[Advaita-l] Sola Fide (was Re: Sraddha and Chitta-shuddhi)

Raghavendra Hebbalalu hs_raghavendra at yahoo.com
Sat Apr 4 21:36:21 CDT 2009

Since we're on translations - we all know what the word idol means in a Christian Theological sense. And what does it mean when almost every sanatAna-dhArmika religious book in English refers to a mUrti of a deity as an "idol" - (even in Kartik's post)?

When a derogatory word like idol has expanded its meaning to include "icons" and mUrtayaH, surely, faith can come out of its narrow Christian theology. (Personally I use the word mUrti or icon, or the word deity itself).

If we feel so concerned about a word and other shades of meaning - we should stop translating. Instead, use Sanskrit words directly and publish a glossary at the end of your paper or work. That would become less readable but more accurate. 

However, for those readers untainted by unwanted theological thoughts, "faith" and "idol" are easily understood. The spirit easily gets across without getting mired in technicalities. In essence, know your readers.

For example, in Advaita-L, shraddhA and faith would mostly be interchangeable and so would be idol and mUrti. We know what is being referred to. However, on an inter-religious list - use of the word idol could be counter-productive and even blasphemous!

Anyway, back to "shraddhA" - the VC says - satyabuddhyavadhAraNam shAstrasya guruvAkyasya (cha). This avadhAraNam is essentially mental and intellectual in nature. If action were implied here, it would have been tadbuddhyA karmAnuShThAnam or some thing like that. 

Now, who can say that a mental attitude does not pervade action? However if an action does not show certain characteristics, it can be said that the doer does not have the requisite mental attitude. 

In short - faith/shraddhA are for the most part - interchangeable. And most people understand it to be so. If we feel so concerned (for example: in a talk on Vedanta to a Christian audience in the US) - we're better off using the word shraddhA directly.


--- On Fri, 4/3/09, Sundaresan, Vidyasankar (GE Infra, Water) <vidyasankar.sundaresan at ge.com> wrote:

> From: Sundaresan, Vidyasankar (GE Infra, Water) <vidyasankar.sundaresan at ge.com>
> Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] Sola Fide (was Re: Sraddha and Chitta-shuddhi)
> To: advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
> Date: Friday, April 3, 2009, 7:44 AM
> >It's this hollow hair-splitting that demotes
> Christianity (even
> further) :
> >imagine 'faith' without hope or love.. You ask
> God's pardon : as with
> all
> >grace, it is beyond the nature of God to refuse; you
> receive it; then
> what
> >happens in the next moment ? You are confronted by the
> next required
> >human action -- which calls for human effort or good
> works (which of
> >course are also grace..)..or you reject that grace.
> Where's the
> >difference ? Wikipedia wasn't written by God... ;) 
> Point well taken, but Kartik's point about translations
> is also
> important.
> Christian theologies from various church denominations have
> different
> opinions about the word faith and its role in human
> salvation. If I am
> asked to talk about vedAnta to an audience in the US, I
> will definitely
> be very careful about what words I use in English and in
> what context.
> And given that communication often happens in the English
> language,
> it is worth the extra effort to reiterate other dimensions
> of the
> Sanskrit
> words too.
> Regards,
> Vidyasankar
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