[Advaita-l] Meaning required for a shloka on 'arthavAdaH'

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Tue Mar 9 23:31:08 CST 2010


Reproduced here below are two responses I received by private mail on the

No. 1

               I did not find the source of this quotation, but came across
two very interesting references:

Pravrttirva nivrttirva nityena krtakyena va
Pumsam yenopadisyete tacchastram abhidhiyate
Words that speak of things that serve no purpose belong to the category of
useless, idle talk. Suppose a man says, "The crow flies." How does the
statement help you? "The crow is black." Do these words also help you in any
way? Take this sentence for example: "Tomorrow night a discourse will be
held here." This has some purpose. It gives a bit of information and
implicit in it is an invitation to people to come and listen to the
discourse. Such usefulness is "pravrtti". If someone says that there will be
a discourse at Kumbhakonam tomorrow, it is as good as gossip. You are in
Madras and how will you go to Kumbhakonam in such a short time to listen to
the discourse? Any word, any sabda, must have some objective or other. It
must either involve you in work, "pravrtti" or keep you out of it,
"nivrtti". If the Vedas mention all the five terrible sins
(panca-maha-patakas) and bid us not to commit them, it is nivrtti, because
they warn us against committing those dreadful crimes.
Words that do not serve the purpose of either pravrtti or nivrtti are
useless. One part of the Vedas asks you to do this or that and another part
asks you not to do this or that (ordinances regarding what you must do and
what you must not). But there is another part which is like story-telling.
The stories are meaningful only if they are connected with the injunctions
and interdictions of pravrtti and nivrtti.
Suppose there is an advertisement of a tonic that claims to give you vigour
and strength. It carries an illustration showing a man wrestling with a
lion. What is the purpose of this drawing? It is a kind of deception, the
idea behind it being to induce you to buy the tonic, and make money. Such
"stories" in the Vedas become purposeful only because of the injunctions
associated with them and they belong to the category of "arthavada". Why
does a doctor print his certificate in advertising his medicine? To persuade
people to buy it (the medicine). In this way in arthavada untruth is mixed
with truth. The untrue part is called "gunavada". There is another term
called "anuvada". It means stating what is already known. For instance, the
statement that "fire burns".
Mentioning the ingredients of a medicine is an example of "bhutarthavada".
"Gunarthavada" is to tell a story, even though untrue, to make it useful for
the observance of a rule. "Do not drink liquor" is an injunction (or
interdiction). To tell the "story" that a man who got drunk was ruined is
arthavada. The purpose- or moral- is that one must not drink. To say that if
a man drinks he will be intoxicated is anuvada. All told, the stories or
statements belonging to arthavada must make us conform to the commandments
of the Vedas.
In dealing with a sacrifice, the Vedas ask us to pay the daksina in gold,
not in silver. According to the Taittiriya Samhita silver should not be
given as daksina in sacrifices. In this connection a long story is told to
illustrate the "nisedha" or the prohibitory rule regarding silver. ("Do
this" is a "vidhi"; "do not do this" is a "nisedha". ) But the words by
themselves in such arthavada do not serve any purpose.
It is in this manner that the mimamsakas try to counter the objections
raised against their system by adherents of the jnanakanda of the Vedas.
When the Upanisads speak about the Brahman there is no mention of any work
to be performed. The Upanisads themselves show that the realisation of the
Brahmans is a state in which there is no action. When do the Vedas become an
authority? When they speak about the performance of a karma. So the
Upanisads belong to the arthavada category because they deal with existing
things. What is it that we must know? Existing things or the karma we ought
to perform?
"The Brahman exists. The Atman is the Brahman" In such pronouncements there
is no mention of any rites to be performed. It is obligatory for us to
conduct sacrifices and we need the Vedas only for that purpose, to tell us
about such works, not to speak about the things that exist. What exists will
be known at one time or another, even if we do not know it now. That part of
the Vedas which speaks of existing things belongs to arthavada. So the
Upanisads are not to be regarded as an authority. Then what is their
purpose? They are meant to elevate the sacrificer. By extolling him he would
be made to perform more and more works. It is not right to forsake karma to
become a sannyasin. The Upanisadic declaration that the individual self is
the same as the Brahman is meant only to glorify one who leads a life of
works. The man who takes the tonic (in the story mentioned earlier) will
never be able to wrestle with the lion. Similarly, the individual self will
never attain the Brahman. The Upanisads are in the nature of a story and we
do not need any talk of the Brahman, jnana, moksa, Isvara, and so on. Karma
is all for us. So goes the argument of the mimamsakas.

pp 43-56 - article on 'Shankaracharya's approach to arthavada'  //

No. 2

The shloka you have given is quoted in Arthasangraha of Laugakshi Bhaskara,
a classic work on purva mimamsa. The original source is not mentioned there.
The meaning of the shloka is:--

In case of contradiction, the arthavada would state a quality; in case of
ascertainment it would be a repetition; on account of the absence of both of
those it would state the real state of affairs; thus an explanatory passage
is regarded as three-fold.

(Translation of A.B.Gajendragadkar and R.D.Karmakar).

Explanatory note-

When the content of an arthavada is contradicted by another means of proof,
it is called guNavAda, e.g., Adityo yUpah—Here the yUpa, sacrificial post,
is identified with the sun. This is contrary to direct perception. So the
implied meaning is that the sentence conveys a quality, namely the
brilliance of the sun. So the meaning is that the yUpa is brilliant like the
sun. Since this conveys a quality, it is called guNavAda.

When an arthavada conveys something which is already known from another
means of proof it is known as anuvAda- repetition. E.g.,- agniH himasya
bheShajam. Fire relieves cold.

When the content is such that it can neither be contradicted nor established
by another means of proof, it is known as bhUtArthavAda. e.g, indro vRitrAya
vajram udayacchat- Indra raised his thunder-bolt to strike at Vritra. This
can neither be contradicted nor proved. bhUtArtha means a past occurrence.

Om Tat Sat

> > Here is a verse on 'arthavAdaH' (which word itself has several meanings)
>> -
>> >
>> > विरोधे गुणवादः स्यात् अनुवादोऽवधारिते ।
>> >
>> > भूतार्थवादस्तद्धानात् अर्थवादस्त्रिधा मतः ॥
>> >
>> > (This verse is found in a 'VedAnta koshaH')
>> >
>> >
>> > I request the learned members to provide the meaning of this verse along
>> > with the source of the verse.
>> >
>> >
>> > Regards,
>> >
>> > subrahmanian.v
>> > _______________________________________________
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