In the Introduction to the first volume of the translation of the 'Vedânta-Sûtras with Sankara's Commentary' (vol. xxxiv of this Series) I have dwelt at some length on the interest which Râmânuga's Commentary may claim--as being, on the one hand, the fullest exposition of what may be called the Theistic Vedânta, and as supplying us, on the other, with means of penetrating to the true meaning of Bâdarâyana's Aphorisms. I do not wish to enter here into a fuller discussion of Râmânuga's work in either of these aspects; an adequate treatment of them would, moreover, require considerably more space than is at my disposal. Some very useful material for the right understanding of Râmânugu's work is to be found in the 'Analytical Outline of Contents' which Messrs. M. Rangâkârya and M. B. Varadarâga Aiyangâr have prefixed to the first volume of their scholarly translation of the Srîbhâshya (Madras, 1899).
The question as to what the Stûras really teach is a critical, not a philosophical one. This distinction seems to have been imperfectly realised by several of those critics, writing in India, who have examined the views expressed in my Introduction to the translation of Sankara's Commentary. A writer should not be taxed with 'philosophic incompetency,' 'hopeless theistic bias due to early training,' and the like, simply because he, on the basis of a purely critical investigation, considers himself entitled to maintain that a certain ancient document sets forth one philosophical view rather than another. I have nowhere expressed an opinion as to the comparative philosophical value of the systems of Sankara and Râmânuga; not because I have no definite opinions on this point, but because to introduce them into a critical enquiry would be purposeless if not objectionable.
The question as to the true meaning of the Sûtras is
no doubt of some interest; although the interest of problems of this kind may easily be over-estimated. Among the remarks of critics on my treatment of this problem I have found little of solid value. The main arguments which I have set forth, not so much in favour of the adequacy of Râmânuga's interpretation, as against the validity of Sankarâkârya's understanding of the Sûtras, appear to me not to have been touched. I do not by any means consider the problem a hopeless one; but its solution will not be advanced, in any direction, but by those who will be at the trouble of submitting the entire body of the Sûtras to a new and detailed investigation, availing themselves to the full of the help that is to be derived from the study of all the existing Commentaries.
The present translation of the Srîbhâshya claims to be faithful on the whole, although I must acknowledge that I have aimed rather at making it intelligible and, in a certain sense, readable than scrupulously accurate. If I had to rewrite it, I should feel inclined to go even further in the same direction. Indian Philosophy would, in my opinion, be more readily and widely appreciated than it is at present, if the translators of philosophical works had been somewhat more concerned to throw their versions into a form less strange and repellent to the western reader than literal renderings from technical Sanskrit must needs be in many passages. I am not unaware of the peculiar dangers of the plan now advocated--among which the most obvious is the temptation it offers to the translator of deviating from the text more widely than regard for clearness would absolutely require. And I am conscious of having failed in this respect in more than one instance. In other cases I have no doubt gone astray through an imperfect understanding of the author's meaning. The fact is, that as yet the time has hardly come for fully adequate translations of comprehensive works of the type of the Srîbhâshya, the authors of which wrote with reference--in many cases tacit--to an immense and highly technical philosophical literature which is only just beginning to be studied, and comprehended in part, by European scholars.
It gives me great pleasure to acknowledge the help which I have received from various quarters in preparing this translation. Pandit Gangâdhara Sâstrin, C. I. E., of the Benares Sanskrit College, has, with unwearying kindness and patience, supplied me throughout with comments of his own on difficult sections of the text. Pandit Svâmin Râma Misra Sâstrin has rendered me frequent assistance in the earlier portion of my task. And to Mr. A. Venis, the learned Principal of the Benares Sanskrit College, I am indebted for most instructive notes on some passages of a peculiarly technical and abstruse character. Nor can I conclude without expressing my sense of obligation to Colonel G. A. Jacob, whose invaluable 'Concordance to the Principal Upanishads' lightens to an incalculable degree the task of any scholar who is engaged in work bearing on the Vedânta.