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Re : mahabharat

In article <32bqjb$8f6@ucunix.san.uc.edu>  
susarla@great-gray.owlnet.rice.edu (H. Krishna Susarla) writes:
> Jaldhar Vyas (jvyas@ritz.mordor.com) wrote:
> : : Study of history (Mahabharat) may not benefit a dhaarmik directly.
> : or at all.
> :  
> : : However, it may help him/her understand the text better, and  
> : : may strengthen and enhance his/her belief and reverence for the 
> : : personalities (Gods?) in it...
> : This is the problem.  "Modern" Hindus are weak in faith.  They think  
> : being "scientific" will bolster their faith but in fact it will only 
> : accelerate their decline into atheism.

Jaldhar is absolutely right here. If you have full faith, the historicity  
of Krishna should not affect it at all. If you do not, I do not see how  
proving the historicity of Krishna is going to increase it. Such  
historicity is based upon so called "scientific" proof, something that  
ultimately argues against faith. We all accept that Krishna was an avatar.  
Does it make any difference to such acceptance whether Krishna lived  
yesterday or 5000 or even 15000 years ago? 

> And how is that? If science proves that the Vedic literature is correct,
> it would seem to me that this would strengthen the faith of Hindus. On  
> other hand, if we let this view that Lord Krishna and other great 
> personalities were myths go unchallenged, we leave ourselves open to 
> conversion to religions with more 'historical' prophets, or degenerate  
> atheism. With that in mind, why are you so afraid of looking for  
evidence of > historical authenticity of the scriptures? 

Why this basic insecurity about being converted to other religions with  
more historical prophets? Their very historicity goes against their  
acceptance in exchange to the sanatana dharma that our religion claims to  
be. If people still convert, for whatever reason, well so much the better  
for them. They will at least be entering a religion that is more  
consistent with their limited views. If you point out the basic fact of  
the eternality that we claim is central to our religion, that should be  
the most effective argument against conversion. No amount of scientific  
proof about the historicity or otherwise of our scriptures can do that. 

Let me take the liberty of restating the basic position here. It is not  
fear of looking into the historical authenticity of the scriptures. The  
point is the ultimate irrelevance of the whole exercise. Why do you want  
science to prove that Vedic literature is correct? And what do you  
classify as Vedic literature? If it is Sruti, well, it contains  
philosophical insights that no science can disprove. If it is Smrti, well,  
only those Smrtis that are not opposed to Sruti are acceptable. Such is  
the view even of ancient Indians. If you also start including the Puranas,  
science, or more precisely logic, tells you that most have been composed  
so late in time, and some of them are so fanciful as to be almost entirely  
fiction. Will this automatically make you an atheist? Or will you argue  
against your own logic that science must be wrong, and your favorite  
Purana or Tantra must be right? In which case, the science hasn't really  
affected your faith, has it? Also, which Puranas do you take and which do  
you leave out? The Saiva Puranas are utterly opposed to the Vaishnava  
Puranas in most details that both cannot be right at the same time! Take  
the case of the spurious "allahopanishad" and the "yesu upanishad".  
Seriously, tell me, are you willing to quote these as "evidence" and claim  
that Islam and Christianity originally come from Hinduism?!!

Jaldhar has made this point repeatedly, that such is the view not of the  
Westerners, but of very Indian Meemaamsakas, who lived some 1200 years  
before the white man ever came into India. These people, who lived much  
before any important Vedantins came into the picture, dismiss these as  
arthavada - ultimately mere fluff. The Vedantins also accept this position  
of the Meemaamskas. The Puranas are good, beautiful stories that operate  
on the levels of metaphor, allegory and pedagogy. Do not expect more  
consistency in these texts than there actually is. Look for the  
entertainment, the moral instruction, and the ethical values they  

About the Itihasas, however, I think there could be some small point to  
the historical inquiry. For the ancient classifiers themselves are telling  
us something here, by classifying them separately. Itihasas are probably  
more historical than the Puranas are. There are also the known attempts of  
astronomers of old to date the Mahabharata. So let us forget totally about  
any historical details in the Puranas and also take the findings of our  
"historical researches" into the Itihasas with large doses of salt. Let us  
also not expect that these findings will in any way increase or decrease  
our faith! 

S. Vidysankar

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