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Purvapaksha of Wendy Doniger edited 'Purana Perennis'

Purvapaksha of Wendy Doniger edited Purana Perennis

Chatsinn, a member of the Rajiv Malhotra discussion forum discovered when browsing through the MCLI website, the CV of Velchuru Narayana Rao who is part of the translation team for the 'Story of Manu' or Manucharitra in Telugu .

Velchuru was also one of the contributors of the book Purana Perennis , edited by Wendy Doniger. Chatssin says that a reading of the book throws up the same biases that are seen in Pollock's work. Apart from the biases, there are also very fundamental errors in the translation. He says there is a very casual attitude in the writing which discounts the sacred dimension of our texts. He also observes that the tool of political philology is predominantly used for the interpretation of the texts.

He says:

-When talking about the objective of the book below is her [Doniger] statement, tone was so demeaning and devoid of any shraddha. And the statement also shows colonial hegemony of projecting themselves as saviours who are reviving the puranas. But In India these are already widespread and well read by common man.

"If Vedic texts were Brahmins of Indology, the puranas were the untouchables. We all felt that study of these neglected traditions was long overdue as a kind of puranic affirmative action. The essays in this book represent a first step in that direction." (pg 59)

There is another chapter titled “Purana as Brahminic Ideology” by V Narayana Rao who looks like a sepoy of the Cabal. For him our civilization is a Brahminic civilization and he is looking even the scientific Hindu calendar from Marxist lens.

"India has three different ways of conceptualizing time and space, all of which are still at work in the lives of Indian people. The low-caste, nonliterate people have folk concept of time/space, uppercaste Sanskrit-educated Brahmins have a puranic concept of time/space, and the western educated Indians have a modern concept of time/space." (pg88)

But if you go deep into the further chapters it is not a dharmic study of puranas but a crass political study. She [Doniger] is referring to Skanda Purana as “Scrap Purana”.

"In this world of ever-shifting puranic sands, the Skanda Purana is surely the shiftiest, or perhaps the sandiest, of all. The longest and most sprawling of all the puranas, though it was usually grouped with the Maha -rather than the Upapuranas it was regarded even by the native Indian tradition as a scrap-bag; its name forms a pun to this effect in Tamil, where it is the “scrap” Purana (Kantal-Puranam)." (Pg 59)

I googled for Kantal Puranam did not got any results. But got for Kanthal (note the additional h) and means flower. Not sure if she is removing h and mentioning as Kantal. Tamil people in this forum can confirm this. 

To the above research, Senthil added his comments: 

What shoddy authorship!!!! And Wendy is supposedly an "authority" on Hinduism... Pathetic that such illiterates are occupying prestigious chairs in top US universities.

Kantha-Puranam in Tamil narrates the birth and story of Kantha. Kantha is another name for Muruga/Karthikeya, the son of Shiva and it's common meaning is "The Beautiful One". If I twist my brain like Wendy then I can infer that she's mixing "Kantha" with "Kanthal" a Tamil word meaning "Torn". Even then it is not same as "Scrap". A torn piece of cloth can be used as scrap cloth in kitchen, but that does not mean Torn = Scrap. And stretching it even further to say Kantha Puranam = Scrap bag is ridiculous.

Even with my basic knowledge on Skanda-Purana, I can tell that there are HUGE differences between Skanda-Purana(Sanskrit) and Kantha-Puranam(Tamil).
Skanda purana is massive and there are so many Khandas and Samhitas that comprise the Sanskrit body of the purana. Its subject matter is diverse.
Kantha puranam is a Tamil work that was inspired by a specific Khanda of a specific Samhita from the Sanskrit version. It is much smaller in size and has a more focused subject matter. All the more reason why it makes no sense why Tamils would call it a scrap bag.

Also, there are many other Tamil literary works like "Kanthar Alangaram", "Kanthar Anubhoothi", "Kantha Sasti kavacham", "Kantha Guru Kavacham" etc. Why would Tamils call all these works as scrap??

In fact the purana about Kantha-puranam, tells us about the rigorous intellectual debates that went behind, before it was accepted as a purana. 
Here's the version:

Katchiappa Shivacharyar was born in Kanchipuram, Tamilnadu in the Kaumaram sect that worships Kantha(Murugan). Once he had a vision in which the Lord asked him to bring his sacred purana to the Tamil people, from the Sanskrit version. HE gave clear instructions on the source material: Shiva-Rahasya Khanda of Shankara Samhita of Skanda Purana. HE also gave the author, the first few Tamil words with which to start the purana (Thigada-sakkara...).

Every day the author would prepare 100 verses and keep it at the feet of Muruga's murthi at Kumarakottam temple at night. The next morning he would find it corrected for grammar and poetic usage of language.
Once he completed his work, Shivacharyar went to the learned assembly of scholars and submitted it for peer-review. To his disappointment, the very first words (incidentally given by Muruga) of the book were rejected by the scholars stating that it contradicted the rules-of-union of words as per Tamil grammar. He went back home dejected to re-work on his product.

The next day, an old scholar (Muruga Himself or someone blessed by Him) appeared in the assembly in defense of the choice of words of Shivacharyar. He provided citations from another Tamil work called Veera-Choliyam (Sandhi chapter, 15th verse) where such grammatical unions were used and were approved by the learned scholars. The assembly was satisfied at that point and the work became published for mass consumption as a purana.

Calling such a purana, a scrap-bag?

Published: March 13, 2016

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