#4540 - Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - Editor: Jerry
SWAMI DAYANANDA SARASWATI
Interview with non
Swami Dayananda Saraswati is a
contemporary teacher of Vedanta and a scholar in Sanskrit in the tradition of
Śankara. Swamiji has been teaching Vedanta in India for more than five decades
and around the world since 1976. His deep scholarship and assimilation of
Vedanta combined with a subtle appreciation of contemporary problems make him
that rare teacher who can reach both traditional and modern
A teacher of teachers, Swami Dayananda taught six resident
in-depth Vedanta courses, each spanning 30 to 36 months. Four of them were
conducted in India and two in the United States. Each course graduated about 60
qualified teachers, who are now teaching throughout India and abroad. Under his
guidance, various centers for teaching of Vedanta have been founded around the
world; among these, there are three primary centers in India at Rishikesh,
Coimbatore, Nagpur and one in the U.S. at Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania. There are
more than one hundred centers in India and abroad that carry on the same
tradition of Vedantic teaching.
NDM: There are many modern advaita
teachers out there today. Some of them communicate by silence or by looking into
others eyes. Is it possible to communicate Vedanta by silence?
Swamiji: If Vedanta by silence, Kena
Upanisad will be one page, empty. Brihadaranyaka Upanisad will be 50 pages
total, empty empty pages by silence.
If you ask a question, and I am silent and look into your
eyes, what will you do? You have to look into my eyes. If I dont blink, you
have to close your eyes. Because you get embarrassed, you close your
And then you have to think. Whatever question you asked
disappears, or you try to find some answer, some something. Thats not an answer
to the question. You get whatever answer you can get from your own
interpretation. Each one gets his own answer.
Somebody asks me, What is God? I sit there. (Then
Swamiji sits still staring straight ahead for a long time and everyone begins to
I have practiced this for a long time (laughter) without
blinking. So what answer you will get? Each one will get his own answer, thats
all. If silence is the answer, we wont have Upanisad.
With all the teaching, if people dont understand, where
is the question of silence? (Laughter)
NDM: Does a Vedanta teacher have to
Swamiji: You know there are two types of
teachers, those who are in the process of knowing and sharing the knowledge, and
those who know. Therefore no Vedanta teacher worth the name will teach without
knowing the text. So they will teach the text.
So why should we judge whether he knows or not? If he
knows, you will also know. If he is capable of teaching you making you see
then he must be knowing. Otherwise he cant make you see. So why judge? If he is
ready to teach a text, you give the benefit of doubt to that
If somebody says, Im running classes in Oracle, you
join, assuming that the fellow knows. And therefore if somebody says, Im going
to teach Vedanta, you join, assuming that he knows. And if he knows, he will
make you know. If he doesnt know, then he will pull you into the whirlpool.
NDM: Modern advaita teachers today
charge money for sitting with the teacher. Like to sit with a teacher like this
it would cost maybe $35 for an hour. So maybe they get 100 or 150 people
together in a group. Then each person gives the teacher money. Traditionally,
how do you do that?
Swamiji: (Laughs). You know, they have to
survive, and this is Indias contribution to that fellows life. And so, for his
livelihood, India has contributed something some words, which are useful for
him to earn his livelihood. And he earns his livelihood, and there are always
blokes to subscribe to all that. And therefore, thats fine. There is nothing
wrong in it. He has to live his life. He has to pay his bills, and therefore he
charges what he needs to take care. So teaching becomes his profession. He is an
advaita professional. (Laughter).
What I say is that there is nothing wrong in it as long as
he teaches properly. If the teaching is alright, what he does is fine, its
okay. But if the teaching is not alright, then I dont know what people pay
But generally teachers dont deny people teachers in
India, they dont deny people who want to know. They dont bring money
in-between. Money is required perhaps, but money is never brought in between a
true student and a teacher, no.
NDM: Why not?
Swamiji: You give me this much money and
I will give you
Then you are trading ātmā and you are not giving anything to
that fellow. What you are giving is himself for a price and its not
quantifiable. What is involved here is infinite. For infinite, you have to
charge infinite. Therefore the value of this knowledge is not understood. If the
value of this knowledge is understood, you will not trade. You will not make it
a commodity a tradable commodity.
When you teach a discipline of knowledge like astrology or
yoga or something, you can charge. There is something you are giving, and so you
But everything will pass if the teaching is
The truth is if the teaching is proper, you wont
charge. Now you can figure out whats going on. (Laughter)
~ ~ ~
Read the entire interview: