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October 23,2002

 

 A RESPONSE TO  “ SHOULD MANTRAS BE RECITED IN TAMIL OR SANSKRIT?”  (Circle Digest #2896) 
 
My friend Shan Ranjit has metamorphosed unashamedly as the champion of  the dead language Sanskrit. He must have read some of the propaganda stuff coming out of   Hindutuwa outfits like the VHP, RSS and BJP these days! I surmise next time around Shan Ranjit is going to make the preposterous claim that Vedic mathematics was behind the invention of radio, TV, aeroplanes, space satellites, computers etc etc.

I am starting to wonder under what tree he sat to gain this type of wisdom or  ‘gnanam’!  He is wading into areas in which even fools will fear to tread! 

In the piece he wrote on the subject “VARNA SYSTEM (CASTE) OF VEDAS: IS IT JUSTIFIED?” (Circle Digest-September 27,2002)  he lamely attempted to whitewash the sins of Varnachcharama Dharma by putting a bizarre spin on the interpretation of the word Varna. He pompously claimed "Nothing more, nothing less! People who do not understand this give different interpretations and find fault with the Vedas or its author- God. It is an unintelligent and selfish group of people with narrow ideals and psychotic mentality, who expounded their own theory and version for this. It is they who had brought great harm and disgrace to the Varna system of the Vedas.” 

If god is indeed the author of Vedas why it  exist only in India? Is there more than one god since humans are found in other continents as well?
 
Now he has followed with another long rigmarole  “ SHOULD MANTRAS BE RECITED IN TAMIL OR SANSKRIT?”  (Circle Digest #2896)
 
Here too he is giving  skewed interpretation for the word Mantra viz ‘Ma’ means manana and  ‘Thra’ means saving. It means that one, which saves the man caught up in the coils of this wordy life which is infested with death, grief and pain.”
 
He also states “There have been fierce debates among the Tamils, especially in Tamil Nadu, that the Mantras that are chanted at the Hindu Temples be said only in Tamil. However, the most of the Mantras are in Sanskrit. Is it right and justified that these Mantras be translated in Thamil, and then chanted at the temples? What will be the consequences of such translated mantras? Will such translated Tamil Mantras still retain the "power" that these Mantras are intended for?”
 
Obviously Shan Ranjit’s has no knowledge of TholkAppiyam, Thirumanthiram,   Thirumurai etc. He has not studied the Thevaarams sung by the four Saivait Saints that are included in the Thirumurai (Books 1-8).  If he did (probably not since he is not proficient in Thamil) he would not have lamented,  “What will be the consequences of such translated mantras? Will such translated Tamil Mantras still retain the "power" that these Mantras are intended for?”
 
But Shan Ranjit is contradicting himself when he also says, “It is wrong to argue that Sanskrit is superior to Tamil and vice versa. Both are ancient languages and offers immense benefits to the people through their scriptures” but then goes on to say that “My suggestion is that the Hindu temples continue chanting the mantras in Sanskrit only.” As I said earlier this is skewed logic.
 
Tradition has it that God Siva  himself created both Thamil and Sanskrit languages. He is also credited with teaching Thamil to Agaththiyar. So why should he prefer Sanskrit to Thamil?   It is ridiculous to argue God has preference for any particular language. He is no God if he does!
 
There was a time when Latin was the preferred language of  Christianity (Catholicism)  for worship in England. But when King Henry V111 fell out with Rome and founded the (Protestant)  Church of England, he ordered that services in Churches should be in English only on pain of disrobing the clerics  who failed to comply with the order. Till today English remains the language of worship and not Latin in England. And for all intents and purposes  god seems to have not objected to the new language.  
 
Shan Ranjit should know that archchanai in Thamil is becoming very common in Thamil Nadu. More than 1800 temples performed Kudamulukku (Kumbha Abishegam)  in Thamil with no ill effects!
 
As a matter of fact in the famous Murugan temples at Kathirgaamam, Chelvachchannathy, Mandur and Thirukkovil there is no archchanai in Sanskrit or Thamil by Brahmins. Archchanai is performed by Thamil poosaarys after tying their mouth with a piece of cloth! Any Saivait devotee will tell  Shan Ranjith that there is more ‘arul’ in these temples than all others combined!
 
There are thousands of temples in villages in Thamil Nadu and Thamil Eelam where there are no Sanskrit or Brahmins. Does that mean according to Shan Ranjit those who worship in these temples are imbeciles? That in the absence of Sanskrit there is no “power” or  “energy field” present and therefore by inference the devotees are simply worshipping granite stones?
 
Again Shan Ranjit is totally mistaken when he says there is  attempt to translate the Sanskrit Mantras into Thamil. What is attempted or done is to extract sayings from the Thirumurai and compile them into Mantras to be chanted in temples by the priests. It was Dr. Mu. Thamilkudimagan, ex- Minister who held the portfolio for Thamil Language. Thamil Culture, Hinduism and Temple Trusts under the DMK government (1995-2001) responsible for compiling these Mantrams.  These “POtrip Paadalkal” compiled by Saivait scholars was officially released by the Thamil Nadu government in 1998. 
 
As for the so-called “power” of the Mantras contained in Sanskrit, I ask my friend in all earnest why such a “powerful” language is now DEAD? What happened to the tall claim,   “The vibrations that emanate from the mantras have energy that draws the divine closer to the devotee? The vibrations from the mantras have the power to redress and cure all our ills”? Why this energy could not save Sanskrit from extinction as a spoken language where as Thamil language, which he derogates has no “power” remained and remains a vibrant living language over a period of more than  2,500 years?
 
For the information of my friend the word “Mantrams” has been defined by ThokAppiyar in TholkAppiyam 2,500 years ago! He says “Mantrams” are words uttered by faultless individuals with subtle meanings!  And in Thamil we have Thirumanthiram written by Thirumoolar that contains 3,000 Mantrams!
 
According to Thevaarams, it was Thamil and NOT Sanskrit that raised the long dead Poompaavai (never heard?) from the ashes! Again it was Thamil NOT Sanskrit which opened and shut the long locked doors of the Sivan temple in Thiruveezhimalai!   

Shan Ranjit says with tongue in cheek  that " Tamil Nationalists become too emotional and turn Tamil nationalism to Tamil fanatism." If that is so is Ramalinga Adigalar a fanatic when he says he is thankful to God for His grace in gifting him to sing His   praise in Thamil and not in Sanskrit?  Does Shan Ranjit knows who he is? Has he read his Arudpaa?  

The word “Om” which my friend is gleefully citing is a Thamil word and NOT Sanskrit. There is no ‘O” sound in Sanskrit!
 
Saivait Saint Gnanasampanthar has sung 4,195 Thevaarams, and in 147 places he calls himself “Thamizh Gnanasampanthan” NOT Sanskrit Gnanasampanthan! Is he also a fanatic? And mind you Gnanasampanthar is a Brahmin!
 
In his time (7th century) Senthamizhar were performing temple worship in Thamil and NOT Sanskrit!
 
Till the 17th century, archchanai in Palani temple was conducted by Pandaarams in Thamil NOT Sanskrit. It was Divan Raamappa Iyer who was serving under the Vijayanagara King Thirumalai Nayakkar (AD 1623-1659) gave orders for the ouster of Thamil Pandaarams and installed Brahmins in their place!
 
Shan Ranjith sounds like an educated illiterate when he claims, “The classic example of the potent vibration (energy) in Mantras is the GAYTHRI MANTRA. It is the Mantra of Mantras. If you have to know only one Mantra, it is this one. I challenge any one to say the Gaythri Mantra with all sincerity at least three times - sunrise, noontime, and sunset - and see the benefits for themselves.” If this is true why we have hospitals, clinics, doctors, nurses etc? We can close all these paraphernalia and just ask patients to recite the “Mantra of Mantras!”
 
I do concede that words when spoken produce sound waves. But their effect is very minimal.   But to lay claim “Saying a word actually produces physical vibration. If this is combined with mental intent, the results are stunning and amazing” is a load of rubbish! It cannot even light up a 10 watts bulb. For that you need energy in the form of electricity! The smuggling of idols out of India is big business after thieves broke open temples with impunity without any "stunning and amazing" after effects!  
 
Shan Ranjit makes the tall claim “The purpose of this Mantra is to seek the blessing to lead a good life at all times, in all places - heaven, earth and nether region,” but none of these has helped India.
 
When the Mogul king Gajani Mohamed ransacked and looted the Somnath temple, the powerful gods could not do a damn to prevent the sacrilege. To add insult to injury Gajani Mohamed carried away the idols and used them in his palace as stepping-stones!
 
Closer home more than 500 Hindu temples were destroyed by the marauding Sinhala army in the Northeast between 1983 and now. Powerful Mantras, Sanskrit, Vedas could not  help prevent such destruction? When the destruction took place where were all your powerful gods? Don’t say the Brahmin priests did not offer regular poojas and recite properly the Mantrams? The ordinary people did not offer regular poojas and offerings, conducted regular festivals, bathed them in milk, ghee, curd and coconut water (a complete and criminal waste)?
 
Shan Ranjit says, “ Having said that, it is also foolish for the Tamil to reject Sanskrit; this is an ancient universal language that should be studied. If you hate Sanskrit, you only hate your self, because this language reveals the Divine secrets about one self.”
Pray what divine secrets? The Sanskrit authors of Vedas did not know the earth was round!  They did not know that it was the earth that was orbiting around the sun and not vice-versa! They did not know the geography of the earth, the 5 oceans and the 5 continents!  

They did not know the anatomy of the body like the heart pumping blood and blood circulation? They did not know the cure for such deadly diseases like cancer (Both Ramana Maharishi and Ramakrishna Parmahamsa died of cancer!)   Polio, plague, tuberculosis, Diabetes, Osteoporosis, Alzheimer's etc. 

Finally it is in the land of the Vedas that you find the largest number of blind people due to lack of vitamins, people suffering from leprosy due to insanitation and  tuberculosis due to poverty. Beggars begging and sleeping in the streets in Kolkata alone number more than 14 million! 
 
The Vedas (Not Upanishads) are the jabberings of the immigrant Aryan primitive people from Central Asia and Russia to elements like water, fire, earth, ether and wind and   imploring them to destroy the Dasus (Dravidians, the indigenous people) and in turn offering Soma (an intoxicant) to appease them. All the prominent gods of Rig Veda like Indran, Agni, Varunan etc have fallen from grace and other gods like Siva and Vishnu have emerged as foremost gods. But these gods also will oneday end up in museums like the great Roman and Greek gods!
 
What in essence Shan Ranjit is trying is to drag the Thamil people back to the dark ages where they remained illiterate, downtrodden and untouchable. When Thamil language was dubbed as “Neesha Pasha” (Kaanchi Sangarachchari still does) that will   pollute the temple!   

Periyar is the greatest thinker, next only to Thiruvalluvar,  in the history of Thamils who opened the eyes of Thamils and instilled in them an inquiring mind, a sense of self-respect and love  for  Thamil language and culture. This he did by debunking bogus Vedas, gods, godmen and teaching the religion of rationalism to the   Thamils.  

He asked the Thamils to think rationally and act wisely! It is due to his untiring and selfless efforts that Thamils of Thamil Nadu were able to acquire self-respect and knowledge, which is power. In short he strode the political and historical scene of the 20th century Thamil Nadu like a colossus.  At the time of independence in 1947, 90% of the Thamils were illiterate. In comparison 99% of the Brahmins were literate!  
 
I hope Shan Ranjit will keep his latest ‘scientific discovery’ on Sanskrit to himself! It is total nonsense to claim that a dead language like Sanskrit enjoys the status of   a universal language not to speak of divinity, power, vibrations etc. etc. 

 

Nakkeeran