From the Jacket
In this, the second volume of this edition of Krsna-sandarbha, Srila Jiva Gosvami begins by showing that Lord Balarama is the original expansion of Lord Krsna, and thus equal to Lord Krsna.
Essentially, what Srila Jiva Gosvami demonstrates in this section of the Krsna-sandarbha is that Sri Krsna is the original Personality of Godhead, and when He appears in the material world, all other forms of Godhead appear within His form.
The fact that the abode of Sri Krsna, Goloka Vrndavana, is the highest abode in the spiritual world.
The abodes of the Lord in this material world, where He comes to display His eternal pastimes, are non-different from the His abodes in the spiritual world.
The associates of the Lord that appear on this earth are the eternal associates of the Lord in the spiritual sky.
"Jiva Gosvami has got six Sandarbhas, these: Bhagavat-sandarbha, Krsna-sandarbha, Tattva-sandarbha, Priti-sandarbha, like that. So, I don't think that these books are published in English. These Sandarbhas of Jiva Gosvami are so philosophically discussed that throughout the whole world, there is not a single philosopher who can defy them. We belong to the Gaudiya-sampradaya from Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, coming in the disciplic succession of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. We have got immense literature to understand God. One who wants to understand God through philosophy, science, argument and logic, to supply them reading material, we have got immense literature, Vedic literature".
Back of the Book
The two great personalities, Krsna and Balarama, had both made the land of Vraja extremely beautiful by decorating it with Their footprints, which had many auspicious marking, such s the flag, thunderbolt, rod for controlling elephants and lotus flower. With great mercy, They cast Their smiling glance upon Akrura.
Brahma explains: "I am most humbly praying at your lotus feet for you to please give me any sort of birth within this Vrndavana Forest so that I may be able to be favored by the dust of the feet of some of the devotees of Vrndavana. Even if I am given the chance to grow just as the humble grass in this land, that will be a glorious birth for me"
This volume is the outcome, extended and enlarged, of a one day seminar, "Negotiations with the Past: Classical Tamil in Contemporary Tamil", held on July 30th 2004 at the French Institute of Pondicherry, under the joint auspices of the Indology Department, French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP) and the Tamil Chair, Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies (SSEAS), University of California, Berkeley.
"There is no unmediated access to the past"
The seminar brought together experts from a variety of fields to demonstrate and discuss the relationship between classical and contemporary Tamil and the continuities and discontinuities perceived in that relationship. The fields, each represented by one expert, were: Archaeology, Epigraphy, Literature, Grammar, Lexicography, the Sciences and Music, and the Performing Arts.
The papers given and the resulting discussions provided a multi- disciplinary framework for looking at the study of Tamil today and highlighted the holistic approach to Tamil studies always taken by the IFP and by the Tamil Chair, Department of SSEAS, u.c. Berkeley, in their research program on Classical and Contemporary Tamil and on Historical Geography.
Every culture has its own characteristic way of dealing with the past, a way which reflects the social and cultural changes taking place in any epoch. Tamil culture is at a crucial juncture in its evolution and in its adaptation to the contemporary period. Amongst other signs of this we find: the Tamil diaspora, Tamil on the net, and on open source platforms etc., while, at the same time, it continues to explore its classical and folk past. At the time of the seminar the Tamil language was still struggling for classical status within India; this has since been achieved.
In illustration of the holistic approach to Tamil studies just mentioned, two poems appear at the beginning of the book, one from the cankam corpus, Purananuru, and the other by the contemporary Sri Lankan poet, Vilvarattinam, along with French and English translations. In this juxtaposition may be seen the radiant link which exists, or may exist, between the classical and contemporary language: visible too are the obstacles to the reading, understanding and translating of Tamil poetry, whether ancient or modern. In order to have an accurate and comprehensive understanding of these two poems, for instance, a reader would, in order to understand the first, have to be familiar with the ancient story of King Pari. And by the way, does anyone know where the kingdom of Pari was actually situated? She or he would have to be able to read classical Tamil history and the history of the cankam corpus, and have knowledge of matters such as the place in it of the Purananuru. For an informed appreciation of the contemporary poem knowledge would be required of the history of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, of India's role in it, and how it has led to the dispersal of Sri Lankan Tamils amongst the refugees of the world, as well as of the history of Sri Lanka, and that of Ealam Tamil literature. Competence in modern day Tamil and grasp of syntax, style and images being also necessary, it is evident that a great deal is required of the student of Tamil literature but we believe that this kind of holistic approach may be the only way in which Tamil studies may be able to emerge from their present fragmented and isolated state.
"We read history to learn about the past, and pass exams.
In order to define that state more precisely in the brief space we have here, let us look for a moment at some of the scholars and students responsible, at this time, for the study and teaching of the Tamil language and culture.
First, from the culture itself, come the traditional scholars who learned classical Tamil grammar and literature by rote and repetition, literally at the feet of their gurus in the tradition's great lineages. These bearers of a unique heritage lecture and produce streams of books in a meta-language that few understand and, as well, 'employ an archaic, and often impenetrable, form of English which only adds to the obfuscation. That self-reflection and self- cnticism are not part of the practice of the tradition is a barrier to development as is the lack of interest of these experts in the modern Tamil world which barely exists for them. The original idea of a lively interaction between traditional and up-to-date methodologies and their respective exponents has been replaced by a one way street where researchers tap into the indispensable data base constituted by the memories of these living legends who are, however, an endangered species.
At the feet, virtually, of these traditional exponents of the culture sit the overseas scholars who have learned classical Tamil in their universities but are unable to read the Tamil manuscripts and must have everything transliterated. They record their teachers' remarks and produce their own translations and critical editions of classical Tamil texts directly from that source and from unpublished English translations available in a few libraries. Technology enters in the name of applied research and texts appear on CDs and on the web without any serious study of them having been done. The text is dissected as though it were a cadaver and nowhere do we find the pleasure of reading or the joy of understanding and of course, this type of scholar has no interest in, or insight into, contemporary Tamil life.
Next, from every clime, come Tamil scholars under other names. As sociologists, anthropologists and historians they frequent archives and write papers in English with an approach that would, if their work were written in Tamil, be recognizably more journalistic and commonsensical than scholarly. Works are produced and often come to be considered as landmarks in literary anthropological oral history, even though no corresponding original Tamil version was made available. For such works are based largely on fieldwork, usually conducted, through an interpreter and with a resulting lack of any sense of the culture. The absence too of any refereeing or peer reviewing in the field of the Humanities in general means that a single paper is published with minor amendments over and over again.
Our fourth type of scholar is to be found teaching in universities, colleges and schools. Products of the faulty Indian educational system, these graduates teach Tamil without the basic reference tools in a caricature of education. There are candidates for Ph.D. in Tamil who are not aware of the existence of the Tamil lexicon and wouldn't be able to use it if they were. Such Tamil Peraciriyar professors tend to read and to write elementary articles for Tamil journals and critical reviews, only to the extent necessary for their promotion. If, in contrast to the traditional scholars mentioned above, they have weak memories and only faintly remember what they wrote in their own dissertations, this hardly matters since every year, in time for the inspection, they faithfully copy and recopy their "notes of lesson" which rarely correspond to the lessons actually taught. Their hapless students are limited in their choice of thesis subject to those on the list provided by the professor.
Lastly come the students themselves, those who, even though their mother tongue is Tamil, speak and write it unconsciously, making all sorts of simple mistakes. There is little incentive for them to rectify this as only about 25 marks are awarded in the school exams for grammar. Facilities are next to non-existent: most students have never, for instance, seen a Tamil dictionary.
Schools which have retained Tamil as the medium of instruction are few and far between and their number is dwindling. The teaching in most schools of the medium language, English, is a contributory factor in the generally low standard of education.
As Dr. Indira Manuel in her contribution to this volume informs us, the study of Tamil history or literature is increasingly taken up by students who have failed entrance to science or business courses, year by year, follow the example of their professors and seek posts teaching Tamil in schools and universities.
The students who come from abroad are those who have reached the stage of studying Tamil by avoiding being ambushed by Sanskrit. They tend to be perplexed by the reality of the ever contracting and expanding world of classical and contemporary Tamil.
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