Narach Philosophy

THE METHOD OF INTERPRETATION


We should now be in a position to determine the method of interpreting ideas in Sanskrt. It need hardly be repeated that, according to the theory discussed in these pages, Sanskrt is a deliberate creation of the genius of man, designed to express in a systematic and scientific manner and by means of a pictorial form, where every letter of the alphabet represents an idea or an energy of life, the speculations and theories and conclusions of the ancient Hindus regarding the creation, manifestation and end of life.

Here a question might be asked; if Sanskrt is a new invention of the human mind, the ordinary meanings would also be deliberately assigned to each word and expression. What then is the relation of these meanings to their original interpretation? The two cannot be in conflict or contradictory, for then the whole purpose of the language will have been vitiated. There should, if possible, be a certain connection between them; or they might run on parallel lines, each following its own trend of thought; but a conflict would be inconceivable. An examination of the following pages will show how far this condition is satisfied.

A further question might be asked, what was the object of the ancients in inventing a new language and giving to each word a number of meanings, the result of which is, at the present day at least, confusion? If they understood the different systems of thought outlined in these pages, and were able to construct great and scientific theories of life and death, and build upon them their systems of philosophy and religion, could they not have expressed them in a clear and definite form rather than disguise them in this way? Again, have we not, in the sacred works of the Hindus themselves, a great body of philosophical thought, expressed in simple, unambiguous manner, without the accretion of this pictorial form?

The chief reason for the creation of Sanskrt lies in its scientific accuracy, brevity, and perfection of form. Once the system is grasped and its implications understood, nothing can be more simple and definite. The object of all knowledge is either the world of the manifest or the unmanifest; and since both are expressed by the idea and image of Brahmanda or the Universal Cell, nothing could be more simple or scientific in a study of the fundamental problems of life than to mirror in each letter of the alphabet an energy of creation, so that each word may coincide with the object it represents, and all be a picture of the working of the Universe. Interpreted in this light, no language can be more pictorially exact, accurate and brief than Sanskrt.

Whatever the reasons, we have before us the great fact of the Sanskrt language, and a vast and ancient literature the most ancient of the record of the world a great part of which is regarded as sacred, inspired and divine; but which, taken in the mass, can hardly satisfy the religious impulse of the human heart. But if there were a method of interpretation, in the light of which what is regarded as sacred could also be shown to be true, what is obscure made clear, and what has never been understood given a simple, consistent and coherent meaning, it may not be rejected merely because it appears to be new and not generally known. Indeed, this method of interpretation is as old as the sacred works themselves; only through the lapse of time it has been forgotten and lost.

Different Methods of Interpretation: There are a number of ways in which a word or a name may be interpreted; and in this connection we should bear in mind the following points:

  1. Our chief method of interpretation, especially in connection with Vedic names, relates to the places of the letters of a name along their ellipses of the alphabet, which gives us also their Gunas line. We refer each letter to the energy it expresses, and the combination of all gives the principal forces of life indicated by a name. This method, fitting in with the essential character of Sanskrt, as originally conceived, is of general application to the interpretation of Vedionames; but inasmuch as a number of these are repeated in subsequent works, down to the great epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata, it will be found to serve throughout the range of sacred literature.
  2. In a number of cases the usually accepted meaning of a word conveys the idea clearly enough. This is specially the case with the purely philosophical portions of the sacred works.
  3. When a word has a number of meanings, one of them, not generally applied, may throw light on its interpretation.
  4. The meaning of a word may depend on its letters; or its syllables instead of letters; or its one or more principal letters or syllables instead of all of them; or its letters and syllables combined.
  5. The meaning of a name may depend on its associations, such as place of birth, father's name, etc.
  6. The meaning of a word may depend on its interpretation given in some other sacred work regarded as authoritative.

Illustrations: The following illustrations will explain the various methods of interpretation:

1. The meaning of a name may be indicated by the places occupied by its letters in the diagram of the alphabet.

This is the principal method of interpretation in connection with the names of Vedic gods a few instances, however, may be given here. The word Kala, meaning Time, is composed of K, a, la; of which the first, K (No. 1), is assigned to the region of Buddhi; so is A; while L (a), No. 23, the last of the region to which it is assigned, represents Prakrtic Ether. Hence Kala or Time denotes the cycle of Buddhi or the Sun completed in Prakrtic Ether, and this agrees with the idea already explained.

Similarly, the word Gaja, meaning an elephant, is composed of Ga, ja; and the former (No. 15) is assigned to Purushic, and the latter (No. 21) to Prakrtic Ether. Gaja, therefore, denotes the relation of Purushic to Prakrtic Ether; and we have seen that this is the identical idea of Ganesa and Hastin (elephant).

2. One of the several meanings of a name, not generally applied, may lead to a new interpretation.

Karna: In the "story" of the Mahabharata Karna is supposed to be a great warrior, the son of Kunti, born of the Sun, prior to her marriage with Pandu. But one of the dictionary meanings of Karna is "grain with chaff", in the light of which he would represent all Seed, the essence of the vegetable kingdom, or the vegetable kingdom itself.

3. The meaning of a name may depend on its component letters.

Om: The classic example of this is the sacred syllable Om, always analyzed into its component letters, A, U, M and inasmuch as each of these is the name of the Supreme Purusha, in our method of interpretation they are used as signs of personification.

Gou: On the analogy of Om we should analyze the word Gou (meaning Cow) into G, A, U; and its meaning would be "A personification (A) of motion (G) in Ether (U)". The usually accepted meaning of the word Go (Cow) would thus be altered into "Motion in Ether or Ether in Motion"; hence the religious significance of the Cow in Hinduism depends not so much on the animal of that name as on the whole conception of Ether; and we have seen that the three Gunas as well as the three main systems of philosophy and religion are connected with Ether. This would explain the common idea of the orthodox, that Hinduism depends on the Cow; for if we eliminate the Cow or the idea of Ether, the whole ancient system of science, philosophy and religion must perish; and from this we shall be able to understand the reference to the Cow in sacred literature, especially in connection with Krshna, made manifest in Ether himself.

4. The meaning of a word may depend on its component syllables instead of letters.

There are many instances of this in sacred literature; as for instance, "Udgitha" is analyzed into Ut, gi, tha, and each syllable is given a meaning of its own. Similarly, Sama is analyzed into Sa, ama Satyam into Sa, t, yam, and Hrdayam into Hri, da, yam.

Kunti: On the analogy of this, we may analyze Kunti (or Kunti, its masculine form) into Kum, ti, the letter m of Kum being changed into n when followed by t, according to the rules of grammar. Now, Kum in Sanskrt means Earth, and ti is a form of iti, meaning, "that is to say". Hence Kunti means "that is to say, Earth", or more simply, our planet Earth. In the light of this we can understand Kunti's other name, Prtha, the daughter of Prthu; for in the Vishnu Purana we are told that Prthu is the father of Earth, whence she got the patronymic Prthvi (i.e. daughter of Prthu).

From this we shall be able to understand the idea of the "story" of the Mahabharata more clearly. Kunti represents our planet Earth; Karna, the vegetable kingdom; and the Pandava brothers, as will be explained in due course, the animal kingdom; and as our planet consists of all the five elements and is characterised by the energy of the Sun and the Moon, both the kingdoms of life are conceived as born of her; and the Earth is often spoken of in the sacred works as the common mother of all, the mobile and the immobile.

5. The meaning of a name may depend on its principal syllable.

The names of Hindu gods are usually interpreted in this way, though the method adopted in this volume is different. Thus Brahman is usually derived from Brh, to increase or grow; Vishnu from Vis, to be active; and Krshna is interpreted in a number of ways in a similar manner.

6. The meaning of a name may depend on some special significance attaching to it in a sacred work, regarded as authoritative.

Bharata: There are many instances of this. For example, the name Bharata often occurs in the sacred works of the Hindus. It usually stands for a king, believed to be an ancestor of the Pandavas, and is generally applied to them. It is also applied to the whole country, India, often called Bharatavarsa or the land of the Bharata race. Bharata is the name of the son of Dushmanta or Dusyanta and Sakuntala; and also of one of the four sons of Dasaratha, the king of Ayodhya. But the name is interpreted in the Satapatha Brahmana in a very different manner, where it is said to signify Fire, and also Air or Breath. Indeed, Agni is conceived as Breath, and believed to be its very cause and moving force. Now if we understand Bharata in the light of Breath or Prana, the whole idea undergoes a radical change; and the Mahabharata becomes a great treatise on the subject matter of Breath or Prana, Heart-energy or Action, and all that they imply.

Indra: Similarly, Indra is interpreted in a special manner in the Upanishads. Sometimes he is spoken of as Idam-dra, and again is identified with Prana or self-conscious Breath.

Arjuna: Accordingly, Arjuna, the "son" of Indra in the Mahabharata, would represent Prana or self-conscious Breath or Heart-energy, as the son is identified with the father.

Horse: In the same manner a special significance attaches to the idea of Horse in sacred literature; and it is sometimes compared to Breath or Prana, and sometimes said to represent the senses.

Twin Asvins: Accordingly, the twin Horsemen, the Asvins, refer to the twin senses of knowledge and action, or the twin aspects of Ether, Purushic and Prakrtic.

Nakula and Sahadeva: As the twins, Nakula and Sahadeva, in the "story" of the Mahabharata are born of the twin Asvins, they refer to the twofold character of Ether, motion and action, and represent arms and legs respectively.

Twins in Sacred Literature: The idea of all twins in sacred literature is similar, and corresponds to the twin or twofold character of Ether, Purushic and Prakrtic, with its twin senses of knowledge and action; and it is in the light of this that we have to understand the significance of the twins Yama and Yami; Laksmana and Satrughna; Dhrstadyumna and Draupadi; Krpa and Krpi; the two Asvins; and Nakula and Sahadeva.

Significance Attaching to Letters: In the Aitareya-Aranyaka. Upanishad a special significance is said to attach to the letters S and N, the former signifying Breath or Prana, and the latter strength. Further, the change of S into S, and of N into N is also referred to in the same Upanishad. It is in the light of this that we must interpret the names Krshna, Vishnu, Varuna, etc. having the letter n; and they will be examined in detail later.

7. A name may be interpreted by means of a certain number associated with it, in the light of the significance attaching to that number.

The significance attaching to certain numbers has already been explained, and it has Vedic authority to support it. In the White Yajur Veda a special meaning is assigned to numerals, from 1 to 17; and again to odd numbers from 1 to 33; and in the Rig Veda we have a similar idea attaching to certain numbers referred to throughout that work. For instance, we have:

8. A name may be interpreted with reference to certain notes of music, or months of the year, etc.

Thus, the letters Sa, R, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni, referring to the seven notes of music, would represent the serial numbers from one to seven, to be interpreted in the light of the meanings attaching to them. Similarly, a name may be understood in the light of a month of the year.

9. The meaning of a name, when obscure, may be gathered from, its patronymic or father's name, synonym, place of birth, country of rule, etc.

Drupada: For instance, in the "story" of the Mahabharata, Drupada is the king of Panchala, and is called Yajna-sena or lord of sacrifice.

The word Panchala may be analyzed into Pa, Anusvara (n) and chala; and Pa, being the fifth note in the gamut of Hindu music and the first letter of the fifth (Labial) class, refers to Ether, as already explained further, as the letter belongs to the Air class of consonants (Labials), it also refers to Air, the element associated with action. Accordingly Pa refers to Prakrtic Ether, characterised by the five senses of action; Anusvara, as already explained, represents the union of Purusha and Prakrti, which takes place in Purushic Ether; and chala means motion, characteristic of both Purushic and Prakrtic Ether. From all this we may conclude that Drupada signifies (a) Prakrtic Ether (Pa); (b) Purushic Ether (Anusvara); (c) union of Purushic and Prakrtic energy (Anusvara); and (d) motion (chala), characteristic of both Purushic and Prakrtic Ether. As we shall see, this idea agrees with that of his twin-children, Dhrstadyumna and Draupadi, who represent the twin-senses of knowledge and action, related to the twofold character of Ether.

This idea of Drupada agrees also with his other name, Yajna-sena or the lord of sacrifice. According to the Bhagavad Gita, sacrifice is born of action; and as Drupada represents the union of Purushic and Prakrtic Ether, and the senses of action are related to the latter, he is the lord of sacrifice born of them. The idea of sacrifice as creative action has already been explained.

Draupadi or Krshna: As Ether has a twofold character, Purushic and Prakrtic, its Purushic part is represented by a man, and Prakrtic by a woman, in the twin-children of Drupada, Dhrstadyumna and Draupadi. Accordingly the former represents the five senses of knowledge and the latter of action.

Draupadi is also called Krshna. Now, as has been pointed out, Krshna represents Heart-energy made manifest in Purushic Ether and as Krshna is a female counterpart of Krshna, she would refer to Prakrtic Ether, as he to Purushic. Another interesting name of Draupadi is Parvati, the name of the consort of Lord Siva; and it has been observed that Parvati refers to Ether. From this we may infer that Parvati, like Draupadi, refers to Prakrtic Ether.

10. The meaning of a word may be gathered from certain signs, symbols, and rules of grammar.

For instance, the letter T represents Prakrtic Ether and is the base of the pronominal tad, meaning, that which hence it represents all manifest life. Similarly the letter S is a pronominal modification of tad, and means, he. Accordingly, if we make a distinction between T and S, the former will represent life in general the latter human life in particular.

In the same manner Anusvara represents the union of Purusha and Prakrti in Purushic Ether, and is conceived as a symbol of creation. Visarga, on the other hand, signifies Purushic energy in a state of rest.

Application of Method: This method may be applied in many ways. Thus Hasta in Sanskrt means, a hand, the instrument of action. But the word may be analyzed into Ha, s, ta; where Ha means (a) Water or Prakrti or (b) Buddhi or the Supreme manifest Purusha; and S represents human and T other forms of life. The new idea of Hasta would thus be (a) Prakrti or (b) Purusha, in relation to human and other forms of life; in other words, action is related to both Purusha and Prakrti when examined in connection with all forms of life. Further, Hasta, as a measure of length, is said to consist of 24 Angulas or parts; and this would connect the idea of Hasta with the philosophy of the number 24, or the Sankhya system, according to which all action is born of Prakrti, and nothing is gained by considering the question of the existence of the Supreme Purusha.

Hastinapura: From this we should be able to understand the significance of the city of Hastinapura, the birthplace of both the Kauravas and Pandavas. In connection with the idea of Ganesa it has been pointed out that Hastinapura refers to the problem of Ether, with its Purushic and Prakrtic character, related to the senses of knowledge and action, and the Sankhya system of philosophy and now we see that the chief problem is one of action, round which centres the contest of both the Kauravas and the Pandava; for the question of questions is, Is action Purushic or Prakrtic, and should it be performed?

11. The meaning of a word may turn out to be something very different from its usual interpretation when examined in the light of our method, and yet retain a definite connection with its ordinary, commonly understood sense.

This is very necessary if our idea of a new Sanskrt language is correct; and there are many instances of this connection between the old, common meaning of a word, and its original interpretation. For example, Vadha means killing; but it may be analyzed into Va, dha; where Va means Water or Prakrti; and dha, keeping or consigning. Vadha, therefore, means consigning to Prakrti; and it has been pointed out that Death, or Kala (Time) is associated with Prakrti, which is also called Kali (black or dark).

Killing, therefore, means assigning to Prakrti and inasmuch as in sacred literature Man is often conceived as a personification of ideas, when a person is said to be killed, the real meaning is that he is assigned to Prakrti; that is, he is said to partake of the character of Prakrti more than Purusha, or that he holds Prakrti and not Purusha to be the supreme creative energy of life.

It is in the light of this meaning of killing that we have to understand all wars in sacred literature where millions of persons are said to be killed on either side. They are, in fact, an array of Purushic and Prakrtic energies on either side, marshaled in the light of arguments with regard to different theories of life; and those that belong to Prakrti on either side are said to be killed; while Purushic forces alone survive.

This is the idea of Ravana killed by Rama; of Kauravas by Pandavas; of Kamsa by Krshna; of Vrtra by all the gods of the Vedas. Thus, from the Vedas down to the great epics, one single idea of killing applies throughout; and the ordinary and original meanings agree.

Authority for this Interpretation: It has been observed that a new method of interpretation, however ingenious, must follow the usage of ancient writers if it is to meet with acceptance. But it has been remarked that the method adopted in these pages is as old as the sacred works themselves, and merely repeats the practice of the ancients, forgotten through the lapse of time; and in this connection a number of references to the sacred works of the Hindus have already been given. For instance, the sacred syllable Om is always analyzed into its component letters, A, U, M, each of which is the name of a god; hence these letters are regarded as signs of personification in our system of interpretation. Similarly, Udgitha is analyzed into Ut, gi, tha, each of which is given a number of meanings and understood in several ways. Again, Sama is broken into Sa, ama Satyam into Sa, t, yam Hrdayam into Hr, da, yam.

Similarly, Svapna, sleep, or Svapiti, he sleeps, is derived from Sva, apita, meaning, going to one's self. Purusha is made equal to Puri saya, meaning, a dweller in the city (of the body). Surya, Sun, is derived from Su squeezed out; Pavana is derived from Pu, to purify; Aditya, Sun, from Ada, vapour, or the life of man; Apas, water, from Pya, he nourishes.

Then we have Indra made equal to Idam-dra, and again identified with Prana or Breath. Then we have special meanings assigned to certain letters; to vowels, i, u, e or to consonants, s, n; or to a semi-vowel, y or again to syllables, hau, hai, atha, iha, auhoi, hin, hun, Vag, etc.

There are a number of examples of this kind scattered throughout the Upanishads and other sacred works of the Hindus. The Vedas themselves are founded upon this system; and the etymological interpretation of a word (Nirukta) is believed to be a fundamental part of Vedic literature. There is a list of Vedic words, called Nighanta, interpreted by different writers in different ways; and an examination of the commentary of Yaska (Nighantu) will show that the method, though differently applied in these pages, is an ancient one.

The question whether words are eternal or non-eternal was a very important subject of discussion among the ancient Hindus and Patanjali, the author of the Yoga Sutras, and Panini, the celebrated grammarian, came to the conclusion that they were both. Again, a question is often asked by ancient writers, whether the meaning of a word has any connection with the word itself and depends in any way on the letters composing it. Whatever the opinion of an individual writer in this connection, it cannot be denied that the very fact that a question of this kind is raised indicates that such a view was held even in ancient times, viz., that the meaning of a word is connected with the word itself and the letters composing it. It is true that the Nyaya Darsana rejects the view of certain grammarians that a word or sound or letter (literally, Sabda) undergoes a change corresponding to a change in the idea; but, even if we forget that this work is later in origin, it only proves that some grammarians did hold this view even at that time. Indeed, in these pages it is maintained that the meaning of a word or name, when used in a sacred, philosophical and pictorial sense, does depend on the letters forming it, and the idea conveyed is intended to refer to certain energies and truths of life. Nor can it be denied that there is ample ancient authority for holding such a view.

Reference has been made to the Upanishads in connection with this system of interpretation. The Satapatha Brahmana is full of interpretations according to letter and syllable analysis. The meanings attaching to the word Bharata have already been referred to; and as this word is of very wide application throughout ancient sacred literature, a proper understanding of its significance is of the utmost importance. Indeed, the very idea of the Mahabharata is said to depend on a proper understanding of the etymology of the word. The Puranas too have their special method of interpretation, one-letter lexicons, and special meanings attaching to syllables of names.

The method adopted in these pages only follows the line of thought already indicated in the sacred works of the Hindus, and is but a continuation of the ancient system of interpreting names and ideas. Its merit, if any, lies in placing it on a systematic and scientific basis, by connecting the Sanskrt alphabet with the Universal Ovum or Brahmanda. But its value must depend not on a mere theory or speculation, however ingenious, but its practical application over the great range of the sacred works, and the result in re-interpreting ancient ideas achieved thereby a few errors and discrepancies may easily be ignored, for at this distance of time it may not be possible to have a perfect system of interpretation of the ancient works; but the main outlines must remain clear, definite, and conclusive; and it is only then that it can be accepted.

We are now on the threshold of the ancient works of the Hindus, beginning with the Vedas, the most sacred and the earliest extant. In this connection it should be remembered that even the Vedas, in their present form, could not have been the first attempt in the direction of representing ideas in the manner explained. They must have been preceded by many cruder attempts, now lost; for the form of the Vedas, even when we take into consideration their ancient character, is very far from primitive; and a new language must have taken a long time to attain to that degree of excellence and perfection. But the Vedas are the earliest work available to us at this day; and our system of interpretation must first and foremost apply to them.

A New Illustration: Before proceeding, however, to the Vedas, it may be of interest to consider yet one more example of our method of interpretation in connection with the names of the planets, to which reference was made in an earlier chapter. It has been observed that the seven planets, after whom we get the days of the week, represent the seven great energies of life, from Buddhi to the element "Earth"; further, that they have each a place in the body of a living being; the place of the Sun being in the upper part of the head; of Moon in the lower part of the head, down to the eyebrows; of Mars in the face and the throat; of Mercury in the lungs or the chest; of Jupiter in the digestive organ; of Venus in the organ of creation; and of Saturn in the organ of excretion. These complete the essential parts of a living creature, the loss of any portion of which causes death. The remaining limbs, viz.; arms (or fore-legs) and legs (or hind-legs) however useful, are not so essential to the mere life as the others; for even without them a creature can continue to exist. In this connection we have observed that the relation of the planets to the different parts of the body could be established by examining them in the light of our method of interpretation, and it would be interesting to see how this can be done.

Sun: Sunday: It has been pointed out that the Sun is Buddhi personified; and as Buddhi is the highest manifest energy of life, it must have its place in the highest manifest part of Man, or the topmost part of the head. Further, the Sun is characterised by heat, which is centred in the head hence the place of the Sun is in the uppermost part of the head in a living creature.

Moon: Moon-Day or Monday: It has been observed that the Moon is Mind personified. It has been pointed out that the Mind is usually considered in connection with the five senses and spoken of as the sixth and its relation to Buddhi has been explained, as when Buddhi desires anything it is called the Mind. The question is where is the place of Mind in a man? It is obvious that it comes after Buddhi, and before the five senses. We find in the human body, which may be regarded as typical of the viviparous, that the five senses of knowledge ears, skin, eyes, tongue as the sense of taste, and nose, are all situated in the face. Thus, if Buddhi is situated in the upper part of the head, the place of the Mind must be the lower part of the head, immediately above the place of the five senses; and that reaches down to the eyebrows. This place of the Mind, as situated in, the forehead, is significant; and reference is made to the place between the two eyebrows in the Bhagavad Gita. Further, we have observed that the abstract ideas of philosophy and science have been given a concrete form by the Hindus in their systems of religion and social life and it is a common salutation among them to raise the hand to the forehead and utter the name of Rama. Now, it has been pointed out that Rama represents Mind-energy hence his connection with the salutation of the forehead. It may be of interest to note that this is the place of the tilaka mark by the Hindus and the explanation is obvious.

Mangala or Mars: Tuesday: The word Mangala may be analyzed into Man, gala; and Man means, to think, from which we have Manas or Mind; and gala means, throat or neck. Man-gala, therefore, implies the connection of the Mind with the throat; and so represents the region from the Mind down to the throat; that is, from below the forehead, or from the face, to the throat.

Budha or Mercury: Wednesday: The word Budha may be analyzed into B, udha; and udha is identified with udhas, and the latter with udhas, which means the udder of any female, breast, bosom while the letter B means Prakrti. B-udha, therefore, implies the connection of Prakrti with the breast; or, in other words, the Prakrtic aspect of breast, lungs, or the place of breathing. Thus the place of Budha is the chest or breast in man.

Brhaspati or Jupiter: Thursday: Brhaspati may be analyzed into Brhaspati, meaning lord of speech. Now, Agni or Fire is also the lord of speech; hence Fire and Brhaspati are identified; and the place of Fire in a living being is the organ of digestion. This is the place of Brhaspati or Jupiter.

Sukra or Venus: Friday: Sukra has several dictionary meanings, the most relevant being; any clear liquid; juice; semen virile; seed of animals, both male and female. It is obvious that Sukra refers to the organ of creation, semen virile or the seed of both the male and female; and that is connected with the element Water, the symbol of Prakrti, the universal female creative energy of life.

Sani or Saturn: Saturday: The word Sani may be analyzed into Sa, ni; and the former means a resting place, and the latter is the seventh note in the gamut of Hindu music. Now, the seventh place in order of creation, starting from Buddhi as the first, belongs to the element "Earth", and that is the resting place of Sani or Saturn. As has been pointed out, the element "Earth" in a living being is connected with the organ of excretion, and that is the abode of Saturn.

Thus we see that the idea of the seven planets agrees with the places assigned to them in the human body.