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Unpacking Paramacharya's Words

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Nacchinarkiniyan

Well-known member
Dear balaiyer2. I can very well understand your sentiments. The problem plaguing the Tamil Brahmins is lack of unity. They are still carrying over the old enmity of Cholas and Pandyas.

Tanjore Iyers think they are superior to Thirunelveli Iyers. In many cities they have separate associations. Till the present generation inter-marriage between them was rare. Even now it is not common.

Vadamas think they are superior to other castes. Brahcharanam think they are superior to Choziyan, Vathima, and Mukkani. All of them think they are superior to the Sivacharyas. They are all Smarthas whereas the Sivacharyas are pure Saivas. You see the marriage advertisements to see the sub-caste and regional divide.

Then there is the age old rivalry between Iyer and Iyengar and Vadakali and Thenkalai.

The Acharyas are different. There is no unity among the Acharyas.

Most of the Brahmins welcomed the Aryan/Dravidian theory. They claim they are Aryans and the rest are all Dravidians. That theory which is fallacious has to be given a decent burial. We played into the hands of the Dravidian parties by most claiming that we are Aryans and some claiming they are Dravidians who got converted to Brahmins later.

All of us know that this lack of unity is true. But we are hiding our heads in the sand like ostriches.

When I was looking out for brides for my son, I placed an advertisement calling for any Brahmin. I received letters from Bihar, U.P, Punjab and Mahrashtra. Later on when I went on a pilgrimage to Pandharpur (Mahrashtra) the local Brahmins were enthusiastic about a marriage alliance.

All the Brahmins should unite.

Brahmins of the World Unite! You have nothing to lose but your Yajnopaveedham!
 
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hariharan1972

Guest
I, at the outset, profess my enormous respect for His Holiness Shankaracharya and hence i dont wish to create a sensation nor my intention blasphemous.

So, being standoffish about His Holiness's position in the Hindu Pyramid, in this discussion, i want to raise the issue of whether we missed utilising Shankaracharyas leadership effectively to integrate the Hindu society.

The various links published in this forum, especially kamakoti.org give more than ample insight into the humungous respect,HH Shankaracha evoked among different sections of the society.

Seen in this light, i somehow get the opinion that we didnt use HH Shankaracharyas leadership to convince the masses enough about the need to be united as a community.

Permit me the audacity of saying that HH Shankaracharyas defence of the 'Varna System' was not moving with the times.

I can sense that HH Shankaracharya did a fine decant of religiosity into society. While doing so, somehow i felt that the message of *there is no first among equals' before HIM was NOT adequately transported to the masses. Subtle hints were dropped in good measure but not packed with punch.

Perhaps, we could have used HH Shankaracharyas leadership to help the Hindu society reconcile itself with some of the claustrophobic provisions of certain tenets by placing them in context or disowning them as not relevant to the milieu.

Hinduism being as dis-organised as it is, in terms of framework, it has become very easy for nay-sayers to allude such meanings to these tenets which withers the faith in the system.

So, did we miss an an opportunity to integrate the Hindu community into one fold under HH Shankaracharyas leadership ?
 
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Nacchinarkiniyan

Nacchinarkiniyan

Well-known member
I am at a loss to understand how this discussion will help the community.

This kind of academic discussions about the role of the Acharyas will only divide the community. I request that this may be taken off.
 
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Ramaa

Guest
Dear Sri Hari,

This is the reopening of a Pandora's box that was opened many times before! Unlike the proverbial Pandora's box it has not unleashed any war of evils on humans let alone the escape of 'Hope'. In the Greek story Pandora did close the box before the 'hope' escaped but in our case the 'Hope' of Hindus never escapes in spite of the box kept open with its lids thrown out! (Moral: One can raise the stink but can't kill the faith).

I am a firm believer in the axiom of the Geetha "naasatho vidyathe bhavo naabhavo vidyathe sathaha" (The unreal has no existence, the real never ceases to be.) The 'unreal' has been defined as that which did not exist 'before' and would not therefore exist 'after'. In between it seems to exist but not really! I hope you made out what I have said!!

People's consternation is perennial and so they reinvent the wheel in the way and shape of their choice! There is neither eternal progression nor abysmal degradation but only endless cycle of the opposites in succession. I do not know if it is our own anxiety or fancy that we evaluate the role of Gods and Acharyas.

Now coming back I have a small question: Is there a resolution mechanism between you and those who may not agree with you or that both would agree to disagree? I am asking this because this sort of topics or questions rose as often as the weeds in the fields and never once vanquished!

Regards,
Ramaa
 

vijisesh

Active member
" On a purposeful Mission with Close interaction with the Almighty GOD, 'prior to' and during the course of their creation in the very earth, the Acharyas perform their duties with no bias and no expectancy , to educate the basics virtues to mankind, which they pretend to have forgotten "
Who am I to comment on the lives of such great people who have given away everything , for the sake of humanity ??
 

Chintana

Active member
I am at a loss to understand how this discussion will help the community.

This kind of academic discussions about the role of the Acharyas will only divide the community. I request that this may be taken off.


Sri Nacchinarkiniyan & Sri Ramaa,

Respectfully, I must disagree. No great guru has ever said that his/her words are beyond examination.

Hari opened with the topic with enough respect for the Acharya.

The Acharya's words should be understood by us (at all levels of spiritual evolution) in the sense he intended and we must re-examine it in the current situation so that we understand why he said what he said and where we need to go from here.

While I have the highest degree of respect for the Acharya, we cannot deny that many Brahmins moved away from his prescriptions a long time ago. That happened for a reason too. We need to understand that as well.

According to spiritual theory it should be possible to realize God despite whatever work one does in life. But the brahminical ways have all been aimed at one thing - external purification - of vibration (through chanting), of body (bathing and fasting, etc), through sacrifice and rituals. The world has changed for us in so many ways and it is impossible for us to go back to his prescriptions. So it is important to understand the essence of what he has said so that we may figure out how to implement it ways best suited for our lives and times.

No man (or woman) for that matter can call himself (or herself )great and refuse to submit to examination, especially of his/her social messages.

Sri Periyava didnt exactly whisper these words into the ears of select disciples. He wrote them out into books for people to UNDERSTAND.

In my opinion no understanding can be complete without a deep examination. This is a necessary condition for understanding any piece of philosophy. So Hari was well within the bounds of this forum in bringing up this topic.

Having said that I realize that some of us maybe more spiritually advanced than others and may think this discussion is superfluous. That happens when one has achieved a certain level of conviction at the spiritual level.

But not opening up a subject at all for questioning - no...I don't believe that is the way to encourage sound thinking. We have to discuss the pros and cons of the philosophies that govern us - not with the intent to insult anybody but with the intent to deepen our understanding. Because, if we don't, then we cannot come up with sound reasons to counter the arguments of rationalists. We have to remember that a refusal to examine our beliefs is the strength of rationalists. They think we dont know what we are doing. And you know what? Some of that is right! So how to we fix that problem? By learning more about the philosophies that govern us.


I am definitely not someone who questions the existence of God or His Divine Emissaries. But our levels of understanding is not as high as those of prophets and I see this as an opportunity to deepen our understanding to whatever extent possible, by examining their words with RESPECT, with the intent to LEARN, and come to our own conclusions about how one can apply their ideas to our lives.

I believe this is what any great soul would have wanted. We want to follow their messages in spirit, not so much to the letter.

I hope this message is understood in the intent that it is meant.

Regards,
Chintana
 
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Nacchinarkiniyan

Nacchinarkiniyan

Well-known member
It is wrong to assume that the Sankaracharya of Kamakoti Peeth is the only Acharya for Tamil Brahmins. The Sankaracharya of Shringeri Sharada Peeth is the Acharya for the Brahmins of southern districts.
 
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hariharan1972

Guest
Need a hard-look into our communication strategy

Sri Nachinnarkiniyan,

My profound apologies if you felt i was attempting a critique on HH Shankaracharya.

I was expressing my view to a member of this forum and we 'seemingly' agreed on the view that perhaps as a community we could have achieved more under HH Shankaracharyas leadership.

This is the kernel of what i wanted to say, perhaps my fingers walked a different path.

Now to the benefit to the community, perhaps yes, not much but the point is that i was 'crystal gazing' into 'what it could have been' and 'what it is'.

Permit me sir, to state that today one of the pillars of Hinduism is that person, whom some tenets for reasons i cant quite figure out, keeps him out of the design, but who hasnt 'revolted against the system'.

Sir my perspectives have changed a bit since i read Manus work and a part of 'Purusha Shuktha'. If you noticed my first post, more than the Acharya disowning the tenets, i felt, if under his guidance, we as a community, placed some parts of some tenets 'in context', we could have such a comfortable dialogue with everyone in the society.

For instance, somewhere it is *said* that if a non-brahmin were to hear the vedas being chanted, molten lead be poured into his ears. I hope you will agree with me that such clauses (if right) can easily be used to whip up passions against a community and perhaps against the religion itself.

I also dont know if these clauses have a context and are they being quoted in isolation.

Sri Ramaa, I agree with you that there will always be some opposition and we cannot always come to a reconciliation point. But my view is that if certain tenets are 'shrouded in mystery' isnt it a worthwhile effort to uravel them and place them in their rightful context.

I just saw this thread as a discussion leading into the 'communication strategy' for the future.

I regret if i have ruffled feathers and i assure it was not intended.
 
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Nacchinarkiniyan

Nacchinarkiniyan

Well-known member
Hari,

You have to understand that other than the Shringeri Math followers, we have the Jeers for the Iyengars. Jeers have more say in the Iyengar community because they have a Guru parampara. The Smartas do not have such a parampara.

My opinion is that even if Sankaracharya of Kamakoti Peeth wanted to make radical changes, he could not have done it.

Social reforms I believe are strictly outside the perview of the Acharyaa. They are Jnanis. Realised souls. If they are Madathipathis that places a lot of constraint on them.

All of us have tendency to follow any Acharya's teachings as long as it suits us.

We should not find fault with our Acharyas for our own failings.
 
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Ramaa

Guest
Dear Hari and Sow Chintana,

I shall paraphrase your writing and then give my views.

"For instance, somewhere it is *said* that if a non-brahmin were to hear the vedas being chanted, molten lead be poured into his ears." - Hari
I don't know where it is said, but I have never seen or heard such heinous thing ever happening. There are people who attack the Brahmins on such hearsays that they have created. Ask them to show proof that it indeed had happened. Secondly you have said "..if non-Brahmins were to hear.." etc. All the three varnas of Brahmana, Kshathriya and Vaisyas are dwijas meaning they have to have yagnopaveetham. How would you have yagnopaveetham without the secret administration of Gayathri upadesa in the ear? Do you first tell a kshathriya and a vaisa (as they are non-Brahmins) of the secret Gayathri in their ears and then pour molten lead because they have heard the Veda?! To my knowledge vast majority of the Kshathriyas and Vaisyas have strayed away from the Vedas as also a considerable number of Brahmins. This is our 'ksheeNam'. Instead of joining those Brahmin-haters and discuss these stuffs with them we should teach our wayward Brahmins, Kshathriyas and Vaisyas to start chanting the Veda and impress on them to have their yagnopaveetham and live a dhaarmic life. We shall later see if it is necessary to teach Sudhras to chant vedas. Remember Veda is not like a free t.v. They contain injunctions which would be unnecessary for some. That is why many Brahmins and Kshathriyas and Vaisyas have turned themselves into Sudhras and seem happy about it. So why burden them?

"According to spiritual theory it should be possible to realize God despite whatever work one does in life. But the brahminical ways have all been aimed at one thing - external purification - of vibration (through chanting), of body (bathing and fasting, etc), through sacrifice and rituals." - Chintana
This is only partly correct. Geetha clearly states that there are four margas to God Realization and they are Karma Yoga, Bhakthi Yoga, Raja Yoga and Gnana Yoga. It is said that in the last century there were four great Acharyas living and preaching in India these four margas - Paramacharya Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi preaching Karma maarga, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa preaching Bhakthi maarga, Aravinda for Raja yoga and Bhagavan Ramana for Gnana maarga. In my own family I find each one choosing one or the other of the four margas to the exclusion of the other three maargas.

"No man (or woman) for that matter can call himself (or herself )great and refuse to submit to examination, especially of his/her social messages." - Chintana
I am sure you didn't mean that any of the Acharyas call himself great. It is we who call another a great person. In the same way it is we who examine that person and pronounce our judgment.

"In my opinion no understanding can be complete without a deep examination. This is a necessary condition for understanding any piece of philosophy. So Hari was well within the bounds of this forum in bringing up this topic." - Chintana
Sure he can. Only Nacchi sir and Vijisesh were unsure if it is a productive exercise. There is also the question of crossing the laxman rekha as is happening with the atheists' treatment of Hindu icons. So I say the zeal should be tempered. You are the moderator and you should know better!

"But not opening up a subject at all for questioning - no...I don't believe that is the way to encourage sound thinking. We have to discuss the pros and cons of the philosophies that govern us - not with the intent to insult anybody but with the intent to deepen our understanding. Because, if we don't, then we cannot come up with sound reasons to counter the arguments of rationalists. We have to remember that a refusal to examine our beliefs is the strength of rationalists. They think we dont know what we are doing. And you know what? Some of that is right! So how to we fix that problem? By learning more about the philosophies that govern us." - Chintana
Argument is quite reasonable. Things of the mind and things of the heart aren't always connected. Suppose one feels, like Meera, a slave of Lord Krishna janam janam, what kind of argument is useful to deter him/her from his/her slavishness to Lord Krishna? Every argument directed at that person turns out to be a hot poisonous arrow piercing that person's heart. Can anyone justify that the rationalist is only fighting mooda nambikkai and not acting like a Taliban?

"I am definitely not someone who questions the existence of God or His Divine Emissaries. But our levels of understanding is not as high as those of prophets and I see this as an opportunity to deepen our understanding to whatever extent possible, by examining their words with RESPECT, with the intent to LEARN, and come to our own conclusions about how one can apply their ideas to our lives." - Chintana
When I was studying philosophy I was impressed by what Dr. Radhakrishnan said of the qualification of a critic. He said one should become that person ie. think, feel and act like that person, to compeltely understand that person in order to be qualified to criticize that person. A demand of a really learned person indeed! And the most difficult would be to become a Hindu Saint and then to come out to be able to criticize. It almost never happens! For such is the glory of our dharma as once you get immersed you turn into gold!

In any case, Sow Chintana, I am not discouraging you but you are up against the wall and the task is difficult and perhaps impossible. But sure, you should find out yourself.

Regards,
Ramaa
 

Chintana

Active member
Social reforms I believe are strictly outside the perview of the Acharyaa. They are Jnanis. Realised souls. If they are Madathipathis that places a lot of constraint on them.

All of us have tendency to follow any Acharya's teachings as long as it suits us.

We should not find fault with our Acharyas for our own failings.

Thanks, Sri Nacchinarkiniyan.

If social reforms are strictly outside the purview of acharyas how do you explain Swami Vivekananda's mission? Why did he have to go to America to preach brotherhood? Why did he undertake extensive travels, often under circumstances of inconvenience?

Why did Kanchi Periyava for that matter write, தெயவத்தின் குரல்?

There may be some saints who did not go out to change the world but there are others who are here for social reform. The two saints I referred to are great examples.

Your point about "finding fault with Acharya" - I don't know how to say this any more clearly - a re-examination of somebody's words can be done with decency - people dont have to degenerate into name-calling. I believe that this exercise is not only possible but it is also necessary.

A refusal to examine our philosophies is what has led us to the rigid structure of beliefs that is so unkind to anyone who has a different version.

Only if we know what we need to know, can we figure out how to fit it within our lives.

Nobody is denying that we have "our own failings" as you rightly say. But we are also not as spiritually courageous as these outstanding human beings. So it is upto us to figure out how close we can get to their messages given our specific constraints. That figuring out part only we have to do - it would be erroneous to assume that saints will come and do it for us.

Regards,
Chintana
 

Chintana

Active member
Dear Sri Ramaa,

Dear Hari and Sow Chintana,

I shall paraphrase your writing and then give my views.

I don't know where it is said, but I have never seen or heard such heinous thing ever happening. There are people who attack the Brahmins on such hearsays that they have created. Ask them to show proof that it indeed had happened. Secondly you have said "..if non-Brahmins were to hear.." etc. All the three varnas of Brahmana, Kshathriya and Vaisyas are dwijas meaning they have to have yagnopaveetham. How would you have yagnopaveetham without the secret administration of Gayathri upadesa in the ear? Do you first tell a kshathriya and a vaisa (as they are non-Brahmins) of the secret Gayathri in their ears and then pour molten lead because they have heard the Veda?! To my knowledge vast majority of the Kshathriyas and Vaisyas have strayed away from the Vedas as also a considerable number of Brahmins. This is our 'ksheeNam'. Instead of joining those Brahmin-haters and discuss these stuffs with them we should teach our wayward Brahmins, Kshathriyas and Vaisyas to start chanting the Veda and impress on them to have their yagnopaveetham and live a dhaarmic life. We shall later see if it is necessary to teach Sudhras to chant vedas. Remember Veda is not like a free t.v. They contain injunctions which would be unnecessary for some. That is why many Brahmins and Kshathriyas and Vaisyas have turned themselves into Sudhras and seem happy about it. So why burden them?

I will let Hari respond to this.

This is only partly correct. Geetha clearly states that there are four margas to God Realization and they are Karma Yoga, Bhakthi Yoga, Raja Yoga and Gnana Yoga. It is said that in the last century there were four great Acharyas living and preaching in India these four margas - Paramacharya Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi preaching Karma maarga, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa preaching Bhakthi maarga, Aravinda for Raja yoga and Bhagavan Ramana for Gnana maarga. In my own family I find each one choosing one or the other of the four margas to the exclusion of the other three maargas.

Right. But Karma, Bhakti, Gnana and Raja Yogas can be practiced by anybody irrespective of occupation. Sure the Karma Marga of a potter will be different from the Karma Marga of a fisherman. But it is Karma Marga for each! So the occupation one is involved with, is a viable route. Any occupation is a viable route. This is what I meant.

I also said that Brahminical ways have been aimed at one thing - that is important to recognize for us in today's context because not all of us are doing it. From our existing circumstances what can we do? We should have practical answers to these questions if we are to even dream of bringing brahmins together.



I am sure you didn't mean that any of the Acharyas call himself great. It is we who call another a great person. In the same way it is we who examine that person and pronounce our judgment.

Sure. Acharyas are those who have destroyed their ego and would never claim this. But they are also people who have spoken with an unshakeable conviction about what they have seen and how and why we should do as they say. My idea of "greatness" was a direct reference to their unflinching sense of conviction.

In other words, if somebody is so convinced that person should have no problems explaining how s/he arrived at that conclusion. I think all great Acharyas submit themselves to this examination. Otherwise Yoga would not be a science. The Acharyas are confident their results can be replicated.


Sure he can. Only Nacchi sir and Vijisesh were unsure if it is a productive exercise.

Their concerns have been noted. I believe this discussion is a very important one for us. So I have no doubts about the productivity of this exercise.

There is also the question of crossing the laxman rekha as is happening with the atheists' treatment of Hindu icons.

The atheists are crossing the laskhman rekha BECAUSE we have not tried to understand whether what they are pointing out are loopholes or points indeed to be considered.

So I say the zeal should be tempered.

Of course! There is a difference between atheists discussing it and our discussing it. As followers it is our job to find out if there is any truth in what they are saying - and to be able to come up with strong reasons for our beliefs. I dont think an empty reliance on dogma - a non-questioning attitude is going to help us much.

You are the moderator and you should know better!

I sincerely hope so. I will do what I can to ensure that Periyava's respect is in no way tarnished. We will keep the focus on the issue, not the personality.

Argument is quite reasonable. Things of the mind and things of the heart aren't always connected. Suppose one feels, like Meera, a slave of Lord Krishna janam janam, what kind of argument is useful to deter him/her from his/her slavishness to Lord Krishna? Every argument directed at that person turns out to be a hot poisonous arrow piercing that person's heart. Can anyone justify that the rationalist is only fighting mooda nambikkai and not acting like a Taliban?

The rationalists, have their faults, of course! But the fact remains that we are not devoid of the mistakes they are pointing out. It is true that we have not come up with convincing explanations for our practices. It is true that we have not communicated the reasons for rituals to every other member of the Hindu sect. It is true that some members still retain an arrogant attitude. We are trying to do our little bit to fix ourselves, that's all.

If there are those who feel the strong call of the Lord, like Bhakta Meera, they will find the spiritual strength to fight out their opposition. But mere mortals, like yours truly, need the protection of their community. So that we may one day, perhaps in some lifetime, develop the necessary environmental conditions that makes saints.

When I was studying philosophy I was impressed by what Dr. Radhakrishnan said of the qualification of a critic. He said one should become that person ie. think, feel and act like that person, to compeltely understand that person in order to be qualified to criticize that person. A demand of a really learned person indeed! And the most difficult would be to become a Hindu Saint and then to come out to be able to criticize. It almost never happens! For such is the glory of our dharma as once you get immersed you turn into gold!

I appreciate your reverential attitude toward criticism. But this should not be an excuse to not question. May be we all dont have the perfect qualifications of a critic but we are all not fools either. We have enough intelligence and intention to understand our ways. Hopefully we will have the patience too.

In any case, Sow Chintana, I am not discouraging you but you are up against the wall and the task is difficult and perhaps impossible. But sure, you should find out yourself.

Thanks very much, Sri Ramaa. I have no doubt that the task is difficult. But difficulty should be no excuse for not trying!!!

Regards,
Ramaa

Regards,
Chintana
 
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hariharan1972

Guest
Bingo ! my point

I don't know where it is said, but I have never seen or heard such heinous thing ever happening. There are people who attack the Brahmins on such hearsays that they have created. Ask them to show proof that it indeed had happened. Secondly you have said "..if non-Brahmins were to hear.." etc. All the three varnas of Brahmana, Kshathriya and Vaisyas are dwijas meaning they have to have yagnopaveetham. How would you have yagnopaveetham without the secret administration of Gayathri upadesa in the ear? Do you first tell a kshathriya and a vaisa (as they are non-Brahmins) of the secret Gayathri in their ears and then pour molten lead because they have heard the Veda?! To my knowledge vast majority of the Kshathriyas and Vaisyas have strayed away from the Vedas as also a considerable number of Brahmins. This is our 'ksheeNam'. Instead of joining those Brahmin-haters and discuss these stuffs with them we should teach our wayward Brahmins, Kshathriyas and Vaisyas to start chanting the Veda and impress on them to have their yagnopaveetham and live a dhaarmic life. We shall later see if it is necessary to teach Sudhras to chant vedas. Remember Veda is not like a free t.v. They contain injunctions which would be unnecessary for some. That is why many Brahmins and Kshathriyas and Vaisyas have turned themselves into Sudhras and seem happy about it. So why burden them?

Sri Ramaa,

Precisely my point.

As to the source, i am not too certain but perhaps 'Manus Laws' ? (I read it recently but do not remember it too well)

Mr Nacchinarkiniyan, this is what i think is the purpose, that is to say, 'we' can discuss such 'issues' in this 'forum' without any hoopla surrounding it.

My participation in another forum has given me this understanding that 'this forum of ours' is a much saner, wiser (though i pull down the average :) ) forum to discuss contentious issues.

Now to get back, i also feel Mr Ramaa that the law (?) might not have been put into action. But the very fact that there is such a provision gives ammunition to the garrulous K Brigade to whip up passion.

It is much like some nations like India having the Capital punishment. The conviction rate may be pretty low but the mere fact that we have a 'legal provision to take away a life' may be unappealing to many.

So is this.

I must honestly admit that my sensibilities took a huge, huge beating when i read the Manu Laws. It is so lop-sided, egregious and positions the Brahmin in a pedestal from where he can 'demand' subservience from other sections of the society.

The moot point is whether this is a compilation of what really existed or was it some persons 'wishful thinking', i dont know.

But it is being used time and again by the brahmin baiters to train their guns on us.

Sir, in a civil society such as ours, i dont think there is any escaping from engaging sections of the society. I am not for a minute suggesting that we invite Veeramani for a 'healthy debate', i know we cant, but shouldnt we talk to the person, who not being a 'karai veshti' is the subject of the constant propaganda that the K Brigade unleashes ?

My point is if someone is constantly quoting texts either out of context or prying attention on certain extraneous provisions of the tenets, shouldnt we be countering him ?

What is our communication plan for this ? In this context only i was saying that we could have achieved much more under the Acharyas leadership.

And Mr Nacchinarkiniyan, i agree that that Acharya didnt have complete authority on different sections of the brahmin community but am i wrong in thinking that if we had made a start under his leadership, other Acharyas 'could have' lent their support.

If we constantly yearn for 'Unity' of the 'Hindu Community' how are we going to achieve it without having a dialogue about certain facets of our religion which are perhaps not properly understood ?
 
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Nacchinarkiniyan

Nacchinarkiniyan

Well-known member
I recall the unending discussions some of us had about the role of the Acharyas or leaders of Hindu faith in the Freedom movement.

The freedom movement was a trend setter for the Brahmin community that for the first time many Brahmins came out and fought for it. But the organized Hindu religion kept out of it. The Ramakrishna Mission stayed out of it.

Chintana had quoted the example of Swami Vivekananda. He went to U.S to let the world know about Hinduism. Then he founded the Ramakrishna Mission to revive Hinduism. But he did not attempt any Social reform. Though Sri Ramakrishna and Swamiji did not believe in caste distinctions, Swamiji did not call for abolition of the caste system. Swamiji worked within the existing system.

Even this was initially opposed by some of the disciples because Sri Ramakrishna himself believed that serving poor people, constructing hospitals etc. were not in the perview of the individual.

Hinduism believes in the individual seeking an end to the endless cycle of jenmas. The organized religion and individual Acharyas have done a lot of good work in reviving Hinduism.

The only exception to this general behavior was Sri Ramanujacharya who stood on top of the temple tower above the front gate of the temple, and shouted out the sacred Mantra to people of all castes at the top of his voice. He did not believe in caste distinctions. But because he was involved in so many activities and may be due to the opposition he faced, he did not totally abolish this system. Wish he had.

I have a Guru. Not one Guru but many. Diksha Guru, Jnana Guru et al. For us the Guru is the supreme authority in matters pertaining to religion (Anmika). But when it comes to Lowkika ( I think the question of Varnashrama is lowkika.) we make our own judgment.

Similar questions have been asked about Swami Vivekananda. Why did he not actively support the freedom movement? Why did he not work for the abolition of the caste system?
 
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Brahmanyan

Well-known member
All these years I was of the impression that Acharyas of all denominations are there to guide us on our individual spiritual pursuits. Then where is the question of some one trying to lead us .To my knowledge and reading, no where our scriptures advocate grouping of a community on the basis of one's belief towards the spiritual path. Caste (varna and Jathi) is some thing different it is a Socio-Religious division, nothing to do with one's approach towards spiritual pursuits.
Regards,
Brahmanyan.
 

N.R.Ranganathan

Well-known member
Did HH Shankaracharya..

Sir :

HH Sri Chandrashekarendra Saraswathi Swamigal himself has dealt with
this subject once. He said :

" Many people have approached me with the question 'why not you change
the sastras to suit the needs of the fast changing times ?. After all, even
the Governments change the Laws . You are like the Rishis who have
compiled the Dharma sastras. Therefore, if you wish, you also can change
the sastras to fall in line with the current day practices. In other words,
they have diplomatically asked me to change the sastras to suit their
needs and desires.

Their is nothing wrong in their request if only the smritis are the personal
opinions of the smritikartas !

But, many people do not know that the smritis do not reflect the personal views of their authors. They have just compiled what is said in the Vedas and offered it to us for our benefit. Vedas can't and must not be changed under any circumstances. And therefore, the smritis also cant be changed.

I may not have the ability or qualification to compel you to follow the
sastras. I am sitting here as the Pontiff to see that you people practise the dharmas as enshrined in the Vedas and this is also Sri Acharyaal's directive.
I do not have any right to change the sastras to suit the present day
philosophy and way of life with all its attendant comforts.............. "

( vide Pages 772 and 773 of Deivathin kural .vol 2 )
 

KRS

Well-known member
Dear Sri Hari,

I absolutely agree with you, Sowbhagyavathi Chintana Ji and others here, with respect to discussing ANYTHING in Hinduism. Usually people shy away from discussions about the sayings of the 'Great Ones' - the reasons are two fold. First is of course our reverence for the 'Great Ones' usually make us think that we are violating some sacred nature of these sayings. The second, probably a more deeper reason is that we do not wish to harm the sentiments of the Bhakthas. But then, as you point out, this Forum is a 'safe' place to discuss any and all topics that apply to us as Tamil Brahmins.

Regarding the treatment of the fourth Varna, there are various examples in our Smrithis, as you point out. Even in Valmiki Ramayana, there is a story about the Lord killing one Sambuca, a Shudra, just because he was learning and reciting the Vedas. Now, of course, the authenticity of this story is being questioned, some saying that this story was added later to discredit Ramayana. In my opinion, one should accept the story as the 'reality' that existed in those days - may be.

Maha Periaval saw Himself as the protector of the original way our religion was practiced. His beautiful way of logically explaining His stance on various topics is amazing. So, His stance on the Varna system goes back to the original division of labor concept of Varna Dharma, as a way to get the Brahmins to go back to their Dharma, for the good of the world and the society. His outlook on the world involved the mystical aspects of the mantras and sacrifices and their effect on the world's peace and prosperity. So, by showing us the way our religion was conceived originally and it's power to shape the society, He was advocating us to start our way back to the original way of life slowly but surely. He said that He did not care whether a Jathi of Brahmins existed, but He wanted the Varna of Brahmins to exist for the safe keeping of our Srutis and Smritis.

Now, whwn I encounter Smarthas who consider the Kanchi Matham as their Guru's place, there are roughly three kinds:
1. A class of Brahmins, who are till today observe the edicts of sacrifice and poverty, sending their progeny to learn the Vedas and still are trying to live up to their Dharma. I salute these folks, who are really the suffering lot in the DK regime.
2. A different category, trying to follow His words, but at the same time knows that the times have changed and try to adapt to the current realities.
3. A class which while vociferously defending ALL THE WORDS of Maha Periaval, would do things contrary to His teachings (demanding Varadhakshina, going after money while dutifully doing Sandhya Vandanam three times, etc.) This class is in a majority now in the community, and these are the people, in my opinion, even today want to 'go back' to the old ways, without thinking through the issue. The Varna system had become the cause celebre for them.

There may be people in between these three classes, but I have roughly divided the major categories.

As Brahmins, we need to encourage the growth of the first two segments, while trying to educate the third category.

Spiritual Messiahs always have come for a need. Maha Periaval's task, in my opinion, was to give voice to a community that came under attack, and remind us of our past glory. There may be a person coming who may well write a new Dharma Sastra, that all of us will follow.

By the way, Swami Vivekanada, sure enough wanted to abolish the Jathi system. He wanted every Hindu to become a Brahmin as He said that the Brahmin should be viewed as the ideal man in our society.

Pranams,
KRS
 

vijisesh

Active member
Is anyone free to take up the missed opportunities of HH Shankaracharya , during their freetime ????? and complete them to the satisfaction of the next few generations ??
 

Chintana

Active member
Dear Sri Nacchinarkiniyan,

I recall the unending discussions some of us had about the role of the Acharyas or leaders of Hindu faith in the Freedom movement.

The freedom movement was a trend setter for the Brahmin community that for the first time many Brahmins came out and fought for it. But the organized Hindu religion kept out of it. The Ramakrishna Mission stayed out of it.

Thank you for this really useful information. It is useful to know what happened in history.

Chintana had quoted the example of Swami Vivekananda. He went to U.S to let the world know about Hinduism. Then he founded the Ramakrishna Mission to revive Hinduism. But he did not attempt any Social reform. Though Sri Ramakrishna and Swamiji did not believe in caste distinctions, Swamiji did not call for abolition of the caste system. Swamiji worked within the existing system.

Revival of Hinduism was reform itself! If I understand history correctly, the British were doing everything they could to weaken our morale. One of the primary ways by which they did that was to destroy our faith.

Acharyas of Swami Vivekananda's calibre are above any distinction. Yet Vivekananda expressly brought out that to be patriotic was one of the best things a Hindu could do. How can you say this was not social reform? Has any other Acharya before him talked about religion and patriotism?

Let us also not forget that Vivekananda started plenty of Ramakrishna Mission schools. I will not be surprised if they were started to counter the growth of Christian Missionary Schools. Is this not reform?

Acharyas in general do not believe in breaking traditions. They only believe in encouraging souls to rise above their distinctions. Why? Because they know and understand that traditions are important for peace and social order.

They usually call out to rise above them, not destroy them. Destroying traditions is akin to destroying society. So why would they do that?


Even this was initially opposed by some of the disciples because Sri Ramakrishna himself believed that serving poor people, constructing hospitals etc. were not in the perview of the individual.

Yet Vivekananda did those things, didn't he? He chose to descend from the exalted status of a detached Acharya. He did that for the good of the people. So by definition what he did was reform!


Hinduism believes in the individual seeking an end to the endless cycle of jenmas. The organized religion and individual Acharyas have done a lot of good work in reviving Hinduism.

But Hinduism has not stopped there. It has prescribed specific social things to be done by specific people to get there. It is spiritual in intent but for its execution it has depended on social order and ways of living.

The only exception to this general behavior was Sri Ramanujacharya who stood on top of the temple tower above the front gate of the temple, and shouted out the sacred Mantra to people of all castes at the top of his voice. He did not believe in caste distinctions. But because he was involved in so many activities and may be due to the opposition he faced, he did not totally abolish this system. Wish he had.

I think I answered this point earlier.

I have a Guru. Not one Guru but many. Diksha Guru, Jnana Guru et al. For us the Guru is the supreme authority in matters pertaining to religion (Anmika). But when it comes to Lowkika ( I think the question of Varnashrama is lowkika.) we make our own judgment.

I don't have any comments about the "many gurus" part of your answer.

Regarding Anmika and Lowkika, you are right. But we make our judgment based on what the Gurus have taught us. That is why we need to examine their words to figure out how to apply them in practice.


Similar questions have been asked about Swami Vivekananda. Why did he not actively support the freedom movement? Why did he not work for the abolition of the caste system?

Acharyas have one main purpose - to raise the level of human consciousness to such an extent that each human being becomes capable of supreme discrimination - the ability to choose good over evil out of one's own free will. And to help people develop the courage to stand by their choice (of good). Why? Because we need to learn to CHOOSE God - God wil never impose Himself on us. So acharyas' roles and works have lasting endurance. They are not event-specific.

I believe that Swami Vivekananda DID what an acharya had to do. Only somebody of his calibre could prove that monks were not weak and meek. He showed by personal example what spiritualism could achieve. As is true of any acharya he did that by inspiration, not destruction. Acharyas don't participate in contradictions (because they are dualities, and manifestations of maya) because they have risen above them. If Vivekananda had explicitly participated in the freedom movement it would have meant that he was not a true acharya - that he was given to pettiness of war and stooped so low as to take sides. So he did not participate.

Regards,
Chintana
 
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OP
OP
Nacchinarkiniyan

Nacchinarkiniyan

Well-known member
Thank you, Chintana. That was a well thought out reply.

I raised these queries only to point that no Acharya or Guru is perfect. I believe that we have to accept our Gurus/Acharyas warts and all. Everyone is subject to his/her vasanas.
 
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Chintana

Active member
Thank you, Chintana. That was a well thought out reply.

Thanks, Sri Nacchinarkiniyan.

I raised these queries only to point that no Acharya or Guru is perfect. I believe that we have to accept our Gurus/Acharyas warts and all. Everyone is subject to his/her vasanas.

I believe the contrary - acharyas ARE perfected beings (otherwise one cannot realize God). I simply think that their messages sometimes are too broad based and we have to understand the operating principle behind them to find out how we can help ourselves.

Regards,
Chintana
 

Chintana

Active member
Dear Brahmayan,

All these years I was of the impression that Acharyas of all denominations are there to guide us on our individual spiritual pursuits. Then where is the question of some one trying to lead us .

Is that not leadership? - i.e., guiding individuals toward their spiritual goals?

It is not leadership of a vast collectivity, if that is what you mean.

But the nature of spiritual growth is such that it is unreasonable to expect all souls to have reached the exact evolutionary point where their hearts will be receptive to the words of a guru. So any given acharya typically will not have a big following.

To my knowledge and reading, no where our scriptures advocate grouping of a community on the basis of one's belief towards the spiritual path. Caste (varna and Jathi) is some thing different it is a Socio-Religious division, nothing to do with one's approach towards spiritual pursuits.

Goodness!

Caste (Varna and Jathi) started out not merely as a division of occupation but as a division of consciousness. Higher castes were supposed to be more evolved (higher levels of consciousness) - hence the respect to them and hence the severity of punishment for them if they did wrong.

But all beings, whether they are highly evolved or not have to live together and make efforts to proceed on the spiritual path, isnt it? So the Varnas and Jathis. Their expression is through occupational culture but their intention is very much spiritual.

Regards,
Brahmanyan.

Regards,
Chintana
 

KRS

Well-known member
Dear Sowbhagyavathi Chintana Ji,

To add to your reply to Sri Brahmayan above, I will add that a person's Dharma is always expressed as 'Varnashrama Dharma'. The Varna classification is part and parcel of our religion. It goes to the foundational aspect of who we are as Hindus. Because Sanatana Dharma is rather a way of life, as a 'Hindu', one should not look at this classification as 'bad'. It was instituted for a purpose. The current struggle is how to keep it's modern aspects, while discarding the anachronistic aspects that are not and can not be in practice anymore.

A society grows by many ways. Knowledge generated within the society as well as knowledge imported from other societies (I am talking about knowledge with a small 'k'). For better or worse, India has imported several different types of knowledge, thanks to both invasions and commerce.

In the recent history, we know of the ideas and knowledge coming from the Greeks, Persians, Arabs, Mongols, Chinese, Japanese, English, American and other cultures.

For better or worse we were impacted and changed as people from the long rules of both Moguls and the English. To discard these influences as 'foreign' is to deny who we are as people today.

So, the question is how do we apply the principles of our ageless religion to who we are today?

Pranams,
KRS
 
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