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Doubts about hindu religion expressed by a swamiji in the making

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Here is one letter written by a person (a non-brahmin) who became a swamiji in later life,
to one sanskrit socholar. The writer might have received a reply
from that scholar regarding these doubts, but unfortunately that REPLY is not available for
study. Members are requested to shed light if they
have answers for these doubts, CITING scriptural
believe that one has to be impartial and has to honestly
reason out the facts in order to come to the truth, without attachment to
anything or any bias.

Please do comment and try to put some light
on these matters. The doubts raised are as

1. Is the Mukti, which the Vedanta-sutras speak of,
one and the same with the Nirvana of the Avadhuta
- gita and other texts?

2. What is really meant by Nirvana if, according to
the aphorism, "Without the function of creating
etc."*1 (ibid., IV.iv.7), none can attain to the
fullest Godhead?

3. Chaitanya-mahaprabhu is said to have told Saarvabhauma
at Puri, "I understand the Sutras (aphorisms) of
Vyasa, they are dualistic; but the commentator makes
them, monistic, which I don't understand." Is this
true? Tradition says, Chaitanya-deva had a dispute
with Prakashananda Sarasvati on the point, and
Chaitanya - deva won. One commentary by Chaitanya -
deva was rumoured to have been existing in
Prakashananda's Math.

4. In the Tantra, Acharya Shankara has been called a
crypto - buddhist; views expressed in Prajnaaparamita ,
the Buddhist Mahayana book, perfectly tally with the
Vedantic views propounded by the Acharya. The author
of Panchadashi also says, "What we call Brahman is
the same truth as the Shunya of the Buddhist." What
does all this mean?

5. Why has no foundation for the authority of the
Vedas been adduced in the Vedanta - sutras ? First, it
has been said that the Vedas are the authority for the existence of
God, and then it has been argued that the authority
for the Vedas is the text: "It is the breath of God."
Now, is this statement not vitiated by what in Western
logic is called an argument in a circle?

6. The Vedanta requires of us faith, for
conclusiveness cannot be reached by mere
argumentation. Then why, has the slightest flaw,
detected in the position of the schools of Samkhya and
Nyaya, been overwhelmed with a fusillade of
dialectics? In whom, moreover, are we to put our
faith? Everybody seems to be mad over establishing his
own view; if, according to Vyasa, even the great Muni
Kapila, "the greatest among perfected souls",*2 is
himself deeply involved in error, then who would say
that Vyasa may not be so involved in a greater
measure? Did Kapila fail to understand the Vedas?

7. According to the Nyāya, "Shabda or Veda (the
criterion of truth), is the word of those who have
realised the highest"; so the Rishis as such are
omniscient. Then how are they proved, according to the
Surya - siddhanta , to be ignorant of such simple
astronomical truths? How can we accept their
intelligence as the refuge to ferry us across the
ocean of transmigratory existence, seeing that they
speak of the earth as triangular, of the serpent
Vasuki as the support of the earth and so on?

8. If in His acts of creation God is dependent on
good and evil Karmas, then what does it avail us to
worship Him? There is a fine song of Nareshchandra,
where occurs the following: "If what lies in one's
destiny is to happen anyhow, O Mother, then what good
all this invoking by the holy name of Durga?"

9. True, it is improper to hold many texts on the
same (rest of the item, if any, not available.)

10. The same God who gives out the Vedas becomes
Buddha again to annul them; which of these
dispensations is to be obeyed? Which of these remains
authoritative, the earlier or the later one?

11. The Tantra says, in the Kali-Yuga the Veda-Mantras
are futile. So which behest of God, the Shiva,
is to be followed?*3

12. Vyasa makes out in the Vedanta-Sutras that it
is wrong to worship the tetrad of divine
manifestation, Vasudeva, Sankarshana, etc., and again
that very Vyasa expatiates on the great merits of that
worship in the Bhagavata ! Is this Vyasa a madman?

I have many doubts besides these, and, hoping to
have them dispelled from my mind through your
kindness, I shall lay them before you in future. Such
questions cannot be all set forth except in a personal
interview; neither can as much satisfaction be
obtained as one expects to. So I have a mind to lay
before you all these facts when presenting myself to
you, which I expect will be very soon, by the grace of
the Guru.

I have heard it said that without inner progress in
the practice of religion, no true conclusion can be
reached concerning these matters, simply by means of
reasoning; but satisfaction, at least to some extent,
seems to be necessary at the outset.

Yours etc.,

* 1"[(Sanskrit)]"--"Having regard to the context
which ascribes the threefold function relating to the
universe only to God, and because the fact of their
conscious mental distinction comes between that
function and their liberated state, we have to
conclude that the state of final liberation or Mukti
in the case of men is devoid of the capacity to
create, preserve, and dissolve the universe." So if
this capacity is reserved only for God, what is meant,
the writer asks, by asking whether, in Nirvana, the human jivaatma
merges completely into the Divine?

*2 Kapila is so spoken of in Shvetashvatara
Upanishad, V.2. In his commentary of Vedanta - Sutras,
II. i. 1, Shankara doubts the identity of the Vedic
Kapila with the Sankhyan Kapila.

*3 Madhuparka was a Vedic ceremony, usually in
honour of guest, in which a respectful offering was
made consisting, among other dainties, of beef. The
text which the writer partially quotes forbids such food.
The full text means that in the Kali - yuga the
following five customs are to be forsaken: the horse
sacrifice, cow - killing ceremonies, meat - offerings
in Shraddha, Sannyasa, and maintaining the line of
progeny through the husband's younger brother in case
of failure through the husband.

subject to be contradicted by one or two. But why then
are the long - continued customs of Madhuparka* and
the like repealed by one or two such texts as, "The
horse sacrifice, the cow sacrifice, Sannyasa, meat -
offerings in Shraddha", etc.? If the Vedas are
eternal, then what are the meaning and justification
of such specifications as "this rule of Dharma is for
the age of Dvapara," "this for the age of Kali", and
so forth?
....Please do comment and try to put some light
on these matters.
Dear Sangom sir, as you noted elsewhere, when somebody renounces religion and faith in god, lot of people assume this must have been triggered by some bitter experience. This may be true in some cases, but to simply assume it as the default reason is simplistic.

I find these questions very important and must be answered satisfactorily, starting with an open mind, real open mind, not the kind that requires a firm conviction that the answer coming from handed down tradition is accurate and all we have to do is understand it with proper shraddha. Such prerequisite is a mark of not keeping an open mind.

Also, if the evidence is only personal experience, or this is something only to be understood, then there cannot any discussion. One side wants to see evidence and the other side says you have to experience it or understand it. If we say I am not experiencing it, then, we will be told that is our fault. If we say we don't understand, then also it is put fault, lack of shraddha may be. Under this ground rule, there is no chance of a reasonable dialog.

Since you say this man went on to become a famous swamiji (SV?), he probably found answers that were satisfactory to him either from the scholar to whom he wrote the letter or from other sources. However, IMO, many of the contradictions raised in his letter are irreconcilable.

"If in His acts of creation God is dependent on
good and evil Karmas, then what does it avail us to
worship Him? There is a fine song of Nareshchandra,
where occurs the following: "If what lies in one's
destiny is to happen anyhow, O Mother, then what good
all this invoking by the holy name of Durga?"

This is called MIMASAM and acharya sankara defeated mandana misra in this. This human birth is rare and acharya sankara asks us all to take note of that and use this birth and attain moksham. Refer slokam 2 in Vivekachudamani ..Jantunam nara janma durbhalam..
Karma has to be nullified for moksha and thats why we say sakalam krishnarpanam after finishing any duty or narayana...samarpayami

You are right on dot. The letter is of Swami Vivekananda to a Sanskrit Pundit. For full details pl. see

Doubts expressed by Swami Vivekananda

I have slightly edited and changed the original for hiding identity etc., in my OP.

Now that these doubts have been known to be of SV (a second set of his doubts may be seen in

Doubts expressed by Swami Vivekananda Final Part.

I expect our members to come out with their comments.

Since we do not know whether SV met the Pundit or met him in person and got his doubts cleared, it looks to me more likely that SV chose to bury his doubts.
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