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The role of enquiry

From: V SUNDAR (
Date: Tue Apr 30 1996 - 11:36:13 PDT

A continuing thread of contention in this forum has been the value of 
"book learning" versus "elders" - I use this term in quotes to connote the
complete value of the gurupaarampareeya behind this word, and the full force
of tradition.

I will agree with many posters that it is an Indian and a Vedantic tradition to
learn at the Guru's feet, and to venerate him - or her.

I do not know if it is possible to say this without any judgement attached. 
I am part of a generation of Sri Vaishnavas, who have grown up without
much exposure to the acharya parampara. Therefore, much of my exposure is
by necessity from "book learning". One thing that *does* emerge from 
"book learning" is the value of terminology and words that are used very
precisely in hindu religious literature, so pardon us if we are "astute

Again, me and many others in my generation have grown up in what is here
termed a "Universalist/Secularist" approach. For us, "aachaara/anuSHTaana"
were something that we mainly saw people middle-aged and older adopting.
When we did find value in some aacharas, we adopted and kept them. But that
again was, for many of us, an individual decision.

Again, it was an individual decision for us to engage in furthering our
knowledge about our traditions. Especially for those of us who have 
"transplanted" ourselves, it is a vry intellectual and emotional pursuit.
We have seen the value of some traditions - at least in my case - not all -
with our hearts. And we inquire about these with our minds.

Belittling such individual effort as innately wrong and book learning as
inherently flawed, in my opinion, cannot do much for us as a community.
I do think it is possible for us to come together and accomodate the 
harshest of enquiries - or this would not be a tradition that has survived
this far. Pronouncements ex-cathedra ( this is so because an acharya has
said it is so ) by their nature , lay themselves open to inquiry. If 
enquiry cannot be accomodated, then, the spirit of this forum is set at

As a representative of my generation, I will ask the 'elders' on this net :
"siriyOr seytha siru pizhai yellaam periyor aayin poruththidal veNdum". And
in turn, point out to them that dismissing "rational", "modern" "bookish"
and "historical" enquiry is not the way to be guides to a generation that
has HAD to rely on these for learning.

With my regards and hopes for understanding,