Narach Philosophy

ACTION, EFFORT AND RESULT: THE METHOD OF INTERPRETATION


Every action has an aim, and there is unity in all action; but the result of each action is different. Each part of a word refers to a separate action, or its object or result, as well as the character of the doer of the deed. We can express the idea of a single action by means of a single note, and that is the best mode of its expression; and this is based on the principle that there is only one exercise of intelligence at a time: it also prevents repetition; but we can do as we like in the concluding parts of a word.

All action implies effort and also an expectation of result; but the result arises out of something more. When, however, the result accompanies action, its idea should be described by means of the common meaning of words; or we may do as we like. But if a whole idea is expressed by means of a single word, it is necessary to divide the latter into parts.

The common people judge an action by its result. The idea of result is important, for an action comes to an end only when its result does so. The result of an action corresponds to its purpose or design; but it is not possible to lay down any fixed rules as to how this purpose should be expressed. If there is no expectation of result, an action may be said to have been performed for its own sake.

We should, as far as possible, avoid repetition, for it can easily cause confusion. The principle of interpretation is that we should take the common meanings of words; but if they do not make sense, we should divide them into parts. We cannot, however, put in much in the last portions of a word (or the text).

All intelligent action involves a reference to the forces of Nature; and we can understand this if we divide words into parts; and this design of division is indicated by the Krama method of reading the text. When, however, the parts of an action are equal, the idea can be expressed by means of a single note. The parts of a word which have the same meaning should be in close proximity to one another; and this rule commonly applies to all principal words.

We cannot have a single method of interpretation; but whatever method we adopt, it should have a regular plan, and be governed by definite rules. There is a difference of time even in notes uttered simultaneously. This has a special importance, and is expressed by means of a separate rule.

Unity in action: As each action, taken separately, is connected with a purpose or aim, there is a unity in all actions performed by creatures; and that is expressed by means of the connection of each part of a word with the other. We should thus be able to assign a motive to each action, even as we assign to it an effect or result; and all this is in accordance with a law. So far as effect is concerned, it is for the sake of something other than the action; for that is its law, as we may see in every principal action.

How described: All this is described by means of words, which need to be divided into parts to be understood. With regard to the parts of a word, as they consist of different notes, each of them represents an action or a part of an action, and they should each, according to this design, have a separate effect. As there is a separate purpose in the case of each action, even so there is a separate meaning in the case of each note of a word; and so we might say that a singleness of purpose makes for a singleness of action. We cannot deny that this is true of the different notes or parts of a word, for if it is true that every action has a purpose, and it has to be described by means of words, it follows that this can be done by means of the different notes or parts of words, each with a meaning of its own.

Connection between actions and words: Every person has his own manner of performing action, and each action has a purpose of its own; and it is in order to represent this that the principal words in the text are divided into parts. (This illustrates the connection between actions and words), for the commencement of action is preceded by words.

How described: We should be able to describe the idea of an action by means of a single note, and we can succeed in the task, with the result that our aim and achievement would be expressed in the highest form. We cannot say that it is impossible to achieve this result, because each note can refer to an action, so that there would be no lack of proper expression. Nor can we say that a single note cannot represent a single action, for each object of action is separate, and it can be made equal to a single note; and there would be no need of further sub-division.

A scientific method: This mode of expression is based on the principle that there is a single exercise of intelligence at a time; and the arrangement is such that there is no repetition. That is easily seen, because we can get the meaning if we read the text according to Krama. Each principal word is capable of being handled as the author thinks fit; and that is the reason why the whole presentation is so fine. It is in this manner that action should be described, for in any other mode of writing there is bound to be a repetition of words. The idea of Krama has already been explained. It indicates that each part of a word is a separate entity, and conveys an idea of its own. It also ensures that no part of a word is omitted or lost sight of in any case.

An exception: But if the concluding parts of a word are not distinct, and if we are able otherwise to get a satisfactory meaning of special terms, we may deal with them as we like. In certain cases the idea of the last part of a word is not clear. For instance, when we divide the word Vishnu into parts, V, i, sh, n, u we get its real meaning from V, i, sh, and the last u, which is interpreted to mean "verily", can easily be omitted; or we may deal with it as we like.

Action and result: All action implies effort; and, as we expect a result when we cultivate the soil, there should be result following an effort or the commencement of an action. Those who act lay claim to the result of action; but it arises only when something special takes place and that too immediately after an act is done; and we have the same thing in the case of the subdivision of words into parts. Where, however, the result accompanies action, the meaning of a word is its common meaning; or we may, by common consent, take it as we like and if the mode of expression is such that the idea is not clear, a number of words may be used. But if we wish to express the whole idea by means of a single word, we have to divide it into parts. The Bhagavad Gita also tells us that we can act, but we cannot claim to get the fruit of its result.

We have to do something special to get the meaning of words after dividing them into parts, that is, use our intelligence. The result of an action requires something similar too; something special following an action. "Doing what we like" means that we may take the common meaning of a word, or divide it into parts, as we like. It would make little difference to the word, for the meaning would be the same in both cases. We have seen that there are instances of this kind.

Result as a continuation of action: So far as the common people are concerned, they understand the idea of action in terms of its result. Its direct perception also arises from that (result); and it is for this reason that it is only when the result of an action comes to an end, that the action itself really comes to an end too. As a matter of common practice, however, we do not understand this; so that we often believe that there is an end to action when we have described its meaning in words.

Connection between result and aim: The result of an action corresponds to its design or plan; and if we use our power of inference properly, we should be able to get the idea of the entire result of action from what we expect to happen. But where there is only one action, the result should arise immediately; only in such a case there is no fixed rule for measuring it. All that we can say is that when a person has done with one result, he plans another.

Difficulty of measuring purpose: If a word does not convey its meaning properly, its repetition would be as useless as the repetition of food. As the meaning of a word cannot be limited to one sense, whereas the purpose of an action is connected with the principal word, it is not possible to lay down any fixed rules as to how this purpose in action can be described in words. Its only measure is that it should be fixed separately in each case.

Action performed for its own sake: There should be no repetition if, by uttering one word, we are able to express the whole idea, and if a single direction applies to all cases simultaneously. If there is no expectation of the fruit of action, the action should be regarded as having been performed for its own sake.

Cases for repetition and no repetition: But it would be necessary to have repetition in cases of removal of doubt, purification, and great and glorious deeds, because what has been said about the principle of simultaneity (should apply to such cases). But if a thing has been expressly stated or defined in a particular manner, there should be no repetition at all.

Cases for an alternative explanation: If we are able to obtain everything from the text, but it is done by means of too many words, we should believe that there is an alternative to it. Indeed, we shall find that it is so; but it is not so in a number of cases in succession; it is so only in a few scattered places.

Principle of interpretation: The principle of interpretation is that we should follow the fixed rules of composition, and they should be varied only for some special reason; but we should see that the meaning of the text is uniform throughout. It is in this manner that we can understand all other meanings of the text; and that, as has already been explained, can be done by reducing words to their rudimentary form, because we can get an uninterrupted sequence of meaning of the text in this manner.

What can be stated at the end: In the last portion of the text it is not possible to put in all that we might like to do, if it has not already been stated before. But if there is an earlier statement of particulars to the same effect, we may put in whatever we like by way of further explanation. This is permitted, because the idea is to make a complete statement of all particulars, and to satisfy the requirements of many other things.

Intelligent action and forces of nature: The rule in regard to an intelligent action is that it involves a reference to Nature as a whole; and this has already been explained. It is for this reason that the knowledge of Nature is forbidden in the case of children. The word in the text is Agni-hotra which, as we have seen, refers to intelligent action. The word in the text is yuvagu, which means "rice gruel, or any weak decoction of other kinds of grain". The Mimansa has already explained that grain, especially rice, refers to Nature. The word in the text is payas, which means "water;" and that, as the Mimansa has already explained, refers to Nature.

Effect of disguise and krama: Even though we may be satisfied that we have got all that we wanted out of the text, we shall find, if we refer to its "disguised" form that it is connected with the great forces of Nature. In this design or form of presentation, each part of a word represents a distinct part of a principal action, and expresses its meaning. This is also indicated by the Krama method of reciting the text, for if we pronounce all parts of a word simultaneously, it would be incompatible with Krama. Where, however, the parts of an action are equal or the same, we can pronounce all the parts simultaneously, because they can be represented by a single note, and we cannot perceive any difference between them. These parts of a word should, however, be very close to each other, because they have the same meaning. In this manner we can understand other meanings too, says Kamukayana.

The word in the text is Devata which, as has already been explained, refers to the great forces of Nature. The "disguise" of an expression refers to its formation by means of its parts. This explains clearly the object of reciting the text according to Krama. Each part of a word has to be pronounced separately, because it represents a distinct part of a principal action; and so we must not pronounce all the parts of a word simultaneously. Kamukayana is the name of a teacher or philosopher. The Mimansa, however, does not agree with a number of his views.

A proper mode of expression: This is a proper mode of expression; and where we are unable to understand the meaning of the text, it should be regarded as the normal mode of expression, because that is what we mean when we speak, of the correct formation and use of words. Even a single word, unconnected with any other word, is intended to mean the same thing. (There is no obscurity about it) for it is to be found everywhere, and is clear like a lamp.

The "correct formation and use of words" (Sanskara) refers to their formation by means of parts, for we can get their correct meaning in that way. A single word, unconnected with any other word, is meant to be like a single note or a part of a word; and would serve the same purpose as the latter, that is, express the idea of a part of an action.

A single method is not possible: It may be argued that this rule should commonly apply, to every principal word, for it stands separately by itself. According to Kamukayana, there should be only one way of interpreting the text, for otherwise there would be a conflict in the measure of values. But if this rule does not make for a proper meaning of the text, a single method of dealing with it would be irrational. According to Badarayana, there should be some method in our plan of interpretation, and there should be no break in the explanation. But there are some who hold that there should be a uniform method of dealing with all words. However, we cannot say that there are no rules in connection with our method of interpretation, for it is all governed by definite rules.

There are some who believe that, as the principal word stands by itself, it should be deemed to be like a single word, unconnected with any other word, and so serve the same purpose as the latter; and, as we take this "single word" as a whole word, without dividing it into parts, we should do the same with the principal word. But the Mimansa has told us that we need to divide the principal word into parts to understand its meaning. This is accordingly an opposite view, and is rejected by the Mimansa. Badarayana is the celebrated author of Vedanta Sutras.

Time factor in action; how described: As has already been explained, the parts of words expressive of things of equal or the same value, should be uttered simultaneously, because we cannot perceive any difference between them. But there may be a difference even among such things, arising from the difference of time. That, however, should be expressed in a special way; for the Time-factor is important, and so there should be a special rule in connection with it. It is in this manner that we can understand the different meanings (or implications) of the same thing. But this is not governed by a general rule, and depends on the statement of the facts as they are. There is a reference to Time later in this Chapter.