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Saturday, November 3, 2012

My book on Prābhākara Mīmāṃsā has been just released!


The book is called Duty, language and exegesis in Prābhākara Mīmāṃsā: Including an edition and translation of Rāmānujācārya's Tantrarahasya, Śāstraprameyapariccheda, it is included in the Jerusalem Studies on the History of Religion Series and it is published by Brill, Leiden.

The book is an introduction to key concepts of Indian Philosophy, seen from the perspective of one of its most influential schools, the Prābhākara Mīmāṃsā, which flourished from the 7th until the 20th c. AD. The book includes the edition and translation of Rāmānujācārya's Śāstraprameyapariccheda, which is part of his Tantrarahasya (written in South India, after the 14th c.). The edition is based on the extant editions, an additional manuscript and most of all on a huge amount of the texts which have been Rāmānujācārya's sources. The Tantrarahasya has never been translated before and it is one of the clearest elaboration of the Prābhākara thought. Within it, the Śāstraprameyapariccheda focuses on the core content of the Veda in general (is it an exhortation? a duty? the fact that each sacrifice will bring you happiness, etc.?) and in particular (which hermeneutical rules should one implement while interpreting a Vedic passage?).

13 comments:

ysv_rao said...

Ms Freschi,

Am always interested to come across a foreign(in this case Western) enthusiast of the Vedic corpus of religion.
Truth be told I ended up here to return the favor of one of your lunatic posters windwheel who was stalking me in cyberspace.

Anyway Ramanuja and Prabhakara arent my favorite but its not their fault.Its just that they belong to a period of Hinduism which subscribes to a school of thought(bhakti) which I am not very fond of .Some extreme karma yogis would go ahead and say it is responsible for one of the dark ages of Hinduism and while I kind of see their point when it comes to religious understanding,I feel its a bit harsh.Bhakti school was responsible for some of the greatest sculpture,architechture ,music and poetry in the history of Hinduism.So theres that.

My gripe against this school(of which I found Shri Ramanuja among the more enlightened) is that blind devotion has substituted for rational,critical conceptualization s and experiencing of various dieties(you maybe wondering what Im talking about).

The churning of the ocean myth for instance is what too many Hindus consider a supernatural event where the gods and demons cooperate to churn the nectar from the cosmic ocean using a snake,mountain and tortoise while the results being the cow,ayurveda,vastu shastra.

Do most Hindus or most Westerners know what the myth means or do they take literally as some colorful mythological story?

Same goes for the various avatars of Vishnu.
If people want to believe in a fish that grew 10000x its size within a few seconds or a giant boar rescued the earth from the ocean or a dwarf turned into vishnu and covered the 3 worlds,they are welcome to do so but its not what they believe it is.

ysv_rao said...

Within it, the Śāstraprameyapariccheda focuses on the core content of the Veda in general (is it an exhortation? a duty? the fact that each sacrifice will bring you happiness, etc.?) and in particular (which hermeneutical rules should one implement while interpreting a Vedic passage?)."

Since Im here it would be rude not to comment on the book ..anyway what I can garner from above.

Vedas truth be told have little history(contrary to what Aryan Invasion or for that matter many Out of India theorists believe) but really a collection of hymns and exhortations to different dieties and their qualities,stories and histories.For this reason there is much repetition in the Vedas.

When Prabhakara is puzzled by what the Vedas are supposed to signify and he attempts to find their meaning ,I have no doubt that he is a very smart and educated man but he will never understand them unless he understands and acquires to the dieties.

In this Im afraid Shri Prabhakara has been unsuccessful in the true quest of the Vedas as a foreigner like Ms.Freschi has been so far.

elisa freschi said...

Dear ysv_rao,

1) I am surprised by the fact that, like windwheel, you also assume that Rāmānujācārya is the same person as Śrī Rāmānuja. This is not the case, as should be clear through the dates (Śrī Rāmānuja lived between the 11th and the 12th c.).

2) I see your point concerning bhakti as anti-rationalism. But I do not think that devotion to a personal God has to be non-rational (see this post of mine about it: http://elisafreschi.blogspot.co.at/2012/08/when-it-becomes-rational-to-believe-in.html). The fact that it often is has more to do, in my opinion, with its adherents than with bhakti itself.

3) I do not work directly on the Vedas. I work on the Mīmāṃsā understanding of them. And by "Veda" Mīmāṃsā scholars meant first of all the Brāhmaṇas and not the Saṃhitās.

ysv_rao said...

Im sorry but this is just another sorry attempt by bhakti proponents to project the movements flaws on its acolytes.

This is one of the serious problems I have with the bhakti movement.When they are called out on out the bizarre,blind and monotonous approach to the divine and literal interpretation of scripture that is the core of the bhakti movement, it is somehow the fault of the followers who merely espousing its ideas!

This reminds me of the apologists for Islamists who claim that Muslims are bad but Islam is good even though much of what the "bad" Muslims do such terrorism,jihad,rape of captives,pedophilia and slavery is sanctioned in the Quran.

Bhakti at the most is an aid to Raja Yoga and Karma Yoga which is why it is mentioned last in the Bhagvad Gita.If Arjuna followed bhakti principles had shut his eyes and put his hands over hears and kept singing Krishna's(though on the Pandavas side, he was a noncombatant) praises so that the war would somehow come to a close, he wouldve been slaughtered on the first day.

Bhakti is the bane of modern day Hinduism.And it is due to bhakti that 90% of todays Hinduism is complete and utter junk and by the extension the reason why India is a basketcase.

ysv_rao said...

As for Ramanuja/Ramanujacharay -potato/potatoe ,coke/pepsi ...very little of the Indian philosophy post 5th century AD or thereabouts has any value and can be safely avoided

elisa freschi said...

Dear ysv_rao,

—I think differences are the main thing and I would not ever say that "the whole of…" has to be censured. I am sentimentally far from bhakti, but I think it is more intellectually challenging to try to understand it, rather than to just despise it. Once again, I would not throw it away because of some of its today's upholders.

—I enjoy post classical philosophy, see point No. 9 of this post: http://elisafreschi.blogspot.co.at/2012/12/next-sanskrit-philosophical-projects.html

ysv_rao said...

Elisa,


—I think differences are the main thing and I would not ever say that "the whole of…" has to be censured."

As I said, bhakti has its place but not it shold not be at the top of the food chain ,so to speak.


I am sentimentally far from bhakti, but I think it is more intellectually challenging to try to understand it, rather than to just despise it."

There is nothing challenging about bhakti.It is little more than the appeal of Mohini, the beautiful nymph-an aspect of Vishnus Maya who tricked the asuras into giving their share of amruta after the churning.
Mohini symbolizes any pleasing idea that has little rational or religious merit.
Pretty much all that has gone wrong in the last 100 years can be ascribed to Mohini -the appeal of Nazis,fascism,communism,socialism ,free stuff for the poor, war as social work,war for nation building,New World Order,End of History,interest rate free houses with no downpayment,security mortgages,hope and change,forward,progressivism

All of above sound wonderful until the dance of Shiva renders them moot and they come crashing down as he destroys unsustainable models of understanding the world.Ironically it was always intellectuals who were most susceptible to the appeal of Mohini.

And Im afraid you are the same spell ,you like bhakti butyou just dont realize it.

Once again, I would not throw it away because of some of its today's upholders."

I would throw it away not just because of the upholders but even in Ramanuja's era, I would request him to participate in debates and prove his positions or suffer exile as is my right as king.I would not tolerate my wards being subjected to unverified feel good nonsense.

Isnt it odd that debates and yagnas which generated the cream of Vedic civilizations philosophy suddenly disappeared in the bhakti era?

elisa freschi said...

ysv_rao,

you are right, I think, in condemning blind, uncritical belief. Critical thinking is a moral imperative for human beings, the alternative of which is fanatism and superstition. However, I disagree with the equation of blind, uncritical belief and bhakti. Nor do I think that yajñas entail *necessarily* critical thinking.

ysv_rao said...

However, I disagree with the equation of blind, uncritical belief and bhakti."

Then Im afraid I dont think you will make much progress in understanding Vedic Hinduism.

Nor do I think that yajñas entail *necessarily* critical thinking."


If you dont the relationship between the concepts elucidated and discovered during debates,penance and the rituals involved in yagna, then again this is a negative against you.
Ive said too much already, traditionally a Brahmin dude like me isnt even supposed to speak to a foreigner LOL, much less encourage HER(yes Hindus were traditionally sexist by modern standards) to pursue Sanskrit and Vedas!
I have given you hints that will lead to revelations about Vedas,dieties,yoga ,ritualsastronomy that will blow your mind and completely reconfigure your thought process and make it as clear as a crystal(as Buddha said about Shaivism). I will let you discover it on your own.

elisa freschi said...

Thank for sharing, ysv_rao. As for my point on the possibility of understanding without belonging through one's DNA, please consider my adherence to the principle of charity (in this post: http://elisafreschi.blogspot.co.at/2011/03/methodological-manifesto.html) and, more in general, this post: http://elisafreschi.blogspot.co.at/2011/06/cicero-pro-domo-sua.html

PANZA-The Man Behind Times.. said...

What really caused the decline of Prabhakaram, though patronized by the royalty in several places?

elisa freschi said...

Panza, this is an interesting question, but please specify it: Which kings, what time, which region are you thinking of?

PANZA-The Man Behind Times.. said...

I came across the inscriptions in Thirunageswaram Temple. Should have flourished with local patronage as in Thirukottiyur.

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