Narach Philosophy

INTELLIGENT ACTION AND SACRIFICE: THE METHOD OF INTERPRETATION


In a series of intelligent actions, the last is likely to be the best. We should always act intelligently; acts of sacrifice are always guided by reason, and so too are all other actions, even habits. In the formation of habit the innate disposition of a man is very important. Habits grow through a series of actions limited to a single day.

The Gayatri verses and certain other hymns deal with the problem of disposition. But they have to be interpreted by the means of the method of division of words into parts. There are, however a number of words which have to be interpreted in a different way. But we must not mix up words or omit sentences. We have to depend on our intelligence in interpreting the text in this manner: only the meaning should be obtained from the words themselves and it should be confirmed as we proceed with the text.

Even in the Rig Veda we get the correct meaning of words by dividing them into parts; and this is to be found everywhere. Nor does it conflict with our taking words completely as they are, for the meanings obtained in the two ways are often the same. But it would be better to divide words into parts; and we can always check up whether our meaning is correct or not.

The last action is the best: If a person performs a series of good and intelligent actions (or acts of sacrifice), the last is likely to be the best, if they are all performed in the same place. Such an act should be deemed to be regulated by the deity, as a matter of language or mode of expression, because that is what is commonly heard. The best actions are commonly spoken of as actions of the gods. But the Bhagavad Gita tells us that there is an element of divine power in all actions.

Importance of reason: When there are a number of directions or forces impelling us to action, we should follow that for which we can give a good reason, as indeed we do in the case of an intelligent act.

Place of reason in habit: There are many kinds of good and intelligent actions (or acts of sacrifice) which yet are characterized by conflict; but when actually performed, we that they too are guided by reason, and not impulse; and we find that it is so in all other things that we see. Badari says that it is even so in the case of habits of long standing, because they too are a kind of action. Jaimini says that a habit arises from the connection of imperceptible but intelligent actions performed every day; and that is why we speak of a habit of six days. Habit can be recognized in a multitude of forms; and we can do so when we understand the effect of actions done.

Part of disposition: In this formation of habit the innate nature or disposition of a man should be deemed to be the most important, because it is the cause of brining things together into close connection. Habit begins with disposition, and grows through a series of actions. But where such a series is limited to a single day, the action should be regarded as a normal one, and not the result of habit.

Described in the Vedas: In the Gayatri verses there is a particular mention of what relates to the disposition of men. When, however, we consider the power of nature or disposition, we find that there is no real distinction between it and an intelligent action performed over a length of time; and we should readily state that it is so. This idea of disposition occurs also in a number of other meters, which are widely apart from the Gayatri; and the same language is used in them too. This, however, does not occur frequently, not even in two out of twenty meters, if we reckon them in that way.

The word in the text is Agnishtoma, which means "mass or praise of Agni". As Agni refers to the intellect, it has been rendered as "intelligent action". It may also be understood as "a function of the intellect".

How to interpret the text: But the language of the text is such that a word relating to an object should be understood by means of the parts of which it is composed, for otherwise we cannot cover the entire range of its idea; and the regular succession of the parts of a word should be as in the case of the word gau (cow), just as we utter it. The word gau can be divided into ga, u according to the rules of Sanskrt. This Sutra tells us how to divide words in to their parts: we should utter words as it is commonly spoken, and then divide it into the syllables or letters which compose it, in accordance with the rules of grammar.

There are, however, a number of words which have to be explained in a way different from that in which they are pronounced. There are cases where we can get the best meaning if we do not mix up one word with another or omit a sentence. The author has already explained that there are three ways of finding out the meaning of words: we may take their ordinary meaning; or their meaning may have been specially defined; or we may divide them into parts in the manner explained. But this method of interpretation is not derived from anything defined in the sacred books and we have to use our own intelligence in the matter. In any case, the meaning of a name should be obtained from the name itself; and we should find the same idea in a number of different meters in succession. This has already been stated and is nothing new; but it is necessary that we should get this confirmation, because there can easily be a doubt in regard to a new expression, specially when there is a conflict of opinion in connection with the meaning of the name.

Interpretation of Rig Veda: Even in the words used in the hymns of the Rig Veda we can get their correct meaning by dividing them into parts in the manner already stated; and this is to be found everywhere. But this does not mean that we cannot take words as a whole without dividing them into parts; for we can do so even in this system of interpretation. But if we wish to be quite certain whether the of a word taken as a whole is correct, we should see that the meaning of the parts gives us the meaning of the whole, because there is a close connection between the parts of a word and the word as a whole. There is thus an obvious connection between the two ways of interpreting the meaning of words, for the word taken as a whole is connected with the parts into which it can be divided. But we should prefer the meaning obtained by means of the division of words into parts, and it should be done in the rest of the text. In any case, if the correct meaning is not completely obtained, we shall find there is no coherence in the verses in the very passage of the text. This would serve as a check, warning us that we should begin again. This is found to be correct from experience.