neo-Orientalism (i)

nanda chandran vpcnk at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Oct 31 11:03:15 UTC 2000

MW writes :

>In the case of India, 'Westerners', E. Asians, etc. have to acquire as
>much of inside knowledge as they can, and Indians have to step back from
>their cultural immersion (since childhood!) as far as they can.

I know a Veda PAdashAla in Mylapore, Madras, which I and some of my
friends help financially. They teach the Krishna Yajur Vedam there.
There're around 10 students between the age group of 7 to 13. The
students study the Veda for six years and then take up Vaideekam.

The students are not experts in Sanskrit and have at best a working
knowledge of the language. They do not even write in the Devanagari
script - they use the Tamil grantham script to write Sanskrit.

Yet, these students represent the living tradition of the Vedic way
of life.

But do the view of these Vaidiks regarding the Vedas and the Vedic
way of life tally with the Indologists? If the Indological
interpretation of the shruti is revealed to the students they would
gape in amazement!

The shruti represents a way of life. When a student is initiated
into that life, he has a totally unique psychological makeup. He
regards the shruti and his guru with reverence. He looks upon the
Gods of the shruti as real and worships them with devotion. The
injunctions in the texts are Deiva VAkku for him. He may not even
understand Sanskrit, but that doesn't mean that that hymns he chants
has no meaning for him. The shruti is one whole spiritual/social
package for him. But still, down the ages - from the Rishis to the
great medieval AchAryas - this is what was intended. This is
purpose the shruti was intended to serve - to teach about dharma
and moksha to the Hindus. It has a special meaning for them.

But for our Indologists who coming from a totally different cultural
backgrounds and take up the study of the shruti for a different
purpose and thus have a totally different psychological makeup
- it is prime specimen for dissection and analysis. Often in the
course of such hair-splitting "linguistic" analysis the spirit of
the work and the purpose it was intended to serve itself is
forgotten and theories like "Aryan panzer invasion" are derived from

And in the interests of the "truth" we're supposed endorse this
"critical" interpretation of the text!

So MW, it is not so much that we refuse to be critical (the various
schools of Miimaamsaas are itself enough to prove that we are), but
that Western scholars obstinately and illogically, refuse to accept
the traditional view!
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