When Allah accepts Rasagulla
By Swami Abhayananda Tirtha
One look at Dr Zakir Naik’s fiery speech in the high-tech video, “Allah in the Vedas” and we are left wondering, “Is Allah really mentioned in Vedas?” Dr Naik emphatically claims that the four Vedas and the Upanishads that are sacred to the Hindus, are all glorifying Prophet Mohammed, the final prophet and messenger of God for mankind. I wondered if that was so, why didn’t the sages who wrote and spoke on the Vedas for millenniums, ever mention this. Were they ignorant or were they part of a greater plan of the Almighty Lord Allah for his great devotee Zakir Naik, to reveal to the ignorant Hindus? As I sat dumbfounded watching his presentation, he revealed the answer, “The sages didn’t know that Ahmed would come centuries later, and hence they misunderstood and translated ‘aham iti‘ as ‘I am that’ rather than ‘Ahmed’ which is the real intended meaning of aham iti. This is also prophesized, besides other Vedas, in the Samaveda (2.6.8)…” I immediately opened the Vedic texts and compared all the quotations cited by Dr Naik. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Vedas give a different picture than what Dr Zakir Naik claims.
Samaveda, for instance, is the third of the collection of the Vedic mantras. Samaveda is the earliest known systematic procedure for giving melody to a verse. It is unanimously accepted by all Vedic practitioners and scholars that Samaveda is especially known for its musical composition and is not an ad hoc improvisation; rather the verses follow a strict pattern of pronunciation1. Since the pronunciation is the key in Samaveda, if the Lord had intended ‘Ahmed’ He wouldn’t have revealed it as ‘aham iti‘. If He were to distort His revelations like this, it would raise a serious question about the credibility of the revelation and of God Himself. If what Dr Naik claims is true, then the scriptures are misleading and dangerous because the Vedas are replete with phrases of ‘aham iti‘. Is it reasonable to believe as he is suggesting that Vedas and great Rishis of the past are naive in subjects spiritual? Or is it more reasonable to infer that he is twisting the verses to mean what he wants them to mean? It is precisely to avoid this sort of distortions, the scriptures tell us how they are to be understood: it behooves one to be humble, and accept the teachings of the Vedas as it is, under the guidance of a spiritual master, or guru (Svetasvatra Upanishad, 6.23).
If ‘aham iti‘ can indeed be translated as ‘Ahmed’, a friend proposed an interesting translation of the common Muslim chant, “la-allah ill allah, mohammed ur rasullallah…” We can understand ‘la’ to mean ‘call or get’. ‘ill’ means ‘sickness’; we can appreciate that ‘ur’ basically refers to ‘fly’, as in ‘ud jaa’ or fly away; and rasulla certainly refers to the Bengali sweet rasagulla, the knowledge of which was unknown to the sixth century desert invaders in Arabia. Hence they pronounced ‘rasagulla’ as ‘rasullallah’. The whole verse then translates as, “Please call Allah, I am ill; let Mohammed fly away and let me have rasagulla”
Makes a lot of sense, isn’t it?