Misinterpretation of Vedic texts
Misinterpretation of Vedas is a dominant issue and in the light of my rejoinder articles "Clouds over understanding of Vedas" to Jha's book it is now considered appropriate to propagate the Commentary of Vedas by Sw. Dayanand Saraswati which can only counter
the wrong commentaries prior to Swamiji. With this aspect in mind it is felt that Aryasamaj should take a lead in this regard to stop further damage to the
spirit of Vedas. A paper on this theme has been submitted to the coming International Aryasamaj Mahasammelan. A copy of the same is appended for your comments, if any.
No beef eating in the Vedas : a case study of misinterpretation of the Vedic texts.
It is a matter of great concern that textbooks published by NCERT teach that the Aryans and early Indians were beef -eaters and this issue is also part of a writ petition (17909-13/200500) filed by Shri D.N.Batra & others against Union of India & others in Delhi High Court. Recently, in Mid September, 2006, during a discussion on the NDTV channel on the issue of the remarks by Pope Benedict XVI who quoted a 14th century Byzantine Christian emperor saying “ Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached”, Shri Rajendra Yadav, a noted Hindi writer remarked that the phrase ‘krinvanto vishwam aryam” also smacked expansion of Hinduism and further emphasized that Sri Bhagwadgita also propagated war. Here are the glaring cases of misinterpretation and misrepresentation by an ill informed person who needs to be educated that the term arya does not depict any faith/race or religion and it only means a man of virtue and the entire dictum is a clarion call to turn all the inhabitants of this globe to be virtuous beings. Regarding Bhagwadgita even a layman knows that it is a part of the scripture Mahabharata and it contains the sermon
Yogeshwar Krishna gave to Arjuna in the battlefield who refused to fight with his own kith and kin and it contains the entire philosophy of our existence or being and educates Arjuna to fight against adharma or injustice and it is far from being a scripture
propagating war as deduced by Shri Yadav. It is really an irony that such observations remain uncontested by us and the native Indians known as Hindus and descendants of the ancient Aryavarta remain mute spectators. Now Rama and Krishna who form the basic
fabric of our society are being described as myths and it is an alarm for the majority community and the native Indians to wake up and guard themselves. The Aryasamaj in particular and other Hindu organizations should take a lead in this direction. Swami Dayanand Saraswati (1825-1883), founder of the Aryasamaj applied the yardstick of Vedas to all the major faiths/religions of the world and also focused on the prevailing social evils of the Indian Society in his famous book entitled “satyarthprakash” and this book answers all the misinformation and should be read by persons like Shri Yadav and all those who believe in rationality and don’t want to be blind followers.
Further, it is a matter of great concern to us that the leftist historians have taken upon themselves to prove that even the Vedas and other Hindu scriptures endorse beef eating and recently in this regard two articles by Mr.D.N.Jha in the Hindustan Times dated
17th-18th December, 2001 entitled “Paradox of the Indian cow” followed by his book entitled “The Myth of the holy cow” published by Verso Books, London in 2002
were brought out to impress that the Hindus worshipped cow as their mother whereas their scriptures like the Vedas, Valmiki Ramayana and Mahabharata endorsed
beef-eating . A rejoinder to H.T. articles was published in the Hindustan Times dated 10th January, 2002 and further as a rejoinder to the book by Mr. Jha, two articles entitled “Clouds over understanding of the Vedas” were authored by B.D.Ukhul under guidance of Shri Bharat Bhushan Vidyalankar. These articles came to be placed on the website
www.aryasamaj.org and a petition on line also came up which was signed by about 3000 persons from all over the globe pleading the publisher to withdraw this book. Full text of these articles can be seen and downloaded by the readers from the website. The
signatories of this petition have abundantly condemned and criticised Mr. Jha for his deliberate attempt to denigrate the Hindu ethos and depict the Vedas in adverse light. This Voice of protest can be read on the website ww.petitiononline.com/vedas/petition.html
and they convey the inner feelings of majority of Indians and others all over the world who lent us support against the designs of Mr. Jha. This task could be accomplished through the active support and encouragement of Shri Anupam(USA), co-ordinator of
this website who is rendering a yeoman service to the cause of spreading the message of the Aryasamaj and Swami Dayanand Saraswati, the founder of Aryasamaj who
brought the Vedas back to us.
In the present write-up, only the part pertaining to the references quoted by Mr. Jha from the Rg Veda in his book are being reproduced to reveal as to how the Vedic hymns have been grossly misinterpreted. It is revealing that the deductions of Mr. Jha are based on
the commentary of the Vedas by Sayanacharya which was rendered into English by H.H.Wilson. It is equally satisfying to emphasize here that answer to these misleading interpretations only came from the Bhashya or Commentary of the Vedas by Swami Dayanand Saraswati and its English translation by Swami Satya Prakash Saraswati and Shri Satyakam Vidyalankar. On the strength of this noble commentary it was possible to
repudiate the thesis of Mr. Jha and it also leads us to infer that there is dire need for the Aryasamaj to project the Vedas’ commentary by Sw. Dayanand Saraswati all over the world because he was the pioneer to bring out the true spirit of the Vedas. In the realm of the Vedic interpretation, we owe debt to Swami Dayanand Saraswati His commentaries were based on the Nighantu and Yaska’s Nirukta and he thought deep and delved deep to arrive at the rightful adhyatmik and yogic spirit of the mantras. The opinion of a great saint-philosopher Sri Aurobindo Ghosh will be most pertinent to quote in this regard. “In the matter of Vedic interpretation I am convinced that whatever may be the final complete interpretation, Dayananda will be honoured as the first discoverer of the right clues. Amidst the chaos and obscurity of old ignorance and age long misunderstanding his was the eye of direct vision that pierced to the truth and fastened on that which was essential. He had found the keys of the doors that time had closed and rent asunder the seals of the imprisoned fountains”. AT THIS STAGE IT IS DESIRABLE THAT WE APPROACH THIS IMPORTANT ASPECT TO ENDORSE AND ACCEPT THE RIGHTFUL INTERPRETAIONS INSTEAD OF CLINGING TO DEFECTIVE
LITERAL TRANSLATIONS OF THE VEDAS WHICH ARE REVELATIONS BY THE ALMIGHTY GOD WHO BLESSED US WITH THIS DIVINE KNOWLEDGE TO GUIDE OUR PATH SINCE THE VEDIC REVELATION WAS SYNCHRONOUS WITH MAN’S FIRST APPEARANCE ON EARTH. How can our creator prescribe
offerings of his own creatures? After independence, this aspect should have received due attention but it is sad that this remained untapped and even the Sanskrit language came under cloud when a Rajya Sabha nominated Christian member Frank Anthony introduced a bill to drop this sacred language from the eighth schedule of languages enshrined in the Indian constitution in 1977. There is no doubt that some Western scholars did an appreciable job to introduce the Vedas to the outside world which inspired the
scholars to learn Sanskrit to benefit from the treasure of wisdom of Vedic Rishis but unfortunately, it followed a wrong path without application of their inner mind or intellect as was done by the devoted disciple of Swami Virajanand who was actually blind of eyes but he imparted such vision and deep knowledge to Dayanand that he clung to the soul and spirit of the Vedas and it is our bounden duty to follow this path to understand the sacred words of God which can never be wrong and are ever infallible.
In the context of the commentary/translation of the Vedas by Max Muller, it will be relevant to point out the opinion of Mr. Boulanger, the editor of Russian edition of The Sacred Books of the East Series as follows:
“What struck me in Max Mullar’s translation was a lot of absurdities, obscene passages and a lot of what is not lucid… As far as I can grab the teaching of the Vedas, it is so sublime that I would look upon it as a crime on my part, if the Russian public becomes
acquainted with it through the medium of a confused and distorted translation, thus not deriving for its soul that benefit which this teaching should give to the people”.
In his book ‘Vedic Hymns’, Max Muller himself says “My translation of the Vedas is conjectural”.
Now to commence,comparative interpretations of the citations quoted from the Rgveda by Mr. Jha are being dealt with beginning from the very first Mandala of Rigveda as follows:
The glaring difference in substance and the spirit of the cited Suktas 162 and 163 of the first Mandala of Rigveda is illustrated to establish that misinterpretation is at the root of this problem. Each Sukta has its risi and devata; risi depicts ‘drashta’ whereas devata depicts the subject matter which facilitates the understanding of the mantras under
Name of risi Name of devata Deerghatama Mitradayo Lingokta (As per
Sw.Dayanand) Deerghatama Ashva-stuti (As per translation of HH Wilson)
Name of risi Name of devata Deerghatama Ashvo-agnirdevata (As per Sw.Dayanand)
Deerghatama Ribhuganh (As per translation of HH Wilson)
The above implies that both the Suktas are in glorification of the horse but our Western enthusiasts and Mr.Jha along with his Indian ideals have even ignored the very basic lead and gone for crucification of the spirit of mantras which is left to your esteemed judgement. Sukta 162 has 22 mantras while Sukta 163 has 13 mantras. Mr. Jha states that in the ashvamedha(horse sacrifice),the most important of the Vedic public sacrifices, first referred to in the Rgveda in the afore-stated Suktas (p.31 of his book). Sukta 162 in fact deals with the science of applying horse power (automation) of the fire pervading in the
form of energy.
No mantra supports sacrifice of horses. Of course the first mantra has been translated by Max Muller in a wrong manner as follows:
“May Mitra,Varuna,Aryaman,Ayush,Indra,the Lord of Ribhus and the Maruta not rebuke us because we shall proclaim at the sacrifice virtues of the swift horse sprung from the god”.(from History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature). Similarly H.H.Wilson in his translation based on the commentary of Sayanacarya states as follows:
“Let neither Mitra nor Varuna,Aryaman,Ayu,Indra,Ribhukshin,nor the Maruts,censure us;when was proclaim in the sacrifice the virtues of the swift horse sprung from the gods”. Transliterated version of this mantra is given below:
Ma no mitro varuno arymayurindro ribhuksha marutah
parikhyan Yadvajino devajatasya sapteh pravakshyamo
Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati in his Hindi commentary has rendered the translation as follows:
We the performers of yajna in all seasons (vidathe) in the battle field (yat) whose (vajinah) stormy (devajatasya) learned men and borne out of the divine virtues (sapte) of the horse (veeryani) unique performances (pravakshyamah) we shall describe (nah)
the daring performances of our horses (mitrah) friend (varunah) sublime (aryama) the deliverer of justice (ayuh) the knower (indrah) the all-elivated or aishvaryavan (ribhuksha) intelligent and (marutah) priests (ma, pari,khyan) should never disregard these properties. To easily grasp the spirit of mantra the following translation will be helpful.
We shall describe here the energy generating virtues of the powerful horses(planets),added with brilliant properties of the vigorous force of heat. The learned
never dispute these properties. There is vast difference in the above quoted translations. Obviously the wrong seeds were sown by Sayan and Mahidhar who were the imodels adopted by the western scholars, namely Max Muller, Griffith , Wilson etc. Sw.Dayanand Saraswati in his book “An Introduction to the Vedas” has adversely criticized the commentaries of Sayan and Mahidhar in context of some of their interpretations of the Vedic hymns. They could be held responsible for the horrible and horried
interpretations which suggest as if the Vedas were the texts to lay down the modes of sacrifices. Is it not a tragedy for the Dharamacharyas/Sanskrit scholars of this country that they also could not pursue the path shown by Dayanand and got bogged down only in the rituals of worship in the temples and no attention was paid to the sources of knowledge which were the guiding principles of Aryans, our worthy ancestors and
sons of the mother India (Aryavarta) as the Vedas proclaimed man as ‘amritasya putras’ and we need to follow this path if we want to be proud of our heritage and hold our head high or otherwise we are going to be labelled with the legacy of butchers and animal killers who desired to please different gods by various sacrifices performed in the yajnas.
Eighth mantra of this Sukta is translated as follows:
The fleet of horses is controlled by holding of bridles and saddles placed thereon. To make them strong, the grass and cereals are fed to them. Like wise, the learned people control and regulate their power of senses and taking nourishing diet. Wilson’s translation is as follows:
May the halter and the heel-ropes of the fleet courser, and the head-ropes, the girths, and any other (part of the harness); and the grass that has been put into his mouth; may all these be with you,(horse),amongst the gods. (THIS IS NOTHING BUT LITERAL AND MECHANICAL TRANSLATON BEREFT OF THE SUBSTANCE & SPIRIT OF THE MANTRA)
Ninth mantra was again wrongly interpreted by Max Muller, Wilson and Griffith to translate the word ’kravishah’ as the flesh. It is an adjective of ‘ashvasya’ and derived from kramu-padavikshepe. Hence it means ‘ the pacing horse’ and not of the flesh.
‘shamituh’ has been translated by Prof. Max Muller and Wilson as of the immolator. Griffith has translated it as ‘of a slayer’. But etymologically ‘sam-alochane’ means ‘to look at’ (with love and peace) and should mean ‘ a person who looks at the living beings with love and peace and not slayer’. Twelfth mantra emphasizes on the qualities of the
warrior and its translation is as follows:
They who crave for the meat of a horse and declare the horse fit to be killed should be exterminated. Those who keep the fast horse well trained and disciplined deserve to be praised by us for the strength of their character and perseverance. (IT CLEARLY DEMOLISHES THE THESIS OF JHA AND PROVES THAT HE HAS MERELY QUOTED CITATIONS AND HARDLY CARED TO LOOK AT THE ACTUAL TEXT
BUT INSPIRED BY THE FOLLOWING TRANSLATION OF WILSON):
“Let their exertions be for our good who watch the cooking of the horse; who say, it is fragrant; therefore give us some: who solicit the flesh of the horse as alms”. (WHAT AN IMMENSE DAMAGE TO THE SPIRIT OF THE MANTRA).
Mantras 13 to 19 deal with the theme of horse or automation power while 20 to 22 are devoted to the benefits of Yogic exercises and an ideal life.
This Sukta deals with various attributes of learned person, agni(fire), science & technology. There are references to the horse to illustrate its unique qualities of its immense energy likened to agni (fire), intelligence, bravery and inbuilt attributes
which are at par with those of the men of wisdom. Perusal of some mantras will bring home this point.
First mantra includes or rather ends with ‘arvan’ and this word denotes as per Yv 29.12 vigyanvan athva ashvaiv vegavan vidvan=O learned person active like the horse.
Second mantra includes the term ‘surat ashvam’ which means the fast moving agni i.e the fire which enables a speedy locomotion.
Third mantra includes the term ‘adityah arvan’ and here it means the sun which is all pervading. ‘arvan’ means sarvatrapraptah=pervading all. This term was wrongly translated by Prof. Wilson, Griffith and others, while both admit in the notes that Yama means Agni, Aditya-Sun and Trita-Vayu. How can horse be identified with Agni (fire) sun and the air etc. none has cared to justify. To take ‘arva’ for agni, there
is the clear authority of the Taittiriya Brahmana.(I.36,4).
Fourth mantra includes the word ‘arvan’ where it is used to mean the learned and wise people.
Eighth mantra includes the word ‘arvan’ through which the mighty and active person has been likened to the horse who bears such characteristics. Ninth mantra includes the word ‘arvantam’ which means vegavantam agnim ashvam=the rapid horse in the form of
Agni (fire, electricity etc.)
Tenth mantra includes the word ‘ashva’ where it means the bright swift horses in the form of fire, air, water etc.
Eleventh mantra includes the word ‘arvan’ and the following translation of this mantra will endorse our stand that the unique qualities of the horse are emphasized in Sukta-163:
“O brave person! You are active like a horse, your body is like a swift vehicle, your mind is like the wind in motion. Your sublime actions are initiated from the proper use of fire and electricity. These are spread in all directions like the hoary creatures in
the forests”. One can see that this mantra is in praise of highly skilled technicians.
Wilson’s translation reads as follows:
“Your body, horse, is made for motion , your mind is rapid (in intention ) as the wind: the hairs (of your mane) are tossed in manifold directions; and spread beautiful in the forests”.(ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF MECHANICAL TRANSLATION)
Twelfth mantra includes the term ’vajyarva’ which means agni swift(vegavan) like a horse and here in this mantra use of agni is highlighted. Thirteenth and the last mantra of this Sukta contains the word ‘arvan’ where it means agnyadashvan= horses in the form of fire, electricity etc.
ASVAMEDHA has been translated as horse sacrifice as referred to above by Jha and the conclusions drawn accordingly and this has been the root cause of varied wrong interpretations and in order to illustrate its scope and meaning the following is stated:
At the sight of words ‘asvamedha, gomedha, purushmedha, ajmedha’ there ia general tendency to interpret it to denote as hinsa/sacrifice/killing. ‘medha’ word’s verb or dhatu is ‘medhri’. ‘medhrisangame hinsayam cha’ i.e. to enhance pure intellect , to inculcate love and integration among the people and also hinsa i.e killing (this dhatu conveys these three meanings).But it does not always mean killing or sacrifice and in Sanskrit no literal
translation will do where a particular word carries varied meanings and it has to be applied judiciously and thoughtfully keeping in view the context of the text. The words ‘purushmedha’ and ‘nriyajna’ are synonyms. In manusmriti the word ‘nriyajna’ has been
defined as’nriyajnoatithipoojanam’ (manusmriti -3.70) it means the pooja or honour of the guests. If we take the meaning of the root ‘medhri’ as sangamanarth it will come to be interpreted as to organize the people for virtuous deeds or to enhance the love and
equanimity among them i.e. it would be ‘nriyajna’ or ‘purushmedh’. It may be pertinent to mention here that ‘nrimedha’ is a rishi of some vedic hymns of Samveda. It can never mean the one who kills or sacrifices the human beings. Consequently, the terms followed by medha always do not signify killing/sacrifice and therefore the interpretations made by the Western scholars are utterly wrong and unacceptable. In Shatpath Brahmana (13.1.6) it is stated “Rashtram va asvamedhah” i.e. Asvamedha means to manage or run the affairs of the rashtra (country) in a befitting manner.
Now to deal with the insinuation of the animal or cattle sacrifice in the Vedic texts the following is stated:
On p.32 of the book (ref.53), citing the RgVeda IV.18.13, it is stated that the entrails of a dog were cooked in a situation of extreme destitution.
T.V.(transliterated version) reads: avartya suna antrani pece na deveshu vivide marditaram
apasyam jayam amahiyamanam adha me syeno madhv a jabhara
H.H. Wilson’s translation of Bashya by Sayanacarya reads as follows:
“In the extreme destitution I have cooked the entails of a dog: I have not found a comforter among the gods:
I have beheld my wife disrespected: then the falcon, (Indra), has brought to me sweet water”.
In the english version of the Bhashya by Sw. Dayanand, it is stated that this hymn deals with the duties of a ruler and it is translated as follows:
“O king! I see you as one who provides protection from the mean person, who elopes with my disrespected wife like a falcon. Such a wicked person cannot achieve genuine knowledge from the enlightened persons. You must severe your connections from such a man”. The purport of this verse is aptly summed up as “O king! You should destroy men and women of debaucherous nature after giving them severe punishment”.
In the Hindi Bhashya by Sw.Dayanand, it is elaborated as follows:
O king! One who takes over my disrespected wife like a hawk who digests the non-usable body of a dog comprising of non-usable ‘nadis’ entrails should be punished…(The wicked man has been likened to a hawk or falcon who pounces on the dog’s body and digests the same). The word ‘pece’ here means one who digests and not the one who cooks as per Wilson’s version.
In the RgVeda Samhita with English translation by Swami Satya Prakash Sarasvati and Satyakam Vidyalankar, this hymn reads as follows:
“Finally the self, so lamented, in extreme destitution: What a shame to me that I have committed a hineous crime as if cooking the entails of a dog (having forgotten my Lord). I could find no comfort among Nature’s material forces. Before my own eyes I have seen my wife, the beloved, disrespected. Then the enlightenment, in the form of falcon from heaven, comes down and brings the sweet water”.
[Manu, refers to a legend; Vamadeva, when oppressed with hunger, took for his meals the flesh of dogs, but who was not thus rendered impure; this he did for the preservation of his life. (Manu X.106)]
The above verse in no way supports consumption of dog’s meat.
Reference has been made to the RgVeda mantra V.29.7 (p.29, ref.18) to state that Agni roasted 300 buffaloes.
T.V. : sakha sakhye apacat tuyam agnir asya kratva mahisha tri satani tri sakam indro manushah saransi sutam pibad vritrahatyaya somam
Wilson has translated this as follows:
“To aid (the understanding of) his friend, Agni, the friend (of Indra) has quickly consumed three hundred buffaloes; and Indra, for destruction of Vrtra, has at
once quaffed vessels of Soma offered by Manu”.
Sw.Dayanand’s rendering is as follows:
“The Agni (in the form of the fire/energy and sun) soon illuminates three worlds in the middle of the universe and drinks the water of the tanks (by drying it up), and for the slaying the clouds ripens Soma and other things that lead to prosperity in the long run
(by increasing physical and mental strength). In the same manner, a friend by the power of his intellect or actions, protects three hundred big animals (cattle wealth) for the welfare of his friend”. Purport of this hymn is that the sun manifests the gross objects
that are above, below and in the middle. In the same manner, a king should manifest all good, bad and indifferent dealings and deal with all in a judicious manner.
Sw.Satya Praksh and Satyakam have rendered it as follows:
“As a friend to another friend, the cosmic fire ripens the sap of three hundred fields and forests of people, and the Sun works for the destruction of widespread darkness over the three regions, celestial, interspatial and terrestrial”.
The comparison of the meaning will reveal that Wilson’s translation stresses the roasting of buffaloes by Agni-the sun-god whereas it meant the evaporating effect of the sun which causes rains resulting in the prosperity. Sw.Dayanand has interpreted the phrase ‘mahisa tri satani’ to mean that it protects three hundred buffaloes or big animals.
The Rgveda hymn VI.16.47 has been cited by Jha to emphasize that ‘oblations of food to the accompaniment of heart-felt hymns become like bulls , oxen and cows in sacrifice’(p.41,ref.135) on the strength of Mr.Kane.
T.V.: a te agna rica havir hrida tashtam bharamasi te te bhavantukshana rishabhaso vasa uta
It will be pertinent to quote its translated version by Wilson as follows:
“We offer to you, Agni, the oblation sanctified by the heart, and (identified) with the sacred verse may these vigorous bulls or the cows be (as such an oblation) to you”.
Sw.Sataya Prakash and Satyakam have rendered it as follows:
“We offer to you, O Lord, the homage issuing forth from our hearts, and transmitted in the words of the Vedic verses. May the virile bulls, bullocks and cows be dear to you as your own”.
Repeatedly, the error of literal translation causes damage to the spirit of the hymn since the context of the hymns 46 & 47 is as to whom the mankind should adore. But the hymn ‘te te bhavantu uksna rsabhaso vasa uta’ has been interpreted to mean: ‘may these
vigorous bulls or cows be for you’. Mr. Jha has drawn erroneous conclusion that bulls, oxen and cows are part of the food which is far from truth.
In the hymn of the RgVeda VI.17.11, Jha has inferred that Indra ate flesh of one hundred buffaloes
T.V.: vardhan yam visve marutah sajoshah pacac chatam mahishan indra tubhyam
pusha vishnus trini saransi dhavan vritrahanam madiram ansum asmai
Its translation by Wilson reads as under:
“For you, Indra, whom all the Maruts, alike pleased, exalt, may Pusan and Visnu dress for you a hundred buffaloes, and to him may the three streams flow with the inebriating, foe-destroying Soma”.
The English rendering of this hymn by Sw. Satya Prakash and Satyakam is as follows:
“O innerself, all the vital faculties of human body, with one accord, exalt you. Hundreds of great gifts are provided to you by all pervading and all sustaining vital breaths. May the three joy-giving streams of nectar flow to him for exhilaration and cure”.
Dr. Krishan Lal, former Sanskrit Professor of University of Delhi has translated the word ‘mahisha’ as cloud and states that the phrase ‘pachhtam mahisha indra tubhyam’ in this hymn actually means magnification of hundreds of (many) clouds by the surya-the sungod. [Tankara Samachar dated July, 2002 at p.13].
The RgVeda hymn VIII.12.8(p.29,ref.19) has been cited to mean killing of a thousand buffaloes.
T.V.: yadi pravriddha satpate sahasram mahishan aghah ad it ta indriyam mahi pra vavridhe
The hymn has been translated by Wilson as follows:
“Great Indra, protector of the good, when you have slain thousands of mighty (foes), then your vast and special energy has been augmented”.
In Sw.Satya Prakash and Satyakam’s translation, it is rendered as follows:
“O powerful Lord of resplendence, the protector of truth, when you put an end to hundreds of evils, your resplendence grows beyond limits”.
The hymn’s translation by Wilson describes Indra as protector of the good and relates augmentation of energy by slaying thousands of mighty (foes) but Mr. Jha has restricted his vocabulary to mean it buffaloes. [This is only a literal translation or deliberate effort without caring for the context and spirit of the hymn]
The RgVeda hymn VIII.19.5 has been cited by Jha (p.41, ref.134) to state ”a devout offering of praise or of a fuel stick or of cooked food was as good as a more, solemn sacrifice”.
T.V.: yah samidha ya ahuti yo vedena dadasa marto agnaye yo namasa svadhvarah
Wilsons’ translation of this hymn is “The man who has presented (worship) to Agni with fuel, with burnt offerings, with the Veda, with sacrificial food, and is diligent in pious rites”.
Sw.Satya Prakash and Satyakam’s interpretation reads as “The mortal, who presents offering to the fire divine, with the fuel, with the oblations, with the chanting of Vedic lores, and with reverence”.
Difference in rendering of the hymns reveals that the slant of Wilson’s translation is towards the ritual of sacrifice and so he could not capture the spirit of the divine hymn.
Mr.Jha cites RgVeda’s hymn VIII.43.11 to state that Indra’s food is the ox and the barren cow (p.29, ref.22)
T.V.: ukshannaya vasannaya somaprishthaya vedhase Stomair vidhemagnaye
This hymn is translated by Wilson to read “Let us adore with hymns Agni, the granter (of desires), the eater of the ox, the eater of the morrow on whose back the libation is poured”
Sw.Satya Prakash and Satyakam interpreted this hymn as “Let us adore with hymns the fire-divine, who is fed on agricultural products, dairy products, and who bears the herbal plants on the back”.
Jha quotes Rgveda X.16.4 (p.30,ref.26) to argue that for disposal of the dead a recourse is taken ‘to the burning of a goat which is the share of Agni, and to use of the flesh of the cow to protect the body against the flame’
T.V.: ajo bhagas tapasa tam tapasva tam te socis tapatu tam te areih yas te sivas tanvo jatavedas tabhir vahainam sukritam u lokam
Mr. Wilson’s translation of this verse reads as follows:
“The unborn portion; burn that, Agni, with your heat; let your flame, your spleandour, consume it; with those glorious members which have given him, Jatavedas, bear him to the world (of the virtuous)”.
The actual content of the hymn as per Sw.Satya Prakash and Satyakam’s interpretation is as follows:
“O fire divine, let your radiant flame and your glowing splendour make the imperishable soul pure and bright, and with the auspicious body, which you provide to him, may you convey him to the region of the virtuous”.
Verse of RgVeda X.16.7 is also cited by Mr.Jha supported by Keith to substantiate his theory regarding coverage of the dead body.
T.V.: agner varma pari gobhir vyayasva sam prornushva pivasa medasa canet tva dhrishnur harasa jarhrishano dadhrig vidhakshyan paryaukhayate
This has been translated by Wilson to read as follows:
“Enclose the mail of Agni with the (hide of the) cow; cover it with the fat and marrow: then will not (Agni), bold, exulting in his fierce heat, proud ,embrace you round about to consume you (to ashes)”.
This verse is rendered to mean as follows by Sw.Satya Prakash and Satyakam:
“When the body is being entirely consumed (on the funeral pyre) with the flames brightened by butter, another body with new fat and new marrow is being
provided (to the departed soul in a fresh womb). May not this bold fire, exulted in his fierce heat, and full of pride, embrace and consume your new body to ashes (which is being given to you elsewhere)”.
RgVeda hymn X.27.2 has been cited(p.29,ref.16) regarding killing of a bull.
T.V.: yadid aham yudhaye samnayany adevayun tanva susujanan ama te tumram vrishabham pacani tivram sutam pancadasam ni shincam
It has been translated by Wilson to read “If I encounter in combat the undevout, resplendent in their bodies, then will I cook a vigorous bull for them, and will sprinkle (upon the fire) the exhilarating effused juice the fifteenfold (Soma)”.
Sw.Satya Prakash and Satyakam render its interpretation to read “If I lead my friends to
battle against the dark clouds of nescience, unfaithful but strong in physical strength, then
having dispelled the darkness, I shall impel the furious and vigorous sun, and thereafter, sprinkle on the earth exhilarating peace of the full moonlight”.
[ the term ‘vrishabham’ is translated by Wilson as bull but according to Mr.S.N.Shastri it is the strength which helps to shower grace on the praja i.e. people and the term ‘pacani’ does not mean that ‘I cook’ but instead it is ‘I lead it to fruition or expansion or exaltation’]
According to Mr.Jha, Indra is said to have eaten the flesh of bulls (p.29,ref.15) as per RgVeda hymn X.28.3
T.V.: adrina te mandina indra tuyan sunvanti soman pibasi tvam esham pacanti te vrishabhan atsi tesham prikshena yan maghavan huyamanah”
Mr.Wilson’s translation of this hymn states as follows:
“(Vasukra speaks) Your worshippers express with the stone fast flowing exhilarating Soma-juices for you, you drink them; they roast bulls for you, you eat them, when you are invoked, Maghavan, to the sacrificial food”.
Sw.Satya Prakash and Satyakam render its interpretation as follows:
“(Day speaks) O sovereign Lord, the worshippers express their devotion through exhilarating prayers and dedicated actions (just as herb juice pressed through stones); you accept them and drink; they cook the strengthening and joy-showering foods for you and
when invoked, you accept their invocation”.
Here again, the terms ‘vrishabh’ and ‘pacanti’ have done the damage as in the preceding hymn X.27.2
Mr.Jha has cited RgVeda X.68.3 (p.33, ref.64) to state that the killing of the kine to honour guests seems to have been prevalent from earlier times.
T.V.: sadhvarya atithinir ishira sparhah suvarna anavadyarupah brihaspatih parvatebhyo viturya nir ga upe yavam iva sthivibhyah
[the term ‘atithinir’ has been interpreted as ‘cows fit for guests’
Mr.Wilson’s translation reads as follows:
“Brhaspati brings unto (the gods), after extricating them from the mountains, the cows that are the yielders of pure (milk), ever in motion, the objects of search and desire, well coloured and of unexceptionable form, (as men bring) barley from the granaries”.
Sw.Satya Prakash and Satyakam have translated this hymn as follows:
“The supreme sun first makes a search of cows (i.e. rays or the lost wisdom), and finds them hidden in the caves of mountains (i.e. behind the clouds); he recovers and extricates these (cows or rays) which furnish pure milk (or rays furnishing light), ever in motion, worthy of search, worth coveting, of splendid colours, and of exceptional forms. They are set free (from hiding) as barley from the granaries”.
Atithinih means – ever in motion or constantly moving [atithini: satatam gachhanti- Sayan]
According to Shri Satyanand Shastri, Prof. Griffith has translated this hymn as follows:
“Brhaspati having won them from the mountains, strewed down, like barley out of the winnowing baskets; the vigorous, wandering cows who aid the pious, desired of all, of blameless form, well coloured”.
Mr.Jha has again erred immensely to prove his stand.
RgVeda hymn X.85.13 has been cited by Jha (p.33, ref. 66) to point out that it refers to the slaughter of a cow on the occasion of marriage.
T.V.: suryaya vahatuh pragat savita yam avasrijat aghasu hanyante gavo rjunyoh pary nhyatc
It has been translated by Mr. Wilson as follows:
“Surya’s bridal procession which Savita dispatched has advanced; the oxen are whipped along in the Magha (constellations); she is borne (to her husband’s house) in the Arjuni (constellations)”.
Sw.Satya Prakash and Satyakam’s rendering is “The bridal procession of the Sun’s daughter, which the divine mother creator dispatches, moves along; the oxen of the chariot are whipped along in the MAGHA constellations; she is taken to her husband’s house in the ARJUNI (Phalguna) constellations”.
RgVeda hymn X.86.14 has been singled out by Mr.Jha(p.21,ref.14) to underline the practice of eating beef.
T.V.: ukshno hi me pancadasa sakam pacanti vinsatim utaham admi piva id ubha kukshi prinanti me visvasmad indra uttarah
This hymn has been translated by Mr. Wilson as follows:
“(Indra speaks) The worshippers dress for me fifteen (and) twenty bulls: I eat them and (become) fat, they fill both sides of my belley; Indra is above all (the
Sw. Satya Prakash and Satyakam interpret this verse as follows:
“(The Self speaks) The worshippers ripen for me fifteen and twenty matured showerers of blessings and thereafter I fill the spaces with essence on both sides of my form. The Self is supreme over all. [Fifteen= 10 Pranas (vital breaths) and 5 bhootas+Twenty= 5 tanmatras (colour,taste,sound,smell and touch)+ 5 elements+ 5 organs of sense+ 5
RgVeda hymn X.91.14 has been cited by Mr.Jha to illustrate that Indra’s food is the ox and the barren cow etc. (p.30, refs.22-25).
T.V.: yasminn asvasa rishabhasa ukshano vasa mesha avasrishtasa ahutah kilalape somaprishthaya vedhase hrida matim janaye carum agnaye
This has been translated by Mr.Wilson as follows:
“I offer graceful praise with all my heart to Agni , the drinker of water, whose back is sprinkled with Soma, the ordainer (of the rite), to whom vigorous horses and bulls and barren cows and sheep are consigned as burnt offerings”.
Translation by Sw.Satya Prakash and Satyakam reads as follows:
“I offer my words of appreciation with sincerity at my heart to the fire- divine, the absorber of water, to whom the oblations of herbal juices (mixed with curds) are offered and to whom every living being like vigorous horses, bulls, milching cows and barren ones, sheep and goat (and even men) are consigned after their death ( i.e. to the Kravya-agni, the cremating fire)”.
It will be pertinent to add here that in his Hindi booklet entitled “Kya pracheen arya log mansahari the?”, Shri Satyanand Shastri has dealt in detail some of the Vedic references cited by Mr.Jha and they are further capable of falsifying the interpretations
deduced by the author of this derogatory book. To facilitate their consultation and close understanding, the following information is furnished:
RgVeda X.16.7 pp.17-20
RgVeda X.27.2 pp.20-21
RgVeda X.28.3 pp.21-23
RgVeda X.68.3 pp.29-30
The thesis of Mr.Jha through his book under scrutiny has also denigrated the Vedic deities namely, Agni,Indra, Pusan,Maruta, Mitra,Soma,Varuna,Visnu etc. by mentioning that they were fond of eating flesh of animals specially of the bulls, buffaloes , cows etc.
Pages 29-30 of the book mention that Agni liked buffaloes, Indra had special liking for bulls, Pusan ate mush, Maruts, Mitra and Varuna liked cows etc. All these terms denote the various names of the God and indirectly Mr.Jha has tried to prove Him to be
meat-eater .i.e the Creator Himself eating its own creation , a great PARADOX in itself. Mr.Jha could not comit a greater sin than this, he being descendent of the Brahamanic lineage has abused his scholarship and ran to London to get his book published to earn
recognition from his patrons who wish to denigrate the Hindus and their
Some references from the Vedas and Mahabharata which condemn the killing of cows:
AtharvaVeda I.16.4 Kill the killer of the cow with the bullet of lead.
Atharva Veda III.30.1 You should impart love to each other as the non-killable cow does for its calf
RgVeda VII.56.17 Punish the killer of the cow and the man.
RgVeda VIII.101.15 Cow is pure, do not kill it.
RgVeda X.10.87.16 Those who kill the ‘Aghanya’ the cow which is not to be killed according Vedic edicts, their heads should be chopped off. [Translation of this verse in full in Sw. Satya Praksh ‘s version reads:”O fire divine, you may tear off the heads of
the evil-spirited cannibal who lives on the flesh of men and who satisfies himself with the flesh of horses and cattle and who steals for himself the milk of milch-cow”.]
YajurVeda XIII.49 Do not kill the cow.
YajurVeda XXX.18 Award death sentence to the killer of the cow.
Mahabharata- Shantiparva 262.47 Cow is called ‘aghanya’ and thus non-killable.
Some examples of glorification of the cow in the Vedas:
AtharvVeda XI.1.34 states “dhenuh sadnam rayeenham”
i.e. ‘cow is the fountainhead of all the bounties’.
The entire Sukta 28 of VIth Mandala of the RgVeda sings glory of the cow.
(seven hymns alongwith their full text and Hindi translation could be seen in the book entitled “Gyan Ganga Sagar-Vol.II” at pp.100-103).
RgVeda VI.28.3 states ‘enemy may not use any astra i.e. weapon on cows’
RgVeda VI.28.4 states ‘no body should take them to butcherhouse to kill them’
RgVeda VI.28.5 states ‘milk of cow is used in the first offering (ahuti) to Soma’
YajurVeda XXIII.48 states “Gostu matra n vidyate” i.e. Cow cannot be compared with anything.
Scriptures of Sikhism:
In Dashamgranth, Gurugovind Singhji prays to God as follows:
Yahi deh agya tark ko khapaun Goghat ka dukh jagat se mitaun Aas poornh karo tum hamari Mite kasht gauan chhoote khed bhari
[He desired to remove the cow slaughter from the world and save them from any torture]
Aadigranthsahab states as follows:
Doodh katore garhve paani Kapila gaai namey duh aani
[ It is in praise of the cow’s milk]
Cow and Swami Dayanand Saraswati
Swami Dayanand was the first crusader against cow slaughter and his book ‘Gokarunanidhi’[Ocean of mercy for the cow] is a living testimony which speaks of his
inner feelings on the subject. It was written on 24th February, 1881. This treatise has three sections namely 1) Discussion of the essential principles 2) Rules and 3) Sub-rules. This stipulates constitution of a society for preservation and protection of the cows. Swamiji pleaded with the British officials to stop cow slaughter and personally met Col. Brooks,
political agent of Rajasthan and Mr.Muir, Lt.Governor of N.W.P.(now Uttar Pradesh) to state that the cow was the backbone of the Indian economy and soul of its socio-cultural fabric. At the instance of Swamiji, Maharaja Sajjansingh of Udaipur and Maharaja
Jaswantsingh of Jodhpur banned the long prevailing practice of slaughter of animals in their states. Swamiji even drafted an appeal that was to be submitted to the Queen Victoria duly signed by two crore Indians but this work was interrupted due to
death of Swamiji in 1883. He deeply felt for the cow and waged a battle for its cause. His intense love for the cow cannot be described in words but his mission of banning cow slaughter was cut short by his death which needs to be accomplished.
Western Indologists, Swami Dayanand and the Vedas
Regarding Western Indologists, a revealing document entitled “Western Indologists: A study in motives” was written by an eminent Vedic scholar Shri Bhagavad Datta and published by Itihasa Prakashana Mandala in 1954. While quoting their designs at the behest of their masters, Shri Bhagvad Datta states as follows:
“They received enormous financial aid from their Governments and also from the British Government in India, which they freely used in writing articles, pamphlets and books propagating their reactionary views in a very subtle and disguised manner. It was
their careful endeavour not to give themselves away and to mislead the world and the people of Bharatavarsha under the cloak of scholarship and impartiality. They might have pretty well succeeded in their work had not their applecart been upset by Svami
Dayananda Sarasvati, who ruthlessly exposed their nefarious designs. Svamiji was man of unique personality, indomitable courage, keen intellect and far-reaching vision and imagination. He had come in contact with many European scholars of his time. He
had met George Buhler, Monier Williams, Rudolf Hoernle, Thibaut and others who had worked with Christian zeal in the field of Sanskrit research. He was the first man whose penetrating eye could not fail to see through the ulterior motives of their research
work, although the common run of people in Bharatavarsha and even most of the learned men in the employ of the Government here had permitted themselves to be deluded by their so-called profound scholarship, strict impartiality, scientific and liberal outlook.
He gave a timely warning to the people of his country and to a great extent succeeded in saving them from the clutches of these pseudo-scholars and clandestine missionaries”.
Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyaya on Albert Weber, another German Indologist
“The celebrated Weber was no doubt a scholar but I am inclined to think that it was an unfortunate moment for India when he began the study of Sanskrit. The descendants of the German savages of yesterday could not reconcile themselves to the ancient glory of
India. It was therefore, their earnest effort to prove that the civilization of India was comparatively of recent origin. They could not persuade themselves to believe that the Mahabharata was composed centuries before Christ was born”.[English translation of Hindi version of his work entitled “Krishan Charitra,3rd parichhed”]
I. There is urgent need to propagate Vedas’ commentary by Sw. Dayanand Saraswati to halt further damage and Aryasamaj should take a lead to publicise the English translations rendered by Acharya Dharam Dev Vidyamartanda published by Sarvdeshik Arya Pratinidhi Sabha, Delhi and the other by Sw. Satya Prakash
Saraswati and Shri Satyakam Vidyalankar published by Veda Pratishthan, Delhi for the English knowing scholars/ masses in India and abroad and also such Vedic centers/universities and it be ensured that Bhashya by Sw. Dayanand forms an integral part of the curriculum of all national and international universities. This could be accomplished by apex bodies of Aryasamaj like Arya Parinidhi Sabhas of various Indian states and Sarvdeshik Arya Pratinidhi Sabha, Delhi. They should also launch a drive/
programmes to highlight the special features adopted by Sw. Dayanand Saraswati while rendering the Bhashya/commentary of Vedas vis-à-vis discrepancies and anomalies in earlier commentaries and the translations by foreign and vested Indian scholars
whose motive was to denigrate the Indian and Vedic culture and this aspect had been thoroughly exposed by the Vedic scholar Shri Bhagwad Datta in his publication “Western Indologists: a study in motives”.
II. We need to support and pursue measures for spreading the teaching and learning of the Sanskrit language by all possible means because the entire spiritual literature inherited by us is in this divine language.
III. We should demand a ban on cow slaughter in India and take suitable legal action and approach the Government of India to also impose a ban on the book *The myth of the holy cow by D.N.Jha, a historian from University of Delhi which severely injures the
sentiments of majority community of this nation who love and admire the cow as their mother and also direct Mr. Jha to apologise for misinterpretation and misrepresentation of our sacred texts as brought out in this paper (Overwhelming majority of signatories on
the petition online have already supported this stand). It is a challenge for the entire humanity who regard ancient Indian and Vedic civilization to be an ideal and a noble legacy and the RgVeda is acknowledged to be the oldest document (scripture) on this planet.
* its synopsis printed on the jacket of the book reads:
“The growth of religious fundamentalism in India is symbolized by the existence of a BJP government committed to the Hindutva. There is growing pressure to declare the cow a sacred, national animal and to ban its slaughter. The Myth of the Holy Cow is an
illuminating response to this crazed confessionalism. It challenges obscurantist views on the sanctity of the cow in Hindu tradition and Culture. Dwijendra Narayan Jha, a leading Indian historian, argues that beef eating played an important part in the cuisine of ancient India, long before the birth of Islam. It was very much a feature of the approved rahamanical and Buddhist diet. The evidence he produces from a variety of religious and secular texts is compelling. His opponents, including the current government of India
and the fundamentalist groups backing it, have demanded that the book should be ritually burned in public. It has already been banned by the Hyderabad Civil Court and the author’s life has been threatened”.
P.S. Beseides two main articles ‘clouds over understanding of the Vedas’ being on the website www.aryasamaj.org these are also available on website
www.love4cow.com, www.india-forum.com; and was published in the journal Vedic Science in its issue dated July-September,Vol.4,No.3(2002) and
recently these articles were reproduced in the Publication No.31 of Shiksha bachao aandolan samiti,Delhi as evidence in Delhi High Court.
B..D.Ukhul is a former Librarian of Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi and presently Up-pradhan of the Aryasamaj, C Block, Janakpuri, New Delhi-110058.
Email address: deeukhal @ yahoo.co.uk Res.Address: C2A/58, Janakpuri, New Delhi-110058 Tel.: 25525128, 9313749812