ishhTa-prApti and anishhTa-parihAra

Anand V. Hudli anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Aug 2 14:20:50 CDT 1999

Shankara in his commentary on the bR^ihadAraNyaka-upanishhad

  sarvo .apyayaM vedaH pratyaxAnumAnAbhyAM anavagateshhTAnishhTa-
  prAptiparihAropAyaprakAshanaparaH |

  The entire Veda is engaged in revealing those means to obtaining
  the desired (good) and getting rid of the undesired (evil) that are not
  revealed by perception (direct sensory experience, pratyakSha) and
  inference (anumAna).

  This is a very important point for the following reason. If the
  Vedas were to tell us about ways of attaining things that can be
  attained by ordinary perception and/or inference, the Vedas become
  redundant. But if the Vedas are redundant, we are lead to an absurd
  conclusion. We know, for example, that Vedic mantras were "seen" by
  ancient Rishis with some kind of a superhuman power. If the Vedas are
  redundant in that they reveal what can be gained by ordinary experience
  then we would have to accept the fact that all those ancient Rishis were
  no better than any common person of today. Herein lies the absurdity.
  Therefore, the Vedas must be unique and not redundant.

  "ishhTa-prApti" means obtaining the desired or good. There are many things
  that we know to be as means to "ishhTa-prApti." For example, if I
  see a fruit, I know that eating it would be an "ishhTa-prApti". This
  is a case of ishhTa-prApti the means for which is revealed by
  direct perception. There are other "ishhTa-prApti"s the means for
  which are revealed by inference. For example, I see that my friend
  is putting away some of his money in a 401K plan that will eventually
  reward him with a lot of money. Moreover he tells me a lot of people have
  been doing this many years. From this I infer that if I did the
  same thing as he, I will get a lot of money too, eventually. The means
  to "ishhTa-prApti" in this case is provided by inference or anumAna.

  "anishhTa-parihAra" means  getting rid of or avoiding the undesired.
  There are many things that we know to be means to "anishhTa-parihAra."
  If I am cold, I know I need to wear suitable clothing. This is a case
  where the means for anishhTa-parihAra is revealed by perception.
  There are other "anishhTa-parihAra"s whose means
  are to be inferred rather than learnt through directly experience.
  I hear that accidents happen during bad weather such as a snow storm.
  From this I infer that I should not drive during bad weather. I don't have
  to go through an accident in bad weather in order to reach this
  conclusion.  This is a case where the means to "anishhTa-parihAra" is
  arrived at by inference.

  In the vedic sentence, " agnihotraM juhuyAt.h svargakAmaH", "one who
  desires heaven should perform the agnihotra", both the desired object
  heaven and the means of achieving it, ie. the agnihotra, are not known
  through perception and inference. This is a case of "ishhTaprApti" the
  means for which is revealed by the Vedas. In the statement, "sarvaM
  pApmAnaM tarati, tarati brahmahatyAM yo .ashvamedhena yajate, ya u chaina-
  mevaM veda", makes it known to us that for getting rid of the all sin,
  even the sin of brahmahatyA (killing a brAhmaNa), the ashvamedha yajna is
  to be performed. Here again, the means for getting rid of the sins and the
  sins themselves are not known through perception and inference. But these
  are known through the Vedas. This is case of "anishhTa-parihAra" the
  means for which is revealed by the Vedas.

  In the final analysis, we come to VedAnta or the upanishads which are
  the jnAna-kANDa of the Vedas. Here too, the Vedas are engaged in
  revealing the means for ishhTa-prApti and anishhTa-parihAra. What is
  the ishhTa-prApti here? It is mokshha or the attainment of Brahman. What
  is the anishhTa-parihAra? It is the removal of ignorance, ignorance which
  makes us mistake Brahman as something else. What is the means for
  attainment of mokshha which is also the means for removal of ignorance?
  It is the statements of vedAnta such as "tattvamasi" "neti neti", "neha
  nAnAsti  kiJNchana", etc.

  sAyaNa express the same opinion as Shankara in his introduction to the
  commentary on the yajurveda:

  ishhTa-prApty-anishhTa-parihArayoH alaukikaM upAyaM yo grantho vedayati
  sa vedaH |

  The work that reveals the supra-mundane means to obtaining the desired and
  getting rid of the undesired (evil) is veda.

   The following also serves as yet another pithy definition of veda:

  pratyaxeNAnumityA vA yastUpAyo na budhyate |
  enaM vidanti vedena tasmAdvedasya vedatA  ||

  That means which is not known by either perception or inference, is
  known (by the knowers of Veda) through Veda. That is the vedatva of
  the veda.


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