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Concerns of a Vedantin -- Gita is the answer

From: Raman Kannan (kannan_at_cc1006400-a.etntwn1.nj.home.com)
Date: Sat Jan 08 2000 - 09:27:55 PST

Sir

And the esteemed community of scholars who congregate in this
electronic forum, please accept my greetings!

Dear Mr. Venkat Nagarajan 

You have raised several important questions that are of interest to me.
We can discuss for years every one of them. 

Gita is your answer to all your questions. Read and enjoy and discover
all the answers for your current questions and all other questions
that are bound to arise.
Pertinent to your questions chapters 6 slokas 31-47, chapter 7 slokas
1-4, 16-20, chapter 11 slokas 1-15.
Practicality - Chapter 6 slokas 31-47
Sloka leading upto 32, Krishna defines the characteristics of 
those who are dear to Him and who shall be considered highest.
The essence is as follows:
"He who sees Krishna present in all beings and all beings existing
within Krishna , never loses sight of Krishna, and never does
Krishna lose sight of him". (30)
"He who looks on all as one, on the analogy of his own self, and
looks upon the joy and sorrow of all with a similar eye, - such a yogi
is deemed the highest of all"

In response to concerns raised by Arjuna, Lord Krishna advises the
ficklessness of our mind but to control it by repeated practice
and by exercise of dispassion in slokas 33-36.

Arjuna then poses the question as to what would happen who is unable
to take the ball to the end line in slokas 37-39.

In slokas 40-47,
The all compassionate Lord Krishna then affirms that there is NO
FALL for those. Once we start self redemption and God-realization 
then there is no way back. This is a one way track. Due to the
degree of difficulty in attaining the highest order
many would falter and be born again. But the quest for
self-redemption and God Realization would follow them forever.
After paying for the "faults" they would continue on their
eternal journey towards self-redemption and God Realization.

Gita is timeless and every scenario is discussed. Nothing is 
left for interpretation. Please find an English translation
and enjoy. It is as practical. lucid. All one needs is the
faith in Gita. Nothing else. It could easily be called
"Dummy's Book for Salvation". IMHO.

----Degree of Difficulty------------chapter 7
(Yoga of Knowledge)

7-3
Manusyanam sahasresu
kascid yatati siddhaye
yatatam api siddhanam
kascin mam vetti tattvatah.

Among (Krishna's) thousand (not our thousand)
there will be just one seeking spiritual perfection
and of those one perchance knows Krishna in truth.

In sloka 7-16, Lord Krishna defines the kinds of 
people who seek Him and continues on to describe
who is His dearest.

----The Compassionate one---10-55, 11-slokas 1-20
Krishna having conceded that a very few can ever
attain the spiritual perfection, here in these
beautiful verses provides us "common folks" a
route to salvation. "Way of Devotion"

Mat-karma-krn mat-paramo
mad-bhaktah sanga-varjitah
nirvairah sarva-bhutesu
yah sa mam eti Pandava 10-55
Whoever works for Me, looking upon Me
as the Goal; Whoever is my devotee, free from
attachments and from antagonism to any
being- such a person, O son of Pandu,
shall enter into Me. 10-55.
in sloka 11-2

Mayy avesya mano ye mam
nitya-yukta upasate
sraddhaya paray'opetas
te me yukta-tama matah
--and through 11-4 defines those who Krishna
considers as perfect in Yoga.
In 11-5, Krishna again reminds not to expect
the unreal or to expect quick results with
these timeless words:

Kleso dhikataras tesam
avyakt asakta-cetasam
avyakta hi gatir duhkham
dehavadbhir avapyate

The obstacles facing those devoted
to the Impersonal Absolute are far greater;
for the way of any unclear ideal is difficult
for an embodied being (the body-centered person)
to understand or follow.
RK--> Note the pluratility on obstacles. Never
take Krishna's choice of words in vain. They are
loaded beyond our clearest and most logical moments.

In 11-6, Krishna, the compassionate one gives us
the ultimate promise, that He would lift us 
from the ocean of death-bound worldly existence.

Most importantly in Slokas 11-7 through 11-11.
Lord Krishna enumerates step by step the requirements
Fix our mind unto to Lord Krishna.
in 11-9 Lord Krishna says (mind wavers so if you cannot do this) then
try to reach Him by systematic practice of concentration.
11-9

Atha cittam samadhatum
na saknosi mayi sthiram
abhyasa-yogena tato
mam icch aptum Dhananjaya

in 11-10 Lord Krishna gives those of us who cannot even take
to systematic practice of concentration, to work for Him
(consisting of external worship and discharge of 
duties for Krishna's sake)

lastly those of us who cannot do this, in sloka 11-11,
Savior of all those who wanna be saved, says, 
Ath'aitad apy asakto'si
kartum mad-yogam asritah
sarva-karma-phala-tyagam
tatah kuru yat'atmavan.

In simple terms in the Name of Lord Krishna, give up
the results of all your actions.

----
Therefore, Dear Mr. Venkat, Krishna did not place
hurdles for us. He knew that these times were coming.
Without a doubt and just for us He has enumerated
the different pathways.

----
You have mentioned advaita. What is advaita. Do we know.
Should we even try to know.
Ask a Ph.D in Physics about E=mC*C an equation by Einstein.
Ph. D can describe it .. use it in a Nuclear plant ..but
do they see what Einstein saw. Perhaps that is too much.
Same here. The one and only greatest of Philosophers saw
Advaita.  No difference. It is all over the place in Gita.
Should we pretend to know "advaita".
Then comes Sri Ramanuja who sees the pain of mere mortals
like me. And gives us a break and reprieve, saying
"Surrender unto Lord". Ramanuja, next to no one in the
known and the unknown, did not call His Philosophy
Visishta Advaita in vain. Literally He meant a special
Advaita. Not a different one. But the access method
was one bhakti..something you can I can hope to practice.
Just the way Lord Krishna enunciates the degrees of
difficulty and different ways of reaching Him.
Therefore, IMHO, it is a waste of time to differentiate
Advaita or Vishista Advaita or to discuss which is better
And even less important is to discuss Adi Sankara and
Yati Raja. They are "different" chapters of Gita.
Who are we? It is upto Ramanuja and Sankara to 
discuss these matters any further not me who is 
commuting 4 hours a day to and from work.
But in these four hours I can read Gita, study
Baja Govindam (written by Sankara) and Ramanuja writing
and practice what I can towards that one goal "Lotus Feet
of Sriman Narayana". I am guaranteed that if not in birth
may be thousand births later..but they will come to pass
And there I will be at His Lotus Feet. 
So mere mortals like mine do not have to waste time
differentiating Advaita and V/A. Instead select the best
and what is appealing from both. Apply it. We cannot lose.

I am told that in those days, Advaitinis and Vishita Advaitinis
lived happily together. I interpret it as follows: Advaitinis
pursued total detachment and pursuit of knowledge. Vishista
Advaitinis, did not preclude that but also provided equallyt
potent but less daunting approaches to Salvation.
As I grew up in a Tamil Vadakalai home, for whatever reason,
be design or not, I developed serious misconceptions about
Advaita, confusion regarding Hindu Triology, Vishnu/Siva/Brahma,
and every other difference one can make during our short and
trivial this one birth. Reading Baja Govindam I have come
to realism that Advaita declares Sriman Narayana to be the one
and only End point. Visiting Badrinath I have come to realize
first amongst Sriman Narayana bhaktas is no other than
Adi Sankara. I have no time nor the mental capacity to
debate Adi Sankara or Emberunmanar. I find peace and
truth in following both of them. Being a samsari, father, husband
and son, brother...different roles...the easiest route for
me is to take to Bhakti Marga, which in itself is quite
difficult. I see that Sri Ramanuja is not at odds with Adi Sankara.
but are presenting facts from different chapters of Gita.
I find it foolish and wasteful to discuss which chapter of
Gita is better. So it follows regarding Adi Sankara and Ramanuja.
They are the two eyes and two get a 3-D and sterophonic vision
of Sriman Narayana I need them both.
---Brhamin-- caste ..this is another waste of time IMHO
Gita is very clear about this...society requires work of all
nature. That is the end of it. Gita is also very clear about
perceving Sriman Narayana in all of us. There is no clause
here in this what we do. It does not matter what we do.

We all came from

Yatpurushena havisha 
--Purusa Suktam
We all came from Sriman Narayana, The Purusha
(another common misconception, Purusha is all inclusive
male/female ...all forms of animals)

sa bhumim vishvata vritva (Purusa Suktam)

purusha evedagm sarvam (also from Purusa Suktam)

All endowments based on birth in a certain family
is in vain. Our actions alone define who we are, which labels
we can lay claim to.
--
We should seek unity, Advaitinis, Visihta Advaitinis, male,
female, and so many other classifications based on what we do,
in the name of god, consistent with

prajapatischarati garbhe anta: (Purusa Suktam)

Baja Govindam (Adi Sankara and His followers)

Satrau mitre putre bandhau
Ma Krur yatnam vigrahasandhau.
Bhava samacittah sarvatra tvam
Vancasyacirat yadi visnutvam.

Be not attached to friend or foe,
To son of kinsman, peace or war
If you aspire of Vishnu's realm
Look upon all things equally.

This new millenium should not go the way the previous millenium
went, amplifying the differences that no one ever understood.
But amplifying the "sameness" in everything.

I wear western clothes (it is cold man, here).. a dhoti would freeze
me the minute I step out..I work for money to support people
whom I have brought to this world and people who have helped
me in my life. I eat in restaurents which also serve products
of himsa. But I would not forsake my faith in Sriman Narayana,
Sri Ramanuja , Adi Sankara or Vedas or Gita or vegetarianism
for all the money in the world or anything else. Assuming this
is a true statement, in what way am I less pursuing then a
person who is lucky to be in Sri Rangam. I experience Sri Rangam
here everyday. 

Is "Etavan asya mahima" false in USA or CA?

Would Ramanuja leave us for the birds if He were here today.
In those days Adi Sankara trekked to Badri to save those people
living there. Sri Ramanuja did. If Ramanuja were here today,
I am 100% sure He would take a flight and bless us all here.
He is all aware that He is infinite and a mere plane journey
with 400 others (who came out of the cosmic event
"yatpurushena havisha") would not reduce the infinity.
Infinity is infinity by division, multiplication, addition
and subtraction. Any other operators around? 

So being in Canada you can do a lot. Start a study group.
Just read and exchange ideas without expectation or returns.
Naturally good things will follow. Buy the CDs advertised in this
mailing list... read the wealth over the internet and enjoy.
No one can stop you.
---
My understanding is limited to readership. I do not claim to
understand them fully. But most is drawn from books and what I 
find appealing. 
I am not qualified any more than a student who is asked to
write an essay in an exam. There are teachers who are qualified
to provide authoritative expositions. The very little 
(infinitely little) allows me to be happy, content most of the
time notwithstanding all my desires, wants, differences and
limitations. My hope is that the undesirable elements will cease
over period of time (over numerous births to follow) and finally
the everlasting bliss shall begin at the Lotus Feet.

By asking these simple questions, I find that you have begun
a great journey toward self awareness. I wish you all the best.
In sharing my experience and thoughts, I hope I have brought
some positive light. There is nothing wrong or less where we
find ourselves at any point of time. But it is important to
contemplate where we want to go and how we pursue that path. 
Anything good here I owe to those who have inspired me in life, 
Sashi Deshmukh, Ranjana Deshmukh, Mr. Rao, Mr. Pradeep and others
in our local Gita Study group who have helped me reach this stage.

Make haste, please start one in your locality. 

Finally, All things not acceptable in this writing, I am soley responsible. 
I seek your tolerance, compassion, please forgive me for any
offence.

--
RK