Monday, June 14, 2010

On equality

In one of my early blogs I pointed out a verse from Vivekachoodamani of the Ekanmavadha philosopher - Adisankara. . You may say 'Halt ! Everybody knows that Adisankara as the proponent of Advaidhic philosophy or the Vedanta philosophy 'what is this Ekanmavadha....Hmmm....let me explain

a. Vedanta i.e., Veda + anta - literally means the end portion of the Vedas and hence Upanishads.
b. Advaita i.e A + dvaita - literally means - Not two or non dual. Sankara interpreted this as one. There are different interpretations. We will come to this point later. For the moment we will stay with Adisankara's.

Vedanta philosophy is hence the philosophy of the Upanishads . Adisankara's is one of the many interpretations of this philosophy - not the only one and not necessarily the correct one too ! There are other philosophers who raise lot of questions on Sankara's interpretation.

Advaita has also been interpreted differently by different philosophers. And here too Sankara's is not necessarily the only one and not necessarily the correct one.

To call it properly, Sankara's philosophy is the philosophy of monism or Ekaanmavadha - or the agrument of one soul. It is that there is only one thing material - i.e., brahmam or the supreme one. The world and individual souls are merely transient and illusory. The soul , according to his philosophy , is identical with the infinite reality of the universe the brahmam.

It is not my intentition to question the interpretation of Adisankara here. I would however like to examine if he has been consistent in his interpretation and followed what he preached. In his Vivekachoodamani, verse 2, Sankara says

''For all beings a human birth is difficult to obtain, more so is a male body; rarer than that is Brahmanahood; rarer still is the attachment to the path of Vedic religion; higher than this is erudition in the scriptures; discrimination between the Self and not-Self, Realisation, and continuing in a state of identity with Brahman – these come next in order. (This kind of) Mukti (Liberation) is not to be attained except through the well-earned merits of a hundred crore of births.''

The inconsistencies glare: While on one side everything is supposed to be one 'Sarvam Brahma mayam '
a. Why is the human being considered superior to other living things ?
b. Why is the male considered superior to the female ?
c. Why is a brahmin considered superior to others ?
And assuming for the sake of an argument that brahminhood is superior - what was the necessity to preclude the so called Shudras from vedic practice and attain brahminhood ( Please read Sankara's interpretation of the Brahmasutras ).Can this classification of varnas be based on birth ? How is this classification sensible ? if on birth - on the birth of what ? - the soul is supposed to be eternal and hence it cannot be born. Then birth should be of the body . But body is transient and illusory - a product of Maya. On what basis is this classification done - and how just is this ? Where goes Sankara's wonderful monistic philosophy ?

How elite and magnimous can a person be who does not agreed to the equality of man and man and man and other living beings. What a hypocracy ? Or is this conspiracy ?.

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