[Advaita-l] A Brief Introduction to pUrva mImAmsA - 6 (Mantras)

Yadu Moharir ymoharir at yahoo.com
Sun Oct 23 15:56:00 CDT 2005

Namste Vyas-Ji:


Thanks you for you example of the "Computer Bug".  Just by giving the example you have confirmed the importance of understanding.  That is why Yaaska stressed on the importance of meaning and not just the ethmylogy and the just the root "dhaatu" of individual words.  This was followed by Sayanaacaarya as well.  SaayaNa uses the anvaya as well to clarify the meaning from context


SyaaNaacaarya says -


sthaaNur ayam bhaara-haarH kilaabhuud, adhiity vedamnavijaanaati yorthm


Meaning - Those who recite the Veda without understand their meaning as lifeless pillars which bare the weight of the roof.


In most of the cases the noun finds derivation from the root verb, however, when this creates problem / difficulties for such derivation then one need to place the emphasis on the meaning as associated from he context and the actions.


Example -  We all know the the word "vadhuu" means "bride".  Superficially we see the dhaatu "vadh" - menaing "to kill".  Here the nirukktakaara suggests looking in to a derivation as (vah + uu = vahuu =  vadhuu) because vadhuu is carried away from parents house (maahera, maikaa) and taken to husbands house (sasuraala).


While interpreting vedic R^icaa Yasakaa often maintains the order.  Combines the uasarga and kriyaaruupa, he even accepts the conventional accepted meanings from arvaaciina samskR^ita and then also looks into the possible vyatpattii.


Another good example of lokavyavahaarika interprtsation that come to mind is -


tkshaNa - to cut

parivrajana - to roam about, travel everywhere. 


There are many who perform these acts but we call the carpenter as "takshaa" and identify sanyaasi as "parivraajaka".


It is up to us to find the meaning if we do not attempt to do so then it is our loss. There are those to recommend that we have no right to interpret vead because theer is not meaning and must therefore be limited to the recitation only.


But why such recitation might have been created also need to be studied and realized as well.


Yaska therefore says - niSha sthaNoraparaadho yadenamandho na pashyati puruShaaparaadhaH sa bhavati || nirukta 1.16 ||


Meaning - It is not the fault of the pillar that the blind man does not see it, but the fault lies with the blind man himself.  (May be he needs to use a cane to feel his way to chart his path.).


Thank you for sharing the Computer Bug analogy but the ultimate goal is to realize what that means.  Therefore meaning is what one must try to understand.


Warm regards,


Dr. Yadu



"Jaldhar H. Vyas" <jaldhar at braincells.com> wrote:

On Thu, 13 Oct 2005, Yadu Moharir wrote:

> This dilemma what is important must have haunted our ancestors as well. 
> Just because the road is not easy does not work when it comes to 
> knowledge. Everyone on us want to preserve our cultural heritage, but 
> how can we preserve it if we do not understand the associated meaning or 
> it's significance. This is like a bad driver trying to teach everything 
> he knows to their kids and be proudly say - I taught him everything I 
> know!!?.
> diirghattamaa while praising veda he says comments -
> R^ico axare parame vyoman yasmin devaa adhi vish{}ve niSheduH . yastanna 
> veda kimR^icaa kariShyati ya ittad vidusta ime samaasate .. R^igveda. 
> 1.164.39 ..
> (liberal translation) Gods reside in vedic R^icaa. But if one does not 
> understand their meaning then what is the use of such vead for him? 
> One who realizes this live together with understanding.
> Acharya in vivekachuDamaNI places importance on understanding the 
> meaning as well:
> arthasya nish{}chayo dR^ishhTo vichaareNa hitok{}titaH .
> na s{}naanena na daanena praaNaayamashatena vaa .. 13..
> Finally, it is up to us whether we wish to learn or remain contented 
> with "partial-understanding". In this case we have really no right to 
> blame Maculley for giving us wrong knowledge by establishing the 
> education system that was suitable from Britishers.
> Recent discussions - "If sanyaasa is required for moxa" will always 
> remain in the cyber achieves of academic virtual reality.
> moxasya na hi vaaso.asti na graamantarameva . adnyaana 
> hR^idayagranthinaasho moxa iti smR^ita .. shivagiitaa 13.32 ..
> Meaning - moxa is not going from one place to another (Mumbai to Delhi 
> or vaiku.nTha) but the amputation of the glands that secrete ignorance.
> If we ask the question what is the # 1 reason for a project failure in 
> any industry, corporation or the Government, it is always communication 
> (Not understanding what was said). This applies to vyavahaarikaa as 
> well as parmarthika as well.

I'm afraid you're still missing the point a little. What do we mean by 
the word "meaning?" Perhaps an analogy is in order. A mistake in a 
computer program is called a bug. This word has passed out of the narrow 
circle of computer scientists into popular parlance. It is even found in 
dictionaries etc. But why bug? It seems in the early days of computing 
Grace Hopper, a pioneer in the field, had a problem in one of her programs 
she simply could not explain. It turned out a moth (a literal "bug") had 
got into the computer and caused a short circuit which burned out one of 
the vacuum tubes (this was long before the invention of the silicon chip) 
and caused the malfunction.

Now this story is colorful and interesting and nice to know but do you 
agree it is not necessary to know it in order to talk meaningfully about 
computer bugs? This is what our acharya were saying about the literal 
meaning of mantras. It is not that one shouldn't know the literal 
meanings. Acharyas such as Shayana, Uvata, Mahidhara, Haradatta, 
Skandaswami etc. have written bhashyas explaining the grammatical and 
etymological meanings of the Vedas. It is just that this type of meaning 
takes a back seat to knowing the correct pronounciation, Rshi, Chanda, 
devata etc. which is also meaningful in its own way.



No we should not be content with partial understanding. We should ideally 
know _both_ the literal and the practical meanings of the mantras. But in 
less than ideal situations, the practical is more important.

Jaldhar H. Vyas 
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