Wednesday, January 31, 2007


In the previous post, the question I was basically trying to answer was this : What is the relationship between the symbolic superstructure of a religion, i.e., its theology, ritual, etc., which I called “content,” and the essential religious experience?

I guess devotees may be a little surprised by my approach. Basically, my idea is this: By using an empirical approach to our own tradition, i.e., by looking at our tradition objectively, what meaningful interpretations can we find? I base this on the following item of faith: Since the very name of our doctrine is acintya-bhedābheda, a cornerstone of which is the reality of the world, we must be ready to extract meaningful conclusions from phenomena.

This will have three benefits: (1) It will give us a more mature attitude towards our own doctrines; (2) It will enrich our appreciation of our symbols; (3) It will increase comprehension of our concepts in certain circles.



anuradha said...

Recently I came across a book, named 'Vedanta: Heart of Hinduïsm' by Hans Torwesten.
He gave an interesting overview of Vedanta and the problems your average Westener might face when approaching Vedanta, especially the Upanishads and Vedanta-Sutra, the Scriptures we pay obeisances to, but hardly ever read.

He seemed to subscribe to Shankara's conclusions of non-dualism, but in the end he admits that this viewpoint is only halfthruth. The only way to get rid of the 'I', he concludes as a retorical question, is through love. Love as an absolute means to an end of absolute love. Love seems to be missing in Shankaracaryas comments on Vedanta.
Isvara could therefore very logically be not just a means to an end of nondual Brahman, as Shankara states, but the very end itself, as Ramanuja states.
The writer is though hopelessly disappointed with the poetic discriptions of this ´vaisnava´ spiritual world. He `almost wishes to take Shankara's sword and cut of all the Vaikunthas`.
This is probably though why Shankara's philosophy is more popular in the West than our, not only more loving, but also more logical philosophy of Personal Love.
He says, that stating that your personal God is blue and wears a peacock feather is not serious philosophy and is not likely to attract your average intellectual Westener.
In the end its clear that he draws much inspiration from Vivekenanda Swami.

The point is that I agree with your thesis on objective study of your own tradition and the advantages it has. Problem though is to find interesting openminded studies on this matter. I came across this one by chance. Mostly books covering Vedanta are either filled with missionary zeal or a compilation of abstruse details, that induce ...sleep

Any recommendations ?

Jagat said...

We are indeed accustomed to iconoclasm in the West. Those who are attracted to Vedanta will be of a philosophical bent before they have a devotional one. One will not get to Krishna through Vedanta; it is only after coming to Krishna that one can find him in the Vedanta, as a hidden presence.

Bhakti can only come from bhakti, and who knows where that comes from? To the non-devotee it is a disease; to the devotee it is mercy.