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Gems from Chinmayananda – The Spiritual Inanity series, Part III

Foreword and some observations on oratory

In the previous two parts (1, 2) of our article series on Chinmayananda’s commentaries, we took a sardonic look at the narrative style of his commentaries. In this concluding part we will try to reassess a common impression of his commentaries on Hindu treatises, which is about his so-called oratorical skills. Unlike in the previous articles, we will quote not one paragraph but 3 paragraphs of his commentary here to examine whether his style and manner of narration really qualifies for the lofty encomium of oratory that is so easily conferred on him by the religious and intellectual gentry of India.

In most lexicons, oratory is defined as eloquence or skill in making speeches to the public, or as a manner of public speaking marked by the use of overblown or effusive rhetoric. So it can be seen that there are not one but two requirements for a speech or expressive style to be properly denoted or qualified as oratorical; firstly the eloquence of speech or expression and along with that the predominance of rhetoric.

Quoting from Wikipedia “Eloquence (from Latin eloquentia) is fluent, forcible, elegant or persuasive speaking. It is primarily the power of expressing strong emotions in striking and appropriate language, thereby producing conviction or persuasion. The term is also used for writing in a fluent style.”

While a speech or expression needs to be forcible or persuasive, we must not be unmindful of an almost equal emphasis on fluency, elegance and use of appropriate language.

While Chinmayananda’s talks may sound forceful and persuasive to many, they miserably fail the test of fluency, elegance and use of appropriate language. Using appropriate language involves adhering to the rules of a language pertaining to its grammar, idioms, semantics and context, while improvising on style and effect using the freedom that figurative expression allows us.

Chinmayananda’s style of speech and writing are in complete violation of these rules of the English language. He confuses prose and poetic style and mixes literal and figurative elements of expression without any sense of proportion, placement or agreement with context. He repeatedly uses common jargons of spiritual lingo, which is a clear sign of his lack of fluency in his subject matter and language. He is notorious for coining new words, many times by tagging Sanskrit or Indian words with English words. There is nothing wrong about coining words- neologism, as it is termed in linguistics. Many languages are enriched by the addition of new words. But new words to gain currency in a language need to satisfy certain requirements of semantics, with associative and derivative qualities of coherence, cogency and ablity to blend with other words and groups. His terms like ‘mud-tattwa’, ‘packet-yoga’ ‘rama-gold’, ‘Krsna-cure’, ‘Arjuna-disease’ etc., exhibit a tendency for playing to the gallery with weird-sounding words, which may yet signify some ethnicity. But, from the perspective of eloquence, they represent an atrocious use of language.

The purpose of rhetoric is to create an effect and persuade an audience to its point of view. But still, rhetoric needs to be phrased in meaningful and appropriate language. Looking at the style of Chinmayananda’s commentaries, one really wonders whether he knows how to construct rhetoric. It will be noticed that he poses questions with exaggerated terms and fancy phrases and then answers them himself, stumbling in the process of doing both of these. A typically well phrased and delivered rhetorical question is one that does not need an answer or has a reply in the question itself. Rhetoric also demands some grandeur and luxuriance of vocabulary and phraseology that does not seem to exist in Chinmayananda’s literary arsenal.

With that prefatory note, let us proceed to an analysis of his quotes.

The verse 4 chapter IX or 9.4 of the Bhagavad Gita

Chinmayananda’s literal translation of this verse of the BG goes like this:

“All this world (universe) is pervaded by Me in My Unmanifest form (aspect); all beings exist in Me, but I do not dwell in them”

Quote 1 from the ‘Gurudev’ and its dissection

“If thus, the Infinite pervades the finite what exactly is the relationship between them? Is it that the finite rose from the Infinite? Or is it that the Infinite produced the finite? Has the Infinite Itself become the finite, as a modification of Itself or do they both keep a father-son, or master-servant relationship? Various religions of the world abound in such questions. The dualists can afford to indulge in such a fancied picture of some relation or other between the finite and the Infinite. But the advaitin-s (Non-dualists) cannot accept this idea, since to them the Eternal Self alone is the one and only reality.”

There you go again! With the merry-go-round of the finite and the ‘Infinite’. There is no respite from the onslaught of the spiritual Siamese twins of the Infinite and the finite. One would have thought that the Gurudev was supposed to explain a verse. Instead of explaining, he is posing more questions than answering any, unless of course the arguments of the infinite and the finite chasing their own tails are supposed to be an astounding spiritual revelation.  After all his grand posturing, he still cannot decide who is the father and son or who the master and the servant between the Infinite and the finite.  Being celibate, the great man could not conceive of a ‘cozy’ mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relationship between finite and the Infinite!

According to the Gurudev, these trials and tribulations of the Infinite and the finite are the questions in which the various religions of the world abound. Really?! Either the Guru has not any done any reasonable study of comparative religion or does not understand what the word abound means; or maybe both. The major religions of the world other than Hinduism, such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, or even home grown religions like Buddhism and Jainism, are not concerned with all this tripe about Infinite and the finite. Even in Hinduism, this kind of nonsensical speculation about the infinite and the eternal is the obsession of that monstrosity called Vedanta.  The great man then thinks that only dualists can afford to indulge in a fancied picture. One has heard of people indulging in a habit or pursuits or revelries, but how does one indulge in a picture? Maybe by staring at the blank canvas of the Infinite and filling it with whatever fanciful picture a spiritually fertile imagination can come up with.  Leaving this quote and its author with our sympathies for his poverty of imagery and confusion of vocabulary, let us move on to the next great quote.

Quote 2 and our analysis of it

“The second line of this stanza is a classical description of this “relationless-relationship” between Real and unreal. To a hasty reader this would strike as an incomprehensible paradox expressed in a jumble of empty words. But to one who has understood well the theory of super-imposition, this is very simple. The ghost-vision can come only the post. And what exactly is the relationship between the ghost and the post from the standpoint of the post? The innocent post, in infinite love for the deluded fool, can only make a similar statement as the Lord has made here. “The ghost,” the post would say “is no doubt in me, but I am not in the ghost; and therefore I have never frightened any deluded traveler at any time.” In the same fashion the Lord says here, “I in my unmanifest nature, am the substratum for all the manifested” chaos of names and forms, but neither in their joys nor in their sorrows, neither in their births nor in their deaths, ” am I sharing their destinies, because I do not dwell in them.”

As if the finite and the Infinite and their cat-and-mouse games were not enough, we are now told to deal with the real and the unreal . At least the  former two had some relationship  where the Guru would make us ‘indulge’ in a ‘fancied picture’. The latter two have  a  “relationless-relationship”, that too of a ‘classical description’. The problem here is not of classical description, but of the classical confusion that our great author has between an oxymoron and a paradox.  It would have helped if Chinmayananda has studied some figurative English properly, he would have realized the perfect hash he is making here of personification, oxymoron and paradox.  The ‘jumble of empty words’ is not from the Gita verse, but from the nonsense of his commentary, struggling to match words with any cogence of meaning.

That apart, now we have to understand well the ‘theory of super-imposition’, which is to spirituality what the ‘theory of gravity’ and ‘theory of relativity’ are to science and physics. It is really amazing that very few of us have heard of this great ‘theory of super-imposition’.

As though the rigmaroles of the finite and the Infinite and that of the Real and unreal were not enough for our confusion, the ghost and the post have also joined the chase party. So, the finite’s ‘Chicken Little’ procession on a bewildering journey to nowhere in hot pursuit of the eternal Self has now the company of the dialogue between the ghost and the post, while saving themselves from the fall of the ‘Infinite’ sky. The protestations of innocence of the post in this ghostly (or rather ghastly) conversation in the typical Gurudev rambling runs along the lines of ‘While the ghost is in the post, but surely the post is not in the ghost’ or ‘The ghost thinks that he is not the post, while the post thinks that the ghost is in the post’ or that ‘The ghost is lost in the post, while the post is still looking for the ghost’. While the ghost and post are posting nasty looks at each other, we are left wondering what kind of post is this, a lamppost, signpost, speed post or compost? And the post is doing all this out of ‘Infinite love for the deluded fool’. It is not hard to see that the ‘deluded fool’ here is none other than Chinmayananda himself who seems to harbor foolish delusions about his literary skills, when he cannot make out the difference between a simile  and a metaphor and falls flat on his pathetic attempts at personification.

Yet for all the faults, who can deny the hard work and exertion of this puffery of spiritual argument from the Gurudev. If, after all the sacrifices of the motley characters of the finite and the Infinite, the Real and unreal, the ghost and the post, their modifying and mortifying proceedings, their ‘relationless-relationships’, their father-son, master-servant, mother-in-law and daughter-in-law roles and their ‘infinite love for deluded fools’, we still do not get a ‘senseless-sensation’ of the ‘self-realizing’ Realization of the eternity of ‘Eternal Self’, shame indeed on our sacrilegious selves. With such sobering thoughts we move to his next great quote.

Quote 3 and our dissertation of it

“This line sounds like a faithful echo of the same idea, perhaps more crisply expressed earlier, where it was said “I am not in them , they are in ME.” In short it is indicated here that the Self which, through Its identification with matter-envelopments, has come to “dwell in them”  is the pain-ridden mortal, while the same Self which has successfully withdrawn all its false arrogations with the matter layers and has come to realize that “I do not dwell in them” is the Self , Immortal and Unmanifest.”

Despite being so spiritual, our ‘Gurudev’ is much more concerned with matter than with spirit, whether as ‘matter-envelopement’ or ‘matter layers’. The self has possibly the same liking for envelopes that the great commentator probably has, since it acquires ‘matter-envelopments’. What if instead of ‘matter-envelopment’ there was ‘matter-elopement’, with the spiritual eloping with the material. But there are too many mattress layers, oops ‘matter layers’, to let that happen in the ‘happening’ world of spirituality. It is not clear who or what this matter layers are. People who lay the matters or mattresses? or ones like ‘Gurudev’ who place layers of nonsense on matter that can be more simply explained. One wishes that Chimayananda would have rather slept on those mattress layers and snored his way to oblivion, instead of tormenting his admirers and detractors alike with his inane and soporific commentaries.

A note of conclusion

Surely Chinmayananda’s eccentricities and antics in the process of speech, like the waving of hands, bobbing of the head, conflation and contortion of nostrils, stealthy wiping of the nose (mostly the result of his regular snuff intake), the bird-droppings of uneven and ‘un-parliamentary’ words and phrases, abrupt changes of voice tones etc., may make for entertaining and comic occasions and interludes. But to take these as marks of oratory and eloquence is to grossly misunderstand the meaning and demands of oratory. If Chinmayananda’s verbal acrobatics is to be considered as oratorical flourish, one can only say that oratory is sorely in need of a redefinition.

To conclude, we have looked at but a few specimens from the book-loads of Chinmayananda’s commentaries. But the bulk of his writings and speeches very nearly mirror these specimens in their sheer desultory nonsense and aimless exposition of theological concepts. While it may not be a wonder for his devotees to marvel at his intellectual prowess and expressiveness, to any thinking and reasonable student of a langauage and subject, Chinmayananda’s speech and writing represent the most cruel mockery of language, and constitute an insult to human intelligence and understanding.

Ranganath R writes critically of religion and spiritualism on his blog Critical Sagacity.

About the author

Ranganath R

An accountant and a man of commerce by background and education, I am a Business Applications analyst by work and profession. I am a lover of diverse intellectual pursuits and interests. I have over time cultivated interests in literature, history and social sciences.

In terms of beliefs, I have had in the past my share of swings between irrationality and rationality. As hopefully thinking processes and impulses mature, I am learning to cultivate the faculty of examining all systems and forms of thought and opinions, in whatever it is received and only accept those that accords with reason, logic and understanding.

29 Comments

  • Hi Ranganath, Excellent exposition of nonsense these “gurudevs” spew out. If you think Chinmayananda induges in “sheer desultory nonsense and aimless exposition of theological concepts” wait till you read the commentary by Pramahansa Yogananda titled, “The Lord Speaks to Arjuna. He is from another planet.

    • Dr. Kamath,

      Thanks for the comments. I have mercifully spared myself the agony of reading PY’s commentaries.

      But I take your word that it must be more nonsensical and deluded than perhaps that of Chinmayananda.

      I have read some commentaries of Sivananda, Jiddu K and Aurobindo. In retrospect it feels that if you have read one, you have read them all.

      The problem and tragedy is that the long and endless procession of false and deluded prophets did not begin with these worthies nor will end with them.

      Though Adi Sankara is the pioneer of this kind of gobbledygook that is the subject of slavish imitation by today’s religious charlatans, he is not the first. If we trail back into early post-vedic history, Jamani (of the Mimansa Sutras ‘infamy’)perhaps started this trend of tortuous and futile speculation into metaphysical fantasies, followed by Badrayana with his Brahmasutras. And what can we say about the cowardly rascals who foisted the Upanishads on our society by hiding behind the fictitious names of Yagnavalkya and Pravahana Javali?

      If one trails back into history, one will find that the trend of meaningless metaphysical speculation of the CE era beginning with Adi Sankara ended with Vallabhacharya, with the start of Bhakti cult. Bhakti cult though socially regressive and damaging was a welcome relief from scriptural demagoguery of Adi Sankara type, with its emphasis on poetry and music, which was culturally very enriching. The end of Bhakti cult in the late 19th century (with the passing away of the musical trinity of South India) brought on the aggressive reversion to the current trend of metaphysical meandering in religious discourse, starting with Vikekananda with now no end in sight.

      The excellent opportunity provided by the freedom movement to reinforce rational and liberal social trends was blown away by leaders like Tilak, Gandhi, Rajaji, Radhakrishnan who harked back to medieval and irrational themes of Hindu religion and scriptures and used their learning and reputation to rationalize the irrational.

      It is so ironic, yet at every momentous turn of history India has always taken the wrong step to go back into its dead past.

  • @Ranganath,

    Advaitin’s fooled people with “Ultimate Reality”.I fooled myself with these stuffs. I would like to see detailed articles on fallacies in Shankara’s work

    btw , did Jiddu K(rishnamurti) write commentaries on Gita? afaik , he was against all organized religions.

    • Kumar,

      I agree that Adi Sankara is in real need of a critical reassessment. Dr. Kamath in one of this articles has tried to call the bluff of some of his nonsensical commentaries on the Gita. We need to carry that initiative further and take on the ill-deserved hallowed reputation of this misguided fanatic and demagogue.

      However we will need to take a different approach. We cannot just pick on the fallacies of his commentaries. That would mean subjecting ourselves of the torture of reading his ‘bhasyas’, most of which is utter nonsense.

      My point about Jiddu was related to his ramblings about metaphysics which may sound very profound but could make very little sense.

  • I’ve been reading your articles critical of the Vedanta. I think you’re taking an extremely parochial view of what the ancients said.

    The question they asked was very pertinent: (in modern terms), given all that we see and experience around us, what *might* a final theory that explains everything look like? The answer they came up was admittedly metaphysical but nonetheless (in my opinion) elegant: there is an irreducible observer, and a substrate that forms the basis of all the phenomena that this observer experiences through the medium of its senses. Furthermore, this substrate is the same as the observer! You have to admit that this is an *elegant* theory, if not (as yet) backed by science.

    I also don’t understand what your issue with the rope-snake or post-ghost analogy is. It’s so simple to understand and quite obvious to anyone who has thought about these issues. If you wish, I could explain *my* understanding of it.

    • Arun,

      ** It’s so simple to understand and quite obvious to anyone who has thought about these issues. If you wish, I could explain *my* understanding of it.**

      Please go ahead and enlighten the skeptics who have not bought into the elegant BS of vedanta.

      • > Please go ahead and enlighten the skeptics who have not bought into the elegant BS of vedanta.

        I will convey *my* understanding of the theory, without any claims as to whether it’s valid or not.

        Our experience and understanding of reality is mediated by our senses and our biological makeup. For example, we have a certain size, certain perception of EM waves, etc, and this means that the version of the world we see is totally different than what it’d have been if we were the size of amoebas. For an amoeba, Brownian motion would be a fact of daily existence – everything might be constantly wiggling in its world! For us, not so much. Similarly, an amoeba or a smaller organisms will have totally different concepts of liquidity/solidity than us. If you were an organism of intergalactic proportions, probably relativistic effects due to large mass and its effect on light etc. may be a crucial component in your perception of reality.

        Thus, the phenomenal “reality” than we see is really projected onto some fundamental substrate (which in Vedanta is called Brahman) which gives rise to it. Hence the example of the rope giving rise to the “reality” of the snake due to ambient effect of dim lighting, and so on.

        You might think that oh, this is just a superficial observation – after all, the physics that an intelligent community of amoebas and humans will ultimately arrive at will be the same. Surely we haven’t said anything profound?

        But the fact is that the illusion goes deeper. Note that the very primitive concepts (such as mass, time, and so on) that we use to parse our daily experiences arise ultimately from our experiences in the world, and all experiences are subject to this biological veil.

        • Arun,

          Thanks for the post.

          **Thus, the phenomenal “reality” than we see is really projected onto some fundamental substrate (which in Vedanta is called Brahman) which gives rise to it.**

          Now, what does substrate mean here? And what do you mean “by give rise to it”? Seems profound but it really is utterly meaningless. For what you are really saying is “Reality is projected on to a substrate and the substrate gives rise to that reality that is projected on to the substrate that…..” Which can be simply viewed as “Reality gives rise to reality”. Which is totally meaningless.

          **Note that the very primitive concepts (such as mass, time, and so on) that we use to parse our daily experiences arise ultimately from our experiences in the world, and all experiences are subject to this biological veil.**

          But we do have mechanisms to remove this subjectivity due to this biological veil. Example, you and I might not agree on how hot a given day is because as our body might manage heat differently. But we can put a thermometer out there to measure the temperature with in a reasonable measurement error. In a similar manner we have found ways to describe mass, time, etc. that is not subjective to this biological veil. Seems this biological veil is not that much of an issue really.

          • > Now, what does substrate mean here? And what do you mean “by give rise to it”?

            In order to satisfactorily answer both of the above questions, I must do the following:

            1. Give some properties of this Brahman by which it can be defined unambiguously and rigorously.

            2. Describe the mechanism by which the phenomena we see around us arise from it. This explanation will give meaning to the phrase “give rise”.

            However, as disappointing it may be to me, I am unable to do the above at this moment because I haven’t studied these and related matters in depth. There is definitely a great deal of clarification needed as the scriptures are not rigorous and are famously evasive. Bringing any clarity to the matter and tying it to our current knowledge will require expertise in not only the major natural sciences, but also what the ancient philosophers said. It’s a task worthy of Bhageeratha!

            The notion of Brahman, Atman etc. were arrived at through apriori intuiting of what an account of reality must *ultimately* be. Can such intuitions have any value? Who knows, maybe Brahman will turn out to be like phlogiston or luminiferous ether of yesteryears. Or perhaps it may be the equivalent of Democritus’ atomic theory where there was some merit to the theory, but it needed further scientific validation. Only time will tell.

          • Arun,

            ** Who knows, maybe Brahman will turn out to be like phlogiston or luminiferous ether of yesteryears. Or perhaps it may be the equivalent of Democritus’ atomic theory where there was some merit to the theory, but it needed further scientific validation. Only time will tell. **

            I believe the hypotheses of phlogiston, luminiferous aether and atomic theory (hypothesis) were falsifiable. Aether and phlogiston were falsified and atomic theory was not or more precisely was confirmed. All these were reasonable hypothesis because they were falsifiable.

            Is Brahman a falsifiable hypothesis? If not why do we have to wait for time to tell us about its validity. Can’t we just discard it today?

          • > Is Brahman a falsifiable hypothesis?

            No, Brahman is not a falsifiable hypothesis. In fact, the ancients who designed it clearly deny it pretty much any property except existence (if that can be considered a property at all). So it’s a very weird entity indeed!

            Can it be *made* falsifiable? My hunch at is that we should at least try to make our understanding of the concept clear, possibly adding to it during the process. We need to survey what the scriptures say and translate their content into highly rigorous and clear language.

            > If not why do we have to wait for time to tell us about its validity. Can’t we just discard it today?

            Well, first of all, very few scientists take the concept of Brahman seriously as a scientific theory (I believe Schrodinger and possibly Tesla were enamored with Vedanta (in addition to I am sure many Indian scientists)), so the question of discarding doesn’t arise in a scientific sense: the theory is not even a current scientific theory.

            Next comes the spiritual angle. Here I do believe that Vedanta can serve as a psychological instrument to quiet what we may call an “existential angst” that befalls us during our lives. It may not work for you, but it does work for many.

          • Arun,

            **No, Brahman is not a falsifiable hypothesis. In fact, the ancients who designed it clearly deny it pretty much any property except existence (if that can be considered a property at all). So it’s a very weird entity indeed!**

            Clearly these ancients were clueless. But then we can not expect much out of people who lived thousands of years ago.

            **Can it be *made* falsifiable? My hunch at is that we should at least try to make our understanding of the concept clear, possibly adding to it during the process. We need to survey what the scriptures say and translate their content into highly rigorous and clear language.**

            I thought the concept is clear already. It is a bad concept. Why would you resurrect a bad idea? What do you gain by carrying on with this bad idea?

            **Next comes the spiritual angle. Here I do believe that Vedanta can serve as a psychological instrument to quiet what we may call an “existential angst” that befalls us during our lives. It may not work for you, but it does work for many.**

            What the heck does “spiritual angle” mean? I disagree with this “It may not work for you, but it does work for many.”. People who think (it really does not) that bad ideas like Vedanta, Astrology, God(s). etc works for them make life hell for people for whom these ideas do not work. Real harm is done because of these ideas. That is why these ideas should be buried and not resurrected with sciencey sounding concepts.

          • > I thought the concept is clear already. It is a bad concept.

            No – the concept is not clear enough. Remember that calculus was considered “clear” once upon a time until holes in Mathematicians’ understanding were uncovered and the likes of Cauchy, Weierstrass etc. came along and fixed matters.

            The same is the case with Brahman, Atman, etc. What indeed do you mean by “Brahman is the divine ground of being from which everything springs”? At the very least the philosophical concept needs to be separated from the religious ornate language it’s usually accompanied with.

            > Why would you resurrect a bad idea? What do you gain by carrying on with this bad idea?

            Frankly, I just don’t think it’s a bad idea at all. I think the ideas of Vedanta are beautiful and creative ideas but nonetheless need to be fleshed out and made rigorous for further investigation. Think the concept of zero or infinity (something to which these primitive ancients contributed to!) before they were made rigorous and understood.

          • Arun,

            **“Brahman is the divine ground of being from which everything springs”? At the very least the philosophical concept needs to be separated from the religious ornate language it’s usually accompanied with.**

            OK. let us remove the religious sounding word from your definition of Brahman. Now removing the word “divine” it reads as “Brahman is the ground of being from which everything springs”. What is so elegant about that? How is that any more elegant or in any way better than say “Everything that exists exists.” What the heck is Brahman needed for? What really is the profoundity here?

            Anyway why even remove the religious concepts. Why not say “God created everything”. That is not different from your definition of Brahman.

            **Frankly, I just don’t think it’s a bad idea at all. I think the ideas of Vedanta are beautiful and creative ideas but nonetheless need to be fleshed out and made rigorous for further investigation. Think the concept of zero or infinity (something to which these primitive ancients contributed to!) before they were made rigorous and understood.**

            Sure there have been not-so clear ideas that were made better ideas with some tweaks that then became falsifiable hypotheses that then became theories through supporting evidence. That does not mean we carry around bad ideas for ever. For example, instead of discarding the concept of Phlogiston as the fire-like element present in the given material we can still resurrect the idea of Phologiston if we want to, and define it as the oxidation potential of the given material. But carrying around the idea of Phlogiston adds nothing to our understanding. We can just get rid of it and just talk about the oxidation potential.

            We should just learn to bury bad ideas. Our love for the ancients is not an excuse to carry on with their bad ideas.

      • The problem is that we put our ancient philosophical hypotheses about the world on a pedestal instead of treating them just as theories. I’d be careful to separate any genuine philosophical merit these theories might have from their conflated status in our society.

        • I will recommend two books for you. One is by an eminent neuro surgeon based on his own Near Death Experience. “The proof of heaven”. The Second is by a masters degree holder in clinical psychology. Collision with infinity.

          • The first book on NDE has already been debunked by Skeptics in the US. If you google you will find enough sources making a mincemeat of the NDE fantasy of that ’eminent’ neuro surgeon.

            Science and Logic has no respect for authority and title and goes primarily by evidence and merit.

          • Poor guy, though. Quite honestly, if I were to have an NDE, especially one so vivid, I would probably start believing as well. A human failing, no doubt, but I would have succumbed.

          • Ashwin,

            ** I would probably start believing as well. A human failing, no doubt, but I would have succumbed.**

            Seriously? Are you sure that you will not be able to reason yourself out of it?

            Your experience of heaven or after-life will be a product of your cultural conditioning and thus would be different from that Mr. Alexander. Wouldn’t that convince you that your experience was just a result of a compromised brain?

      • Sorry, I had unsubscribed from this thread since I felt the discussion was not going anywhere.

        Here’s why we can’t have a constructive discussion. I find the ideas of Vedantic monism minimalistic, elegant and beautiful. I don’t have the ability to convey this subjective experience just the same way I cannot convey the qualitative nature of any other feeling I may have to you. Based on this subjective feeling of beauty, I have a hunch that there might be something of value in Vedanta. You disagree, which is fine.

        • Arun,

          **I find the ideas of Vedantic monism minimalistic, elegant and beautiful.**

          **Based on this subjective feeling of beauty, I have a hunch that there might be something of value in Vedanta.**

          I find vedanta ugly and inelegant. But then beauty and elegance are very subjective. So I can not argue with that.

          But when you say something is minimalist or is of value then we can certainly have a debate. I do not find vedanta to be minimalist because all that can be explained can be done with out vedanta. And it has not value because everything vedanta claims to explain it just does so by definitions and non-falsifiable hypotheses.

          This is the problem. Your subjective experience of beauty and elegance is fooling you into thinking that it is minimalist and of value.

          • > I do not find vedanta to be minimalist because all that can be explained can be done with out vedanta.

            It’s minimalist in the sense that at it’s core it posits an ultimate experiencer – the Atman, an ultimate external reality – the Brahman, and that they are both the same. Two aspects of our experience – one internal and another external – reduced to their archetypes, as it were. Not many moving parts – two reduced to one!

            Also, value can be relative as well. Vedanta certainly has value to a lot of people because it’s a very useful device in fostering a sense of internal peace and blissful stillness. Whether it has any explanatory utility in a scientific sense remains to be seen.

          • **It’s minimalist in the sense that at it’s core it posits an ultimate experiencer – the Atman, an ultimate external reality – the Brahman, and that they are both the same. Two aspects of our experience – one internal and another external – reduced to their archetypes, as it were. Not many moving parts – two reduced to one!**

            **ultimate experiencer**

            Suffers from anthropomorphism which is an unnecessary assumption implicit in this definition or unfalsifiable hypothesis.

            Not minimalist, Sorry!

  • Capt. Mandrake

    I tried to follow to some extent the exchanges between you and Arun Nair.

    While I compliment you on the way you have responded to the red herrings strewn by the apologists, we must realize that these are part of the bait-and-switch tactics of the Hindu religious brigade.

    The bait that is thrown at skeptics on Vedanta is to keep harping on the false correlation between the presiding dogma of Vedanta/Upanishads about Brahman/Atman and the theory of phenomenon/reality and/or phenomenalism/phenomenology and entangle the skeptics/critics on the circular chase of arguments and counter arguments about this.

    Once the critic is stuck in this rut, the switch is made to the similarity between Quantum and Vedanta’s non-duality (Advaita) and the critic is flooded and sought to be overwhelmed by the most ridiculous kinds of quantum quackery.

    With these kinds of trickery, we are made to lose sight of the essentially dogmatic nature of Vedanta, its mindless rubbish and inanity, its ideological/metaphysical justifications for superstitions of karma,rebirth and Moksha and its subservience to ritual and abstraction of the void.

    Vedanta as a ‘Theory of Everything’ or an approximation of GUT is the height of the supercilious vanity of Hindu nationalism. It is unbelievable what depths of idiocy the Vedanta apologists will plumb, to show Vedanta as the diviner of all modern science and theory.

    It is a canard and a fabrication that Vedanta has anything to do with the investigation of phenomenon/reality and has a credible theory about it. Far from it, Upanishads totally deny the phenomenal reality as mithya or falsehood and blame the senses/perception as victims of avidya or ignorance that can only be overcome by transcendence borne out of meditative and abstracted torture on the pain/penalty of transmigration and false/agonizing life. Brahman is not a theory, but a state to be attained.

    It will be noticed that these apologists are conveniently silent on the Connection between Brahman/Atman and Karma, Punarjanma and Moksha. Also on how is Avidya the causative agent of Punarjanma and delay or denial of Moksha.

    The quantum blabber and the word soups of substrate, substratum and projections/impression of phenomenon on/thru the senses is all new age drivel used by the Hindu religious brigade to rescue the Vedanta from the charge of absurdity and inanity that is obvious on a normal reading of the texts and the commentaries of its prophets from Badrayana thru Adi Sankara to Madhava and Ramanuja.

    I have also tried to call all this revisionist bluff and bluster in my comment responses and blog posts, but the skin of deluded Hindu religious vanity is very thick indeed and their ears are also very hard of hearing.

    • Ranganath,

      Yes, it is difficult to have an honest discussion with these guys. They make it sound as if they are the reasonable one in the debate with comments like the following.

      **Whether it has any explanatory utility in a scientific sense remains to be seen.**

      This after he seem to concede in an earlier post that vedanta’s claims are non-falsifiable. Either this guy is totally confused or is plain dishonest.

      BTW, I check out one (http://variedessays.blogspot.com/2013/04/vedanta-and-brahman-vs-ether-and-brains.html ) of the blog posts about one of the comments on Brahman and ether. Great analysis!

  • Late Swami Chinmayananda, was Sri.Balakrishna Menon before becoming an ascetic and spending nine years of training in the Ashram of Sri Tapovanam Swami. He has a masters degree in English Literature and worked as a college teacher for some time. To say that a masters degree holder in English literature has no command over the language is sheer impertinence. May I humbly ask the writer what his qualification is ?! Sri Swami Chinmayananda is an out standing scholar of Vedanta and an extra ordinary orator. IMHO. This writer is more interested in mud slinging.

    • Veegee,

      Though you have used the word ‘humble’, your tone and manner of questioning is far from humble. Anyway digs apart, the point I want to make is that what one’s title, qualifications and credentials are and what one actually does with them are two entirely different things.

      Chinmayananda sure has all the credentials of a great writer, but it does not necessarily follow from that, that he writes well. Excellence is subjective, so we cannot equate individual value judgements. So it is likely that Chinmayananda’s English versatility will pass muster with you, but not with others.

      I have provided quite a few examples of how and why his English at least in his spiritualist commentaries is not of a sterling quality and what his fumbles and stumbles are. Inspite of throwing around many terms and jargons, (of which too there are example in the post) the ‘Swami’ is unable to come up with any coherent explanation of his ideas. You are welcome to take up any of them and come up with your counter arguments.

      The blogger’s qualification is of little consequence or relevance here as the arguments can speak for themselves. Critics and skeptics are not in awe of Chinmaya’s authority and reputation. Nor are they impressed by his 9 years of ascetic training or his college teaching track record. Anybody else could have pointed out these faults of Chinmayananda’s writing or public speaking.

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