the gods

thompson at thompson at
Fri May 30 04:09:19 UTC 1997

Adi Hastings observes:
>This anecdote is not entirely relevant, but it does touch on some of
>the matters discussed in the current thread.
>  When I was an undergraduate, a Sanskrit professor of mine said to me:
>"Well, Max Mueller's theory of Rig Vedic religion being originally a cult
>of the sun makes complete sense if you realize that he got up every
>morning at the crack of dawn. He was one of those people who would today
>call people up on the phone at 7 in the morning!" On another occasion, he
>told me that Frits Staal's ideas about the meaninglessness of ritual stem
>from his strict Calvinist upbringing.
>Now these reported facts may or may not be true (although the do make some
>amount of sense), but they do raise the question (pertinent to the matter
>at hand) of the role of a scholar's personal biography in the work that
>they do.
Well, I never had the good fortune of meeting Max Mueller [7:00 AM is a
little before my time], so I cannot confirm these reports abt his early
morning habits. I did, however, have the opportunity to disagree with Frits
Staal rather frequently. I can report that Frits did a very good job of
concealing his Calvinist upbringing, and making it appear that his views
were based on, of all things, logic, and even pleasure.

So there must be other factors involved besides one's upbringing. One thing
that Frits has always displayed is a willingness to take risks. I have
never disagreed with this methodological principle.

As for Adi Hasting's main point [also S. Krshna's], in general I agree: who
you are will be a factor in what you say, how you think, what your biases
are. But with regard to the Vedas, there is the additional fact that you
have to work *very* hard to make any sense of them.  Frits simply realised
that if you had to work *too* hard, maybe the meaning was not so much in
the Vedas as in you.

Best wishes,

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