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Academicians should be cautious not to be dazzled when one is able to recite verses, quote passages, chapters, words, phrases and numbers of any religious text. - NSTP/File pic

I refer to a comment in the media by a professor from a local university regarding a speaker, where she stated that the speaker’s knowledge is far too in-depth and too critical for other religions to consider.

This trend of statements, which are especially pronounced among some religious speakers here, seem to be making their way into the academic circle.

While it is common that point of views from laypeople may not be backed up by credible research and facts, academicians must be cautious not to proceed in the same manner as their statements are monitored not only by students but also society.

By merely regurgitating what others have stated to give it credibility by virtue of the professorship will do more damage to the subject matter and would leave a contradictory impression on the university.

FIRST, the professor had not provided any cogent arguments basing on evidence from original research, intellectual analysis, references to actual and credible historical, archaeological and religious data to support her view. The professor should have engaged with the subject matter and not rely on hearsay; and,

SECOND, the religions that are compared by the speaker, which the professor referred to, have ancient text. I doubt if the university where the professor works has a department on learning these ancient religious text, especially the 21 branches of the Rigveda, the 86 branches in the Yajurveda or the 1,002 branches of the Sama and Atharva Vedas.

To understand and to obtain information from the Vedas, one cannot rely on translations. It’s an ancient document that speaks the language of symbols and one has to be well-versed in Vedic vocabulary and the technique to be able to interpret it.

Merely agreeing to a speaker giving his view on religions is insufficient to impart true and accurate information on this subject. If one is unacquainted with the correct facts of other religions, you will remain ignorant of inaccuracies that are conveyed and there is nothing more terrifying than ignorance in action.

What you don’t know won’t hurt you, but it may cause you to look silly. It is a misconceived belief that other faiths cannot accept the speaker’s critical analyses. The objection is due to the inaccuracies, the misinterpretations and misquoting of religious text that are conveyed.

Yet, surprisingly, many do not see this fact but believe the objections raised towards the speaker are solely based on his religious background.

Many scholars were trying to point out the errors and convey the accurate facts, but they were ignored.

The academicians must make an attempt to understand the objections raised. They must understand other religions and obtain the correct meanings of the verses, passages, words and phrases quoted from other religious text.

Academicians should be cautious not to be dazzled when one is able to recite verses, quote passages, chapters, words, phrases and numbers of any religious text.

There will not be an issue if everyone is filled with the correct knowledge.

There will also not be an issue if everyone is completely ignorant but there will be problems if one is neither knowledgeable nor ignorant as the state of confusion will force one to take the wrong meanings.

Ariff Shah R.

Penang

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