Narach Philosophy

THE LAW OF LIFE IN THE VEDAS: PURPOSE IN ACTION AND ACTIONLESSNESS


This is the law of the life of man, described in the Vedas in a veiled manner, and we can understand it if we pierce through the "disguise" of words. But it requires deep concentration to do so; and it is in this manner that we can understand the meaning of certain words.

There is purpose in both action and actionlessness, and their idea is expressed in the text in this manner. This enables us to understand that there is a perfect law of life described in the Vedas; but it requires experience, intelligence, self-surrender, and a measure of good luck to succeed.

The ordinary meaning of the text is like a woman wearing dirty clothes; but we should try to get a new meaning only when the ordinary one does not refer to a law of life. We can accept the new meaning only of the result is satisfactory, and refers to the law of Action or action performed as a Sacrifice.

The idea that desire arises from some evil or sin is a popular heresy, for it can also be part of Sacrifice; and its idea may be illustrated by the act of dying in the defense of someone. But desire can be evil too: only the person who has it does not regard it so, - for that is the very nature of desire, and that is the reason why he seeks means to attain his object.  Desire is connected with action in various ways, and success arises out of action. We can understand the ideas of certain expressions used in the text in a special way.

Law of man's life, described in the Vedas in a veiled form: This is the law of the life of Man, described in the Vedas in a "veiled" manner, because it is very important to use the correct expression or the right word. We know that there is this "disguise", because we can find out the correct meaning. But the new meaning should be of the nature of a law; and the largest portion of the text should refer to the law of action. We should get this result when the words required to complete the sense are supplied; and the new meaning should fit into the whole body of the text without contradiction, and remain unchanged throughout the principal part of the work, - because it is based on the proper thought, after we have considered the other meaning and rejected it; and so we should be able to explain the meaning of any percept in its light. This is possible because it does refer to a law; and when we see through the "disguise", we find that all our ideas of a law are held together and purified in this way. But by reading the book as it is, we do not see anything relating to the idea of a law; whereas the new meaning should be of the nature of such a law, and it should be such as can uplift us. This is what is meant by "seeing through the disguise".

It requires concentration: But the new meaning can be grasped only by means of deep concentration of thought. But because there is a reason for it, there is always something in the text to suggest what it really is; and it is in this manner that words like Parushi, Dita, Purna, Ghrta and Vidagdha are used in the text. It would be difficult to explain the meaning of these words without reference to the context.

Actionlessness: It is in the same manner that we have an explanation of the idea of actionlessness; for even actionlessness has a purpose, and it is in this light that we should understand its idea; and when we grasp the inner meaning of the text, we see that it gives the idea of a law; and there is no error in following this meaning.

The Bhagavad Gita tells us that he is a wise man who sees inaction (actionlessness) in action, and action in actionlessness; and so perform all kinds of actions. Thus there is no essential difference between the two; and so, if there is purpose in action, there must be one in actionlessness too. The Mimansa explains later on that the idea of actionlessness must be understood in a relative and not an absolute sense, - and with reference to time. That is, that there comes a time when a person cannot act; and that is the time of death, - for it is only then that he can really give up action.

Character of the text: When a person gains experience in this special treatment of the text, he will find that it contains a perfect expression of the idea of a law. Indeed, the text is so composed that an experienced person can anticipate that certain words would follow to give the required sense. But it is a fortunate one who can succeed in getting the correct meaning; and it requires complete self-surrender to do so.

Comparison between the two meanings: The ordinary meaning of the text may be compared to a woman wearing dirty clothes, and it is only when they are removed that we can see her purer form. This is necessary, because we refuse to accept the grosser form of what is pure and undefiled. But this idea of a law cannot be found in the principal topic of discussion, and so we have to find it in some special way. But it is only when the ordinary meaning does not refer to a concept of philosophy, that we should think of a new meaning that does so; and we can get it if we have the necessary knowledge; and we shall find that it is closely connected with these ideas of philosophy.

Test of correctness: We should agree about the correctness of the new meaning only if the result achieved is satisfactory, - for that is the measure of its success; and, according to Aitisayana, it should refer to action. Indeed, there is no difference of opinion in the matter that the entire text should refer to all kinds of actions. The Mimansa tells us that this is the subject matter of the Rig Veda: it deals with the problem of action conceived in the widest sense of the term, and without any limitation. At the same time we should be able to show that the Homa oblation is connected with the sacred fire, Ahavaniya; and the rest of the explanation should follow from the narrative itself.

Homa is an act of making oblation to the gods by pouring clarified butter into the fire. We have seen that fire refers to intelligence; and, as we shall see, clarified butter refers to the idea of goodness. To intelligence in an action; and it is this that makes it an act of sacrifice. We have explained that of the three kinds of sacrificial fires, ahavaniya refers to the intelligent action performed in the world; and as such action must be for the benefit of others too, Ahavaniya is closely associated with Homa.

Desire and evil: The idea that desire always arises from some evil or sin should be regarded as a popular heresy. The sacred books tell us that there can be no sinfulness in desire as far as it refers to knowledge. If there is no unfortunate occurrence in connection with desire, we should regard it as part of the idea of sacrifice. Such a desire does not make any distinction between action and action; and it has its own characteristics to distinguish it from other forms of desire, and is always associated with action performed as a sacrifice and at the proper time. To die in the defense of some one is an action of this kind. This is the idea of desire that is not opposed to Dharma, referred to in the Bhagavad Gita.

Extent of evil in desire: Desire should be deemed to arise from evil only when we are satisfied in a scientific manner that it is so, and not merely because it is said to be so in a popular form of speech; and this should be regarded as true for all times to come without exception. We find that a person who has desire thinks of it in the same manner (that is, he does not regard it as an evil, so far as he himself is concerned); and that is due to the very nature of desire (It is the nature of desire that the possessor of it does not regard it as evil, - at least so far as he himself is concerned). All gifts and oblations are made in this way; and we shall arrive at the same conclusion if we divide desires into parts and distribute them ( when we shall find that the possessor of desire will have that which he regards as good for himself). That is the reason why a man seeks means to achieve his object.

Desire and action: If the object of desire is unessential or secondary, we find that it is desired only once; for we see that it is so from the actual result. Even when a person dos not desire to act, he must still do so, because he depends for his very existence on the result of the actions; and we see that it is so from what he actually does. Thus we see that it is because of this that all creatures engage in action, - for they have the same identical motive (namely, to live); and this may be seen from their characteristics. Again, if a number of persons act as a result of a common desire, their actions will be in accordance with their desire.

Special forms of expression: Certain ideas have been expressed in a special manner; for instance, priority of time gives us the idea of what is first or most important. If we do not hear that a person has anything for food or drink, we should take it that the word dana (giving) means distribution of food; and we are familiar with the meaning of the word. Again, food is identical with a material substance, and that is how we can get its meaning. It is for this reason that the act of giving is praised, and there is a special injunction to that effect.