Sunday, June 2, 2013

From ‘Light from the Orient. Essays on the impact of India's sacred literature in the west’ by Swami Tathagatananda

Sanskrit is the linguistic wonder from India whose form and purity remain unspoiled. It has kept its original, unchanged structure over many centuries.

Max Muller wrote:

And in that study of the history of the human mind, in that study of ourselves, of our true selves, India occupies a place second to no other country. Whatever sphere of the human mind you may select for your special study, whether it be language, or religion, or mythology, or philosophy, whether it be laws or customs, primitive art or primitive science, everywhere, you have to go to India, whether you like it or not, because some of the most valuable and most instructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India, and India only.

Professor Clement Webb ……….

With its traditions of periodically repeated incarnations of the deity in the most diverse forms, its ready acceptance of any and every local divinity or founder of a sect or ascetic devotee as a manifestation of God, its tolerance of symbols and legends of all kinds, however repulsive or obscene by the side of the most exalted flights of world-renouncing mysticism, it could perhaps more easily than any othe faith develop, without loss of continuity with its past, into a universal religion which would see in every creed a form suited to some particular group or individual, of the universal aspiration after one Eternal Reality, to whose true being the infinitely various shapes in which it reveals itself to, or conceals itself from men are all alike indifferent.

Max Muller said:

….If the Vedas….were composed about 1500 B.C., and if it is a fact that considerable works continue to be written in Sanskrit even now, we have before us a stream of literary activity extending over three thousand four hundred years. With the exception of China there is nothing like this in the whole world.

Prof.Jean Lee Mee …..Precious or durable materials ….have been used by most ancient peoples in an attempt to immortalize their achievements. Not so, however, with the ancient Aryans.They turned to what may seem the most volatile and insubstantial material of all – the spoken word – and, out of this bubble of air, fashioned a monument which more than thirty, perhaps forty, centuries later stands untouched by time or the elements. For the Pyramids have been eroded by the desert wind, the marble broken by earthquakes, and the gold stolen by robbers, while the Veda remains, recited daily by an unbroken chain of generations, travelling like a great wave through the living substance of the mind.

…etymology of the term Purana is pura api navam, “ever old and ever new.”

George Grieson …..about the Tulsidas Ramayana, …..wrote: “I have never met a person who has read it in the original and who was not impressed by it as a work of great genius.”

Sir Monier-Monier Williams … “The Panini grammar reflects the wondrous capacity of the human brain, which till today no other country has been able to produce except India.”

…in the words of Sir Monier-Monier Williams, who was “ordinarily imperialistic in his attitude toward India”….but who had a true feeling for Hinduism…. wrote

….it is a remarkable characteristic of Hinduism that it neither requires not attempts to make converts. Nor is it at present by any means decreasing in numbers nor is it being driven out of the field by two such proselytysing religions as Mahomedanism [sic] and Christianity. On the contrary, it is at present rapidly increasing. And far more remarkable than this is that, it is all-receptive, all-embracing and all-comprehensive. It claims to be the one religion of humanity – of human nature, of the entire world. It cares not to oppose the progress of Christianity nor of any other religion. For it has no difficulty in including all other religions within its all embracing arms and ever widening fold. And in real fact Hinduism has something to offer which is suited to all minds. Its very strength lies in its infinite adaptability to the infinite diversity of human minds, characters and human tendencies. It has its highly spiritual and abstract side suited to the philosophical higher classes. Its practical and concrete side suited to the man of affairs and the man of the world. Its aesthetic and ceremonial side suited to the man of poetic feeling and imagination. Its quiescent and contemplative side suited to the man of peace and the lover of seclusion.

In The Case for India Will Durant writes:

Let us remember …that India was the motherland of our race and Sanskrit is the mother of Europe’s languages; that she was the mother of our philosophy; mother, through the Arabs, of much of our mathematics; mother, through Buddha, of the ideals embodied in Christianity; mother, through the village community; of self government and democracy. Mother India is in many ways the mother of us all.

Sir Monier-Monier Williams, wrote ….

The Sanskrit grammarians were the first to analyse word-forms, to recognize the difference between root and suffix, to determine the functions of suffixes, and on the whole to elaborate a grammatical system so accurate and complete as to be unparalleled in any other country.

Albrecht Friedrich Weber …wrote ….that Panini’s grammar was “superior to all similar works of other countries, by the thoroughness with which it investigates the roots of the language and the formations of its words.”

The language of the Vedas was called Samskrta (Sanskrit) or “perfected” only after Panini’s time, an acknowledgement of its high spiritual evolution. Prior to that it had been called Prakrtas, or “natural,” to indicate its more naturally evolved dialects.

A. L. Basham …. there is no doubt that Panini’s grammar is one of the greatest intellectual achievements of any ancient civilization, and the most detailed and scientific grammar composed before the 19th century in any part of the world.

Max Muller ….wrote….

Sanskrit literature …is full of human interests, full of lessons which even Greek could never teach us …Sanskrit literature allows you an insight into strata of thought deeper than any you have known before, and rich in lessons that appeal to the deepest sympathies of the human heart….

I may perhaps be able [to show] how imperfect our knowledge of universal history, our insight into the development of the human intellect, must always remain, if we narrow our horizon to the history of the Greeks and Romans, Saxons and Celts, with a dim background of Palestine, Egypt and Babylon, and leave out of sight our nearest intellectual relatives, the Aryas of India, the framers of the most wonderful language, the Sanskrit, the fellow-workers in the construction of our fundamental concepts, the fathers of the most natural of natural religions, the makers of the most transparent of mythologies, the inventors of the most subtle philosophy, and the givers of the most elaborate laws.

“If I were asked,” Muller once said, “what I considered the most important discovery of the nineteenth century with respect to the ancient history of mankind, I should answer by the following short line: Sanskrit Dyaus Pitar = Greek Zeus Pater = Latin Jupiter = Old Norse Tyr.”

Max Muller …..

If I were to look over the whole world to find out the country most richly endowed with all the wealth, power, and beauty that nature can bestow – in some parts a very paradise on earth – I should point to India. If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most fully developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered on the greatest problems of life, and has found solutions of some of them which well deserve the attention even of those who have studied Plato and Kant – I should point to India. And if I were to ask myself from what literature we, here in Europe, we who have been nurtured almost exclusively on the thoughts of Greeks and Romans, and of one Semitic race, the Jewish, may draw that corrective which is most wanted in order to make our inner life more perfect, more comprehensive, more universal, in fact more truly human, a life, not for this life only, but a transfigured and eternal life – again I should point to India.

Max Muller …..

A chosen religion is always stronger than an inherited religion.

Qadi Sa’id (1029-1070 A.D.), an Arab scientist of Cordova, Moorish Spain, wrote:

The first nation [that has cultivated the sciences] is [that of the people of] India who form a nation vast in numbers, powerful, with great dominions. All former kings and past generations have acknowledged their wisdom and admitted their pre-eminence in the various branches of knowledge …. Among all the nations, during the course of the centuries and throughout the passage of time, India was known as the mine of wisdom and the fountainhead of justice and good government, and Indians were credited with excellent intellect, exalted ideas, universal maxims, rare inventions, and wonderful talents.

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