Narach Philosophy

THE LAW OF ACTION: THE VEDAS AND THEIR FORM


The idea of an action is described by means of verbs, and of an actor by means of nouns. Verbs are associated with nouns. Further, there are two kinds of verbs, transitive and intransitive. Dharma requires the function of the intellect; and described the Vedas in various forms.

The text of the Vedas does not consist of hymns of praise addressed to the gods, but is an examination of the laws of Dharma. The Vedas are said to consist of Mantras and Brahmanas, i.e. hymns of praise, and laws of life and their explanation; but the essential idea of both is the same. The Vedas are three in number; namely Rik, Sama and Yajus. A fourth Nigada is sometimes added; but it should be included in Yajus. The text of the Vedas is composed of the most perfect form of language.

Verbs and Nouns: Verbs are words which refer to action; and they have meaning which relates to a way of thinking, feeling or conduct, all of which are associated with action. All words are not of this kind: for instance, there are nouns, which describe the form of the object; and other words depend on them, because as soon as we use them, they give us the idea of something that is real. Verbs do not express any plan or purpose in themselves, if we utter them without reference to something else; and they can be properly understood only in association with nouns, because they depend on them. When we utter a verb, we are compelled to direct our attention to something else, and inquire about it.

Verbs are of two kinds, primary and secondary or intransitive and transitive. Primary verbs are those which do not require an object for their action, as the object is unessential; while secondary verbs are those which require an object for their action, as an object is essential in their case.

Idea of Dharma: So far as Dharma is concerned, it is associated with action, that is action without end like a sacrifice. There should be general agreement about the idea of Dharma; and the idea of the Vedas and other works should be the same. But it is not easy to define it, because there are no fixed rules to lay down what constitutes a fit and proper object. But the difficulty itself serves a useful purpose of its own, for it calls upon us to decide what is so.

Text of the Vedas: There are some who believe that there are certain texts, like Stotra and Shastra hymns, which have been properly composed and about which there can be no difference of opinion, as they are part of sacrificial texts and closely connected with the gods. But were it so, those texts which do not refer to the gods, would be deemed to be of secondary importance; and their meaning, which is not secondary, would be rendered secondary. But this cannot be, because these texts too are an integral part of the Vedas. The difference between the two kinds of texts is due to the difference of manner in which their ideas are expressed; and there can be no no question of the subsidiary character of any. It is in this light that we should understand the idea of the sacrificial texts and other formulae recited as sacrifice, and we shall find that they make a consistent whole throughout, and yield good sense in that way.

An Objection: But there are some who believe that this is not true of all that is taught in the sacred books, and maintain that we can see for ourselves that it is so. They also contend that there is general agreement regarding the Sruti; namely that it contains hymns of praise, which should be understood to refer to the offering of sacrifices; because the words used in the text (can have only that meaning, and) are quite different from anything that can be construed in any other way.

An Answer: But it is impossible to accept this, because we find that the text, construed even as hymns of praise, make little sense; and it is admitted that there is a different meaning too; which can properly be associated with the idea of action, and gives us complete satisfaction as to the result. With regard to he question whether hymns of praise can be the same as a law of Nature, they can have that meaning because the words are the same. Moreover, if a hymn of praise is suitable for reciting sacred formulae, it can be full of meaning too. Again, the word Mantra is used in giving directions (implying that it means something more than mere praise); and in the rest of the work the word Brahmana is used. There can be no doubt that the Mantra part belongs to the sacred books, and this division (between the Mantra part and the Brahmana part) is to be found in the Vedas themselves.

Number of Vedas: The Mantras of the Rig Veda are always divided into certain fixed parts, for that is how we get their meaning. While the name Sama is applied to verses that are meant to be sung; and Yajus to the rest. The Nigada may be regarded as the fourth, because of its special character; and that is so because there is a statement to that effect. Nevertheless, the Nigada should be included in the Yajus, because it has the same form as the latter; and the peculiar character of its hymns is due to the manner of reciting them, and also the purpose they serve. We have been told that this purpose is of a secondary character; but we cannot say the same of all, at least of Rig Veda.

The best form of Expression: If there is a single meaning, there should be a single statement to convey its idea; but if it is related to something else, it should be divided into parts; while in the case of equal ideas, there should be separate statements. The close connection of word with word makes for perfection of statement, because all are connected together alike: only we should see that there are no gaps anywhere.