Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Everything wrong

Some more thoughts on whats wrong with the selection Sankaracharyas and the way they are treated (Gurus as Gods: The bane of Hinduism.)

There have been allegations that the Sankaracharyas of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam have not been above board when it comes to matters relating to sex.

These are allegations. They could or could not be true.

But the question is: Is the selection system correct?

According to Sanathana Dharma (The real name for what we call 'Hinduism'), a person has to cross four stages in his life: Brahmacharya - student; Grihastashrama - householder; Vanaprastashrama - retiring to the 'forests' renouncing the Grihasta life after completing your duties; and finally, Sannyas -
renouncing everything in contemplation of God. The reason for having the stages is that when you take sannyas, your mind must be calm and must not be distracted by anything. The person who is seeking God would have enjoyed all the pleasures of life by the time he reaches the Sannyas stage and he would be able to concentrate on his quest.

The selection system at the Kanchi Peetam (and may be at the other Sankara peetams) do not follow this.

A kid or youth is handpicked and anointed as the Sankaracharya. There can be nothing worse. The person is just into Brahmacharya and has no experience of Grihastashrama. And he has no outlet to release his desires, including money and sex.

The kid is taught to supress his desires, which is dangerous. If you supress anything beyond a point, it is bound to explode. For example, sex is regarded one of the 'basic instincts', be it man or animal.

Says Shri Eknath Easwaran in his commentary on the Bhagavad Gita about the three gunas - tamas, rajas and saathvic. "Sex is the strongest desire we have, the highest physical satisfaction life offers. That is precisely why it contains such a tremendous amount of power. Strong sexual desires means a lot of gas in your tank. You don't want to throw the tank away; the choice we all face is simply, Shall I be a victim of this desire or master? When sex is mastered, it leads to tremendous power and a magnetic personality. The power in that desire becomes kundalini, the energy we draw on to elevate our consciousness and go forward on the path of evolution. So much power is caught up in sexual desire that once it comes under control, it can lead even an ordinary person like you or me to great heights of spiritual wisdom or selfless action."

The process of making of a Sankaracharya in the Sankara Math, is based more on studying scriptures and rituals than meditation. This is the problem. It requires tremendous effort to achieve what Shri Easwaran says. We must have the desire to achieve the state and then strive towards it. And we will be able to achieve it only if we cross the Grihastrashrama, when we know what sex is and have experienced it. Again, it is not easy. It requires tremendous effort.

But when a kid is picked as Sankaracharya, the position is thrust on him. No attempt is made to find out whether the kid is ready to renounce life and all its pleasures. When the kid reaches adolescence, all the desires too grow and when he becomes an adult, it is ready to explode.

Osho, one of the greatest teachers India has produced, was derided when he said we should not try to bottle up our desires. When he spoke about it openly, the nation was shocked. Very few bothered to find out the truth behind his words.

And swamis like Sankaracharyas picked up early in their childhood and are forced to become sannyasis.

There are a few other mutts where the head is supposed to finish off the Grihastashrama before taking up Sannyas. And obviously, things are far better there.