User talk:Buddhipriya/Archives/2008-2009

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Caste system among South Asian Muslims[edit]

I noticed your edits on the page on the Caste system among South Asian Muslims. I live in Russia, and I am interested in the history of Asia. This article was a discovery for me, since I have never heard before about this caste system.
I’d appreciate if you can answer my question. Now Al Qaeda is active in some regions of Pakistan. What is Al Qaeda’s intention towards the caste system among Pakistani Muslims: do they support it, ignore, condemn or simply do not want to intervene? --Dmitri Lytov (talk) 12:55, 5 October 2008 (UTC)

The Indian Barnstar of National Merit[edit]

BoNM - India.png The Indian Barnstar of National Merit
Awarded to Buddhipriya, one of the most prolific editors from India. We are proud of you ! -- Tinu Cherian - 08:21, 5 December 2008 (UTC)

How to use this top Indian Wikipedian list for effective collaboration[edit]

Hi, I have added a section 'How to use this list for effective collaboration' on User:Tinucherian/Indians WP page to see if we can put this list to really good use, pl give your thoughts on the same and we can take it further from there. Thanks. Vjdchauhan (talk) 18:26, 6 January 2009 (UTC).

Your excellence is missed[edit]

B9 hummingbird hovering (talkcontribs) 09:57, 3 March 2009 (UTC)

I hope that you are well, and enjoying life. It was kind of you to say hello. Buddhipriya (talk) 03:27, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
I am quite happy for you to remove the edit. I have a bit of a snuffalupagus at the moment (the *snuffles*) but I'll b fighting-fit again soon.
I'm so pleased ur back in Wikitown
B9 hummingbird hovering (talkcontribs) 06:57, 18 May 2009 (UTC)


I logged in after a day off the grid, and imagine my (pleasant) surprise on seeing your missive! I myself was absent from wikipedia for a few months till last December, so I cannot grudge you your break. I do hope you stick around, but either way it's nice to hear from you. Hope you are doing well in real life. PS: Priyanath and I were recently cursing your elusiveness. Abecedare (talk) 04:39, 13 May 2009 (UTC)

As they say, "speak of the Devil and there he appears!" You seem to have found a calling on the Reference Desk. I do not feel ready to plunge into editing the text of any articles again, but I learned so much from you and other editors that perhaps I will be able to follow some of your conversations again. Regarding the Gita, the book on Indian Interpreters by Minor is a very good collection of essays that I read some years ago. I still have a copy. "Best" translators is very subjective, of course. Robert Minor himself did a translation technical text on the Gita that is more of a translator's gloss, and it is really excellent, but no longer in print ("Bhagavad Gita: An Exegetical Commentary"). It is the most detailed discussion of the translation problems at the word level that I have seen. For Sanskrit study I often check Winthrop Sargeant, which includes word-by-word grammatical analysis, a literal translation, and a free translation. I notice that Swami Sivananda's translation often catches subtle meanings of terms that many other texts handle differently, so he gives a different viewpoint. For general quality of the Sanskrit I think you can trust any of the various editions put out by the Ramakrishna Math, including the translations by Swami Tapasyananda, Swami Gambhirananda (with the translated commentary of Sankara and a handy word index), and that by Swami Chidbhavananda which is more earthy (his is the only one of the Ramakrishna order translations that includes a Ramakrishna "spin"). Swami Gambhirananda also did a translation that includes the complete commentary Gudhartha Dipika by Madhusudana Sarasvati, which is perhaps the longest and most nit-picking word-level commentary extant. I actually read the whole thing many years back, and when I mentioned my feat to the presiding Swami at my temple he raised his eyebrows in awe, but dismissed the achievement by implying I would have been better off spending the time doing japa. Buddhipriya (talk) 05:06, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
Hi Buddhipriya - how nice to see you drop by, and then to hear your expertise on the question of the different Gitas. In addition to the other authority I mentioned, who is still being elusive :), your view is very highly appreciated. Hope you are well, and it was a joy to hear from you. Priyanath talk 15:02, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
It's very good to hear from you, too. I hope that you are well and enjoying life. I see you have been doing great work. Your question about the Gita versions deserves ongoing consideration. I love the Gita very much and enjoy studying it. If as a general rule any Gita quote includes a verse number then the Sanskrit can be checked. Any passage that is disputed could have the Sanskrit source shown as well as competing translations.
I just re-read the archive discussion and realized that there are several types (at least) of work included in the list you developed so far. It may be helpful to distinguish a translation of the text from a commentary (bhāṣya) on the text. Here is one way to group them that I just came up with.
1. "Modern Popular Translations" just give a translation of the text itself with limited or no discussion, possibly excepting some with some technical or grammatical notes. Examples of this type include Christopher Isherwood or Stephen Mitchell (notable only because of who wrote them). These generally do not even have the Sanskrit source, just a loose translation. Authors were alive within the past 100 years.
2. "Modern Academic Translations" include things like Edgerton, Zaehner, von Buitenen, Minor, and Sargeant who are mainly concerned with technical apparatus and lingusistic nit-picking. Perhaps Swami Swarupananada's version fits here simply because it is so terse, but it is not targeted at an academic audience.
3. "Modern Sectarian Commentaries" include Swami Prabhupada, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Aurobindo, Eknath Easwaran, and Swami Chidbhavananda, who promote some specific modern school. These are all interesting and sometimes quite perceptive but cannot be trusted for objectivity since their goal is to advance some modern religious perspective. Swami Sivananda probably falls here because of his Society, but his work is more objective than most of the rest in this group and does not blow his own horn much.
4. "Modern Commentaries by Noteworthy Persons of Historical Importance" include Radhakrishnan, Gandhi, and Tilak (who views the Gita as a karma yoga text to a large extent). These are in a separate class due to the political influence these people had. The commentary by Tilak can be read with interest by anyone trying to understand him politics. Some of these commentaries deserve a Wikipedia article on their own.
5. "Authentic Major Commentaries" are translations not just of the Gita text, but influential philosopical texts by people who have been dead for centuries. These works are often critical to the proper understanding of a particular school. Examples are the Gītābhāṣya by Sankara (translation by Swami Gambhirananda, critical to Advaita Vedanta understanding of the work), the Gudhartha Dipika commentary by Madhusudana Sarasvati, born 1490 CE (translated by Swami Gambhirananda, and interpreting each word in detail, with Bhakti/Advaita spin), and Ramanuja's Gītābhāṣya (translated by M. R. Sampatkumaran, critical to bhakti/prapatti school). Commentaries of this class are independent intellectual works that occupy an important place in Indian philosophy in their own right. Any of these commentaries deserves a Wikipedia article by itself.
Buddhipriya (talk) 03:59, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Thank You for a very thorough answer, and also a very helpful one! I'm doing well in real life, and have found ways to still enjoy my time on Wikipedia - though it has its occasional challenges. More than anything, the joy comes from learning while improving articles (Ramprasad Sen as a recent example) and learning from people like yourself. My own reading of a few of Sivananda's books, and meetings with a few of his direct disciples, confirms your view that his approach was much less sectarian than some, and that he taught to serve others (rather than to promote and expand his society). As far as an academic and scholarly translation(s), which would you recommend as the best for simple quoting of stanzas in Wikipedia articles? As you saw from my original question to Abecedare, the ISKCON version is quoted throughout Wikipedia, with somewhat gratuitous links to their website each time (and I'll hold my tongue from here on...). Sometimes context might determine which is best, but in your opinion which of the academic versions is the most poetic or philosophical? Or would one of the more sectarian versions be non-sectarian enough? Thanks again, and I think that might be the last question I have about this! Priyanath talk 19:43, 14 May 2009 (UTC)

You give me no room to dodge. It is very difficult to pick just one, as the factors are subjective. But I would exclude any of those listed above in the "sectarian" category. I share your concerns about the Prabhupada version and would avoid using it because it is the most extremely sectarian of all in the above list.
I find that when I am trying to quote something I often turn to Gambhirananda's version (Bhagavad-Gita, with the commentary of Sankaracarya, ISBN 81-7505-041-1) because Gambhirananda is a respected translator who, although affiliated with the Ramakrishna Math, carefully avoids putting his own views into his translations. Gambhirananda has translated the Gita more than once, and thus has exposure to multiple authentic commentorial views about it. That particular book includes the commentary by Sankara, a basic text of the Advaita Vedanta school. As such, the commentary differs in perspective from those by bhakti proponents such as Ramanuja. On that basis the Sankara commentary can be attacked as "sectarian" to the extent that Advaita is a distinct way of looking at things. But if you want to cite any single commentator, who can argue with citing Sankara? Putting the commentary aside, the text of the Gita itself is translated in a very neutral style with copious notes on the Sanskrit. It also contains an index to every word, making it useful for serious study. The style of the translation strikes a good balance between being literal and being comprehensible.
As a "runner up", particularly for academic use, if you are trying to convince someone of a technical detail in what a Sanskrit word or phrase means grammatically, I would quote Winthrop Sargeant's "The Bhagavad Gita" (ISBN 0-87395-830-6) because his word-by-word analysis of parts of speech is difficult to argue with. He gives no commentary or religious spin whatsoever, just the text with grammatical apparatus. The publisher is "State University of New York Press", a respected academic publishing house not affiliated with any religious group. Since he gives both a tediously literal version of the translation as well as a more free version, you can cite Sargent to nail down the literal meaning of a passage. Compare BG 18:70 --
adhyeṣyate ca ya imaṃ | dharmyaṃ saṃvâdam âvayoḥ | jñânayajñena tenâham | iṣṭaḥ syâm iti me matiḥ || 18.70 ||
Sargeant, p. 731 (literal) and he shall study, who this | sacred dialog of ours | with the knowledge sacrifice by him, I | loved should be, thus of me the thought.
Sargeant, p. 731 (free) And he who shall study this | Sacred dialogue of ours, | By him I shall have been worshipped | With the wisdom sacrifice; such is My conviction.
Gambhirananda, p. 765 (ISBN 81-7505-041-1) And he who will study this sacred conversation between us two, which is conducive to virtue, by him I shall be adored through the Sacrifice in the form of Knowledge. This is My judgement.
Thank you for the opportunity to share in your jñânayajña (knowledge-sacrifice) of this great text, which is not the property of any single sect or limited view. Buddhipriya (talk) 01:12, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
"You give me no room to dodge." I sometimes need things spelled out for me! (Especially if I might need to convince someone else). Which you have done, and then some. Thank you for the explanation — I've learned much more than I was asking, which is very much appreciated. Priyanath talk 17:32, 18 May 2009 (UTC)