Distortion of history

Venkataramani K. VenkataramaniK at AOL.COM
Wed Oct 16 23:40:51 CDT 2002

In a message dated 10/16/02 7:34:17 AM Pacific Daylight Time,
jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM writes:

> Dayananda like many of the 19th century reformers didn't actually like
> Hinduism.  But in keeping with the Romantic movement of those times he
> wanted his radical ideas to be rooted in the past even if he had to invent
> it.

His ideas were no doubt radical, but I am not sure that he invented any. I
think what he did was to reject some of the practices as he thought that they
didn't have a shruti basis. Personally, I may not go with his ideas such as
no deity worship, but I don't believe that "he didn't like Hinduism".
Hinduism itself has been very dynamic and changing with times. Some of the
practices like "sati", Dayanada Saraswati argued, had no shruti basis. Even
historically, we know that this practice is not attested until a while after
the beginning of the Christian era. A study of the Sangam Tamil literature
suggests that this was a Tamil social custom which probably found its way up
north and subsequently into the smritis. Another example I can think of is
w.r.t. the recitation & hearing of the vedas. Sangam Tamil literature,
written 2000 years ago, describes a scene where shudra men and women, along
with the Brahmins, listened to and watched the vedic sacrifice. Yet, Gautama
smriti recommended pouring molten lead into the ears of a shudra who listened
to them. Al Beruni quotes a smriti [Manusmriti?], which says that the tongue
of a shudra who recites the vedas must be cut off. It is quite logical to
conclude that these smriti injunctions are of later day origin.

Yet, very rarely did an astika acharya ever challenge these smriti injunct
ions. So, when a person like Dayananda Saraswati challenges them, he may seem
like being outlandish. That doesn't necessarily mean that he was wrong.

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