[Advaita-l] meaning of paramam

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Sun May 27 08:19:08 CDT 2012

Dear Guy,
To the excellent references and comments made by Sri Subhanu Saxena, let me add
just the following comments.

1. The mahAnArAyaNopanishad anuvAka in question, plus the two anuvAka-s immediately
prior to it and after it, is meant as a praise (stuti) of nyAsa (renunciation), after leading one
step-wise through satya, tapas, etc.
2. There is a very good reason, internal to the text, why a commentator would want to use
the word tapas with respect to all the things identified sequentially as "paramam". In each
case, you have the wording "tasmAt ... ... paramam vadanti", but at the end, with nyAsa, 
the text says, "tasmAn nyAsa eshAM tapasAm ...". It is an indication within the upanishad
itself, that each is meant as tapas, which leads the commentator to explain accordingly.
3. Therefore, the heavily implied meaning for the word parama is "means of liberation",
especially as the culmination is in the attainment of brahman (brahmaNo mahimAnam
4. That said, a translation is not necessarily a commentary/explanation, and you may want
to abide by accepted norms of being as close to a literal choice of words as possible. May
I suggest the words superior/best (their French equivalents) with respect to parama here?
That will allow the use of a footnote to mention that the upanishad is not interested in a
mere hierarchy of entities but its intent is to point to the best means of liberation. This will
also allow you to refer to the other translations you have cited here.
> From: werlings.guy at wanadoo.fr
> To: advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
> Date: Sat, 26 May 2012 18:18:51 +0200
> Subject: [Advaita-l] meaning of paramam
> | mitrAni |
> | namo namaH |
> I wish to express all my thanks to the list member who have been kind enough
> to answer my query as to the possible implied meaning of "paramam". However,
> having been an "authorized translator" in a part of my previous business
> life, I feel very reluctant to interpolate in a translation words that do
> not appear in the original text. "Traduttore, traditore" as they say in
> italian.
> By the way, which would be the exact, explicit and accurate Sanskrit wording
> for "means of liberation"? Could it be mokSArtha or mokSopAya?
> |dhanyavAdaH|
> |vandanAni|
> Guy
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