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Guru Poornima - An attempt to initiate a scholarly discussion

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tks

Well-known member
श्री गुरुभ्यो नमः


अनंत संसार समुद्र तार नौकायिताभ्यां गुरुभक्तिदाभ्यां।

वैराग्य साम्राज्यद पूजनाभ्यां नमो नमः श्री गुरु पादुकाभ्यां॥१॥


The crossing of this Endless ocean of samsara is enabled
by the boat that is sincere devotion to Guru
Showing me the way to the valuable dominion of renunciation,
O dear Guru, I bow to thy holy sandals.


In today's world of Internet & Google, consumerism and cultural permissiveness, the role of a teacher(s) is increasingly getting trivialized in my view.


Our land of India has been the birthplace of teaching of universal principles to lead a conflict free life. Yet all these have gotten perverted and taken over by practices of superstitions, delusions and foolish intellectualism. Hinduism famously described as a 'way of life' has transformed to mean one should accept corruption as a way of life.

The number of genuine teachers who are both competent and trustworthy is also harder to find.
In my view, the lack of qualified teachers to teach Vedic-Heritage and principles of Dharma has had the most negative effects at both the individual and societal level for the citizens of the whole world.

While the internet certainly has phenomenal resources they are often masked by large volumes of utter nonsense as well. Even a serious student will find it difficult to make sense of 'apparently' contradictory ideas which are further compounded by foolish interpretations available online. There are books by western scholars but they also contain good and bad interpretations.

I wanted to share my understanding based on our teaching as to what the role of Guru is supposed to be in the next set of posts.
This thread is not intended for discussion of social issues. I am hoping that participants in the discussion in this thread will attempt to be scholarly by providing references and help ensure debates, if any, will be mature devoid of personal attacks.

Vigorous debates of opposing views if any will be fun and useful.

What is termed as Brahma Vidya, unlike any other subjects, do indeed need the role of a teacher to make any meaningful progress.

Sage Vyasa is credited with establishing Brahma Sutra wherein he provided foundation for a method of teaching of the topic such that not only benefits the student immediately but also provided the framework be able to use to communicate the teaching to another person 100% without any loss.

Guru Poornima is a day for us to remember the role of Vyasa and symbolism it serves for asserting the importance of teachers in our lives.

We have Lord Dakshinamurthy as the first teacher who is said to have taught Brhama vidya in silence. This is not about a real person who did this and is purely symbolic.

Lord Krishna made this teaching available in a consumable form in Bhagavad Gita, without which it will be impossible to bring the teaching to our own lives.

Sri Sankara and the lineage of teachers provided commentaries without which we are unable to understand the true significance of what is taught.

A set of key assertions I want to make are the following which can be expanded in other posts:

  • Isvara is NOT a person though personification is absolutely needed to make any progress
  • Guru is not a person ( if you notice I only used the term 'role of a Guru' ). Without this role and associated reverence it deserves, one cannot make progress. The role can be deified but not the person.
  • Bhakthi is a must for one to make progress. Wisdom without Bhakthi is an oxymoron statement


Let me close the Opening Post with offering respect to the teachers.

व्यासाय विष्णुरूपाय व्यासरूपाय विष्णवे।
नमो वै ब्रह्मनिधये वासिष्ठाय नमो नमः

Salutations to Vyaasa who in the form of Vishnu, to Vishnu who is (really)
Vyaasa; many salutations to him, the veritable treasure of knowledge of Brahman
and the lineal descendant of Vasista


वसुदेव सुतम् देवं - कंस चाणॊऒर मर्दनं

देवकी परमानन्दं -कृष्णं वन्दे जगद्गुरुं

Salutations to Jagad-Guru - Sri Krishna.



ईश्वरो गुरुरात्मेतीमूर्ति भेद विभागिने
व्योमवाद व्याप्तदेहाय दक्षिनामुर्ताये नमः

To Him who appears in various forms
Isvara, teacher and Self (to be discovered in my Hridaya)

To Him who is all pervasive and subtle like space
Our Salutations to Lord Dakshinamurthy.
================================================
सदाशिव समारम्भाम् शंकराचार्य मध्यमाम्
अस्मद् आचार्य पर्यन्ताम् वंदे गुरु परम्पराम्



 

tks

Well-known member
Reference to Guru in Upanishad

Before delving into the specifics It may be useful to share one reference to the role of a Guru as mentioned in one of the Upanishad.

Let me first provide this verse from Mundak Upanishad.

Verse 12 in First Mundaka, Second Khanda:

परीक्ष्य लोकान् कर्मचितान् ब्राह्मणो
निर्वेदमायान्नास्त्यकृतः कृतेन।
तद्विज्ञानार्थं सगुरुमेवाभिगच्छेत्
समित्पाणिः श्रोत्रियंब्रह्मनिष्ठम् ॥ १२॥



There are many modern teachers that have provided provided extensive comments. Rather than provide my own, I thought I will share Swami Krishnananda's comments first and add some further points that is relevant to the thread.

==============Most people not into detailed Vedanta can skip the details below and read the bolded last line only =========================

Examining the nature of the regionsattained through action and finding out theirworthlessness, a wise person should get totally disgustedwith them, because that which is not made cannot beattained through what is made or done. For the sake of theknowledge of that (which is not made), one shouldapproach, with Samit in his hand, a preceptor who is well versedin scriptures and also established in Brahman.

The efforts of an individual are generally stained byignorance, selfish desires and actions connected with thosedesires. Karmas are enjoined only on such people as cannot extricate themselves from the clutches of these fetters. Thedifferent regions and experiences which are accessible tothese people, are also of the same nature as their causes.

They give rise to such unpleasant experiences as rise andfall in different states. They are also dependent on andaffected by the defects consequent upon the nonperformanceof what is enjoined and the performance ofwhat is prohibited. People who revel in mere phenomenalselfish actions alone, get such births as those of beasts,demons, etc. These experiences should be properly analysedwith the help of such proofs of knowledge as perception,inference, verbal testimony and comparison.

The truenature of these experiences in the different worlds shouldbe known in its essential form. These experiences are thedifferent roads to Samsara. They extend from theunmanifest potentiality of beings to the lowest inanimatematter. They are either manifested or unmanifested,physical, astral or mental, objective or subjective. They areinterdependent like the seed and the tree. They are thesources of extreme misery and are absolutely essenceless.They are illusory like a juggler’s trick or water in the mirageor a city in the clouds or like objects in dream or like abreaking bubble. They are now seen and now not seen.Such experiences should be known to be the results ofdesires and actions belonging to the mind and senses.

Anaspirant should turn his back to all these and should cometo the conclusion that the whole universe is produced bynescience and its undesirable consequences. The networkof this universe is kept intact in the forms of pleasure andpain, virtue and vice, good and evil, etc.

A wise aspirant, therefore, should get disgusted with allthese experiences beginning from Brahman down to a bladeof grass.

That which is not produced or created, is notattained through that which is produced or created. Therecan be relationship only between similar things, and notbetween two dissimilar things. A product has got noneternalcharacteristics and, therefore, it will not be able toknow the eternal as long as it is bound to such lowercharacteristics. Moreover, all effects or produced things canrelate themselves to another thing only through a change ormodification or an action. It is obvious that self transformationis not the way of attaining true knowledgeof any object.

Since a transformation is transitory in nature,the knowledge that is effected by it would also be transitory.In this universe of manifestation, there is nothing that isnot produced. Brahman is not something that is produced.Hence, the attainment of the knowledge of Brahman is notpossible through a transitory process, which is thecharacteristic of produced things alone. Everything that isdone leads only to what is done or produced.

That which iseternal and not produced, is attained only through pureKnowledge which is not non-eternal or produced.

Brahmanis not subject to either producing or creating or obtainingor purifying or modifying in any way.The highest Bliss which an aspirant seeks is found onlyin the immutable eternal Being. In the aspirant there is aconsciousness of the difference between all non-eternalappearances and the eternal Being.

This consciousness iscalled Viveka, which gives rise to Vairagya or theabandonment of the non-eternal. The aspirant begins toperceive the worthless nature of things and the possibility of the existence of a higher glorious being.

For the sake ofthe knowledge of the Supreme Being, he approaches aspiritual preceptor who is rooted in the consciousness ofBrahman. This Mantra points out that one will not be ableto have intuitive knowledge without the help of anexperienced teacher, even though one may be a verylearned person.

==============================================================



My additional comments relevant to this thread:

1. About a quarter century ago, the above description would have seemed like a jumble of words to me with meaningless content depicted to sound superficially profound. I used to get annoyed at myself not being able to purely dismiss it all as nonsense and at the same time read things like this which came across like pure nonsense. It all seemed like a waste of time to even pursue such topics. My formal background includes intensive studies in theoretical physics, engineering, and management. Yet I found that this subject matter seemed to not only make minimal sense but more importantly I could not see relevance of such things in our day today life.

I have to thank the lineage of my teachers who helped me to open my eyes. I am grateful to them because even in the midst of a very demanding career with "நித்திய கண்டம் பூரண ஆயிசு" type of job in USA, it was possible for me to have a more stress free enjoyment at work place. I do not plan to reveal any names of anyone.

To gain knowledge of Brahma Vidya (and I am obviously not there yet :) ) one needs to have pre-requisites which is Shraddha. This is illustrated by the symbolic reference to Samit in hand (refer to last line of the Mantra). The Samit which is used in Yagna in olden days , in this context symbolically represent having the 'Adhikaritvam' or prerequisites to undertake this study. It refers to

  • Shraddha or conditional faith subject to ratification by full understanding and knowledge later and
  • humility - determined opposition to vagaries of one's ego using our wisdom (Viveka)
  • Reverence to the role of Guru the teacher. It is not about making a teacher into a deity but to view the role of teacher as superimposed on any deity. Lord Dakshinamurthy is my 'deity' who represents the personification of knowledge.
  • Though Isvara is described and understood as formless our human form with a Body cannot even imagine formlessness. Therefore form is a must for making progress in learning the reality which is another name for Truth and another name for Brahman. There is no need to have multiple deities in one's life. One will do and it can be Sri Krishna (not necessarily the historic person) or Maha Vishnu. The specific form is immaterial.
  • Without shraddha, humility and eligible Guru it is not possible to make sense of this and it is not possible to see the relevance in one's life. When understood even minimally it will be possible to realize that the human existence would have been yet another waste if one were to miss the opportunity in this life

2. The teacher (a person) in the role of Guru has to be one who is truly enlightened (in Brahma Nishta). In today's world this is not easy to find but one who is a true Mumukshu (seeker) will do


=====================You can skip reading the closing comments below of this post which is just to provide some details about me =====================

Before closing this post I want to say a few words about myself which is not to aggrandize my ego or anything but to ensure you have the ongoing patience to read the posts :)

I left home in my teen years to life in IIT hostel and then I came to USA. Growing up in Delhi, I was exposed to typical TB life with minimal rules at home. I had friends without regard to caste/creed/race/color. After coming to USA at a time when there were very few Indians, most of my close friends even today are Americans of both sexes. I have several highly qualified Vedantin Americans who help with learning this material.

I chanced upon these teachings about 25 years ago. I am not connected to any formal tradition of worship though raised in a Iyer family.
I critically examined from the eye of someone who is skeptical, trained in formal background as a scientist, engineer and executive. I was convinced that I even went on loss of pay to get more formal training in India and in USA.

All I can say is that there is treasure in these teaching relevant to YOUR life !
You will need Shraddha and a proper teacher in order to make the learning worthwhile.

My point of sharing such threads is that it might be useful to some and that it might spark discussions. But I have no issue if this does not happen !
 

prasad1

Well-known member
Is respecting a teacher Equivalent to praying to him?
Is teacher a king? Is teacher a God?
Is respect = Reverence?

Somehow we only respect someone who holds some power over us. Why should it be?
I love my physics teacher, he was was very good in making a boring subject into a very interesting one. He knew everyone of his students by voice. He would call out by name if someone spoke in the auditorium.
We did not worship him, but at the same time respected him.
I understand the thread, I come from Chinmayananda organization. Again he was a great teacher, and I admire him, but I draw the line in singing his praise as god. He was a human being, learned in what he spoke and wrote. He was a great organizer and speaker.

I understand the value of a good teacher, but I do not make him a god.
 
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tks

Well-known member
Is respecting a teacher Equivalent to praying to him?
Is teacher a king? Is teacher a God?
Is respect = Reverence?

Somehow we only respect someone who holds some power over us. Why should it be?
I love my physics teacher, he was was very good in making a boring subject into a very interesting one. He knew everyone of his students by voice. He would call out by name if someone spoke in the auditorium.
We did not worship him, but at the same time respected him.
I understand the thread, I come from Chinmayananda organization. Again he was a great teacher, and I admire him, but I draw the line in singing his praise as god. He was a human being, learned in what he spoke and wrote. He was a great organizer and speaker.

I understand the value of a good teacher, but I do not make him a god.
Sri Prasad

This is an excellent question and one that is least understood by most sincere students and all unqualified teachers.

To answer the specific questions:


1. Is respecting a teacher Equivalent to praying to him? : There is no need to pray to him, or even respect him (or her). Respecting the ROLE is key, not praying to the role.

2. Is teacher a king? NO

3. Is teacher a God? The role of teacher who is a qualified teacher of Brahma Vidya can be superimposed on divinity but that is done for our reverence.
Real teachers will never expect anyone to do Puja to him or her.

4. Is respect = Reverence? Reverence is a highest form of respect to the role and the material taught

In chapter 13 of B.Gita, the following verse describes the word Acharyopasana

अमानित्वमदम्भित्वमहिंसा क्षान्तिरार्जवम्
आचार्योपासनं शौचं स्थैर्यमात्मविनिग्रहः १३-८॥



[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Tahoma, Calibri, Geneva, sans-serif]This is often misunderstood as doing Puja and prayers to a teacher. Sri Sankara clarifies the meaning.
Acharyopasana only means live by the teaching which is the best Upasana you can do to the Guru's role

Our scriptures do not teach about making anyone into a magician God[/FONT]
 

tks

Well-known member
Who is a Guru?

The word 'guru' represents the role of a person who unfolds the knowledge that you are complete and non-separate from the Lord!

And Upasana to a Guru role is done by realizing the nature of who we are.

Why is this role given such a reverence in our tradition (Sampradaya)?

To understand this we have to have some appreciation about human existence which is provided in a text called Vivakachudamani.

It is a text authored by Sri Sanakara to serve as an introduction to Vedanta and it means literally "crown jewel of Discriminative thinking".

Vedanta has to be understood as a rigorous knowledge base to teach Science of Life. Let us examine this verse below and see how it can be understood using analytical methods we employ in today's world.

जन्तूनां नरजन्म दुर्लभमतः पुंस्त्वं ततो विप्रता
तस्माद्वैदिकधर्ममार्गपरता विद्वत्त्वमस्मात्परम् ।
आत्मानात्मविवेचनं स्वनुभवो ब्रह्मात्मना संस्थितिः
मुक्तिर्नो शतजन्मकोटिसुकृतैः पुण्यैर्विना लभ्यते ॥


Very brief meaning for the purposes of this discussion is as follows.

Compared to all beings that exhibits life, a human birth is extremely rare. For a human being it is even rarer to find those that have the courage of conviction and a consistency in showing that courage. The reference to maleness does not refer to the gender of a body but to the courage of conviction.
Even rarer is to find someone who has a Satvic outlook and pursues to understand Truth and Reality in a steadfast manner. This includes understanding the discrimination between real and unreal culminating in the person's ultimate liberation. This kind of a perfect liberation cannot be attained without the punya earned from 100 crores of lives lived intelligently.


First let us understand if human life is indeed rare given that there are 7 billion people ( 700 crore people) in the earth now each with a lifetime of maximum say 100 years. What is so rare about human life then?

Before we answer this let us look at the rarity of the traits mentioned

  • Consistency and courage of conviction which can be attained only by exposure to proper knowledge and by the right set of teachers (may not be the Guru role as defined at the start of the post, but referring to teachers in general)
  • Satvic outlook towards life in parallel to courage of conviction.
  • Living the life of Dharma in a steadfast and in an uncompromising manner
  • They have enough food and have a shelter to live so that their life is not taken over by sheer need to physically exist
  • Not inculcated with dogmatic religious notion leading to delusional view of the world and human existence.

Even if a person is not exposed to Hindu scriptures I estimate that perhaps there may be 10000 people worldwide at most that may fit the above criteria.

The universal principles enunciated in Upanishads is rarely taught in Hindu religious traditions focused on Kamya Karma activities only.

Out of the 10000 people, perhaps 1000 may be exposed to the existence of our scriptures that teach the timeless truths. You, the reader could be one such person which is due to the blessings of Isvara.

Now let us look at how 700 crore human lives could be considered rare. To understand this we have to count how many jivas that live at this instant. This includes every insect, reptiles, sea life, every plant form , every animal, every bacteria and virus that live on plants, animals, and human bodies.
The total number of bacteria in the earth alone (not to mention life forms in other planets) is estimated by microbiologist William B. Whitman to be be five million trillion trillion that's a five with 30 zeroes after it ! The number have to be multiplied by total that exist in the planet in say 50 years of human life. The number of all total is very high.


Simplifying the calculations, probability of 700 crore human jivas to all other Jivas which could be far higher than 7 followed by 30 zeros. The number is 1 divided by 1 followed by 19 zeros!

Human life is extremely rare. Now if you *believe* in Karma theory, and if you understand the principles of ergodic hypothesis you can think that you would need several billion jiva lives before hitting the human form again. In other words the probability of human life now at this instant is same as probability of of how many lives needed before being a human being. Now think about how many human lives are needed to have lived intelligently.

In this extremely rare life form of human form, perhaps 10000 may make something out of it. The probability of 10000 out of 7 billion is again extremely small.

The good news is that you could be one of those because it is not many that get exposed to this teaching of universal principles.

Only a human being is endowed with this powerful discriminatory thinking not found in any other life form.

The nature of Brahma Vidya, the truth of who you are, cannot be understood by perception or reasoning or by asking yourself etc. It is like a person in your dream character who figures out that the truth of himself is you the person sleeping nicely. If the dream character did figure that out you will not be still dreaming. Such self figuring out is not possible and we are not in anyone's dream.

The scriptures do have this truth but in order to understand it all correctly one needs the right context to be presented while studying a given verse.
The total truth is embedded in many key verses (like DNA of the entire being in every cell). Those that study individual verses without guidance will run into all kinds of contradictions.

How can one get that total perspective while studying verse by verse unless one has studied it all already . That is a catch-22 situation.

A teacher who has the whole picture is then able to help make this happen. That teacher got his or her knowledge from their teacher. The lineage and method of teaching continues.

The purpose of human life is to know the truth of yourself which has the consequence of ending the human suffering here and now (I am not explaining this, so it has to be taken as presented). It also is one that stops all future births and deaths for those that believe in Karma theory.

You have the option to while away your life but perhaps this TB forum may prompt you to find out more :)

A right person in a guru role who enables you to realize the vision of human life is revered for the role played indeed.
 
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auh

New member
...
Compared to all beings that exhibits life, a human birth is extremely rare. For a human being it is even rarer to find those that have the courage of conviction and a consistency in showing that courage. The reference to maleness does not refer to the gender of a body but to the courage of conviction.
Even rarer is to find someone who has a Satvic outlook and pursues to understand Truth and Reality in a steadfast manner. This includes understanding the discrimination between real and unreal culminating in the person's ultimate liberation. This kind of a perfect liberation cannot be attained without the punya earned from 100 crores of lives lived intelligently.


First let us understand if human life is indeed rare given that there are 7 billion people ( 700 crore people) in the earth now each with a lifetime of maximum say 100 years. What is so rare about human life then?

Before we answer this let us look at the rarity of the traits mentioned

  • Consistency and courage of conviction which can be attained only by exposure to proper knowledge and by the right set of teachers (may not be the Guru role as defined at the start of the post, but referring to teachers in general)
  • Satvic outlook towards life in parallel to courage of conviction.
  • Living the life of Dharma in a steadfast and in an uncompromising manner
  • They have enough food and have a shelter to live so that their life is not taken over by sheer need to physically exist
  • Not inculcated with dogmatic religious notion leading to delusional view of the world and human existence.

Even if a person is not exposed to Hindu scriptures I estimate that perhaps there may be 10000 people worldwide at most that may fit the above criteria.

The universal principles enunciated in Upanishads is rarely taught in Hindu religious traditions focused on Kamya Karma activities only.

Out of the 10000 people, perhaps 1000 may be exposed to the existence of our scriptures that teach the timeless truths. You, the reader could be one such person which is due to the blessings of Isvara.

Now let us look at how 700 crore human lives could be considered rare. To understand this we have to count how many jivas that live at this instant. This includes every insect, reptiles, sea life, every plant form , every animal, every bacteria and virus that live on plants, animals, and human bodies.
The total number of bacteria in the earth alone (not to mention life forms in other planets) is estimated by microbiologist William B. Whitman to be be five million trillion trillion that's a five with 30 zeroes after it ! The number have to be multiplied by total that exist in the planet in say 50 years of human life. The number of all total is very high.


Simplifying the calculations, probability of 700 crore human jivas to all other Jivas which could be far higher than 7 followed by 30 zeros. The number is 1 divided by 1 followed by 19 zeros!

Human life is extremely rare. Now if you *believe* in Karma theory, and if you understand the principles of ergodic hypothesis you can think that you would need several billion jiva lives before hitting the human form again. In other words the probability of human life now at this instant is same as probability of of how many lives needed before being a human being. Now think about how many human lives are needed to have lived intelligently.

In this extremely rare life form of human form, perhaps 10000 may make something out of it. The probability of 10000 out of 7 billion is again extremely small.

The good news is that you could be one of those because it is not many that get exposed to this teaching of universal principles.

Only a human being is endowed with this powerful discriminatory thinking not found in any other life form.

The nature of Brahma Vidya, the truth of who you are, cannot be understood by perception or reasoning or by asking yourself etc. It is like a person in your dream character who figures out that the truth of himself is you the person sleeping nicely. If the dream character did figure that out you will not be still dreaming. Such self figuring out is not possible and we are not in anyone's dream.

The scriptures do have this truth but in order to understand it all correctly one needs the right context to be presented while studying a given verse.
The total truth is embedded in many key verses (like DNA of the entire being in every cell). Those that study individual verses without guidance will run into all kinds of contradictions.

How can one get that total perspective while studying verse by verse unless one has studied it all already . That is a catch-22 situation.

A teacher who has the whole picture is then able to help make this happen. That teacher got his or her knowledge from their teacher. The lineage and method of teaching continues.

The purpose of human life is to know the truth of yourself which has the consequence of ending the human suffering here and now (I am not explaining this, so it has to be taken as presented). It also is one that stops all future births and deaths for those that believe in Karma theory.

You have the option to while away your life but perhaps this TB forum may prompt you to find out more :)

A right person in a guru role who enables you to realize the vision of human life is revered for the role played indeed.
If at all there is a rarity, I believe that it is not about numerical rarity that is intended in the stanza, but rather the rarity of being able to perceive and progress. This quality, 'apparently' (to our limited knowledge), is not found in other forms and hence we assume such a lofty position.

In my opinion, there is no rarity of any form to humans; simply because we cannot (know and thus) equate the intrinsic life experience of all the life forms on a same pedestal!
 

sangom

Well-known member
जन्तूनां नरजन्म दुर्लभमतः पुंस्त्वं ततो विप्रता
तस्माद्वैदिकधर्ममार्गपरता विद्वत्त्वमस्मात्परम् ।
आत्मानात्मविवेचनं स्वनुभवो ब्रह्मात्मना संस्थितिः
मुक्तिर्नो शतजन्मकोटिसुकृतैः पुण्यैर्विना लभ्यते ॥

This is the second sloka of viveka chudamani. Almost all the translations, meanings and upanyasas on this sloka have said that in this sloka, Shankara was merely reproducing the conventional male-dominated brahmin society of his time, and also till now, that human birth is a rare achievement, as a male human - a rarer fortune, getting into the path of vaidikamarga, as a male human, and having wisdom/intelligence/scholarship more than what I have (I here refers to Shankara himself: the word अस्मात्परम् makes this very clear) — and here in the last two cases, viz., तस्माद्वैदिकधर्ममार्गपरता (getting into the path of vaidikamarga), and, विद्वत्त्वमस्मात्परम् (having wisdom/intelligence/scholarship more than what I have), the Acharya leaves the rest unsaid. But by implication from the first half of the first line, it can be taken that each successive aspect denotes a rarer fortune as compared to the previous.

In these days of gender and class/caste equality, I feel, trying to "polish" the outdated ideas of Shankara is not what one should try to do. Better to admit that viveka chudamani had less viveka than ordinary people have today.
 

tks

Well-known member
I have addressed how this verse I cited from Vivekachudamani is misinterpreted by providing the larger context in my post. The maleness do not refer to the
physical body.

For chit and chat claims and unsubstantiated opinions there are general section and chit chat sections more apt for such discussions.
 

Vaagmi

Well-known member
If at all there is a rarity, I believe that it is not about numerical rarity that is intended in the stanza, but rather the rarity of being able to perceive and progress. This quality, 'apparently' (to our limited knowledge), is not found in other forms and hence we assume such a lofty position.

In my opinion, there is no rarity of any form to humans; simply because we cannot (know and thus) equate the intrinsic life experience of all the life forms on a same pedestal!
I will put it this way:

How many seals or Walruses are there in the world? They are rarer than human life form. Or how many blue whales are there in the oceans of the world? Certainly not as many as human beings on earth. So rarity does not hold water.

Coming to perception, we really do not know what a cockroach thinks of the whole scheme of existence. How do we know cockroaches do not have a civilization? We can never relate to their values-if there are such values--and we can never know what is happening in their world.

The fact is that the reality remains for ever whatever it is while we try to interpret it in a way that we understand and relate to. It, in all probability, may be a delusion. It is like the blindmen who tried to understand and interpret an elephant.

So we can never be sure about the real nature of the world.

So to say जन्तूनां नरजन्म दुर्लभमतः is like my street corner political orator telling the gullible crowd "யாமறிந்த மொழிகளிலே தமிழ் மொழி போல் இனிதாவதெங்கும் காணோம்".
 
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tks

Well-known member
Bolded and underlined is a point seemingly missed in responses.
It is this from post #5):
Only a human being is endowed with this powerful discriminatory thinking not found in any other life form (which is key for liberation).
Those who exercise their power of Viveka deal with what is known by available means of knowledge.

It is irrelevant if other life forms have Viveka too (that somehow humans are unaware of) when it come to deciding the course of our actions here and now (using our free will experience)
 
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Lalit

New member
It is really interesting to read the learned discussion in this thread. Hope to see more enlightening posts! Thanks for starting this thread<Shri TKS!
 

zebra16

Well-known member
Sri Sangom Sir,

जन्तूनां नरजन्म दुर्लभमतः पुंस्त्वं ततो विप्रता
तस्माद्वैदिकधर्ममार्गपरता विद्वत्त्वमस्मात्परम् ।
आत्मानात्मविवेचनं स्वनुभवो ब्रह्मात्मना संस्थितिः
मुक्तिर्नो शतजन्मकोटिसुकृतैः पुण्यैर्विना लभ्यते ॥

This is the second sloka of viveka chudamani. Almost all the translations, meanings and upanyasas on this sloka have said that in this sloka, Shankara was merely reproducing the conventional male-dominated brahmin society of his time, and also till now, that human birth is a rare achievement, as a male human - a rarer fortune, getting into the path of vaidikamarga, as a male human, and having wisdom/intelligence/scholarship more than what I have (I here refers to Shankara himself: the word अस्मात्परम् makes this very clear) — and here in the last two cases, viz., तस्माद्वैदिकधर्ममार्गपरता (getting into the path of vaidikamarga), and, विद्वत्त्वमस्मात्परम् (having wisdom/intelligence/scholarship more than what I have), the Acharya leaves the rest unsaid. But by implication from the first half of the first line, it can be taken that each successive aspect denotes a rarer fortune as compared to the previous.

In these days of gender and class/caste equality, I feel, trying to "polish" the outdated ideas of Shankara is not what one should try to do. Better to admit that viveka chudamani had less viveka than ordinary people have today.
My take on this slOkA is as follows :

Any class of text is addressed to a select or a particular group/class of audience, though others evincing interest in the text also read it and try to assimilate it.

For example, we have the National Pledge which says "India is my country. All Indians are my Brothers and Sisters. I love my country and I am proud of its rich and varied heritage etc. etc. " We find at least some people honor the pledge more by breach than by compliance, but that does not reduce the value of the pledge itself.

For any discourse to be effective, it is usual to find the author placing the intended audience in a higher pedestal than others.

Why cannot we view the introductory slOkAs of vivEka chUdamaNi in that respect ?
 
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sangom

Well-known member
Bolded and underlined is a point seemingly missed in responses.
It is this from post #5):
Only a human being is endowed with this powerful discriminatory thinking not found in any other life form (which is key for liberation).
Those who exercise their power of Viveka deal with what is known by available means of knowledge.

It is irrelevant if other life forms have Viveka too (that somehow humans are unaware of) when it come to deciding the course of our actions here and now (using our free will experience)
If powerful discriminatory thinking may be present in other forms of life too, and humans are unaware of this, there is no point in chest thumping about Only a human being is endowed with this powerful discriminatory thinking; it is pure self-goal, negating what is said in the first sentence, in the very next!:smash:

After all, Adishankara's guru Gowdapada has himself made it very clear that in reality, there is no such thing as mumukshu nor moksha; then are we not merely trying to impose ignorance of reality or truth, as if it were some fundamental philosophical gem?
 

renuka

Well-known member
Sri Sangom Sir,



My take on this slOkA is as follows :

Any class of text is addressed to a select or a particular group/class of audience, though others evincing interest in the text also read it and try to assimilate it.

For example, we have the National Pledge which says "India is my country. All Indians are my Brothers and Sisters. I love my country and I am proud of its rich and varied heritage etc. etc. " We find at least some people honor the pledge more by breach than by compliance, but that does not reduce the value of the pledge itself.

For any discourse to be effective, it is usual to find the author placing the intended audience in a higher pedestal than others.

Why cannot we view the introductory slOkAs of vivEka chUdamaNi in that respect ?
True..its just pep talk to make the audience feel better.

Just like when I joined college our principal came to the class and gave a speech that "you all are the cream of the crop..the most intelligent and fortunate to take this course"

We were all surprised to hear this cos it does not mean only one type of profession is the most intelligent....then later another friend told us that the engineering college principal too was saying the same thing.

So no big deal..may be the principals felt that students need an ego boost but actually we prefer truth and not lies!LOL

But that is just mundane situations..but I am not comfortable with pep talk when it comes from religious text.

Religious text should not sugar coat their words if it has no proven basis.

Otherwise than why call it Viveka?
 
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zebra16

Well-known member
True..its just pep talk to make the audience feel better.

Just like when I joined college our principal came to the class and gave a speech that "you all are the cream of the crop..the most intelligent and fortunate to take this course"

We were all surprised to hear this cos it does not mean only one type of profession is the most intelligent....then later another friend told us that the engineering college principal too was saying the same thing.

So no big deal..may be the principals felt that students need an ego boost but actually we prefer truth and not lies!LOL

But that is just mundane situations..but I am not comfortable with pep talk when it comes from religious text.

Religious text should not sugar coat their words if it has no proven basis.

Otherwise than why call it Viveka?
Viveka chUdamaNi is called "prAkarNa granthA" and is a preparatory text to the study of religious text and it (VC) is not a religious text by itself.
 

sangom

Well-known member
Sri Sangom Sir,



My take on this slOkA is as follows :

Any class of text is addressed to a select or a particular group/class of audience, though others evincing interest in the text also read it and try to assimilate it.

For example, we have the National Pledge which says "India is my country. All Indians are my Brothers and Sisters. I love my country and I am proud of its rich and varied heritage etc. etc. " We find at least some people honor the pledge more by breach than by compliance, but that does not reduce the value of the pledge itself.

For any discourse to be effective, it is usual to find the author placing the intended audience in a higher pedestal than others.

Why cannot we view the introductory slOkAs of vivEka chUdamaNi in that respect ?
The national pledge itself seems erroneous because, inspite of all Indians being brothers and sisters, how and why is our population galloping? Hence the national pledge itself needs to be corrected. May be we cannot afford to reverse-engineer vande mAtaram!

Even a prakaraNa grantha like the VC should not untruly praise the audience, I feel because our veda declares satyameva jayate, nAnrutaM.
 

renuka

Well-known member
Viveka chUdamaNi is called "prAkarNa granthA" and is a preparatory text to the study of religious text and it (VC) is not a religious text by itself.
Thank you for the correction but since its a preparatory text all the more it should start off with the harsh truth.

It does not matter if students fall out of class..those who want to learn will stay.

Imagine if the kindergarten teacher started off teaching A for Ball instead of A for Apple?
 

a-TB

Well-known member
If powerful discriminatory thinking may be present in other forms of life too, and humans are unaware of this, there is no point in chest thumping about Only a human being is endowed with this powerful discriminatory thinking; it is pure self-goal, negating what is said in the first sentence, in the very next!:smash:

After all, Adishankara's guru Gowdapada has himself made it very clear that in reality, there is no such thing as mumukshu nor moksha; then are we not merely trying to impose ignorance of reality or truth, as if it were some fundamental philosophical gem?
I do not claim to understand all that is written.

But I understood the underlined part as follows. We know for sure we have this thinking capacity that is usable. We also cannot know what happens in the mind of animals and insects. Somehow I find it hard to think bacteria may have such wisdom.
Animals and cells etc just react from need to live. They cannot even understand this topic.

So the question is - what if animals also has this thinking power which would be like what if there are aliens more mentally powerful.

The response for this hypothetical situation is that why bother about something that is unproven. We are here now and do not see evidence of discriminatory thinking capacities in animals, plants and cells - and all they do is mostly react to keep living which has observable evidence.

Even if they are shown to be wise (big if) it does not stop us from using our wisdom hat.

Not sure I see the negation - perhaps you can explain the reasoning.
 

sangom

Well-known member
I do not claim to understand all that is written.

But I understood the underlined part as follows. We know for sure we have this thinking capacity that is usable. We also cannot know what happens in the mind of animals and insects. Somehow I find it hard to think bacteria may have such wisdom.
Animals and cells etc just react from need to live. They cannot even understand this topic.

So the question is - what if animals also has this thinking power which would be like what if there are aliens more mentally powerful.

The response for this hypothetical situation is that why bother about something that is unproven. We are here now and do not see evidence of discriminatory thinking capacities in animals, plants and cells - and all they do is mostly react to keep living which has observable evidence.

Even if they are shown to be wise (big if) it does not stop us from using our wisdom hat.

Not sure I see the negation - perhaps you can explain the reasoning.
Our puranas are evidence of at least a few other life forms having discriminatory intelligence; examples, Hanuman (monkey), the billions of monkeys which constituted the vanarasena and died for Rama's cause, Jambavan (a bear or a bear-like animal which existed), Gajendra (elephant), Huhu, the crocodile which tried to swallow gajendra, jatayu (eagle) and so on. Hence, when a topic is discussed within the parameters of hindu religion, there is no basis for that big IF which you say. And, there is no sense in what this VC sloka says about humans alone being exclusive, etc.
 

tks

Well-known member
This section has the following guidelines:



"Doctrinal aspects of various schools of thought to understand nature of spacetime & reality from many perspectives of Philosophy, and Science with appropriate citation of reference. While philosophical discussions of nature of Isvara/God is fine there are other sections below to discuss the theological and faith aspects. Scholarly debates using contemporary examples & references are encouraged"

Puranas and other scriptures may have morals but this section and posts deal with doctrinal aspects and not belief aspects of magic described in Puranas and Itihasas.


here the discussions are about universal principles that is applicable to all human beings.

The Upanishads are actually wisdom scriptures for the entire humanity. That is why there are many vedantic scholars from all continents today because they can understand without all the background of religious edicts of Hinduism.

This thread itself was an attempt to initiate scholarly discussions. Some aspects like literal meanings of verses without full context are more apt in General Section or Chit-Chat sections.

While our scriptures may extol virtues of wisdom and viveka (discriminatory thinking capacity), it is not common place for people to hold them so high in actual practice. Many in the world will trade adharma acts in exchange of power and money. That is why B.Gita talks about Karpanya Dosham (impurity of heart of a miser) to refer to those who do not use Viveka in their life.

What is held in an exalted state is related to one's goal in life and their inherent likes and dislikes.
What is a fact to understand is that concepts of liberation and bondage can be comprehended only with someone ready and willing to exercise their power of discriminatory thinking.

Various jivas owing to the body&mind they have will excel in different skills. A dog's ability to use smell is superior to human beings. A bird can fly but humans cannot without aid.

Viveka is an endowment seemingly for humans alone from what is observable and measurable.

Vivekachudamani is a text for advanced students but occasional use of a verse here or two to reinforce a point is useful in my view. But it is not a text for literalists.

Similarly I used a topic area of mathematics called 'ergodic hypothesis' which may be more relevant to those that want to see the rigor of analysis and for others it is just a reference to pursue if there is serious interest.

Our teachings emphasize being able to see the sameness aspects of all beings even while recognizing the diversity of strengths and weaknesses in individual manifestations. It requires Viveka to understand this point. Sri Sarang has made this point about Hinduism's unique approach to dealing with differences many times. Sameness aspects do not mean they are all same in how a being is seemingly created.

In chapter 5 (verse 18), Sri Krishna says




विद्याविनयसम्पन्ने ब्राह्मणे गवि हस्तिनि ।
शुनि चैव श्वपाके च पण्डिताः समदर्शिनः ॥




Simple translation: Wise people are those that can see the sameness in a satvic person endowed with knowledge and humility, in a cow, in an elephant, in a dog and a dog-eater.

If there is a need to discuss any personal opinions it is possible to open a thread about specific parts in the General section.





 
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