[Advaita-l] Fw: Sankara Mutt

Siva Senani Nori sivasenani at yahoo.com
Thu Sep 18 08:56:52 CDT 2008

> Sri Narayan Iyer
> praNAm.
> > My question basically arises due to non-availability of translation of veda
> > samhitas, aranyakas etc.  The only translated versions available are by 
> western 
> > scholars and the translation leaves much to be desired.  Can Sankara mutts do 
> > something about it.  
> In this Google Age, meta-knowledge is everything; knowledge is a lowly 
> 'acquirable' commodity; we expect to know everything about everything in an 
> instant. So, why not Vedas? For the simple reason that, they ought not to be 
> translated or made available to all and sundry. 
> For those who have the eligiblity and duty to learn the Vedas, the proper way to 
> learn the Vedas is in person from a teacher. After mastering the corpus, years 
> of meditation upon the meaning is mandated along with daily recital of some 
> portion of the corpus and regular practices involving the corpus. Thereupon, 
> having seen the face of one's grandson, one ought to give up the practice more 
> or less, except offering three handfuls of water to the Sun thrice a day, and 
> explore the Ultimate. Thereafter with a burning desire to know the Ultimate, one 
> ought to give up everything in life and pursue the Ultimate.
> That is the way Vedas are meant to be learnt. That is the way, the Sankara Mutts 
> arrange for teaching the Vedas. They believe in this ardently and do not see why 
> a translation is needed (If you are a believer, you would not ask for one; if 
> you are not, well, thank you for your interest as an anthropologist in knowing 
> more about our tribal ways, but we are not interested; if you want to learn our 
> language and translate yourselves, so be it). For those, who want to know the 
> essence of Vedas, but can't learn the Vedas, Ramayana, Mahabharata and the 
> Puranas are available. They can be translated; they have been translated; are 
> available; and we have the word of our elders - who have no motive to misguide 
> us - that they contain the essence of the way of life taught in the Vedas.
> Now, you may ask, as to what all of us do on this list. Very orthodox believers 
> freely translate portions of the Veda, and cite numerous sources where 
> translations are available. Is this not wrong? Definitely, it is against the 
> practice of our elders. If the Vedas are supposed to be secret, the Upanishads 
> are more secret than that, guhyaati guhyam [1]. Well, the behaviour on this list 
> is less than perfect, but one tends to get less and less imperfect, as one 
> travels in this path.
> I can speak from experience. My grandfather was a very learned scholar, poet, 
> critic and was instrumental in the development of the modern Telugu literature 
> through the institution of 'Sahiti Samiti'. My uncles set up a trust in his 
> memory to mainly promote Telugu literature. One of the first projects I took to 
> the trust, about ten years ago, was a reasonably thought-through project for 
> translating the Vedas - complete with budget, confirmed contributors etc. I got 
> a strong rebuttal from my uncle with a stern warning not to behave above myself. 
> In a way, my education also started on that day. Ten years down the road, I have 
> some idea as to why such a thing is not done.
> Sir, the secret of Vedas, that so intrigued Dara Shikoh, can be stated in three 
> sentences. This world is unreal; Brahman alone is real; the Atman is the same as 
> Brahman. Everything else in the vedas is to to elaborate, explain and prepare 
> one to realise, this truth. One more thing. Claims such as the above were not 
> made lightly by our ancestors. So every syllable was shown to serve one of the 
> stated purposes by the commentators / critics.
> Now that the secret essence is out of the bag, the only remaining purpose is 
> secondary: to explain, elaborate and prepare. The parts that explain, elaborate 
> and discuss -  the Upanishads - have been translated and extensively commented 
> upon. An English translation of the part that prepares - the karma kanda - is 
> fairly useless in achieving its purpose. The purpose - of preparation - is 
> served only when the corpus is approached with great reverence. You 
> repeat thousands of times the phrase "asau aaditya brahma" and you will start 
> believing that the Sun is Brahman. Then you start wondering why the Sun is 
> Brahman and you will arrive at the law of conservation of mass-energy, that is 
> you realise the Brahman in the annamaya koSa. Then like Indra or Bhrigu, you 
> reflect, and realise that it cannot be so; so you meditate further and discover 
> the Brahman in the praaNamaya koSa. And so on. I might be off the mark in my 
> speculation, but observe the elders:
> they do not even open the cover of a Ramayana or Mahabharata or Bhagavata 
> without first bowing to the god on the cover and ensuring that they are in a 
> clean state. I heard of a project of translating some work from Sanskrit to 
> Telugu commissioned (~ 120 years back) by a Madras based publisher, Ramaswamy 
> Sastrulu and Sons; the commissioned scholars used to start work more or less at 
> dawn, would work studiously till a late lunch and then stop. They would come 
> back the next day at dawn again. Sacred work was not done after meals. Such 
> being the reverence for Ramayana etc., one can only imagine what is the desired 
> respect towards Vedas.
> Once one has it, the question of translation does not arise.
> To sum, the Vedas are not translated because they would serve no useful purpose 
> in translation.
> budhajanavidheyah
> Senani
> [1] Why are the Upanishads very secret? The secret teaching - that Brahman alone 
> is Real, that you are That, that the world is not real - is prone to extreme 
> mis-interpretation and consequent misfortunes (I am Brahman, what I do is 
> dharma, so I will behave selfishly - Brahman itself is this selfishness you know 
> - and with absolute recklessness... this kind of thinking and consequent 
> misdeeds). I would want to add "fear of ridicule" as another reason, but our 
> mature, calm, self-restrained ancestors would not have minded ridicule, I guess; 
> they would merely have wanted to avoid misfortune for the fallen (from the 
> Righteous path).


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