You are viewing pramode_ce

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Vedanta

pce

Just now finished reading this blog entry by my brother - The old man and his God.

I used to listen to a young Swami talking eloquently about `complex' topics from ancient Hindu scriptures (I suppose he is now talking about the Gita) - he talks really well. But most of the time, I found discussions about stuff like the `Atman' either too intricate, too confusing or simply vague. Does the large audience in front of him really understand anything?

Notice something about the audience? They just sit there listening passively - wouldn't it be great if the Swami talks about a certain issue for some time and then engages in an *active* discussion with the audience? This seldom happens. Whatever he is talking about is supposed to be absolute, undeniable truth.

Such unquestioning acceptance might be the norm as far as spirituality is concerned, whatever be the religion you believe in. But the trouble with our country is that we allowed religion to influence our education to an unallowably large extend. Much of what passed around as education in pre-independent India was simply the "teaching" of spiritual "truths". It seems we didn't have a culture which believed in (and practiced) the Socratic method of questioning. Maybe, the downfall of Indian science can be traced to this peculiar cultural characteristic. Science happens only when existing ideas are questioned.

Stories of courage and nobility which millions of ordinary Indians show in the face of abject poverty can teach us a lot more about life and living than a thousand scriptures combined. Will some of our spiritual Guru's realize this and stop talking hi-fi vedanta? I doubt it.

Comments

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
sajith
Jul. 23rd, 2006 07:39 pm (UTC)
May I recommend the little book, "Bharatiya Darshanathinte Ariyappedatha Mukhangal", by Prof NVP Unithiri? Published by KSSP, this book discusses the "nastika" face of Indian philosophy, such as Carvakas.

(This has been one of the more interesting non-fiction reads I found during school days. Much of that is under several layers of literary amnesia, but I'm pretty sure this book would still be of interest for me. This book also discusses how the nonconformist schools of thought were clubbed down into anonimity or obscurity by the competition.)
pramode_ce
Jul. 24th, 2006 01:58 am (UTC)
Thanks for pointing out the book - I shall definitely read it!

(Anonymous)
Jul. 24th, 2006 05:52 am (UTC)
I strongly object
Sir, Guru's speaking `hi-fi` vedanta should not stop. The current generation of Indians are forgetting our culture amidst the hi-fi social and living standards. People are bothered only about money (not all though) and nothing else, and they are ready to get down to any level for that.

If one associates superstitions with the indian culture it is not going to help anyone.

Life is not as simple as one thinks. It is really complex. Complex than any science or theory one can think off. Even then, one should be able to take it easily as it comes. That is what one can learn from hi-fi `vedanta` or Gita.

Science and education are different though, and religion should not effect that, and it will not effect also. If anything is influencing the education, it the standard of education in schools. The teachers have to influence that, since they have to respond to what students ask or it should be parents (if they have time for it which very rarely happen these days).

Every kid knows that a `monitor` is associated with a computer, but doesnot know that a vehicle, a washing machine, a mobile phone can also contain a computer. If education helps, then kids should know that otherwise change the education system.

As far as vedanta and/or Gita is concerned it still has to come out in some way otherwise the indian culture will be lost. The current generation has to pass that to the next generation, otherwise the culture that we Indians (atleast I) take pride of, will be lost.
pramode_ce
Jul. 24th, 2006 06:42 am (UTC)
Re: I strongly object
Believe me, there is much more to Indian culture than what you hear from the Swamiji's. Most of what we see today is just the ritualised, Brahmin's version of it, mostly invented by the Brahmins themselves to mainitain their exalted status in society. Maybe, you should try reading the book Sajith had mentioned. Does it not strike you as interesting that at least in Kerala, the flag bearers of this `culture', the Namboothiris, led perhaps the most morally decadent existence of all until people like V.T ignited the reform movement.


(Anonymous)
Jul. 24th, 2006 01:59 pm (UTC)
Re: I strongly object
It is true sir that what ever the Spiritual leaders speak do not cover everything (or nothing as one would like). Also, a brahmin's version of spiritual talk is not going to hamper if one is listening only to take the positive aspects. Atleast it is better than not having access to any version (original or `pirated`).

But the so called `culture` differs from society to society. The culture that i was referring was more associated with `respect for life`, `humanity` rather that the ones associated with one's religion or religious beliefs.

There was a time when people knowing sanskrit were regarded as to be highly educated people, but now it s just a means of scoring high marks in school and hence the saying goes `knowing sankrit does not guarantee culture (`samskaram` in malayalam or `sanskriti` in hindi), which used to be once upon a time, and which is currently known as disparity between being literate and being educated.

I shall definitely try to read the book mentioned by Sajith.

--
Hiran
gopakumar_ce
Jul. 25th, 2006 02:56 am (UTC)
Re: I strongly object
Hiran, I remember Swami Vivekananda quoting somewhere (cant recollect the exact details) that our bring-up style over generations have produced a nation of "meek" and "weak" people and that we want strong people, strong at mind, heart and even physically! If you remember Swamijis famous statement to keep aside Geeta and play football to get "stronger", I guess nothing better can explain the scenario better. And on another occassion he had also asked people to first believe in themselves before trying to believe in God.

And by now, you can well imagine that what I was speaking was largely influenced by Swami Vivekananda's vision and talks. I think modern India has never seen (and may never again see) a more greater saint than Swamiji who could adapt the scriptures and present them in the light of the requirements of our era.

So yes, our scriptures are undoubtedly invaluable - I owe a large part of my own "goodness" (whatever little is there :-) to the stories that my grandparents and parents have narrated from our scriptures.

So all I am saying is that the current generation in India is indeed "meek" and "weak" and find God as an easy way to put all their blames and misgivings. So all I was trying to say is exactly what Swamiji had said - to be a generation who believes in "ones' own power" and after that try to cultivate a belief in God.

And how will you cultivate your own "power" - its when you read about stories of other "real" people who have shown exemplary power in leading their lives!
(Anonymous)
Jul. 25th, 2006 05:41 am (UTC)
Re: I strongly object
`So all I am saying is that the current generation in India is indeed "meek" and "weak" and find God as an easy way to put all their blames and misgivings.`

In a way, I was also referring to the same. The same way as you were influenced by `Swami Vivekananda's` words, I was influenced by Bhagvad Gita, which says that there is nothing bigger in life than doing your `karma`. Indirectly referring to one's self belief and power to do what one is meant to do. It also says that doing your `karma` is the perfect offering for the `God`.

Self motivation in the real sense can be hardly seen these days, so what if a belief (or fear) of `God` does that?

A forced way to cultivate moral values, humanity and to make the world a better place to live.
dinil_divakaran
Jul. 25th, 2006 08:21 am (UTC)
Re: I strongly object
"And how will you cultivate your own "power" - its when you read about stories of other "real" people who have shown exemplary power in leading their lives!"

> You might like to read Swami Vivekanda's book on `Raja Yoga'. It doesn't speak anything of this sort. In fact, it is very much related to `Geetha' and some of the Hinud `purana's.
gopakumar_ce
Aug. 1st, 2006 03:48 am (UTC)
Re: I strongly object
> You might like to read Swami Vivekanda's book on `Raja Yoga'. It doesn't
> speak anything of this sort. In fact, it is very much related to `Geetha'
> and some of the Hinud `purana's.

Yup! I have read that (in college days) and it is indeed something which goes back into Gita, puranas etc.. I think the most fundamental principle here is that if you believe in something strongly, then there is absolutely nothing wrong in following it (unless the principle is grossly flawed). After all, there has never been a "right" or "wrong" principle in this world - people have gone ahead with their strong conviction even when the whole world opposed and they have come out succesful proving the world wrong. So it is all about how much you place faith in your own beliefs!

So the "true believers" are never in trouble - Hiran believes strongly in one philosophy and he is right at it, you are also having a conviction about another line of thought and you too are on the right track, I believe in my own principles and that too is correct (wow ! :-). It is the "doubting thomasses" who have zero idea about what to believe in and run behind vaporous ideas who are probably the audience of my suggestion to start reading about "real life experiences" rather than "spirituality"!

Anyways, this will never converge, so I think we have to agree to disagree :-).

Gopa.
pramode_ce
Aug. 1st, 2006 03:59 am (UTC)
Re: I strongly object
Amma has finished reading Sudha Murthy's book - yesterday, she told me a story from it! It seems she likes it a lot - she reads chapter after chapter and immediately forces Achan to listen to her narration of it!! She also commented that it is even more uplifting than listening to Swamiji ...
dinil_divakaran
Aug. 1st, 2006 04:12 am (UTC)
Re: I strongly object

I agree this time :)
(Anonymous)
Jul. 24th, 2006 05:54 am (UTC)
I strongly object
Sir, Guru's speaking `hi-fi` vedanta should not stop. The current generation of Indians are forgetting our culture amidst the hi-fi social and living standards. People are bothered only about money (not all though) and nothing else, and they are ready to get down to any level for that.

If one associates superstitions with the indian culture it is not going to help anyone.

Life is not as simple as one thinks. It is really complex. Complex than any science or theory one can think off. Even then, one should be able to take it easily as it comes. That is what one can learn from hi-fi `vedanta` or Gita.

Science and education are different though, and religion should not effect that, and it will not effect also. If anything is influencing the education, it the standard of education in schools. The teachers have to influence that, since they have to respond to what students ask or it should be parents (if they have time for it which very rarely happen these days).

Every kid knows that a `monitor` is associated with a computer, but doesnot know that a vehicle, a washing machine, a mobile phone can also contain a computer. If education helps, then kids should know that otherwise change the education system.

As far as vedanta and/or Gita is concerned it still has to come out in some way otherwise the indian culture will be lost. The current generation has to pass that to the next generation, otherwise the culture that we Indians (atleast I) take pride of, will be lost.

--
Hiran
kiran_c
Jul. 24th, 2006 11:34 am (UTC)
"It seems we didn't have a culture which believed in (and practiced) the Socratic method of questioning"

Sir, you might be knowing about the Kerala School. But I happened to know of it only recently. And I made it my first blog also.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerala_School

Brahmins had their own share of mathematical and scientific thoughts. Being free from other duties, they could spend their time in thinking. The original research seems to have ended with Narayana Bhattathiri (1559-1632). May be thats where the decadence started in Kerala !!!

But If there didnt exist critical thinking some of the advances that these guys had made would not have been possible.
pramode_ce
Jul. 25th, 2006 07:50 am (UTC)
It's true that Indian mathematics had its days of glory - but the momentum could not be sustained for long. Historians attribute many reasons - the lack of commmunication and cooperation between thinkers, obsession with metaphysical and philosophical discussions ...and maybe a system of education centred around orally propagating rigid spiritual "truths".
(Anonymous)
Jul. 26th, 2006 08:27 am (UTC)
I feel the superstitions, many of which we [ the so called educated youth call] are really not superstitions, coz SOME of them have reasons to it. For eg: it was told to me as a child, while getting up one should touch the earth [Bhoomi devi] with your hands first. The reasons which i later understood was that this helps in static electricity,accumulated in body to be discharged through the least resistance path, which is our hand [ heard this from DR. Gopalakrishnans lecture, if i remember right]. I dont say, that all superstitions have hidden import. But many have, and many were somehow not questioned, and some not understood by layman. And it [reasons] got blocked somewhere and became more like a parent killed child thread [we dont know how/why it existed]. So, they went on to become superstitions/zombies.

Then regarding the difference in thought

/* Such unquestioning a...... questioned */

I have a beautiful qoute from the book 'The Tao of Physics' by Fritjof Capra [ a must read]

' In physics, knowledge is acquired through the process of scientific research which can be seen to proceed in three stages. The first stage consists in gathering experimental evidence about the phenomena to be explained. In the second stage, the experimental facts are correlated with mathematical symbols and a mathemetical scheme is worked out which interconnects these symbols in a precise and consistent way. Such a scheme is usually called a mathematical model or if it is more comprehensive, a theory. This theory is then used to predict the results of further experiments which are undertaken to check all its implications.
:
:
In practise, of course, the three stages are not neatly separated and do not always occur in the same order. For example, a physicist may be led to a particular model by some philosophical belief he holds, which he may continue to believe in , even when contrary experimental evidences arises. He will then, and this happens in fact often- try to modify his model so that it can account for the new experiments. But if experimental evidence continues to contradict the model he will eventually be forced to drop it.
:
:
Rational knowledge and rational activities certainly constitute the major part of scientific research, but are not all there is to it. The rational part of research, in fact, be useless if it were not complemented by thr intuition that gives scientists new insights and makes them creative. These insights tend to com suddenly and,characteristically, not when sitting at a desk working out equations, but when relaxing in bath, during walk in the woods, on the beach etc.. '

Lets take eg: the spark that created Newton to think of the downward force, isnt that intuitive ? It wasnt reasoned oned, then he went on into the process above.This intuitive thinking is the heart and soul of indian philosophy. This is what, the ancient masters mastered at. They learnt the art of quieting the mind and making it calm, so that those intuitive thinking could take place. They learnt the art of reproducing the environment to make intuitive thinking happen. But yes, the questioning had to be there, and i guess it was there and was lost somewhere in the middle.

Please read the book mentioned above, it is a beautifull one showing how parallels exist between Eastern Mystical thinking and modern physics. There is a point where the author makes parallels between the dance of shiva as pictured by twelth century indian artists and twentieth century western physicists. And a primer to vedanta, a book by Swami Chinmayananda is really cool. It is called 'Kindle Life'. There he answers many of the young minds questions and application of vedanta to day today life... It is also a marvellous read. Anyone in thrissur can get it from Chinmaya Mission Book Store at Neeranjali Hall. It is less than 100 rupees..

/* Such unquestioning acceptance might be the norm as far as spirituality is concerned, whatever be the religion you believe in. */

From what i have gathered and understood, a student of vedanta had always the right to ask questions to any point. He could build up on questions and learn till he is sure of its logical reason. But at the same time, he also had to wander [in thought] himself and understand most of it, himself.
nirvana4ol
Jul. 26th, 2006 08:36 am (UTC)
I feel the superstitions, many of which we [ the so called educated youth call] are really not superstitions, coz SOME of them have reasons to it. For eg: it was told to me as a child, while getting up one should touch the earth [Bhoomi devi] with your hands first. The reasons which i later understood was that this helps in static electricity,accumulated in body to be discharged through the least resistance path, which is our hand [ heard this from DR. Gopalakrishnans lecture, if i remember right]. I dont say, that all superstitions have hidden import. But many have, and many were somehow not questioned, and some not understood by layman. And it [reasons] got blocked somewhere and became more like a parent killed child thread [we dont know how/why it existed]. So, they went on to become superstitions/zombies.

Then regarding the difference in thought

/* Such unquestioning acceptance ..... only when existing ideas are questioned */

I have a beautiful qoute from the book 'The Tao of Physics' by Fritjof Capra [ a must read]

' In physics, knowledge is acquired through the process of scientific research which can be seen to proceed in three stages. The first stage consists in gathering experimental evidence about the phenomena to be explained. In the second stage, the experimental facts are correlated with mathematical symbols and a mathemetical scheme is worked out which interconnects these symbols in a precise and consistent way. Such a scheme is usually called a mathematical model or if it is more comprehensive, a theory. This theory is then used to predict the results of further experiments which are undertaken to check all its implications.
:
:
In practise, of course, the three stages are not neatly separated and do not always occur in the same order. For example, a physicist may be led to a particular model by some philosophical belief he holds, which he may continue to believe in , even when contrary experimental evidences arises. He will then, and this happens in fact often- try to modify his model so that it can account for the new experiments. But if experimental evidence continues to contradict the model he will eventually be forced to drop it.
:
:
Rational knowledge and rational activities certainly constitute the major part of scientific research, but are not all there is to it. The rational part of research, in fact, be useless if it were not complemented by thr intuition that gives scientists new insights and makes them creative. These insights tend to com suddenly and, characteristically, not when sitting at a desk working out equations, but when relaxing in bath, during walk in the woods, on the beach etc.. '

Lets take eg: the spark that created Newton to think of the downward force, isnt that intuitive ? It wasnt reasoned oned, then he went on into the process above.

This intuitive thinking is the heart and soul of indian philosophy. This is what, the ancient masters mastered at. They learnt the art of quieting the mind and making it calm, so that those intuitive thinking could take place. They learnt the art of reproducing the environment to make intuitive thinking happen. But yes, the questioning had to be there, and i guess it was there and was lost somewhere in the middle.

nirvana4ol
Jul. 26th, 2006 08:45 am (UTC)
Please read the book mentioned above, it is a beautifull one showing how parallels exist between Eastern Mystical thinking and modern physics. There is a point where the author makes parallels between the dance of shiva as pictured by twelth century indian artists and twentieth century western physicists. And a primer to vedanta, a book by Swami Chinmayananda is really cool. It is called 'Kindle Life'. There he answers many of the young minds questions and application of vedanta to day today life... It is also a marvellous read. Anyone in thrissur can get it from Chinmaya Mission Book Store at Neeranjali Hall. It is less than 100 rupees..

/* Such unquestioning acceptance might be the norm as far as spirituality is concerned, whatever be the religion you believe in. */

From what i have gathered and understood, a student of vedanta had always the right to ask questions to any point. He could build up on questions and learn till he is sure of its logical reason. But at the same time, he also had to wander [in thought] himself and understand most of it, himself.

Also, the religion what the Hindu's mean [ i dont mean hindu as people who go to temple or who pray to krishna, rama etc.. i mean people who belong/ have forefathers of the Indus Valley Civilisation] is not the religion what, is meant by in the west [Spirutallity]. Hinduism is a way of life and naturally all of us, whether christians, muslims or so called hindus are all hindus since if we still kindle most of those values and traditions. An american born, american living, americanized 'so called hindu' will not be a hindu, since he doesnt value such a life style nor does he live one.

And an intersting thing 'Madhava of Sangamagrama' who started the Kerala School belonged to, 'Sangamagrama' meaning the Meetup village [ or more rightly Conference Village] or more commonly known 'Irinjalakuda' in Thrissur Dist [ Dr Gopalakrishnan's Talk].


" For parallel to lesson of atomic physics theory.... [we must turn] to those kind of epistemological problems with which already thinkers like Buddha and Lao Tzu have been confronted, when trying to harmonize our position as spectators and actors in the great drama of existence"
.... Niels Bohr...

For a funny yet valid article on significance of vedas and contribution of India to the world, read this article by Ramesh Mahadevan.
pramode_ce
Jul. 31st, 2006 01:00 pm (UTC)
Sumod, I will read both the books you have mentioned.

My argument against metaphysics/mysticism is summarised here.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

Latest Month

November 2007
S M T W T F S
    123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930 
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by heiheneikko