This is a brief but important discussion in the forum that highlights a key defense mechanism to avoid getting 'digested' into adharmic ideology: Use of Sanskrit Non-translatables (refer to chapter in Rajiv Malhotra's book 'Being Different').
SNikhil had an interesting question:
I was watching Rajiv ji's video on youtube of his conversation with Mark Tully and being not conversant with the whole story of the Nicene Creed I googled it...
The fourth point in the original creed was "Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down and was incarnate and was made man" ; ... here is what Oxford has to say about the Origin of the word Incarnate:
Origin: Middle English : from ecclesiastical Latin incarnat-incarnare 'make flesh' , from Latin in-'into' + caro,carn-'flesh'.
... About the word Incarnation Dictionary.com gives the origin as follows:
Word Origin and History for incarnation :
n. c.1300, "embodiment of God in the person of Christ," from Old French incarnacion (12c.), from Late Latin incarnationem (nominative incarnatio), ...
And the definition of Incarnation given on same page is as follows :
The Christian belief that the Son, the second person of the Trinity, was incarnated, or made flesh, in the person of Jesus, in order to save the world from original sin.
... do the words Incarnation and Incarnate,even if used in lexicon as stripped off its Christian Liturgical underpinnings,sufficiently convey the concept of Avtar as in our tradition without distorting/biblicizing the concept?
Rajiv Malhotra's response is worth reading and re-reading:
Your last sentence is critical - "stripping of its Christian liturgy". This is the issue with any translation. But it is not practical to sustain this.
You could also strip "soul" of its Christian meaning and translate atman = soul.
You can do this with anything - redefine a word that has been in long-term, deep usage in the West, and make the new definition what fits for us. It "feels good" does it not?
But this is the trap of getting digested.
POINT: We dont have the power to control how these words get used outside our narrow confines. Their usage in the long run is determined by forces outside our control.
We would give up our own non-translatable word, and once its "dead" it is virtually impossible in the future to revive its usage.
Its like voluntary surrender in the hope you can enter the prison and then make it a free space when you are inside.
This is a foolish thing to do though people constantly get tempted by it.
A word, symbol, brand, idea - these are always contested, and there are complex power dynamics at work.
We not only lack the power, we dont even have a home team to play this game and carry out a strategy consistently.
We dont have leaders who even understand what the issue is all about - "why this fuss" they say?