Idolatry in the Vedas
T.Williams whose arguments we read and saw countered above, wrote a letter to the Editor of the 'Arya Patrika', quoting the verse RV 1.002.01 on vAyu, asserting that it is a sure testimony of idolatry in the Vedas, and questioning Pandit Gurudatta's etymological translation of the verse. Below is an account of how the Pandit and his Editor countered Williams' arguments--with my paraphrases around the key points.
वायवायाहि दर्शतेमे सोमा अरंकृताः ।
तेषां पाहि श्रुधी हवम् ॥१.००२.०१॥
vAyavAyAhi darshateme somA araMkRutAH |
teShAM pAhi shrudhI havam ||1.002.01||
Come O sightly Vayu, these somas are prepared. Drink of them.
Hear our invocation.--T.Williams
The light, mobile, tremor-communicuting, effluvia-carrying medium vAyu extends our vision, nourishes the plants and preserves the equilibrium (between vegetable and animal kingdoms); and as a vehicle for sounds, makes our sounds and those of others, heard.--paNDita gurudatta vidyArthi
The main contention of T.Williams with which he defended his own translation and questioned Pandit GDV's was that his own translation was grammatically (and etymologically) correct, whereas the GDV's was only etymologically right. As a great scholar of Sanskrit and the Scriptures, the Pandit cannot afford to ignore the grammar, but in fact should give priority to it.
Contention of TW
• The 'pAda' form of the verse shows authoratatively that the word 'vAyu', in the vocative case can only be rendered in English as "O Vayu!" The Sanskrit grammar cannot allow any other case.
• Since vAyu is in the vocative, its dependent three verbs are in the imperative, and should only be rendered in English as "O Vayu, come", "O Vayu, drink" and "O Vayu, hear".
• With Datta's authority, which cannot possibly be wrong, if we substitute 'amosphere' for 'vAyu', we get: "0 atmosphere, come--O atmosphere drink--O atmosphere hear."
Thus, even with Datta's authority, this Vedic verse only shows that some simple-minded Arya, ages upon ages ago, thought the atmosphere was a god that would come at his invitation, drink at his request and listen to his call!!
This simple Ayra was of a sociable turn, for the beverage he had prepared for the atmosphere to drink was the exhilarating Soma, so beloved of the gods and of Indra in particular.
Reply by GDV:
• Williams betrays a strange ignorance of Samskrita Grammar here. Besides the fact, that there is nothing in this Mantra to substantiate that the 'soma' is the beverage referred to, there is something to show that the word 'soma' does not mean 'beverage' here.
The Samskrita word are 'ime somAH', which mean 'these somAs'. Now had somA meant, 'beverage', we should have met with the word 'soma' in the Singular number and the qualifying pronoun 'asau' or 'ayam' and not 'ime'. It will not do to say that there may be many kinds of beverage, for although it may be true, 'somA' is one kind of beverage, and hence cannot be spoken in the plural number. To substantiate his view, Mr.Williams should also quote Mantras that deal with the materials of 'somAH' and of their mode of preparation.
• Grammar compels TW to disregard any scientific interpretation of the mantra. So he attributes motives of primitive worship to the 'simple-minded Arya'. Surely it is a "Christian" virtue to attribute motives without the slightest evidence for them.
Why is it that TW does not substantiate his meaning of 'somA' juice the plural number of the word 'somA', together with a plural pronoun 'ime', and the assertion that 'somA' was much beloved of the gods and particularly of Indra?
It is because if he did, and did so honestly he would find his meanings falsified, instead of being substantiated, and himself a mere misrepresenter of Vedic mantras, through fear that if the Vedas turn out to be true, what will become of the almost score-centuried Bible Revelation?
Contention of TW
• I have demonstrated then, by the help of Mr.Guru Datta, that there is Idolatry in the Vedas.
Reply by GDV:
• In the Light 0f TW's logic and learning, the use of a noun signifying anything other than God in the vocative case, and the consequent use of the 2nd person in the depending verbs, etc; or of the imperative mood, is a proof incontestable of Idolatry in a book that so reads.
I quote from Shakespeare "Frailty, thy name is woman," and apply the canons of TW here. Fraitly is in the vocative case, thy is a pronoun in the 2nd person. Hence this verse clearly proves the existence of idolatry in Shakespeare s Hamlet.
Or in Tennyson's 'In Memoriam':
"So careful of the type? but no!
From scarped cliff and quarried stone
She cries, "Athens and types have gone,
I care for nothing, all shall go.
Thou makest thine appeal to me.
I bring to life, I bring to death:
The spirit doth but mean the breath:
I know no more," etc;
where the poet represents Nature as "crying" caring for nothing hearing appeals answering appeals bringing no life bringing to death "knowing" only something, are not these clear indications of idolatry?
O Sorrow, wilt thou live with me,
No casual mistress, but a wife.
My bosom frind and half of life
As 1 confess it need must be;
O Sorrow, thou wilt rule my blood,
Be sometimes lovely like a bride.
And put thy harsher mood aside,
If thou wilt have me wise and good.
Here is sorrow in vocative case, with second person, pronoun, 'thou' represented as capable of living as a wife, as hearing, as confessing, as ruling, as desiring others to be good and wise; and here is poet-laureate appealing to this god in prayer "wilt thou." Can there be anything clearer than this?
It is, indeed, very strange that these and other passages so often occuring in English poetry will be construed neither by T.Williams, nor by any other Christian philologist, but as the result of poetic imagination, and personification; and yet, when even these philologists come across similar passages in the Vedas, they forsake their common sense and at once begin to find idolatry in the sacred books of the 'pagans'.
Contention of TW
Now TW takes a different astra--arrow, and tries to attach GDV's guru svAmi dayAnanda.
• I will begin with the third case, and ask, are 'AyAhi, pAhi and shrudhi' in the second singular, imperative; or are they not?
Every sound grammarian would say they are. The mere tyro in grammar would know that 'AyAhi' is as I have said. It is evidently a Vedic as well as a later Sanskrit form. It cannot possibly be anything else, so YAska, when he quotes this verse (Nir.10,2), does not give the modern equivalent of 'AyAhi' simply because the ancient and modern forms are identical, or, to use technical terms, the word 'AyAhi' is both Naigama and Laukika. But for 'pAhi' and 'shrudhi', YAska does give their modern equivalents and says they mean 'pivahi' (actually it is 'piba'--sd) and 'shriNu'.
Now, Sir, I find 'AyAhi' occurs 64 times in the Rigveda, and 'yahi' 67 times, and in every case they are to be translated as 2nd sing, impv, so that any man that translates otherwise is to be condemned on every hand as violating the plainest grammar and disregarding venerable authority.
Now, I, find that Dayananda Sarasvati renders 'AyAhi' not 'agacchava', but it is to 'agacchati' that he clings. So he gives for 'pAhi', 'rakShayati', and for 'shrudhi', 'shravayati'. The man who dares to say these does so in utter defiance of grammar or authoritative precedent. There is absolutely no justification for such rendering in any shape or way. For a man to treat a book that he professes to revere, in this disgraceful way, stamps him as one utterly unscrupulous.
Reply by GDV:
GDV simply cuts the Gordian knot to this accusation and says:
If in explaining the above lines of Tennyson, a Professor in the Chair of English language, should convert "O Sorrow" into mere "Sorrow," he would be, equally with Dayananda Sarasvati, "violating the plainest grammar and disregarding venerable authority." The English Professor who dares do so in defiance of grammar or authoritative precedent, must be regarded as utterly unscrupulous."
Contention of TW
• Mr.Datta explains nothing about the verbs grammatically, which is extraordinary. If the Veda asserts a thing (as to teach what Atmosphere is), it must employ a verb. But of the three verbs employed in the verse Mr.G.Datta says nothing qua verbs, i.e; he does not discuss their grammar in the least; and as with the verbs so with the nouns. The grammar is not discussed in the least. Why is this?
It is because if he did and did so honestly, he could not regard the verse as a scientific statement of any sort whatever, for, grammar would compel him to represent the verse, as the simple prayer of a simple-minded Arya, whose rude conceptions of a God were no higher than that of regarding the atmosphere around us something divine, that might come at his call, drink of the soma he had prepared, and listen to his call.
Mr.Guru Datta makes the science, he asserts the Rigveda contains, depend not upon grammar and authoritative rendering, (such as YAska), but upon etymology; and the futility of this as regards its securing for the Rigveda any extraordinary credit, I have already shown when I demonstrated that Vayu, air and wind, have exactly the same connotation, so that what may be claimed for the one, may, with equal right, be claimed for the three.
• Mr.Editor, there is an axiom of Panini, 'bahulam Chandasi', which occurs in his grammar some 18 times. Now this axiom or sutra would seem to be the Magna Charta of Dayananda and his followers, for, it means in the hands of unscrupulous people, that the Veda may mean just what any one may choose to make it mean; and so becomes not merely 'bahulam' but 'bavala'.
Reply by GDV:
• The charge is uttery unfounded, and only proves the 'bavala' of the writer of the charge.
Reply by Editor, AP:
The Editor clinches the issue by saying that the quotes from the works of poets given by Pandit Gurudatta might not be enough for a person like T.Williams, who as a man of faith would require something directly from the "inspired writings" to inculcate the rankest idolatry for what Mr.Williams cares.
To please Mr. Williams we open the word of God and, after a minute's looking over, light on the following edifying passages:
"Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors: and the king of glory shall come in."--David's Psalms, Psalm XXIII. Verse 9.
"Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands."--D, PS.P.LXVI.V.I.
"Why leap ye, high hills?"--David's Psalms, Psalm LXVII.
We leave it to Mr.Williams to say whether or not the Bible, inculcates idol-worship according to his mode of finding out idolatry in another man's sacred book.
How adament, aggressive and desperate should have been the Christian Missionaries of the collonial days who ruled us for 200 years under the guise of a political government? With their pseudo-scholarship of Sanskrit, they never hesitated to make a mountain of a mohehill and a molehill of a real mountain. All that because they couldn't digest the superiority of the Hindu Scriptures over their Bible in every area of man's holistic life that should be lived in harmony with Nature and his Creator.
For the Europeans with their just 2000 year old civilization marred by religious wars to establish the monopoly of Christianity, it was a real panic to find the Hindu Civilization and Scriptures to be far far precedent and antecedent in time to the Biblication concept of creation of the world by God, hardly 6,000 years ago.
This tendency of condemning anything other than Christian, specially the Hindu texts and values, is even much more aggressive, albeit in subtler and meaner forms of expression today in general all over the world, although there might be specific cases of genuine study and research.
The Hindus must therefore have no option but to learn Sanskrit, read their texts using Hindu translations and research them on the lines indicated by Dayananda Sarasvati, Gurudatta, Aurobindo, KL Kashyap, Kapali Shastry and many others, and spread the true knowledge that was prevalent during the Vedic times using the expressions of that age.