Monday, July 22, 2013

My Kena Upanishad 2:1 and some Others

If thought to be fully understood, then little is it really so.
Certainly you may understand the Absolute appearances
Which are shared between you and the gods indeed.
Meditating only yourself is considered truly understood.

yadi manyase su-vedeti dabhram evapi
 nunam tvam vettha brahmano rupam
yad asya tvam yad asya ca deveshv atha nu
 mimamsyam eva te manye viditam

Note: What appears to be missing in most translations of the Kena is a respect for the play of the Kena. Here, in the first sloka of the second section, there is the first interplay of thinking one fully understands with the fact that little is its actuality. Most translations get this. But the second interplay appears to be glossed over at best. Understanding the appearance of Brahman shared between humans and god is usually given, but playing it against the meditation of only yourself is not.

Some translations of that last line in comparison:

Therefore Brahman, even now, is worthy of your inquiry. ~ Swami Nikhilananda

What is indeed the truth of Brahman you must therefore learn. ~ Swami Prabhavananda and Frederick Manchester

… this thou hast to think out. I think It known. ~ Sri Aurobindo

Therefore I think that what thou thinkest to be known is still to be sought after. ~ Swami Paramananda

Continue, therefore, your meditation. ~ Easwaran

These translations are more like interpretations rather than renditions, although Easwaran, I feel, comes closest. But what’s missing is the comparison of those appearances and forms which are shared between people and the gods with that which is only within yourself, and which must be meditated or inquired. This comparison is key. And although it is only one example of the genius of this Upanishad, it is another example of the lack of intelligent translations. I do not claim that title for my version. It is far from that. But for me, it points to that vedantic method pertaining to all these other translations: not this, not this, not this…

No comments:

Post a Comment