Aproposal has been mooted to set up an indigenously developedlibrary to generate verified, authentic English translations of almost all important scriptures available in Sanskrit.This pioneering project would also lay the foundation stoneof original Sanskrit works that would enhance the appreciation and cultivation of the Vedic knowledge. Currently, there exists a colossal deficit in our educational system as well as contemporaryresearchabout the Vedic evolution and education, which irrefutably is the nucleus of our nation.In due course, with the mobilizationof a high-quality, exhaustiveliterature and grammar productions, this effort would fill theprevailing gap with a continuous outflow in the various educational systems of our country and even the world.
India can best develop herself and serve humanity by being herself and following the law of her own nature.
Frombeing the one of world's largest economy with a thriving social, cultural and academic environment—the once-famed ‘golden bird’—India become a nation struggling with chronic poverty and socio-cultural apathy.The reality of India today is a paradox: A developing country desirous of dignity among the modern nations,yet the quest for wealth is limited to a want of material riches, not animating the life or illumining the thought with treasures of spiritual, scholastic and artistic inheritence.
Currently, the Indian mind seems to be going through a bankruptcy of original thought, forced to survive on borrowings of the majoritarian, populist reviews. Since independence and even earlier, Indian life seems a confusion of crumbling societal norms and traditions, impoverished of a thriving spirit and of clumsy imitation of the misplaced westernconception of social well-being and progress.An borrowed idea of a nationhas no hope of revival.
The Wealth of the Infinite
The Banyan tree of Indian culture has sprouted from thespiritual and psychological seedof the Veda. The stock of Veda consists of the ‘deepest psychic and spiritual experiences of which the human soul is capable’,and the inexhaustible fund of the infinite, scientific and systematic chronicles which have been the backbone of immense discoveries and inventions India has contributed to the world. The Upanishads are an extension of this grand endowmentand development of this seed in soul and thought.
A land of mountains and wide sun-beat plains And giant rivers pacing to vast seas, A field of creation and spiritual hush, Silence swallowing life’s acts into the deeps, Of thought’s transcendent climb and heavenward leap, A brooding world of reverie and trance, Filled with the mightiest works of God and man, Where Nature seemed a dream of the Divine And beauty and grace and grandeur had their home, Harboured the childhood of the incarnate Flame. -Sri Aurobindo(from SAVITRI)
Recovery of the National Self-possession
Thought leaders and visionaries such as Sri Aurobindo had initially hoped that the pressure and inhumanity of the colonial rule would invoke the spirit of nationalism that would follow the work of renaissance and resurgence. Though the cry of ‘VandeMataram’ awoke the love for the Motherland (Bhavani Bharati) in that intense period of August 1905 within Bengal, its flame could not reach the pinnacle of intensity in the entire nation that could have accomplished a swiftawakening. Perhaps, the necessary aspiration was left wanting in the general populace. The recovery of national self-respect can only arise in two ways:
- Through the harder way of a national crisis of survival that would make that invocation imperative. OR
- Through the softer way of educating ourselves, to ignite that flame of self-development.
This proposal of VANDEMATARAM Library is aspired to be an enabling step in the direction of educating ourselves to our national revival.
We cannot go backward to a past form of our being, but we can go forward to a large repossession of ourselves...
However, this does not mean revertingcompletely to the ancient systems. The original spirit is a necessity while systems are of secondary importance, adaptable and dispensable. The first order of business for the national spirit is to take charge of modern configurations and then determine what could be assimilated, what transformed, what discarded and what demands newforms.Our growth must come by self-development and assimilation and not accretion.
This question of external influence and new creation from within is of very considerable importance...
Bank of Sanskrit
Much of the Indian capitalized national wealth of knowledge and experiences is deposited in the bank of Sanskrit.
The language itself, as has been universally recognised by those competent to form a judgment, is one of the most magnificent, the most perfect and wonderfully sufficient literary instruments developed by the human mind, at once majestic and sweet and flexible, strong and clearly-formed and full and vibrant and subtle.
Sanskrit has been the best preserver of Indian heritage because of its scientific and artistic nature and the fact Sanskrit is true to its sound. Pure Sanskrit endeavours to keep the meaning of words within the natural bounds of the power of their sound.The experiences and realizations best preserved their power in the purest form of Sanskrit while the Prakrit languages subjected them to asievethat separated the essence of words and expressionsand tried to reassemble them to incomplete wholes.
The classical Sanskrit is perhaps the most remarkably finished and capable instrument of thought yet fashioned.
Challenges in the Work of Translation of Scripture and Shruti
The word of Scripture is infallible; it is in the interpretation the heart and reason put upon the Scripture that error has her portion. —Sri Aurobindo
Scriptures and their word ( Shabda-brahman —the oral expression of God) are guiding light in our existence on the material planes of life to illumine our path to knowledge and experience. They are constituted of the three elements of the word, the meaning and the spirit. In the original epoch, of the Vedas and Upanishads , thought was preceded by intuition and illumination to confirm experience and realization; and not by the modern method of logical reasoning to attain logical conviction. Intellectual means are not sufficient for inquiry into works of Shruti (revelation) as they fail to perceive what ‘the Shruti carries with it, in its very words, a certain prakash, a certain illumination’. Rather,it is quite easy even to misinterpret a modern form of a statement that has come from the depths of the profundities of the spirit.
The classical Sanskrit is perhaps the most remarkably finished and capable instrument of thought yet fashioned.
Connection with the Spirit Behind
Since the knowledge the Scripture conveys is so deep, difficult and subtle,—if it were easy what would be the need of the Scripture?—theinterpretercannot be too careful or too perfectly trained. He must not be one who will rest content in the thought-symbol or in the logical implications of the idea; he must hunger and thirst for what is beyond. The interpreter who stops short with theletter,is the slave of a symbol and convicted of error. The interpreter who cannot go beyond the externalmeaning,is the prisoner of his thought and rests in a partial and incomplete knowledge. One must transgress limits & penetrate to the knowledge behind, which must be experienced before it can be known; for the ear hears it, the intellect observes it, but the spirit alone can possess it. Realisationinthe self of things is the only knowledge; all else is mere idea or opinion. —Sri Aurobindo (from The Secret of the Veda)
The Translator—a Scholar and a Yogi
The field of translation and interpretation of Sanskrit documents, rich in Shruti and Shabda-brahman, is a wide sphere meant not for hard-core social scientists but yogis, sadhaks and aspirants who can gather the sense of realization that may have inspired their work. This work must spill from the scholarly research domains into yogic terrain. The very participation in this work must become a means for the scholars an intellectual approach to spiritual realization.
Lifecycle of Sanskrit
Sanskrit and its literature may have lived through many a lifecycle, keeping step with the Indian culture, they continue to live beyond:
The divine childhood, the heroic youth, the bright and strong early manhood of the people and its culture are over and there is instead a long and opulent maturity and as its sequence an equally opulent and richly coloured decline. The decline is not to death, for it is followed by a certain rejuvenescence, a fresh start and repeated beginning, of which the medium is no longer Sanskrit but the derived languages, the daughters of the dialects raised into literary instruments and developing as the grand and ancient tongue loses its last forces and inspiring life. —Sri Aurobindo (from Indian Literature IV)
Sanskrit language can be identified in four distinct states based on the age of its expression and the degree of impurity and the distance it creates between sound and sense.
Institutional Structure of VANDEMATARAM Library
Though for work of this scale and stature, an industrial level of organization is required(based on hierarchy, linear and insulated departmental lines and specialists chosenfor their line ofexpertise), professional employment based purely on institutional credentials and mechanical factory-type method of production will not not suitable. Instead, the type of structure chosen must also make space for perception, collaboration, transparency, holistic culturing, self-motivation, proven research skills and networking technologies.
The work of translation to be carried outaccuratelymust also be ably supported by necessary linguistic research and technological support.
- Use the legal framework of anon-profit trust or foundation with programme directors as trustees.
- To invite knowledgeable and skilled volunteers willing to participate in various capacities.
- To requestcontributions from individuals and organizations who can share the inspiration and also actively participate.
- To set up the teams totake up responsibility for thevarious aspects related to this massive project.
To form several committees to facilitate the work:
- An advisory committee
- A review committee
- Editorial and subeditorial boards
- To identify authentic scholars proficient both in Sanskrit and English and invite and assign the works of translating texts of their fields.
Use of Research into Languages
A consistent, top-notch example of ideal translation and interpretation can be found in Sri Aurobindo’s works on Veda, Upanishads and Gita. Sri Aurobindo’s interpretations are perhaps unparalleled in the authenticity, precision, mastery and power. His comprehensionofboth English and Sanskrit is supreme.The works are a masterclass for any keen interpreter. Not just the works, Sri Aurobindo’s insights into the two languages in particular and philology in general are worth spending a lifetime for any sincere researcher in this field.
We propose to establish separate research groups for Sanskrit and English languages to create a stock of resources and best practices to help any translator. These resources would further be channelled through technology to put them at the fingertips of the user.
Some ideas for Sanskrit research—root-sounds and root-sense, root-sounds and words, history of words through traced through their sound, pure Sanskrit, impurities in current Sanskrit, characteristics of different forms of Sanskrit (of different ages), evolution and ossification ofsenseof words in Sanskrit, the evolution of Sanskrit grammar.
Some ideas for English research—Experimentation and possibilities of mantric poetry in English, Savitri, employment of poetic expression for translation; power of poetic expression; compilation of English words with common root sounds with Sanskrit words where the sense is similar; syllabic awareness of English words; the unique metre of accents in English; the flexibility of English words in grammatical variation; the importance of first word, first sentence and first paragraph in English; Sri Aurobindo’s dictionary of words; Savitri’s English.
Use of Technology
We are proposing anexhaustive, systematicuse of cutting-edge technology to produce and compile this work.
It is intended that an online collaborative platform is built to help produce the translations. The many features of this technology would be the capability of multiple scholars/ translators to work on the same translation collaboratively; the capability to review the works in progress and to make annotations for authorized reviewers; making comparisons with other translations; compiling and accessing dictionary and concordance of any previous translation; simpler auto-complete features on Sanskrit input;Anvaya, Sandhi-Vicheda, grammatical form and Sanskrit dictionary with a single tap or click; creatinghyper-linkswith other documents,webpagesand within the same document; linked blogs and chat groups; online monetary contributions that can be specifically directedfora particular scholar or work; inviting volunteersona specific work; participation of scholars, scientists and professionals who may be linked to the field in question; one-click production of finished translation in pdf, epub or other popular formats once all verses have been authorized.
The productions of the entire library would be made accessible on all popular consumer platforms such as mobile, tablets and PCs. Text-to-speech with proper recitation and intonation would be provided for all the works. Social tools suchchat-roomdiscussion groups and blogs of readers would be available to enable growth in that knowledge domain. A particular work will not merely be a separated book but will have all the power of our language tools, annotations and hyperlinks to make them comprehensive and as parts of the interlinked knowledge systems. The goal is to make the presentation so powerful that a reader can, for example, hope to learn Sanskrit by reading Gita in the language and web-empowered environment.
The Triumphant Vedic Cycle
Even though the Vedic cycle has completed the evolution span, successful in accomplishing an enormous work for inner preparation,it has yet not been totally successful in the realization of its ideal of immortality in the human body. That greatest individual triumph is to come in the future along with the realization of spiritual society for mankind:
The recovery of the old spiritual knowledge and experience in all its splendour, depth and fullness is its first, most essential work; the flowing of this spirituality into new forms of philosophy, literature, art, science and critical knowledge is the second; an original dealing with modern problems in the light of the Indian spirit and the endeavour to formulate a greater synthesis of a spiritualised society is the third and most difficult. Its success on these three lines will be the measure of its help to the future of humanity. —Sri Aurobindo (from The Renaissance in India – I)