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Re: A scientific interpretation for Gayathri mantra

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani_at_be.com)
Date: Mon Aug 02 1999 - 14:51:27 PDT

Dear Lakshmi Srinivasan:

This is an interesting conjecture, but can hardly be seriously 
justified. The Gayatri Mantra is a profound prayer addressed to 
the Indweller of the Sun, who is asked to guide our thoughts. If 
the big bang were one of its intended meanings, one would have 
expected the rishis and acharyas of yore who experienced the Gayatri's 
truth first-hand to have mentioned it, at least in an indirect way. 
But they have not, sticking to less far-fetched ways of understanding
the mantra.

The beauty of the Vedas is that it iss easy to extrapolate almost 
anything from some of their more cryptic statements. This is also
why they are problematic, and why one can come with philosophies
that differ as radically as sAnkhyA, advaita, dvaita, and pUrva-mImAmsA,
and viSishtAdvaita.  But for this very reason, it is important to
be very careful. If we are at all interested in the original intent
of the Vedic rishis, it is best that we stick to the canons of 
interpretation adopted by our predecessors.

Re: the praNava (OmkAra) and Amen

Although some (particularly politicians today) are fond of thinking 
that all great thoughts first arose in India, in this particular
case, it is clear that the Judeo-Christian religious word "Amen" has 
no relationship to the praNava.  The only thing common between the
two is that both words have been used to signify acceptance or affirmation, 
something that is common to many languages in the world.  However, this
is where the similarity ends.  To begin with, "Amen" comes from Hebrew, 
which is linguistically unrelated to the Indo-European language family 
to which Sanskrit belongs.  Second, the praNavAkAra is a composite
of 'a', 'u', and 'm', condensed together in the form we commonly know it.  
It would indeed be a strange metamorphosis for a composite syllable 
used so precisely in a religious context and treasured so carefully to 
have transformed into the multisyllabic "amen".

aDiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan
Mani