creative atomic scientist's translations

George Thompson GthomGt at CS.COM
Fri Mar 17 13:35:02 UTC 2000

I do not doubt that we all come to an old sacred text like the RV with some
preconception or other, acquired from any number of reliable or unreliable

Recently we have learned of a list member who comes to the RV with the
preconception that it is a predecessor to modern mystical physics.

Another has suggested that it is a book on Advanced Calculus.

Dr. Kalyanaraman sees an ancient primeval alchemy in it.

I first encountered Sanskrit as a teenaged boy, reading T.S. Eliot's famous
poem, "The Wasteland."  The fragments of the UpaniSads that are quoted there
suggested that, for Eliot, a way out of the wasteland that he found himself
in might be provided by the Vedas.  I suppose that this is where my own first
preconceptions about Vedic were formed.

However, when I started to study Vedic, I soon realized that my
preconceptions did not always match the realities which I encountered in the
texts.  The entire history of my own Vedic studies is simply my effort to
modify my preconceptions, and abandon them where necessary, and to try to
come up with adequate conceptions of Vedic that conform with what one finds
in the texts.

There is a place for creativity, but in my view it must be strictly
subservient to what the texts themselves say. After all, that is the
responsibility of all philology.

Couldn't we all agree on this at least?  If so, let us all abandon our
preconceptions and let the Rgveda, for example, speak for itself.

Best wishes,


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