[Advaita-l] My method of interpreting the Vedas

sidha at omkarananda-ashram.org sidha at omkarananda-ashram.org
Thu Feb 3 11:40:46 CST 2005

My method of interpreting the Vedas

Dear Mr. Raghavendra Ji,

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>I too have a high opinion of the Rig Veda. So can you
please tell me what method have you adopted to extract
the significance of its mantras?

I try to interpret a Mantra according to the Upanishads, and not according
to the Brahmanas, as Sayana has did in most places. I take a word, I study
it, I look at its root, the various meaning of the root, how those meaning
can change when preceded by prefixes. Then I search out what Yaska, Durga
and Sayana say about that word. Then I search out what the Brahmanas say
about that word. Then I search out how many times that word occurs in
Rig-veda and Atharva-Veda, and then try to find out a meaning from those
various contexts. Then I see how the western scholars like Roth, Macdonald
and Monior Williams say? This eventually seems to lead me to a very clear
mystical spiritual meaning of the Rig-veda Mantra.
Give me any Mantra you would like me to interpret in that way. You would
understand what I mean. This is my full time occupation, apart from
looking after my blind father.

>>>>>>>Did you follow any particular commentaries?

I have only one commentary the Sayana Bhashya, which is indeed a great
help, but I build up on him and go more deep in a way as I have expressed

>>>>>You also mentioned that patanjali and nirukta oppose the views that
give purely ritialistic interpretation for mantras. Can you throw
more light on this?

Yes, Yaska and Durga (the most ancient and authentic commentator of
Nirukta) very clearly give alternative interpretations of the Veda
Mantras, and consider yAjNikas to be different from the Nairuktas. These
both aspects are very clear in many places in the Nirukta. For accurate
references, if this interests you, please write to me.

>>>>>>>>And why do you consider the upanishads and gita to be commentaries
on the mantras?

Read the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad carefully you would see that it is
nothing else than a very detailed commentary on the Ishavasya, which is
the 40th chapter of the Shukla Yajur Veda. Take a book of the Shatapatha
Brahmana, you would see mostly on every page the Brahmana quotes a mantra
from the Yajur Veda Samhita, and give a very clear commentary on the
Mantra, sometimes even word-to-word interpretations. Gita is clearly just
a quintessence of the Upanishads, but it also mentions some concepts that
haven't been mentioned in the Upanishads, but have been clearly mentioned
in the Rig-veda.

>>>>>>>>>I remember you mentioning that only samhita can be called as
brahma. (Ignore this if you did not do so). May I know your
justification for that?

Simply because the Rig-veda calls in endless places its Mantras "brahma",
on the other hand we have got the "brahmana" which according to Panini's
grammar, literally means "related or belonging to the brahma, i.e. the
samhita". By adding the suffix "aN", we clear make a difference between
both the texts. Like "aupagava" means something related to Upagu. Or like
SAnkara bhaashya means a commentary related to Sankara.
Siddhartha Krishna

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