Chapter 6: The Great Transcendence
The first question:
You have said many times that a dialogue is not possible through sinnumerable intellectuals in a debate on the meaning of the scriptures. After the defeat, they had to become Shankara’s disciples. Please explain what kind of debate on the scriptures this was.
Through argument and debate, through logic and debate, dialogue is never possible. Dialogue means the talk of two hearts; debate means the conflict of two intellects. Dialogue means the meeting of two individuals; debate means the conflict of two individuals. Nobody is defeated in a dialogue, both win; in a debate both are defeated, nobody wins.
But there was no other alternative for Shankara - he had to debate, because at that time only after the debate was dialogue possible. Shankara did not debate to explain truth. The fact was that people were so full of their own intellect, their ego, their scholarliness, that they were not ready to listen to any talk of the heart till their scholarliness and intellect were defeated. Shan-kara did not explain truth to them by debating, he destroyed their ego by the debate. And dialogue is only possible with that person who is ready to bow down.
Shankara’s debating the scriptures was only negative; it was like taking out a thorn with another thorn. A mind which is full of logic can only understand the language of logic. A mind full of scholarliness can only understand the language of scholarliness. It cannot even hear the language of love, and even if it hears it, it cannot understand the meaning - and there is just no question of understanding the language of silence.
The scholarliness of this country was at its zenith when Shankara was born: that very scholarliness has ruined this country. It had just got stuck in the head and there was no way to reach the heart. To reach the heart, first it was necessary to cut off the heads. This disease was so acute that it could not be treated by medicines, so an operation was needed.
So Shankara had to debate, he was compelled to debate. Shankara is not at all the debating or argumentative type. It is just not possible for Shankara to be argumentative. He is not interested in logic at all; otherwise he couldn’t have sung songs like Bhaj Govindam. He wanted to sing the songs of the divine from his very heart. If the time had been ripe, if the people could have understood the language of the heart, then Shankara would not have argued or debated at all. If he had got the opportunity, he would have danced.