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Re: Chronology of Hindu Literatures

From: Lakshmi Srinivas (nsrinivasa_at_excite.com)
Date: Thu Feb 17 2000 - 11:11:57 PST

>  From: narayanan.k.m@in.pwcglobal.com
>  
>   there are many posts on date of mahabarata, life span of alwan etc.
>   i strongly suggest to our members not to get in to trap of "maculay
mindedness"

It is not very clear what Sri Narayanan means by the term "Macaulay
mindedness". It should be remembered that Westerners subject the Bible etc
to the same kind of relativist, scientific scrutiny. Not all of them studied
under the Macaulay system of education :-) 

A few Sanskrit texts that I have read also indicate that our own acharyas
and elders were very much scientific in their approach. For example, the
first few sentences of Agamapramanyam by Sri Alavandar invites the reader to
listen with an open mind and then make up his mind. The entire text is an
exercise in logic rather than anything else. The reader's reasoning
faculties and to a much lesser extent faith, are appealed to rather than
faith alone or a sectarian predisposition. 

Sri Desika's Paramatabhangam does not sound very different from the point of
view of scientific inquiry. There in conclusion (after establishing that
Visistadvaita alone is a logically consistent system) Sri Desika says that
he has attempted to discuss all the religions (darsanas) known to him. If
any new ones are brought to his attention, he'll inquire into them the same
way. If they sound similar to Visistadvaita, he's prepared to accept them,
otherwise they're subject to refutation in the same manner.  

It seems to me that top thinkers in Indian history were very scientific and
free spirited. For example, even Sriman Nathamuni when he had to collect
some remaining verses of the TVM was refered to a local artisan in Kurukur.
Prapannamrutam says that he learnt those verses from him. Perhaps an
ordinary brahmin would not have on the grounds that it was infra dig. 

Even Kalidasa says in his opening sloka in Malavikagnimitram that "Just
because a work is old doesn't mean it's good ... the learned evaluate for
themselves the merit of a work  whereas the stupid accept the opinion of
others without question". That's in response to the sutradhara being asked
"Why are you staging this new playwright's play? Can't you get somebody more
established?". Malavika is Kalidasa's first play.  Looks like in the realm
of literature too, people didn't blindly accept reputed works alone as good.


In conclusion, a spirit of enquiry is not a western invention or even a
western monopoly. Also, one may be a good scientist while being firm in
one's faith.  This is clearly demonstrated by Ramanujan, KS Krishnan, CV
Raman and also Einstein. 

Thanks and Warm Regards, 




Lakshmi Srinivas





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