Narach Philosophy

THE METHOD OF INTERPRETATION (PART-2)


The name Saman refers to active life. Action is associated with desire, and is divisible into parts, corresponding to which the words used in the text are also divisible into parts. We must not make any alteration in the language of the Vedas; and we should also accept the meanings of words bearing on the idea of action, without change of form. When we change the form of a word, the meaning may appear to be unusual; but we will not err, because there are certain technical terms to guide us. Words, the origin of which can be traced, are the best.

If words had but a single meaning, there would be no need to have this multiplicity of forms; but, as we are unable to make any sense of the text, we are obliged to think of some other meaning. There can be no objection to this, because the language of the text is not altered, and it is only a question of its proper use. The Mimansa tells us elsewhere that we have an account of all that relates to living creatures in the Sama Veda; and here we are told that the meaning of the word Saman itself has been defined as "active life" or a life of action, which only living creature are capable of.

Meaning of Saman: The word Saman, correctly understood, means active life, as has been taught; and it is only when we understand its correct use that we shall be able to get a meaning bearing on the law of life. But if we interpret it in some other way, we shall find no reference to active life. If, on the other hand, we take it in its correct sense, we shall find that there is a close connection with the idea of life.

The word Saman is said to refer to a particular kind of hymns, which are intended to be sung by the Udgatr priest; and we have explained that the latter refers to ahankara or the I-as-an-actor, whose special function is action. The Mimansa tells us that we should understand the text of all Saman hymns in the light of the idea of action; but if we do not do so, we shall not find any reference to the laws of life in the text.

The Mimansa tells us that we should understand the text of all Saman hymns in the light of the idea of action; but if we do not do so, we shall not find any reference to the law of life in the text.

It may be of interest to observe that the Vedas are all characterized by a plan. The Mimansa tells us that the subject matter of the Rig Veda is action, conceived in its widest significance, and embracing all forms of it without exception,- so that it would include Nature as well as animal life. The Sama Veda, on the other hand, deals with the problem of animal life; and so we are told that whatever is in the Sama Veda is also in the Rig Veda; but obviously not vice versa, for the Rig Veda deals with all that is in the world of Nature too.

The Yajur Veda, even as its name indicates, refers to action in terms of sacrifice; and so it would limit itself to the action of man, in so far as living creatures are concerned. But it would also deal with the action of the great forces of Nature in terms of the idea of sacrifice.

The Atharva Veda would appear to be a later composition, as there is no mention of it in the Mimansa or even the Bhagavad Gita. Its author is said to be Atharvan, who is believed to be the first to institute the worship of Agni and offer Soma. As Agni refers to the intellect and Soma to the mind, the Atharva Veda may be said to deal with these, and so limit itself to the action of man.

Thus the Rig Veda includes everything,- the living and the non-living; the Sama Veda deals with the problem of the living; Yajur with the actions of man and Nature as sacrifice; and Atharva with the action of man alone.

Action, how described: We can see our motive of action in our own aim. Action consists of parts, and should be understood by means of them; (and this would explain why words need to be divided into parts,- for that is how they express the idea of the parts of an action). We cannot say that words are mere sounds (and cannot do this), because we see that they produce certain results; and if words were mere sounds, the sacred books would be useless. We cannot say that their value lies in the tone of their recitation; for if there were no proper meaning, they could not have any value. The tone of recitation does indeed produce certain effects; and that is how the value of the outward form of the text is measured when the words are not divided into parts; and we can see the proof of this for ourselves.

The text must not be changed: Any deviation from the natural form of the text would mean that it does not belong to the Veda. This is particularly enjoined in the second part of the Sama Samhita, where we should take the sruti as it is; (for if we make any change, we shall find) that the words do not yield a proper meaning.

Words denoting action should not be changed: If there is a word denoting action, its meaning can be obtained in its usual form without making any changes. In such a case a change would not be for the best; (and we should adhere to its original form even if) the object concerned should appear in an unfavorable light.

Special cases: When a word has a number of meanings, we should accept that which refers to action. When there are different meanings,- the correct meaning, because of its change of form (in accordance with the method of interpretation),- might appear to be an uncommon one. There are, however, certain technical terms in the text (to enable us to understand it), for otherwise there can be a number of variations of meaning.

Words and their origin: Words whose origin can be traced are the best; and the meaning of the other words can be traced by means of them. But there are also a number of words whose origin cannot be traced. We can understand their meaning, but not in the same manner as of others.

Need of a new interpretation: It is possible to say that if there were but a single meaning of words, there would be no need to have their multiplicity of forms. But it is only because we are unable to get any sense out of the text, that we have to think of some other meaning, even as is common among the people. (The new meaning given to words is not foreign to the text,) and it is only a question of making a proper use of its language.