[Advaita-l] Fw: Sankara Mutt

sunil bhattacharjya skbhattacharjya at gmail.com
Mon Sep 22 14:55:16 CDT 2008

Dear Shri Vidyasankarji and Shri Narayanji,

I wish to add to the last para of the last mail of Vidyasankarji.
Sanskrit is not a difficult language at all. We have only to create
the necessary environment. Once I visited a village on the outskirts
of Shimoga in Karnataka, where everybody down to the small child
speaks in Sanskrit. I learnt Sanskrit 55 years ago and though I read
Sanskrit texts fairly well I found that even the small children there
could speak Sanskrit so effortlessly whereas I was not able to
converse with them that confidently in Sanskrit. I was invited to
spend a week or so there but unfortunately I could not do that due to
my preoccupation. There the guest house charges are very moderate and
one can really enjoy the beauty of the divine language there. I
understand there are a couple of other villages in India also where
they speak in Sanskrit. My own great grandfather ran a Tola (something
like a Sanskrit institution) in our local place and my uncle insisted
that I should pursue higher studies in Sanskrit as per the past family
tradition but I went to the Science line. But Sanskrit is a language
one always enjoys speaking or listening, though I leave the literary
writing in Sanskrit to the real scholars.


Sunil K.Bhattacharjya

On Mon, Sep 22, 2008 at 8:43 AM, Sundaresan, Vidyasankar (GE Infra,
Water) <vidyasankar.sundaresan at ge.com> wrote:
> Dear Shri Narayan,
> I agree your original post did not necessarily talk of online
> translations to be provided by Sankara Mathas. However, you also
> mentioned that other institutions had put up other translations on their
> websites, hence the small mixup. If you notice, my response mainly
> addressed a few points raised by Srikrishna Ghadiyaram.
> As for veda/vedAnta translations, there is a range of views, from archly
> conservative to highly liberal. The one end says no translation should
> be done at all. The other end says that a translation is sufficient and
> you don't have to go back to the original at all. In my experience, most
> of the AcArya-s of the advaita maThas are somewhere in the middle. They
> allow that translations are useful tools for those who are not in a
> situation to go directly to the originals. Still, blessing or providing
> a SrImukham to a translation by some scholar is not the same as taking
> up a project of translation themselves.
> The Sankara maTha-s were set up in an era when they didn't think of an
> official charter of functions. Still, there are certain expectations of
> them as institutions, which are codified in the texts called
> maThAmnAya-s. There is no one unified code for all the institutions, so
> they are quite independent of one another in functioning. What holds
> them together is a common culture and philosophy, rather than an
> organized charter.
> Primarily, a maTha in the advaita tradition is a residential school
> headed by a sannyasi. Their primary function is to teach disciples and
> students. The temples associated with the place, the lands that have
> been endowed over the centuries by various rulers, the rights over
> agricultural revenue, the other administrative details - these were all
> meant to subserve the above primary purpose. The heads of the maTha-s,
> being sannyasis, were also supposed to travel around and not stay put at
> one place all their lives. There is an obvious tension between the
> geographical rootedness of an institution and the potential unlimited
> freedom from geography of the head of the institution! Every generation
> of AcArya-s has had to find an appropriate balance.
> In the last 100 years or so, the maTha-s and their heads have also had
> to adjust to massive changes in circumstances and also people's
> expectations of them. As I see it, there has been a problem of what
> should be a priority and different institutions have different solutions
> to it.
> I can speak with personal knowledge only about what the Sringeri Peetham
> is doing, so here are a few brief details. There is an active manuscript
> digitization effort currently going on there. The amount of work needed
> is huge and good progress is being made. There is also an active
> publication arm, both at Sringeri and at the Bangalore branch. Numerous
> books are being published and are available at the maTha bookstores. The
> current Acharya, Swami Sri Bharati Tirtha, is composing commentaries on
> a few texts, which will be published soon. Books containing explanations
> and interpretations (if not translations) are being provided by maTha
> affiliated pundits for various aspects of veda-s and vedAnta, in key
> Indian languages. Every year, the Ganesha Chaturthi festival marks the
> beginning of a vAkyArtha sadas, which is held wherever the Acharya is
> observing the Chaturmasya. It runs over about ten days, ending just
> before the end of Chaturmasya. Traditionally trained and modern academia
> affiliated scholars of not only vedAnta, but also other darSana-s such
> as nyAya, mImAmsA etc, participate and hold lively discussions, in
> Sanskrit, on specific topics. All of this is in addition to the veda
> pAThaSAlA-s being run at Sringeri itself and at many other branch
> locations, where veda recitation, vedAnga-s, vyAkaraNa etc are taught by
> highly qualified paNDita-s, while the Acharya personally teaches
> vedAnta.
> Regards,
> Vidyasankar
> ps. During the meetings of Sankaracharyas, at least at the ones held in
> Sringeri, Sanskrit WAS the medium of conversation among the Acharyas and
> also the language in which the common signed statements were originally
> issued. Translations into English and other Indian languages were
> prepared on the same day.
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