All those views are different which ought to warn us that even though those ancients dreamed in Sanskrit they could still disagree. What is the significance of this for those who impugn an understanding of Vedanta on the basis of translations? It is simply this. Those who claim that an understanding as a native speaker is necessary for the understanding of Vedanta are simply wrong. It is neither necessary nor sufficient.
I draw a distinction between Philosophy and Literature in the matter of translation. Poetry is what is lost in translation. If the Philosophy is lost then there was not much there in the first place or the translator is incompetent and lacks a good grounding in Philosophy. I am assuming that he is practically bi-lingual in the ideal case. The difficulty is of course that when the understanding of the text in the original is a matter of contention then that contested understanding may well be transferred to the translation in the matter of difficult issues. Here textual notes are vital. In any case there is no such thing as a vital text that stands alone in an unglossed state in various languages. The serious student will be able to find in the competing interpretations his own rapprochement with the original. I have been pleased in the past but not surprised to find my own interpretation of a difficult text such as the Brahma Sutra Bhasya by Sankara validated by authors with a scholarly knowledge of the orignal combined with a similar acquaintance with the philosophical issues.
So what is at play in the insistence that a knowledge of Sanskrit is a sine qui non of engagement with the philosophical issues? In some cases particularly of the traditionalists there is the belief that Sanskrit is a sacred language and the further away one moves from that initial divine transmission of the scriptures the more one departs from authenticity. This attitude is also to be found in the proponents of Arabic as the language of God and to a lesser extent in the scrying of the Hebrew Bible by kabballists. That is to imagine that ‘messer’ has more cutting power that ‘knife’ or ‘scian’.
That may be the esoteric reason for the elevation of Sanskrit scholarship but the exoteric reason may be even more powerful. Is it not a matter of Brahminical gatekeeping?
An interesting article by Rajesh Kochhar brings the historical roots of this out.
There is nothing in the laws or institutes of the Hindus which authorizes a monopoly of a knowledge of the Sanskrit language by any one caste or order of the people. The only monopoly insisted upon by the Brahmans was that of tuition. They allowed no other caste to teach—they enjoined the military and agricultural castes to learn, even the holy books, the Vedas.
Since career as a teacher or priest was out of bounds for non-Brahmins, undergoing a 10-year regimen would not be worth the effort for them even if it were permitted. Upper-caste non-Brahmins desirous of learning Sanskrit for the sake of literature may have been taught the language, but their number would necessarily be small. There was resistance from Brahmins to admitting non-Brahmins into the Sanskrit club. In the mid nineteenth century when Isvarchandra Vidyasagar as principal of the Calcutta Sanskrit College proposed the admission of non-Brahmins, he was opposed by the faculty. He silenced his opponents by pointing out that they had willingly taught the Shastras to a Sudra like Raja Radhakanta Deb and the mlechchha Europeans.
Now everyone can join the club but once you are a member the belief that you have interpretive preeminence takes hold.