Narach Philosophy

THE PRINCIPLE OF METHOD OF INTERPRETATION


The new method of interpretation of the Vedas depends primarily on changing the form of words used in the text, by dividing them into parts; and there is a principle underlying this idea. Thus, we know that action implies, change as well as improvement; and corresponding to this the form of words has to be changed to make for improvement of the whole idea. Similarly, the idea of Time is obtained by means of an orderly arrangement of things; and so it is necessary to rearrange the text in an orderly manner to get the idea of Time. Again, action is associated with desire, and is divisible into parts, while desire changes from time to time; and corresponding to this the form of words, expressive of these ideas, has to be changed, and they are divided into parts.

The reason for dividing a word into parts is that the different ingredients of an object can be clearly specified in this manner. Again, each part of a word is separate because it corresponds to each part of an action; and it has a bearing on the idea of the principal word, except in the case of a reference to the great forces of Nature, which are described in a different manner.

An exact description: The main reason for dividing a word into parts is that the author has himself formed it in this manner, in order to describe in the briefest and the best manner the constituents of an object.

When we give a particular name to an object, there is generally a good reason for doing so; that is to say, certain qualities are intended to be described by the name. This can best be done when each part of a word refers to a quality; and that is what has been done in the words used in the Vedas. This, however, is possible only when words- are newly coined for the purpose; and such is indeed the character of a number of words used in the text. When words are arranged in this manner, they can cover the entire range of subject-matter of Dharma or the law of life, and their meanings can be fixed; and that is what we find in the Vedas. There are also certain instructions in connection with these words to enable us to understand them. For instance, when a name is repeated, we should understand that it is for the sake of further explanation.

The purpose of this form of composition is that the properties of objects, which are closely connected with one another, should be properly described; and so, if there are any examples, they too should be in the same form. There is thus no similarity between the original and the new meaning of a word; and, as there is an exact correspondence between an idea and its form of expression, if a thing is not suitable for teaching, or is deemed to be contrary to Dharma, it is found to be expressed in a form which cannot be understood.

Meaning of parts of words: Each part of a word accordingly signifies a dravya or a substance in the philosophical sense of the term, for it refers to a separate object, action, result, or the character of the doer of the deed. Thus, we can express the idea of a single action by means of a single note, and that is the best mode of expression. This is based on the principle that there is only one exercise of the intellect at a time; and it also prevents repetition. Thus, each part of a word is separate because it corresponds to each part of an object or action, and has a bearing on the idea of the principal word.

The Nyaya system mentions nine dravyas, the five great "elements" and Time, Space, Mind, and the Soul.

The manner in which each part of a word, or a letter of the alphabet, represents an idea or action may be illustrated by words like UNO, UNESCO, etc., current in these days, where each letter, U, N, E, S; C, and O represents an idea or an object. The ancients, however, went much further than this, for they distributed all the dravyas or concepts of philosophy among the letters of the Sanskrt alphabet, so that it was possible to give a fixed meaning to each letter, and coin fresh words without difficulty. The modern word-maker works from the opposite side, and forms a new word from the first letters of the names of certain objects; and the result often is that a letter may have as many meanings as there are words beginning with it. For instance, the letter A occurs in A.I.R. as well as F.A.O.; but it refers to all in the one (All-India-Radio), and agriculture (Food and Agriculture Organization) in the other case. This is not possible in the ancient system.

There is, thus, a theory in connection with the idea of the division of words into parts, and it enables us to understand the text in a new light. The chief merit of this form of composition is that it is based on an intelligent plan formed by the author himself. It is intentional, because we find that it is complete; for when, in accordance with this theory, we put words in their proper place, and nothing is left out, it transforms the idea of Mantras or hymns of praise addressed to the gods into that of laws of life.

The krama method of recitation: When we divide a word into parts in accordance with this method, we are required to see that it remains altogether intact, and the position of its parts is not changed. Corresponding to this we are required to read the text in accordance with Krama, which enables us to understand its new meaning in terms of action.

Krama is a peculiar method of reading the Vedic text, according to which the reading proceeds from the first member, word, syllable or letter to the second; then the second is repeated and connected with the third; and then the third is repeated and connected with the fourth, and so on. This ensures that words are properly divided into parts, and no part is left out. Thus, when we read the word Prakrti according to Krama, it has to be Pra-kr, kr-ti, so that the whole is clearly divided into Pra-kr-ti, and its correct meaning is "ti", an older form of iti) that is to say (kr, "to act") action, (pra, "great" or "going forth") which is great or is going forth. Prakrti accordingly means "great action about to begin or to go forth"; and this fits into the idea of the Sankhya, which tells us that Prakrti is a state of equilibrium of the three Gunas, and is followed by action or evolution into different forms of life.

It may be argued that this is not possible. But there is a reference to the Krama method of recitation in the sacred books; and we find that a Mantra or a hymn of praise addressed to the gods is transformed into Vidhi or a law of life by its means. The text of the Vedas, wherever it is found that it does not make sense should accordingly be interpreted in accordance with the Krama method of its reading.

In a number of cases the meaning of the principal word can be understood by means of Krama and that of others by reference to the principal word. When we pronounce a word according to Krama, the whole word should remain intact; and if we have to break up its form, it should be done immediately, when it would give us the required meaning.

The Krama method of recitation is not intended to regulate time; and the reason for changing the form of a word is that it does not make sense otherwise. There are certain words which express their own idea completely; but even they need to be divided into parts when read in accordance with Krama, though there should be no change in their meaning.

There is good reason for following the Krama method of recitation, for the design of division into parts is indicated by its means. But the meaning of words is not obtained by adding up their parts. We should read the text properly according to Krama, and analyze words according to correct grammatical rules, when we shall be able to get their real meaning. But the same word should have the same meaning throughout.

The principal word: The principal word used in the text has a special significance, and without it the text itself would become meaningless. On the other hand, if the principal cause of action is not clear, or is not expressed by the principal word, the explanation should be contained in the text itself, and it should not be necessary to divide the principal word into parts, although a number of other words may have to be divided.

The method of division of words into parts applies, as a rule, to the principal or the most important words; and if there are a number of such words in a sentence, they should be regarded as synonyms. The meaning of the principal word is obtained by dividing it into parts, while that of its synonyms without it. With regard to the rest, we should change their form if their meaning does not appeal to reason. But it is necessary to have knowledge to be able to understand the meaning of some synonyms; while in certain cases we have to "negotiate" their meaning, though not in the case of the best synonyms.

It is important to understand the meaning of principal words, as that enables us to understand the rest, and it can be done by means of the Krama method of reciting the text, while that of others by reference to the principal word. But we should adhere to the order of words used in the text.

In the case of principal words the parts which have the same meaning should be in close proximity to one another; and if a single note expresses the idea of an important thing, such notes should all be found together, and the things themselves should have the same maker.

All things are connected together in accordance with a law; and even so the meaning of all expressions is connected with the principal word. This, however, does not apply to the meaning of parts of words where the great forces of Nature are concerned. In other cases it should be possible to have this connection, which should enable us to understand the meaning of the text. On the other hand, if the principal word is removed, we cannot understand the text at all.

A Disguise: Thus we see that it is the law of life that has been described in the Vedas in this "veiled" manner. The secret of this method consists in dividing words into parts; and that is the meaning of seeing through their "disguise". The common meaning of a word is its meaning without this "disguise" or division into parts; and so a "disguise" may be said to be a collection of qualities, which can be understood by means of inference; and seeing through this "disguise" Consists in our ability to know how things are connected with one another. We know that there is a "disguise", because we can pierce, through it, and find out the correct meaning of the text. But it requires knowledge, deep concentration, devotion of a life-time, and a measure of good fortune to succeed.