Re Ms. Doniger's translations

Thu Nov 23 13:06:45 UTC 1995

	I am relatively new to this list and I have followed with interest the
discussions on OFD's translations.  I would like to add my two cent's worth.  
The discussions have centered on accuracy, scholarship, readability,
availability, holding student interest, etc.   However, another aspect, though
alluded to, has not been stressed.   It is the lack of sensitivity on Ms.
Doniger's part to the feelings of the follower's of vaidic religion with her
emphasis on the Freudian concepts such as the one "which begins in Rg Veda and
persists through later Hindu mythology is the idea of primeval incest".(Hindu
Myths, p.25)
	The concept of gods and deities in the Vedas and Puranas is quite
unique.   The vedic gods do not have a material body, they are "ichchaa
ruupinaha", they can assume any form they want.   They are "amaraaha" and
"nirjaraaha", they do not die, nor do they age.   "manushya dharma", the dharma
of the humans does not apply to them.   These points are made clear in
Brihaddevata or in Nirukta, essential readings for any study of the Vedas.
Ms Doniger dismisses these as disclaimers and embarks on her Freudian thesis.
	The human like relationships attributed to gods are only figurative.  
When water vaporizes in to steam, Vayu is born out of Varuna.   But, when vapor
condenses to form clouds and then rain water, it is Varuna who is born out of
Vayu.  When sound emerges from Brahma, Vac or Saraswati is born out of Brahma.  
So, she is his daughter.   The unity of sabda with Brahma is described as the
wedding of Saraswati with Brahma.   This should not be treated as incestual
relationship in human terms.
	Even in modern day parlance such figurative expressions are quite
common.   When the giant corporation, AT&T, is split in to smaller companies,
they are referred to as Ma-Bell's babies.   When two companies merge, many a
time the merger is described as a marriage.  If one of the smaller companies,(a
baby Bell),now merges with AT&T again, would that become an incestual relation?
	Vaidic religion is a living religion.   It is quite offensive for
persons following that religion to see their most revered texts and gods whom
they worship being treated in Freudian terms a la Ms. Doniger,alternate and
more satisfactory explanations not withstanding, all under the garb of
academic scholarship.
	The ease of availability,and readability in simple english of a
particular text should not distract one from the enormous damage done by
propagating erroneous concepts, nor from lack of sensitivity to the feelings
of the followers of the Vaidic religion.
	-B. N. Narahari Achar (acharb at cc.memphis,edu)  

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