Any form of knowledge transfer has huge problems. We have all seen the effects of this in the Chinese Whisper game, project requirement definitions, project executions and every other real life scenarios where teams are involved. The problem simply is that while words remain the same, they convey different meanings to different people based on the context. For eg., “a program” for a programmer means “code that is run in the computer”, while “a program” for a musician means “a set of performances given on the stage for an audience”. Again “performance” for a programmer is the speed at which the program is running in the computer while “performance” for a musician means “an act on a stage”. To add to this, when we encounter a sentence or a word that does not make sense to our understanding we tend to unconsciously translate it to a set of words that make sense. For eg., while a programmer may make sense of the sentence “compile a program” as actually running the compiler against the code to create a binary, for a musician “compile a program” means “setup a schedule for the program”. So it is seen that, unless the context is set correctly, words take on different meanings changing the meaning completely.
When the current world with all its intelligence, misinterprets easily what can we say of the upanishads that have been transferred by word of mouth for a long time before it has been put down into writing. Where meanings of words are themselves in doubt, where we have lost context completely, can we really trust what we read and interpret of the Upanishads?
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