Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Response to comment

This post comprises a 'comment' received by me and my response (You can find it after the comment)
The concept of selecting the acharya at a young age is something that's been followed for eons. And not just in Kanchi mutt, its done even in Buddhist communities.
Though I am not too familiar with the reason behind selecting them young, I would definitely not rule this out as a useless practice. If that be the case, what has been happening for all these years? Is it that all these acharyas are posing with their carnal instincts bottled up inside? I am totally ignorant of the rituals and regime of a young sanyasi. But as in the case of Adi Shankara, even he was allowed to get a taste of this basic instict by getting into the body of a king before he had a debate with Vidyamatha (I think I got the name right). There may be some other way of 'relieving' themselves. But, why is this on the rise over the last decade?
This is a response to the above comment.

As far as i know, the entire concept of Buddhism is based on renunciation. Buddhism lays emphasis on "The Four Noble Truths"
1. Life is suffering;
2. Suffering is due to attachment;
3. Attachment can be overcome;
4. There is a path for accomplishing this.
The path is the eight-fold path. And Buddhism lays emphasis on meditation and renunciation. The Buddha taught that living a good moral life was a prerequisite to spiritual development. On its own, however, living a good moral life will not lead to enlightenment. Something more is required. The tool for this is meditation. Everyone is supposed to lead a life almost akin to renunciaton.
So, there is nothing surprising in kids being made monks. They are supposed to be that way.
And what makes you think they are celibate? I have heard of several scandal among the monks.
The difference between Sanathana Dharma (Hinduism) and other religions including Buddhism is that the Vedas dont say "Do this" like the 10 commandments or the eight-fold path. They just say "if you do this, you will improve. If you don't, its your headache."
Thats the reason there are more sex scams among Hindu monks.
You say "The concept of selecting the acharya at a young age is something that's been followed for eons." So what? If nothing has come out, does it mean nothing has happened?
"If that be the case, what has been happening for all these years? Is it that all these acharyas are posing with their carnal instincts bottled up inside?"
You say "..all these years". Two "revolutions" (if i may call it so) have happened in the last 10-15 years. One is media and the other is sexual. And both have complemented each other very well.
First media. Some 10 years ago, there was only the stupid DD. No MTV, no V or Zoom. No Baywatch. Only Hum Log.
Print media: I dont think you have seen porn mags. I have. Any "exitement" you have will vanish once you read(!) the magazines.
Then came Debonair, Fantasy etc. Now you can find "better" stuff even in Stardust.
Films: Before Zeenat in SSS and Madhuri in Tezaab, vamps like Helen and Jothilakshmi ruled the roost. Now, their counterparts like mumtaz have no takers. Shakeela is down and out.15-20 years ago, it was a scandal if women wore even churidar-kurtas in Chennai.My cousin had come to Bombay from Madras in 1986. I had to take him around the city. We passed by Ruia College. He stood shell-shocked and refused to move from the place. He asked me to go home and said he would come later. We had left home at 8.30 am. He returned at 7 pm. He said he could never imagine this in Chennai. What was it? He had seen girls in tight t-shirts and jeans and other "exiting" dresses for the first time. He wanted to have his eyes full before returning to 'dry' madras.
Now, all swamijis read magazines with pictures. And Vijayendra Saraswati took over just when the "revolutions" began. And we can certainly expect him to have "carnal instincts bottled up inside". If you think their sexcapades are the creation of the media, let me tell you, I heard these and many more almost four years ago. There were whispers about Raghu's 'activities' even then. A real swami does not give preference for rich guys. They also do not meet women alone.
This wont happen if the desire for sannyas comes from within. Sannyas cannot be thrust from outside or by anyone. If that happens, it's only a matter of time before things explode. As has happened now.
The information revolution:
20 years back, if something happened in Kanchipuram, by the time thenews crossed 50 km and reached chennai, half the news would be lost.Now there are live telecasts from Kanchipuram.
And there were hardly any newsmagazines except for India Today andSunday. Then came Week. In Tamil, there were no news magazines worththe name. Andana Vikatan and Kumudam were not news magazines. Thencame Junior Vikatan, which completely changed the scene.
Till then nobody bothered about scoops. And nothing came out of anymutts. If at all anything came out, it died by the time the newsreached the next district.Now there are hundreds of magazines competing for readership. Theremay be exaggerations, but the fact is that they are ready to pounceand ferret out information from even a small leak. Reporters in IndiaToday and Outlook have to keep constantly running around. In such a situation, even a spark is enough to open closets to reveal skeletons.
And mutts and ashrams didnt bother to raise resources beyond theirneeds. Jayendrar is supposed to have 'changed' the way the SankaraMutt collected donations. He was supposed to be 'donation savvy'. Heknew how to tap donations.The Sankara Mutt also expanded after the death of Paramacharya. Itstarted buying huge properties, hospitals etc. This needed more funds.It also started looking at 'investments' in a 'commercial' angle.Now, when religion becomes commercial, that's the end of theinstitution. All Sankara Mutt hospitals, including Childs Trust,charge commercial rates. Free/subsidised treatments are few. Theirschools charge rates which are certainly more than other schools. Anddo you know the pay the teachers get there? Four years back, it was Rs1200 pm. Even a mason gets more. Now things have 'improved' andteachers get around Rs 2000.Now, compare this with other schools like Chettinaad Vidyashram. Or even Zion School in Tambaram, which pays salaries comparable to StateGovt teachers.There is no point in bragging about running hospitals or schools ifthe situation is like this.
And Jayendrar is not known to be Saathvic. He gets irritated even with small things like wobbling chairs (I have seen this myself).
And you may read my first blog "Gurus as Gods". I feel if we dont treat gurus as gurus, but almost as Gods, such things will keep happening.

And this is the response I got from the 'commentator'

If you prune down your entire discussion to Jayendra, may be you've got some facts right. However, to confirmly say that the entire system is fault because the heads are being chosen at a young age (I guess that's where we started) is definitely not agreeable. Even in the case of Jayendra, who says that mutts (which are mainly set upto preach the religion) do get a little social and involve themselves insocial activities, shouldn't this too be appreciated as something in tune with the time.
Why only Hinduism and hindus are always at fault when itcomes to a little offtrack thinking. Aren't the Christian institutions thriving on such donations, and what about the Muslim community? Personally, I have no great regard for Jayendra as an acharya, however, he has proved that he is in his own media-savvy and donation-savvy way, a good administrator. Else, where from would such a 2000-year old mutt, get about Rs 2000 cr assets (though the mutt strongly refutes it saying that its allwith the trust et al).
About the 'inflosion' (information explosion), jus for the sake of his ownpersonal gains in his organisation, most journalists (especially the vernacular ones) of even reputed mags, are stooping to nothing short ofyellow journalism. Am not blaming the journalists who slog to get their newsright which are fastly becoming a minority.Jus for a 2-second byte in their news channels, most of these electronicmediamen are going crazy and are in a hurry to telecast things even beforeconfirming them. They simply want to get things first; whether its right orwrong is secondary. With each one of them proclamining their politicalaffliations in bolder colours, can there be any objective reporting in anyof these?Again treating gurus as Gods, none of our scriptures say so. They are jus amessenger. But again the fault lies with our ownselves, who raise them tosuch high pedestal and suddenly when we find that they are behaving human,we take objection to it.. who is to be blamed?