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From: Thirumalai Anandanpillai (
Date: Sun Feb 01 1998 - 17:24:56 PST

Dear bhagavathaas,

     I beg you pardon for responding to this non-SV issue on the list.
But, after reading the following article, I felt that it was necessary to
present the right picture. After all, tamizh is half of ubhaya vEdAntam,
and what makes SriVaishnavam unique is the devotional paasurams of the
AzhvArs and the lucid commentaries of our AchAryAs on the pAsurams.

Sri. BElur dAsarathy quotes from an article:

> Can the language fanatics achieve the beauty of these lines in any
> other language? Of course not!" hissed a Sanskrit lover angrily.
> Irrespective of the caste they belong to, irrespective of the class
> they belong to, the rest of the Sanskrit bhakta (devotee) clan echoed
> similar sentiments.

The beauty of the language, as perceived by the listener very much
dependson the listener. Let us not make any decisions for others.  It
however, make sense to me that the more one understands a language, the
more the appreciation is for that language. So, if one does not understand

sanskrit, the beauty of the verses quoted above may not mean anything to
the person listening.

> Tamilians, as a whole, are militantly passionate about their language
> and culture.

Fiction. The above is the common misconception that people
outsidetamizhnAdu have. The fact is that tamizh is a very very unique,
language that has managed to retain its identity, probably more so than
other south Indian languages. There is little need for an average tamilian

to know Sanskrit/Hindi. We SriVaishnavites try to learn sanskrit because
of our sampradAyam. The people of tamizhnAdu are passionate about
our language and culture, but so are the people from any other

> And it was expected that the Tamil people would sing
> hosannas about state Tamil Development Minister Tamilkudi Magan's
> instruction that all temples in Tamil Nadu would henceforth perform
> archanas (prayers) in Tamil, instead of the original Sanskrit. But 99
> per cent of those I spoke to (and I spoke to nearly 50 people) were
> none too happy with the interference of politicians in religious
> matters. And they expressed both their hostility and unhappiness in
> very strong terms.

Who were the people interviewed? Was there any bias in those people?On a
*broad generalized*  note, I personally may find tamizh archanas much
more meaningful than samskrit archanas because I can understand them.
How does the author of this article expect someone who has no knowledge
of sanskrit to appreciate for example, the purusha suktham, more than
let us say - the mudhal thiruvandhAdhi?

> "Devotion is not bound by language. What is important is the
> satisfaction a devotee gets by listening to the chanting of the
> mantras (hymns) in Sanskrit. No other language in the world can
> imitate the resonance of this chanting or replicate its soul-stirring
> effect. This decision by the government is utter nonsense. How is it
> that these people, who do not believe in God, are suddenly interested
> in what happens within the precincts of a temple? They should leave
> these matters to those who believe in the Almighty."

The satisfaction that a devotee gets probably will be much more if
s/heunderstands what is being said. The 'resonance' aspect is a personal
statement that should not be used for generalizations.

> On a more
> practical note, he strongly feels tradition should not be dishonoured
> or abandoned.

This, I do agree with. However, one has to note that if emperumAnAr hadnot
broken with the brahminical traditions, we would not have our

> Besides, he believes none of the people who go to a
> temple actually listen to the mantras since they are too immersed in
> communicating their problems to God.

In sanskrit, I presume!.

>  "The essence of the words are lost when Sanskrit is
> translated into Tamil because Tamil is just not as rich a language,
> not does it have as many alphabets. I know Sanskrit, and Tamil is my
> mother tongue. But when I read certain translations, I find my
> language lacking in many things. So, it is better to do the archana in
> Sanskrit itself.

The above is a very very misleading statement.  The translation of
something intotamizh is a function of how knowledgeable the translator is
in tamizh and
the language from which s/he is translating, and the eloquence that s/he

Let us all try to keep things in perspective. The above is an article
probably aimed at government poking its nose into temple affairs. I just
want to caution bhagavathaas from reading too much into / inferring
anything from the
above article vis-a-vis tamizh/sanskrit.