[Advaita-l] The Wisdom in the Rig-veda can only be compared to thousands Suns

Anand Hudli anandhudli at hotmail.com
Sun Feb 20 03:24:59 CST 2005

>This is exactly the point where I feel that the traditional approach lacks
>something. Do you know where this conclusion of the Mimamsakas leads us?
>Mantras should not be understood, they just should be recited. This has
>been happening for the last nearly 2500 years in India and is still
>happening. Tell me one Vedic Pandit who understands all those Mantras
>which he recites. This has lead to such strange Viniyogas, where the
>Mantra which is being recited doesn't have any any connection at all to
>the ritual which is being performed. Sometimes, simply because a
>particular word occurs in a Mantra, it is being related to that particular

The 4th adhikaraNa of the second pAda of the first adhyAya of the mImAMsa 
sutras, starting with the sUtra "tadarthashAstrAt.h",  deal with the issue 
of whether mantras express any meaning or not. The doubt raised here is:

athedAnIM kiM vivakShitavachanA mantrAH? uta .avivakShitavachanAH? iti| 
kimarthaprakAshanena yAga upakurvanti? uta uchchAraNamAtreNa? iti|

(A doubt arises) here. Do mantras have intended meanings or not?  Do they 
help (the sacrificer) in the sacrifice (yajna) by expressing meaning or by 
mere utterance?

The pUrvapakSha that can be summed up in the words of mahAmahopAdhyAya 
Ganganath Jha, in his commentary mImAMsAmaNDana, on the mImAMsAnukramaNikA 
of maNDana mishra:

tatra pUrvapakShaH - mantrA avivakShitArthA eva - upakurvanti cha 
yAgasyochchAraNamAtreNa iti|

The pUrvapakSha (opponent's view) states that (vedic) mantras do not intend 
to convey a meaning. They help the yAga (sacrifice) by merely being uttered.

In reply to this, KumArila bhaTTa's argues that mantras have an intended 
meaning. His reply forms the vArtika on sUtras 1.2.40 through 1.2.53. He 
gives various reasons why mantras have definite meanings. In fact, on sUtra 
1.2.46 "abhidhAne .arthavAdaH", he gives the metaphorical meaning of the 
famous mantra "chatvAri shR^ingA trayo asya pAdA ..." dedicated to agni and 
concludes that it is agni that is praised in the shape of the Sun, by the 
mantra. (Currently, this mantra is one among others used by the R^igvedins 
in the pUrNAhuti of a homa.)

The mImAMsA-paribhAShA states:

mantrANAM adhyayanavidhinA kR^itsna-svAdhyAyasya 
phalavadarthajnAnArthatvameva, na tu adR^iShTArthatvam.h |

By the injunction on the studying one's own Veda completely, the (Vedic) 
mantras have the purpose of (revealing) knowledge of useful things only. 
They are not for obtaining an unseen (transcendental) result.

The meaning of mantras, however, according to the mImAMsakas, may not always 
be the same as of other schools. For example, the mImAmsa-nyAya-prakAsha 
says "mantrANAM cha prayogasamavetArtha-smArakatayA .arthavattvaM na tu 
taduchchAraNaM adR^iShTArtham.h ...", the mantras are meaningful in that 
they remind one of something connected with the performance (of the 
sacrifice). But utterance of mantras is not for achieving an adR^iShTa 
(unseen transcendental) result.


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