Stall, who introduced Vedic ritual’s importance to the world fades in to memory

via HK Correspondent published on February 26, 2012

Vadakancheri: Frits Staal, who went for his heavenly abode recently, was a great veda scholar and philospher. He was instrumental in introducing Kerala’s Vedic ritual importance to the world. Staal’s presence at the Panjal Athirathra Yajna in last April was the focus of attention for the many devotees present on the occasion. 81 year old Staal was a foreigner with high wisdom.

Staal first reached Panjal as a researcher during 1950s when he was a student of philosophy in Amsterdam. He recorded Veda rituals and Kathakali lyrics with the help of a tape recorder. Based on his early researches he published a book called “Namboothiri Veda Recitation”. In the meantime he obtained doctorate from Madras University and Banaras Hindu University. He started his career as a Sanskrit professor in the London University and then as Associate Professor of Indian Philosophy at the Pennsylvania University. From 1968 he took the charge of professor of language and philosophy in the Berkeley University in California and served for a long period.

During his visits of 1960s in Kerala, Staal understood the magnitude of Yajna culture through Mamannu Ittirivi Namboothiri and other Samved scholars. To direct the humankinds to the knowledge of dharma, he stressed the need for the maintenance of Yagas and requested the possibility of conducting an Athirathra immediately. However this was not taken with good interest by some of the prominent veda scholars. Staal was also close with Thuppettan of Panjal, who was a dramatist and Killimangalam Vasudeven Namboothiri, a Sanskrit scholar. Thuppettan was the translator of Staal.

His aim of creating a chance for the world to study Veda culture resulted in the Athirathra of 12th April 1975 at Panjal. He made total effort to uphold the ancient atmosphere in that yaga. Consequent to this yaga, he published in English a book called “Agni” in two volumes to convince the world about the significance of Yaga karmas of Bharatam. The book which contains various pictures of yaga karmas is being kept as invaluable treasure by Thuppettan and Killimangalam Vasudevan Namboothiri. Staal returned from the Yagabhoomi in last April with a sense of high satisfaction of embracing the greatness of yaga and also after delivering a philosophical speech on Yaga rituals to his audience.

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