Monday, February 27, 2012

Scholarship vs. Humility

Another thing that bothered me, the other day someone made a comment that provided some insight into that person's psychology and I over analyzed the entire thing until it made my head hurt. He said that he didn't expect that I was knowledgeable about scripture because I'm always such a 'humble and simple devotee, mataji', even going on about how surprising it was to hear me quote sastra. With that comment, I concluded that his impression of me is of a 'humble, simple devotee' due to my external appearance and behaviour but by extention he was also saying that he equates characteristics of humility and simplicity with being ignorant or uneducated because he didn't expect me to have any ontological input or realisations whatsoever. He certainly didn't expect me to refute his misconceptions about aparadha with scriptural references. Sri Bhaktivinod style. It also told me that he believes scholarly devotees can not be humble and humble devotees therefore must not be scholarly. Since when are these two characteristics mutually exclusive? How do you reconcile two opposing ideas like scholarship and humility in a Vaishnava context?  Where do you draw the line? Is it even apropos to draw conclusions or make judgments about another devotee based on her mannerisms and external behaviour? I don't particularly find the judgement insulting because I'd rather be perceived as a humble devotee than an intellectual devotee and I'm using the term 'devotee' very loosely. It's the potential for error and spiritual offenses that I find disturbing. Materialistic qualifications like humility, scholarship, beauty, renunciation, wealth, power etc. are scarcely find in one person to an extensive degree but in the transcendental body of Vaishnavas, all of these qualities can become simultaneously present. The nature of the Lord is the same, theses qualities are contradictory and inconceivable; on a rare occasion we may come into contact with exemplary Vaishnavas who carry all auspicious and even inauspicious characteristics within their body, though they appear to be one thing they are completely transcendental.
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