International Journal of Tantric Studies

Letters to the Editor

Date: Mon, 7 Aug 1995 12:03:16 +0300
From: Mukesh Patel
Subject: Paper on Spanda


I subscribe to the Tantric Journal though am only a novice in this area. However, I read through your paper and found it interesting as far I could understand it, but was bit perturbed by the one the concluding remarks. You write:

"Even if spanda had already been present in previous Tantra-s," — but, then, what concept in India is absolutely new?

Followed by an even more wide ranging generalisation about reelaboration of concepts. I find this an odd argument since this is exactly the the case with Western philosophical thought (and indeed any philosophical tradition). If I say:

Even if "concept x" had already been present in previous "tracts", — but, then, what concept in Europe is absolutely new?

It would be a perfectly valid (though a bit vacuus) thing to say. My point is that I am a tiny bit upset that you are make such a generalisation which is somewhat demeaning - one reading of your statement (maybe unintended) is that concepts in "non-India" (eg, Europe/US) are new and that Western judeo-christian philosophy does not necessarily involve re-elaboration and commentary. Being a Trantic scholar I doubt that you do mean to imply this, however, it does reflect a hint of unconscious patronisation - if one does not care to make sweeping generalistion for one's own cultural traditions (since one is all too aware of the subtle differences etc) one should be similarly careful not doing so about others.



As I have already said to Mukesh, we (=Indologists) do what we do just out of love -- imperfect love, sometimes -- and curiosity. That means, we try our best. For sure it is NOT the eagerness for money that pushes us....Therefore I sincerely do not understand what kind of unconscious patronisation -- practical and/or cultural -- I have to hide. If I thought that we (= Europeans) had been better than Indians, I would not have studied the Indian culture. I was brought up in an environment that looks for the best, the most beautiful, etc. I was surrounded by beauty. And I do not have any missionary istinct.

Scholarly speaking in India, as well as in most of the Eastern traditions, there was not the cult of originality that, for instance, pushed Leonardo to do what he did, or Brunelleschi to create the perspective in architecture, etc.
There are lots of books on originality and tradition in Asia. Commentarial Indian texts, poetic texts, etc., usually resort to a tradition and make very clear that they even copy a pattern -- even though, of course, the talented author always writes and composes something original.
Authors write mention or invent their spiritual lineage and quote passages of the books they are resorting to.

In conclusion, I apologize for having written something that sounded "politically incorrect" to somebody. It was not my intention. Anyway, everybody sees what he/she wants to see and what he/she can see.....

Date: Tue, 15 Aug 1995 22:02:49 -0700
From: Vidyasankar Sundaresan
Subject: ijts

I just read your very detailed paper on the spanda school over the www. Congratulations on a very well researched piece of work.

My interest being more from an advaita vedanta point of view, I have two questions to ask. The GauDapAda kArikAs on the mANDUkya upanishad use the term spanda, somewhere in the third book, I think. Is there any research that examines if there is a connection between the KazmIr Zaivism and GauDapAda? Secondly, is there any reference to the ZvetAzvatara in the sources of the KazmIr schools?


S. Vidyasankar