Narach Philosophy

KRAMA AND THE METHOD OF INTERPRETATION (PART-2)


If there are a number of principal words in a sentence, they should all be regarded as synonyms. There are certain words which express their own idea completely; but even they need to be divided into parts when read in accordance with Krama, though there should be no change in their contents. There is good reason for following the krama method; but the meaning of the words is not obtained by merely adding up their parts.

The division of things, like the division of animals into their species, is not a mechanical process; and even so the importance of a Mantra is due to the character of its meaning.

Certain ideas have been described in a special manner: for instance, grain and the cup holding it; and among all kinds of grain, rice is regarded as the best. All this is associated with the idea of sacrifice.

In dividing a word into parts, we may take the most important part first or last as suits us best; and when the plan of the most important part has been fixed, the rest can fit into the scheme. This applies also to compounds.

Synonyms: If there are a number of principal words in a sentence, they should be regarded as synonyms; and all kinds of actions, associated with them, should be referred to them alike. This is necessary if ideas are to be expressed in an orderly manner; and that is the reason why these names are repeated in the text.

Application of Krama: There are certain words used in the text which express their own idea completely: for instance, words meaning fist, cup, cutting into pieces, applying an ointment, shaving, or an act of purification. These words are all satisfactory, because they express their own idea completely; but even these words need to be divided into parts when read in accordance with krama; and so too all other words, and for the same reason.

Pronunciation and meaning: So far as pronunciation is concerned, - whether a word be at the beginning or the end - it should remain unchanged: for instance, the word anjana, at the beginning, should be anjana, and Parivyana, at the end, as Parivyana. There is, as in the case of the successful of a worthy person, good reason for not following one's own inclination (in the matter of interpretation of the text); and we must remember that the form of a word into which it goes back (in order to get the correct meaning) is not obtained merely by adding up its parts. The prosperity of a worthy person arises from a different cause (and so also success in getting at the correct meaning).

This is obtained by dividing a word into parts, - for that is what a word goes back into, when divided. The word in the text is Nyaya, which has a number of meanings, including "original type; that into which a thing goes back".

In Sanskrit words, syllables, and letters have all a number of meanings; and this method of interpretation requires both knowledge and skill, for the meaning elected should be appropriate.

Need of knowledge: This division of words into parts is not a mechanical process. For instance, when we divide animals into their species, we have to deal with them separately, because of their different characteristics. But this has to be done in accordance with their natural attributes (the word in the text is Daivata derived from Devata which, as has already been explained, refers to a force of Nature), because a number of actions are common to all. Even so the value of a Mantra or a Vedic hymn arises from the character of its meaning.

Special cases: Certain ideas have been described in a special manner. For instance, we are told that while there are a number of different kinds of grain, there is only one mortar-shaped cup for holding Soma; and that is so because of its power; for it is in accordance with a law that all that which makes for growth should minister to Soma. But in all kinds of grain rice, because of its special character, is given a unique place; for when pounded, it is offered to Soma. But different kinds of food, provided in the final sacrifice, represent different ideas, according to their use.

Soma refers to the mind; and the "mortar-shaped cup" would refer to the form of the brain where, according to the ancients, the mind is located; for they believed that it was centered in the forehead which can be imagined to have a "mortar-shape".

The Upanishads contain a number of references to the association of food with the mind; and the subtlest portion of food is said to become the mind.

Method of division into parts: In analyzing the natural form of a word, the first part should be uttered first; and that which comes later, after that; and we should not mention that the last, which is uttered slowly. According to Atreya, the principal part (of a sentence) should be the most important, and should come first, and it is by means of it that we should understand the meaning of the rest, whether uttered or implied; and it is in the same manner that we should understand the meaning of a word when its natural form is changed. But Badarayana says that the most important part should come in the end. However, it is in these ways that we can understand the meaning of the rest of the text.

Whether the most important part of a word, when divided into parts, should be taken first or last, depends on the circumstances of each case. For instance, if we divide the word Vishnu into its parts, - V, i, sh, n, u - we may begin with the letter 'V' or the letter 'u', and then go on to the other end. According to Badarayana, if the idea conveyed by the letter 'V' is most important, it should come last, so that we should begin with the letter 'u'. Atreya, on the other hand, holds the opposite view. But there is not much difference between the two, for the essence of the meaning remains unchanged. Both the methods have been followed in "The Mystery of the Mahabharata", though the first has been preferred. The same is the case with words used in the Ramayana and the Bhagavat Purana.

When the place of the most important word (or its part) has been fixed, we can fix the place of all other words (or their parts) by its means; and when the first connection has been established, the rest is but a matter of fitting into the scheme. It is in this manner that we should divide the natural or original form of a word into parts. In the case of a compound, what should come in the end has already been explained. Whether the most important part of a word should come first or last has already been explained; and the same rule applies to compounds.