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From: M K Sudarshan (
Date: Thu Jul 24 1997 - 01:55:25 PDT

Dear friends,

I've been following this thread of discussions with interest.
I simply can't resist the temptation of making a small comment from the
sidelines, if you don't mind.

Sri.AdiSankara BhagavatpAdAl's Advaitic tradition of "vEdAnta" is said to be
extremely strong on "philosophy". 

In contrast, the traditions of Bhakti-schools of India are said to be
extremely strong on the "theological" side.

The Bhakti-systems of Sri.RamanujAchAryA and others became popular in the
10th-century because it was found that a purely "philosophical" approach to
the ancient "revealed" scriptures, the Upanishads and the "vrutti-s", would
not do just as a solely "theological" one, too, would be inadequate.

>From the stand-point of Western scholars, even today, "vEdAntA" is not
accepted as "pure Philosophy" since it is not so much "philosophical
speculation" as it is "interpretation" of "scriptural revelation" contained
in the "sruti-pramAnAm-s", "bOdhAyana-vrutti", "upanishad-s" etc.

That is why the unique "vEdAntic" tradition of India is often referred to by
scholars as "theo-philosophy". Unlike as in the Western traditions, there is
no cleavage between Philosophy and Theology in the "vEdAntic" tradition,
thanks largely to the unifying influence of various Bhakti-systems.

In India today, as it has always been through the ages, even ordinary people
like us, deep down in our hearts, know fully that we REALLY NEED "two
crutches" --- one of  cold "philosophy" and the other of warm "theology" to
arrive at an intuitive and unitive understanding of eternal questions
agitating us all such as :

                    Who AM I ?
                    Where do I come from ?
                    And where am I going ?

Even the lowliest Indian, thus, is actually both a "philosopher" and "one of
the Faith" at the same time. He may not be aware of the fact himself, but
that IS, indeed, the wonderful truth. It is the wonder, again, that our
"AchAryA-s", of both Advaitic and other persuasions, have bequeathed to us.

Sri.Raja's questions are very valid. He wants to know how to make the "leap"
across the vast "experiential" chasm separating the purely "theological"
dimension of Sriman Narayana and His "philosophical" one, "Form" and
"Reality", the "vyavahArika" and the "paramAtmika"  !

Sri.Sundaresan seems to be answering it in true Advaitin style i.e. Rarely
can you know the "metaphysical Narayana" without a thorough grounding in the
"theo-philosophical Narayana"! 

Sri.Sundaresan also said something very important about "AchAryA-s" in his
recent post and has said it exceedingly well.

Many ages ago before Sri.Sundaresan, another great Advaitin,
Sri.Madhusoodhana Saraswathi said it all even better :

          upanashidAmAvartham oorUkalE~niBhaddham !

The above statement used to be paraphrased by my "mAanaseega-AchAryan"
Sri.Mukkur Swamy II most wonderfully in Tamil :

 "entha oru pORuL upanishad uLLey thEdi-alainthu kai~kkUm buddhi~kkum
ettAhda    irrukkinrathO,
 yasOdai~yin worrel-il katti-vaith~irukkinrathE !"

My rough English translation of Mukkur Swamy's statement above is :

                 Behold ! the will-o-the-wisp
                 That wise Upanishad even 
                 Fails to grasp,
                 Lies trapped and helpless, 
                 All bound head to foot 
                 To a plain mortar in Yasoda's kitchenette, 

                 By sheer, simple and stark Love !!