Sunday, August 6, 2017

Book Review: INDIA: WHAT CAN IT TEACH US?

'INDIA: WHAT CAN IT TEACH US?' A Course of Lectures by MAX M√úLLER, is a concise commentary about ancient India, of its rich literature, and, more particularly, of its religion. The object noted here is, not only to place names and facts before the readers, but also to make one see and feel the general state of affairs persisted in some of the oldest chapters of the history of the human race. Accordingly, the Veda and its religion and philosophy is discussed in planes more than mere curiosity. Attention is also paid adequately to link those things with the general concerns of people at large. 
As the author mentions at many places in the book, everyone can learn lessons from the Veda, quite as important as the lessons, one learn at school from Homer and Virgil. With suitable examples, the lessons from the Vedanta can be cited to be as instructive as the systems of Plato or Spinoza.
There are many aspects of our life or society that needs more study, the author mentions. Learning Sanskrit, and further study of Vedic Sanskrit is certainly beneficial. "I do believe that not to know what a study of Sanskrit, and particularly a study of the Veda, has already done for illuminating the darkest passages in the history of the human mind, of that mind on which we ourselves are feeding and living, is a misfortune, or, at all events, a loss, just as I should count it a loss to have passed through life without knowing something, however little, of the geological formation of the earth, or of the sun, and the moon, and the stars--and of the thought, or the will, or the law, that govern their movements".
In seven chapters marked LECTURE I to LECTURE VII, author discusses the complete range of knowledge hidden in ancient Indian writing. Veda, organization of vedic deities, and discussions about the abstract tenets hiding among those, proliferate these pages. Quite tough to read, given the archaic style of writing. However, there is much to learn new.

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