RigVeda and the Indian Systems of Approach to the One

H.B.Dave hbd at DDIT.ERNET.IN
Thu Jul 13 05:23:07 CDT 2000

Posting No. 4
Best wishes to all
-- Himanshu

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RigVeda and Indian Systems of Approach to the One :
(notes from selfstudy - svaadhyaaya)
IV : The Princliple of Reverse Analogy (prativartinii upama)
------------------------------------- Himanshu B. Dave

aha.m so asmi ya.h puraa sute vadaami kaani cit |
ta.m maa vyantyaadhyo3 v.rko na t.r.s.naja.m m.rga.m vitta.m me asya rodasii ||
[RV I - 105 -7] [.r"si.h trita vi"svedevaa.h]

{I am the one who previously recited when [Soma] was poured out. Yet sorrow
assails me, like a wolf on a thirsty deer. Heaven and earth, know my this

That was a straight translation (almost similar to what Prof. H.H.Wilson has
given, with simpler English words). It does not really do justice to the original

Actually, this mantra in effect says that even though I tried to
practice Yoga type meditation to remove my problem (feeling of being bound
to the Samsaara), sorrow still did not leave me. It indirectly shows the
limitation of meditation alone. Who is saying this? "Rishi" is trita, i.e.
one having three ways or states, i.e. jeeva.
I selected this mantra as the opening keeping in view recent discussion on
Advaita List about efficacy of meditation vs. Knowledge. It satisfies my
other requirements also.

How do we arrive at this interpretation? Please read on.

Notice the word na in the mantra. In some mantras of RigVeda this word and
the word iva is used. Na does not mean negation, it means "like", "as if".
Iva has also similar meaning. These connectives are used to give an analogy
(upamaa) to illustarte some idea. For example, in the straight translation,
being overtaken by the sorrow is compared with attack by a wolf on a deer.

It is such analogies (and there are plenty of them in RigVeda),
misunderstanding of the purpose of which possibly lead the Western scholars
to say "childish babbling" refering to Vedas. If you feel that is a strong
statement, the following will show you why.

Actually, the analogy is to be used in reverse (prativartinii upamaa) and
when this is done, as shown below, the upamaa and the original statement
merge into one whole, giving the intended meaning.

Not only that, this operation itself is upamaa for merging the low-level
understanding of this Universe into Knowledge (Brahman). Take two facts or
ideas at low level of reality (vyavahaarika sattaa) which are analogous, out
of them derive a higher level truth. Do you get this? Are you able to see
the double upamaa, one specific and the other general, spread throughout the
RigVeda? That is the beauty and power of RigVeda. It is this purpose of the
analogies that is NOT understood by Western scholars (and all who are guided
by them).

We have already seen in the previous posting that RigVeda uses code words
and concept codes. Decoding the codes and using the Principle of Reverse
Analogy (RA) gives us the correct interpretation, but what is RA?

Reverse Analogy :
There are two statements or phrases "A (o) P" and "B (O) Q", where A, P, B,
Q are some entities and (o) and (O) are some relationships between A-P and
B-Q respectively.
We write a compound statement "A (o) P as is B (O) Q". ... ... ... ... (1)

Here, "A (o) P" is used as the main statement for which we give an analogy
"B (O) Q".
"as is" represents na or iva in Vedic mantras.

Now the principle of RA says that, after decoding the referents for the
entities, "B (O) Q" becomes the main statement and "A (o) P" becomes its
analogy, and finally both of them merge into one. Thus the compound
statement should be
                              "B (O) Q as is A (o) P" ... ... ... ... (2)
which reduces to              "C (0) R"               ... ... ... ... (3)

(3) being the final interpretation.

Now, let us apply this principle to the mantra given above.

aha.m so asmi ya.h puraa sute vadaami kaani cit |

{I am the one who previously recited when [Soma] was poured out.}
sute -- poured out; denotes Soma, that is the bliss and synchronization
achieved during deep meditation;
vadaami kaani cit - prayed by mantra japa, etc.
This is straightforward enough.

ta.m maa vyantyaadhyo3 v.rko na t.r.s.naja.m m.rga.m vitta.m me asya rodasii ||

{Yet sorrow assails me, like a wolf on a thirsty deer. Heaven and earth, know my this

Heaven and earth - (rodasii) - my base level and abstract level thinking;
i.e. my total self, what we generally call "I" in normal sense of the word;

know my problem - understand this problem with me.
That is also straight enough.

Now comes the RA.
A = sorrow;  (o) = assails; P = me;
B = wolf;    (O) = [assails]; Q = thirsty deer;
wolf - (v.rka.h) - is a code word for tamasik thoughts, engrossment in
                   day-to-day living;
thirsty deer - (t.r.s.naja.m m.rga.m) - deer means mind (my thinking
                   process), one that provides inputs to the higher levels
                   of the self; this is a "thirsty" mind; thirsty for the
                   assumed sources of worldly pleasures;
(Actually, the original straight translation is defective because the word
is t.r.s.naja.m = born out of t.r.s.naa, desires. But the Western scholar
could not fit it with deer. See what WE have :
"the mind born out of desires" the mind itself is result of desires. Is it
not much better interpretation?)
OK. So our RA is :
Tamsik thoughts assail my mind which is born out of desires, [just as]
sorrow assails me.

Note that now do not need [just as] and the two phrases merge into one.

The final interpretation is :
"Even though I prayed in deep meditation, worldly thoughts still assail my

I hope I have been able to clearly explain the RA operation. There are
hundreds of such examples in RigVeda.

With best wishes to all.
-- Himanshu

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