[Advaita-l] Anarthakya - 1 (was Re: chanting knowing the meaning whether necessary)

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian rama.balasubramanian at gmail.com
Tue Jun 3 11:24:38 CDT 2008

Ok, I have been debating with myself whether to write this or not.
Anyway, here goes.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the principle of Anarthakya is very
important in mImA.msA. When we look at two statements, both from valid
sources, we need to find a common ground. The example we saw was
regarding mantras - the chAndogya and brahma-sUtras seem to say
knowing the meaning is not essential, but better, while yAska *seems*
to imply it is essential. The common ground is provided by the jaimini
sUtras regarding the varying degrees of results.

Even in other situations, this principle is of paramount importance.
For example, take Vidyasankars series on yoga. While he does not
explicitly call out this principle by name, he has used this "sound
principle" (as it has been called by F. Edgerton) in the
interpretation of shankaras texts. The same principle is used even in
legal interpretation in India (although the roots of it are unknown to
many people).

When shankara talks about no more effort being necessary after
samyag-j~naAna in some bhAShya, it thus refers to the uttamAdhikAri.
In the case of the bR^ihadAraNyaka bhAShya, he makes an allowance for
the normal case - one who is not an uttamAdhikArI, and points out the
use of yoga practice. This is clearly pointed out by Vidyaranya, et.
al, who take an unbiased, complete look at Shankaras texts.

There are, of course, two ways valid of going about this. One, we can
adopt a historical analysis and say that shankara evolved through his
texts and changed his opinion. It's a valid hypothesis for
examination. The other hypothesis is to assume that he never changed
his opinions in his books, and see what the common ground is, which is
what later advaitins like Vidyaranya do. Hundreds of quotes regarding
"finality" of j~nAna cannot change the equally frequent statements by
sha.nkara on the use of yoga "after" samyag-j~naana. And the latter
have been exhaustively compiled by Vidyasankar in his series, along
with explanations.

Merely compiling quotes supporting either point of view, i.e., yoga is
useless vs yoga is absolutely essential is silly. And many modern day
commentators do not go through even a basic course in mImAmsA, and
come up with a whole lot of polemical publications, which in the final
analysis are fairly useless, due to their ignorance of basic
principles of mImAmsA

to be continued in next post.


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