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It is an unconscious handicap to all who have investigated ancient Indian wisdom that they have taken one of its key words, Atman, invariably in the terms of our European term "Self." Every Sanskrit scholar conning his texts in some Western university, as every Indian pundit conning them with his foreign pupil, translates this word precisely the same way. The term is currently used in the sense of self in India, but the conception of self to which it is applied bears no comparison with that principle of individual life which is referred to by our Western use of the word. It is a misfortune that having no equivalent to Atman among English words, our scholars lazily took the nearest to it instead of going to the trouble of coining an appropriate term as scientists coin new terms every year to fit their new discoveries. For the full implication of Atman is wholly ultra-individual and in no way commensurate with self as we use the term. The consequence of this mistranslation has been an immense barrier to right comprehension amongst all Westerners who have grappled with this doctrine.


-- Notebooks Category 15: The Orient > Chapter 2: India > # 278






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