[Advaita-l] vedic yajna

Omkar Deshpande omkar_deshpande at yahoo.com
Tue Nov 22 16:37:00 CST 2011

From: Rajaram Venkataramani <rajaramvenk at gmail.com>
> RV: If you read the book I quoted "Review of Beef in Ancient India", it
argues elaborately why Shankara does not talk about bull (young or old) but
only two medicinal herbs of different intensities. 

There was a discussion on this passage on another list (Vadavali) and I can recall from reading it that time, that the author of this article is reinterpreting not only the mUla passage but also the commentary of Shankaracharya. That's quite a stretch. Even if you look at the commentaries of Vishishtadvaita and Dvaita tradition, they say the same thing. Yet some people attempt to reinterpret both the mUla and these commentaries (or at least the commentaries of their own tradition) to avoid the reference to meat. 

How do I say these are forced reinterpretations? They have the following characteristic trait. 

Consider a mUla word W. Suppose that it has a direct meaning, and an indirect meaning. If a commentator wanted to take the indirect meaning for W, he would translate the word W as some other word W' such that direct meaning of W' = indirect meaning of W. If the commentator wanted to take the direct meaning of W, he would either not bother to translate W at all (since the meaning is direct and hence self-evident) or translate it as some word W'' such that direct meaning of W'' = direct meaning of W. I have never seen this being violated (if you know of examples, I would be glad to stand corrected).

Whatever commentary you take from the past on this Brihadaranyaka passage, it's the second case that is observed. This means the commentators did not intend the indirect meaning. 

A forced reinterpretation, which reinterprets not only the mUla but the commentary as well, implies that the commentator neither meant the direct meaning of W, nor the direct meaning of what he translated/explained W as, in spite of the fact that both direct meanings are the same. This makes the commentary itself appear as misleading. 

In this particular example, words like sechana-samarthaH pu~NgavaH and tato'pi adhika-vayaH have a direct meaning that clearly correspond to the animal(s), also the direct meanings of the mUla words. There is thus no good justification to reinterpret both the mUla and the commentaries, in my opinion. 



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