My skepticism regarding highly reputed institutions.

  • Consider taking a class from MIT – with a catch – you are one of 100000 people taking the course, with hardly any opportunity to have a deep interaction with the teacher or the assistants.
  • Consider visiting the Tirupati main shrine, to get a 5 second glimpse of the deity before being pushed out by the “jaragaNDi” shouting prabandhaka-s.
  • Consider visiting an super popular ascetic (say the XYZ jagadguru), with whom the only interaction you will probably have is to be given a fruit after doing a namaskAra (if that).

Inference:

  • In all these cases, popularity implies less individual attention and opportunity.
  • I feel that there is hubris without substance on the part of most patrons. “I went to MIT” or “I visited Tirupati” or “I am a shiShya of the most holy jagadguru” is what counts for them rather than “I learned statistical mechanics” or “I experienced a beautiful pUja” or “I got some great spiritual insight and progress” (since these things can be had from lesser known institutions and individuals, even remotely).
  • I suspect that the institutions in question have an incentive to keep up the hype to get such disproportionate patronage.

Conclusion.

  • Hence, I don’t like to patronize overly popular institutions (temples or courses).
  • EDIT: Note important qualifications and corrections noted by shrIvatsa on G+ here.

Extensions.

  • People often affiliate with certain spiritual paths/ traditions rather than others because they increase their status amongst peers (eg: clansfolk); rather than because they are genuinely superior to others. So, “I chant the veda-s, do this and that sAdhana which is rigorous” or “I do this research on this HOT topic” is suspect. Too often, one does not ask oneself: Is the hype justified or not?
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My skepticism regarding highly reputed institutions.&rdquo पर एक विचार;

  1. shruti कहते हैं:

    1. Just because they are super popular doesnt necessarily mean they dont have substance. Their substance is just harder to access (because it is distributed over too many people and events).

    2. It may be argued that in professions where skill grows by deliberate practice, super popular people, over time, indeed have less substance. Because they have less time to spend practicing their skill: think a writer who is traveling around publicizing their work, giving lectures and attending parties, or a famous scientist traveling and giving talks more than thinking about research ;)

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