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From: V SUNDAR (V1S_at_ecl.psu.edu)
Date: Tue Mar 19 1996 - 11:28:43 PST
Sri Vijay Srinivasan, concerned about an anti-monotheistic trend of the day, writes : "...Anand's posting Vol 59?),(1) the supreme being is generally conceived as a formless (though most of them are willing to concede attributes such as love, Daya etc., to that formless Brahman) (2)The same Brahman expresses itself in various forms (3) It does not matter which form one chooses to worship or name that one selects to address it (it all amounts to the same and reaches the same supreme being). (4) Generally, people are tolerant to concede a favorite diety but without any superiority attached to it. I would like to contribute my few thoughts on this. We, specifically as SriVaishnavas and as Hindus, in a more general way, are very proud inheritors of an essentially tolerant tradition. "ekam sat vipra: bahuDHaa vadhanthe" - as blind Dirghatamas said. Even more important, a tradition of ENQUIRY ! For me, personally, I consider the scriptural basis of the 4 vedas as distinct from the bramhanas ( exegesis on legend and ritual ) and further yet removed, the aranyakas/upanishadas ( an internalization of an 'outdoorsy' tradition ). Each step built upon the former, trying to incorporate it. This order in which I have mentioned them is generally conceded to be the approximate chronological development order as well. This is an expression primarily of the spirit of Mimamsa - Enquiry. That spirit is essential to our journey, in search of truth, both with and without tradition. I would remind our members that the first sutra of the Bramha Sutra begins : " aTHatho bramha jignyaasa " - THUS and TEHREFORE the ENQUIRY into brahman. Now that is a fairly open ended statement accomodative of a great many schools of thought, is it not ? As evidence, all three vedanta margas have exegesis on this sutra. I happen to prefer that of Sri Ramanuja as brilliant in its simplicity, closest to my heart, and easy enough for even me to follow. Not everyone may agree with this. Not everyone agreed with Sri Ramanuja even! Even earlier the spirit of enquiry has expressed itself - to the point almost of agnosticism. Eg. " kasmai devaaaya havita vidhema ? " - to which deva shall we give havis ? " so anga veda yadi vaa na veda" - maybe HE knows, maybe he does not! These are not sensational out of context quotes. Merely 'stars' in a sky of Veda that is pervaded with the wondering of seers that lived close to nature and contemplated and wondered about it. From this wondering they built a great store of legend and lore, with ritual to try control the essentially wondrous nature of the world around them. Exegesis on that ritual, explanations and handbooks on itgave us the brahmanas. A more detached exegesis, an internalization of the cosmos, and wonder at the mind and the soul gave us the upanishadas. If we do tend to question monotheism today is it not a progression of the questioning done by much greater minds in days past ? Each of the Acharyas of Vedanta schools must have surely gone through some incompatibility, some struggle, before coming up with their unique solutions ? I do not suggest that we are comparable to those intellects. Merely that we follow their paths with revernce for their insights, but with "brahma jignyaasa" of our own. "svaDHarme nidhanam shreya: " says the Geeta. Your own dharma is the best of paths. Traditionally, this is interpreted as an inherited tradition. Maybe some of us consider this as an invitation to think and determine for ourselves ? And if we do, who am I to find fault with that ? =) - Sundar, who may have raised more issues than answered them.