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.