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From: sudarshan madabushi (
Date: Thu Jul 01 1999 - 13:59:06 PDT

Dear bhAgavatOttamA-s,

Verse#8 of the LNKS … and the poetic metaphor of "samsAra-vruksha" in it… 
can be understood better if we take a fleeting glimpse into the biography of 
Sankara bhagavathpAdA.

Sankara, by all accounts lived at a time of great social, political, moral 
and ideological decay. For over 5-6 centuries before his birth, across the 
length and breadth of the Indian sub-continent, Buddhism had gained 
ascendancy over the Vedic ethos of the people. Although in the rural areas 
the mass of ordinary people still clung to the vestiges of Vedic tradition 
and life-style, the influential middle and upper classes of Indian urban 
society had all been weaned away into un-Vedic modes of life and thought. 
Mainstream intelligentsia of Indian society had embraced un-Vedic ideas 
bordering on unabashed epicureanism on the one hand or had been drawn to the 
pretentious claptrap of neo-"nirvAnA-ism" on the other. Sankara certainly 
had a very difficult time rejuvenating the old fire of the Vedic spirit in 
India enveloped as it was then in the dark and suffocating smog of a 
multitude of non-Vedic, alien ideologies.

In Sankara's time there were broadly two classes of Vedic antagonists … one, 
the "Anti-Vedantins" and the other, the "Pseudo-Vedantins".

The anti-Vedantins held Vedic revelation of Truth to be outright execrable. 
They simply rejected the "sruti" as "pramANam". To this group belonged both 
proto- and neo-Buddhists of those times. Also included in this group were 
certain adventitious offshoots of Buddhist thought … viz. Jainism, atheists, 
agnostics, materialism, "chAruvakA-s" and a few others on the extreme, 
sometimes lunatic, fringe of Indian religious and philosophic thought.

The pseudo-Vedantins were stout adherents of Vedic "pramANa" but for all the 
utterly wrong and most perverted of reasons. They were called 
"pUrva-meemAmsakA-s" against whom Sankara waged a life-long running feud as 
bitter as those he is said to have had with the more pernicious 
anti-Vedantins like the "chAruvAkA-s", for example.

The "chAruvAkA-s" or anti-Vedantins, Sankara considered them to be "open 
enemies" of the Vedic society. They could be dealt with "openly" as 
adversaries in an all-out ideological war.

But the "psedo-Vedantins" or "purva-meemamsakA-s", Sankara considered them 
to be more dangerous than "anti-Vedantins" for they were "internal enemies"… 
"Vedic saboteurs and guerrilla-artists"… He regarded them as "the secret 
enemy " who kills softly and silently but no less surely than the "open 
enemy". He regarded them as parasitic vermin gnawing away into the wood and 
entrails of the very tree on which they lived and fed upon… and who would 
eventually destroy the great Vedic Tree too from within society.

We will continue in the next post.

adiyen dAsAnu-dAsan,

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