vedanta. Link: https://www.researchgate.net/.../351448454_How_Neo_is..."In this article, I show that Vivekananda, while rooted in the Upaniṣads, builds on the teachings of texts such as the Patañjali Yogasūtras and Vivekacūḍāmaṇi, and adopts a pluralistic attitude taught by his Guru Sri Ramakrishna to present a "cosmopolitan" Vedānta. Granted that Vivekananda deviates from Śaṅkara on certain issues, I argue that Rambachan belittles the scriptural and logical underpinnings of Vivekananda‘s teachings by needlessly attributing Western influence and political motives as the principal reason for the deviation. Secondly, I show that many of the "problems", "contradictions" and the charge of being "neo" raised by Rambachan are superficial and drawn from a selective and out-of-context reading of Vivekananda‘s works..", says the author in the introduction. I would go a step further. The "cosmopolitan" Vedanta that the aurthor identifies Swami Vivekananda with - even that is not a modern creation, but the continuation of a historical process. In fact, the integration of Yoga Sutra and Advaita started with the seminal text Yoga Vasishta in the 10th century itself. We see the articulation of it in Vidyaranya, particularly works like Panchadasi. It gets even more traction in the works of Madhusudana Saraswati, who sees Gita as a scripture that unites Karma and Jnana with Bhkati & (Raja) Yoga as the bridge. I was expecting that the paper will cite this point somewhere, but it didn't. But even without this, the paper is complete in itself. The point that I mentioned above can actually be another subject for research and articulation by interested scholars.2You and 1 otherLikeCommentShare

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