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Lectures by professor t.s. rukmani

Hindu Samnyasins in the Temple Context

Shivdasani Conference 2007
21 Oct 2007

Session 13 of the 2007 Shivdasani ConferenceThe Hindu temple is a religious site and signifies some ritual activity. The general perception of a samnyasin, on the other hand, is one not associated with ritual activity as that is seen as perpetuating worldly existence or samsara. However since this polarization is not evidenced in real life this is indeed a contested issue and this paper examines how far this relationship of a renouncer with the temples as seen in the world can be justified based on the prescriptions given in ascetic (samnyasa) manuals like the Samnyasa Upanishads, the Yatidharmasamuccaya and Jivanmuktiviveka.

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Hindu Samnyasins in the Temple Context

Shivdasani Conference 2007
21 Oct 2007

Session 13 of the 2007 Shivdasani ConferenceThe Hindu temple is a religious site and signifies some ritual activity. The general perception of a samnyasin, on the other hand, is one not associated with ritual activity as that is seen as perpetuating worldly existence or samsara. However since this polarization is not evidenced in real life this is indeed a contested issue and this paper examines how far this relationship of a renouncer with the temples as seen in the world can be justified based on the prescriptions given in ascetic (samnyasa) manuals like the Samnyasa Upanishads, the Yatidharmasamuccaya and Jivanmuktiviveka.

Related: 1

How much of yoga did Shankara accept in his formulation of Advaita Vedanta

Shivdasani Seminar
11 May 2007

Shankara opposes the dualistic Yoga as much as the Samkhya in his Brahmasutrabhasya and other works. But one clearly sees that his opposition does not extend to the methodology of Yoga. He generally speaks favourably of yogic practices and even accepts the siddhis of Yoga. Sankara mentions the threefold sravana, manana and nididhyasana as of paramount importance for brahman-realization. While sravana is translated as hearing and studying the relevant sacred texts and manana as reflection on what one has learnt from the texts, nididhyasana is usually translated as samadhi as well as dhyana. Samadhi and dhyana are already well defined terms in yoga philosophy and one struggles to find a proper understanding of the word nididhyasana in Advaita Vedanta. Sankara tries to define nididhyasana but is not able to convincingly point out the distinction between dhyana/samadhi and nididhyasana. It is this difficulty that makes one, like Sadananda, the author of the Vedantasutras, define nididhyasana in a two-fold manner as savikalpaka and nirvikalpaka samadhi, and blur the difference between yogic samadhi and Advaita Vedanta nididhyasana. This paper discusses these various issues.

Related: 0

How much of yoga did Shankara accept in his formulation of Advaita Vedanta

Shivdasani Seminar
11 May 2007

Shankara opposes the dualistic Yoga as much as the Samkhya in his Brahmasutrabhasya and other works. But one clearly sees that his opposition does not extend to the methodology of Yoga. He generally speaks favourably of yogic practices and even accepts the siddhis of Yoga. Sankara mentions the threefold sravana, manana and nididhyasana as of paramount importance for brahman-realization. While sravana is translated as hearing and studying the relevant sacred texts and manana as reflection on what one has learnt from the texts, nididhyasana is usually translated as samadhi as well as dhyana. Samadhi and dhyana are already well defined terms in yoga philosophy and one struggles to find a proper understanding of the word nididhyasana in Advaita Vedanta. Sankara tries to define nididhyasana but is not able to convincingly point out the distinction between dhyana/samadhi and nididhyasana. It is this difficulty that makes one, like Sadananda, the author of the Vedantasutras, define nididhyasana in a two-fold manner as savikalpaka and nirvikalpaka samadhi, and blur the difference between yogic samadhi and Advaita Vedanta nididhyasana. This paper discusses these various issues.

Related: 1

The concept of nivrtti as translated in the lives of women in Hinduism: A survey (as part of 'Towards equality: writing/reading gender in texts of Hinduism' workshop)

19 May 2006

Nivrtti denotes disengagement with worldly conventions. Of course it is used more in the context of samnysins/samnyasinis in connection with the pursuit of moksa (liberation). But this paper intends to release the word nivrtti from this narrow application and look at it in a wider context. The paper will examine the instances in the texts which have representations of women who go against the conventional, mother/warrior image. For instance is the brahmavadini/scholar woman like Gargi for instance, discarding by choice the role of a married woman and opting for a life of scholarly/spiritual search? Again is Savitri exerting her independence and opting to marry Satyavan in spite of her father's advice? Sulabha again could be someone who did not want to marry anyone because she was far superior to all those who wooed her. She makes the deliberate choice to become a bhiksuni. There are any number of these examples in Sanskrit texts which will form the basis of the talk.

Related: 0

The concept of nivrtti as translated in the lives of women in Hinduism: A survey (as part of 'Towards equality: writing/reading gender in texts of Hinduism' workshop)

19 May 2006

Nivrtti denotes disengagement with worldly conventions. Of course it is used more in the context of samnysins/samnyasinis in connection with the pursuit of moksa (liberation). But this paper intends to release the word nivrtti from this narrow application and look at it in a wider context. The paper will examine the instances in the texts which have representations of women who go against the conventional, mother/warrior image. For instance is the brahmavadini/scholar woman like Gargi for instance, discarding by choice the role of a married woman and opting for a life of scholarly/spiritual search? Again is Savitri exerting her independence and opting to marry Satyavan in spite of her father's advice? Sulabha again could be someone who did not want to marry anyone because she was far superior to all those who wooed her. She makes the deliberate choice to become a bhiksuni. There are any number of these examples in Sanskrit texts which will form the basis of the talk.

Related: 1

Value ethics in the early Upanishads: A hermeneutic exercise

Shivdasani Seminar
4 May 2006

The general view amongst scholars, and western scholars in particular, is that there is not sufficient attention paid to ethics in Hinduism. While no one holds that view seriously these days it does surface in discussions on Hinduism even today. This presentation tries to tackle that issue from the point of view of the early Upanishads. The main argument I develop is that moral theory and ethical behaviour is culture specific and there cannot be a uniform standard moral theory for all cultures. Moreover, it is axiomatic that no culture, particularly one that has survived thousands of years like that of the Hindus, could have survived without a moral code. Moral theory grows in consonance with the values that each society considers of ultimate importance. Keeping this as the background, this paper looks at a number of the early and middle Upanishads to build a behaviour pattern based on the twin concepts of dharma and moksa. Along the way the paper also tries to answer criticisms from scholars like Zaehner for whom a jivanmukta (one liberated while still in the body) is beyond all morality. The conclusion drawn is that there is a close connection between moral behaviour and the realization of what it means to be human.

Related: 0

Value ethics in the early Upanishads: A hermeneutic exercise

Shivdasani Seminar
4 May 2006

The general view amongst scholars, and western scholars in particular, is that there is not sufficient attention paid to ethics in Hinduism. While no one holds that view seriously these days it does surface in discussions on Hinduism even today. This presentation tries to tackle that issue from the point of view of the early Upanishads. The main argument I develop is that moral theory and ethical behaviour is culture specific and there cannot be a uniform standard moral theory for all cultures. Moreover, it is axiomatic that no culture, particularly one that has survived thousands of years like that of the Hindus, could have survived without a moral code. Moral theory grows in consonance with the values that each society considers of ultimate importance. Keeping this as the background, this paper looks at a number of the early and middle Upanishads to build a behaviour pattern based on the twin concepts of dharma and moksa. Along the way the paper also tries to answer criticisms from scholars like Zaehner for whom a jivanmukta (one liberated while still in the body) is beyond all morality. The conclusion drawn is that there is a close connection between moral behaviour and the realization of what it means to be human.

Related: 1