Adventures in Advaita Vedanta, the philosophy and science of spirit. We are one you and I; are you curious why?..


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There and Back Again

Hari Om

'Freedays' are the 'gather our thoughts' days; Q&As; a general page reviewing the week so far…

Again, the synchronicity of things is noted. Over at Wild YAM blog, a general post on communication was made. It fitted a thought process regarding matters going on in the world, as well as to a couple of smaller news items. Here at "AV", the essence of communication has also been building and yesterday, embarking on TattvabodaH, full emphasis is made on the need to be clear about context and language.

Further, this week, (in a quiz show of all things!), one was reminded that the Holy Bible was only made available in English through much strife on the part of one William Tyndale. Undoubtedly he was as much a 'guru' as Adi Shankaraacharya, though unlike the earlier master who was hugely successful in his endeavours, Tyndale died as a result of his. Shankaraacharya, of course, kept his missionary work within the source language, but that was appropriate at a time when it was spoken widely and even the least educated man could access scripture due to prakarana grantha-s produced by the tireless guru.

Gurudev received something of a similar (though less life-threatening) response as Tyndale when he began teaching ancient Vedic understanding in the English language. He, as did Tyndale, believed that spirituality was for each and every individual to labour with for themselves and to do this they needed to have 'access' to the writings which provided the guidance. Gurudev, like Tyndale, also understood that for the genuine seekers, those who wished to reach the highest goal, it was necessary to 'go to source', the language in which the scriptures were written. The concern of both these towering intellects, was that, through the controlling priestly class, society was being cheated, mankind was being robbed of its right to rise, each according to his/her own path. In India, there were (and remain to some extent) additional snobberies and elitism with regard to who ought, or ought not, to be accessing scripture of their own accord. The Catholic church of Tyndale's time was ruthless in its suppression of those who would dare to reveal the simplicity of scriptural message or challenge its methodology.

Adi Shankara, Swami Chinmayananda, Tyndale and many others like them had no egoistic interest in, or sought to gain from, the scriptures themselves.  They were purely concerned with the truth of the words and that they be not twisted by others with more personal agendas. They took and acted out the guidance they discovered and were the example of the change they wished to see within their respective societies.

What is more, they did not keep this to themselves, but sought to share it, to encourage all who had the inner ear to follow in their footsteps.  Not for their own aggrandizement, but because they truly believed all had an entitlement to the freedom of spirit.

Yes, the language of Vedanta is couched in Sanskrit and yes, it is necessary to learn a number of words and phrases of that language in order to progress in study of the Philosophy.  Importantly, though, for the general public, Gurudev stuck to his vision and calling. All the publications of both the ancient scriptures and modern writings are available in English, as well as regional languages. Equally importantly, with all the Sanskrit texts, is that they are provided within the publications, along with charts for pronunciation, transliteration for those who do not read Devanagari script and also grammatical breakdown to show the validity of the translation.

In this way, oh so subtly, we do become educated in the very source material itself!

In his treatises and discourses, whilst using analogies from modern life as well as long established examples, Gurudev never turned the scriptures to personal advantage (other than that which is for purely spiritual advancement - in which case we ought all to do so!); he never shrank from the harsh truth which can arise within - anything which points to fault and asks for change can seem harsh to us; He, as did all the parampara of guru-s back to Shankara and beyond, merely reiterated what was given in a manner that could be comprehended by the society. These guru's are in many respects, mere messengers. All that remains is for those who read and hear them to carry out their side of the communication process; to absorb, to listen, to ponder, subsequently to act.

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Hari OM
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