World Views: Vedic vs. Western

In The Late Eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, European scholars and scientists began to come in contact with the culture of India. Many were impressed by the antiquity of Vedic civilization and the deep spiritual and material knowledge contained in the Vedic literature. But other European intellectuals were dismayed by these developments. For example, in 1825 the British scholar John Bentley wrote of his conflict with the scientist John Playfair, who was an admirer of Indian culture:

By his [Playfair’s] attempt to uphold the antiquity of Hindu books against absolute facts, he thereby supports all those horrid abuses and impositions found in them, under the pretended sanction of antiquity…. Nay, his aim goes still deeper; for by the same means he endeavors to overturn the Mosaic account, and sap the very foundation of our religion: for if we are to believe in the antiquity of Hindu books, as he would wish us, then the Mosaic account is all a fable, or a fiction.¹

For Bentley, a devout Christian, the matter was simple. The Mosaic account in the Bible says that the earth was created in about 4004 B.C., and it completely contradicts the Vedic scriptures. Therefore, either the Bible or the Vedic scriptures must be false. read more

In defense of Srila Prabhupada

By Thomas J. Hopkins, Ph.D, Professor, Department of Religious Studies, Franklin and Marshall College, USA (A Response to: ‘His Divine Grace and the Revised Bhagavad-Gita’ by Joseph Vekerdi)

I have read the English translation of Joseph Vekerdi’s essay in Life and Literature entitled ‘His Divine Grace and the Revised Bhagavad-Gita’. I must say that I find it disappointing as a scholarly statement on Prabhupada’s translation, the Gita itself and the Hindu tradition as a whole. I have no doubt that Vekerdi is a competent Indologist in some area of study, but he is clearly outside his field of competence in this essay.

Vekerdi’s critique of Prabhupada’s translation can be divided into two categories: his criticism of how certain verses are translated and his denial that Prabhupada represents ‘traditional Indian Hindu religiousness’. Although Vekerdi’s most serious error is in the latter category, I will begin with his critique of specific translations .He fortunately gives only a few examples, because each represents a complex pattern of misunderstanding. read more