mantras (was Re: [Advaita-l] The Wisdom in ...)

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at
Wed Mar 2 19:18:06 CST 2005

--- Anand Hudli <anandhudli at> wrote:

> >This is exactly the point where I feel that the traditional
> approach lacks
> >something. Do you know where this conclusion of the
> Mimamsakas leads us?
> >Mantras should not be understood, they just should be
> recited. This has
> >been happening for the last nearly 2500 years in India and is
> still
> >happening. Tell me one Vedic Pandit who understands all those
> Mantras
> >which he recites. This has lead to such strange Viniyogas,
> where the
> >Mantra which is being recited doesn't have any any connection
> at all to
> >the ritual which is being performed. Sometimes, simply
> because a
> >particular word occurs in a Mantra, it is being related to
> that particular
> >action.
> The 4th adhikaraNa of the second pAda of the first adhyAya of
> the mImAMsa 
> sutras, starting with the sUtra "tadarthashAstrAt.h",  deal
> with the issue 
> of whether mantras express any meaning or not.

Thanks for your email on the meanings of mantras, I will be
coming to that in my next posting on the series on pUrva
mImAmsA. I have a couple of questions regarding what you wrote:

> The doubt
> raised here is:
> athedAnIM kiM vivakShitavachanA mantrAH? uta
> .avivakShitavachanAH? iti| 
> kimarthaprakAshanena yAga upakurvanti? uta uchchAraNamAtreNa?
> iti|
> (A doubt arises) here. Do mantras have intended meanings or
> not?  Do they 
> help (the sacrificer) in the sacrifice (yajna) by expressing
> meaning or by 
> mere utterance?
> The pUrvapakSha that can be summed up in the words of
> mahAmahopAdhyAya 
> Ganganath Jha, in his commentary mImAMsAmaNDana, on the
> mImAMsAnukramaNikA 
> of maNDana mishra:
> tatra pUrvapakShaH - mantrA avivakShitArthA eva - upakurvanti
> cha 
> yAgasyochchAraNamAtreNa iti|
> The pUrvapakSha (opponent's view) states that (vedic) mantras
> do not intend 
> to convey a meaning. They help the yAga (sacrifice) by merely
> being uttered.
> In reply to this, KumArila bhaTTa's argues that mantras have
> an intended 
> meaning.
> His reply forms the vArtika on sUtras 1.2.40 through
> 1.2.53. He 
> gives various reasons why mantras have definite meanings. In
> fact, on sUtra 
> 1.2.46 "abhidhAne .arthavAdaH", he gives the metaphorical
> meaning of the 
> famous mantra "chatvAri shR^ingA trayo asya pAdA ..."
> dedicated to agni and 
> concludes that it is agni that is praised in the shape of the
> Sun, by the 
> mantra. (Currently, this mantra is one among others used by
> the R^igvedins 
> in the pUrNAhuti of a homa.)

The book I have, "The Purva Mimamsa Sutras of Jaimini, chapter
I-III", by G. Jha, does say that "chatvAri shR^inga" refers to
the four horns or quarters of the day, and "trayo asya pAda"
refers to the three feet or seasons of the year, and therefore
the mantra refers to the sun. However, there is no mention of
this mantra referring to agni. Is there another source you have
consulted for this?

> The mImAMsA-paribhAShA states:
> mantrANAM adhyayanavidhinA kR^itsna-svAdhyAyasya 
> phalavadarthajnAnArthatvameva, na tu adR^iShTArthatvam.h |
> By the injunction on the studying one's own Veda completely,
> the (Vedic) 
> mantras have the purpose of (revealing) knowledge of useful
> things only. 
> They are not for obtaining an unseen (transcendental) result.

The book by Jha says on KumArila's commentary to pUrva mImAmsA
sUtra 1.2.44 that reciting mantras does lead to a transcendental
result. Is there a difference of opinion between KumArila and
KR^ishhNa yajvan on this point - as to whether or not recital of
mantras leads to a transcendental result?

> The meaning of mantras, however, according to the mImAMsakas,
> may not always 
> be the same as of other schools. For example, the
> mImAmsa-nyAya-prakAsha 
> says "mantrANAM cha prayogasamavetArtha-smArakatayA
> .arthavattvaM na tu 
> taduchchAraNaM adR^iShTArtham.h ...", the mantras are
> meaningful in that 
> they remind one of something connected with the performance
> (of the 
> sacrifice). But utterance of mantras is not for achieving an
> adR^iShTa 
> (unseen transcendental) result.
> Anand



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