The most sophisticated system of spiritual-religious thought in India is Advaita... and it is also an expression of the most extreme other-worldliness of the kind which has plagued India since the Ayrans came there. Though sophisticated, it is also metaphysical and most of its variants (and proponents) are distant from all social human concerns. It is all about the desire for liberation (cessation of existence in the world). It ought to be taken apart systematically on all fronts so that gurus and other people living in the past and its superstitions etc. get the rations ground cut away beneath their feet... for this is their main appeal in the West, the involved ideology and labyrinthine meanderings of speculation so as to explain all and everything without any science or empiricism.
I have posted a number of articles criticising Advaita, such as the following:-
Some reflections on Advaita Vedanta
The so-called 'spiritual search' - subjectivist 'teaching' about th...
Mental double-accounting: 'spiritual doublethink' in indoctrination

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This is interesting material. Thanks.
Nice to see you decided to join Robert :-).
Thanks for this, Robert. I've tended to avoid discussing much Hindu philosophy for precisely the reasons you listed. They tend to get abstract and muddle subjective intuitions with objective reality. For this reason, I've noticed that arguing with them on their own muddled ground leads me away from any hopes of making it back to reason. So, I try to argue on objective criteria alone, as known to us by science. Of course, this elicits the "Western Science is limited and does not apply to vedic spiritualism" argument.
Advaita is philosophy of Non-Theism

I am sorry to state that your whole exposition revolves around a charlatan who cannot be an advaitin

Advaita has only one message ...don't seek anything ..neither enlightenment, nor Gods nor liberation ..beacause YOU ARE ALREADY WHAT YOU ARE TRYING TO SEEK.

what surprises me is that you still believe in the Max Muller Aryan Invasion theory which has been disowned by it's most vociferous campaigners way back in 1990s !!

All your presumptions about Advaita stem from the false premise that :1) Aryans invaded india 2) Satya Sai Baba is an Advaitin


I hope you read about Advaita philosophy first before you start out campaigning against the same.

because fighting against advaita is as good as fighting against non-theism
Advaita is part of the Astika School which I believe is theist. Am I wrong?

Now, I'm no expert on this topic but I would be interested in your explanation for this.
Astika does not mean Theism of the western kind.

There's no creator God nor you are not expected to worship charlatans like satya sai baba or any God at all.

Advaita is all about stopping the pseudo search for eternal happiness , immortality and knowledge outside ..you already are what you are searching for

neither is it devoid of any ontological,empirical or rational perspective as Robert asserts.

I suggest you please glance through this

http://www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/chittaranjan/prelude_chittaran...

and the next two essays and then form an opinion.
I will look at your references. Thank you.

Just one more question.

Isn't the Astika school a school which acknowledges either Dualism or Gods? That is, spiritual beliefs?

And the Nastika school does not accept spiritual beliefs?

That is my understanding of the difference.
Advaita is harmful not just for its glib, otherwordly mystical derails that lead you away from the tangible and the real, but also because of how the idea of karma was tied into it. Now, metaphysical ideas of cause-effect aside, karma is also an easy excuse to impose a faith on people. Act in so-and-so manner, you will reap the benefits. Don't and you suffer in your consequent births. AND what is perhaps more damning than anything would be how karma also endorses the Vedic caste system in a manner far, far more effective than any pagan system of 33 million gods could have. Whole generations of people have been condemned as 'achyuta', 'dalit', 'rakshasa', etc.

Kalki,

An ontological, rational, empirical perspective can be found in the Church too, in Islam too, in any faith for that matter. But that perspective is reserved for those who are privileged to see it. It's always been that way, no? If you look hard enough, you may find that nowhere in the Upanishads or the commentaries on it is the caste system ever openly endorsed (I haven't found any at least, but my knowledge of this is fairly sketchy). But that doesn't change the fact that with its emphasis on the transient nature of the 'real world' and its ideas of Maya and the only truth as a singular Brahman, advaita also does nothing to address the inequalities imposed by the Vedic system concretely. Great for a dinner-time debate over a beer with friends speculating over life, the universe and everything, but it's good for little more than that.
Krishnakumar,

It's my understanding that the ancient Vedic caste system was very different from the caste system that is practiced today.

In ancient times, it was just a grouping of categories and people could, and often did, freely move from caste to caste.

I do agree with your assessment of the concept of Karma and how it is used in religious belief to promote a defeatism of sorts and how it is tied to the caste system today.

That is, if one is lower caste, and/or suffering difficulties in life, it's because of bad Karma, it's the person's fault and they just have to accept their circumstances.

This attitude, IMO, blocks progress, change and advancement of society.
TG,

I don't know about these Utopian times when the caste system was strictly voluntary and frankly have trouble believing it was ever so. No ancient civilization was fair in its distribution of labor. There were those who did the grunt work, those who lived through whatever skill they were trained in and those who retained power with a show of arms or by quoting scripture. And there were those who were persecuted in the name of faith.

The link between the caste system and karma is established in the Gita. Gita, Ch.4, Verse 13
The Lord says:
"The fourfold caste has been created by Me
according to the differentiation of Guna and Karma;"

Gita Ch. 18, V.41:
"Of Brahmanas, Kshtriyas and Vaishyas, as also the Sudras,
O Arjuna, the duties are distributed according to the qualities
born of their own nature."

The idea that some people were more naturally better equipped at ruling and others at serving, isn't particularly new, so this isn't really all that surprising.

Here is a better discussion on the caste system in the Mahabharata.

The story is analogous to other stories of the Fall of man into diversity and iniquity. All people were Brahmins, then they strayed "from purity of behaviour" to become Sudras or "to an unrestrained course of conduct" to become Mlecchas. Now, there were probably times when distinctions like these were sensible, but those times aren't now.
Hi KS

Thank you for that information and I readily admit that I'm not an expert in this area.

While I'm Indian origins, I'm third generation Canadian and know what I know simply out of curiousity regarding my family roots and not an Indian education.

Just one comment, you appear to be under the mistaken impression that I'm an advocate for the caste system.

If I'm wrong about this inference I stand corrected.

Just in case this is your belief, and to be perfectly clear I do not advocate it.

My source for my claim regarding caste fluidity is Wiki where it states:

"Caste mobility

Some scholars believe that the relative ranking of other castes was fluid or differed from one place to another prior to the arrival of the British.[28] Sociologists such as Bernard Buber and Marriott McKim describe how the perception of the caste system as a static and textual stratification has given way to the perception of the caste system as a more processual, empirical and contextual stratification. Other sociologists such as Y.B Damle have applied theoretical models to explain mobility and flexibility in the caste system in India.[29] According to these scholars, groups of lower-caste individuals could seek to elevate the status of their caste by attempting to emulate the practices of higher castes.

Flexibility in caste laws permitted very low-caste religious clerics such as Valmiki to compose the Ramayana, which became a central work of Hindu scripture."

Source: Caste System In India Wiki

I appreciate the link you provided and will read it.

Looking forward to your comments,
TG,
I never thought you supported the caste system. You'd be in the wrong forum then, heh. But you were drawing that distinction between ancient and modern versions of the caste system which I've heard held up as an excuse for it by believers. 'Don't blame the faith, blame the faithful', etc.

I've heard the Valmiki example brought up before, another one used to justify caste mobility is Vishwamitra who was of the kshatriya/warrior caste before he converted to the brahmin/priest caste. In each case, the lower caste man (assuming, as most Brahmins do, that the kshatriya are 'lesser' than them) had to prove his extraordinary worth in order to qualify for entry to the upper caste. Valmiki heard the voice of Rama, Vishwamitra was made to go through many penances so he could be a Brahmarishi like Vashishta. So I'm guessing upward mobility would have been possible, but very strictly controlled by those in the upper castes. You could rise through the ranks by a twist of fate if there were no upper castes left above you, or through intermarrying which doesn't lift up the entire caste as in the first case but helps an individual out pretty well (Meena Kandasamy had a scathing poem on the upward mobility of lower castes through marriage here) or by converting to Islam/Christianity (But this didn't usually work out all that well as the caste system has mirrored itself in those two religions too.) To my knowledge, godmen and saints never got lifted above their castes but they were acknowledged as being dear to the Gods enough to merit moksha.

However, the question of mobility is moot the moment you acknowledge that some sections of humanity, by a defect of birth or ability, must be denied certain rights and privileges that are available to others better gifted than them. That is what the caste system requires. It isn't enough to say that a lower caste person can, by proving his extraordinary worth to the higher castes, rise up to the benefits available to the upper castes. And the fact that caste is inherited by birth isn't denied anywhere, is it?

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