Questions to Ravisankar S Mayavaram (was French scholars translations)

Guy Werlings guy.werlings at WANADOO.FR
Thu Oct 15 13:46:06 CDT 1998

Dear Ravi,

I should like also to thank you for the message I quote below, as well
as for the previous one. Both have worked for me like eye and even mind
openers, and I feel indeed grateful to you. But to be totally frank and
sincere, I must admit that my first reading of them was rather painful,
because they also represent the practical negation of my all life, and
of all my endeavours to share the limited knowledge I believed I had
                                      emphasis mine ^^^^^^^^^^
acquired of the sanAtana dharma, which I revere so much,  with the
French people whom I happened to meet in the cultural circles or centers
I was at a time or at another a member of.

Of course it's good, even if painful, to receive now and then a shock
that arouses you from your tamasic apathy and self (not Self)

Now your stand point which I regard as quite true and well-founded is
also raising some further questions in my mind, but I don't know if I
may dare asking them to you, because I should not want you to suspect
behind them any malicious intention from me. I am a most sincere and
dedicated seeker of truth, and my idea is by no means to try to prove or
establish that I am right and that you are or might be wrong in any of
the points under discussion. A least I have assimilated, I hope, the
difference made by our most revered SrI SankarAcarya between mata and

>Ravisankar S. Mayavaram wrote on 9 Oct 98:
> On Fri, 9 Oct 1998, Guy Werlings wrote:
> >
> > Now what is your final conclusion, Ravi ? That all scholars should stop
> > publising and should perish instead ? Perhaps would it be as a fact more
> > safe for the pure tradition. In any case, I feel just glad not to have
> > become a scholar myself (thus not obliged to choose between "publish or
> > perish"), and I am stupidly satisfied that my only endeavour has been
> > and is still to try to do all what I can to be a good adhikAri and a
> > good sAdhaka in my next life.
> Please do discuss what you intended to discuss.
> Your mail with the example pUrNamadaH  was a good eye opener.
> shruti is something we should not read from printed texts. Most
> of us do. And more so from translations. I have already minimized
> the reading of what I am not supposed to read.

That is very wise in my eyes and that is exactly what my own vedAnta
teacher repeatedly said to me : "What is for you not indispensable to
do, it is for you indispenable not to do. What  is for you not
indispensable to read, it is, for you, indispensable not to read".

> Now my faith that
> I will be better off doing 100 more gAyatri-s than reading
> Upanishads on my own from printed texts, has enormously
> increased.

Yes,Ravi, because you have the good luck, good fortune, probably  I
should say only good karma of being a Hindu, of being a dvija, perhaps
being even a smArta. But what about a poor mleccha like me ? It's
forbidden to me to repeat the gAyatri, although I have it printed in
several books, and could try to learn. But I can promise you I never did
it, knowing it was strictly forbidden.
I suppose that I am expected not to repeat the praNava either.
Now, what can I do the, ? I use to chant everyday for some time the
Sloka :
"Sruti smRtipUrANanAm Alayam karuNAlayam
namAmi bhagavatpAdam Sankaram lokaSankaram
the chanting  of which was taught to me by Dr T.M.P. MAHADEVAN more than
20 years ago but I start doubting whether I am really authorized to do
that or not.
Now you tell me I should not study the Upanishads (at least in a written
form). Thus probably is it also impossibe to read the commentaries of
SrI SankarAcarya on the Upanishads. Probably I cannot read nor study
either the BrahmasUtrabhAshya, which is filled up with quotations from
(or references to) the Upanishads. And what about the Bhagavad GItA.
Being a part of the MahAbhArata,  I should first think tat It should go
under the heading of smRti, but I start to doubt here also :
a) because it belongs to he prastAnatraya, and, as such, has perhaps
been lifted up to the same level as the Sruti,
b) because in the text itself written down probably a  very very long
time ago every chapter ends with the words:
 iti SrimadbhagavadgItAsUpanishatSu...
which I had until now understood as being only a form of special
reverence, but that I should perhaps have understood more word for word.

> Why worry whether the "so-called" scholars perish or publish?

Well, that's true, I should not worry. But all the works, lectures,
publications and costly trips of all scholars all the world over to
participate in seminars and conferences are at the expense of taxpayors,
and I happen to be one of them (like you, probably). When I was working,
if I had  produced translations as bad  as some scholars are doing, I
should have lost my job very rapidly.But it's true, ultimately this has
no real importance.

> am more worried about whether I am doing what I am supposed to
> do? I am not. Hence, my job is to correct myself.

 Well same for me , Ravi. I tried to find out my svadharma and to live
up to it.

> When I said it
> is worthless to read from printed texts, it is my personal
> experience.

and your experience can for sure be quite helpful to others as well. I
agree  reading from printed texts (1) does nor give any realization.

(1) I could add, be they Sruti, SmRti or commentaries, whatsoever.
Yesterday evening, I was reading and meditatinf over the talk which took
place on the 5th August 1882 between SrI SrI Râmakrisna and the paNDit
ISvar Candra VidyAsAgar (Biddèshogor in Bengali), where SrI RÂmakrisnha
said :

"What Brahman is cannot be described. All things in the world - the
emphasis mine, gw)                    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Vedas,the Purânas, the Tantras, the six systems of philosophy - have
been defiled, like food that has been touched by the tongue.
(emphasis mine, gw) Only one thing has not been defiled in this way,

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^(emphasis mine, gw) and that is Brahman No one has ever been able to say
what Braman is".

Vidyâsâgar (to his friends) : "Oh ! That is a remarkable statement. I
have learnt something new today".

Hope I did not bother you, nor irritate you too much with all my talking
and questioning.

With all  sincere respects


bhava Sankara seSika me SaraNam

"bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam"
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