November 24, 2010
Mistranslation of Vedas – comments
Comment by Krishna Mohan on Facebook (here)
Sanjeev Ji, I know quite a bit of Sanskrit and I have myself noticed so many mistranslations not only of the Vedas but also of Gita. The reason being that Sanskrit and modern languages have a huge difference in their semantic structure.
For example, 'go' in Sanskrit means "anything that moves about freely"
Depending on context it can refer to different things. 'go' when used in context of agriculture means 'cow', when used in context of controlling oneself it means 'sense organs', when used in context of vision it means 'light' and in different contexts 'go' means different objects.
This is a property of every Sanskrit word.
Another example, 'Yog' means "combination". In chemistry it would mean 'a compound', in spirituality it would mean 'experiencing or combining in God', in the context of health it means 'yoga' where in-going and out-going breaths combine.
This property of Sanskrit in which a word represents "an idea" and not "an object" makes translating Sanskrit accurately very difficult for a person who did not study Sanskrit Vyakaran and Nirukti.
Hence we see in British translations of Vedas that "the so-called Aryans used to kill Cows". Max muller and other Indologists assumed that 'go' means "cow" even if it was used in the context of 'sense organs'. The actual context in Vedas probably was "Control your Sense organs" which was mistranslated to "Kill Cows". This is just one example. I have found so many English mistranslations in Bhagawad Gita itself, let alone Vedas which have more complex Sanskrit.