tAtparya nirNaya

S. V. Subrahmanian svsubrahmanian at YAHOO.COM
Mon Jan 21 12:58:52 CST 2002

SVS wrote:
> But
> they should be treated as inducements (I am not sure here if he used the
> word arthavAda - one of the six lingas) and not to be taken literally.

Sri Jaldhar Vyas wrote:
> essential and stories mentioned in the same context are only to illustrate
> some aspect of the performance.  (Arthavada is indeed the correct term btw)

Jan 21, 2002
                         || Om Sri lalitAmbikAyai namaH ||
                   || Salutations to Divine Mother Sri Lalitha ||

This weekend I tried to gather information on the shad-lingAs and here is the
result of that effort:

Whenever we read a particular section of the Vedas, we find various ideas
mentioned in them.  There might be do-s, don’t-s, statements of facts, stories,
eulogies etc.  All these could be found within one section itself.

How then do we decide as to what is the essence of the teaching or what is that
particular section committed to reveal?  Knowing or deciding the theme of
essential message is called tAtparya nirNaya.  In Vedic tradition, there are
six indicators called shad-lingA-s that are used to identify the
essence/purport of a section of the Vedas.  linga means that which points to or
that which identifies or that which gives knowledge.  They are:

upakramOpasamhArau abhyAsOpUrvatA phalam |
arthavAdOpapatti cha lingam tAtparya nirNayE ||

1.  upakrama-upasamhArau
The beginning(upakrama) and conclusion(upasamhAra) of a particular section can
be looked at to identify the theme.  The beginning and the conculsion should
deal with the same subject matter, in which case we can get an idea about the

2.  abhyAsa
abhyAsa is repetition.  Sometimes a particular thought is repeated many times
in a section.  That gives a clear idea about the tAtparya.  If its purpose is
not to teach that, it would not repeat the same idea many times.  For ex:
tatvamasi is repeated 9 times in the sixth chapter of chAndogya.

3.  apUrvatA
apUrvatA means unprecedented, or unknown before or original.  Vedas have to
convey something that is not knowable otherwise.  If they convey only what is
known by other means then Vedas become redundant.  So if there is a thought
that is present in the section that is original and unique to the Vedas, even
though it be cushioned amidst various other known facts, that could be
identified as the tAtparya.

4.  phalam
phalam means fruit or result.  The train of thought should lead to a result or
should point to a benefit.  If there is no benefit or result like a statement
“the crows in heaven are white”, then it is not considered a SAstra at all.  It
is accepted by all that SAstras indicate a phalam.  By knowing the phalam we
can get an idea as to what tAtparya is.

5.  arthavAda
Eulogy or arguments/narratives supporting/encouraging a particular idea/act.
By knowing what is being eulogized and for what purpose we again gather
information about the tAtparya.  arthavAda is not meant for taking it at face
value but to focus on what is being eulogized.  Mostly stories are used to
induce or support a particular idea.  The focus is on the idea and the stories
are only a support.  This is another means of knowing the tAtparya.

6.  upapatti
(Here I have heard/read 2 explanations and I present both here)
One is to look at what is being demonstrated by examples or analogies.  The
other is to follow the train of thought logically and find out what is implied
by it.  By that again we can come to a conclusion about the tAtparya.

Additionally, here are the answers to some of the questions that may arise in
one’s mind after reading the above:

Q.  Are the shad-lingAs applicable to all sections of the SAstra?
A.  No.  Most times one or more, but not all, indicators may be available to
idenitfy the tAtparya.

Q.  When there is more than one indicator available and if they point to
different tAtparya-s, then how do we decide?
A.  That cannot happen.  SAstras are consistent.  For ex:  there cannot be
situations when the beginning and conclusion talk of one subject but the entire
contents refer to something totally different.

Q.  Example?
A.  The sixth canto of chAndogya is supposed to have all the indicators.  I
have not done the exercise myself and hence I am not elaborating.  Anybody who
already knows or is interested can try it out and can post and I will learn

Q.  If SAstras always have to have a phalam, then what about statements of fact
like tatvamasi where it is prAptasya prApti (accomplishing the accomplished)?
A.  moksha is the phalam.


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