Narach Philosophy

KRAMA AND THE METHOD OF INTERPRETATION (PART-1)


The text of the Vedas should be interpreted in accordance with the Krama method of its recitation, and we should assume that there is an intelligent plan underlying the whole, when we shall get the correct meaning of the entire text.

It is, however, not necessary to interpret every portion of the text in this manner, for the whole of it is not composed in this way. We should do so only when it does not make sense otherwise.

The meaning of the principal word can be understood by means of krama, and of others by reference to the principal word; and we should adhere to the order of words in the text.

When we pronounce a word according to krama, the word itself should remain intact; and if we have to break up the form of a word in accordance with krama, it should be done immediately, when it would give us the required meaning.

The krama method of reading the text is not intended to regulate time. But the reason for changing the form of a word is that the text does not appear to be coherent otherwise. But the form of casual or entirely new expressions, never used before, should not be changed. Certain expressions have a special meaning attaching to them: for instance, the idea of the Sun, Agni, and the intellect is the same; and the Soma-juice refers to the mind.

The Krama method: The language of the sruti is such that each part follows the other in an orderly succession, - and that is the measure of its correctness; for that is how we get its meaning, whereas otherwise the whole thing would be irregular. But the meaning should be settled by means of the krama method of reciting the text; and we should assume that it constitutes an intelligent whole, for such indeed is its character. It is possible that someone, considering the manner in which the sounds of words are produced in accordance with this method, might say that it is not sonorous. But in trying to get at the meaning, we should believe that the text is characterized by an integrated intelligent design; and that would give us a great meaning of a great idea, and convince us that that is the real meaning of the words; and so the original word is suitable and has been properly used. It is in this manner that we can understand the meaning of the rest of the text; and by means of the application of this rule we shall find that there is unity of time as well as general agreement about the attributes of things.

Application of this method: We cannot say that this should be so in every case, for the whole text is not composed in this manner; nor can we say that the plan is full of defects, because it is coherent in every part. But this method should be used only when there is occasion for it, and when we need to produce a certain result. This means that we should resort to this method when the text does not make sense otherwise.

Illustration: The meaning of the principal word used in the text can be understood by means of krama, and of others by reference to the principal word, and fitting them into its idea. For instance, we can find out the meaning of the word Prakrti by pronouncing it correctly according to krama.

According to the krama method of reading the text, we proceed from the first member, - word, syllable, or letter - to the second; then the second is repeated and connected with the third; then the third is repeated and connected with the forth; and so on. Thus if we pronounce the word Prakrti according to krama, we shall have to say Pra-kr, kr-ti, and that will break up the whole word into Pra-kr-ti, when its meaning would be "(ti, an older form of iti) that is to say (kr, 'to act') action (pra) going forward". It signifies, therefore, that action is going forward, or that Prakrti is the cause of all action.

But in the case of apparent contradiction or incongruity, we should follow the order of the Mantras, because the words are suitable and in their proper place; and it is this that gives us the proper result.

Requirement of Krama: When we pronounce a word according to krama, the word itself should remain intact, even though it is changed. In case of contradiction, the natural form of a word should be retained: for instance, the word Prakrti should remain unchanged as Prakrti. That is in case of a difficulty, we should retain the word Prakrti as a whole word, and follow its dictionary meaning. This word is used a number of times in these Sutras, and it should not be divided into parts to get its meaning. When, however, it is necessary to make a change in the form of a word, the change should be made immediately, because that is what the natural form of a word requires; and when we follow the rules laid down in connection with krama, we shall understand this method of interpretation; and then the original form of a word will break up to give the required meaning.

Krama does not refer to time: The krama method of reciting the text does not regulate time required to pronounce a word, but is connected with the method of interpretation. Indeed, if it were meant to regulate time, certain parts of a word would be more important than others; for instance, the part of a word at the beginning would be emphasized, and that at the end dropped; for that is what happens when people act with reference to time; and that is how the tone of voice is regulated.

Reason for changing the form of a word: The only reason for making a change in the form of a word is that the text does not appear to be coherent otherwise. But this does not apply to casual or occasional expressions, which should not be broken apart in any case. Nor should this apply to entirely new words, never used before.

Special meanings: There are certain expressions or ideas which have been explained in a special manner. For instance, where the idea of a sacrifice offered to the Sun does not make sense, we should take it that it means a sacrifice offered to Agni (or the intellect). That is like pressing out the Soma-juice from something that is defective otherwise. As has already been explained, Soma refers to the mind, and Soma-juice to the function of the mind, or desire, its special attribute. Pressing out the Soma-juice means, therefore, doing something desirable, or attaining to one's desire. The meaning of the Sutra accordingly is that, if we explain the idea of the Sun as Agni or the intellect, we shall succeed in getting the correct meaning, or the object of our desire.

We get this meaning because the idea of the two (Sun and Agni) cannot be separated. But we should be careful to see that we do not draw out meanings which are not connected; and we should be able to give a satisfactory reason for our explanation. It is because of proper explanation that the idea of of pressing out the Soma-juice becomes important; and it is said to consist of sixteen parts and is praised on that account.

Soma-juice refers to desire which is an attribute of the mind; and it is said to consist of sixteen parts: that is, the mind, with its ten senses and five objects of the senses (sound, touch, form, taste, and smell, the five attributes of the five great "elements", making a total of sixteen. The idea is that desire (Soma-juice) is "pressed out", obtained or satisfied, by means of the function of the mind in association with the senses and their objects.