[Advaita-l] Question/Clarification on Chanting Vaidika mantras

Balasubramanian Ramakrishnan rama.balasubramanian at gmail.com
Sun Nov 5 07:33:19 EST 2017

Praveen, I think you have understood where I am coming from. However, I
think my understanding of the phala of "understanding meanings", etc., is
somewhat different.

I think we are going quite a bit away from the original question about the
recitation issues, but that's ok. I'll just summarize some of the issues.
pUrva mImAmsA vs. vedAnta, usually fall in two camps. One is totally
against rituals and talks about the scientific vedAnta and the other is the
vyAvahAre bhATTa nyAyaH camp. The latter is more close to the truth, but
there are many important differences between advaita and pUrva mImAmsA.

1. By adR^iShTa phala, I am assuming you mean apUrva phala, where an unseen
potency is posited via arthApatti to account for phala happening at future
times. The adR^iShTa phala is a superset of this, including things like
what is the phala when you thresh grains versus sprinkling with water etc.
First of all, apUrva phala is not even accepted by advaita. See the bhAShya
to 3.2.38-41, especially at the end f 3.2.38, where shankara says:
"apUrvasya-acetanasya kAShTha-loShTa-samasya cetanena-apravR^ittitasya
pravR^itti-anupapatteH ****tat-astitve eva pramANa-abhAvAt***, and declares
Ishvara alone the phala-dAtA. There is no apUrva and shankara makes it

2. You seem to be saying that fruit of knowledge of mantras and rituals is
dR^iShTa in the sense of meditation, but that's only part of it. As per the
chhAndogya, any ritual performed with knowledge gives more/better benefits.
Take for example, the shrI-sUkta-homa for dhana-vR^iddhi. Does it even
matter if my understanding of the mantras hiraNya-varNAm, etc., is only the
dR^iShTa phala which you posit? if the aim is dhana, then it should not
matter to me whether I know the meanings, etc., if the apUrva is accepted.
However the upaniShad is saying that you would get better benefits by
knowing meanings, etc. The only logical interpretation in this case, is
that there would be more money coming to me or come sooner, but that is not
"dR^iShTa-phala" either.  It's just that I get better results. The strict
pUrva-mImAmsA interpretation of the chhAndogya passages would be as an
artha-vAda, due to their positing of apUrva, but vedAntins interpret it
literally. That would apply to cases when it's not regarding meditation as

3. The non-acceptance of apUrva leads to a different way of interpreting
what rituals are and "knowledge" of rituals are. Two performance examples
are how can you deal with kAmya-karma and rituals like the shyena. The
reason why sheyna cannot be performed is much discussed in mImAmsA, but the
advaitins would say that it can indeed be performed, but with certain
conditions, unlike the mImAmsaka-s. Similarly kAmya karma can and should be
performed, but with the right attitude. A modern analysis of the mImAmsA
discussions on sheyna using deontic logic can be found in
https://www.logic.at/staff/agata/tableaux2015.pdf for those interested in
this type of things. The vedAntins also differ from the mImAmsaka-s on the
phrase "ya evam veda" frequently occurring in the taittirIya brAhmaNa
portions asserting same benefit from knowing how to do rituals vs. actually
doing them. vedAntin-s interpret this literally as well.

In spite of all this and it's indeed good to know meanings, it is wholly
irrelevant for *most* people due to the fact that they cannot do things
properly or recite properly. That's more important and is a huge stumbling
block. Knowing meanings cannot and will not obviate wrong chanting or


On Thu, Nov 2, 2017 at 1:10 AM, Praveen R. Bhat via Advaita-l <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:
> Namaste Kartikji
> On Thu, Nov 2, 2017 at 10:26 AM, S Jayanarayanan via Advaita-l <
> advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:
>> Praveen R. Bhat bhatpraveen -at- gmail.com wrote:
>> > Therefore, knowing the meaning is secondary to the extent of being
>> almost moot.
>> No, I'm saying that there is a significant effect of knowing the meaning
>> of the Vedic Mantras that goes above and beyond merely chanting them.
> To clarify, I know what you're saying. I was restating what Ramaji is
> saying and this was addressed to those who misunderstood his statement.
>> I've recited the Purusha Suktam many times (even earlier today), and
>> certainly gained from the knowledge of the meaning of (at least some
>> of) the Mantras.
> Same here, but gaining the knowledge is a dRShTaphala while the contention
> here is about adRShTaphala. I doubt that anyone will question the gain
> (dRShThaphala) in knowing the meaning (padArtha and vAkyArtha)! This
> dRShTaphala is gained even without chanting properly or without svara.
> reading it and making an anvaya and/ or studying Sayanabhashya will get us
> that. However, it will not get us adRShTa, what will is chanting properly
> with svara.
> In a nutshell: knowing the meaning of (a few of) the Veda Mantras may not
>> be essential, but is surely beneficial! Yes, even to the Average
> Sure, and that benefit is dRShTaphala. I wonder if Ramaji differs though.
> gurupAdukAbhyAm,
> --Praveen R. Bhat
> /* येनेदं सर्वं विजानाति, तं केन विजानीयात्। Through what should one know
> That owing to which all this is known! [Br.Up. 4.5.15] */
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