True History and the Religion of India"
T.M. Srinivasan, Ph.D.
Journal of Humanities and Peace - January 1, 2000
last here is a book about India by an Indian, who is also
a renowned religious leader, a social reformer and a Vedic
historian. Swami Prakashananda Saraswati had intense training
in Indian philosophy, metaphysics, logic and related subjects
over a 40-year period. He was offered the prestigious position
of the pontiff of the ancient order of Shankara, at the Jotishmath.
He refused to accept this and went to Mathura, the birth place
of Lord Krishna and devoted himself to the service of the
community and the temple at that place. In 1988, he came to
Austin, Texas and established the largest temple complex in
north America. He has written over 9 books on various aspects
of Hindu ethics, scriptures and practices. He has brought
to bear his profound knowledge of the scriptures and has written
the book under review which is a monumental dissertation on
the history of Indian civilization and religion.
True History and the Religion of India: A Concise Encyclopedia
of Authentic Hinduism by Swami Prakashanand Saraswati,
published by International Society of Divine Love.
book is written in two parts. The first part deals with the
origins of Indian history, development of langu-
of the world and detailed analysis of the efforts made by
the British to deliberately destroy the religion and culture
of India by employing both Indian and European `scholars'
to accomplish this purpose. These scholars were employed by
the British East India Company from the early 1880's to mid-1900's
to systematically destroy credibility of Indian science and
technology as Well as Indian scriptures which were wrongly
interpreted and made available to the Western world. For example,
it is widely held that Vedic worships and ceremonies were
centered around animal sacrifices which is far from the truth.
The book mentions Vedic injunctions against animal killing
in any Vedic ceremony. Many scriptural texts are quoted extensively
in the book, to establish many views that the author has expressed.
exact dates have been given in the ancient books and, the
precise astronomical positions of stars and planets mentioned
in these books make the calculations of dates straight forward.
The famous Mahabharata war (at the start of which Sri Krishna's
answers to Arjuna is codified in Bhagavad Gita) was in the
year 3139 BC. The war had a devastating effect on the Indian
subcontinent; many kingdoms fell and large tracts of land
lay fallow and uninhabited, possibly became uninhabitable.
The central and eastern parts of India became isolated from
the western part. The western part had become desolate landscape
and slowly, the civilizations of Harrapa and Mohenjodaro (presently,
both cities are in Pakistan) emerged over many centuries.
The Aryan invasion theory so assiduously put forth by the
British is indeed a fabrication; Sanskrit language was in
use in India long before Harrappan civilization. Books by
other authorities in the field have also provided information
to the same effect and these books are based on the interpretation
of the clay tablets found in Harrapa in the recent past.
comparison of Sanskrit with Egyptian, Sumerian and Babylonian
scripts is given. A study of Germanic languages is also taken
up and the relation of these languages with Sanskrit is clearly
indicated. The theory of proto-Sanskrit as the origin of all
Indo-European group of languages is also refuted. Sanskrit
words are liberally strewn in all languages of the so-called
Indo-European group and Sanskrit has preexisted all others
in this group; then, why postulate a proto-Sanskrit language?
Is it not Sanskrit itself the origin of languages in this
group? A synopsis of many classical stories of European literature
- such as the Canterbury Tales, Beowulf, Shakespeare's many
plays, works of Daniel Defoe, Charles Dickens and others are
given to provide a comparison with the tales of India and
this provides a flavor of the type of tales that became popular
with the people in the two continents. The Indian tales such
as Panchatantra provided children and elders with profound
social values while the tales in the Upanishads and the Vedas
lead people towards higher reaches of human consciousness.
Though no comparison of the classical music of Europe and
India is made, it could be said again while European music
is emotional and transactional, Indian classical music is
mostly devotional and transcendental. The third and fourth
chapters of the first part of the book deal extensively with
the ancient civilization of India with detailed chronologies
of the dynasties which are well described in Indian scriptures.
This information is important to deduce the time of historic
personages in Indian philosophy whereas the current opinion
is based on vague generalizations and convenient manipulations.
second part of the book describes the history of India as
revealed in the scriptures as well important summaries of
Upanishads, Puranas, the Gita and other texts. Last but not
the least, the greatness of the acharyas (teachers), who have
interpreted as well as lived by the scriptures is described.
A large number of texts are mentioned and introduced whose
very names have been forgotten. The recent acharyas in the
orthodox traditions of devotion, works and knowledge are briefly
mentioned along with the differences in the three approaches
only possible criticism of the book could be the use of Hindi
version of the Sanskrit names and words, for example, Veal
instead of Veda, Brahm (is it Brahma, Brahmam or Brahmin)
and a host of similar words. But with some knowledge of Sanskrit,
this should not be a serious problem. Further, Sanskrit verses
are given without transliteration, and this could be a handicap
to people who have no knowledge of this ancient language.
But then if one is interested in the subject matter of the
book, one should indeed be knowing or willing to learn Sanskrit.
book is a rich source of authentic information about India
drawn from many sources and thus forms a scientific (to use
a modern term) basis for reconstructing Indian history. The
references are numerous, and the quotes from Indian scriptures
make this a reference book of immense value. Every Indian
and every person interested in Indian history and literature
should read this book and benefit from it. Innumerable thanks
(on behalf of so many Indians) to Pujyashri Swamiji who has
dedicated his time to bring out this monumental work of importance
for scholars of history and philosophy and for us all.