Narach Philosophy

ACTION, MOTIVE AND THE SOUL: THE METHOD OF INTERPRETATION


Let us inquire into the laws of action with reference to the soul, and understand the nature of motive in action. The cause of action is the desire to obtain some satisfaction; and, as this desire serves the purpose of the soul, the soul is concerned in each action; for the result belongs to the soul, and without it there can be no action. But this applies to animate and not inanimate objects, which serve the purpose of living creatures and impel them to action; for it is a self-evident truth that the soul cannot engage in action by itself.

It is necessary to understand the nature of purpose in action. A person who is in a state of uncertainty or divided opinion, cannot act; and so there must be a definite purpose before he can act. Desire means that there is such purpose; and it implies dependence as well as attachment.

There is diversity of purpose and action; nevertheless, all things meet and mingle in the world; and this is symbolized by the formation of curd out of milk as well as by Nature or Prakrti.

Action and purpose as well as all things are dependent on one another; but we can see the working of this law more clearly in animals than in inanimate objects. If a substance is produced in a particular place, it means that there is a certain connection between the two. The difference in the performance of the same action is due to the skill of the doer of the deed. But certain courses of action have a special cause, and require special direction. This, however, does not apply to cases where the principal cause of action is well known.

If the principal cause of action is not clear, the explanation should be contained in the language of the text itself, without the division of words into parts. But the common meaning of certain words like Jauhava and Anuyaja makes little sense, and they need to understood in a different way.

Action and the soul: Let us inquire into the law of action with reference to purusha or the individual soul, and understand the nature of motive or the cause of action.

Cause of action: A man always desires to obtain some satisfaction or pleasure: that is the object of his life; and the motive or cause of action is the same (that is, obtain some satisfaction or pleasure).

Desire: Desire is the root of action, for an action can be performed only when there is some desire to urge it on; and it is performed for the sake of the soul: the sacred books say so too. That an action is meant to serve the purpose of the soul is evident from the fact that an inanimate object can have no desire of its own. Hence purpose or desire is the basis of all action, and that is how it is connected with it; and the sacred books tell us that the purusha or the individual soul is concerned in each action. Thus, as there is no difference of opinion in the matter, the result of action should belong to the soul, as has been stated in the sruti. But even if we do not understand the exact cause of action, we cannot deny that it is meant to serve the purpose of the soul, for the purpose is always there; for otherwise there can be no connection between purpose and action, and so no action at all.

This is true of all living creatures: This is true of all living creatures in the world, but it does not apply to inanimate objects, which can only be given away, because they cannot act by themselves. Inanimate objects are associated with living creatures because they serve their purpose; and so their use is different from that of the latter; and we should accept what the sacred books tell us in this connection. They impel the living to different kinds of action, which are characterized by purpose; and all this can easily be proved, for the soul cannot engage in any action by itself, and must be associated with something else as an auxiliary, to be able to do so. That something is desire, which is like a string, connecting the soul with its object; and all the sacred books are agreed that it is so.

This does not require any further proof, for it is a self-evident truth, and requires no words to establish it. Indeed, we understand it as soon as we read and grasp the language of the Vedas, the knowledge of which can be acquired in the same way as that of other things. It is in this manner that the whole thing can be proved, and indeed is proved.

The nature of purpose: It is necessary to understand the nature of purpose of all objects, without exception, that are connected with one's self. We find that when a person is directed to act, but does not do so, it is because he is in a state of uncertainty or divided opinion, and does not know what to do; (and this means that there must be a definite purpose before man can act). Desire means that there is such a purpose, which is associated with some object, and implies dependence arising from attachment. It is for this reason that there is diversity of purpose in connection with the actions of a person; and which is true of one, is true of all. But it is also a law that all things must meet and mingle in the world, and this is symbolized by the formation of curd out of milk, as well as by Nature or Prakrti. We see the working of this law in the world of Nature itself, where all things meet and mingle with one another.

How described: The principal word in the text has a special significance, without which the word itself would not serve any useful purpose. These Sutras tell us how the preceding idea is described in the text. It is done by means of the principal word, which has a special significance attaching to it. These Sutras tell us how the preceding idea is described in the text. It is done by means of the principal of words, which have a special significance attaching to it.

Action, purpose and objects: It is a law of Nature that purpose and action should be linked together, and both associated with the objects of life; for it is ordained that all things should depend on one another. But it is in animals more than in inanimate objects that we see a clear evidence of this law, for there is no action of blood and excrement in the case of the latter.

Law of production: If a substance is produced in a particular place, it means that there is a certain connection between them. We cannot say that the two are only in close proximity to each other and there is some other cause of the origin of the thing, because there are a number of things in close proximity to that place but are not produced there. This can be proved to be true by working it out.

Cause of difference in action: The difference in the performance of an action between man and man is due to the skill of the doer of the deed, specially where the task presents some difficulty. For instance, in a sacrifice, the act of sprinkling clarified butter from a distance requires some skill, and so there is a difference between person and person in this respect; but if the sprinkling is done from the same place, there can be no question of want of skill, because all can do it. It follows from this that each course of action has its own cause, and there is no exception to this. It only requires a proper direction to pursue a particular course. A particular course, however, may not always be necessary where the principal cause of action is well known. Only in that case it should be proved that the principal cause can bring about the required result.

How described: All this is described in the sacred books. But if the principal cause of action is not clear, the explanation should be found in the language of the text itself; and in this case there should be no division of words into parts. But there are certain words like Jauhava and Anuyaja, which do not appear to make sense. It may be argued that the text refers to a sacrifice, and so these words do make sense. This may be a convenient way of avoiding a difficulty, for if we do not accept the meaning of the word Juhu, it would be necessary to explain what it really means. But the Vedas tell us that the number of Jauhavas (sacrificial ladles) is eight (and we should be able to explain this too). This follows logically if we accept the ordinary meaning of the word; but its secondary meaning is more suitable, because it is more in harmony with the entire text.

The word Jauhava means relating to Juhu, or a sacrificial ladle; and Anu-yaja means a secondary or final sacrifice. Both these meanings do not appear to make sense; and so it is necessary to find out if they can bear some other meaning. This can be done by dividing the words into parts.

The second meaning of the word Juhu can be obtained by dividing it into parts; and that gives us J, u, h, u, - meaning (J) the senses of action, and (u) the senses of knowledge, and (h, "water", symbolic of Nature) Prakrti, (u) woven together; and the idea is that we should look at Nature in the light of our senses, and see what it can tell us.

There is a reference to the number eight; and that obviously would refer to the eight divisions of Prakrti, mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita and other sacred books, intellect, ahankara (I-as-an-actor), the mind, and the five great "elements". The point is that if we look at Nature in the light of our senses, we find that it is divisible into eight parts; and so the text refers to eight "sacrificial ladles". We can understand the meaning of Anuyaja in the same manner.