Advaita and KevalAdvaita

Guy Werlings guy.werlings at WANADOO.FR
Mon Sep 28 10:18:17 CDT 1998

Vidyasankar Sundaresan wrote:
> On Sun, 27 Sep 1998, Guy Werlings wrote:
> > I could quote to you tenths and tenths of such meaningless translations
> > of our French Indologists

> That's an amusing and a very interesting comment, considering that the
> Western world was first introduced to Upanishadic thought through the
> French translation (Oupnekhat) of a Persian translation (made in the
> Mughal court, reputedly by Dara Shikoh, son of Shah Jahan)
 Right Vidyasankar, but Anquetil-Duperron was wise enough to translate
his fifty Oupnekhats into Latin, so that they could only be understood
by scholars. I think he also made French translations of some of them,
but never read them.

> Perhaps they
> coin such terms in order to mark Indian thought separately from Western
> thought? Philosophical/religious terms originating in Latin or Greek
> typically come loaded with their own meanings and history.

This is probably why they first preferred to talk of monism for advaita
> How about Andre Padoux and his team of scholars, who are mostly interested
> in the Tantric literature? Have they made good, readable translations?

aham na jAnAmi. I never read these either. As you know I am mostly
interested in vedAnta which I studied either through English texts or
translations or the texts direct in Sanskrit despite my very poor
and self-acquired knowledge of our sacred language ; and my few readings
on Tantra-s were the works in English by Sir John Woodroffe.

To try to get a somewhat more precise answerfor you, I searched in the
French Encyclopaedia universalis which I quoted earlier, and saw that
André Padoux was the author in this encyclopedia of two articles, one on
mAntra-s and one one Tantrism. Of course these are not translations, but
the articles seemed quite readable to me, and I was not shocked by any
strange translation of sanskrit words or names.

To be more positive than I have been so far, I should like to stess that
among scholars of the French Institute for Indian Civilization, a
special mention should be made of Lilian Silburn, whose French
translations of the paramArthasAra and vijñAna bhairava are quite
exceptional. To this there are two reasons, I believe : a) she was
personally engaged in a spiritual quest and b) she had a kashmiri Guru
who helped her with the intricacies of the texts. She was conducting now
and then meditation sessions at her home, and I had the privilege of
being invited on some occasions.

What I said in my previous mail should not be interpreted as an attack
against Pr Jean Filliozat, whom I respect very much and who among our
French scholars really loved India and her Civization (as a fact, until
recently, the French Institute for the Indian Civilization was, within
the Sorbonne, the last haunt of staunch Christian fanatics, as it was
during he Middle Ages, always keen to try to prove the superiority of
Christian thinkers over the Indian philosophers. Jean Filliozat was not
among them : He was a very nice person, I met him in 1971 or 1972 on the
occasion of the visit to France of Pr. T.M.P. Mahadevan, with whom I was
also in rather close contact for some time (I even began to translate
into French the latter's English translation of Atmabodha, but it
remained unfinished). The only point I wanted to stress was the use of
the expression kevalAdvaita as characterizing Shankara and the very
strange translation "unicity of the Isolated".

I fear I'm too much gabby and probably boring.

So I stop here for this time

Namaste !

Two more lines : I know I should probably not mix two topics in one msg
But to the question : "Who am I ?" I know I may answer
I am the bad guy on this list.
Cheers !
>From ADVAITA-L at TAMU.EDU Tue Sep 29 09:04:50 1998
Message-Id: <TUE.29.SEP.1998.090450.PDT.ADVAITAL at TAMU.EDU>
Date: Tue, 29 Sep 1998 09:04:50 PDT
Reply-To: List for advaita vedanta as taught by Shri Shankara
        <ADVAITA-L at TAMU.EDU>
To: List for advaita vedanta as taught by Shri Shankara
        <ADVAITA-L at TAMU.EDU>
From: Anand Hudli <anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM>
Subject: Re: Advaita and KevalAdvaita
Comments: To: ADVAITA-L at TAMU.EDU
Content-Type: text/plain

>hariH OM!
>I received this mail yesterday, and was wondering if anyone
>had any information pretaining to it.
>Dear Sir,
>We are desperately seeking after Rig Veda 9th Mandala translation
>into English. It would be certainly an act of mercy from your side
>to kindly inform us on where on the WEB we could get it and\or if
>you have it?........
>We are students-beginners of Sanskrit from Ukraine and Russia.
>On Behalf of the group,
>Nikolay Grabchuk

 I am not aware of any translation of the 9th (or other) maNDalas
 on the web. However, some relatively good English translations, by
 MacDonnel and Wilson, of the Rg Veda are available in book form
 in many libraries.

 I was able to locate the text of the R^ig Veda (without accents)
 on the web by pursuing links from

 This is an interesting site in itself which pertains to the PhD
 dissertation of John Gardner, University of Iowa. From the abstract
 of the dissertation, it appears to be a study of various words in
 the R^ig Veda and the shatapatha brAhmaNa to discern the development
 of the concept of the Self, Atman. John Gardner contends that in
 what he calls the "early R^ig Veda", the words "tanu" and "tman"
 represent the concept of the Self. In "later tradition", the words
 Atman and puruSha were used. He has done an interesting piece of
 philological research by tracing the semantics of a pool of various
 terms in a synhronic context and then correlating the results with
 "diachronic" changes using Hypertext.

 For me, this is interesting because it involves the use of hypertext
 for the analysis of Vedic terms which can also be extended to
 utilizing the Veda in both explanation (prakaraNa's) and in
 philosophical arguments. Imagine how powerful a tool this could
 have been in the hands of someone of the calibre of MadhusUdana
 SarasvatI, to prove his theory and disprove the opponent's theory
 by drawing support from hundreds of Hypertext links to the Shruti!


 PS: The 9th MaNDala of the R^ig Veda, by the way, contains the
 famous pavamAna hymns which are a real joy to chant or listen to.
 These are interpreted by mAdhvas as extolling the wind god, although
 the term pavamAna also means a sacred fire such as the gArhapatya.
 These hymns are probably difficult to tackle by beginners in
 Sanskrit, and are certainly not intended for bedtime reading.

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