Narach Philosophy

HOW TO UNDERSTAND THE TEXT (PART-1)


We can understand the real meaning of the text of the Vedas in the same manner as we understand the laws of life relating to animals, that is, by means of inference.

Three ways of recitation: There are instructions in regard to the manner of reading the text, each of which has a bearing on the method of interpreting it. In some cases we are required to sing aloud, in others to recite silently, while yet in others to read in a normal tone. The first implies that we have to change the form of words even as we do in singing; the second that no change should be made, for no words are uttered; and the third that we may do as circumstances require, and the meaning would, in any case, be the same.

Narrative form: It is natural for a person to narrate action, of some person or past time; and this enables us to understand that there is a description of action in narrative form in the Vedas.

Meaning of contradictions: We sometimes find that the latter part of a statement contradicts an earlier one; and we should take it that this is intentional, and meant to indicate that we have to divide words into parts to understand their meaning.

Similarly, if we find that the text contains something that is incongruous, or casts reflection on someone otherwise held in high esteem, we should conclude that it requires a new interpretation; but the latter should be consistent throughout.

Utility and beauty: Again, if we find that the description of an object is inconsistent, we should attach more importance to the object than to its description; and if there is an inconsistency between an object and its use, we should attach more importance to its use. Indeed, meaning is more important than elegance of expression; but language, like a garment, should have both utility and beauty, though utility or meaning comes first. But there should be a method in our work, and we should be able to combine parts with the whole, and select the best meaning, when we shall find that there is both beauty and utility in the contents of the text.

Predominant thought: There can be only one predominant thought at a time, and it must produce its own effect or result; and we should bear this in mind in our attempt to understand the text. In certain cases, however, we can understand the meaning without any difficulty from the context or the effect that is produced; and where there is a doubt about an occurrence, it can be understood from its description, for there is nothing that cannot be described in words.

How to discover a new meaning: As when we discover an error in a course of action, we adopt some other means to remove the defect, we should do the same in connection with the text; that is, find out some other means of getting the correct meaning. In some cases we have to repeat the same process, while in others we have to find out where the weakness lies. But we should be satisfied only when we find that the whole thing is both intelligent and good.

The best meaning: We can accept the meaning of words in their natural form only if it is the very best; but it should not be derived from some detached or casual remark, except in special cases. It should not he obtained by breaking up the unity of idea, or by mixing up words. The best result is obtained by dividing words into parts; but we should take care to see that the whole text is connected together, and has an unbroken unity throughout.

A substitute expression: A substitute expression can be used only if it has the same meaning as the original wore But it is not always easy to find an exact substitute; and to that extent the language of the text, which is otherwise perfect, may be said to be imperfect.

Two meanings; need of selection: When we get two meanings of a word, we must make up our minds as to which of the two we should accept; and we may find that the one we do has little connection with the ordinary meaning of the word. But the new meaning can transform the whole idea of the text, and the words retain their new character throughout.

Two series: In this method of interpretation there at two series of words, the original one, and that formed b means of division into parts; and we should see that the correspond each to each in an exact order. It is based on the substitution of one form of a word for another, and is like an exchange, a strictly equal one. It means a new approach to the Vedas, and throws a new light on their value; but v cannot understand them properly unless we consider them i the light of action, and believe that they regard it as necessary.

Need of knowledge: In case of difficulty or doubt there are suggestions in the text itself to guide us. But it is necessary to have knowledge to be able to understand the idea i this manner. The design of composition is such that each part is connected with the other, and there is no lack of words to complete the sense.

Newly coined words: We can get only the main id by changing the form of words, while the subsidiary on are obtained by means of words which lie in close proximity. There is, however, no difficulty in understanding the real meaning of the text in this manner.

A number of words have been newly coined to fit into this scheme, and each succeeding idea is connected with the preceding one. Indeed, it is possible to have this system because a number of new words have been coined in this way. But all words are not of this kind; and a number of existing words, where suitable, have also been used. A single word can describe a composite action in this manner; and when we change its form all that is required is that the new meaning should be formed out of the meaning of its parts. But we have to use our intelligence to fix upon the meaning.

Meaning of purification: Indeed, it is necessary to use our intelligence in interpreting the text, especially if there is a conflict of opinion. Certain ideas have been expressed by means of similes; and the "purification" or correct formation of a word really means that it is being expressed more exactly than before, that is, by means of its division into parts. When the form of a word is changed, there is an implication that it has not been clearly expressed in its original form. This, however, may not always be so; and we may change its form because it has been stated that we should do so.

Difficult expressions: It is not always easy to describe an action in words; and so, if we find that a certain expression is unsuitable, we must not suppose that it is meaningless; and we may have to divide it into parts to understand it.