Narach Philosophy

THE METHOD OF INTERPRETATION (PART-5)


The word darvi-homa is the name of a sacrifice; so also vastu-homa. the reason for dividing a word into parts is that the different ingredients of an object can be specified. It is in this manner that we get the meaning of the words Agni, havish and Soma. on the other hand we do not get the meaning of the word svaha in the same manner, and it is different for vashat. The word svaha invokes a blessing on action, and implies that after one work is done another should begin; and we get this from the first part of the word, which is better than the second. It is in this manner that we get a reference to a law of life, and pierce through the disguise of words. But this is not the only method of interpretation.

If, however, we divide words into parts, and find that the meaning of one fits into that of the following two, we should take it that it is correct; and then we can arrange our ideas of action by means of inference. We find that there is a reference to medicinal herbs as well as to sacrifice; and their ideas can cohere only if we understand the text aright and with reference to a law of life.

Meaning of certain words: Darvi-homa (or an oblation made with a ladle) is the name of a sacrifice, because of its connection with the word Homa. (Homa is an act of making an oblation to the gods by casting clarified butter into the fire. As clarified butter refers to goodness, and fire to the intellect, it means a good and intelligent action, or an act of sacrifice). That is the meaning of the word current among the people, because the person who engages in this action is said to perform a sacrifice. But when the word vastu-homa (the house of sacrifice) occurs in the text, it should be understood to mean a sacrifice (or a good and intelligent action) performed by all persons; and the directions in regard to a sacrifice arise from this connection.

Reasons for dividing a word into parts: The reason for dividing a word into parts is that the different ingredients of a substance can be specified. We assign meanings to the parts of a word, not because it is the practice of common men, but because those who understand the use of words can get a different (or a better) meaning in that way; and we have this from the experience (or teaching) of many competent persons (working on the text). It is in this manner that we get the meaning of the word Agni and havish; and their real meaning has no connection with what is commonly spoken about them. It is in this way that we should be able to get the real meaning of the word Soma, which is not apparent at the surface.

If we divide Agni into parts, we get A,g,n,i, and the meaning is "(a) intellect associated with (g,n) the senses and (i) the mind. The word havish or havis may be divided into ha,vi,s when the meaning would be (ha) intellect (vi) distinguished from (sh or s) the mind. The emphasis in this word is on the intellect as distinguished from the mind; and so it means "a burnt offering, or anything offered as an oblation with fire"; and we have explained that fire refers to the intellect. We have also explained that the meaning of Soma can be obtained by dividing it into sa,u,ma when we shall get the idea of (sa) the mind associated with (u,ma) the senses".

Svaha and Vashat: On the other hand by uttering the word svaha we do not get the same meaning that we do when we utter the word vashat; and this is due to the fact that there is no connection between them, and there is also a special mention of their meanings in this system of interpretation, from which we find that there is a fundamental difference between their ideas. That is so because of the difference in their meanings; and we can understand it when we know the reason for their use.

The reason for this is explained in the following Sutras. We have explained that vashat signifies that the mind is satisfied that a particular action should be done, and it directs the senses to do it. Svaha, on the other hand, invokes a blessing on action, and asks for more and more action, each following each. There is thus a fundamental difference between them: the one indicates that only necessary action should be done, while the other upholds the idea of action without end, provided of course, it is performed as a sacrifice and is a "blessed" action.

As the word svaha invokes a blessing, it can be uttered only after the deed is done; and so it is used for a higher purpose, even as we find in the case of number seventeen. But this does not mean that since the deed is done, nothing else should follow. When we understand the reason for this, we find that it is true of all animals (that after finishing one, they begin another action).It is this purpose that is served by the word svaha, because that is its object (in invoking a blessing); and were it otherwise, we should find something to obstruct us in the original form of the word itself.

The number seventeen refers to the soul. There are four Ritvij priests, each of whom have three assistants, making a total of sixteen; and after them is the Yajamana, sacrificer, or the soul, as the seventeenth. The highest purpose of action is that it is performed for the sake of the soul; and it is also that it should be "blessed", and done again and again.

The number seventeen can also refer to the intellect, as the mind is represented by the number sixteen (ten senses, five attributes of the "elements", with the mind as the sixteenth), and so the intellect can be represented by the number seventeen; and we have seen that the intellect and the soul may, for practical purposes, be identified.

The word svaha implies that one action should follow another; and we find that all animals are governed by this law. They cannot abstain from action even for a moment.

How to understand the meaning of Svaha: There are some who believe that is idea of svaha is not contained even in the original form of the word. But it has been said that in an assemblage of things the following member of a series is inferior to the preceding one; and this has a reference to our effort to understand the meaning of words: only when we apply this rule we should see that the meaning refers to a law of life. That is so because the words used are suitable; and we can see through their disguise in this manner. If, however, there is no reference to a law, we shall not find it in the meaning of the parts of a word.

These Sutras tell us that if we divide the word svaha into parts, the first would be the most important, and we can get its meaning from it. The word may accordingly be divided into Sva, a, ha, meaning "(sva) the soul, (a) leading to or associated with (ha) an exclamation of satisfaction". Hence it expresses the satisfaction of the soul with action, with the result that it can continue to act. This reference to the soul would explain the idea of the number seventeen in a previous Sutra.

Different ways of interpretation: Nevertheless we cannot say that this is the only method of interpreting the text, because there are cases where certain parts of a sentence are missing and have to be supplied: again, when we divide words into parts to get their meaning, we can arrange their parts in various ways. But if we divide a word into parts, and find that the meaning of one fits into that of the following two, we should take it that we have found its correct meaning; and then we shall be able to get the idea of a perfectly good and intelligent action (Homa sacrifice) because of its consistency throughout, and then we can get the idea of two more good and intelligent actions by means of inference in this way. (This Sutra does not occur in certain texts).

Medicinal herbs: We find that there is a reference to medicinal herbs, and they are invited (or invoked) on certain occasions; and it is necessary that they should be understood in their proper role. As plants or the vegetable kingdom refer to Nature, medicinal herbs would refer to the healing powers of Nature. Thus they enable us to understand the idea of the essence of goodness in Nature, and so are associated with the idea of its sacrifice.

We find by means of inference that the text refers to two acts of sacrifice (Homa). The two acts of sacrifice would obviously refer to the idea of sacrifice associated with Nature and man. Medicinal herbs refers to the essence of sacrifice in Nature, and their use by man to his own ends.

But there is an opposition between them (or their idea do not cohere), with the result that we are unable to make any progress with the text. We find that our failure to understand the idea from the sentence used in the text persists; and it is in such cases that there is a reference to a law of life, which can be substituted for the other (or ordinary) meaning. This Sutra explains the circumstances in which we are obliged to think of a different method of interpreting the text, which would enable us to understand it in the light of a law of life.

We find that medicinal plants are invoked, and there is a reference to two acts of sacrifice; but all this does not appear to make any sense, with the result that we are unable to make any progress with the text. This compels thought, and we are obliged to think of some other method of interpretation to enable us to understand all this.