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Sanatana Dharma - Aka Hinduism (2nd Bin)
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->I am actually surprised that you do not see the special position given to male body by Shankara. He even makes the claim that male body is a rarity which is of course NOT true. A human being has an equal chance of being a male or being a female.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Gangajal ji, I do not for a moment doubt that Sri Shankara stresses on the importance of being born human->male->brahmana->having access to vedas->understanding them->discriminating->Self-Realizing in that order. But nowhere has he said "clearly" that women cannot attain salvation. My reading of it is that it is much more difficult for someone not belonging to the category to attain liberation. There are always examples for the same.

Non-human = Gajendra Moksham. And also the Elephant that Janaka was riding (which was a Rshi who did not know the implementation of Gayatri Mantra.)
Non-Male = Uma. Shabhari is a prominent one, Kaaraikkal ammaiyaar comes to mind. There should be way too many than comes to mind.

Shankara does not 'clearly' say women are disqualified from Realization. He does not even hint that they wont be liberated. Because Liberation is not body centric.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Shankara stresses the importance of being a male in verses 2, 4 and 5. He says quite clearly that a male is foolish not to try for salvation. He is silent on the female of the species. Given this asymmetry what should I conclude?<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

True, a man born rich, who prefers living the life of a wretched begger is foolish. A Swan that rolls around in the mud with pigs is sqandering it's 'beauty' away. Shankara's message here is for a student of a Gurukulam to not waste this opportunity that is a result of his own past Karmas. If one fits the above categories, and yet spends time watching 'kaun banega karorpathi' or 'amazing race' or 'apprentice', then there is no greater fool than he. This is the message.

I agree that he is silent on the female side. But I am not reading too much into his silence. (I however can empathise with your anger at Shankara as you perceive he is being prejudiced owing to the social thinking of his times.)
sarangadhara ji,
I have given below Sri Ramanuja's relevant Brahma Sutra Bhasya and his commentary on the Gita. If I didn't know that the same person has written these two commentaries then I would have thought that 2 completely different persons have written these two commentaries. There are also illogical arguments in his commentary of BSSB I.III.33.

Ramanuja's Bhasya (I.III.33)

<b>In the last topic it has been shown that the gods are entitled to
Brahma-Vidya. This topic discusses whether the Shudras are entitled to it.
Since like the gods, the Shudras also are possessed of a body, capacity and
desire for final liberation, it naturally follows that they too are entitled
to Brahma-vidya. Maybe they are debarred from the Vedic studies, yet as
Upasanas consist of mental activity the Shudras have the necessary
qualifications for that and they can get the necessary knowledge about the
nature of Brahman and the methods of meditation from Puranas and Itihasas
for they have a right though not for Vedic studies. We also hear of Shudras
like Vidura who were established in the knowledge of Brahman. In the
Upanishads we have instances where Brahma-Vidya has been imparted to Shudras.
In the Samvargavidya (Chandogya Upanishad IV) we find that there was a great
king called Janasruti who was famous for his good works. In order to create
a desire in him for the knowledge of Brahman two Rsis took the form of swans
and approached the place where Janasruti was sitting. One of them praised the
king while the other spoke contemptously of him as he did not have the
knowledge of Brahman like Raikva whom he praised. The king on hearing this
was smitten with grief for not having this knowledge of Brahman and so
approached Raikva with presents for getting this knowledge from him. This
sage Raikva addressed him twice as "shudra'. Raikva said,'O Shudra, you have
bought all these presents! Even by this means you will make me talk'
(Chandogya Upanishad IV.II.5). After addressing the king thus, Raikva taught
him Brahman.

This Sutra refutes this view and denies to Sudras by caste, the right to
Brahmavidya. Though meditation is only a mental activity yet the intellectual
knowledge required as a means to the Upasanas is not possible without the
study of the Vedas, as in the case of ritualistic action. As Shudras are
barred from the Vedic studies they cannot therefore have the necessary
qualifications for such Upasanas. Itihasas and Puranas only reiterate the
knowledge derived from the Vedic studies and so there is no chance of the
Shudras getting knowledge from them, without the necessary background from the
study of the Vedas. Vidura and others had this knowledge on account of the
samskaras of a previous life. Moreover, that Janasruti was addressed by Raikva
as 'Sudra' is not because he belonged to that caste by birth; it refers to his
grief for not having the knowledge of Brahman, for 'Sudra' etymologically
means 'one who grieves'. So Shudras by caste are not entitled to Brahma Vidya.

Ref"Brahma-Sutra Sri Bhasya tr:Swamis Vireswarananda and Adidevananda,
Advaita Ashrama.</b>

I <b>am the same to all creation. There is none hateful or dear to Me. But those
who worship Me with devotion abide in Me and I do abide in them. (Gita 9.29)

Sri Ramanuja's commentary:

Being a refuge for all, I am the same to all creation, be they gods, animals,
men or immovables, who exist differentiated from the highest to the lowest
according to their birth, form, nature and knowledge. With regard to those
seeking refuge, none is hateful because of inferiority in status by birth,
form, nature, knowledge etc. No one is discarded as an object of odium.
Likewise, it is not that one who has resorted to Me is dear to Me on account
of considerations like birth, status etc. That he has taken refuge in Me is
the only consideration. The meaning is no one is accepted as a refuge for
reasons of birth. But those who worship Me as their sole objective I like,
because I am exceedingly dear to them, and because they find it impossible to
sustain themselves without My worship. So they abide in Me, irrespective of
whether they are exalted or humble by birth etc. They abide in Me, as if they
possess qualities equal to Mine. I also abide in them, as if they are My
superiors. Moreover:

If even the most sinful man worships Me with undivided devotion, he must be
regarded as holy, for he has rightly resolved. (Gita 9.30)

Even though he has trangressed rules that ought to be followed and has failed
to avoid what a person belonging to a particular class should avoid, if he has
begun to worship Me in the manner described above with undivided devotion,
namely, with worship as the only purpose - such a person must be considered
highly righteous. He is eminent among the worshippers of Vishnu. ......

(Sri Ramanuja Gita Bhasya tr: by Swami Adidevananda)</b>
<!--QuoteBegin-sarangadhara+Dec 22 2005, 04:45 AM-->QUOTE(sarangadhara @ Dec 22 2005, 04:45 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->If you could please throw light on ramanujacharya's position on the same would be most happy .

The Vedântâ-Sûtras With Commentary by Râmânuja
translated by George Thibaut

The spellings used in transliteration for Janasruthi is a bit odd, but readable nonetheless.


1.3.34. And on account of (Gânasruti ) kshattriya-hood being understood.

The first section of the vidyâ tells us that Gânasruti bestowed much wealth and food; later on he is represented as sending his door-keeper on an errand; and in the end, as bestowing on Raikva many villages--which shows him to be a territorial lord. All these circumstances suggest Gânasruti's being a Kshattriya, and hence not a member of the lowest caste.--The above Sûtra having declared that the kshattriya-hood of Gânasruti is indicated in the introductory legend, the next Sûtra shows that the same circumstance is indicated in the concluding legend.

35. On account of the inferential sign further on, together with Kaitraratha. (read Chaithraratha.)

The kshattriya-hood of Gânasruti is further to be accepted on account of the Kshattriya Abhipratârin Kaitraratha, who is mentioned further on in this very same Samvargavidyâ which Raikva imparts to Gânasruti.--But why?--As follows. The section beginning 'Once a Brahmakârin (Read Brahmacharin) begged of Saunaka Kâpeya and Abhipratârin Kâkshaseni while being waited on at their meal,' and ending 'thus do we, O Brahmakârin, meditate on that being,' shows Kâpeya, Abhipratârin, and the Brahmakârin to be connected with the Samvarga-vidyâ. Now Abhipratârin is a Kshattriya, the other two are Brâhmanas. <b>This shows that there are connected with the vidyâ, Brâhmanas, and from among non-Brâhmanas, a Kshattriya only, but not a Sûdra.</b> It therefore appears appropriate to infer that the person, other than the <b>Brâhmana Raikva,</b> (This addresses Ashok's speculation of Raikva being a cart-driver and hence a Shudra.) who is likewise connected with this vidyâ, viz. Gânasruti, is likewise a Kshattriya, not a Sûdra.

37. And on account of the procedure, on the ascertainment of the non-being of that.

That a Sûdra is not qualified for knowledge of Brahman appears from that fact also that as soon as Gautama has convinced himself that Gâbâla, who wishes to become his pupil, is not a Sûdra, he proceeds to teach him the knowledge of Brahman.


Thus Sri Shankaracharya & Sri Ramanujacharya are not contradicting each other atleast on this topic.
Sundar ji,

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Shankara does not 'clearly' say women are disqualified from Realization. He does not even hint that they wont be liberated. Because Liberation is not body centric.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

You are right that Shankara does not clearly say that women are disqualified from Realization. However, it is also clear that Shankara does feel that maleness is in some ways superior to femaleness.

Actually I am not angry with Shankara. He was very young when he wrote these commentaries. I am sure I had and probably still have many prejudices. It is just an unfortunate fact that since Shankara is undoubtedly the father of medieval Hinduism, his commentaries have adversely influenced social attitudes.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->However, it is also clear that Shankara does feel that maleness is in some ways superior to femaleness.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
I defininitely agree with you that Sri Shankaracharya states maleness is in some way more advantageous or conduitive to Spiritual Sadhanas & access to Vedas. But I sincerely doubt that he is echoing his personal feelings as opposed to Vedic statements. If it were his personal feelings, he would have been challenged and defeated by his own gurus, sahapaatis, prathidvandhis or shishyas.

This topic definitely is sensitive. Quite personal for many, specially on the receiving end of it. I fully am with you on your stance. This discussion is only aiming at WHY the ancestors said what they said without mincing words. What is it they knew that we forgot or misread?

As long as the 'I am the body' feeling is there, all these male/female, brahmana/kshatriya issues etc will be a vexing impediment. Beyond that, as Sri Shankara himself says in Nirvana Shatkam, "Na mae mrithyu shanka na mae jaathi bedah....Chidananda Roopah Shivo'ham Shivo'ham".
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->But I sincerely doubt that he is echoing his personal feelings as opposed to Vedic statements. If it were his personal feelings, he would have been challenged and defeated by his own gurus, sahapaatis, prathidvandhis or shishyas.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Sunder ji,
This is a good point. What you are saying is that he was forced to followi the social mores of his times. This might be the reason for his flawed commentary on the Shudra issue in Brahma Sutra. He found it impossible to oppose the Brahma Sutra teaching and supported the exclusion of Shudras even though that meant he had to transparently contradict his own position. It is entirely possible that Shankara was indicating that he did not agree with his own commentary on Shudras by transparently contradicting his earlier stand.

I think it is very difficult to know why the ancients in any land behaved the way they did. Julius Caeser says in his book "The Conquest of Gaul" that the Druids practiced untouchability and their ritual language was not taught to ordinary people of Gaul (All regions North and west of Italy except for Germany). Why Druids behaved like that is not clear. Caeser thought that Druidic priests wanted to ensure their monopoly. Caeser, himself, appears at least in his writing to be a very civilized man but at the same time has no problem in selling off people of cities he captured as slaves. Apparently he did not find slavery a bad thing. The Christian Bible also does not condemn slavery. So Hindus are not alone in these things.

What is difficult to understand is why the ancients did not see that their spiritual books must be kept free of undesirable social teachings. The only thing that I can think of is blind prejudice. Then there are cases where a person supports both sides of the same issue and in his actions clearly supports one side. Sri Ramanuja is one such person. He takes the Shankara position in BSB. He takes the opposing position in the Gita. He "converts" thousands of Shudras to Brahmanahood. It is hard to understand the inner workings of such a mind.

<!--emo&Smile--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smile.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='smile.gif' /><!--endemo--> gangajali ji ,what can i say thank you for patiently explaining the various links requested .

Sunder ji yes definetly the purpose of the thread is to find out ,why our ancestors did what they did , agreed we are not aiming for an utopian world but somewhow the stance i would like to go along is the compassionate and god realized sages would have set in place a very harmonious system.

<!--emo&Smile--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smile.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='smile.gif' /><!--endemo--> often in the discussion i see that you hold sankara's position to be very high , i might not be capable of questioning sankara but somewhere deep down ,like gangajali ji said could it not have been the discrepancies in the words of a young sankara ,cause the only person of authority running contrary to the above model is sankara's intrepretation.

Which also throws in a question , should not some of the customs be adapted with time , will it not serve hinduism better , there might be universal truths and principles which are valid over all the ages, even if it is proved the ancestors did follow something ,is it necessary to be followed today.

agreed it might be the identification with the deha which gives rise to the above thoughts ,but being in the world some amount of identification will take place for the day to day activities to take place ,without which even a defence of hinduism is not possible , <!--emo&Smile--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smile.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='smile.gif' /><!--endemo--> if the enemy is not perceived as the enemy but as narayana how will a man even strike him.

I guess this topic can be argued for ages , maybe only a context wise intrepretation will serve the purpose ,maybe thats what i would like to beleive <!--emo&Smile--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smile.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='smile.gif' /><!--endemo--> .
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->What you are saying is that he was forced to followi the social mores of his times.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
I would not use the word 'forced' as I do not think he was compelled by the thinking of his times. His stance on Absolute Brahman was not the conventional thinking of his time, and there was vehement opposition in his time - and continuing into modern times by Dvaiti and Vishistadvaithins too. This makes me say Sri Shankara was not someone who would cow down to social pressures. Mind you, even the Rig Vedas have Rishikas whom Shankara did not look upon disparagingly. He also had debates someone as eminent as Bharathi at Mahishmathi. He did not think of it as high or low to debate with a woman. Nor do I think women were repressed in Hinduism. Not having access to Vedas does not mean repression - Women could not perform agnihotra etc directly. The only time they could pour oblations into fire was during Vivaha ceremony. This is a topic of Dharma sankatam.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->This might be the reason for his flawed commentary on the Shudra issue in Brahma Sutra.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
I would not say he was flawed without showing exactly why and how he was flawed. Perhaps you can set an example by being the purvapakshi and object to his stance based on shruthis. You are implying that Shankara, Ramanuja, Madva, Vallabha, Nimbarka et all were flawed on this matter. This would put a big questionmark on their other works too as it was written by incompetent masters who were socially influenced and did not have an objective view of the Truth.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->He found it impossible to oppose the Brahma Sutra teaching and supported the exclusion of Shudras even though that meant he had to transparently contradict his own position. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
What made it impossible for Shankara to tell the truth and self contradict? Was he fearing retribution, rebellion, humiliation, or lack of recognition? What would make a Great Acharya to tell the TRUTH in one place that suits modern social thinking and hide it another place?

Your points about the Druids and Caesar is pretty interesting AND thought-provoking. This pattern had been observed everywhere from Egyptians to Aztecs. The Priests ruled high communing with the Cosmic forces. They were great Astronomers and had an insight into nature of beings rare to find today. To dig into that thought process and analyzing it would be interesting in itself. I hope I can see someone do it in my lifetime.
Sunder ji,

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><!--QuoteBegin--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->This might be the reason for his flawed commentary on the Shudra issue in Brahma Sutra.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
I would not say he was flawed without showing exactly why and how he was flawed. Perhaps you can set an example by being the purvapakshi and object to his stance based on shruthis. You are implying that Shankara, Ramanuja, Madva, Vallabha, Nimbarka et all were flawed on this matter. This would put a big questionmark on their other works too as it was written by incompetent masters who were socially influenced and did not have an objective view of the Truth.<!--QuoteEnd--></div><!--QuoteEEnd-->

I have already posted a detailed analysis of Shankara's commentary and the transparent contradiction is his commentary pointed out by Vivekananda.

Yes, I am saying that all the great Masters wrote flawed commentary in this matter. What I am also saying is that it does not affect their writings on other matters. I will give the reason in the last part of my reply.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->What made it impossible for Shankara to tell the truth and self contradict? Was he fearing retribution, rebellion, humiliation, or lack of recognition? What would make a Great Acharya to tell the TRUTH in one place that suits modern social thinking and hide it another place?<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

You have asked very good questions. Let me try to answer. I think that the ancients lived by a different social code than us. Let me start with Sri Ramanuja. He supports the idea that Shudras are not eligible for Brahma-Vidya in his Brahma Sutra Bhasya, He takes the opposite stance in his commentary on Gita 9.29-30. He converts thoudands of Shudras to Brahmanahood which just means that he relabels thousands of Shudras. Normally you would expect such a great master to be consistent and yet strangely he isn't consistent. The only answer is that at that time people were not expected to deviate openly from social orthodoxy in their writings and Brahma Sutra is after all a key text of Vedanta. This is the reason why Sri Ramanuja took a position in his commentary on the Brahma Sutra which he did not believe in. If merely relabelling Shudras allows them to become eligible to Brahma-Vidya then why didn't he say so in the BSB?

I suspect that this is also the case with Sri Shankara. He wrote the commentary on the expected socially orthodox lines since ancient Hindu society did not allow freedom of thought on social arrangements. Ancient Hindu society, on the other hand, did allow freedom of thought on the nature of Ultimate Reality. This is the reason why the great Vedantic masters have taken differing positions
on the nature of Ultimate Reality, depending on their personal experience, so freely.

The modern reader has to read the commentaries keeping in mind that ancient Hindu society did not allow freedom in social matters. Thus I would say that only the spiritual aspects of these commentaries survive the ravages of time and the commentaries on social arrangement seem to me to be very dated.

Any way if the vast majority of Hindus asks the parliament to pass a law declaring them to be Brahmins then the politicians will be only too happy to oblige. You might say that such a Brahmanahood will have no validity in the eyes of the devout. My answer will be that such a new arrangement where all Hindus are Brahmins will become acceptable in a matter of decades. Most Brahmins today are from Dalit ancestry. They have been declared as Brahmins either by saints like Sri Ramanuja or by local Rajahs. So our discussion about these commentaries is largely academic.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Any way if the vast majority of Hindus asks the parliament to pass a law declaring them to be Brahmins then the politicians will be only too happy to oblige.My answer will be that such a new arrangement where all Hindus are Brahmins will become acceptable in a matter of decades.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
You rightly pointed out my stance on the invalidity of a Lok Sabha resolution changing the status of someone to a Brahmin. However, if an Acharya does the same (like Arya Samaj or VHP is doing to bring Hindus back to their ancestral fold) it will be highly acceptable and commendable too. If there is a movement that does Brahmopadesam to the so-called dailts, like Gautama did to Jabala Satyakama. When it comes from an Acharya belonging to a Parampara it is acceptable. When the need or urge to change comes from Within, it is acceptable.

I am reading Vivekananda's criticism, and will be able to put my thoughts sometime later. As I will be leaving for India on Sat'day for a month. I shall resume once I am back.
Sunder ji,
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->You rightly pointed out my stance on the invalidity of a Lok Sabha resolution changing the status of someone to a Brahmin. However, if an Acharya does the same (like Arya Samaj or VHP is doing to bring Hindus back to their ancestral fold) it will be highly acceptable and commendable too. If there is a movement that does Brahmopadesam to the so-called dailts, like Gautama did to Jabala Satyakama. When it comes from an Acharya belonging to a Parampara it is acceptable. When the need or urge to change comes from Within, it is acceptable.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

I have no problem with your position.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->I am reading Vivekananda's criticism, and will be able to put my thoughts sometime later. As I will be leaving for India on Sat'day for a month. I shall resume once I am back.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Have a wonderful journey!

<!--QuoteBegin-gangajal+Dec 23 2005, 06:04 AM-->QUOTE(gangajal @ Dec 23 2005, 06:04 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->Have a wonderful journey!

Thank you. Have a happy Pancha Ganapathi, and a Happy New year.
The same to one and all.

Thank you for this excellent knowledge based discussion on the question of Varnas and its applicability in the modern context. I have learned and in due course will most certainly have many more such questions. Thanks again to all.
The Premise and The Promise of India

Raju Rajagopal again goes beserk with his "hindutva"(whatever that means) rant. This time he may have been caught with his pants down as he quotes the Bhagvadgita. Raju's placing of a verse from the Gita is remarkable in its malintent! Some well-read members might want to take it up.

Even otherwise it is not a bad idea to say BOO to good old Raju.
Cross posted from AIT thread:

Truth as solution,

Griffith is the wrong person to look for meanings of vedas.

Read Sri Aurobindo's The Secret of the Veda for an analysis in modern terms.

<img src='http://images.amazon.com/images/P/0914955195.01._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-dp-500-arrow,TopRight,45,-64_AA240_SH20_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

Also his Hymns to the Mystic Fire

Rigveda sanskrit was already archaic by the time of Panini, and positively ancient by the time of Sayana. Don't assume that Griffth and Maxmueller had a clue.

Rigveda has to be read and understood in conjunction with the associated literature, such as the Aranyakas, upanisads, brahmanas and vedanta and mimansa philosophy. And also why has hindu society held rigveda in such an awe for such a long time.

Below are couple of excerpts from Sri Aurobindo's "The secret of the veda":


<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Part One: The Secret of the Veda
Chapter I: The Problem and Its Solution
Is there at all or is there still a secret of the Veda?

<b>According to current conceptions the heart of that ancient mystery has been plucked out and revealed to the gaze of all, or rather no real secret ever existed. The hymns of the Veda are the sacrificial compositions of a primitive and still barbarous race written around a system of ceremonial and propitiatory rites, addressed to personified Powers of Nature and replete with a confused mass of half-formed myth and crude astronomical allegories yet in the making. Only in the later hymns do we perceive the first appearance of deeper psychological and moral ideas—borrowed, some think, from the hostile Dravidians, the “robbers” and “Veda-haters” freely cursed in the hymns themselves,—and, however acquired, the first seed of the later Vedantic speculations. This modern theory is in accord with the received idea of a rapid human evolution from the quite recent savage; it is supported by an imposing apparatus of critical research and upheld by a number of Sciences, unhappily still young and still largely conjectural in their methods and shifting in their results,—Comparative Philology, Comparative Mythology and the Science of Comparative Religion.</b>

It is my object in these chapters to suggest a new view of the ancient problem. I do not propose to use a negative and destructive method directed against the received solutions, but simply to present, positively and constructively, a larger and, in some sort, a complementary hypothesis built upon broader foundations,—a hypothesis which, in addition, may shed light on one or two important problems in the history of ancient thought and cult left very insufficiently solved by the ordinary theories.

<b>We have in the Rig Veda,—the true and only Veda in the estimation of European scholars,—a body of sacrificial hymns couched in a very ancient language which presents a number of almost insoluble difficulties. It is full of ancient forms and words which do not appear in later speech and have often to be fixed in some doubtful sense by intelligent conjecture; a mass even of the words that it has in common with classical Sanskrit seem to bear or at least to admit another significance than in the later literary tongue; and a multitude of its vocables, especially the most common, those which are most vital to the sense, are capable of a surprising number of unconnected significances which may give, according to our preference in selection, quite different complexions to whole passages, whole hymns and even to the whole thought of the Veda. In the course of several thousands of years there have been at least three considerable attempts, entirely differing from each other in their methods and results, to fix the sense of these ancient litanies. One of these is prehistoric in time and exists only by fragments in the Brahmanas and Upanishads; but we possess in its entirety the traditional interpretation of the Indian scholar Sayana and we have in our own day the interpretation constructed after an immense labour of comparison and conjecture by modern European scholarship.

<i>Both of them present one characteristic in common, the extraordinary incoherence and poverty of sense which their results stamp upon the ancient hymns. The separate lines can be given, whether naturally or by force of conjecture, a good sense or a sense that hangs together; the diction that results, if garish in style, if loaded with otiose and decorative epithets, if developing extraordinarily little of meaning in an amazing mass of gaudy figure and verbiage, can be made to run into intelligible sentences; but when we come to read the hymns as a whole we seem to be in the presence of men who, unlike the early writers of other races, were incapable of coherent and natural expression or of connected thought. Except in the briefer and simpler hymns, the language tends to be either obscure or artificial; the thoughts are either unconnected or have to be forced and beaten by the interpreter into a whole. </i></b>The scholar in dealing with his text is obliged to substitute for interpretation a process almost of fabrication. We feel that he is not so much revealing the sense as hammering and forging rebellious material into some sort of shape and consistency.

<b>Yet these obscure and barbarous compositions have had the most splendid good fortune in all literary history. They have been the reputed source not only of some of the world's richest and profoundest religions, but of some of its subtlest metaphysical philosophies. In the fixed tradition of thousands of years they have been revered as the origin and standard of all that can be held as authoritative and true in Brahmana and Upanishad, in Tantra and Purana, in the doctrines of great philosophical schools and in the teachings of famous saints and sages. The name borne by them was Veda, the knowledge,—the received name for the highest spiritual truth of which the human mind is capable. But if we accept the current interpretations, whether Sayana's or the modern theory, the whole of this sublime and sacred reputation is a colossal fiction.</b> The hymns are, on the contrary, nothing more than the naive superstitious fancies of untaught and materialistic barbarians concerned only with the most external gains and enjoyments and ignorant of all but the most elementary moral notions or religious aspirations. Nor do occasional passages, quite out of harmony with their general spirit, destroy this total impression. The true foundation or starting-point of the later religions and philosophies is the Upanishads, which have then to be conceived as a revolt of philosophical and speculative minds against the ritualistic materialism of the Vedas.

<b>But this conception, supported by misleading European parallels, really explains nothing. Such profound and ultimate thoughts, such systems of subtle and elaborate psychology as are found in the substance of the Upanishads, do not spring out of a previous void. The human mind in its progress marches from knowledge to knowledge, or it renews and enlarges previous knowledge that has been obscured and overlaid, or it seizes on old imperfect clues and is led by them to new discoveries. The thought of the Upanishads supposes great origins anterior to itself, and these in the ordinary theories are lacking. The hypothesis, invented to fill the gap, that these ideas were borrowed by barbarous Aryan invaders from the civilised Dravidians, is a conjecture supported only by other conjectures. It is indeed coming to be doubted whether the whole story of an Aryan invasion through the Punjab is not a myth of the philologists.</b>

Now, in ancient Europe the schools of intellectual philosophy were preceded by the secret doctrines of the mystics; Orphic and Eleusinian mysteries prepared the rich soil of mentality out of which sprang Pythagoras and Plato. A similar starting-point is at least probable for the later march of thought in India. Much indeed of the forms and symbols of thought which we find in the Upanishads, much of the substance of the Brahmanas supposes a period in India in which thought took the form or the veil of secret teachings such as those of the Greek mysteries.

Another hiatus left by the received theories is the gulf that divides the material worship of external Nature-Powers in the Veda from the developed religion of the Greeks and from the psychological and spiritual ideas we find attached to the functions of the Gods in the Upanishads and Puranas. We may accept for the present the theory that the earliest fully intelligent form of human religion is necessarily,—since man on earth begins from the external and proceeds to the internal,—a worship of outward Nature-Powers invested with the consciousness and the personality that he finds in his own being.

<b>Agni in the Veda is avowedly Fire; Surya is the Sun, Parjanya the Raincloud, Usha the Dawn; and if the material origin or function of some other Gods is less trenchantly clear, it is easy to render the obscure precise by philological inferences or ingenious speculation. </b>But when we come to the worship of the Greeks not much later in date than the Veda, according to modern ideas of chronology, we find a significant change. The material attributes of the Gods are effaced or have become subordinate to psychological conceptions. The impetuous God of Fire has been converted into a lame God of Labour; Apollo, the Sun, presides over poetical and prophetic inspiration; Athene, who may plausibly be identified as in origin a Dawn-Goddess, has lost all memory of her material functions and is the wise, strong and pure Goddess of Knowledge; and there are other deities also, Gods of War, Love, Beauty, whose material functions have disappeared if they ever existed. It is not enough to say that this change was inevitable with the progress of human civilisation: the process also of the change demands inquiry and elucidation. We see the same revolution effected in the Puranas partly by the substitution of other divine names and figures, but also in part by the same obscure process that we observe in the evolution of Greek mythology. The river Saraswati has become the Muse and Goddess of Learning; Vishnu and Rudra of the Vedas are now the supreme Godhead, members of a divine Triad and expressive separately of conservative and destructive process in the cosmos. <b>In the Isha Upanishad we find an appeal to Surya as a God of revelatory knowledge by whose action we can arrive at the highest truth. This, too, is his function in the sacred Vedic formula of the Gayatri which was for thousands of years repeated by every Brahmin in his daily meditation; and we may note that this formula is a verse from the Rig Veda, from a hymn of the Rishi Vishwamitra. In the same Upanishad, Agni is invoked for purely moral functions as the purifier from sin, the leader of the soul by the good path to the divine Bliss, and he seems to be identified with the power of the will and responsible for human actions. In other Upanishads the Gods are clearly the symbols of sense-functions in man. Soma, the plant which yielded the mystic wine for the Vedic sacrifice, has become not only the God of the moon, but manifests himself as mind in the human being.</b> These evolutions suppose some period, posterior to the early material worship or superior Pantheistic Animism attributed to the Vedas and prior to the developed Puranic mythology, in which the gods became invested with deeper psychological functions, a period which may well have been the Age of the Mysteries. As things stand, a gap is left or else has been created by our exclusive preoccupation with the naturalistic element in the religion of the Vedic Rishis.

<b>I suggest that the gulf is of our own creation and does not really exist in the ancient sacred writings. The hypothesis I propose is that the Rig Veda is itself the one considerable document that remains to us from the early period of human thought of which the historic Eleusinian and Orphic mysteries were the failing remnants, when the spiritual and psychological knowledge of the race was concealed, for reasons now difficult to determine, in a veil of concrete and material figures and symbols which protected the sense from the profane and revealed it to the initiated. One of the leading principles of the mystics was the sacredness and secrecy of self-knowledge and the true knowledge of the Gods. This wisdom was, they thought, unfit, perhaps even dangerous to the ordinary human mind or in any case liable to perversion and misuse and loss of virtue if revealed to vulgar and unpurified spirits. Hence they favoured the existence of an outer worship, effective but imperfect, for the profane, an inner discipline for the initiate, and clothed their language in words and images which had, equally, a spiritual sense for the elect, a concrete sense for the mass of ordinary worshippers. </b>

The Vedic hymns were conceived and constructed on this principle. Their formulas and ceremonies are, overtly, the details of an outward ritual devised for the Pantheistic Nature-Worship which was then the common religion, covertly the sacred words, the effective symbols of a spiritual experience and knowledge and a psychological discipline of self-culture which were then the highest achievement of the human race.

<b>The ritual system recognised by Sayana may, in its externalities, stand; the naturalistic sense discovered by European scholarship may, in its general conceptions, be accepted; but behind them there is always the true and still hidden secret of the Veda,—the secret words, ninya vacamsi, which were spoken for the purified in soul and the awakened in knowledge. To disengage this less obvious but more important sense by fixing the import of Vedic terms, the sense of Vedic symbols and the psychological functions of the Gods is thus a difficult but necessary task, for which these chapters and the translations that accompany them are only a preparation.</b>

The hypothesis, if it proves to be valid, will have three advantages. It will elucidate simply and effectively the parts of the Upanishads that remain yet unintelligible or ill-understood as well as much of the origins of the Puranas. It will explain and justify rationally the whole ancient tradition of India; for it will be found that, in sober truth, the Vedanta, Purana, Tantra, the philosophical schools and the great Indian religions do go back in their source to Vedic origins. We can see there in their original seed or in their early or even primitive forms the fundamental conceptions of later Indian thought. Thus a natural starting-point will be provided for a sounder study of Comparative Religion in the Indian field. Instead of wandering amid insecure speculations or having to account for impossible conversions and unexplained transitions we shall have a clue to a natural and progressive development satisfying to the reason. Incidentally, some light may be thrown on the obscurities of early cult and myth in other ancient nations. Finally, the incoherencies of the Vedic texts will at once be explained and disappear. They exist in appearance only, because the real thread of the sense is to be found in an inner meaning. That thread found, the hymns appear as logical and organic wholes and the expression, though alien in type to our modern ways of thinking and speaking, becomes, in its own style, just and precise and sins rather by economy of phrase than by excess, by over-pregnancy rather than by poverty of sense. The Veda ceases to be merely an interesting remnant of barbarism and takes rank among the most important of the world's early Scriptures.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The Secret of the Veda
Chapter 23: Summary of Conclusions
We have now closely scrutinised the Angiras legend in the Rig Veda from all possible sides and in all its main symbols and are in a position to summarise firmly the conclusions we have drawn from it. As I have already said, the Angiras legend and the Vritra mythus are the two principal parables of the Veda; they occur and recur everywhere; they run through the hymns as two closely connected threads of symbolic imagery, and around them all the rest of the Vedic symbolism is woven. Not that they are its central ideas, but they are two main pillars of this ancient structure. When we determine their sense, we have determined the sense of the whole Rik Sanhita. <b>If Vritra and the waters symbolise the cloud and the rain and the gushing forth of the seven rivers of the Punjab and if the Angirases are the bringers of the physical dawn, then the Veda is a symbolism of natural phenomena personified in the figure of gods and Rishis and maleficent demons. If Vritra and Vala are Dravidian gods and the Panis and Vritras human enemies, then the Veda is a poetical and legendary account of the invasion of Dravidian India by Nature-worshipping barbarians. If on the other hand this is a symbolism of the struggle between spiritual powers of Light and Darkness, Truth and Falsehood, Knowledge and Ignorance, Death and Immortality, then that is the real sense of the whole Veda.</b>

We have concluded that the Angiras Rishis are bringers of the Dawn, rescuers of the Sun out of the darkness, but that this Dawn, Sun, Darkness are figures used with a spiritual significance. The central conception of the Veda is the conquest of the Truth out of the darkness of Ignorance and by the conquest of the Truth the conquest also of Immortality. For the Vedic Ritam is a spiritual as well as a psychological conception. It is the true being, the true consciousness, the true delight of existence beyond this earth of body, this mid-region of vital force, this ordinary sky or heaven of mind. We have to cross beyond all these planes in order to arrive at the higher plane of that superconscient Truth which is the own home of the gods and the foundation of Immortality. This is the world of Swar, to which the Angirases have found the path for their posterity.

The Angirases are at once the divine seers who assist in the cosmic and human workings of the gods and their earthly representatives, the ancient fathers who first found the wisdom of which the Vedic hymns are a chant and memory and renewal in experience. The seven divine Angirases are sons or powers of Agni, powers of the Seer-Will, the flame of divine Force instinct with divine knowledge which is kindled for the victory. The Bhrigus have found this Flame secret in the growths of the earthly existence, but the Angirases kindle it on the altar of sacrifice and maintain the sacrifice through the periods of the sacrificial year symbolising the periods of the divine labour by which the Sun of Truth is recovered out of the darkness. Those who sacrifice for nine months of this year are Navagwas, seers of the nine cows or nine rays, who institute the search for the herds of the Sun and the march of Indra to battle with the Panis. Those who sacrifice for ten months are the Dashagwas, seers of the ten rays who enter with Indra into the cave of the Panis and recover the lost herds.

The sacrifice is the giving by man of what he possesses in his being to the higher or divine nature and its fruit is the farther enrichment of his manhood by the lavish bounty of the gods. The wealth thus gained constitutes a state of spiritual riches, prosperity, felicity which is itself a power for the journey and a force of battle. For the sacrifice is a journey, a progression; the sacrifice itself travels led by Agni up the divine path to the gods and of this journey the ascent of the Angiras fathers to the divine world of Swar is the type. Their journey of the sacrifice is also a battle, for it is opposed by Panis, Vritras and other powers of evil and falsehood, and of this warfare the conflict of Indra and the Angirases with the Panis is a principal episode.

The principal features of sacrifice are the kindling of the divine flame, the offering of the ghrta and the Soma wine and the chanting of the sacred word. By the hymn and the offering the gods are increased; they are said to be born, created or manifested in man and by their increase and greatness here they increase the earth and heaven, that is to say, the physical and mental existence to their utmost capacity and, exceeding these, create in their turn the higher worlds or planes. The higher existence is the divine, the infinite of which the shining Cow, the infinite Mother, Aditi, is the symbol; the lower is subject to her dark form Diti. The object of the sacrifice is to win the higher or divine being and possess with it and make subject to its law and truth the lower or human existence. The ghrta of the sacrifice is the yield of the shining Cow; it is the clarity or brightness of the solar light in the human mentality. The Soma is the immortal delight of existence secret in the waters and the plant and pressed out for drinking by gods and men. The word is the inspired speech expressing the thought-illumination of the Truth which rises out of the soul, formed in the heart, shaped by the mind. Agni growing by the ghrta, Indra forceful with the luminous strength and joy of the Soma and increased by the Word, aid the Angirases to recover the herds of the Sun.

Brihaspati is the Master of the creative Word. If Agni is the supreme Angiras, the flame from whom the Angirases are born, Brihaspati is the one Angiras with the seven mouths, the seven rays of the illuminative thought and the seven words which express it, of whom these seers are the powers of utterance. It is the complete thought of the Truth, the seven-headed, which wins the fourth or divine world for man by winning for him the complete spiritual wealth, object of the sacrifice. Therefore Agni, Indra, Brihaspati, Soma are all described as winners of the herds of the Sun and destroyers of the Dasyus who conceal and withhold them from man. Saraswati, who is the stream of the Word or inspiration of the Truth, is also a Dasyu-slayer and winner of the shining herds; and they are discovered by Sarama, forerunner of Indra, who is a solar or dawn goddess and seems to symbolise the intuitive power of the Truth. Usha, the Dawn, is at once herself a worker in the great victory and in her full advent its luminous result.

Usha is the divine Dawn, for the Sun that arises by her coming is the Sun of the superconscient Truth; the day he brings is the day of the true life in the true knowledge, the night he dispels is the night of the ignorance which yet conceals the dawn in its bosom. Usha herself is the Truth, sunrta, and the mother of Truths. These truths of the divine Dawn are called her cows, her shining herds; while the forces of the Truth that accompany them and occupy the Life are called her horses. Around this symbol of the cows and horses much of the Vedic symbolism turns; for these are the chief elements of the riches sought by man from the gods. The cows of the Dawn have been stolen and concealed by the demons, the lords of darkness in their nether cave of the secret subconscient. They are the illuminations of knowledge, the thoughts of the Truth, gavo matayah, which have to be delivered out of their imprisonment. Their release is the upsurging of the powers of the divine Dawn.

It is also the recovery of the Sun that was lying in the darkness; for it is said that the Sun, “that Truth”, was the thing found by Indra and the Angirases in the cave of the Panis. By the rending of that cave the herds of the divine dawn which are the rays of the Sun of Truth ascend the hill of being and the Sun itself ascends to the luminous upper ocean of the divine existence, led over it by the thinkers like a ship over the waters, till it reaches its farther shore.

The Panis who conceal the herds, the masters of the nether cavern, are a class of Dasyus who are in the Vedic symbolism set in opposition to the Aryan gods and Aryan seers and workers. The Aryan is he who does the work of sacrifice, finds the sacred word of illumination, desires the Gods and increases them and is increased by them into the largeness of the true existence; he is the warrior of the light and the traveller to the Truth. The Dasyu is the undivine being who does no sacrifice, amasses a wealth he cannot rightly use because he cannot speak the word or mentalise the superconscient Truth, hates the Word, the gods and the sacrifice and gives nothing of himself to the higher existences but robs and withholds his wealth from the Aryan. He is the thief, the enemy, the wolf, the devourer, the divider, the obstructor, the confiner. The Dasyus are powers of darkness and ignorance who oppose the seeker of truth and immortality. The gods are the powers of Light, the children of Infinity, forms and personalities of the one Godhead who by their help and by their growth and human workings in man raise him to the truth and the immortality.

Thus the interpretation of the Angiras myth gives us the key to the whole secret of the Veda. For if the cows and horses lost by the Aryans and recovered for them by the gods, the cows and horses of which Indra is the lord and giver and indeed himself the Cow and Horse, are not physical cattle, if these elements of the wealth sought by the sacrifice are symbols of a spiritual riches, so also must be its other elements which are always associated with them, sons, men, gold, treasure, etc. If the Cow of which the ghrta is the yield is not a physical cow but the shining Mother, then the ghrta itself which is found in the waters and is said to be triply secreted by the Panis in the Cow, is no physical offering, nor the honey-wine of Soma either which is also said to exist in the rivers and to rise in a honeyed wave from the ocean and to flow streaming up to the gods. And if these, then also the other offerings of the sacrifice must be symbolic; the outer sacrifice itself can be nothing but the symbol of an inner giving. And if the Angiras Rishis are also in part symbolic or are, like the gods, semi-divine workers and helpers in the sacrifice, so also must be the Bhrigus, Atharvans, Ushana and Kutsa and others who are associated with them in their work. If the Angiras legend and the story of the struggle with the Dasyus is a parable, so also should be the other legendary stories we find in the Rig Veda of the help given by the Gods to the Rishis against the demons; for these also are related in similar terms and constantly classed by the Vedic poets along with the Angiras story as on the same footing.

Similarly if these Dasyus who refuse the gift and the sacrifice, and hate the Word and the gods and with whom the Aryans are constantly at war, these Vritras, Panis and others, are not human enemies but powers of darkness, falsehood and evil, then the whole idea of the Aryan wars and kings and nations begins to take upon itself the aspect of spiritual symbol and apologue. Whether they are entirely so or only partly, cannot be decided except by a more detailed examination which is not our present object. Our object is only to see whether there is a prima facie case for the idea with which we started that the Vedic hymns are the symbolic gospel of the ancient Indian mystics and their sense spiritual and psychological. Such a prima facie case we have established; for there is already sufficient ground for seriously approaching the Veda from this standpoint and interpreting it in detail as such a lyric symbolism.

Still, to make our case entirely firm it will be well to examine the other companion legend of Vritra and the waters which we have seen to be closely connected with that of the Angirases and the Light. In the first place Indra the Vritra-slayer is along with Agni one of the two chief gods of the Vedic Pantheon and if his character and functions can be properly established, we shall have the general type of the Aryan gods fixed firmly. Secondly, the Maruts, his companions, singers of the sacred chant, are the strongest point of the naturalistic theory of Vedic worship; they are undoubtedly storm-gods and no other of the greater Vedic deities, Agni or the Ashwins or Varuna and Mitra or Twashtri and the goddesses or even Surya the Sun or Usha the Dawn have such a pronounced physical character. If then these storm-gods can be shown to have a psychological character and symbolism, then there can be no farther doubt about the profounder sense of the Vedic religion and ritual. Finally, if Vritra and his associated demons, Shushna, Namuchi and the rest appear when closely scrutinised to be Dasyus in the spiritual sense and if the meaning of the heavenly waters he obstructs be more thoroughly investigated, then the consideration of the stories of the Rishis and the gods and demons as parables can be proceeded with from a sure starting-point and the symbolism of the Vedic worlds brought nearer to a satisfactory interpretation.

More we cannot at present attempt; for the Vedic symbolism as worked out in the hymns is too complex in its details, too numerous in its standpoints, presents too many obscurities and difficulties to the interpreter in its shades and side allusions and above all has been too much obscured by ages of oblivion and misunderstanding to be adequately dealt with in a single work. We can only at present seek out the leading clues and lay as securely as may be the right foundations.
Some of Shri Arabindo's words are very perceptive and indeed very precise in describing the exact situation with modern Indologists (e.g. German scholar Rau), who believed that the R^ig Vedic primitives did not know how to make pots with wheels because in the pravargya rite it is recommended that the adhvaryu make the ritual pots with his own hands <!--emo&Tongue--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/tongue.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='tongue.gif' /><!--endemo--> Even potting is something the Aryans should have the from the native dasyus. kulAla is an Austro-Asiatic word the Europeans worthies tell us, so surely the Aryan knew not to make pots. How can you expect these Vedic savages with no knowledge of pottery to compose any more than primitive mediocre poetry.

" The prattle of Madmen" is a common phrase used by the European grandee to characterize the Veda (especially the brAhmaNa sections). Another well-know German "Veda-Meister" tell us that the Aryans surely did not know to make bricks for their elaborate sacrificial rituals. They should have filched them from the vailasthAnas of the ruined Indus civilization. After all had not bard named "Sharp phallus" the daivodAsi (the great Aryan Invader) recited that indra had utterly ruined the vailasthAnas. The Herr Professor declared triumphantly that the Veda knows only of vailasthAnas and not of any cities.

Some Europeans scholars nn the yajur veda:
Max Müller : 'the twaddling of idiots'
L. V Schroeder: 'writing of insane persons in the asylum'.
AB Keith: 'a world of fancy, where only sometimes a text can have a moment of sanity'.

(Compiled from Marathi Weekly “Vivek” dated 26th February 2006)

In Daang District of Gujarat, there is a place called ‘Subir’. It was here that
Shabari waited for Shriram with sweet Bers (a sweet and small fruit usually
found in jungles) already tested by her for sweetness. On arriving there, as the
Ramayana describes this poetic incident, Shriram met her with happiness and ate
those bers, which she had already tested. She was a resident of this jungle that
time called Dandkaranya.  Nearby is the place of the Ashram of Matang Rishi her
Guru and also Pampa Lake. Consecrated by these three emotional connections with Ramayan, the
Vanavasis (forest dwellers) have a faith
that Shabarimata saw Shriramchandra here and on receiving the Kripaprasad of
him, disappeared in the infinite. Swami Assemanand, who is famous for Gharvapasi
of Hindus (Reconversion of converted Hindus in Hindu religion) in Daang and
Gujarat had realized the potential of this place and told the workers of
Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram that there was a need to awaken the age old emo
tions attached with Shabari here. Further, he expressed his wish that in this
important Hindu place, a large temple of Shabarimata should be erected. While
activities were undertaken for it, the people here decided that Shri Muraribapu
so well known for his ‘Ramkatha’ discourses should hold them here for nine days.
‘Ramkatha’ was started here with a great enthusiasm, which got accelerating
momentum. Shri Muraribapu saw Pampa Lake, saw the Mandir of Shabarimata and was
inspired with a great idea. He directed the people here in his hallowed voice
that a Shabarikumbh must be held HERE around the time when a Shabariyatra was being held here
by Vanavasis.

It was a seed of a great idea with tremendous potential and challenge to all
Hindutva workers in India. ‘Kumbh’ Melas are held in India in various places at
different times. They denote the drops of heavenly nectar (Amrit), which fell
when the Nectar was won over from Asuras by Garuda and the Amritkumbh was
carried by him to the Gods by him. Here Muraribapu gave the idea of
Shabarikumbh. Mata Shabari had created here the Amrit of Rambhakti. Various
organizations and institutes involved in the work on Vanavasis, threw themselves
with heart and soul along with thousands of their activists in this work months
before and the message of Shabarikumbh scheduled to be held on 11th, 12th and
13th February was spread to all the corners of the country, particularly in
jungles, Vanavasi localities and remote areas. Everywhere the preparations were
being made for travel arrangements of the participants, names enrolled, groups getting organized and
preparations for a massive function were
launched at the actual site.  There was a quiet mass movement going on in the

The media wanted a sensational news about the communal Hindus to denigrate them
as usual. They started giving special reports with their pet labels of headings:
“A New Ayodhya in the making, Maker Modi”, “In the tribal Dang of Gujarat, the
Sangh is building a big bomb”, “Sangh converting Dang tribals”, “The crucible of
Hindutva – The RSS selects Dang as its New laboratory” etc. It was a pathetic
effort of the interested lobbies to create an atmosphere of hate and prejudice.
But it seems they could not fool the people again and again. However, by
connecting Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, VHP, Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram, Bajrang Dal
and others with this great movement, they actually honoured these organizations
for their work. Media was engaged in spreading false news like, ‘For
preparations of Shabarikumbh, a number trees were cut down’ etc. In fact, although the place of
Shabarikumbh was smack in a locality, which was
originally a forest (Dandkaranya), not a single tree was cut do
wn as most of the Vanavasis worship them like gods. The result was that again
the media lost its credibility further and since people are convinced about the
valid intentions and nationalist spirit of these organizations, they knew that
Shabarikumbh was for their good only. The critics of Kumbh had thus ensured the
success of Kumbh.

Noticeably, the Shabarikumbh Samaroh Samiti conveniently neglected this
disinformation campaign and kept working to the schedule already drawn. It
followed Narendra Modi’s tactics – kept working only. The attackers got
disappointed as there were no counters and their movement slowly waned. Samiti
had for their objective to awaken the feeling of Samarasata (Harmony) in the
Hindu society and encourage Vanavasi culture and pride, promote their
development and give expression to the Unity and oneness among them.

All arrangements were made with great imagination, expertise of Sangh and its Parivar and well
directed incessant efforts of thousands of workers. It was just unimaginable
that such a great event on a mammoth scale could be organized to culminate in a
grand gathering and glorious function successfully. Only Sangh could achieve it.
It is beside the point that infrastructure facilities were provided by
Government of Gujarat and brought lot of roads etc. to this Vanavasi area.

Vanavasi brothers and sisters attended the Kumbh in a huge number, much much
more than expected from all corners of the country with the Kalashas of holy
waters of the rivers flowing in their areas. This power of their unity and their
firm and sound faith in the Hindu religion which was amply underlined here is
the acknowledgement of the great and massive efforts of the workers.

The opening ceremony of Shabarikumbh took place in a magnificent and glorious
manner. The pandall was overflowing. On the dais were various Sadhus and Saints, the five kings of
Daang, office holders of Shabarikumbh Samaroh Samiti,
Kishorji Vyas, Satyamitranand Giri, Asaramji Bapu, Sant Muraribapu and the Chief
Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi. In this ceremony only, all speakers spoke
firmly and clearly about conversion and protection of the religion.  This
opening ceremony guaranteed the success of the Kumbh.

The President of Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram Shri Jagdevrao Uraunva said.

‘Today’ is extremely auspicious. Thousands of devotees are here. On the dais a
number of Sadhus and Saints are present to bless and unique feature of this
gathering is even our Vanvasi Saints are also here.”

Stating that this hill of Shabari was called Chamak Dongri, he recounted how the
idea of Shabari Kumbh was mooted by Muraribapu and implemented and said that we
are seeing this idea has taken a concrete form today.

“But this Kumbh is quite different than others. Its importance is unprecedented.
Till recently, the situation appeared as if the Vanvasis had forgotten their unique tradition.
The idea of this Kumbh is that their
tradition should be looked after; they should know these their own traditions
themselves and should be aware that they are an inseparable part of the Hindu
society and other constituents of Hindu society should feel brotherly love and
oneness for the Vanvasis as well.

“Lakhs of brothers and sisters will come here, hundreds of saints will arrive,
they will think over the situation of the country. Let us take inspiration from
all these things.”

Swami Satyamitranand Giri said in his speech said that all present on the dais
were “Ramsainiks” and CM Narendra Modi was leading them and pandall got
reverberated with the applause of the audience. “Once one gentleman asked a
Vanavasi, ‘What do you do?’ He replied, ‘We walk in the forests (Vanacharaam),
take people across the rivers (taraam), cultivate the farms (Ahraam), we are not
afraid (Abhayraam), and thus Ram has filled throughout our life. Hence, the
place that the Gods have is given to the Vanavasis. He further explained that even in your small hut,
Hanuman Chalisa must be chanted. Take any service offered to you, but do not
barter your religion to Christian missionaries for it.  Taking advantage of
one’s poverty, convert him is a great crime”. He

concluded his speech by giving an outline as to how there should be a change in
the Vanavasi community. He said, “In every village, there should be a school, a
gymnasium. Entire village should start ‘Ramkatha’ which should end with a
Bhandara (free meal for all). It will strengthen the society and nobody will
dare to try to convert us.”

Chief Minister Narendra Modi said in his speech, “The word ‘Shabarikumbh’ came
out of the mouth of Muraribapu and we are all seeing today it is taking a
concrete shape. My Government has declared this year as a Tourism Year.  You all
lakhs of people have come here today and have given an excellent start to it.”
He expected that it would be a place of pilgrimage in the minds of all Vanabandhus
and all of them would feel like visiting this place. With the tourism, the
development of this region would also grow. He thought that Shabarikumbh is the
beginning of the development of Daang. If such festival takes place for the
middle class, it was not a new thing, but here the place of importance is given
to the Vanavasi brothers. That was the most important thing. He said, “Shabari
was waiting here for Shriram. I am seeing here a developed India, because India
is waiting for development for last so many years.”

Among thunderous applause, sarcastically, he thanked Arjunsingh for criticizing
and calumnising Shabarikumbh, as it was due to that publicity he gave to it in
the Hyderabad Session of the Congress that it was successful that day. In his
aggressive style, he attacked those who calumnise and denigrate Hindu culture
and also congratulated because the success also due to their disinformation
campaign. He pointed out that in the constitution stated that to convert by
allurement or fraud was a crime and even Gandhiji said that to convert was
wrong for any cultured
society. But abuses were heaped on him when he said it. He also criticized Lalu
Prasad for his denigration of Shabarikumbh.

He congratulated the organizers for the success of the Kumbh and stated that the
Government was working for the development of Daang. He stated that the
Government had spent 600 crore rupees for the development of Daang. Asphalt
roads were now reaching up to every village or Pada. Power supply is made for 24
hours. He confidently told the people that Daang would be developed to a great
extent during the coming five years.

Shri Asaram Bapu said, “By this way or that way, due to the discussion that took
place in the country, the feelings of the people leading a neglected life in the
remotest corners of the country have reached to the nook and corner of the
country. Hence, people have come here in lakhs. With this gathering, great Tapas
of the Vanavasi brothers is being seen here. Man’s life is for a short time here.

But during this time, we must learn the art of converting
defeat into victory. How far are we going to allow us to be exploited? We must
awaken. To tolerate injustice is great sin. Don’t commit the sin of changing
your religion. Our Vedic religion does not allow fear or mourning. Hence, nobody
should get afraid of Hindus awakening or strength.”  He also appealed
Missionaries not to convert Hindus and send Christ to the cross again and told
many examples of Padris having a change of heart.

Saint Muraribapu said that Shabarikumbh Mela was not the thought of myself alone
but the entire people on dais. He was very happy to see that it has been brought
into reality of all the people. He mentioned that Shabari had a great faith on
the words of Matang Rishi her Guru and hence never doubted that she would meet
Shriram. And it came to be true. Criticising the Christian Missionaries for
their converting activities, he quoted from Bible how Christ also was against
conversion. He also was emphatic that there is nothing wrong in returning to Hinduism.

“We were bringing
our people in our religion. Christians hence need not get afraid. If they are
getting afraid because they had converted Hindus by allurement or fraud etc. we
can cure it. Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam is our Sanatan motto. We do not scare
anybody.” In the end he quoted a Sher meaning, “These dying candles will not of
any use. Light on new lamps, because the light was very faint”.

Next day three Conferences were held. Saint’s conference, Women’s conference and
Youth conference.  The conferences were addressed by Gunvantsinh Kothari,
organizing secretary of VKA, Umeshji Gavit, RSS speaker Indreshkumar gave
enlightening speeches and pointed how Christian Missionaries were using various
means to convert Hindus, also how they were making Hindus to fight with each
other and how they were also destroying our culture, religion and country. One
lakh women who attended the Kumbh were asked to be ready to protect our
religion. There was wonderful response by them.
Huge pictures of Mahishasurmardini and Ranima Gaidenlu
were adorning the dais along with poetic and inspiring slogans written in large
letters. Sahapramukh Sevika of Rashtra Sevika Samiti, Pramilatai Medhe said,
“Water of good thoughts of Kumbh and Prasad of good thoughts should be taken by
women to all villages. In our motherly power, there is a strength of destroying
the mindset of purchasing our mother and motherland.” 

Famous activists like Mesdames Laxmikanta Chawla,
Buhitati, Chairperson of the Conference, Shivsaraswati, all delivered inspiring
speeches expressing confidence that now the women will protect our Sanatan
Dharma. The speeches of Shivasaraswati who roams from small villages or padas
for protection of our religion throughout the country, got a tremendous
response. Huge number of men also was present to hear her.

Saint’s Conference was extremely thoughtful and wonderful from all accounts.
Saints from different parts of the country spoke and all of them had a single
strain of protest against conversion by Missionaries and everybody
appealed all Vanavasis to fight against them and stop their conversion.
Ramprapannaji Maharaj from Ramrekhadham, Zarkhand asked all the saints  to
consider to stop the conversion their first duty. H asked the Hindus to consider
that one conversion means killing one cow and fight it tooth and nail. In the
concluding ceremony, Shri Sudarshanji said, “Our Hindu society is like Hanumant.
It does not know its own strength. That is why the other religions are attacking
it. As they were cut off their history, this community is sleeping. All saint
should keep moving from place and wake up their consciousness and make aware of
their history and religion so that they will be ready to protect the religion”
He cited the example of Kooki community in Assam. They have be
en brought back in Hindu religion. Their priests got wild and told them to bring
their Fathers to discuss. Kookis told them we are pastors of our religion and
sent them away. Nobody is aboriginal here, nobody is Dalit (downtrodden) and we should use the words
scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. We have to fight with demonic powers in
the future and hence this society awakening work has to be done very fast. He
expressed satisfaction over the success of the Saints’ Coherence.

Dharmasabha was addressed by the holy saints and women and was full of mature
thoughts and desire to fight conversion. It passed a number of resolutions most
of them covering legal, moral and social aspects of the conversion and partial
treatment to Hindus in this Hindu dominated country. Right from Shankaracharya
of Jyotirmath, Vasudevadand Sarsaswati, Sadhvi Ritambhara to Mrs Sidhutai
Sapkale all spoke spiritedly and Shankaracharya asking to hold such Kumbhs in
Uttaranchal, Poorvanchal, and Dakshinachal. Mrs Sapkale thanked the Samiti or
for oganising this Kumbh and covered the social aspect of it. Sadhvi Ritambhara
appealed the audience to make the roar of Conch of energy out of this Kumbh. We
must give tit for tat to the terrorists. To save our religion and Shaastraas we should
use weapons (Shastras) also.

Mohanji Bhagwat, Sarsahkaryavah said that such a massive and magnifiscent
Mahakumbh has been successfully held is a sign of the Kripa of Shabarimata. Her
blessings are with us and with it we will be successful in we will be successful
in taking this great country to the highest peak of prosperity, affluence and
pinnacle of glory.

Shabarikumbh : Statstical Data

Residential Accommodation            :            31 townships

Planning from                                     :            29 Departments

Controllers (Prabandhaks) Male:            4,000

Controllers (Prabandhaks)Females:            1,000

Kitchens                                    :            9

Watertanks                                    :            300

Ambulances                                    :            13

Dispensaries/clinics                        :            3

Traffic Centres                        :            3

Kumbh Area            `                        :            12 Km

Tubes                                                :            8,000

Bulbs                                                :            50,000

Conference Hall                        :            57 lakh Sq. Ft

Ghaats in Pampa Sarovar            :            4

Material for food arrangement

Rice : 12 tonnes

Daal : 40 tonnes

Vegetables of various kinds: 75 tonnes

Potatoes: 100 tonnes

Mirchi (Chilli) : 2 tonnes

Haldi (Turmeric): 1,000 Kg

Dhania            : 700 Kg.                                    

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Cutting edge of Hindu revivalism in Jaffna </b>


HINDUS: After about 300 years of intense persecution under the Portuguese and the Dutch, the Hindus of Jaffna heaved a sigh of relief when the British took over at the fag end of the 18th century.

The era of forcible conversions to Catholicism (under the Portuguese) and to Protestantism (under the Dutch) was over. In the liberal atmosphere created by the British, most converts reverted to their traditional religion, namely, Hinduism.

Daniel Poor, a pioneer of the American Ceylon Mission (ACM) noted that with the Dutch yoke off their shoulders, the Hindus of Jaffna returned to "sweet idolatory" and temple building was resumed at a frenetic pace.

As Dr Murugar Gunasingam says in his book, Sri Lankan Tamil Nationalism: A Study of its Origins (MV Publications, Sydney 1999), there were as many as 329 Hindu temples in Jaffna in 1814. Many had come up in the first few years of British rule. Earlier, the Portuguese had destroyed as many as 500 temples. In Dutch times, temples were in disuse, as the Brahmin priests had been chased out.

Threat from a new quarter But British rule did not turn out to be an unmixed blessing.
It had created a new danger, the danger of conversion through education and systematic propaganda through the use of the new print medium.

The new political and economic order established by the British was creating employment opportunities for the Hindus of Jaffna, which necessitated an education. And the Hindu Tamil youth of Jaffna were eager to seize these opportunities and acquire an English education for that purpose.

Seeing a potential in this for gaining converts, the new Protestant missions which followed the British flag, set up schools and boarding houses, including some for girls. Printing presses were established to churn out easily accessible Christian literature on a large scale. The new British rulers handed over government-run schools to the missionaries, and gave grants-in-aid to non-government schools. The latter was a great help to missionary-run schools.

The missionary-run schools and medical missions, with their dedicated and selfless staff, presented a very new and beguiling face to the people of Jaffna, who, under Portuguese and Dutch rule earlier, had been dragooned into accepting Christianity and economically exploited thereafter by the state-backed missionaries.

Missions fail to make headway However, despite possessing all the necessary tools for mass conversion, the Protestant missionaries did not make much headway. According to Dr Gunasingam determined evangelisation by the American Ceylon Mission (ACM) from 1816 to 1839 had yielded only 492 converts.

Success eluded the Wesleyan Mission and the Church Missionary Society (CMS) also. Gunasingam says that conversion was low because, unlike the Portuguese or the Dutch, the British did not make conversion a necessity for obtaining government jobs or state patronage.
The British had also declared that they would not allow forcible conversions.

Missionaries create insecurity But many Jaffna Hindu Tamils, mainly of the elite Vellala, Chettiar and Brahmin castes, felt that the power of the missionaries was insidious.
They feared that if the Hindus, mainly Saivite, were not careful, they could be overwhelmed by the missionaries armed with all the tools of modern propaganda then available, namely, a virtual monopoly over the educational system and the printed word.

The liberal education, which the mission schools provided, had created awareness among the Saivites and sharpened their critical faculties. While the missionaries hoped that education would make the young Saivites see the truth of Christianity and the falsehood of Saivism, it had the opposite impact, notes Gunasingam. Often, education made the student critical of Christianity and see the danger that it posed to his own indigenous religion. 

But this, by itself, did not make the Saivites take measures to assert their faith and oppose the proselytising activities of the missionaries. What triggered active resistance was the stepping up of vile anti-Saivite propaganda by the missionaries. According to Gunasingam, the missionaries started attacking Saivisim and Saivite practices viciously because they were frustrated with the poor rate of conversion.

In his article entitled Arumuga Navalar and the Hindu Renaissance Among the Tamils in the book "Religious Controversy in British India" edited by Kenneth W Jones, D Dennis Hudson gives a particularly telling example of the missionary view of Saivism. He quotes the Protestant periodical Morning Star as saying: "There is nothing in the peculiar doctrines and precepts of the Saiva religion that is adapted to improve a man's moral character or fit him to be useful to his fellow men".

"If the world were to be converted to the Saiva faith, no one would expect any improvement in the morals or the happiness of men." "Everyone might be a great liar and cheat, as great an adulterer, as oppressive of the poor, as covetous, as proud, as he was before without the purity of faith."

The "Skandapuranam" one of the most sacred texts of Saivism, was denounced as a set of "extravagant fictions many of which are of immoral tendency." The Morning Star and other publications were also making disparaging remarks against the famous Kandaswamy temple in Nallur, saying that it was a den vice. The attacks on this temple, which was the nerve centre of Saivisim in the Jaffna peninsula, was seen as a frontal assault on Tamil culture and Tamil pride. 

Rise of Hindu protest The first to protest against such characterisations and write against Christianity was Muthukumara Kavirajar (1780-1851). His works, which were printed later, became an important weapon in the armoury of the Saivites. The first collective action on the part of the Saivites of Jaffna was a meeting held by a group drawn from the elite Vellala, Brahmin and Chettiar communities, at the Siva temple at Vannarpannai in September 1842.

Among the leading lights present were Sathasiva Pillai, Swaminatha Iyar, Viswanatha Iyar, Arumuga Pillai, Kandaswamy Pillai and Arumuga Chettiar. The group decided to set up a "Veda-Agama" School to teach children the Vedas, the Agamas (temple worship) and the elements of Saivisim. The plan was to discourage parents from sending their children to Christian mission schools. It was also decided to purchase a printing press to counter the media war unleashed by the missionaries. Though the purchase of a printing press took time, the Veda Agama school started functioning in 1842.

Enter Arumuga Navalar It was at this time that Arumugam Pillai (1822-1879) entered the scene with a bang. As Arumuga Navalar or simply as Navalar, he was to become Sri Lanka's foremost Saivite or Hindu revivalist; the harbinger of Tamil nationalism; and the cutting edge of the long, and successful campaign against Christian proselytising.

Navalar was unique among the campaigners for Saivism in Jaffna in as much as he was into it full time. He had stubbornly remained unmarried to retain his independence. Having been a student of, and a teacher in, the Wesleyan School, where he was the favourite of the Missionary cum Principal, Peter Percival, Navalar, came with a good grounding in Christianity. This helped him argue against it authoritatively.

He took to Christian methods of preaching which had been effective. Like the Christian pastors, he preached in the places of worship. On December 18, 1847, Navalar set the ball rolling with a lecture at the Vaideeswara temple in Vannarpannai. He lectured there every Friday. And he went from place to place together with his devoted colleague and assistant, Kartikeya Aiyar of Nallur. Taking the cue from the Christian missionaries, Navalar made his religion relevant to real life. In his lectures, he would stress, apart from the theological and liturgical aspects of Saivism, the evils of adultery and drunkenness; the virtue of non-killing; the need to treat women with respect; the importance of giving alms; and the need to protect the cow.

Navalar gave a new interpretation to Saivisim which instilled in his audiences pride in their traditional faith. Simultaneously, he sought reform of Hindu society.
His endeavours helped blunt the Christian missionaries' criticism of Hinduism and Hindu practices.  He Drew similarities between Saivism and Christianity Hudson notes that Navalar took a very novel approach to Saivism and and Christianity.

He drew similarities between them and used them to argue that the Christian missionaries had no right to criticise Saivism and paint it in lurid colours. Navalar noticed striking parallels between the liturgies of the temple in Jerusalem and the temples of Siva in Sri Lanka and India.

He pointed out that the Israelites, who were chosen by God as his own children, believed that the Lord dwelt in the ark made of wood and lived between the cherubim. And He had bestowed grace upon them. Likewise, the Saivites believed that God dwelt in the idol of Siva and bestowed grace on them.

The Israelites made a sanctuary for the worship of God. The Saivites built temples.The Isrealites worshiped the cherubim and the bronze serpent. The Saivites worshiped images made of gold and silver.

The Israelites displayed bread and wine in their temples. The Saivites kept fruits as prasadam. Both Israelites and Saivites burnt incense. The Israelites burnt the heifer (cow) and took its ashes for use.

The Saivites used the ashes from the dung of the heifer as "Tiruneer" or "Vibhuti".
Navalar wondered why the missionaries approved what the Israelites did, and disapproved a similar thing done by the Saivites. If they could justify the Israelite rituals as a means to absorb the thoughts of God, the Saivities could justify their rituals too, he argued.

Navalar pointed out that Christ and the early Christians followed the rites and ceremonies of the temple. The bible had said that it was the duty of every Christian to observe them. How then could the missionaries now abandon them, he asked.

In Navalar's view, the proselytizing Christians were a blessing in disguise, because he believed that Lord Siva was using the Christian missionaries to awaken Saivites to the truths of Saivism as contained in the Agamas.

Need for comprehensive written scripture Navalar's familiarity with Christianity led him to feel that Saivism required a written and revealed set of scriptures that would parallel the Bible's comprehensive authority.

And he believed that the Agama scriptures would serve the purpose because they eliminated the unsavory practices in popular Saivism, even as they gave a sophisticated justification of temple worship.

Writing on Navalar's view of the Agama scriptures, Husdson writes: "On the one hand, the Agama scriptures eliminated some of the popular Shaiva culture, such as animal sacrifices and the worship of malevolent deities and demons, that the missionaries attacked ceaselessly and that had no scriptural basis".

"On the other hand, they provided a sophisticated and profound theological interpretation of temple worship and of the Puranic stories of the gods that nullified the sneers of the missionaries." "Arumuga Navalar believed that the Sanskrit and Tamil scriptures of Agamic Shaivism purified popular and Puranic religion, elevated the ignorant, and inspired the literati." Changes character of Hindu schools With the aid of wealthy persons in both Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu ( with which he was in close touch), Navalar started many schools.

These schools taught Saivism as well as modern subjects to make them relevant to the needs of the modernising world. He discouraged learning by rote, which had been the traditional method in schools, especially religious schools.

He put difficult Saivite poems and commentaries into easily understandable prose, which would also be as elegant and thought provoking as the original. He designed a graded Saivite curriculum.

The other most important contribution of his was the establishment of a Saivite press with a machine he brought at Madras. The press, which started functioning in 1850, churned out Saivite literature and commentaries, and Navalar's own writings in a big way.

According to Hudson, the most dramatic use of the press was the publication of anti-Christian literature between 1852 and 1854. In 1954, came a booklet for effectively countering Christian propaganda, entitled "Abolition of the Abuse of Saivism."

Commenting on this booklet, a missionary wrote in Morning Star that Navalar had shown an "intimate and astonishing" acquaintance with the Holy Bible and that he had "cunningly" defended the rituals, practices and lingam worship of the Saivas "on the authority of our own writings!" The missionary then concluded that it could not be denied that the booklet had "great effect" in favour of Saivisim and against Christianity.

Navalar's tireless work, which included ceaseless traveling, writing, and speaking, had a telling impact on Tamil society in Jaffna.

It revived pride in the traditional religion, reinforced ties with Hindu India, reined in the marauding state-backed missionaries, and sowed the seeds of Tamil nationalism.

Bishop Sabhapathi Kulendran had no option but to admit that it was largely due to Navalar that Christian conversions in Jaffna did not live up to the promise they showed in the early part of the 19th century.

<i>PK Balachandran is Special Correspondent of Hindustan Times in Sri Lanka</i>

Courtesy: www.hindustantimes.com

<!--emo&:cool--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/specool.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='specool.gif' /><!--endemo--> Ancient Hindu Text Preserved by Modern Technology

By Jeanna Bryner
LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 19 September 2006
03:07 pm ET

Hidden in a wooden chest in the heart of a monastery in Udupi, India, an ancient Hindu manuscript has been deteriorating bit by bit over the last 700 years. Now with the help of modern imaging technologies, scientists are illuminating the seemingly invisible Sanskrit.

Once they have brought to light the holy words, the researchers will close the book forever.

The project is led by P.R. Mukund and Roger Easton, both of Rochester Institute of Technology. They are digitally preserving the original Hindu writings known as the Sarvamoola granthas. This collection of 36 works was written by Shri Madvacharya (1238-1317), a philosopher whose ideas had a far-reaching impact on the Indian society.

Madvacharya inscribed in Sanskrit comments on the Hindu scriptures, conveying his Dvaita philosophy of the meaning of life and the role of God.

Crumble to dust

In December 2005, the researchers traveled to the monastery Palimaru to examine the manuscript. Inside a wooden chest, the researchers saw the book's outer wooden covers. Sandwiched between the covers, they found 340 palm leaves, each 26 inches long and 2 inches wide, bound together with braided cord threaded through two holes.

The original inscriptions had become so faded they were barely visible, Mukund told LiveScience.

"It is literally crumbling to dust," Mukund said [image].

He expected some crumbling due to normal wear and tear during seven centuries. But he also found some of the leaves sticking together. Some years ago, Mukund said, a scientist had come up with a preservation technique in which the pages were coated with an oil substance to soften the pages.

"That worked great," Mukund said. Then, the preserver apparently recoated the palm leaves, which Mukund said led to the stickiness.

According to Mukund, 15 percent of the manuscript is missing.

Technology to the rescue

The team returned to the monastery in June and spent six days imaging the palm leaves in infrared, which enhanced the contrast between the ink and the background leaf, which has a high reflectivity in visible light.

The leaves were so delicate and sacred, "They wouldn't let us touch these things. They had scholars who would take one leaf at a time and place it on the table" to be photographed, Mukund said. They snapped at least 10 images of each leaf, using software programs to digitally stitch together the images to look like the original leaf [image].

With this digital treasure chest of photos, Mukund said they hope to store the manuscript in various time-keeping formats, including electronically, in published books and even on silicon wafers for long-term preservation. The promising latter process, in which scientists etch the Sanskrit onto silicon wafers, will not be completed for some time, Mukund said.

In November, the scientists will present the printed and electronic versions of the Sarvamoola granthas to the monastery in Udupi in a public ceremony.

And after all of this probing, the palm-leaf manuscript is secured back into its wooden chest. "They will never open it again," Mukund said.

<b>TTD thinking of launching spiritual channel</b>


The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam, which administers the affairs of
the hill temple of Lord Venkateswara at Tirumala near here, is
thinking of launching a spiritual satellite channel soon, TTD Board
Chairman B Karunakara Reddy said here today.

He told PTI that after in-depth consultations with the experienced
and learned people, the <b>TTD would take a decision to finalize the
language and name of the channel to propagate Hindu culture in a big
way and the temple's daily activities for the benefit of Hindus the
world over</b>.

He also said the TTD has decided to float a trust to tap funds to
meet the cost of the 100 kg of gold to be used in
making 'Tirumangalyams, ' each weighing about one gram, for free
distribution to poor couples during conduct of one lakh mass
marriages performed by the TTD at various TTD marriage halls in
Andhra Pradesh every year.

<b>On February 22 next, the TTD would perform 50,000 marriages in the
state, he added.</b>


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