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

Raghav Kumar Dwivedula raghavkumar00 at gmail.com
Thu Jul 8 08:59:21 EDT 2021

Namaste Subbu ji
Thank 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

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, 3:45 pm V Subrahmanian via Advaita-l, <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> Here is a post on the above topic:
> https://www.facebook.com/jataayu.blore/posts/1930086813811175
> How “Neo” is Swami Vivekananda‘s Vedānta: A Response to Rambachan.
> A wonderfully written and well researched article by Vinay Hejjaji
> <
> https://www.facebook.com/vinay.amaranath?__cft__[0]=AZWfEnasiX_bUnK3-UEjZpYC577UwL4lblerWUYq3fKOBed1Sgvp1isVQOOMqPcFxhLVNzjE9mcFJx0NQi7K_-P0kIJyRXjE2P0ZC7k3ZVbCiA&__tn__=-]K-R
> >.
> 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...
> <
> https://www.researchgate.net/publication/351448454_How_Neo_is_Swami_Vivekananda's_Vedanta_A_Response_to_Rambachan?fbclid=IwAR34hM-bZvK7S1jPEwdnmpScYIsIbeiNbPnOEUQxMbFbNmelkEbnkVwZ05k
> >
> "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 other
> Like
> Comment
> Share
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