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Muhammad in Hinduism?
A RESPONSE TO M.N. ANDERSON'S ARTICLE: "Prophet Muhammad in Hindu Scriptures?"
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Mr. Anderson, while attempting to answer the claims of prophecy about Prophet Muhammad in Hindu scriptures alleges that the Hindu scriptures have been continuously modified to incorporate Christian and Islamic ideas [1]. He has substantiated his view with citations from the Rig Veda, Bhavishya Purana, Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita. We will soon realize that Mr. Anderson has drawn his conclusions from translations taken mostly from the works of Mr. Aravindaksha Menon and Dr. Z. Haq [2,3], who have mistranslated and interpolated many verses to extract what they wanted.
    Mr. Anderson's view is probably true in the case of the Puranas but not in the case of Bhagavad Gita, Rig Veda and the Principal Upanishads. In this article, I produce original translations of the verses and compared them with those cited by Mr. Menon and Dr. Haq to prove my point.
    I have been studying the Muslim claims on the prophecy of Muhammad in Hindu scriptures for quite some time now. I have also produced my thoughts on this much disputed claim.

 

(1)  Muhammad and Jesus in Hindu scriptures

     Being a tolerant faith, Hinduism offers a great degree of freedom to interpret its scriptures. Ironically, this freedom has been abused by Muslim and Christian scholars to read their ideas into these texts. We will soon see that their claims of prophecies from the Vedas are a result of mistranslations and misinterpretations.

(i) The status of the Puranas
    As regards to Muhammad in Hindu scriptures, I have the following comments to make about Bhavishya Purana.  Hindu scriptures have been categorized into two: Sruti and Smriti. The Srutis (="Heard" or Revealed texts) are the primary ones, while the Smritis (="Remembered") are the secondary ones. While Srutis contain mostly information of transcendental nature meant for saints and rishis, Smritis contain mostly teachings of worldly nature for the general public. The secondary scriptures Smritis were composed by great sages based on Vedic truths.
    Says Swami Mukhyananda: "It is laid down that Vedic truths must be elaborated and expounded through the Ithihasas and Puranas. The Smritis derive authority from the Vedas and are subordinate to them. They may undergo changes and modifications in time. However, anything in them transgressing the Vedic truths, loses its authority and is inoperative"
[6]
    Of all the 18 Puranas, only  Srimad Bhagavatam (or Bhagavata Purana) is the most popular one and widely quoted
[4]. Citing anything from the Puranas to prove a point has no weightage. In fact there are more Puranas that the traditional number of 18. Swami Mukhyananda says: "Though the traditional number 18 is kept up, actually the number of Maha-Puranas and Upa-Puranas exceeds 18 as new ones have been added". [6]
    Other scholars also hold the same view that the Puranas have undergone change. Talking about Puranas, Sidharth says on page 52 in his famous book "The Celestial Key to the Vedas": "Unlike the core Vedic literature, the Puranas have suffered additions and alterations" In spite of the Puranas being classified as Smritis by Hindus themselves, Muslim scholars like Vidyarthi and Ali have desperately tried to elevate their status as Revealed literatures or Words of God
[5]. The only Smriti literature to be considered as the Word of God is the Bhagavad Gita and certainly not the Puranas.  Vidyarthi and Ali even state that the Bhavishya Purana is the chief among the 18 Puranas. How ridiculous!

(ii) Prophecies in Sama, Rig and Atharva Vedas
    Mr. Anderson also quotes, from Dr. Haq's article, a verse from Sama Veda (II:6.8) which supposedly prophecies the advent of Prophet Muhammad:

Ahmad acquired religious law (Shariah) from his Lord. This religious law is full of wisdom. I receive light from him just as from the sun.

    The copy of Sama Veda I have, follows a different numbering system [7] and I am therefore unable to comment anything on the authenticity of this translation. However, I have a comment to make on the verse from Rig Veda (V.27.1) which Dr. Haq quotes to prove the prophecy of Muhammad [3].

The wagon-possessor, the truthful and truth-loving, extremely wise, powerful and generous, Mamah [Mohammad] has favored me with his words. The son of the All-powerful, possessing all good attributes, the mercy for the worlds has become famous with ten thousand [companions].

 

    Dr. Haq has reproduced this translation from the work of Vidyarthi and Ali [5]. But this is how Griffith translates the same verse:

 

THE Godlike hero, famousest of nobles, hath granted me two oxen with a wagon. Trvrsan's son Tryaruna hath distinguished himself, Vaisvanara Agni! with ten thousands.

 

    The difference is there for all of us to see (corresponding words have been highlighted in both translations). Vidyarthi's 'translation' is nothing but a wrong interpretation or a wrong translation. Is Muhammad in anyway the son of the All-powerful? How did Dr. Haq miss these words while presenting the `translation'? Don't these words suit Jesus better than Muhammad?
    Dr. Haq also talks about more Prophecies in Atharva Veda! He quotes three verses from Chapter 10 as a proof for the prophecy about Ka'ba, the holy house of Muslims. Here I have compared the translations he has produced with that of the translations by
Devi Chand.
 

Translations in Dr. Haq's article

Translations by Devi Chand

[On Ka’bah] 
Whether it is built high, its walls are in a straight line or not, but God is seen in every corner of it. He who knows the House of God, knows it because God is remembered there.. 

Atharva Veda X, 2, 28:

Was man created in Heaven or the atmosphere or in all directions is a question worth considering. He who knows the creation of God, can best answer the question. The soul is called Purusha as it lives in the world created by God.

[On Holy Sanctuary (House) and Ka’bah] 
This abode of the angels has eight circuits and nine gates. It is unconquerable, there is eternal life in it and it is resplendent with Divine light. 

Atharva Veda X, 2, 31:

This citadel of the body, unconquerable by the ignorant, equipped with circles eight and portals nine, contains the soul of full of myriad power, ever marching on the joyful God, surrounded by the Refulgent Supreme Being. 

[On Abraham & more on Holy Sanctuary & Ka’bah] 
Brahma (Abraham) stayed in this abode which is illumined by heavenly light and covered with Divine blessings. It is the place that gives (spiritual) life to the people and is unconquerable.

Atharva Veda X, 2, 33: 

God resides in the soul, bright with exceeding brilliancy, beautiful, compassed with glory round about, multipowered never subdued.

    I have highlighted (in bold, underline or colour) the corresponding differences in these two translations. Only the last translation (of verse X, 2, 33) looks similar. Dr. Haq of course interprets it differently.
    Devi Chand's translation clearly indicate that the series of verses in Chapter 10 of Atharva Veda refer to man and his soul and not the Ka'ba as Dr. Haq (to be precise Dr. Vidyarthi and Ali) interpret. The words for "creation of God" has been translated as "House of God", and the words for "created in Heaven" as "built high". In the next verse, we see the soul ("the citadel of the body", as Devi Chand translates) being translated as "abode of the angels"!!
    Translator Devi Chand remarks that the eight circles or circuits are the eight parts of the Yoga: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayamam Pratyahara, Dharna, Dhyana and Smadhi. By `interpreting' the eight circles as hills surrounding Ka'ba, Mr. Vidyarthi has let his imaginations run wild!
    And what about the 9 gates? According to Vidyarthi and Ali, it is a reference to Ka'ba!

"The House of God has nine gates - Baab-e-Ibrahim (Abraham) , Baab-al-Wedaa, Baab-as-Safa, Baab-e-Ali, Baab-e-Abbas, Baab-un-Nabi, Baab-as-Salaam, Baab-az-Ziyarat, and Baab-e-Haram. Further, the eight circuits are the natural lines enclosing the areas between the surrounding hills, the names of which are: Jabal-e-Khaleej, Jabal-e-Qaiqaon, Jabal-e-Hindi, Jabal-e-Laalaa, Jabal-e-Keda, Jabal-e-Abu Hadidah, Jabal-e-Abi Qabees, and Jabal-e-Umar".

 

    The reference to 9 gates occur quite commonly in many Hindu scriptures and one would expect Mr. Vidyarthi to have cited these verses also to `substantiate' his claim. There are only two possibilities: Either he was not aware of its occurrence in other texts or he ignored them as they clearly refer to the body.
    Here I have reproduced slokas from the Gita, Upanishad and Thirumandiram to prove that the 9 gates in these verses refer to the 9 portals in human body: 2 eyes, 2 ears, 2 nostrils, mouth, anus and genital.

 

Nine Gates in Tirumandiram

He fashioned this body,
Into that body He breathed life;
And set gates nine; (470)

Nine Gates in Svetasvatara Upanishad

It is He who resides in the body,
The city of 9 gates. He is the soul
That sports in the outside world..." 
(3:18

Nine Gates in Bhagavad Gita

The stable person, renouncing work through knowledge,
Neither acts himself, nor forces action on others,
But takes refuge in the body, the city of 9 gates  
    (V: 13)

    The verse from Svetasvatara Upanishad clearly proves that the 'city' is the Body, 9 `gates' are the apertures and 'He' refers to the soul which resides in the body! All texts of Vedanta, the Upanishads in particular, predominate with the thesis that the "Atman" (or the individual "soul") is one with Brahman, the Absolute [22]. This is the message reiterated again and again, in the verses of Atharva Veda and Upanishad cited above. And not Ka'ba or anything of that sort!
    I do not say that all the other translations which Dr. Haq has produced to prove the prophecy of Muhammad are mistranslated ones. I don't have the translations of Bhavishya Purana with me. Soon I will find out the truth. If the above `translations' of Rig and Atharva Veda are an indication, I have every reason to doubt the validity of their other `translations' also!
    Muslims have invariably tried to understand other religions from their point of view. Sanskrit words that sound similar to those in Arabic were often distorted to fit similar equivalents. The best of all examples is the mistaken identity of `Brahma' for `Abraham'
[3,8]. Dr. Haq mentions a series of similar mistaken identities: Manu for Nuh (Noah), Saraswathi for Sarah, and of course Mamah for Muhammad! Indeed, some Muslim scholars have let their imaginations run wild!

(iii) Semitic prophecies in Vedic texts & Vedic seers in Semitic texts
     The most important point is this. How can Muslims point out Muhammad's name in Hindu scriptures which the Qur'an doesn't even mention? Or for that matter, from Vedic texts which are built on the contrasting doctrine of Samsara (rebirth)? My question is applicable to Christians too who claim about Jesus in Hindu scriptures [2]. It makes sense to look for Muhammad's name in the Judeo-Christian scriptures as he not only referred them frequently in the Qur’an but also regarded his revelation as a confirmation of the earlier ones.
    Some Muslims also claim that the `Kalki' avatar of Hindus, the `Maitreya' Buddha of Buddhists and the `Soeshyant' of Zoroastrians refer to Muhammad!
[5,9,10]. These claims leave us in an interesting scenario. While the Hindus, Buddhists and Magians are eagerly expecting the arrival of the saviour, the Muslims claim that he has already come and gone! How will the Hindus, Buddhists and Parsis accept some one who appeared in an alien land and disappeared  without their own knowledge? Muhammad remained unknown to these natives for all these years and the Muslims had to come, `interpret' their scriptures and tell them that their Kalki, Maitreya and Soeshyant have already come and gone! What use are prophecies then?
    There are also Muslim scholars who claim that Zul-Kafil of the Qur’an (21:85) is the Buddha
[10] How can the Quran mention about the Buddha, who was an agnostic? The Muslims never address these issues but try to convince others that Buddha's original teaching was built around monotheism! [10]. This is a classic example of Muslims trying to understand other religions through Islamic eye. The belief of Islam as `God's Original Religion' has forced Muslims to somehow read their ideas into other's scriptures. And of course also to convince (or confuse?) the Buddhists and attract some converts. Interestingly, the Khalifite web site (www.submission.org) contains a glossary which states that Zul-Qurnain was most probably the Buddha! First and foremost, Buddha never claimed to be a prophet. His teachings were based on the Vedic doctrine of Karma (Action), Samsara (Rebirth) and Moksha (Liberation) and no way even remotely related to the Judeo-Christian beliefs!

(2) Biblical verses in the Rig Veda ?

     In this section, I will refute Mr. Anderson's view that the Rig Veda contains verses of Biblical origin. We will soon realize how Mr. Menon has read `Christian' ideas into the Rig Veda, and managed to extract something `Semitic' out of the Vedic verses.

(i) Mr. Menon's mistranslations and interpolations
    Comparing verse X.92.5 with 1:3 in John, Mr. Menon wonders "Isn't this similarity in essence between these mutually supporting statements, amazing?"  

From that male the universe came into being. From that body of the universe came the omnipresent male. That male thus became manifest, adopted various forms and character and created the earth and other planets along with the creatures to live in them.                                          (Rig Veda X:90:5) 

"through him God made all things; not one thing in all creation was made without him"

(1:3 John)

    I see nothing spectacular for Mr. Menon to get excited, considering the strikingly similar verses I have produced from different scriptures in the next section (2.ii). Nevertheless, this is how Griffith and Flaherty translate the same verse:.

  • From him Viraj was born; again Purusa from Viraj was born. As soon as he was born he spread eastward and westward o'er the earth. (Griffith)
  • From him Viraj was born, from Viraj came the Man. When he was born, he ranged beyond the earth, behind and before (Flaherty)

Mr. Menon's `translation' appears to be an interpretation than a translation. He continues to produce such mistranslations from the Rig Veda. Verse X.121.1, which is one of the Creation Hymns in Rig Veda, has been totally `Christianized' by Mr. Menon. This is how Menon interprets this verse (I don't think it is a translation):

'Prajapathy' alias 'Hiranya garbha', the first born, was born to the Holy Spirit (Paramatma) before Genesis. Upon birth, He became one and only God to the universe comprising the Skies, Stars Earth and the Seas. He rules the endless firmament and the whole of the earth. We please this deity, Prajapathy, who is called 'Kan' affectionately, with offerings in sacrifices. (Menon)

  • IN the beginning rose Hiranyagarbha, born Only Lord of all created beings. He fixed and holdeth up this earth and heaven. What God shall we adore with our oblation? (Griffith)
  • IN the beginning the Golden Embryo arose. Once he was born, he was the one lord of creation. He held in place the earth and this sky. Who is the god whom we should worship with oblation? (Flaherty)

    So the Hiranyagarbha is the cosmic Golden Egg and NOT the first born of the Holy Spirit (Paramatma?) as Mr. Menon says. To equate Hiranyagarbha (Hiranya=Golden and Garbha=Womb or Embryo, [11]) with Jesus Christ is nothing but nonsense, to say the least. The next verse he cites is X.90.2, which looks totally different in other translations!

It is for the redemption of mankind, he surpassed his immortal sphere and descends to the mortal sphere. He comes to give everyone recompense as per their deeds (Menon)

  • This Purusa is all that yet hath been and all that is to be; The Lord of Immortality which waxes greater still by food. (Griffith)
  • It is the Man who is all this, whatever has been and whatever is to be. He is the ruler of immortality, when he grows beyond everything through food. (Flaherty)

    The most interesting mistranslation is verse X.90.7, the famous one which some Christians in India use to show that Christ's crucifixion has been mentioned in the Rig Veda.

Devas of heaven and the ruling fraternity along with the hermits offered the first born male in sacrifice by consecrating him as the animal of offering by tying him on a wooden sacrificial post. (Menon)

  • They balmed as victim on the grass Purusa born in earliest time. With him the Deities and all Sadhyas and Rsis sacrificed. (Griffith)
  • They anointed the Man, the sacrifice born at the beginning, upon the sacred grass. With him the gods, Sadhyas, and sages sacrificed. (Flaherty)

    Where is the Wooden Sacrificial Post in these translations? The Sacred grass has been conveniently taken as wooden post! Where is the question of `tying him' when the post itself is absent? Mr. Menon continues to produce such amazing interpolatory `translations' from the Rig Veda. Here he `translates' X.90.16 to appear like Romans 10:9.
 

Those who worship (chanting with the lips, believing in the heart) him gets liberated in this world itself and there is no other way besides this for salvation.

(Rig Veda X: 90:16)

Because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved

(Romans 10:9)

    But this is how Griffith and Flaherty translate:

  • Gods, sacrificing, sacrificed the victim these were the earliest holy ordinances. The Mighty Ones attained the height of heaven, there where the Sidhyas, Gods of old, are dwelling. (Griffith)
  • With the sacrifice the gods sacrificed to the sacrifice. These were the first ritual laws. These very powers reached the dome of the sky where dwell the Sadhyas, the ancient gods. (Flaherty)

    Mr. Anderson takes over from where Mr. Menon left and quotes a verse from Acts (4:12) to `prove' that this hymn (as `translated' by Mr. Menon) was taken from the Book of Acts! Mr. Menon should be held responsible for misleading others too. And finally, Mr. Anderson concludes that the author of Rig Veda had a thorough knowledge of the Bible!
    Looking at the way Mr. Menon has interpolated the verses to suit his preconceived notions, it will now be clear that these verses do not prove in any way that they were taken from the Bible.

(ii) Similarities do occur
    Many scholars have pointed out the similarities between the Persian Avesta and the Indian Vedas. At least, in this case, we know that the Aryans were a break away group of people from Central Asia who earlier shared the same religion and language with the Persians [12]. We know that the Quran contains some verses that are similar to those found in the Bible (Q 21:105 and Ps 37:29, Q 48:29 and Mk 4:27-28, Q 21: 104 and Is 34:4, Q 18:109 and Jn 21:25). Yet, it would be a mistake to conclude that the Quran contains verses copied or lifted from the Bible. When we see the number of contradictions between the Quran and the Bible, we can only conclude that the author of the Quran had no access to any written Biblical materials.
    In any case, human thoughts across the globe have been the same and one cannot come to any drastic conclusion if some verses appear similar.  Mr. Anderson seems to be amazed with the oneness of Hindu scriptures and the Bible (which anyway is not true, from the verses he cited). In fact one can find many amazingly similar verses across scriptures even without any mistranslation. Here I present some astonishingly similar verses across various scriptures of the world.

Quran and Dhammapada

By the sun and his brightness, 
And the moon when she followeth him,
And the day when it revealeth him, 
And the night when it enshroudeth him .....
 

(Quran 91:1-4)
-----------------------------------------

Stress not in your religions other than the truth, and follow not the vain desires of folk who erred of old and led men astray....

(Quran 5:77)

By the day the sun shines, 
By night, the moon; 
In his armour the warrior shines, 
In meditation the Brahmin shines; 
Day and night, without ceasing, 
The Buddha shines in splendor.

(Dhammapada 387)

------------------------------------------

Those who take error for truth, & the truth for error will never attain the supreme goal, for they are led astray by vain desires and false views.

(Dhammapada 11)

Dhammapada and Bible

The fool who recognizes his foolishness, is at least wise in that. But the fool who thinks he is intelligent, is a fool indeed!

(Dhammapada 63)

Even a fool, when he keeps silent is considered wise; When he closes his lips, he is considered prudent.

(Proverbs 17:28)

Upanishad and Dhammapada

There the sun cannot shine, 
And the moon has no luster; 
All the stars are blind; 
There our lightnings flash not, neither any earthly fire. 
For all that is bright is but the shadow of His brightness
And by His shining all this shines.
(Katha Upanishad, 2.2.15)

By the day the sun shines, 
By night, the moon; 
In his armour the warrior shines, 
In meditation the Brahmin shines; 
Day and night, without ceasing, 
The Buddha shines in splendor.
(Dhammapada 387)

Samyutta Nikaya, Bible and Gita

He who sees the Norm,
     he sees me; 
He who sees me, 
     he sees the Norm.
          (Samyutta Nikaya 3:120)

He who sees Me everywhere 
      and sees all in Me, 
to him I do not get lost, 
      nor does he get lost to Me.

Bhagavad Gita (6:30)

He who has seen Me 
     has seen the Father.

 (John 14:9)

Dhammapada and Tao Te Ching

A victor only breeds hatred, while a defeated man lives in misery, but a man at peace within lives happily, abandoning up ideas of victory and defeat.

(Dhammapada 201)

He (decent man) doesn't wish them (enemies) personal harm. Nor does he rejoice in victory. How could he rejoice in victory and delight in the slaughter of men? 

(Tao Te Ching 31)

Analects and Bible

The love of money is a root of all sorts of evil...

(I Timothy 6:10)

Conduct guided by profit is cause for much complaint. 

(Analects 4:12)

 Dhammapada and Doctrine of Mean

There is no place in the highest heavens above, nor in the deepest waters below where moral law in not to be found.

(Doctrine of Mean 12)

Neither in the skies, nor in the depths of ocean, nor in the rocky caves, nowhere upon earth does there exist a place a man can hide from death.

(Dhammapada 128)

    Based on the verses I presented here, it would be a mistake to conclude that the author of the Bible had a good idea of Analects and Dhammapada. Such striking similarities do occur, because teachings of all great sages, in Essentials were the same; the differences exist only in Non-essentials.

(3) The concept of hell in Hinduism

    Mr. Anderson quotes the following verse from the Gita to show that the word `hell' is a borrowing from Christianity and Islam.

O Krsna, maintainer of the people, I have heard by disciplic succession
that those who destroy family traditions dwell always in hell
(Gita 1:43)

 

    Historians and theologians are of the opinion that the concepts of Immortal souls, Resurrection of body, Devil as God's adversary, Hell and Heaven, and perhaps even the expectation of a Saviour, are all in one form or another, borrowings from Zoroastrianism [13,14]. However, I am yet to see a scholarly opinion saying that the Gita has been influenced by Christianity and Islam. I disagree with Mr. Anderson's view that the belief in `hell' is contrary to the endless cycle of death and rebirth in Hinduism. The concept of hell in Hinduism is very different from that described in Judaic religions. The hell in Hinduism has been explained, either as a `worldly suffering' or `celestial suffering'.

(i) Hell as worldly suffering
    For the Hindus, more particularly for Jains and Buddhists, the universe is a place of misery and sorrow. In all ancient Hindu texts, hell mean only a state of worldly suffering. Says Swami Vivekananda:

"In India, the idea of the goal (salvation) is this: There are heavens, there are hells, there are earths, but they are not permanent. If I am sent to hell, it is not permanent. The same struggle goes on and on whatever I am. How to go beyond all this struggle is the problem ........ The Indian idea is not to go to Heaven. Get out of this earth, get out of hell, and get out of heaven! What is the goal? It is freedom! You must be free" (Complete Works 6:57) [15].

    I quote a verse from Tirukkural [16] to show that the idea of hell is not a contradiction to the Hindu doctrine of `samsara' (cycles of rebirth).

"A fool does deeds in a single birth
That will plunge him in hell (Allaru) in the succeeding seven"
(Tirukkural 835)

 

    The Tamil word Allaru here conveys the idea of "Depth". The Hindu belief is, one will either "sink to the hell" or "ascend to the heaven". The idea of `hell' occurs in Buddhist and Jain scriptures too! Says the Buddha in Dhammapada:

Some are born in the human womb, evildoers in hell (Niraya),
Those on the good course go to heaven; while those without effluent, totally unbound.
(Dhammapada 126)

 

    Commenting on this verse, translator Thanissaro Bhikkhu says: "Heaven and hell, in the Buddhist view of the cosmos, are not eternal states. One may be reborn on one of the various levels of heaven or hell as the result of one’s kamma on the human plane, and then leave that level when that particular store of kamma wears out" [17].In fact an entire chapter in Dhammapada (Chap. 22) is titled Hell (Niraya)! Will Mr. Anderson say that this is also a borrowing from Islam and Christianity?

(ii) The problem of translation

   While dealing with the problems in translating the religious culture of the source language (ST) to the target language (TL), V. Ramasamy in his book “On Translating Tirukkural” makes the following remarks [23]: “Thought the concept of hell and heaven is available in the English language, the SL and TL differ in their details. These two words are described in so many couplets. There are four phrases (used in Kural) to describe the hell: (i) alaru – a slimy lake, (ii) irul ser innaa ulakam (இருள் சேர் இன்னா உலகம்) – dark world of suffering, (iii) aarirul (ஆரிருள்) – world of darkness and (iv) teeyuli (தீயுழி) – place of fire.” Since these words have different meanings, Ramasamy stresses the importance of translating these words properly: “The translators should prefer to give literal meaning of these words so that the TL readers will have a clear idea about the concept of hell in SL. Otherwise they will tend to equate their own concept of hell with that of the SL. Pragmatic equivalence can be avoided in these contexts.”

(ii) Hell as celestial suffering
    The Hindu texts imply that hell could also mean some sort of celestial suffering which the soul experiences before it is reborn. Says Sri Aurobindo:

"The Vedantic thought did not envisage rebirth as an immediate entry after death into a new body .......... before the soul is attracted before terrestrial existence, an interval in which it assimilates its terrestrial experiences ........ During this interval, it must dwell in states and worlds beyond and these may be favourable or unfavourable to its future development" [18].

 

We see this view being expressed in Manu Smriti (Laws of Manu), one of the early Hindu Scriptures.

"He who accepts presents from an avaricious king
who acts contrary to the Institutes (of the sacred law),
will go in succession to the following twenty-one hells: ....."
(4:87-90)

The idea of `hell' occurs in Buddhist and Jain scriptures too! Says the Buddha in Dhammapada:

Some are born in the human womb, evildoers in hell (Niraya),
Those on the good course go to heaven; while those without effluent, totally unbound.
(Dhammapada 126)

 

    Commenting on this verse, translator Thanissaro Bhikkhu says: "Heaven and hell, in the Buddhist view of the cosmos, are not eternal states. One may be reborn on one of the various levels of heaven or hell as the result of one’s kamma on the human plane, and then leave that level when that particular store of kamma wears out" [24]. In fact an entire chapter in Dhammapada (Chap. 22) is titled Hell (Niraya)! Will Mr. Anderson say that this is also a borrowing from Islam and Christianity?

    In Jainism, hell is implied as a stage between death and rebirth. The Akarangasutra, considered the oldest Jain scripture extant written in ancient Prakrt [19], says:

The world is greatly troubled by women.
They (viz. men) forsooth say, 'These are- the vessels (of happiness).'
But this leads them to pain, to delusion, to death, to hell,
to birth as hell-beings or brute beasts.
The fool never knows the law.

(I Book: 2.4.3)

 

    Contrary to what Mr. Anderson believes, the word hell existed in Hindu, Buddhist and Jain scriptures even before the advent of Islam and Christianity. Perhaps it is only in later stages, after the influence of Christianity and Islam, that the Vedic concept of hell and heaven was interpreted in the Judeo-Christian way in the Puranas. Says Swami Vivekananda: "In the Vedas, there is no mention of hell. But our Puranas, the later works of our scriptures, thought that no religion could be complete, unless hells are attached to it, and so they invented all sorts of hells" (Complete Works 1:400) [15].

(4) Machine, Electricity and Oxygen in Hindu scriptures ?

    Mr. Anderson has also quoted some verses from the Gita and Rig Veda to show that the Hindu scriptures contain some modern terminologies like machine, electricity, enzyme and oxygen. Says Mr. Anderson: "The Hindu Scriptures can not be taken seriously. Unless we passionately believe that machines, electricity, oxygen, and enzymes are all prophecies along with the names of Muhammad".

(i) Machine and Electricity in Bhagavad Gita
    Let us first examine the verses from Gita:

  • The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone's heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine (Yandra), made of the material energy. (18:61)
  • That supreme abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by fire or electricity. Those who reach it never return to this material world. (15:6)

    As far as verse 15:6 is concerned, the word `Electricity' DOES NOT occur in it. The Sanskrit words Surya, Sasadk and Parak in this verse mean Sun, Moon and Fire respectively. Where from this `Electricity' came? Whose translation is Mr. Anderson referring to? Of late it has become a fashion of sort to add something `modern' by self-styled translators.
    The translation of verse 18:61 is indeed correct. Most translators (like Swami Swarupananda and Sri Aurobindo) translate the Sanskrit word Yandra in this verse as "machine"  while a few (like S.C. Vaishya and P. Lal) have translated it as "wheel" . There is no doubt that the word `Yandra' actually mean `machine' only (literally: 'something operated upon').  I see no difficulty in accepting the presence of this word in Vedic scriptures. For instance, reproduced below is a verse from Tao Te Ching (Chapter 80).

A small country may have many machines, but the people will have no use for them; they will have boats and carriages which they do not use; their armour and weapons are not displayed, for they are serious when regarding death. (Translator: Stan Rosenthal)

 

    Other translations of Tao Te Ching (by Muller and Mitchell) also contain the word `machine' in this verse. How did the word `machine' get into this Chinese classic of 4th century B.C.? Here is one more verse from Tao Te Ching (Ch. 11).

  • Thirty spokes join together in the hub. It is because of what is not there that the cart is useful. (Rosenthal)
  • Though thirty spokes may form the wheel, it is the hole within the hub which gives the wheel utility. (Muller)
  • We join spokes together in a wheel, but it is the center hole that makes the wagon move. (Mitchell)

    So wheels were made and wagons were moving in China during the times of Lao Tzu. I therefore feel nothing unusual to find machines (Yandra) being mentioned in Bhagavad Gita which was composed sometime during period between 200 BC and 200 AD [20]. Any attempt to accurately date Indian scriptures is beset with problems. The first commentary on the Gita available to us is that of Sankaracarya who lived during the 8th century A.D. [4]Says Swami Swahananda: "The individual most responsible for helping to elevate the Gita to its present position is probably the great Vedantic sage, Sankaracarya. We know from his commentary that earlier commentaries had been written and were known to him. ........ But Sankara's commentary is the earliest known to us and certainly the first of any real importance"[20].

    We see words `Naraka' and 'Yandra' in the Gita of his times, thus proving that the Gita has not changed at least since the time of Sankara. The question of Islamic or Christian influence on the Gita, therefore, does not arise.
    Having said this, I must say that attempts have been made by some scholars to `prove' that the Gita originally contained 745 verses and not 700 in circulation at present
[21]. Unlike Muslims, the Hindus are not fanatic about such views being expressed openly. Anyway, this finding by Dr. E. Vedavyas only suggests that some verses might have been lost from the Gita and not anything being added to it.

(ii) Enzymes and Oxygen in Rig Veda
    Mr. Anderson has also reproduced the 3rd hymn of the 163rd aphorism in the 10th volume of Rig Veda. He wonders how oxygen and enzymes could have been described in an ancient book. Let us compare the translations of Mr. Menon and Griffith.  

O! You sick and suffering 
I herein remove your illness 
From the veins of your small intestine 
From the veins that carry oxygen and
Enzymes from the large intestine, 
From the ghearty 
From the mango shaped kidneys on both sides 
From your lungs and spleen          (Menon)

From viscera and all within, 
Forth from the rectum, 
From the heart, 
From kidneys, liver, and 
From spleen, 
I drive thy malady away.

(Griffith)

    Where from did Mr. Menon discover oxygen, enzyme and the rest? Once again, a of case interpretive mistranslation! We should be aware of modern translators who read their ideas into the text in order to make their translations look very scientific and rational, often to impress the new readers. How dare such people call themselves seekers of Truth!

(5) Conclusion

    Both Dr. Haq and Mr. Menon have managed to `discover' Muhammad and Jesus from Rig Veda only by mistranslating the verses. Interesting indeed is Mr. Vidyarthi's interpretation of the human body and/or soul as Ka'ba and the 9 portals of the human body as the gates of Mecca!! Mr. Anderson's view that Hindu scriptures are being continuously modified does not hold true in the case of the Gita and Vedas. Let me repeat here again what Sidharth wrote: "Unlike the core Vedic literature, the Puranas have suffered additions and alterations"

    Mr. Vidyarthi, Dr. Haq and Mr. Menon all belong to the same school of religious scholars who read their ideas into others' scriptures to extract what they want. It is unfortunate that Mr. Anderson has drawn his conclusions about Hindu scriptures from the works of such people. He should have verified the authenticity of these translations before making such comments on Hindu scriptures.