Monday, March 17, 2008

Vedas, Syrian Christians – Comments on a comment

I don’t know how many people would be interested in reading this potentially controversial post. Initially I thought of ignoring the only comment on my post Vedas, Syrian Christians but finally decided to respond, for the matter of record.

The visitor begins his lengthy comment thus: “For a start, Wikipedia is not a serious reference. We academics discourage it as a source as the information about any topic is not refereed for authenticity.”

This reminded me of a story about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Once, on reaching Paris, he took a cab to his hotel. The driver told him that it was an honor to have the creator of Sherlock Holmes as his passenger. Sir Arthur was impressed and started thinking of the process of deduction by which the driver had found his identity. Then he asked the driver and the man replied, “The name is written on your box.”

Wikipedia itself mentions its status as reference source. See But the encyclopedia can be used effectively sometimes to quickly locate and verify genuine sources. Anyway, my Blog posts are not dissertations for Masters but I do take care not to include wrong information.

Was the man who made the comment piqued by my statement that the Vedas existed for long in oral tradition before being reduced to writing? He says that the same was the case with the Bible. Wonder if he has come across this piece: “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. That is a Christian reading. What is important is the ‘word’ – written or spoken.

It is good to know that the visitor, his father and several others known to him or he read about, faced no problems in learning English. That information is directly linked to the subject. But were there restrictions on Pundits learning English elsewhere?

Appan.’s first cousin PV Mathew Tharakan was scholarly in Sanskrit and Malayalam, good at English, and a patron of Carnatic music. (Obviously, the writ of the Church didn’t run in certain quarters.) He spent the last 15 years of his life in creating a new translation of Shakuntalam but being a perfectionist, couldn’t cover much ground.

A tail piece. Today’s Deccan Chronicle carries a report that according to a senior scientist, Gajiwala Kalpesh, Sanskrit can be an effective tool for evaluating speech disorders. This is because of the orderly and scientific arrangement of alphabets in the language.


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