Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Miracleization of philosophy

I am writing this even as an episode of Mahangalum Adhisayangalum (The spiritual masters and their miracles – loosely translated) is being played out on Star Vijay TV channel. The program is an anthology of events, each leading to resolution of difficulties in the lives of the devotees of the erstwhile head of the Kanchi Sankara Mutt, Sri Chandrashekharendra Saraswathi, ostensibly brought about by the seer. Each episode is presented as a miracle, justifying the title of the show.
Sometimes it feels to me like that the promoters of the program, perhaps after taking the permission of the mutt, desire that the Vatican bestow sainthood on the seer, based on the number of miracles! If that is irreverent, understand the kind of dissonance the program has created in my mind.
In my chosen perspective, this cheapens what the seer is supposed to have represented. As the head of the mutt it was his mandate to propagate the philosophy of Sri Adi Sankara, the founder of the Advaitism school of philosophy. It is perhaps justifiable that he may have brought the level of discourse to what is suitable for layman comprehension. However, as far as I know miracles were not part of that mechanism of dilution. Then, why is it necessary to highlight such miracles, in a manner of legitimizing the position of the seer, day after day? One may be tempted to ask whether it was the seer who created the miracles or the other way round.
What the miracles do is to shift the focus from the underlying philosophy, a source for a high level normative discourse, to simplistic thoughts on what can be the mundane benefits of following the seer; instrumentalism comes to the fore.
By airing the miracles that establish no connection between them and the philosophy, the program undermines the raison d’ etre of the mutt. This is, in a manner of speaking, sugar coating a pill to an extent that the agency of active ingredient is fully negated.
How I wish this miracleization of philosophy stopped. To his credit the seer has given a number of suggestions as to how lead a moral life, even if only within the tenets of the organization that he headed. Would it not be better for those thoughts and advice, going beyond the fetters of organization and suitably universalized, to be given shape in a program extoling Sri Chandrashekarendra Saraswathi’s virtues?

Raghuram Ekambaram

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