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Monday, September 9, 2013

The Unseen Seer in the Seen

The unseen seer in the seen, and the unknown knower in the known is what is consciousness.

When you say "I know" particularly the "I know that changes" (with the state of wake/sleep/etc) that I is really referring to the Knower - which is Witnessing consciousness And the Medium of Knower-ship - the Mind. Every particularized experience, every objective knowledge is rendered possible only when this medium, the Mind, borrowing as it were, consciousness from the Sakshi, envelopes that which is to be known, and renders it available and accessible as an intimate experience. And in this way the Mind becomes the Knower, and Experiencer.

So when "I" "see" a "flower", it is the mind that travels through the sense organ the eye envelopes the flower and peels off the particularized ignorance that hitherto enveloped it and now an awareness of the flower is registered as a flower awareness in the verisame Mind. The Seer/Knower however, is, really speaking, not the Mind, but the Witnessing Consciousness, which alone renders sentiency and substratum, to this knower knowing known triad, and lends it a reality, which is purely transactional, and hence alone, transformational.

That Knower thus is Eternal, and Unchanging, Unaffected by the three states of wake dream and sleep, unaffected by the three periods of time, unattached. That Knower alone is verily "Consciousness". That Consciousness I am - such is the recognition that of advaitic realization. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Truth of Poetry is the Truth of Being



To arrange words
In some order
Is not the same thing
As the inner poise
That's poetry.

The truth of poetry
Is the truth
Of being.
It's an experience
Of truth.

No ornaments
Survive
A crucible.
Fire reveals
Only molten Gold.


Says Tuka
We are here
To reveal.
We do not waste
Words.

Words are the only Jewels 
I possess
Words are the only Clothes 
I wear
Words are the only food 
That sustains my life
Words are the only wealth 
I distribute 
Says Tuka 
Witness the Word 
He is God
I worship Him 
With my words


When thus I lose myself 
In Thee, My God,
Then do I see, 
and know,
That all Thy Universe 
Reveals Thy beauty,
All living beings, 
And all lifeless things,
Exist through Thee.


This whole Cosmos 
Is but the form
In which Thous 
Showest us Thyself
Is but the voice
In which Thyself 
Thou speakest unto us.
What need of words?
Come, O Master, come,
And fill me Wholly 
With Thyself

Sant Tukaram

Sunday, September 1, 2013

APAURUSHEYATVA OF THE VEDAS

The following is an extensive 5 part thesis presented on the advaitin yahoogroup list by Shri Chittaranjan Naik, a erudite scholar of Vedanta and Advaita.


Om Sri Gurubhyo Namah
Om Mata Annapurneshwari
Om Namah Shivaya

I bow to Mata Annapurneshwari, the Presiding Goddess of the Holy Centre of Kashi, who is both Vedamata and the protector of the Vedas, and who, out of compassion for Her devotees dispenses the Supreme Grace of Brahma-Vidya. May Mata Annapurna be Gracious to us and reveal the deeper truths of the Ancient and Timeless Dharma known as Sanathana Dharma.

THE RELATION BETWEEN APAURUSHEYATVA AND FLAWLESSNESS


1.THE CRITERION OF FLAWNESSNESS AND ITS MARK

Of the three primary pramanas (means of knowledge) known as pratyaksha (perception), anumana (inference) and Agama (Scripture), the first two are the means to know about empirical objects whereas the third is the means to know about things that are beyond the reach of the senses. While there are a great many things that lie beyond the reach of the senses, such as the higher and lower lokas (the seven heavens and seven hells), the taxonomy of the devas and asuras (gods and demons), the nature of yajna, etc., the primary object to be known by the pramana called Agama is Brahman only because when Brahman gets presented as the object to be known by the Agama, all other topics related to it, and which are dependent on it, get included as its subsidiaries.

Pramana is a means to an end. The end, or goal, is the prameya, or the object to be known, and the means to obtain knowledge of the object is the pramana. Now it is seen in the world that two things are necessary for obtaining an object (or attaining the goal):

(i) that the appropriate means for obtaining it is adopted, and
(ii) that the means thus adopted is free from defects.

If either of these conditions fails to be satisfied, the goal is not achieved. In the case of things that lie beyond the reach of the senses, the appropriate means, or pramana, for obtaining knowledge about them is Agama. And the condition that makes the Agama bear fruition is that it should be free of defects.

Now freedom from defects is not a sufficient condition to make a scripture an unquestionable pramana for revealing the Highest Knowledge. Freedom from defects is a necessary condition, but it is not a sufficient condition by itself. It needs another attribute to make the Agama into an absolute and unquestionable Pramana. What is this attribute? It is a mark, or sign, by which the Agama may be known to be free of defects. For even if a scripture were to be flawless, one would not be in a position to ascertain its flawlessness until one has obtained the goal of Brahma-Vidya. But Agama being a means to such knowledge, its flawlessness needs to be known a-priori and not after obtaining Brahma-jnana. It therefore requires an external mark by which it may be known that it is a flawless and an unquestionable pramana. This is the vital point that is often missed while discussing the topic of apaurusheyatva.

The Pramana called Agama needs to be not only flawless, but it also needs to have a mark by which it may be known to be flawless.

2. THE CAUSE OF DEFECTS IN SCRIPTURES

Agamas are composed of words. Words reside in conscious beings, not in inert things, and they issue out of conscious beings in the form of speech. Now, in order to determine whether an Agama has the character of being flawless, we would need to consider the causal factors that make defects arise in conscious beings because it is seen that defects in products arise when there are defects in the producer and not otherwise. Even if it be said that the defect may lie in the material, or the instrument used, to produce a thing rather than in the producer, we reply that it would still point to a defect in the producer in as much as his knowledge is defective in not being able to discern the defect in the material, or the instrument he uses, to bring about the production. Thus is established the invariable connection between a defect in a product and the defect in the producer from whom the product comes. Now we shall proceed to identify the causal factors that cause defects to arise in conscious beings.

There are three capacities that characterize every conscious being: iccha (desire or will), jnana (knowledge) and kriya (action). Iccha is the prime driving force that impels a jiva to action. And every action of a jiva is preceded by knowledge of the object because unless there is knowledge that an object is such and such, the very motive to act for obtaining the object cannot arise. (It may be noted that by the word 'object' is meant the goal and not necessarily a gross object). All living beings, being possessed of iccha or desire, are thus propelled to action.

Action leads to the accumulation of merits and demerits. The store of karma of an individual conscious being, i.e., the cumulative aggregate of all the jiva's unfructified past actions, is known as adrshta. And it is this adrshta that is the source of defects in an individual conscious being. By their own natures, the mind, intellect and the sense organs, are unlimited and defectless; it is a jiva's past karma, or adrshta, that limits (the Acharya uses the expression 'expands and contracts') the intellect and sense organs of a jiva and also causes defects to arise in them.

3. SCRIPTURES ORIGINATING FROM PERFECTED BEINGS

No jiva is free of adrshta. Indeed, it is the presence of adrshta that sustains the individualities of diverse beings; there cannot be a jiva without adrshta. This is true not only of the jivas born on earth but even of the gods and other immortals that reside in heaven. Thus, any Agama that comes from an individual being, even if such a being be a god of the higher realm, is not fit to be accepted as defectless and flawless.

An objection may be presented here saying that ascribing such defects to ordinary living beings may be reasonable, but it would not be true for a perfected being, and so the Agama that issues from a perfected being should be accepted as flawless and defectless. The reply to this objection is that it is not so, it cannot be assumed even in the case of an Agama originating from a perfected being that it is free of defects. Why? Because the perfected being is one who has attained perfection, i.e., he was a jiva striving for perfection prior to the attainment of perfection. This is the argument that Sri Shankara presents in the Vivarana to the Yoga Sutra when confronted by the Buddhists with the proposition that the Agamas that have come from Buddha, a perfected being, are reliable and flawless. Sri Shankara replies that even if it were to be accepted that Buddha was a perfected being, still, he is different from God because he has a past history of striving for perfection whereas God, being eternally unchanging and immutable, has no past history. One needs to consider the deeper implication of this statement and of what it means.

The emphasis on past history to differentiate a perfected being from the Supreme God is due to the potential effects of adrshta in the former. Even though perfection removes the ignorance of the (now) perfected being, it does not nullify that part of adrshta, or accumulated past action, known as prarabda karma, which continues to operate in the world. So, irrespective of the perfection attained by a perfected being, the merits and demerits of past action continue to operate in the world as long as the perfected being lives on earth. Hence, the scriptures that issue out of such perfected beings, even though the author may have achieved perfection, cannot be accepted as absolutely impeccable and flawless. And thus is demolished the idea of flawlessness attributed to all the other scripture too that have come from perfected beings.


4. SCRIPTURES ORIGINATING FROM GOD

Everything that has been said so far pertains to scriptures originating from individual conscious beings, i.e., jivas, but the same cannot be said of the Agamas that have come from God. God, unlike individual conscious beings, is free of adrshta. So the very cause of defects is absent in Him. Therefore, it is inconceivable that God, being free of adrshta and being perfect in all respects, should be the source of defects in the scriptures that He gives to mankind. Still, there is one factor that needs to be considered in respect of the Agamas that come from God. This factor is the 'dependency on the adrshta of beings to whom the scripture is given'. In other words, while it is admitted that God is perfect is all respects, and that God, being possessed of absolute svatantriyatva, has no adrshta, even then a scripture that He gives to people may be limited in its scope due to the adrshta of the people to whom the scripture is given. This point needs some elaboration.

God is ever purna, full, and Self-fulfilled. So, no motive can be attributed to Him or for His creation. That is why it is said, by way of analogy, that He creates the universe as a Leela, in sheer Sport, as it were. And in this Leela of Creation, the only reason attributable to the actions of God is the adrshta of individual beings. For God creates the universe in accordance with the adrshta of beings, and even the Agamas that He gives to people are determined by the peculiar dispositions of the beings to whom they are given. Such Scriptures are to be treated as Vishesha Dharma for those specific people (for whom it is meant), and they (these scriptures) cannot be treated as appropriate pramanas for revealing the Supreme Knowledge of Brahma-Vidya. The dependency of such scriptures on the adrshta of people brings in the factor of the 'adhikara' of those people. It is known from the scriptures that there are many 'stations' in the spiritual realm that a jiva may attain, such as apavarga, vaikunta, etc, which may or may not be named in the Agama itself. For example, the Agamas of the Christians merely speak of the Kingdom of God without specifying what that Kingdom is. Therefore to treat these scriptures indiscriminately as a means for obtaining Brahma-Vidya would be incorrect.

The arguments provided here do not necessarily lead to the conclusion that all scriptures given by God are limited in scope for nobody can limit the Absolute Svatantriyatva of God. Indeed, there are some scriptures, such as the Bhagavad Gita, that are accepted as being flawless. But the important and vital point here is not mere flawlessness. It is the possession of an inherent mark by which the scripture may be said to be flawless and not limited in scope (by the adrhstas of people). It is not possible for anyone to know the invisible adrshtas of people nor is it possible for anyone to fathom the reasons that God has in giving specific scriptures to mankind. Hence, in the absence of such knowledge by man, it is impossible for anyone to ascertain the scope of an Agama given by God. Thus, it becomes impossible to fix a mark by which one may say with apodictic certainty that only particular scriptures originating from God have the scope of being flawless Pramanas for obtaining the Supreme Knowledge called Brahma-Vidya and that others do not.

5. APAURUSHEYA SCRIPTURE – THE MARK OF FLAWLESSNESS

A Scripture that would possess such a mark, i.e. by which it may be said to be flawless in scope and object for obtaining Supreme Knowledge, has to be necessarily uncreated, undetermined by the specific adrshtas of beings, and be existing naturally in the Nature of God Himself as an eternal archetype of Dharma. Only such a scripture can be qualified as completely impeccable and flawless because it would be absolutely independent of the causal factors that cause any of the deficiencies – inherent defects or limitations in scope – from arising in it. And such a Scripture, being uncreated by any being, not even by God, would be Apaurusheya. Such a Scripture would be the basis not merely of vishesha dharma but of an Eternal and Universal Dharma, that is, Sanathana Dharma, for the name 'Sanathana Dharma' means a dharma that is not a mere particular dharma but a Dharma that is the very Archetype of Dharma as it exists eternally and unchangingly in Reality. And wherever there is a scripture to be found in any part of the world that reveals dharma in some aspect or another, it is to be understood that its root lies in such a Sanathana Dharma.

Thus has been proved that only an Apaurusheya Agama would possess both the attributes - of being flawless and of possessing the mark of being flawless – required for it to be an absolutely unquestionable Pramana for Brahma-Vidya. And if another scripture too should be accepted as capable of imparting such knowledge, it would be on the basis of it being grounded in the Primary Scripture that already possesses such a mark i.e., one that is apaurusaheya. Once the mark is present, no question can be brooked about its efficacy because the mark indicates its absolute independence from all causal factors that can make flaws arise in it.

End of First Section titled 'The Relation between Apaurusheyatva and Flawlessness'.


APAURUSHEYATVA OF THE VEDAS – THE TRADITIONAL PROOF


1. INTRODUCTION

There are two kinds of proofs offered in the Vedic tradition to show that the Vedas are apaurusheya. One is a philosophical proof based on Mimamsa. This proof has been presented in Purva Mimamsa and the same has been adopted by Uttara Mimamsa (Vedanta). One would need to be acquainted with Mimamsa in order to grasp the nature of this proof. But for the vast majority of Hindus who are not expected to understand the subtleties and intricacies of this proof, the tradition offers an alternate proof that does not depend on knowledge of Mimamsa. The strength of the proof lies in this very fact: that it does not rely on evidence that comes from the Vedas and hence it avoids the kind of circularity of reasoning that would arise if a man who has no knowledge of Mimamsa were to say that the evidence of apaurusheyatva of the Vedas comes from the Vedas. For then the question would arise: On what basis may we believe that the Vedic statement is true? The reply would be: The Vedic statement is true because they come from the Vedas which are apaurusheya and faultless. And on what basis may we say that the Vedas are apaurusheya and faultless? One would be forced to reply: because the Vedas say so. There would be mutual inter-dependence between the thing to be proved and the ground on which the proof is offered. But the alternate, and more mundane, proof offered by the Vedic tradition avoids this kind of circularity of reasoning from arising by making the proof totally independent of the knowledge contained in the Vedas. At first sight the proof may not appear to be a proof at all: for the proof of the apaurushayatva of the Vedas is simply the fact that no author has been perceived even though there exists an unbroken and beginningless tradition of handing down the Vedas from teacher to student. But despite its seeming naivety, it is an incontrovertible proof and we will try to show in this post why it is incontrovertible.

At the outset, I would like to point out that the proof is not meant to prove the Apaurusheyatva of the Vedas to an atheist. The question of whether a scripture is paurusheya or apaurusheya would make no sense to a person who does not believe in scriptures, i.e. who is not willing to consider that there may be an incorporeal realm beyond the perceived world. A scripture would be meaningless to such a person. Therefore, it would be equally meaningless to attempt to show him that a particular scripture is apaurusheya.



2. THE CONTEXT

In order to appreciate the strength of the traditional proof, we would need to understand the terrain of history in which the Vedas was once the heart of a living tradition, governing every aspect of human life and infusing it with a sense of inspiration and sublimity. The Vedas stood at the heart of a culture that produced the finest examples in almost every field of human activity, be it in the sciences, the arts, literature, poetry, music, dance, erotics, rhetoric, architecture, politics, warfare, ethics, or philosophy. Nowhere else in the world do we find a culture that, on the one hand, pulsed with such exuberance of life, and on the other, found its highest ideal in a supreme renunciation that staggers the imagination today. And nowhere else in the world do we find virtue, justice, chastity, truth, dharma and the pursuit of knowledge carried to such limits as they have been done here. We need to be able to look at that distant past not in terms of mere historical chronologies, but with eyes that can see the world as people saw it in those days. Until we can do so, the word 'tradition' is just a word, bereft of the light that makes its meaning show forth in its fullest import. But such a thing is difficult for us today when we have all but lost our connection with the living waters of that tradition. The least we can do here, when we are discussing the topic of Apaurusheyatva of the Vedas, is to try and reconstruct the context in which the term was seen in a certain light instead of considering it in a bland manner, isolated from the various strands of the traditional theme of unauthoredness. In this section, I shall try to present some of these strands - strands that are interleaved with the theme - so that we may be able to get a glimpse of the terrain in which the concept held sway. It may be a feeble attempt on my part considering the breadth and scope of the topic, but a feeble attempt is better than not making any attempt at all.



3. DIVERSE STRANDS OF THE THEME OF UNAUTHOREDNESS

The traditional proof for the apaurusheyatva of the Vedas may be presented in just a few sentences. But as mentioned in the introduction to this post, it is necessary to consider the diverse strands that formed the rubric of the tradition in which the proof was offered. We shall present here some of these strands under the following sub-headings:

Central Core of the Tradition
Dual-Categorization of Language
Extensiveness of the Tradition
The Field of Action: Preservation of Sound

Before presenting the traditional proof, I shall make an attempt to show how the differences between Mimamsa and Nyaya with respect to Apaurusheyatva of the Vedas are synthesized in the Vedic structure. It may be noted that the word 'apaurusheyatva' has two connotations: (i) that of having no human author, and (ii) that of being eternal. All the traditional schools, including Nyaya-Vaisesika, hold the Vedas to be apaurusheya in the first sense, i.e. of having no human author. The difference between Nyaya and Mimamsa is only with respect to the eternality of the Vedas and we will try to show how this is actually synthesized in the body of Vedic Knowledge. (This is an ontological issue and hence the part of my post dealing with this issue, unlike the rest, will contain some philosophical arguments.)



4. THE CENTRAL CORE OF THE TRADITION

There are three aspects to the central core of the timeless tradition that holds the Vedas to be unauthored. One is the unbrokenness of the tradition. The second is the aspect of the Vedas being pre-existent before their manifestation. The third is the immune system that guards the tradition of unauthoredness from claims of authorship.


i) UNBROKENNESS OF THE TRADITION

There is an unbroken tradition from the past that holds the Vedas to be unauthored by humans. There has been no point in history when anyone has claimed authorship of the Vedas. On the contrary, every seer, every great person, has only confirmed its unauthoredness. The Vedas have always carried with them, era after era, eon after eon, the distinction of being unauthored by human beings. As mentioned above, the contention between the Mimamsikas and Nyayayikas regarding the Vedas is not about it being unauthored by humans, it is regarding it as being unauthored even by God. But as regards the qualification attributed to the Vedas that it has no human author, there is no difference between the traditional schools. It is a theme that stands bedrock as the foundation on which the tradition has continued unbroken since beginningless times.


ii) ETYMOLOGY OF THE WORD 'RISHI'

The Apaurusheya Vedas are said to have irrupted into the mundane world at two stages: (i) at the stage of creation when it was revealed by Ishvara to Brahma, and (ii) during the early stages after creation, in Krita yuga and Treta yuga, when it was seen by the Rishis during their tapas.

The first point of manifestation, i.e., from Ishvara to Brahma, does not indicate human authorship because Ishvara is not human. Now, as regards the second point of manifestation of the Vedas into the mundane world, i.e., manifestation through the rishis, the root of the word 'rishi' indicates the manner of its manifestation. By 'root' is meant the source from which the word had its origin. The science, or vidya, from which the sources of meanings of words may be obtained, is Etymology. The Vedanga related to Etymology is Nirukta. Nirukta was revealed to the world by the rishi, Yaskacharya.

According to Nirukta, the etymology of the word 'rishi' comes from 'being a seer': 'rishih darshanath'. Here is the quote from (a translation) of the Nirukta:

"A Rishi is so called from his having vision. 'He saw the mantras,' says Aupamanyava. It is known: because the self-born Brahma manifested himself to them while (they were) practicing tapah (austerities), they became rishis (seers); that is the characteristic of seers." (Nirukta.2.11)

So, the very word 'rishi' has its origin in the event of 'seeing', of being a drshta (seer). This is the second strand of the tradition. The first strand is 'unbrokenness', or unbroken continuity, of the tradition. The second strand explains the unbrokenness at the two points of the irruption of the Vedas into the mundane world. And at both points of irruption, i.e., during creation as well as post creation, they had no human author because firstly, Ishvara who revealed them is not human and, secondly, the rishis who gave them to the world saw them and not created them.


iii) EXISTENCE OF MULTIPLE RISHIS FOR THE SAME MANTRA (THE IMMUNE SYSTEM)

Every Vedic mantra is associated with three things: a rishi (the seer of the mantra), a devata (the god who presides over the mantra) and a chanda (the meter in which it is chanted).

The Vedas contain many mantras, or even entire suktas, that were revealed to multiple rishis. The sukta known as `Manyu-sukta' has two rishis, Bhrighu and Manyu, who saw them at different times. There are suktas that were revealed to seven rishis, and there are mantras that were revealed to as many as a hundred rishis and some to even a thousand rishis. I have been told that Rg Veda 9.66 and 8.34 provide some good examples of such cases.

The multiplicity of rishis for the same mantras forms the core immune system that guards the tradition of unauthoredness against counter-claims. It is like a Copyright for unauthoredness that prevents anyone from claiming authorship of the mantras. In a recent Supreme Court case, there was a company that had filed a case against another company saying that their use the name 'Krishna' in their product-branding was an infringement of property since the name was already in use by the first company. The Supreme Court rejected the claim stating that the name 'Krishna' is the common property of everyone in our culture and that nobody can claim unique proprietorship to the name. The case is similar here. The Vedic mantras are the common property of the universe and none, neither a mortal nor a god, can claim its authorship.

These three elements together form the central core of the timeless tradition of apaurusheyatva of the Vedas. Now we shall consider the pervasiveness of the tradition by considering other aspects of the traditional culture that was prevalent in the land such as the education system and the main philosophical tenets that was the inspiration of the Vedic civilization.



5. DUAL-CATEGORIZATION OF LANGUAGE

Of all the different kinds of learning we acquire in our lives, the one that most influences us is language. It is not difficult to understand why. Language shapes the way we think and the way we look at the world. Language lends structure to an otherwise amorphous reality and furnishes it with distinctive features and distinctive objects that have value to us. Recent studies in language too acknowledge this fact as much as the Vedic philosophies do. The entire texture and flavor of our worldview is determined by the language we use. Indeed, it would hardly be an exaggeration to say that it is the language of a civilization that determines its distinctive character.

Language is the first thing that a child learns when it begins to respond and interact with the world. Language is also the first branch of learning imparted to a student during the course of his education. What a student learns in this most basic and primary seat of learning permeates the student's consciousness for the rest of his life. I shall now show that the tradition of apaurushayatva of the Vedas is present in this most basic and primary seat of learning from which the character of a person's cognitive background is shaped, and that the tradition is not something restricted to a few people who believed in apaurusheyatva but was an element of culture that permeated the consciousness of the entire populace that belonged to the tradition.

The doctrine of apaurusheyatva of the Vedas was the prime factor due to which language itself was categorized into two types: the language of the Vedas and the language of mortals. They are known respectively as Vaidika and laukika (Vedic and worldly). When a young student went to study the vidyas (branches of learning) in a Gurukula, the two primary vidyas related to language that he studied were Vyakarana (Grammar) and Nirukta (Etymology). We shall provide evidence to show that in both these vidyas, the apaurusheyatva of the Vedas is a fundamental ground on which the vidya is based.


i) GRAMMAR (VYAKARANA)

The refinement of a language is determined by the perfection of its grammar. In the entire world, there is no other language that has a grammar as perfect or as refined as that of Sanskrit. Even contemporary scholars have acknowledged this fact. Indeed, the very word 'Samskritam' means 'refined' or 'perfected'. Sir Monier Williams says, "The Panini grammar reflects the wondrous capacity of the human brain, which till today no other country has been able to produce except India". Even those who were not especially friendly to the Vedic tradition, such as Sir William Jones, were forced to acknowledge this fact, for he said: "The language of Samskritam is of a wonderful structure, more perfect than Greek, more copious than Latin and more exquisitely refined than either."

Panini's Ashtadhyayi is the base work of Grammar and it is normally studied along with the Mahabhashya of Patanjali. The bhashya to the very first sutra of Panini contains the notion of dual categorization of words:

Panini's First Sutra: "atha sabdanusasanam"

Patanjali Bhashya: "The object of grammar is directly specified here – atha, etc. Now (follows) the instructions of words. The word 'atha' is used to indicate the commencement of the topic. Though the topic of instruction of words is a long process, the word 'atha' indicates the commencement of such a topic. The action of instruction has for its object, 'the words'..... Of what words? Of the laukika and the Vaidika. There, the laukika are: cow, horse, man, elephant, beast, Brahmin and so forth. There, the Vaidika are – sanno devir abhistaye (may the shining good be for the sacrifices (A.V.1.1.6)); ise tvoraje tva (I cut thee for libation and strength (Y.V.1.1.1)); agnim ile purohitam (I adore Agni, the leader (R.V.1.1.1); Agna ayahi vitaye ((Oh Agnim, mat thou come for drinking the clarified butter (S.V.1.1.1)."

The Vartika to the bhashya further explains the fundamental difference between these two kinds of words: "In giving the example of laukika words, words are separately mentioned at random. But in giving the example of Vaidika words, the definite order in which they occur cannot be overridden; and it is for that reason that the illustrations of Vaidika words are given in the form of sentences in which they occur."


ii) ETYMOLOGY (NIRUKTA)

Etymology was an important part of education in India. In the West, the first reference to Etymology may be found in a dialogue of Plato called 'Cratylus'. In that dialogue, Socrates argues that Greek was not the original language of the world. Socrates shows that the etymological origins of some Greek words lie outside the Greek language and he demonstrates that the relationship between sound-forms of the Greek language and the objects of the world points to an older language from which Greek must have originated. In India, that original language was held to be Vedic Sanskrit. In Nirukta, the study of Etymology, the origin of every word is ultimately traced to Vedic Sanskrit. Indeed, the Nirukta begins with a list of Vedic words called the Nighantu. Here is a quote from the Nirukta:

"A traditional list (of words) has been handed over (to us). It is to be (here) explained. This same list is called Ni-ghantavas. From what (root) is (the word) Nighantavas derived? They are words quoted from the Vedas (ni-gamah). Having been repeatedly gathered together from Vedic hymns, they have been handed down by tradition." (Nirukta.1.1)

The Nirukta also contains a direct reference to the apaurusheyatva of the Vedas. It mentions the Vedas as having being seen (through direct insight) and not as something that was created or authored:

"The meaning of speech is called its fruit or flower. … Seers had direct insight into duty. They by oral tradition handed down the Vedic hymns to later generations who were destitute of direct insight. The later generations, declining in power of speech, compiled this work, the Veda, and the auxiliary Vedic treatises, in order to comprehend their meaning." (Nirukta.1.20)

Thus, the idea of the Vedas being apaurusheya is something that is contained in the most basic and primary seats of traditional learning.



6. EXTENSIVENESS OF THE TRADITION

In this section, we shall consider the extent to which the idea of apaurusheyatva of the Vedas had pervaded into the culture in which the tradition was existent and in which it still exists today even though its light may now have dimmed in the gathering gloom of the dark age of Kali. We shall see that the pervasiveness of the idea of apaurusheyatva of the Vedas extends to all the six traditional schools starting from their original texts themselves. It is important to show this because of the misbegotten idea implanted by modern education into the minds of people that the concept of apaurusheyatva is an artifact of some later author's contrivance. We shall also show that the pervasiveness of the idea of apaurusheyatva was not restricted to only the traditional philosophies but that it extended to other branches of learning too.

With regards to the traditional philosophies, we shall consider them in pairs since the six schools have traditionally been grouped together into three pairs as follows:

Purva & Uttara Mimamsa
Samkhya & Yoga
Nyaya & Vaisesika


i) PURVA MIMAMSA / UTTARA MIMAMSA

I do not believe it is necessary to produce evidence that Purva Mimamsa and Uttara Mimamsa hold the Vedas to be apaurusheya because this entire series is based on the doctrines of these schools, but for the sake of completeness, we will produce the relevant quotes from the two scriptures. It needs to be mentioned that Mimamsakas holds all words to be eternal and that Vedic words derive their special significance of being apaurusheya due to a certain character of the Vedas. In Purva Mimamsa, this special character is the special signification of the meanings of its sentences which it calls the 'force of the text'. It is based on an ontology that is very subtle and which, according to me, is to be found in Advaita as well. In the West, (traces of) this kind of ontology may be found in the philosophies of Parmenides and Socrates. In any case, my purpose here is not to debate on philosophical doctrines but to produce evidence that both schools of Mimamsa contain the principle of apaurusheyatva of the Vedas. So, here are the relevant quotes:

From Jaimini Purva Mimamsa Sutras:

Sutra 1.5: "Certainly there is eternal connection between the word and its meaning; its knowledge is never erroneous in matters invisible; it is authoritative in the opinion of Badarayana by reason of it not depending on others."

Sutra 1.27: "And the one party holds that the Vedas are modern, being called after human names."
Bhashya to 1.27: "The objector says that I accept that a word is eternally related to its sense and further admits that when put into a sentence it conveys a sense; but where is the authority of the Vedas? They are of human origin being called after human names such as…"


Sutra 1.29: "On the other hand the priority of the word is already spoken of. "
Bhashya to 1.29: "The purva-paksha's objection that since certain names of human beings are mentioned in the Vedas, so the Vedas are human products, is now being rebutted. The eternality of word has already been established….. Therefore the objection that the Vedas have a human origin is groundless."

Sutra 1.30: "The name is on account of the persons explaining them."
Bhashya to 1.30: "They are called after human names because those persons are the first to expound them (in the manifest world) and so the different parts of the Vedas are called after those sages in their honour."

Sutra 1.31: "But the Vedic words are used in a general sense only."
Bhashya to 1.31: "The names of persons used in the Vedas are common nouns and not proper nouns. The persons bore the names subsequently (in the cycles of creation). So this argument of the objector does not detract from the eternality of the Vedas."

Now, the quotes from the Vedanta Sutras:

Sutra 1.28: "If it be objected that this contradicts the validity of Vedic words, then not so, for the universe arises from this (i.e. from Vedic words), which fact is proved by direct revelation and inference."

Sutra 1.29: "And from this very fact follows the eternality of the Vedas."

Sutra 1.30: "And there is no contradiction, since similar names and forms are repeated even in the revolution of the world cycles, as is known from the Vedas and Smriti."


ii) SANKHYA / YOGA

Samkhya darshana too considers the Vedas to be apaurusheya. A direct reference to it may be found in the fifth Sutra of the Samkhya Karika as elucidated by the bhashya of Vachaspati Misra.

Sankhya Karika (Sutras 4 &am5): "Perception, Inference and Verbal Testimony are the means of knowledge.... Perception is the ascertainment of each respective object by the senses. Inference is declared to be of three kinds and it is preceded by knowledge of the middle term (linga) and major term (lingi) while Verbal Testimony is the statement of trustworthy persons and the Vedas."

Extract from Vachaspati's Bhashya: "Verbal testimony is self-authoritative, i.e., it is always right inasmuch as it is brought about by the words of the Vedas which are not authored by any human being and because it is therefore free from all defects (such as falsehood which renders words unreliable). It is for this same reason that the knowledge derived from smrti, itihasa and purana is also regarded as right because they have the Vedas as their source."

It is reasonable to assume that the position of Yoga darshana is the same as that of Samkhya because it follows all the basic tenets of Samkhya. The one difference between them is that while Samkhya is silent with regard to Ishwara, Yoga considers Ishwara to be a special Purusha equipped with the powers of creation, sustenance and destruction of the universe.


iii) NYAYA / VAISESIKA

The expression 'apaurusheyatva of the Vedas' has a slightly different connotation in Nyaya-Vaisesika than in the other traditional darshanas. In Nyaya, the term 'apaurusheyatva' means 'having no human author'. It does not indicate the second qualification, 'eternality', as it does in Mimamsa. We will address the differences between Nyaya and Mimamsa later in this article, but for now it is important to realize that Nyaya too holds the Vedas to be apaurusheya even though it may be in a slightly different sense than in Mimamsa. The reason I am emphasizing this point is because there are some people who dispute the apaurusheyatva of the Vedas based on the fact that Nyaya disputes its eternality and these people have a tendency to over-extend the ground provided by Nyaya and make it appear that Nyaya considers the Vedas to be authored in the same way as it considers other ordinary texts to have been authored. Such a conclusion is not correct and it needs to be refuted. We will therefore produce a quote from a highly regarded Nyaya text, the Nyaya Kusumanjali of Udayanacharya, to show the correct position of Nyaya with regard to the Vedas. The context of the discussion in the quoted text is 'Existence of God', but it brings out the Nyaya position on the status it gives to the Vedas.

Nyaya Kusumanjali of Udayanacharya
Chapter II, Pratyayatah:

Objection: "The second objection was that there is no proof of God, since the means of attaining paradise can be practiced independently of any such being. That is to say, sacrifices which are the instruments of obtaining paradise can be performed even without a God, since it is proved by the Veda that sacrifices are a means of obtaining heaven, and the Veda possesses authority from its eternality and freedom from defects, and we can also gather its authority from its having been accepted by great saints (as Manu and others), and therefore you cannot establish the existence of God, on the ground that he is the author of the Veda; or we may suppose that the Veda was made by some Sages like Kapila and others, who gained omniscience by their preeminence in concentrated devotion."

Udayana: "Since right knowledge requires an external source, since creation and destruction take place, and since none other than He can be relied on, - there is no other way open."

Bhashya: "The right knowledge caused by testimony is one which is produced by a quality in the speaker, viz. his knowledge of the exact meaning of the words used; hence the existence of God is proved, as He must be the subject of such a quality in the case of the Veda."

Objection: "Well then, let us say that at the beginning of a creation Kapila and others were its authors, who had acquired omniscience by the power of merit gained by the practice of concentrated devotion in the former eon."

Reply: "It has been replied `None other than He can be relied upon'. If you mean by omniscient beings, those endowed with the various superhuman faculties of assuming infinitesimal size, etc including the capability of creating everything, then we reply that the law of parsimony bids us assume only one such, namely Him the adorable God."

Thus, there is no human authorship ascribed to the Vedas in Nyaya-Vaisesika too. The Veda is apaurusheya because it has no human author.


iv) THE OTHER VIDYAS

In the traditional vidyasthanas (seats of learning), there are six Vedangas and four Upangas. The term 'anga' means 'arm' or 'limb'. Therefore, the term 'Vedanga' translates to 'arm of the Veda', and the term 'Upanga' translates to 'subsidiary arm (of the Veda)'. Among the different vidyas that we have considered so far, Vyakarana (grammar) and Nirukta (etymology) belong to the category of Vedanga and the six schools of philosophy belong to the category of Upanga.

The four Upangas are Dharma Shastra, Nyaya, Mimamsa and Purana. In the traditional scheme of the vidyasthanas, Purva Mimamsa and Vedanta are included in the category of 'Mimamsa' and the other four darshanas - Samkhya, Yoga, Nyaya and Vaisesika – are included in the category of Nyaya. Now we shall show that the idea of apaurusheyatva of the Vedas exists in the other two Upangas (Purana and Dharma Shastra) too.

Now, as regards the Puranas, there are eighteen major puranas and as many subsidiary puranas. Anyone who has read the puranas would know that the accounts of creation given therein mention that Brahma creates the universe through tapah on the Vedic words showing that the Veda (or Vedic words) predates creation. It will not be feasible for me to quote from all these diverse puranas here, so i shall restrict myself to one quote from the Bhagavata Purana wherein Lord Vishnu refers to Brahma, the creator, as the one who holds the Vedas latent in him:

"The Lord said: O Brahma who holds the Vedas latent in you! I am highly pleased by your long and concentrated meditation for enlightenment on the work of creation. (Bh.Ch.9.19)"

Also, Sri Shankaracharya in BSB.I.iii.30 quotes Veda Vyasa from one of his smritis: "In days of yore, the great rishis received through austerities, with the permission of the self-born One, the Veda, together with the anecdotes, that had remained withdrawn during dissolution."

We have shown that the idea of apaurusheyatva of the Vedas exists in three of the Upangas, i.e., Mimamsa, Nyaya and Purana. Now, we will show that it exists in the fourth, the dharma shastra, too. The class of texts known as the Dharma Shastra is Smriti. Though the word 'Smriti' is often used to refer to a broad class of literature including the Puranas and Itihasas, it strictly refers to the Dharma Shastra alone. In both the Manu Smriti and the Yajnavalkya Smriti, it has been said:

"By the Sruti is meant the Veda, and by Smriti the Dharma Shastras: these two must not be called into question in any matter, since from these two the sacred law shone forth." (MS.II.10)

The Yajnavalkya Smriti mentions the primary list of authoritative Dharma Shastras as follows:

"Manu, Atri, Visnu, Harita, Yajnavalkya, Usanas, Angiras, Yama, Apastamba, Samvarta, Katyayana, Brihaspati. Parasara, Vyasa, Sankha, Likhita, Daksha, Gautama, Satapata, and Vashishta are the promulgators of Dharma Shastra." (YS.I.i.4 & 1.i.5)

Of all the Dharma Shastras, the one given by Manu is the first and most authoritative, given to mankind in the dawn of creation, and it is the one which all the others dharma shastras follow. The Manu Smriti refers to the Veda as the 'eternal Veda' and also mentions that the names of created beings were assigned according to the words of the (eternal) Veda.

"He, the Lord, also created the class of the gods, who are endowed with life, and whose nature is action; and the subtile class of the Sadhyas, and the eternal sacrifice. But from fire, wind, and the sun he drew forth the threefold ETERNAL VEDA, called Rik, Yajus, and Saman, for the due performance of the sacrifice." (MS.I.22 & 1.23)

"But in the beginning he assigned their several names, actions, and conditions to all (created beings), even according to the words of the Vedas." (MS.I.21)

While it can be shown that the idea of apaurusheyatva of the Vedas has percolated to other kinds of literature and poetry too, I think the evidence produced here from diverse traditional branches of learning is sufficient to show that the idea had permeated into the entire fabric of Vedic culture. This phenomenon should have been common knowledge us – to at least those of us who are born in this culture - but unfortunately modern education and the values it has bequeathed to us seems to have severed us from our roots. The problem has become more acute today because, more often than not, we let our judgments get in the way of forming a complete picture of our ancient tradition. In order to know what this tradition is, we need to uncover the various elements of the tradition and fit them together so that they coalesce into a meaningful structure, or cultural schema, as it had existed when it was flourishing with vigor and elan. But if we are prone to make judgments at each step regarding the veracity and value of each element of the culture, how would we ever be able to form a picture of the culture or the tradition? In order to recover the schema of a culture, or tradition, we need to hold our judgments in suspension because the aim of the exercise is to form a picture of the culture and not to judge whether the culture is good or bad or based on myths or based on truths or whether its practices were abhorrent or class-discriminative or gender-discriminative and such other things. The judgment needs to come – in a rational manner - only after the jigsaw puzzle has been solved, but today we seem to have developed a tendency to stop ourselves from even attempting to solve the jigsaw puzzle due to the value judgments that we make as soon as we are presented with any element of the culture. It is a vicious circle and we need to break free from it if we are to ever discover the roots of our own culture and civilization. It is in view of such a prevailing situation that an attempt has been made here to reconstruct and present at least a small part – the part that is relevant to the topic of apaurusheyatva - of the vast tapestry of the tradition.


7. THE FIELD OF ACTION: PRESERVATION OF SOUND

We have so far seen how the idea of apaurusheyatva of the Vedas has permeated into all the traditional branches of learning (or what may be called the Vedic bodies of knowledge). We shall now show that it has also permeated to the field of human activity in Vedic culture. We don't have to go far to demonstrate this. The preservation of Sound (the Vedic hymns) in its phonetic and metrical purity is directly based on the special significance of the Vedas as Sruti – the Eternal Sound that is heard. The very idea of safeguarding it as a Vehicle that carries the Supreme Knowledge is grounded in the Vedas being uncreated, unauthored, perfect and faultless. What other reason can make an entire civilization devise its education system to provide extensive training to guard the purity of the Vedic Sound from being corrupted? What other reason can make so many people in a society or a civilization undertake such onerous tasks as learning to pronounce the Vedas for 10 years or 15 years to protect its purity? And we are not speaking here of a small segment of society, but of a large section of the population stretching from Gandhara in the West to Brahmadesha in the East, from the Himalayas in the North to Kanyakumari in the South. We are not speaking of one particular era in the life of a civilization, but of the entire life-span of the civilization as recorded by the annals and histories preserved by the civilization.

Human action needs a motive to sustain itself. What is the sustaining force of the extensive and difficult task of preserving the purity of the Vedas that every man born in three of the varnas had to do? This is of course a rhetorical question because the answer is already given – it is because the Vedas are apaurusheya. The two Vedangas – Siksha and Chanda – are specially meant for this purpose.



8. NYAYA AND MIMAMSA – UNCREATEDNESS AND THE PREDICATION OF EXISTENCE

There is one issue that we need to address before we move on to the proof of Apaurusheyatva of the Vedas. This is the issue arising from the difference between Mimamsa and Nyaya with regard to the connotation of the word 'apaurusheyatva'. As we mentioned earlier on in this post, both schools believe that the Vedas have no human author. But while Mimamsa believes the Vedas to be eternal, Nyaya holds it to be non-eternal. This difference arises essentially from the difference in the meaning of the term 'existence' as seen by the two schools. Mimamsa is based on satkaryavada (on the pre-existence of the effect in the cause) while Nyaya is based on asatkaryavada (on the prior non-existence of the effect). In order to appreciate the nature of this difference, we would need to consider three factors:

a) The fact that both are Vedic philosophies held in high esteem by the tradition
b) The roles of each of these philosophy in the Vedic tradition
c) The nature of Ontology in each philosophy in accordance with their respective roles

I can imagine how if a student of philosophy from one of our contemporary academies were to read these points, he would perhaps raise an eyebrow and ask: "What role? Do you mean to say that these two philosophies had roles? And who assigned them their roles, pray? Isn't this stretching things a bit too far?"

It isn't. These two philosophies have specific roles in the scheme of the universe despite what our friends from contemporary academies may say. If we are to understand Vedic culture, we would do well to avoid being apologists or to look for approvals from the academies. Our task is to be true to the Vedic tradition despite what the academy may have to say on the matter. The two philosophies, Nyaya and Mimamsa, have roles to play and their roles come from the Divine Blueprint of the Universe contained in the Vedas. Indeed, all the traditional vidyas including the fourteen vidyas related to dharma known as Chaturdasa as well as other traditional vidyas such as ayurveda (health science), dhanurvidya (science of warfare), artha shastra (science of politics), kama shastra (science of erotics), gandharva shastra (the arts), etc are all Vedic vidyas with specific roles to cater to specific goals in the scheme of the world.

Nyaya and Mimamsa are not simply two philosophies thought up by two philosophers called Gautama and Badarayana. We cannot understand the natures of these philosophies by looking at them through the kind of history-writing that began with Herodotus, and which had for its aim the describing of human history in purely human terms (which is a euphemism for 'materialistic terms'). The existence of the human is not entirely human; there is a Divinity shining in the human and this Divinity participates in human activity. So, a history told in purely human terms is a shell merely which remains blind to the kernel that pulsates with the throb of Divine-human participation. Nyaya and Mimamsa are not simply two philosophies thought up by two philosophers in the course of human history. They are both eternal philosophies and the sages Gautama and Badarayana gave them to the world in accordance with their roles as the compliers of these two timeless darshanas.

In this regard, Sri Sureshwaracharya, the disciple of Sri Shankaracharya, says about Nyaya-Vaisesika, Samkhya, Vedanta and Saiva Siddhanta in the Manasallosa:

"All these alternate views existed, before creation, in the Atman, as the sprout in the seed. They were displayed by the power of Maya comprising ichha (will), jnana (knowledge) and kriya (action) of Ishvara." (Manasollosa,II.43)

I shall quote from a Nyaya text itself to show that the Nyayayikas too hold such a view:

"Well, (before Gautama) by which system was the authority of the Vedas established? Who explained the meanings of the Veda before Jaimini? Who derived the word before Panini? Who composed the meters before Pingala? Since the very creation of this world these vidyas are also there like the Vedas; only when we want to refer to the collection or abridgment and elaboration, those collectors and elaborators are called as composers." (Nyayamanjari of Jayanta Bhatta).

And what are the roles of Mimamsa and Nyaya in the schema of Vedic knowledge? I shall quote again from the Nyayamanjari, but before I do so, a few words of introduction to the Nyayamanjari of Jayanta Bhatta may be appropriate. "Jayanta Bhatta occupies a unique position in the history of Indian Philosophy in general and Pracina Nyaya in particular. The Nyayamanjari is an encyclopaedic work of Pracina Nyaya. While writing the book, Jayanta has taken into account all the relevant views of almost all the systems of Indian Philosophy prevalent at this time. He has presented the views of his opponents so elaborately and clearly that sometimes it is easier to understand the opposition from Jayanta's Nyayamanjari than from the original texts themselves." I have quoted almost verbatim from the introduction to the translation of Nyayamanjari. Now, this is how Nyayamanjari explains the roles of Mimamsa and Nyaya:

"As without enquiry it is impossible to determine the meaning of the (apparently) uncogent Vedic sentences, the Mimamsa-shastra which discusses the meaning of the Vedic sentences functions as the part (auxiliary) of the mine of the Vedas and therefore it has the status of a vidyasthana. So says Kumarila Bhatta."

"When dharma is being known by means of Veda, the itikartavyata portion will be covered by Mimamsa-shastra. Therefore, Mimamsa is not taken as the seventh Vedanga because it is part of the Veda as it is very close to the Vedas. Vedic words when accompanied by critical discussion are capable of expressing their own independent meaning. The Nyaya-shastra on the other hand, is the main pillar of all the systems because it is the means to establish the authority of the Vedas."

"Now, if the purpose of Nyaya-shastra is the establishment of the authority of the Vedas, then since Mimamsa already serves that purpose there would be no need for such a system as Nyaya-shastra. In Mimamsa, as the meanings of the Vedic sentences are discussed, so also the authority of the Vedas is discussed."

"True; but that discussion of the authority of the Vedas is a subordinate one. The discussion of the meaning of the Vedic sentences is the main object of Mimamsa. These two vidyas, i.e., Mimamsa and Nyaya, have different functions. Mimamsa is known as Vakhyarthavidya (i.e., it deals with the meanings of Vedic sentences) but not as Pramanavidya (which deals with the means of valid knowledge)."

So, Nyaya and Mimamsa are two eternal Vedic philosophies with two specific roles or functions. It is only by understanding this nature of difference that we can grasp the difference between Nyaya and Mimamsa with respect to the eternality of the Vedas. Mimamsa is Vedic Vakhyarthavidya and its object is Brahman and the Eternal Law that exists in the Nature of Brahman. Its specific aim is the revelation of Vedic sentences. Nyaya is pramana-vidya based on normal language and its aim is to reveal the nature of the pramanas and the nature of word-meanings in accordance with these pramanas.

In ordinary language, the term 'existence' is a predicate of an object as it derives from its manifestation. The manifestation of an object is always of it (the object) as a substance. If the object does not have substantiality, we deny that the manifest thing is that particular object called by such and such name. For example, we say that the 'water' in a mirage is not really water because it lacks substantiality. Therefore we say that no water exists there. Whereas when see water in a lake, we say that it is water and that it has substantiality. The special mark of substance (dravya) is 'existence' and in speech this existence becomes a predicate of the object, as in the sentence 'The lotus exists'. When an object is not manifest as a substance, it has no existence. So, prior to a thing's manifestation as a substance, the thing is not said to have any existence. This is the natural way in which language evocates phenomena as per the nature of language itself. In Western Philosophy, it is called the 'Ontology of Presence', but it would be best to avoid a comparison with Western Philosophy because in recent times many related concepts (such as universals and particulars) have got so muddled up that a comparison wouldn't serve any useful purpose.

Mimamsa does not follow the ontology of presence. While not denying the predication of existence to objects, it considers such predication as only a mode of existence and not as existence itself. The authority for such a notion of existence comes from the Vedic sentences of which Mimamsa is the interpretive framework. It is based on Brahman and the relation that stands between the world and Brahman as revealed by the Vedas. In this vision of Brahman, the notion of existence transcends the ordinary notion given by ordinary language. That is, since Brahman is the material cause of the world, all objects in the world pre-exist in Brahman. Hence, on the authority of Vedic sentences, existence is not a mere predicate of manifestation of objects, but is one mode of its existence as it eternally pre-exists in Brahman.

Thus, by the very natures of the two categories of language, Vedic language and ordinary (laukika) language, the terms 'existence' take different meanings. Therefore, Mimamsa and Nyaya, being based on Vedic and ordinary languages respectively, stand in such relation to each other that there is a natural opposition between them as given by Vedic language and ordinary language. So, when two philosophers belonging to Mimamsa and Nyaya fight with each other, the opposition is not necessarily a fight between them; their vada is an enactment of the opposition that stands between the two eternal philosophies. The sage Gautama was a Brahma-jnani; he did not write the Nyaya Sutras because he thought it was the ultimate truth; he compiled Nyaya Sutras because it was his role in the scheme of creation to compile them. Such is the Vedic view.

Now, in consideration of this difference in the meaning of the term 'existence', we would be able to understand the difference between Mimamsa and Nyaya with respect to the eternality or non-eternality of words. In Nyaya, a word is non-eternal because it is seen to have a beginning and end, i.e. it is heard now and it was not so heard before it was spoken; and likewise, the speech subsides and is heard no more. So, it has no prior existence, nor posterior existence, to its manifestation. In Mimamsa, the word is eternal because it exists and is only made manifest during speech. I shall not go into the arguments here because it is not needed for our purpose. The relevant point here is to seek out the factor that synthesizes the two. This factor, according to us, is the common ground provided by the treatment of non-existence (abhava) in the two philosophies.

Both in Nyaya and Mimamsa there is no absolute non-existence (atyanta-abhava) of a named meaningful object. This is the key point. In Mimamsa, the non-existence of a named object is the object being concealed. In Nyaya, since the object is not said to have pre-existence in the cause before its manifestation, the non-existence of a named object is said to be 'elsewhereness'. That is, it is possible to name or conceive an object in a locus in which it is non-existent because of the object having been elsewhere in place or time. In the case of an erroneous cognition wherein a snake is seen on a rope, the snake can be seen in that locus only because there is a snake elsewhere in time or place which is now transposed on the locus. While this example pertains to an error, the universal possibility of forming a conception of an object in a locus where it is not present derives from Nyaya's notion of 'elsewhereness'. So, what does this mean when applied to the Vedas before creation? The answer is obvious; the Vedas were elsewhere in place or time. And since we are speaking here of prior non-existence and not posterior non-existence, it is obvious that the Vedas were present in the previous cycles of creation. Thus, irrespective of whether the locution of Nyaya allows it to say that the Vedas are eternal or not, we, who go by Mimamsa, would not only say that the Vedas are eternal but would also say that we are sympathetic to Nyaya and we understand why Nyaya, by the very nature of its darshana, bound as it is by ordinary language, has to say that the Vedas are non-eternal; and so, by the fact that Nyaya has to say so even for the eternal Veda by virtue of its manifestation and non-manifestation, it does not in any way detract from our siddhanta that the Vedas are eternal. Thus, what was to have been shown has been shown. Now we shall move on to the (mundane) proof of Apaurusheyatva of the Vedas.



9. THE TRADITIONAL PROOF

When we started this elucidation of the traditional proof of apaurusheyatva of the Vedas, we said that the strength of the traditional proof can be seen only when we understand the terrain of history in which the Vedas was once the heart of a living tradition. A tradition is not a dead thing; it is a living phenomenon that carries with it a historical consciousness. Each strand that we have spoken about so far finds its place in this historical consciousness and it gives to the tradition a body in which the various strands are like the organs of the body that make it function in a coordinated way. It is important that the body along with its various organs should be considered for the traditional proof to make sense to us today. That is why this rather long excursion into our past and a survey of its literature was undertaken here.

The traditional proof depends on the incontrovertibility of the beginningless tradition because the beginningless tradition is the substratum for the thing (authorship) having the capacity to be apprehended in the substratum (the beginningless tradition) if it should exist. More often than not, the strength of the traditional proof fails to be seen because we are wont to deny the beginningless tradition itself due to the presence of some misguided ideas in our minds. Therefore, we shall first establish the incontrovertibility of the beginningless tradition based on the facts that we have presented above and then show how it fits into the body of the formal proof offered by the tradition to demonstrate the apaurusheyatva of the Vedas.


i) COHERENCY AND THE ONUS OF PROOF

It has been shown that there exists an unbroken tradition consisting of a long line of teachers and students who have handed down the Vedas from a beginningless past. It has been shown furthermore that this beginningless tradition is coherent with the conception of the Vedas as having been seen and not authored, which again is coherent with the fact that there exists a distinct name for the seers of the Vedic mantras to distinguish it from the name that denotes an author. And the fact that there are multiple rishis for the same mantras, and for the same suktas, forms a tightly-coupled system establishing the beginninglessness of the tradition. It has been shown moreover that the idea of apaurusheyatva of the Vedas exists in all the branches of traditional learning starting from the primary seats of learning and extending over all the philosophical schools and other diverse branches of learning, that this idea was instituted also in the traditional field of human action, and that all these elements of the tradition stretched across a vast geographical stretch of land and possessed a continuity of existence for which no beginning is assignable. The entire tradition forms a tightly-coupled, vast and complex, coherent system. Therefore, on the ground of this coherence, the beginningless tradition stands established.

Objection: The coherency of a system can be ruptured by a single element that is dissonant with the coherency. So, how do you say that coherency establishes the beginninglessness of the tradition?

Reply: Not so, for when the element is of the nature of a claim, it is the veracity of the claim that needs to be first ascertained. What is the nature of this single element that you speak of? Is it a claim of there being a historical event of a person claiming to be the author of the Vedas? If so, it is the veracity of the claim of a single claimant and not the veracity of the many that needs to be questioned. Moreover, this is not a matter of conjecture since there has been no such claimant that we know of. If you say that the disrupting element is something other than an historical event, then we say that your objection is groundless. When a thing, i.e., beginningless, has been already established by the existence of the tradition and by the coherency of the various elements of the tradition, if you should claim on any other ground than a historical fact that an element of the tradition is false, then the onus is on you to prove how all the remaining elements fall into place as a coherent system. For these elements are cognized. The existence of the word 'rishi', the existence of mention of multiple rishis for the same mantras and suktas, the existence of mention of the apaurusheyatva of the Vedas in grammer, in etymology, in all the traditional philosophies, in the dharma shastras, in the purnanas are cognized facts. So the onus is clearly on you to prove how these cognized elements have manifested. It is for this same reason that Kumarila Bhatta says in the Slokavartika:

"Nothing more than what is directly visible is said by him (Jaimini), with regard to the authenticity (of the Veda). Whereas, the other theorists have to make various assumptions with regard to the imperceptible, even in proving the inauthenticity of the Veda (to say nothing of those that they have recourse to in seeking to establish the authority of their own scriptures). The atheist, in denying the authority of the Veda, lands himself on the (absurdity of) setting aside the authenticity of a directly perceptible fact. Because when a conception has once arisen (and the self-evident authority of such conceptions has already been proved), any assumption towards its denial could only be needless and far-fetched." (Slokavartika, 11-43.153, 154)

Objection: There have been many people even in the past, such as the Charavakas, the Bauddhas and Jainas who have disagreed with the tradition, so the coherency is broken.

Reply: Mere disagreement is not a condition that breaks the coherency; there must be perceptible facts that contradict the coherency. Disagreements always exist in the world and it cannot be the ground on which a thesis based on perceptible facts is said to stand disproved. For if mere disagreement should be held to be the ground of falsification of a thesis, every thesis in the world will stand disproved by the fact that there would always be found people in this world who disagree with the thesis. In this case, those who disagree will need to provide perceptible facts to counter the coherency that exists in the tradition by showing the beginning of the tradition, or showing that the word 'rishi' has a different origin, or showing that there is no existence of those statements holding the Vedas to be apaurusheya in the various texts that we have quoted from. Moreover, the tradition has always stood on multiple persons dependent on an independent scripture (Veda) unlike in the case of other scriptures that have had human origins and were dependent on the authors. Whereas in the case of the Vedas, there has been no point in time when the scripture has been dependent on a single person. This is what Sri Kumarila Bhatta points out in the Slokavartika:

"(Whereas according to us) even in a single life the Veda is found to reside in (to be known by) many persons; and as such, either its remembrance or comprehension does not go against its independence. For, if any one person were to make any changes in the Veda, of his own accord, he would be opposed by many persons. And again, if the Veda were the outcome of the mind of a single person then it would in no way differ from modern compositions. For the same reason we do not acknowledge the agency of a single person even in the case of the traditional course of instructions (in the Veda). (In view of there being multiple rishis for the mantras), the very first persons (who commenced this traditional course) must have been, many, dependent upon one another, just as we find to be the case at the present day." (Slokavartika, 11-43, 149-151)

So, for those who may have disagreed with the tradition in the past, the same condition that is now applicable to you has been applicable to them as well: the onus of proof of a contrary thesis to explain the perceptible and coherent facts has always been with the one who disagreed with the tradition. And no one so far has provided such a contrary proof. So, the beginningless of the tradition stands established as it has stood for all time.


ii) THE LAW OF PARSIMONY

Now, it having been shown that the onus of proof is on the one who opposes the tradition, the purva-paksha comes with a new objection:

Objection: The entire phenomenon of the existence of the beginningless tradition might have had a historical origin during the development of human thought.

Reply: Then the law of parsimony (which was first mentioned by the sage Gautama and not by Okham) would demand that we go by the tradition than by any such historical explanation. For any such historical explanation would necessarily have to falsify the various elements that we have presented here and any attempt to falsify these elements on such a large scale would amount to stating that the tradition is a grand conspiracy concocted by some people who had somehow managed to get these elements into the various texts, that we have mentioned, in a conspiratorial manner, and moreover managed it on such a large scale as to implant these elements across a large geographical stretch of land over a period of time spanning into many eras or eons. And it would also amount to stating that the conspirators somehow instituted, as part of the conspiracy, the universal practice of learning the chanting of the Vedas under the belief that it is unauthored and faultless. So, the onus is again on you to explain, in a credible manner, how such a large conspiracy on such a scale was conceived, on who conceived it and what were their motivations in conceiving it, and their strategies in accomplishing so inhuman a task as incorporating the notion in so many diverse texts and in instituting practices that no one under ordinary circumstances would be willing to adhere to. The entire proposition is enormously cumbersome and far-fetched and has no ground to stand on. Hence, on the ground of parsimony, it is concluded that the tradition stands established.

Objection: I do not say that it is a conspiracy; it may have been a kind of hallucination arising in the minds of these people due to some peculiar condition of the human mind.

Reply: Whether a thing is a hallucination or not is determined by means of the pramanas and not by mere assertions. The truth of a statement asserting the nature of a thing is bound by the nature of the thing itself because the truth of a thing is simply one – that, which it is. Whereas, the free flight of imagination, which is not so bound to the truth, or to the nature of the thing, is infinite and many. So, if you should say that all these coherent elements of the tradition are the products of imagination, or hallucination, then, the onus is again on you to show how the coherency has come about because hallucination is not bound by truth or by any pramana and is likely to be various and diverse. But if you should accept that coherency is a mark of truth, then you would be corroborating what we have been saying all along: that the actual existence of a beginningless tradition combined with the coherency of the various elements in the tradition points to the beginninglessness of the tradition of handing down the Vedas from teacher to student in all eras and in all cycles of creation.

Objection: But the pramanas themselves may be based on mere conditions of the mind. So, it is still possible that the phenomenon called 'the tradition' is based on hallucinations of the mind.

Reply: Then by that same criterion, your assertion that the tradition is based on a hallucination is also liable to be based on a hallucination. One who does not accept the pramanas and says that they are based on hallucination has no ground to make any kind of assertion whatsoever in so far as the ground of assertions of truth has been denied. Therefore, your statement amounts to nothing more than childish prattle or to the statement of a man who speaks without having any curb to his mouth.

Objection: But so do you when you say that something is beginningless or uncreated for no such thing as a beginningless or uncreated thing is known to exist in this world.

Reply: Your contention that no such thing is known to exist in this world is wrong. Space is known to be beginningless and uncreated and one does not have to go seeking for its end to know that it has no end or that it is beginningless and uncreated.

Objection: Space is not a thing. Space is merely the relationships between objects.

Reply: If that be your contention, i.e., that space is not a thing, then we reply to you in words similar to those used by Sri Shankaracharya when replying to the Bauddhas. If space is said to be 'no thing', then when an object exists there would be absence of 'no thing' and hence a bird that tries to fly in space wouldn't be able to fly because there would be absence of space, i.e., of 'no thing'. And when you say that space is merely the relationship between objects, you would need to first tell us how there may be objects without them having extension, for in the absence of the familiar space that we all know objects would cease to have extension and would collapse into a point; and so also would the separation between objects since the absence of space between them would entail that there would be conjunction between one object and another. Hence it is proved that the notion of beginninglessless and uncreatedness is something familiar to us in the world since space is known to be beginningless and uncreated.

Thus, from the fact that:

(i) there exists a tradition of the Vedas being handed down from beginningless times
(ii) the tradition forms a tightly coupled coherent system in which no single element can be denied without throwing the onus of proof on to the denier, and
(iii) any alternate hypothesis would have to be rejected on the basis of the law of parsimony

it stands proven and established that there exists a continuous and unbroken beginningless tradition of the Vedas being handed down from teacher to student and that no author has ever been perceived in the line of this tradition.


iii) THE FORMAL PROOF FOR APAURUSHEYATVA OF THE VEDAS

Having established the existence of a beginningless tradition of handing down the Vedas from teacher to student in an incontrovertible manner, the proof for apaurusheyatva of the Vedas is now being presented. The pramana for establishing the unauthoredness of the Vedas is anupalabdhi, non-apprehension, of a thing capable of being apprehended if it should have existed. The capacity of anupalabdhi to lead to knowledge of the non-existence of a thing has been defined as follows:

"The capacity of anupalabdhi (non-apprehension) is the fact of being that whose counter-positive is assumed from the hypothetical existence of (the object of) that counter-positive. That is to say, the capacity of non-apprehension is the fact of its being a non-apprehension whose counter-positive, viz, apprehension, may be assumed from the existence assumed in the substratum, of the counter-positive of that non-existence of the thing which is apprehended."

So the pramana here is anupalabdhi, or non-apprehension of an author. The pratiyogi is authorship which is a knowable thing. The substratum is the beginningless tradition. The yogyata is the capacity of the author to have been known, if an author had existed, in the form of memory of the author due to the existence of the beginningless tradition. The prama is the resultant knowledge that arises that the Vedas have no author from the fact that no author is known in spite of there being a beginningless tradition in which the memory of an author would have been known if there had been an author.


We shall end this post with prayers to Devi Durga Parameshwari, who had once, in a remote and distant past, recovered the Veda from the asura Durgama for the benefit of the world.

Namasthe saranye, shive sanukampe,
Namasthe jagad vyapike viswaroope,
Namasthe jagad vandhya padaravindhe,
Namasthe jagatharini thrahi durge.

Salutations to Her who is the refuge,
Who is peaceful and merciful,
Salutations to Her who pervades everywhere,
And who is the form of the universe,
Salutations to Her whose lotus feet,
Is worshipped by the universe,
And Salutations to Her who saves the universe,
Please protect me oh, Durga.

Namo devi durge shive Bheema nadhe,
Saraswathyarundathithyamogha swaroope,
Vibhoothi sachi kala rathri sathi thwam,
Namasthe jagatharini thrahi durge.

Salutations to that Goddess Durga,
Who is the consort of Shiva,
Who has the fearsome sound,
Who is Saraswathi and Arundathi,
Who has a measureless form,
Who is the innate power,
Who is Sachi devi,
Who is the deep Dark Night,
And who is Sathi Devi,
And so salutations to you who saves the universe,
Please protect me oh, Durga.

(from Durga Stotram)



End of Third Section titled 'Apaurusheyatva of the Vedas – The Traditional Proof'.
Om Sri Gurubhyo Namah
Om Mata Annapurneshwari
Om Namah Shivaya


APAURUSHEYATVA OF THE VEDAS – SEARCH FOR EVIDENCE FROM OTHER TRADITIONS (REVISED)



1. INTRODUCTION

The Vedas are said to be eternal because they are the very words from which the universe is created. In the Brahma Sutra bhashya, Sri Shankaracharya says: "'Since from this it arises' - because the universe, consisting of gods and others, originates verily from the Vedic words…." and later in the bhashya, the Acharya states: "How again is it known that the universe originates from words? From direct revelation and inference. By 'direct revelation' is meant the Vedas, since they do not depend on any other means of knowledge for their validity. By 'inference' is meant the Smrti, for it depends on other sources for its validity. Both of them show that creation was preceded by words, as is declared in the Veda: 'Brahma created the gods by thinking of the word ete; He created men and others by the word asgram; by the word indavah the manes; by the word tirahpavitram the planets; by the word asavah the hymns; by the word visvani the shastras; and by the word abhisuabhagah the other beings'(Rg.V.IX.62)." (BSB.I.iii.28)

In the previous part, we had presented the traditional (mundane) proof for demonstrating the Apaurusheyatva of the Vedas. In this part, we shall look at the other traditions of the world and see what they have to say, if any, regarding the universe being created out of the Eternal Word, and if there is any evidence in their scriptures to support the idea of the Vedas being the Eternal Word.

I shall present extracts from not only those scriptures that seem to suggest, or support, the idea that the Veda may be the Word but also from those scriptures that seem to challenge the notion of the Vedas being the Word. We shall try to see what kind of pattern they generate when they are considered on a universal scale and whether the doctrine of Apaurusheyatva of the Vedas still stands vindicated after considering the doctrines of the world's major religions.



2. THE RELIGIOUS AND PHILOSOPHICAL TRADITIONS OF GREECE

The ancient literature of Greece, commonly known as Greek Mythology, says that the universe was created from Logos, the Word. In the beginning there was Chaos and Prometheus fashioned the world out of this Chaos through Logos. The word 'chaos' should not be taken to mean 'disorder' as we normally understand it today because in ancient Greece it meant an `undistinguished form' in which all things lay united with one another. This notion of chaos as the 'original unformed form' is mentioned in the Old Testament too: "And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the deep." (Genesis.1.2). In the Vedic tradition, this 'chaos' corresponds to avyakta from which the universe evolves through the differentiating power of words (logos).

The idea of the universe having been created through Logos is found also in (the surviving fragments of) the writings of Heraclites. The philosophy of Heraclites is a riddle in which the One and Many are tied to each other like the bow and the lyre:

"Listening not to me but to the account (Logos), it is wise to agree that all things are One. They do not comprehend how, in differing it agrees with itself – a back-turning harmony, like that of a bow and a lyre." (Fr.50 & 51 – Source: 'Early Greek Philosophy' by Jonathan Barnes)

Heraclites says that the universe is the Logos, always and for all eternity, and that it is the word by which things are divided into the many:

"Of the Logos which is as I describe it men always prove to be uncomprehending, both before they have heard it and when once they have heard it. For although all things happen according to this Logos, men are like people of no experience, even when they experience such words and deeds as I explain, when I distinguish each thing according to its constitution and declare how it is." (Fr.1 – Source: 'Greek Philosophy' by Reginald E.Allen)

It is not only Heraclites but the Stoics too that speak of Logos. The Logos as the principle constituting the Law of generation of the universe is one of the central doctrines of the Stoics. The Stoics held that the original Logos, the animating principle of the universe, was identical with God and they called it the 'Seminal Logos' or 'Logos Spermatikos'.

Though the Greeks held Logos to be the instrument through which the universe was created, there is no mention in Greek literature as to what this Word is or where it may now be found. In the Cratylus of Plato, Socrates says that the Greek language came from an older language than that of Greece. Socrates often referred to the wisdom of Egypt, so it may be useful for us to visit Egypt, the land where a number of Greek philosophers and thinkers, such as Pythagoras and Plato, had been educated.



3. THE RELIGION OF EGYPT

Of all civilizations in the world other than the Vedic civilization, the oldest that is known to us today is perhaps the civilization of Egypt. Egypt is mentioned both in the works of Plato as well as in the Old Testament. Despite attempts by Christian Missionaries and modern scholars to paint a picture of Egypt as a pagan land given to the worship of many gods and goddesses, the religion of Egypt was, beneath its outward persona of polytheism, essentially a monotheistic religion. I shall quote from the Papyrus of Ani, the chief scribe of the Pharaoh, to substantiate the fact that the ancient religion of Egypt was Monotheistic:

"See, is it not written in this scroll? Read, you who will discover it in future ages, if God has given you the power to read. Read, children of the future, and learn the secrets of the best, which are so distant to you and yet in reality so near. Men do not live once, in order to vanish forever. They live several lives in different places but not always in this world, and between each life there is a veil of shadows. The doors will finally open and we shall see all the places where our feet have trodden since the dawn of time. Our religion teaches us that we live for eternity. Thus, since eternity has no end, it cannot have a beginning. It is a circle. If, therefore, the one is true, namely that we live eternally, the other must also be true, namely that we have always lived. In the eyes of men, God has many faces and each swears he has seen the true and only God. Yet it is not so, for all of these faces are merely the face of God. Our Ka, which is our double, reveals them to us in different ways. By drawing from the bottomless well of wisdom, which is hidden in the essence of every man, we perceive grains of truth, which give those of us with knowledge the power to perform marvelous things."

The ancient Egyptians believed in one God without name, gender, shape, or form and they called this God Emen-Ra (the Hidden Light), Atum-Ra (the source and end of all Light) and Eaau (the Power that has expanded to create the universe). One of the central books of Egyptian religion is called 'The Book of Coming Forth by Day', which has wrongly been translated by the first Egyptologists as 'The Egyptian Book of the Dead'. According to the religious tradition of Egypt, the book is said to have been revealed to mankind by the god Tehuti, the equivalent of the Greek god Hermes. The creation of the universe from the Word is found in the 'Book of Coming Forth by Day' in the Chapter on Creation:

"At first a voice cried against the darkness, and the voice grew loud enough to stir black waters. It was Temu rising up – his head, the thousand-petalled lotus. HE UTTERED THE WORD and one petal drifted from him, taking form on the water. He was the will to live. Out of nothing he created himself, the light. The hand that parted the waters, uplifted the sun and stirred the air. He was the first, the beginning, then all else followed, like petals drifting into the pool."

"In the beginning the earth languished with the sky, nothing lay between them, neither height nor depth, and they were not separate. Each encompassed the other like a lover, and the power of life pulsed between them. AT A WORD, Temu parted them and they became heaven and earth."

"The spark of his fire pulsed in all of them and this Temu called life. He created himself and his body burned, writhing with dark shapes. Out of himself he created everything else – IN A WORD: the skies, the oceans, the mountains, the plants, the gods and men, and he named them."
(Source: 'Awakening Osiris', a translation of 'The Egyptian Book of Dead', by Normandi Ellis.)

These are direct references to the world having been created out of the utterance of the WORD.

In another chapter of the Book of Coming Forth by Day, occur the words:

"I am eternal,…. I am that which created the Word…I am the Word." (Source: 'Egyptian Cosmology' by Moustafa Gadalla):

According to the Egyptian religious tradition, the original language of the world was called Medu-Netru. The Egyptians believe that their language is a close derivative of this original language. The Egyptian language is written in hieroglyphs, the word 'hieroglyph' meaning holy script (hieros = holy, glyphein = impress).

Now the interesting part is that the Egyptians believed the original Word to have been Sound with the potency to create the world. But where is this Sound preserved? Nobody knows for sure though the Egyptians believe that it was there, once in a remote past, in Atlantis.



4. THE RELIGIONS OF BABYLONIA AND MESOPOTAMIA

Closely associated with the civilization of Egypt were the civilizations that had developed around the river Tigris, known as Babylon and Mesopotamia. Most of the gods and goddesses of Egypt and Babylon and Mesopotamia were the same though they bore different names in their respective languages. Today some of the literature of Babylon and Mesopotamia, such as the Epics of Gilgamesh, the Story of the Descent of Ishtar to the Underworld, the Epic of Creation, etc, have been published and made popular in English. These stories were all originally written in Akkadian, which is a broad term, comprising the Semitic, Babylonian and Assyrian dialects that were spoken and written for over two thousand years right until the time of Alexander's successors, the Seleucids.

There are multiple versions of the Epic of Creation in the extant literature Babylonian and Mesopotamian civilizations. In all of them, we find the idea that the world was created through names. Here is a quote from the Babylonian version of the Epic of Creation:

"When skies above were not yet named
Nor earth below pronounced by name,
Apau, the first one, their begetter
And maker Tiamet, who bore them all,
Had mixed their waters together,
But had not formed pastures, nor discovered reed-beds;
When yet no gods were manifest,
Nor names pronounced, nor destinies decreed,
Then gods were born within them.
Lamhu (and) Lahamu emerged, THEIR NAMES PRONOUNCED."
(Source: 'Myths from Mesopotamia' by Stephanie Dalley).

Lahmu and Lahamu are the father and mother of all beings. In the Assyrian version, the names are Ea and Damkina instead of Lahmu and Lahamu. The point of interest for us is the fact that these scriptures (of Babylon and Mesopotamia) speak of the creation of all beings through the act of naming them which supports the idea of the universe having been created from the Eternal Word..



5. THE RELIGION OF ZARATHUSTRA


The religious traditions that we have considered so far, i.e. those of Greece, Egypt, Babylon and Mesopotamia, were like ancient rivers that had sprung up on earth back beyond the beginning of recorded history and had flowed uninterrupted for thousands of years. But now we come to a phenomenon that is distinct from everything else that had happened in the past in this part of the world: the phenomenon of the Prophet. There had been prophets in the past too, but they had been holy men who had been finally assimilated into the tradition in which they were born. But the phenomenon of Zarathustra marked the advent of the Prophets that were to found new religions. It was perhaps at about the same time that Mahavira and Buddha were also laying the foundations of new religions in India. The Age of the Prophets had arrived.

When he was twenty years of age, Zarathustra left his home for the solitude of the mountains and he devoted ten years to intense asceticism and prayers, observing complete silence for a period of seven years. At the age of thirty, Zarathustra descended from the cave and had a vision that was to alter the course of the destiny of Iran. On the day of the Feast, when Zarathustra went to offer Haoma to the sacred waters of the Daitya River, he beheld a vision of the Archangel Vohumanah, or Love, and after being put through an ordeal of fire, he received the Sacred Words of the mantra known as the Ahunavairya and it was the first of the revelations that Zarathustra was to receive:

"O pure and holy Zarathustra, Ahuramazda has established you as the Teacher of the material world; glory is given to your body and long enduring bliss to your soul. The good righteous Religion which the Lord sends to the creatures is that which Zarathustra has brought; the Religion is the Religion of Zarathustra, the Religion of the Lord God given to Zarathustra. Maintain steadfastly this Religion for with its help I will be with you, and the omniscient wisdom will be yours and will extend to your disciples." (Avesta, 28.4)

There is no specific mention in the Avesta, the Holy Book, to the Word by means of which God created the universe. But the Avesta mentions the Ahunavairya as the Sacred Word through which the Religion of Zarathustra was created:

"I, the Lord God pronounced this Saying…. before the creation of Heaven, the Sacred Word of Ahunavairya,... The Word which was before the Earth, before living beings, before trees, before Fire the Son of the Lord God, before the Holy Man, before the demons,... before all bodily life, even before all God's good creation which holds the seed of Righteousness. By speaking it the holier of My two Spirits has produced the whole of righteous creation which was and is and will be, through the working of Life's actions Godward. The Ahunavairya is as the beginning of Religion, and from it is the foundation of the Nasks; this Word of Mine... Chanted ceaselessly and without a break is equal to a hundred other chants, for a recitation of that Word of Truth... Increases strength and victory in soul and piety. Whosoever in this bodily world of Mine repeats this Word…. And chants it aloud..., his soul will I, Ahura Mazda, bring over the Chinvat Bridge to the Best World, to the Best Righteousness, and to the Endless Lights." (Zend Avesta.1.3)

The Ahunavairya is a short verse and there are many variations in its translation. One of them is as follows: "As Lords-Temporal work their will on Earth, so by their gathered Asha Teachers Wise, the gifts of Vohu-Mano come as reward for deeds done out of Love for Lord of Life; Ahura's Khshathra surely cometh down on him who serves with zeal his brother meek." Another translation goes like this: "Just as a ruler is mighty, so is the Teacher because of his store of Righteousness; the gifts of Love are (a return) for works (done) for God, and the Power of the Lord is surely upon him who gives help to the poor."

For ten years after receiving the Ahunavairya, Zarathustra wandered far and wide to spread the religion, but everywhere he went he was rejected and despised because he came alone on foot, without a cavalcade of servants or followers. It was when he was returning home, sunk in despair, that he received the full revelations of the Religion, the Gathas of the Zend Avesta.

In the wild lands of Mazendaran, south of the Caspian Sea, Vohumanah appeared to him again and initiated him into the full knowledge of love and wisdom. Near the volcanic region of the Tojan Waters, he saw the Archangel Asha Vashishta who taught him how to reverence Fire as God's highest symbol of Light and Purity, and initiated him into all the mysteries of the eternal Law of Truth. Next, at Sarai, east of Barfush, the Archangel Khshathra taught him the sacredness of wealth, to be used only in the service of others and in order to build God's Kingdom on earth. Nearer home, at Lake Urumiya, the gracious Archangel, Spentarmaiti, the Mother of all, taught him to revere the earth and guard it from all defilement. And over the rocky slopes of the Asnavend Mountain, the Archangel Goddess Haurvatat taught him the sacredness of Water, the ancient symbol of life and gentleness and self-sacrifice. And last of all, nearer to his father's old home, he saw the Archangel Ameretat, Lady of Immortality, who taught him the secret of deathlessness and resurrection through her gifts – the perfect certainty that God rewards with eternal life those who try to do His Will.

And then, at last came, in fulfillment of his first vision, the first of his converts, the Emperor Vishtaspa, who for three days heard Zarathustra arguing with the wizard-priests of his court until the Prophet triumphed and began to speak the Sacred Texts under Divine inspiration. And then followed other converts, far and wide, and Zarathustra became a high Prophet of the Age. He commanded many Fire Temples to be built across the land and he dictated the whole of the twenty-one books of the Zend Avesta scriptures, and they were written down on twelve thousand ox-hides in letters of gold. Many hundreds of years later, the manuscripts and holy were burnt by Alexander, the Great, when he conquered Iran during the reign of Darius. This barbarian act was certainly not one of the greatest acts of a conqueror who bore the name of `Great' and the world lost a large part of the Avesta scriptures.

The Avesta consists of a number of books, or nasks, along with the commentaries (the Zends). Then there are the Yasnas and Yashts, hymns, that were chanted at the sacrifices. The Gathas and the Yasnas/Yashts are in a language very similar to Sanskrit, and the meters of the Yashts bear a close resemblance to the Vedic meters.

So, what can we say, going by the Scriptures of Zarathustra, about the Eternal Word from which God created the universe? It is difficult to say. The only observation that we can make here is that the religion of Zarathustra is based on the revelations of a single prophet, in a language that is close to, but not the same as, Sanskrit, in contrast to the case of the Vedas which are based on the visions of multiple rishis who all saw it in the same language, Vedic Sanskrit. We shall touch upon this point again in a bit more detail in the concluding section.



6. THE ABRAHAMIC RELIGIONS

Finally, we come to the set of religions that the majority of the world's population today belongs to: the Abrahamic religions. Though there have been attempts made by the institutes of the Abrahamic religions to distance themselves from (what they call) the pagan religions of Greece, Egypt, Babylon and Mesopotamia, a deeper search for the roots of many of the practices followed in Judaism, Christianity and Islam reveals the influence of these older traditions. Indeed much of the scriptures of the Jews and the Christians were preserved in Greek. The first converts to Christianity were not the Jews (for the Jews rejected Jesus), but were the gentiles among the Romans and Greeks. The early compilations of the New Testament as well as the early Christian (Patristic) philosophies were written in Greek. And as far as Egypt and Babylon are concerned, the Old Testament is replete with stories in which the histories of the peoples of these lands seem to come from a common source. One of the earliest written versions of the Talmud was in the Babylonian language and it is called the Babylonian Talmud. There are accounts in the Talmud of Abraham arguing with the Pharaoh of Egypt on topics related to God. The Old Testament mentions that Abraham spent many years in Egypt along with his wife Sarah and that Moses was residing in the palace of the Pharaoh when God chose him to be the receiver of the Torah and the Ten Commandments. The Religion of Abraham was born in the soil in which these cultures had intermingled and influenced one another.


i) JUDAISM

Abraham, the descendent of Noah, walked steadfastly in the path of God and when he was over ninety years old, God chose him to make a covenant with. The seventeenth chapter of Genesis says:

"And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God, walk before me and be thou perfect.
"And I shall make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.
"And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him saying,
"As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.
"Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.
"And I will make thee exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.
"And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.
"And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.
"And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep thy covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.
"This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised."
Genesis, Chapter 17:

Thus was born the Religion of Abraham.

There was some talk during the discussion on apaurusheyatva of the Vedas regarding the claim of the Jews and the Christians to be the Chosen Ones and it was asked why the Hindus should consider themselves special in having the Vedas as their Scriptures. I would like to address the point here. The term 'chosen ones' does not mean the only ones chosen by God for salvation. It is said both in the books of the Jews and in the Quran that there have been other prophets sent to the people by God and other religions instituted by God. What then does the term 'chosen ones' mean? The answer is given right here – in the words of God to Abraham. Abraham and his seed were the chosen ones for the Covenant with God, for we may see the emphasis on this point in God's words:

"And I shall make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.
"As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.
"And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.
" Thou shalt keep thy covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.
"This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised."

The Religion of Abraham is the only religion in the world to have been founded by means of an Explicit Covenant with God. So, that answers what the term 'Chosen Ones' means.

There are two primary traditions in Judaism, the Written Tradition and the Oral Tradition. The Written Tradition refers to the Scripture called the Tanakh. It was later incorporated into the Christian Bible as the Old Testament. The first five books of the Tanakh, called the Torah (Pentateuch in Christianity), constitute the Written Law. The Oral Tradition, which revolves around the Torah, was put into writing after the destruction of the Second Temple of the Jews (in 70 CE by the Romans) under the name of Mishnah. The commentaries and subsequent discussions on the Misnah were called the Gemara. The Mishnah and the Gemara together is called the Talmud.

Now, with regard to the Word, in the very first lines of the Tanakh, in the chapter called 'Genesis', we find the words:

"In the beginning God created the heaven and earth.
"And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
"AND GOD SAID, LET THERE BE LIGHT; AND THERE WAS LIGHT."
(Genesis.Ch1, 1-3)

The last of these lines, 'And God said, let there be light, and there was light' directly points to the differentiation of the formless void through Speech. Another direct reference to the world having been created out of the Word may be found in the Psalms:

"BY THE WORD OF THE LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth." (Psalms 33.6)

Interestingly, the Psalms also mentions the breath of God corresponding to the description of the Vedas in the Indian tradition as the breath of Brahman.

There are other direct references to the Word in the Tanakh but unfortunately these have been effaced in the versions that have come down to us today. Both in the English version of the Old Testament and in the Hebrew version of the Tanakh, line no. 12 of Chapter 45 of Isaiah reads:

"I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands have stretched out the heavens, and all their hosts have I commanded." (Isaiah 45.12)

But if we go to the old Aramaic version, it reads:

"I, BY MY WORD, have made the earth, and created man upon it..."

Similarly, Isaiah 48.3 in the English Old Testament and the Hebrew Tanakh reads:

"Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens;: when I call upon them, they stand up together."

But in the Aramaic version it is:

"BY MY WORD, I have founded the earth..."

So, here too, in the Religion of Abraham, we find the idea of the world having been created by the Word just as it is found in the religions of Greece, Egypt and Babylon. The doctrine of the Word seems to have been familiar to the Jews because we find references to it in the writings of one of the greatest Jewish Philosophers, Philo, though the relation of the Word to God was often a debatable issue. I shall quote from the Works of Philo (from the Chapter titled 'Questions and Answers on Genesis, II') to substantiate this:

"Why is it that he speaks as if of some other god, saying that he made man after the image of God, and not that he made him after his own image? (Genesis.9.6). Very appropriately and without any falsehood was this oracular sentence uttered by God, for no mortal thing could have been formed on the similitude of the supreme Father of the universe, but only after the pattern of a second deity, who is the Word of the supreme Being; since it is fitting that the rational soul of man should bear the type of the divine Word; since in his first Word God is superior to the most rational possible nature. But he who is superior to the Word holds his rank in a better and most singular preeminence, and how could the creature possibly exhibit a likeness of him in himself? Nevertheless he also wished to intimate this fact, that God does rightly and correctly require vengeance, in order to the defence of virtuous and consistent men, because such bear in themselves a familiar acquaintance with his Word, of which the human mind is the similitude and form." (Source: 'The Works of Philo' by C.D.Yonge)


ii) CHRISTIANITY

The Religion of Christianity is familiar to us all and I do not believe I have to write any introduction to it. In the New Testament of the Bible, in the Gospel according to St. John, we find the following words:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
"The same was in the beginning with God.
"All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made."
(St. John. Ch.1, 1-3)

The Christian Church has taken a very narrow view of these words as referring to Jesus only. The Word according to the Church is Jesus. This does have some merit as it is based on another line of St. John which reads:

"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." (St.John.Ch.1.14)

So, while the Word does refer to Jesus, it also has a broader connotation because the same Bible also mentions that the universe was created by God through the Word. And moreover, the words of the Gospel of St. John says immediately after speaking of the Word that all things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made. This would seem to be out of context of we take the Word in a narrow sense to mean only Jesus. A part of the problem with the Church was that it had made the concept of the Trinity – the oneness of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit – as a central decree that every Christian had to express his faith by. Arian who held a slightly different view (a view closer to that of Philo than that of the Church) was declared a heretic on account of braving to differ. In any case, Christianity does not have an adequate philosophy to explain the Trinity in a satisfactory manner. In the Vedic tradition, the Trinity (avatarhood of God wherein God is same even in His descent) is explained by the doctrine of vivarta (of the Grammarians) and the Vaishnava doctrine of the Lord's Svarupamsa as distinct from the jiva's Vibhinnamsha. Anyway this is a different topic by itself. My purpose in digressing into these things was only to point out that the Word in the New Testament has the same connotation as in the Old Testament and that the restrictive meaning accorded to the Word by the Christian Church is due to their inability to explain the nature of the Trinity satisfactorily. In a broader sense, the Word in Christianity refers to the Word by which God created the universe.


iii) ISLAM
The word 'Islam' means 'Living by the Will of God'. And one who lives by the Will of God is called a 'Muslim'. Prophet Mohammad, Peace be upon him, received the revelations in the form of Suras, and these were compiled into the Holy Book called the Qur'an. According to the Prophet, Peace be upon him, he was not revealing a new religion. He was restoring the Religion of Abraham in its pristine form, the Original Law that had been given to Ibrahim (Abraham) and Moosa (Moses) in times long past. Therefore, even though there is no specific mention of the Word in the Qur'an, the idea of the world having being created through the Word should be no different in Islam than it is in Judaism.

But we have a peculiar situation in Islam. The Muslims claim that the entire Qur'an is apaurusheya. Muslims maintain that the Qur'an is an exact word-for-word copy of God's final revelation which is found on the original tablets that have always existed in heaven. And that is why, they say, that the Qur'an represents the Final Seal of the Prophets.

Now, I am inclined to believe that there is some sense in which the Qur'an is apaurusheya just as I am inclined to believe that the Jews are the Chosen Ones of God. The Jews were the Chosen Ones for the Covenant. In what way may be say that the Qur'an is apaurusheya?

According to the Muslims, the evidence for the eternality of the Qur'an comes from its incorruptibility as mentioned in Sura 15.9 and the fact of it being preserved eternally on a tablet in Heaven as mentioned in Suras 85:21-22 of the Holy Book. So, it might be useful for us to look at these Suras in the Qur'an.

"We have, without doubt,
Sent down the Message
And we will assuredly
Guard it (from corruption). (15.9)

"Nay, this is
A Glorious Quran (85.21)

"Inscribed in
A Tablet Preserved." (85.22)

The Muslims point to another set of Suras (43:2-4) to show that the Qur'an is the Mother of All Books.

"By the Book that
Makes things clear – (43.2)

"We have made it
A Quran in Arabic,
That ye may be able
To understand (and learn wisdom) (43.3)

"And verily, it is
In the Mother of the Book,
In Our Presence, high
(In dignity), full of wisdom." (43.4)

I would like to draw the attention of the readers to the words "We have made it a Qur'an in Arabic" because it is the key to interpret the true status of the Qur'an. In the previous parts of this series (on apaurusheyatva), we had mentioned that the significance of the Apaurusheyatva of the Vedas comes from it being the Eternal Sound and not from it being merely a scripture that reveals knowledge. There are other scriptures too that are eternal, albeit as words derived from their seeds in the Vedas. We had quoted Sri Sureshwaracharya and Jayanta Bhatta to show that the Vedic tradition holds the Chaturdasa vidyas to be eternal. I shall reproduce a part of Sri Shankara's bhashya to the Brahma Sutras to substantiate this:

"Veda Vyasa also writes in his Smriti thus: `In days of yore, the great rsis received through austerities, with the permission of the self-born One, the Veda, together with the anecdotes, that had remained withdrawn during dissolution'." (BSB.I.iii.30)

The words "the Veda, together with the anecdotes" may be noted. It was not only the Veda that was received but also the Smritis. In consideration of this point, I am inclined to conclude that the Qur'an (as well as the original scriptures of the Jews of which the Qur'an is a copy in Arabic) is an eternal scripture. What kind of scripture is it? Unlike Christianity, Islam is predominantly a religion of the world – of how to live one's life in this world in accordance with the Law. It is equivalent to the Vedic Dharma Shastras, and a deeper scrutiny of the Qur'an (as well as the Talmud of the Jews) indeed reveals a striking similarity with the Manu Dharma Shastra if one makes allowance for the prevailing traditions of Arabia (and ancient Israel). The Manu Dharma Shastra itself makes such provisions for the existing traditions of the land. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that the Qur'an is the Eternal Law in the form of Vishesha-Dharma for the peoples of Arabia and hence the words 'We have made it a Qur'an in Arabic' indicating that the Law which is 'Verily in the Mother of the Book' has been put into the Arabic language.

It would be appropriate to also mention how the Suras were revealed. According to Islamic tradition, these revelations began to be sent down to the lowest of the seven heavens in the month of Ramadan, during the night of power or destiny. From there they were revealed to Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, in installments, as need arose, via the angel Gibraal (Gabriel).

Having said all this, what about the Word, the Word through which the universe is created? In so far as the Word is concerned, there is no reason to believe that the Islamic version is any different than the one that exists in Judaism. God uttered the words 'Let there be light, and then there was light' and 'By His Word, was all this created'.



7. THE QABALAH

We shall not have completed our survey of the major religions of the world if we should leave out that other tradition which has claims of apaurusheyatva too – the Jewish Qabalah. I have not included it in the section on Judaism because all Jews do not consider the Qabalah to be part of the Judaic tradition. But it nevertheless exists as an esoteric tradition among a section of the Jews, and it is a tradition that is as deep as the ocean. Those who belong to it speak of it as having come from a beginningless tradition starting from Heaven. So, it is appropriate that we should consider it and see in what way the Qabalah may be apaurusheya.

In Hebrew, the word 'Qabalah' is written QBLH which is derived from the root QBL, meaning Qibel, 'to receiv'. This appellation refers to the custom of handing down the esoteric knowledge by Oral Transmission. According to modern scholars, Qabalism started sometime between the third and sixth centuries, but Qabaalists hold it to have originated in the Garden of Eden. They say that the Qabalah was first taught by God Himself to a select company of angels who formed a theosophical school in paradise. After the fall, the secret doctrine was handed down to Adam and it passed from Adam to Noah and then through a long secret line to David and Solomon. It was an oral tradition and no one had dared to write it down until the time of Rabbi Simon Ben Johnson when it was transcribed to paper and called ZHR, Zohar, the Splendor. The Zohar is the primary text of the Qabalah.

Qabalism is not an independent religion. It exists in the soil of Judaism and claims to be an esoteric doctrine, making explicit the inner truths of the Torah. But unlike in the more popularized form of Judaism, God in Qabalism is not merely the Father, but he is both the Father and Mother. Thus the Qabalah speaks of Shekinah, the Feminine Principle as one half of God and, Ti'feret, the Masculine Principle, as the other half. The union of Shekinah and Tif'erat constitutes the focus of religious life. Human righteous action is said to bring about the union of the Divine Couple.

According to the Qabalah, God is the Absolute, but how do we describe the Absolute? Even as we define it, it slips from our grasp, for it ceases when defined to be the Absolute. The 'Book of Concealed Mystery' says that 'Equilibrium hangeth in that region which is negatively existent'. God is known via negative for He is Ein, the negatively existent One, but He is also the One who limitlessly expands, and this expansion is known as Ein Sof. So, how may the Absolute be known? The first principle and axiom of the Qabalah is the name of the Deity, Eheieh Asher Eheieh, which may be translated as "I am He who is". It points to the indescribable inner Self rather than to an expressible Being. And to this end is the tradition of Qabalah directed. One may see its close similarity to Advaita.

At the heart of Qabalism are two texts known as 'Shi'ur Qomah', dealing with the mystical description of God, and the 'Sefer Yetsirah' dealing with the account of creation. In the latter, we are told how God created the world by means of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet and the ten numbers (digits) known as the Sefirot. It is this principle of creation that is of interest to us here. Does the doctrine of the universe being created from the letters of the Hebrew language point to these letters as being the Word?

The Qabalah does not seek to negate the words of the Genesis wherein it is stated 'God said, let there be light, and then there was light' or of the Psalms when it says 'By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made', but it seeks to reveal their inner meanings. Speech, out of which God creates the universe, is not in the form of letters (or phonemes) but in the form of sentences and words. Hence, the doctrine of God creating the universe out of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet does not point to these letters being the direct instrument of creation but they point to abstractions of speech (words and sentences) in the form of letters as conveying meanings which when combined in specific orders reveal the inner meanings of the words and sentences of the Torah. An important point that we would need to consider here is that phonemes (letters) do not constitute a language. Phonemes do not belong to any language; it is only when a selection of phonemes forms a set known as the alphabet that it belongs to a language. It would therefore be proper for us to first consider the meaning-bearing capacities of phonemes as they exist independently of any language so that it may throw light upon the things that the Qabalah is speaking about. Such a science exists in the Shaiva and Shakta traditions of India and the Qabalah bears an unmistakable and striking similarity to the Tantric traditions of the Shaivas and Shaktas. So, it would in order for us to briefly explore these traditions.

I shall consider the Trika System of Kashmir Shaivism to interpret the meaning of the Qabalah. The tradition of Kashmir Shaivism bears such a striking similarity to the Qabalah that one who would hardly be able to avoid concluding that they must have had a common origin in some remote past of history. The highest principle in Kashmir Shaivism is Sadashiva, completely out of reach of conception, the One, the Absolute, Still and without any reflection curving back on Itself; and out of this Absolute non-dual One emanates the Self-reflection known as Vimarsha, the Self-Consciousness of Shiva, or Devi who is Shiva Himself reflecting the Light of the Absolute back upon Itself. They are One, Shiva and Shakti, now emerging as two aspects of the One in the form of Ardhanareshwara. This is similar to the notion of Shekinah in the Qabalah, the Feminine Principle as one half of the One God.

In Kashmir Shaivism, there are thirty-six tattvas (principles) as against the twenty-five in Vedanta. This is because the Trika System has six enclosures (limitations) and four emanations (shuddha-tattvas) between Maya and Brahman (Sadashiva). Also, there are three distinct paths in the Trika System known as Shivopaya, the path of Shiva as explicated in the doctrine of Pratyabhijna, Shaktopaya, the path of Shakti as explicated in the doctrine of Mantras, and Anavopaya, the path of the Atomic soul as explained in the doctrine of Kundalini Yoga. Of these three, the first of them, the path of Shiva known as Pratyabhijna, is jnana-marga and it is very close to Advaita Vedanta (even according to the Advaita tradition). The second of them, the path of Shakti, known as the Science of Mantras, is the doctrine that shows us the way to interpret the meaning of the Qabalic doctrine of letters.

At the heart of Shaktopaya is the doctrine of Matrika. It is the science of phonemes. It explains the meaning of each phoneme starting from 'a' to all the fifty one phonemes including both the vowels and the consonants. It is these fifty-one letters that constitute the Sanskrit alphabet. The science of the alphabet is known as Matrikachakra, and it reveals that Shiva creates the entire universe from His Shakti, Devi, as constituted of letters. The first letter 'a' denotes chit-shakti, the primordial Shakti in the form of Shiva's unwavering Light. The second letter 'aa' denotes ananda-shakti, the energy of Shiva in the form of bliss. The third and fourth letters 'e' and 'ee' represent iccha-shakti, the Will of Shiva in its two forms as unmoved Will and creative Will. And all the vowels have been explained thus up to 'm', anusvara, and ':', visarga, wherein the letter 'm' or anusvara represents Shiva as being Unmoved in all His creative activities and the letter ':' or visarga represents the universe as a reflection (pratibimba) of Shiva. The two points in ':' represent the two cups of reflection known as bindu and shakti bindu. Now all the vowels represent only one tattva of Shaivism, that is, Shiva tattva. It represents the fact that the entire creation at all times and all places is held in Shiva, as Shiva Himself.

The other thirty-five tattvas are represented by the consonants starting from 'k' up to the consonant 'sa'. The vowels represent creation as a reflection of Shiva. The consonants explain the creation of each tattva, from Shakti down to the last of the mahabhutas, within this reflection of Shiva. The emanations that the consonants denote are therefore not outside the reflection of Shiva; they are different aspects or ways of knowing creation as the reflection of Shiva, or in other words, they represent the universe as enfolded in Shiva's Swatantriya Shakti, His Absolute Power, where nothing is created outside of Himself even though the entire universe emanates from Him. Knowing creation through the vowels is to know it in the way of Shiva and knowing it through the consonants is to know it in the way of Shakti. The first and last of the vowels 'a' and ':' result in the mantra of Shiva, the mantra 'Aham'. The first and last of the consonants 'k' and 'sa' result in the mantra of Devi, the mantra 'Ksa'.

The Matrikacharkra also explains how the rules of grammar arise as well as how the mantras arise and how they obtain their potency. For example, the meaning of the secret Heart-mantra of Shiva, 'Sauh', and its relation to the mantra 'Aum' has been explained through Matrika in Abhinavagupta's work called 'Paratrisikalaghuvrrttih'. The Matrikachakra also explains the relation of mantra, the potent combination of words, and yantra, the object (the secret figure) in which the potency of the mantra is deposited. (It might be worth mentioning here that Sri Shankaracharya's 'Saundaryalahari' is a compendium of the most potent and powerful mantras of the Devi.)

We began this digression into Shaivism and Matrikachakra in order to provide us a means to interpret the significance of the Qabalic doctrine of the universe having been created from the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet in the context of apaurusheyatva of the Vedas. It would therefore be useful to see the relationship that Shaivism and Matrikachakra bears to the Vedas and Vedic tradition. The first thing to be noted is that Shaivism is not antagonistic to the Vedic tradition. Shaivism holds the four Vedas and the Shaivagamas (Scriptures of Shaivism) to have originated from the five faces of Shiva, the four Vedas from the faces facing the four directions and the Shaivagamas from the upward-facing face of Shiva. They consider the Shaivagams to complete the explanation of the Vedas. Moreover, the Shaivas also follow the varnashrama system of the Vedas. Even though Shaivism may be a distinct tradition, it cannot be separated out of the Vedic tradition because the Vedic Smritis speak of the Shaiva doctrines. The Shiva Purana, which is one of the eighteen principle Puranas of the Vedic tradition, speaks of Shiva as Sabda Brahman. In the section of the Purana called 'Rudrasamhita', it enumerates the letters as the body of Shiva, not separate from Him but as His form Itself, and it shows that the Omkara 'AUM' as well as the Yajurveda, the Mrtyunjaya mantra, the Chintamani mantra, the Dakshinamurthy mantra and the mantra known as the Mahavakhya 'Tatvamasi' are explained in terms of these letters.

According to Grammar, the Vedas are strings of words that cannot be broken down. In other words, the Vedic vakhyas are the fundamental units of speech and words and phonemes are abstractions. Therefore, the doctrine of Matrika does not contradict the Vedas being the Words through which the universe is created but explains the structure of these vakhyas in terms of abstractions to reveal the inner meanings of the vakhyas. We may consider it in the following way. Just as an object is one entity that cannot be broken down into two existents called substance and attribute (because there is only one existent), still the object is explained in terms of two abstractions, or two word-meanings, 'substance' and 'attribute' without causing any detriment to the unity of the object, likewise the Vedic vakhyas are explained by the Matrika without causing any detriment to them being the fundamental units (vakhyas) of the instrument of creation. And this the way the Qabalah too seeks to explain the words of the Torah.

So, having said all that we have said here, what can we say about the relation of the Qabalah to the Vedas?

The first thing we observe is that the Hebrew alphabet has only twenty-two letters whereas Sanskrit has fifty-one. This is an indication that the Religion of the Torah which can be construed in terms of twenty-two letters is a particular aspect (vishesha-dharma) of the Universal religion of the universe. This is borne out by the fact that the religion arose as a Covenant made by God with Abraham in a specific place end specific time for a specific people. For God Himself says:

"And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.
"And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. (Genesis)

And which is this land that God gives to Abraham and his seed for an everlasting possession? The answer is found Isaiah 43:15:

"I am the Lord, your Holy One, the creator of Israel, your King".

The land is Israel, the Holy Land, the promised land of milk and honey. The expressions 'your Holy One', 'thy Lord', 'the Lord God of thy fathers' and 'our God' are always made with reference to the people of Israel. The entire Old Testament has the mark of being addressed to the children of Israel. In Deuteronomy 6:3-4, for example, we read the words:

"Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may well be with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the Lord God of THY FATHERS hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey.... Hear, O Israel, The Lord, OUR God, is one Lord."

Everywhere in the Old Testament, the Lord is the Lord of Israel. The word actually used in the original texts of the Torah is not 'Lord' but it is 'Tatragrammaton', the same word used in the Qabalah to refer to God. This word seems to have been effaced in later editions of the Bible and replaced by the word 'Lord'. For example, in current versions of the Bible, in Deuteronomy 6.4, it states "Hear O Israel, The Lord our God is one Lord" whereas in the original version it was "Hear O Israel, Tetragrammaton your God is Tetragrammaton Unity".

So, it leads us to the conclusion that the Torah is of the same nature as the Qur'an, preserved in the eternal scheme of God's creation, but just as the Qur'an has "been made a Qur'an in Arabic" for the peoples of Arabia, the Torah has "been made a Torah in Hebrew" for the people of Israel. And it may be noted that Islam and Judaism are branches of the same religion; the Qur'an actually claims to be a recovery of the religion of Abraham in the Arabic language.

But what is the language from which the Qur'an has been made a Qur'an in Arabic and the Torah has been made a Torah in Hebrew?

We shall try to answer this in the Conclusion. This section has already become much longer than those devoted to the other religions, but seeing the close affinity the Qabalah bears to the Eternal Word, it was felt necessary to undertake an exposition of its doctrines as well to seek out its relation to the Vedas. I believe that this kind of study would provide a ground for synthesizing the various religions of the world, though it has to be admitted that a far more detailed study than that which has been undertaken here would be needed to set it on a firmer foundation. Now, with these words, it is time to move to the next section to see what conclusion may be derived after having undertaken this brief survey of the world's major religions.



8. CONCLUSION

When we began this series, the primary problem we faced was the difficulty that most of us had in grasping how a scripture may be unauthored. In the world, we see that a textual composition always has an author, i.e., we never see a text automatically turn up without a human author. So, the notion of a scripture having no author seems outlandish and incredible. But nevertheless, irrespective of whether we are able to conceive the apaurusheyatva of the Vedas or not, it was shown that the Vedic sampradaya has an incontrovertible proof to demonstrate the apaurusheyatva of the Vedas. We shall look at the philosophical approach towards grasping the nature of apaurusheyatva in the next part, but meanwhile we have a peculiar situation on hand.

We find that every major religion of the world speaks of the Word as the instrument by which the universe was created. Apaurusheyatva seems to be a universal doctrine held by all the major religions of the world. Greek Mythology, as well as Greek Philosophy, speaks of it as the Logos, the Word, through which the universe was created. The religion of Egypt speaks of it as Medu-Netru, the original Word from which Temu, at a Word, created the heavens, the skies and mountains and rivers and all beings. The Religion of Babylon mentions that beings arose when their names were pronounced. The Religion of Abraham speaks of the Word by which God created light and parted the heavens and earth and created all that there is in the universe. And so too does Christianity, the Religion of Jesus, that speaks of the Word existing in the beginning, of the Word being with God, and the Word being God. The evidence from these scriptures for the existence of the Eternal Word is overwhelming. So now, instead of a situation where the problem was to explain how a Scripture may be unauthored and eternal, we have a situation where all religions unanimously support the idea of there being an Eternal Word preceding creation. And instead of the question, "How can a Scripture be unauthored and eternal?" we now have the question: "Which of the Scriptures of the world, in any, is the Eternal Word?"

If we sit back and let the panorama of the world with its various religions and scriptures spread out before our vision, what do we see? There are these religions that speak of the Word, the Eternal Word, from which God created the universe. The religions of Greece, Egypt, Babylon and Mesopotamia vaguely point to the Eternal Word as something that existed on the earth in a remote past without being able to say where the Word may now be found. The religion of Abraham and Christianity speaks of the Eternal Word, but there is no indication in its scriptures of what this Word is. Christianity focuses on the doctrine of Trinity whereby the Word is made flesh in the form of Jesus without diluting the Unity of Godhead and Jesus. It is only in the Qabalah that we find a reference to the universe proceeding from letters but we have shown that this pertains to the Science of Matrika which purports to explain the deeper significances of scriptural sentences rather than point to any set of sentences as being the Original Word. But there is one religion in this panorama of the world that separates itself and stands out: the religion known as the Vedic Religion which has as its central scripture the Vedas which are held since immemorial times to be the Eternal Word and which have been preserved from the time of creation, nay from a beginnigless time spanning endless cycles of creation and destruction - in its pristine purity. It is a religion that is not based on the revelation of a single Prophet but a religion based on the Eternal Word that was seen by multiple sages, the class of sages known as 'rishis', seers. It is a religion that is built entirely around the Eternal Word, that has an immense body of diverse scriptures having their seat and ground in the Eternal Word, that has its Grammar and Etymology derived from the Eternal Word, that has different philosophies performing different roles and functions as laid out by the Eternal Word, that has human actions, stages of life, and religious laws determined by the Eternal Word, and that has a name Eternal Religion – Sanathana Dharma. It is a Religion that still exists and thrives in the world under this very name. So, which of the world's scriptures is the Eternal Word, the very Word from which God fashioned the universe by uttering them? If we must chose one scripture based on reason, it is unmistakably the Vedas.

I am aware that an inference of this kind does not constitute a definitive proof for the apaurusheyatva of the Vedas. But our purpose here is not to prove the apaurusheyatva of the Vedas; we have already done that in the previous part. Here we are searching to see if there is evidence in the other scriptures and traditions of the world that point to the apaurusheyatva of the Vedas. And from the evidences we have gathered from a brief survey of religions, it certainly does show that there exists a significant body of evidence pointing to the Vedas as the Eternal Word. I would like to present one more factor to add further weight to this evidence. We had earlier raised the question: "But what is the language from which the Qur'an has been made a Qur'an in Arabic and the Torah has been made a Torah in Hebrew?" We shall try to find an answer to the question from the scriptures of these religions themselves.

The Old Testament tells us how different languages arose in the world. In the days of yore, much before the time of Abraham, much before the institution of God's Covenant with Abraham, much before the time of Zarathustra, there was only one language on earth.

"And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech." (Genesis 11:1).

Men were powerful then and they began to build a tower whose top would reach up to the heavens, and God, seeing these men striving to reach the heavens where mortals were forbidden to enter (just as Trishanku was forbidden to enter heaven), confounded their language and scattered them across the earth:

"So, the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth." (Genesis 11:8-9).

Which was the one language that the whole earth spoke before they were scattered upon the face of all the earth? Does it need any stretch of the imagination to say which language it may be? There is only one language that has all the marks of belonging to a beginningless line from creation: of being uncreated, of having a perfected grammar (Samskritam), of having an etymology in which all words are traced to that language itself, which is known as the language of the gods (Deva bhasha), which has a script called the town-script of the gods (Devanagari), which is the source of all knowledge and all religions and all vidyas: the language of the Vedas, SANSKRIT. Moreover Sanskrit is a language that has fifty-one letters in its alphabet representing the entirety of creation whereas Hebrew has twenty two letters and the languages of other scriptures too have lower number of letters than Sanskrit thus indicating that these scriptures represent Vishesha-Dharmas.

Would it be unreasonable then to conclude that the Vedas are the seed out of which the Manu Dharma Shastra in Sanskrit and the Torah in Hebrew and the Qur'an in Arabic have come out as sprouts in their respective languages, as Vishesha Dharmas, for those specific peoples of the earth for whom God meant them to be the Governing Laws to abide by? Would it be unreasonable to conclude that the Gathic dialect of the Gathas of Zarathustra must have been more closely affiliated to the Mother language than the languages of Greece, Egypt, Babylon, Israel, etc, after the languages were confounded and scattered across the face of the earth? The answer is obvious. The Vedas as the Eternal Word, and Sanskrit as the Mother Language, provide the Syncretic Ground in which all the religions converge to make a meaningful pattern. The pattern constitutes evidence not only to show that the Vedas are Apaurusheya but also to point to the truth that all the religions have a common source and would form a family of universal brotherhood (and sisterhood) if only the human mind would be rid of its petty bigotries and sectarian dogmas. I shall end this part with two telling verses drawn from the Annapurna Stotra of Sri Shankaracharya:

Aadhi kshaantha samastha varna nikaree,
Shambho tribhaava karee,
Kasmeeraa tripureswaree trilaharee,
Nithyaamakuree sarvaree,
Kamaa kamksha karee janodhaya karee,
Kasi puraadheeswaree,
Bhikshaam dehi, krupaa valambana karee,
Mathaa Annapurneswaree

The Creatrix of the letters 'a' to 'ksha'
The Cause of the three acts of Sambhu (of creation, sustenance and destruction),
The Wearer of saffron, Consort of the Destroyer of the three-cities,
Consort of the three-eyed Lord, the Governess of the universe,
Of the form of the Goddess of Night, the Opener of the gates of heaven,
The presiding Goddess of Kasi,
I pray to thee, the Seat of Compassion, grant us alms,
Oh Mother Annapurneshwari!

Mathaa cha Parvathy Devi,
Pithaas cha Maheswara
Bandhawa Shiva Bhakatamscha,
Swadesho Bhuvana Trayam.

My mother is Goddess Parvathy
My father is God Maheshwara,
My relations are the devotees of Shiva,
And my country is the universe.


End of Section titled 'Apaurusheyatva of the Vedas – Search for Evidence from Other Traditions'.

APAURUSHEYATVA OF THE VEDAS –THE PURVA MIMAMSA PROOF


1. INTRODUCTION

The greatest hindrance we face in grasping the unauthoredness of the Vedas is the inability of the mind to form a conception of an unauthored scripture. The term 'unauthored scripture' appears to be a meaningless term just as the expression 'son of a barren woman' or, more appropriately, 'son of no woman' is. We have seen during recent discussions on anupalabdhi how nobody would even attempt to verify whether a 'married bachelor' exists in the neighborhood because there is no object corresponding to the expression 'married bachelor' that may be verified either as existing or as non-existing. The existence of a thing is known through a pramana (such as perception), but in the case of 'married bachelor', no pramana is applicable and hence we do not even attempt to verify its existence. The deep-seated notion that the expression 'eternal scripture' is similar to the term 'married bachelor' occludes the motivation to strive to apply the pramanas for understanding the eternality of the Vedas. But we have seen that apaurusheyatva of the Vedas can be demonstrated through the pramana called anupalabdhi when the substratum, beginningless tradition, in which authorship has the capacity of being perceived if it should exist, has been established in an incontrovertible manner. Still, in spite of the proof having been provided, we are likely to be left with a sense of unease as long as the notion of apaurusheyatva has not been grasped to some degree of comprehension at least. So, it becomes necessary to remove this unease by showing that the term 'eternal scripture' is not meaningless. The aim of this post is to attempt to show it.

In order to grasp the eternality of the Vedas one would need to understand the philosophy of Purva Mimamsa. The arguments provided by the Mimasakas to counter the views of the opponents of apaurusheyatva are extensive and many of them are extremely subtle in nature. The vartikas of Prabhakara and Kumarila Bhatta on (the Shabara bhashya of) the Jaimini Purva Mimamsa Sutras run into many hundreds of pages. Kumarila Bhatta's Slokavartika, which is a Vartika on only the first section of the Jaimini Sutras, consists of more than four hundred pages of perhaps the most abstruse set of arguments ever presented in the history of the philosophical world. It therefore poses a major challenge to summarize these arguments and to present them through a short article such as this one on an internet forum. So, instead of attempting a detailed elucidation of the Purva Mimamsa doctrine, what I have done is to provide a simple approach to grasp the eternality of words in the first few sections of this post to serve as a background for the relevant Purva Mimamsa sutras which I have then presented. Each sutra is accompanied by a brief explanatory note. I am acutely aware that these notes would be grossly inadequate to bring out the full meanings and implications of the sutras. Still, if the sutras and notes presented here give at least a glimpse of how the Vedas may be understood as apaurusheya, or provide a lead to those interested in pursuing the study of Purva Mimamsa in greater detail, I think the purpose of this post would have been served.


2. AN APPROACH TO UNDERSTANDING THE ETERNALITY OF WORDS

It is natural for people to believe that a text needs to have a human author because it is seen in the world that texts are produced only when they are authored by human beings. But a human being is a complex of many things and it is necessary to discriminate between the various elements that constitute this complex, and the respective capacities of each element in it, so that we may identify that specific element which has the capacity to be a ground for words to arise. The idea that a text can exist only when it has a human author is based on the unexamined idea that the human bodily apparatus is a necessary ground for words to arise. But this is not true. A dead human body cannot think or speak. It is only when the human body is enlivened with consciousness that the human being can think or speak. So, the cause that makes it possible words to reside and arise as speech in a human being is not the body but it is the conscious principle that forms the substratum for words to reside and the sentient motive force for words to be articulated as speech. That is, the capacity for words to reside and for speech to arise in a human being is the conscious principle which is a distinct and different entity from the body in which it appears as the individual self or pratyagatman.

This conscious principle, which exists in the body as the self, is not confined to the body but is the Consciousness that pervades the entire universe. As explained in the Vedanta texts, it appears to be in the body only due to an adjunct superimposed on the all-pervading Consciousness just as the all-pervading space appears to be the space within the pot due to an adjunct superimposed on space. We have already identified that the ground of words is the conscious principle, or consciousness, that exists within a human being as the self. But since this consciousness is that very same Consciousness, Prajnanam, that exists eternally as the Ground of the universe, it is never absent even if all mortal beings should be absent. Therefore, words can exist even if there should be no human being present in the universe because the principle in which words reside and from which they arise in the form of speech is Consciousness which is eternally existent.

Now, it is quite natural for another doubt to arise at this point. Words are heard when they are spoken but nobody perceives words when there is no speech. So, what does it mean to say that words reside in consciousness? The notion that words exist only when they are articulated as speech is one of those many unexamined beliefs that persists for a person when he is in samsara. But a critical examination of speech reveals that words are not created when they are spoken. Rather, words are spoken by a person when he already knows words and their meanings, i.e. the knowledge of words and their meanings has to exist a priori in a person for a person to be able to speak those words and to speak them meaningfully. The knowledge of words that a person has exists in him even when he is sleeping. If a person who knows the word 'rose' and its meaning is fast asleep, we do not say that he has now become a person who lacks knowledge of a rose on account of him being fast asleep. The person does not learn the word 'rose' afresh after he wakes up from sleep; he uses the knowledge of the word 'rose' that he already had before he went to sleep, and which was persisting in him throughout the duration of his sleep, when he now speaks the word 'rose' after waking up. The knowledge of words existed in the person even during the intermediate period when he was not speaking them; they were not manifest, that is all. If we consider the expression 'knowledge of words' in respect of a knower, the word 'knowledge' refers to the knowledge that the knower has, and the word 'words' refers to the object of the knowledge that the knower has. There cannot be knowledge without there being an object of knowledge. When a person who knows 'the word rose' is sleeping, the object of the knowledge that persists in him is 'the word rose'. Therefore, it follows that words exist as objects of knowledge in a person even when he is sleeping and that words need not be manifest as sound for them to exist. They exist as objects of the knowledge that a person has even when is not speaking them.
An analogy may help to illustrate how a word may exist even when it is not manifest or when it is 'not sounding'. When we pluck the string of a veena, or any other stringed musical instrument, it generates a characteristic sound, a musical note. If we should pluck the string a little harder, the sound becomes louder but the musical note that it produces remains the same. And if we should pluck the string softy, the loudness of the sound becomes lesser but the musical note remains unchanged. Even if we should pluck the string ever so gently so that the sound it generates is barely audible to the ears, even then the musical note is the same though its audibility may be barely noticeable. Thus we observe that the sound produced by a veena when its string is plucked has two distinct properties – the tone and the loudness. The tone remains the same irrespective of the loudness of the sound produced because the tone is the natural sound – the resonant frequency - of the string whereas the loudness is caused by the amplitude of the vibration of the string. In other words, the plucking of the string determines the loudness of the sound but it does not affect the resonant frequency of the string as it has been built into the body of the veena and been tuned. Even if the string should remain unplucked the note remains as the characteristic note of the string; the note is then merely un-struck, that is all. That is, the musical note exists in the string of the veena as the unstruck note when it is not sounding and as the struck note when it is sounding. Words are similar in nature to this – they remain unstruck when they are not spoken and they become struck when spoken.

Now, considering that the ground for the existence of words is the all-pervading and eternal Consciousness and considering further that words reside as objects of knowledge in Consciousness even when they are not manifest as articulated speech, it follows logically that Words exist eternally in Consciousness.


3. KNOWLEDGE, WORDS AND OBJECTS – TRADITIONAL SEMIOTICS

During the earlier part of this discussion, we had said that a word cannot be considered in isolation from objects as we do other objects because a word is that kind of an object that is always connected to another object. (Refer: Addendum I to Part I & II). If we fail to see this and treat words as we do any other object that may be considered in isolation from other objects, we are susceptible to get deflected from making further progress in understanding apaurusheyatva of the Vedas. So, it is necessary for us to obtain clarity on the kind of relationship that exists between a word and its meaning (or object) as also on the definition of a word. The study of the relationships between words and objects is a branch of linguistics known as semiotics. More specifically, semiotics is the study of signs and of discerning what it is that a sign points to. Unlike in modern linguistics where there is no certainty or agreement with respect to what it is that constitutes the object of a word, in Indian semiotics the object of the word is the thing itself that exists in the world (or in reality). And unlike in modern sciences and philosophies wherein there is no certitude as to what 'reality of the world' means (refer Addendum II to Part I & II regarding the idea of Naïve Realism, Idealism, etc in modern science and philosophy), in Indian linguistics and Indian traditional philosophies, the world is the world that is directly perceived. Therefore, it would be wise to tread cautiously while trying to forge any equation between the outcomes of modern linguistic studies and Indian linguistic sciences. I shall here try to remain within the fold of semiotics as given by the Vedic tradition.

When a person is said to know an object, there is always a sign (name) and a signified (object) in the field of consciousness. The Brahadaranyaka Upanishad says that the entire universe is nama-rupa, name and form:

"This (universe) was then undifferentiated. It differentiated only into name and form – it was called such and such, and was of such and such form. So to this day it is differentiated only into name and form – it is called such and such and is of such and such form." (Br.Up.I.iv.7)

Names and forms lie in Brahman Itself, as the unmanifested and undifferentiated seeds from which manifest names and forms spring on to the stage of creation:

"That Deity having thought: 'Let me make each of these three tripartite,' entered into those three gods, as their individual souls, and manifested names and forms." (Ch.Up. VI.iii.3). Sri Shankara writes in the bhashya to this mantra: "That Deity, having entered into the three gods, thought, 'I shall manifest name and form, the unmanifested name and form which, AS SEEDS, exist in me...."

"That which is called Akasha is the revealer of names and forms. That within which these names and forms exist is, verily, Brahman." (Ch.Up.VIII.xiv.1). Sri Shankara writes in the bhashya to the mantra: "That which is indeed called Akasha, is the Self well-known in the Upanishads. (It is called Akasha) because It is bodiless and subtle like space. And that Akasha is nirvahita, the manifestor; namarupayah, of name and form contained within Itself, WHICH ARE THE SEEDS OF THE WORLD, and which are like foam in relation to water."

And the seed of names and forms that exists in Brahman is not different from this universe that is manifested:

"As it has been said in the Upanishad as well as in the Gita, `With its roots above (i.e., the Undifferentiated) and branches below (Hiranyagarbha etc.) (G.XI.1) and in the Purana also, 'The eternal tree of Brahman' (Mbh.XIV,xlvii.14), this was then 'Tat': (that) referring to the seed form of the universe before its manifestation. Being remote, it is indicated by a pronoun denoting an object not directly perceived, for the universe that was to emanate from the Undifferentiated is related to past time. The particle 'ha' denoting tradition is used to make the meaning easily understood. When it is said, 'It was then like this,' one easily comprehends the causal state of the universe, although it is not an object of perception, just as when it is said, 'There was a king named Yudhisthira.' 'This' refers to the universe differentiated into name and form, consisting of means and ends, as described above. The coordination of the two words 'that' and 'this', denoting respectively the remote and present states of the universe, indicates an identity of the universe in these two states , meaning that which was this and this which was that, is undifferentiated." (Br.Up. Bh. I.iv.7)

The reason for quoting these verses from the Upanishads, and the bhashyas on these verses, is to emphasize the point that the relation between names (words) and forms (objects) abide eternally since they exist in the field of consciousness even prior to manifestation in an undifferentiated state. In other words, the relationship between the objects presented to consciousness and the sign by which consciousness refers to the object is eternal. The relationship between a word and its object constitutes the very structure of the field of consciousness by which objects are known. There cannot be knowledge of an object without there being a word signifying the object.

It does not matter whether the words are Vedic words or they are words adopted by convention; a word necessarily needs to be present as a reference for an object to be known as the referent. We may conceive of it in the following manner. The Kshetrajna is the knower. The Kshetra, or the field of knowledge, comprises two containers, one container for the name and the other container for the object, and the contents of the two containers stand in relationship to consciousness as the word (sign) and the object (signifier). When an object is placed in the container of object, it does not matter which sound is put into the container of sign, but it is necessary that the container of sign is filled with some sound for the recognition of objects as 'this' or 'that' to occur. We notice that even in the case of a child, it utters some sounds such as 'ke' 'da' 'do' 'ha' etc to refer to things before it learns to speak a language articulately. Even animals utter sounds to convey emotions and meanings. But since these sounds of the child or of the animals are not adopted by a language speaking community (of humans), they are not called 'words' and 'language'. What we call the learning of a language is essentially the filling-in of the container of signs for each of the objects placed in the container of objects with the appropriate words of the language that we learn. This is of course an analogy, but it illustrates the fact that while words may be chosen arbitrarily to represent (be a sign for) an object, the relationship between the sign and the signified is determined by a prior relationship that abides eternally. It also underscores the fact that while the word may be chosen arbitrarily, the object of the word is defined by the object itself that exists in the world.

Now, there is a danger in taking the example of the containers literally. The danger arises from the fact that we tend to visualize it mentally as two containers with a relation standing in between them. But as we had mentioned previously in this series, there is no such independent thing as a 'relation' in Vedic Logic. That is, a relation is not an independent existent but is a qualification of the thing qualified as such and such. Thus, when we speak of two containers as the container for the sign and the container for the meaning with a relation between them, it translates to the sign as something qualified by the meaning and the meaning as something qualified by the sign. This point is vital because it contains the key to the definition of a word, i.e., to know what a word is. A word is not merely a set of phonemes because the phonemes do not exist concurrently when spoken, i.e., the previous phoneme is absent by the time the last phoneme is pronounced. Neither is it the combination of phonemes because there is nothing to bind them together from the distinct letters that constitutes the combination. And this is one of the key reasons why a word is distinguished from the sound that is uttered. For the sound to become a word, it needs to have a binding factor that binds it. And that binding factor is the meaning itself. So says Sri Veda Vyasa:

"A word , moreover, is something comprehensible by an idea binding together the phonemes. They (the phonemes) cannot combine (of themselves) because they cannot come together." (Yoga Sutra bhashya III.17).

Sri Shankara writes in the Vivarana:

"Objection: Surely a word is simply what we can hear?"

"Reply: No, because it must produce the notion of meaning; word is what causes meaning to be understood. What further is it? A word, moreover, is something comprehensible by an idea binding together the phonemes. Phonemes are sounds, objects of hearing, each of which ends after laying down the samskara in the one attentive to them; the idea in the buddhi which has been made to arise by the final sound is the idea which binds together the phonemes. It originates from the samskara which is laid down in the attentive mind from the binding together in sequence from the first sound onwards. What is grasped by that single idea (in the buddhi) is the word. And since it is a matter of direct perception, as much as colour for instance, no other proof of it is needed."

Therefore, since a word is not a word without the idea (the meaning) binding the phonemes together, the idea (of the object) is an inseparable constituent of the word. So, to speak of their relationship as non-eternal is a contradiction in terms (because the relationship holds by the definition of the word itself). We often tend to ignore this fact and treat a word as something existing separately from the object and it is this tendency that obstructs our attempts to make progress in grasping the nature of apaurusheyatva. We shall see in the last section why this is important.

Now, before we move on to the Purva Mimamsa Sutras, we need to address another common misconception that prevails among people that words which are decided by convention are dependent on individuals. It is not so. The relation between a word and its object is independent of individuals. When a person uses a word wrongly to denote an object, i.e. when the object meant by the person is not the object (or meaning) of the word, then he is said to be ignorant of the meaning of the word. He is said to know the meaning of the word only when he uses the word to denote an object that exists independently of his state of knowledge and to refer to which the language speaking community has adopted the word by convention. Therefore the meaning of a word is not dependent on an individual. Since the identity of the object itself is independent of an individual, the nature of the object too is independent of the individual because it is the nature of the thing in the world whose identity is denoted by the word. Therefore the meaning of a word in terms of both (i) the identity of the object denoted and (ii) the object denoted by the word having such and such nature are independent of an individual. As explained in Addendum-1 to Parts I & II of this series (titled 'On Words and Flaws') under the section 'Flaws and Flawlessness of Words', the meaning of a word has two denotative senses – the identity of the object and the nature of the object identified by it. That is, if a person doesn't know the identity of the object denoted by a word, he is said to be ignorant of the meaning of the word in one sense, and if he doesn't know the nature of the object denoted by the word then he is said to be ignorant of the meaning of the word in another sense. Since the meaning in either sense does not conform to what a person thinks the object to be, but is determined by the object itself for which the word has been adopted as a reference by convention, the relation between a word and its object is independent of an individual.


4. ON CONVENTION

It is not easy to grasp how a word chosen by convention can be eternal or have an eternal relation to its meaning. Even if one grants that its relation to the meaning is inseparable, one finds it difficult to dislodge the idea that before the sound-form (of the word) was chosen by convention to denote an object, it would have had no relation to that object. There can be no answer to this question from a worldly perspective; the answer can come only from a transcendental perspective. What is convention? What was it that made a particular group of people come together to form a language speaking community? Creation, it is said, proceeds out of the adrshta of jivas. That adrshta on account of which creation proceeds, that very same adrshta is responsible for a particular group of people to be born on earth and their lives to be interleaved with those of one another, and it is the same adsrhta on account of which the unmanifest eternal word is brought forth into the created world as a 'choice' of the language speaking community.

In an earlier post, we had mentioned the meaning-bearing capacities of phonemes and the meanings that they bear in the intentional states of Consciousness during the creation of the universe. But the meaning-bearing capacity of each phoneme is infinite; otherwise there couldn't have been multiple words in different languages for the same object. I shall quote Sri Shankaracharya from the Vivarana on the Yoga Sutras on the topic of the meaning-bearing capacities of phonemes and how they combine in the formation of words as they come to be accepted by convention. The Acharya explains that what the convention accepts as the word is the binding factor of the phonemes but they accept it as being a mere combination of phonemes or letter-sounds. In other words, there is adhyasa in that acceptance and the convention itself is held together by the illusion that characterizes all people in samsara.

Quotes excerpted from the Vivarana (Sutra: III.17):

"Each single letter-sound is full of potentialities for expressing all kinds of things, what is expressed being the words of the expression. And in the sense that it has the potentialities of manifesting the words, each one is full of these expressions, as the spokes are each drawn together in the hub of a wheel. For instance, the letter-sound g is full of potentialities of indicating words like gauh (cow), varga (class), agni (fire), gagana (sky)."

"By the fact of the mutual cooperation with each other, letter-sounds, as the word gauh is a cooperative interdependence of g, au, and h, the word agni has the g cooperating with i and the others. So from joining up with various other letter-sounds as adjuncts according to the case, it is endowed with all kinds of potential forms."

"A letter-sound is established by an earlier letter-sound as belonging to a particular formation, as indicating a particular word, and an earlier one by a later one, and one in the middle by both earlier and later ones."

"Thus certain letter-sounds, assuming a particular sequence, are assigned by convention to a particular object. The conventional usage is: 'This, inasmuch as its constituent elements are in this particular sequence, means this object.' By that convention as to the object, they are assigned to it."

"By a convention as to letter-sounds, the actual word is conventionally agreed. For the word is a general conventional usage regarding a particular letter-sequence, an unambiguous function of the letter-sounds."

"The single idea-flash (buddhi-nirbhasa), the flash of the idea which is the unifier of the phonemes in the recognized order of the sounds , combined in a particular fixed sequence, which sequence is one with which they are potentially endowed, as assigned to their objects by convention according to established rules, is the Word, the basis, what alone gives to them their support, which is conventionally accepted as expressing what is to be expressed and not the phonemes, though it is conventionally accepted as being through phonemes."

"That word is a simple unity. A thing like a jar, though it is one, yet has parts, and so is found to be the object of a number of ideas: not so the word."

"It (the word) is the object of a single idea, perceived directly by all the world. The letter-sounds, being more than one, do not arise at the same moment, and never come to be the object of a single idea. But he who would reject by inference this unity of the (buddhi) idea which is directly perceived, would be going against direct perception."

"And so it is uttered with a single impetus with a single awareness that the idea caused by the samskaras laid down, in the production of the letter-sound sequence, has reached completion. It is flashed out in an instant (jhatiti) in the final ideas as (a thing) undivided without having parts, and therefore having no sequence, and not of the nature of letter-sounds, brought into operation by the notion of the final letter-sound. The operation of the first letter-sound being passed along the line, it is only in the comprehension of the final letter-sound that it shines forth."

"When one person wishes to inform another, i.e., another mind, it is by the letter-sounds as spoken by speakers and heard by hearers, conforming to the samskara-group (vasanas) of the business of speech, to which no beginning can be ascribed. It is recognized by the minds of people who all regard it as something well-established, and so goes the beginningless whirling of the wheel of the world (samsara)."

5. FOREWORD TO THE PURVA MIMAMSA DOCTRINE OF WORDS

When we enter the portals of Purva Mimamsa, we find ourselves in a strange and unusual land; we are at once drowned in a language of rites and rituals and unless we are familiar with the philosophical terrain of Mimamsa we are likely to be left drifting without finding a foot-hold. It might not be an understatement to say that of all the philosophies in the world, the philosophy of Purva Mimamsa is perhaps one of the most abstruse to understand, for it is a philosophy in which the things it speaks about lie in a supernal region far beyond the realm of the universe, in a realm in which the perfect word and the perfect object lie in absolute silence before they burst upon the stage of the world, clothed with the terms 'existence' and 'non-existence'. While reading the first few sutras, I couldn't help being reminded of the passage from the Devi Bhagavatam wherein the Great Goddess takes Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva in an aerial vehicle to a supernal realm where uncreated names and forms lie, far beyond the reach of the conceiving mind:

"We heard the Devi's soft laugh, and again the mystic vimana flew higher up, and in the twinkling of an eye we arrived in Brahmaloka. We were amazed to see another Brahma in that luculent realm, ensconced in his marvelous palace. In his shabda were all the Vedas and their angas, the nagas, the mountains, the oceans and rivers. Narayana turned to me and breathed, 'Pitama, who is this four-faced one?' and I had to reply, 'I do not know, Vishnu. Why I am uncertain who I myself am now!'... Next, our vimana flitted in a wink to icy Kailasa, austere, auspicious mountain. And in a cave of that mountain we saw the three-eyed Lord Shiva, wearing a tiger skin and elephant-hide, seated serenely in yogasana, meditating. We were speechless with amazement, most of all our own Rudra. We sat in the vimana and stared mutely at each other. All that we had taken for granted, always, it seemed was the dust of illusion."
The illusion is the illusion of the eternal being manifested as the ephemeral. This is Mimamsa. Illusion does not pertain to words and objects; it pertains to the notion of the eternal word and eternal object as being temporal and ephemeral entities. If we must look for this kind of idea in Western philosophy, we would find traces of it in the two philosophies that are considered the most difficult of all to comprehend – the philosophy of Parmenides of Elea (along with the Eleatic dialogues of Socrates) and the philosophy of Spinoza. I had presented the ontological themes of both of these philosophies and their equivalence to the tenets of Advaita in the essays on 'Real and Unreal' (in the sections titled 'Prelude to Ontology' and 'Ontology') and if I am not considered presumptuous I would suggest that these two essays along with a third, titled 'Advaita', would serve as some kind of introduction to the Purva Mimamsa doctrine of eternality of words.

Words are couched in mystery: words are mystical things. The science of words is a highly esoteric science. The Rg Veda says that ordinary people know only the fourth, articulate, stage of speech and that the other three stages lie concealed from them. In another mantra, the Rg Veda says that words reveal themselves to a wise man just as a well-dressed wife reveals her body to her husband.

"Four are the grades of speech, the learned brahmanas know them. Three of them are deposited in secret and indicate no meaning to a common man; for men speak the fourth grade which is phonetically expressed." (Rg Veda 1.164.45)

"Seeing one does not see speech, hearing one does not hear it. And to another, she yields her body like a well-dressed and loving wife to her husband." (Rg Veda. 10.71.4)

It is the hallowed portals of such a vidya, one that does not lend itself easily to human grasping, and one which is the foundation of all religions, that we shall, with utmost reverence, now venture to enter.



6. THE PURVA MIMAMSA PROOF OF THE APAURUSHEYATVA OF THE VEDAS

In presenting this section, i have primarily relied upon the translation of Jaimini Purva Mimamsa Sutras by Ganganath Jha though I have also referred to the translations of Kumarila Bhatta's Slokavartika wherever I felt that more explanations were required than those provided by Sri Ganganath Jha. But I am nevertheless indebted to Sri Jha for making available the text of the Jaimini Sutras in English (and in some parts of my explanatory notes I have repeated the words verbatim from the translation).

This section is divided into five parts. The division is made according to the subject matter of the sutras. The first part lays down the context of the discussion. The second part is an enumeration of objections to the doctrine of eternality of words and the third is the establishment of eternality of words after a refutation of these objections. The fourth part is the establishment of Vedic vakhyas, which are expressive statements made up of words, as eternal, and the fifth and final part is a refutation of objections to the apaurusheyatva of Veda.


PART I – THE CONTEXT

This part is presented in order to show the context in which the sutras relating to eternality of words arise, i.e. the Veda as the sole means to knowledge of Dharma. The sutras in this part are presented without the commentaries since their inclusion is meant only for laying down the context.

SUTRA 1.1: Now, therefore, (there must be) an enquiry into (the nature of) Duty.

SUTRA 1.2: Dharma or Duty is (something) desirable and the only source of its knowledge is Vedic injunction.

SUTRA 1.3: An enquiry into the means of the true knowledge of Dharma (becomes necessary).

SUTRA 1.4: That cognition of a man which proceeds upon the contact of the sense-organs with existing objects, is sense-perception; and this is not the means (of knowing dharma); because it apprehends only objects existing at the present time.

SUTRA 1.5: On the other hand, the relation of the word with its meaning is inborn (and eternal); consequently injunction (which is a form of word) is the means of knowing dharma; and it is unfailing in regard to objects not perceived (by other means of knowledge); it is authoritative (the Word par excellence), according to Badarayana, specially as it is independent or self-sufficient in its authority.


PART II – OBJECTIONS TO THE DOCTRINE OF ETERNALITY OF WORDS

Now the sutrakara presents the prima facie arguments of the purva-paksha to counter the view that words are eternal.

SUTRA 1.6: "Some people hold that the word is caused (non-eternal) because we find it is perceptible only after an effort."
BHASHYA: Word is non-eternal, says the purva-paksha, because we always find them brought into existence by the effort of the person using or uttering it; and what is brought into existence by an effort cannot but be evanescent.

SUTRA 1.7: "Because it does not persist".
BHASHYA: Word must be evanescent, because as a matter of fact we find that it does not continue to exist for any length of time; one moment it is pronounced, and the next moment it is gone. This would not be possible if the word were eternal.

SUTRA 1.8: "Because of the use of the word produces (utters, with reference to words)."
BHASHYA: Words must be non-eternal because we find people making use of the word 'karoti' (produce) with regard to words. Just as with reference to the ordinary thing jar, they say 'ghatankaroti' (produce the jar), similarly in the case of words, they must mean 'he makes or produces the word.'

SUTRA 1.9: "Because the word is found (to be pronounced) by (many persons) and in (many places) simultaneously."
BHASHYA: We find that a word is heard by more than one person and in more than one place at one and the same time. For example, the word 'cow' may be heard at the same time in Kashi and in Patna by different people. For a thing to exist simultaneously in many places, the thing would either have to be an all-pervading substance capable of existing in all places at the same time or it would have to be a limited thing which is made existent at different places by being brought into existence at those places. Since word is not an all-pervading substance, it follows that when it is perceived by different people at different places, it must be produced in those different places. It must be admitted, therefore, than any single word is not one, but many, all produced in different places.

SUTRA 1.10: "Also because of their having origin and modified forms."
BHASHYA: In many cases we find that the words which appear in the original form – 'dadhi atra' for instance – become modified into another form 'dadhya atra'; no such modification is possible in the case of things eternal, which, by their eternality, must necessarily be unmodifiable. It cannot be denied that there is modification in the case of words; words, therefore, must be regarded as non-eternal.

SUTRA 1.11: "Also because a multiplicity of persons uttering the word bring about an increased magnitude (in the word sound)."
BHASHYA: When many persons pronounce the same word, there is always an increase in the volume of the word. If the pronouncing of the word consisted not in its production, but only in the manifestation of the eternal word, then the volume of the word would remain the same, notwithstanding the number of persons pronouncing it; just as in the case of a jar manifested by lamps, the jar remains the same even if hundreds of lamps are brought in to illumine it. But the volume of a word is greater when pronounced by many people as compared to the volume when a single person pronounces it; therefore, it proves that a word is non-eternal because if it were the manifestation of an eternal word, the volume would have been the same and unmodified irrespective of the number of people pronouncing it.

This closes the arguments of the purva-paksha against the eternality of words.


PART III – REFUTATION OF OBJECTIONS AND ESTABLISHMENT OF ETERNALITY OF WORDS

The sutrakara now proceeds to refute the purva-paksha's arguments and establish the eternality of words.

SUTRA 1.12: (In both cases) the (momentary) perception (of word-sounds) is equal.
BHASHYA: It has been urged by the purva-paksha that words are non-eternal because they are produced by effort and are momentary. The sutrakara now refutes this objection. In both cases, i.e., according to your theory and our theory, the phenomenon of words arising out of effort and of them being momentarily perceptible are the same, i.e, equally explicable. According to us, all that the effort of the human utterer does is to manifest, or render perceptible, the word that has always been in existence. Whether we regard the eternally existent word as manifested by human effort, or as brought into existence by the utterer, the word would be perceived only for a moment. Hence your objection lacks the capability of dislodging the doctrine of eternality of words.

SUTRA 1.13: It is of that (word) which already exists that there is non-perception at other points of time (before and after the utterance) – and this is due to the fact that (at such other points of time) there is no operation (of the manifesting agency) with regard to the object (word-sound).
BHASHYA: It has been urged that a word cannot be regarded as eternal because of the fact that it is found to be impermanent. But the argument is fallacious because the momentary perception of the word can be satisfactorily explained only by the eternality of words; as on this theory it can be very rightly asserted that the word is heard at one moment and not at the other; because it is only at one moment that the manifesting agency – which in many cases is human utterance – is operating towards its manifestation, and not at all moments. That this is so, is shown by the further fact that as long as, and whenever, a man goes on uttering the word, we hear it; so as long as the utterance is operating, the perception is there; when the utterance ceases to operate, the perception ceases thus showing that what the utterance does is only to manifest, or render perceptible, what is already existing. If, on the other hand, the word were produced, or brought into existence, by the utterance in the same manner as the jar is produced by the potter, the word would continue to exist even after the utterance has ceased to operate just as the pot continues to exist even after the productive agency of the potter's work of assembling the jar has ceased to operate. But this is not the case with words which goes to show that there is no production or creation of the word as there is in the case of a jar. What the manifesting agency of the utterance does is to remove or set free the obstruction that had impeded the manifestation of the word by allowing it to manifest through the vocal instrument of the utterer.

SUTRA 1.14: (As for the use of the word 'produces') that refers to the utterance (of the word).
BHASHYA: It has been argued (by the purva-paksha) that people make use of the word 'produce' with regard to words and that this shows words are produced. It has already been shown that when we speak of the production of the word what we are referring to is only its utterance by some speaker and not to its production, i.e., the word 'produce' refers to the manifesting agency 'utterance' and not to the word. Just as when we say 'gomayankuru' (produce the cowdung), what we mean is not that the cow-dung has to be produced but that a collecting of cowdung has to be made thus indicating that the word 'produce' refers to the act of collecting, likewise 'sabdankuru' (produce the word) in the case of words refers not to the production of the word but to the act of uttering so that the word is made manifest.

SUTRA 1.15: The simultaneity (of perception by many persons) is as in the case of the sun.
BHASHYA: It has been argued that the word-sound being heard at the same time by different people in different places proves that the word is not one, and is not eternal. It is true that different men at different places perceive the word at the same time, but this does not prove that the word is many and transient. The sun is also seen at the same time by many persons at different places and yet it is only one and eternal. In the same manner, it is quite natural that the word should be one and eternal, and yet be perceived by different people at different places at the same time.

SUTRA 1.16: It (the change produced by the conjunction of letters) is a different letter; it is not a modification (of the original word).
BHASHYA: It has been urged that when the two words 'dadhi' and 'atra' are pronounced in close proximity, we have the form `dadhyatra', and that this being a modification of the word proves that words are not eternal (since what is modifiable is non-eternal). But this is not so because in the form 'dadhyatra' the syllable 'dhya' is not a modification of the original syllables 'dhi' and 'a'; it is an entirely different letter. If the form 'ya' as occurring in 'dhya' were a modification of the 'i' of 'dadhi' and 'a' of atra, then there would be no 'ya' apart from these letters. For example, ice being a modification of water, there can be no ice without water. But in the case of 'ya', there is no such inseparable connection between 'ya' and 'i' and 'a' as there should be between the original and the modification.

SUTRA 1.17: The great increase pertains to the (magnitude or loudness of the) tone and (not to the word itself).
BHASHYA: It has been argued that when many persons utter the same word, we perceive that the magnitude of the word undergoes an increase which shows that the word is liable to change thus proving the transient nature of words. In reply to this, the sutrakara states that when many persons pronounce the same word, what happens is not any change in the word itself, but only in the loudness of the tone, which becomes louder or fainter as the number of persons become more or less. (This is the same argument presented by us earlier with respect to the tone of a veena.)

SUTRA 1.18: On the other hand (word) must be regarded as eternal; especially because the utterance is for an altogether different purpose.
BHASHYA: Having refuted the objections of the adversary, the sutrakara now proceeds to present further reasons to support the doctrine of eternality of words. The whole idea of the transience of words is based upon the notion that the utterance of a speaker brings the notion into existence. It is here declared that it is not so; we utter words not for the purpose of producing or creating a word, but for the purpose of expressing what the word denotes. The word has to be known a priori for it to be uttered because otherwise there would be a lack of knowledge of the very thing that is purported to be expressed. And also, the purpose of verbal expression would not be served if the word uttered by us were transient as in that case it would be destroyed the moment it was uttered and would not be in existence at the time that the hearer would need them to be heard to comprehend its meaning; whence could this comprehension arise then? The very fact of the comprehension being there in the mind of the hearer shows that the word we utter is not evanescent, but is lasting and eternal.

SUTRA 1.19: Because in the case of all (words) there is simultaneity or unanimity (of recognition).
BHASHYA: We find that every word, as word, on several occasions is invariably recognized by all people as being the same; whenever we hear a word – 'cow' for instance – we always recognize it as the same word 'cow' that we had heard on previous occasions. This recognition of sameness is found, not with regard to one or a few words, but with regard to all words; and not in the minds of a few men, but in that of all men; and what is thus universally vouched for cannot be gainsaid. It must be admitted that the word that is heard and used today is precisely the same that has been heard from time immemorial; that is to say, it is eternal.

SUTRA 1.20: Also on account of the absence of number.
BHASHYA: This is borne out by the fact that when the word 'cow' is pronounced many times nobody thinks that many different words have been uttered; all persons without exception grasp that the same word 'cow' has been uttered many times. In ordinary parlance, when a certain word is pronounced more than once, what we say is that the word has been used 'five', 'ten' or 'twelve' times. It is not said that 'five', 'ten' or 'twelve' different words have been used. If the word were produced and destroyed each time, we should have spoken of so many words and not of the same word as spoken so many times. Thus universal usage also shows that the word is the same whenever it is used; that is to say, it is eternal.

SUTRA 1.21: Because of the absence of cause.
BHASHYA: In the case of all things that are liable to destruction people always find some cause of destruction; there is no such cause or agent for destruction perceptible in the case of words; consequently we cannot admit of such destruction; and words must be regarded as 'indestructible', that is, eternal.

SUTRA 1.22: Also because what is perceptible (by the ear) is not what is spoken of (in the Vedic declaration, 'the air becomes the word').
BHASHYA: The opponents of eternality of words (Nyayaikas in this case) bring forward the Vedic text 'the air becomes the word' in support of the contention that the word has a beginning, being as herein declared, a mere product of the combination of air-particles. But this text cannot refer to what we know as the 'word' since it refers to a product of air. Air, according to the Logicians, being perceptible by the sense of touch alone, cannot be perceived by the ear.

SUTRA 1.23: Also because we meet with (texts) indicative (of eternality of words).
BHASHYA: This refers to texts as 'vacha virupinityaya' – 'by the word which is unmodifiable and eternal' – there the word is distinctly spoken as eternal. Stress is laid on the eternality of words inasmuch as if words have an origin, they cannot be infallible. Because such origin would have to be some intelligent person, and no such intelligence person is infallible. Hence the fallacious view regarding the non-eternality of words would strike at the infallible authority of the word – and of the Veda, which is a collection of words – upon which the whole fabric of Dharma rests.

The sutrakara now proceeds to show that the string of words constituting the Vedic vakhyas is eternal.


PART IV – THE ETERNALITY OF VEDA (OF VEDIC VAKHYAS)

The sutrakara first presents the objection of the adversary in sutra 24 and then refutes it in sutras 25 and 26 to establish the eternality of the Vedas.

SUTRA 1.24: "Even though (words and their meanings were) eternal (or even on the manifestation of words and their meanings) (the sentences) would remain inexpressive (or would be the product of separate effort) because (the meaning of the sentence) does not depend entirely upon (the meaning of the words)".
BHASHYA: The question of the relationship between the word and its meaning having been settled, a further question is raised: Granting that the word is eternal and that its relation to its meaning is eternal, what has this to do with the authority of the Vedic injunction or with matters relating to dharma? Before entering into arguments bearing specifically on the Veda, the opponent takes his stand upon general principles. We grant that words express their meanings and that they are eternal; all that this proves is that words provide us with correct ideas; how does this prove the authority of the Vedic injunctions? These injunctions are in the form of sentences containing more than one word; and for the comprehension of a conglomeration of words we need something more than the comprehension of the meanings of the component words. Consequently, in so far as the Mimamsaka has succeeded in establishing the eternality, and hence the authority, of words only, we must reject the authority of the Vedic sentences or injunctions as having been un-established.

In the sutra occurs the word 'avachanah' meaning 'not expressive (of meaning)'. Some people read this as 'rachanah' which would make the sutra read as follows: "Even though (words and their meanings were) eternal, (the meanings of sentences) must be regarded as having an origin (in human agency), and for this reason (they would be incapable of being accepted as eternal and authoritative on matters relating to dharma) as they do not depend entirely upon (the meaning of eternal words)."

SUTRA 1.25: (in a sentence) all words denoting things are in close textual juxtaposition with the word expressive of an action; (and from this it follows that the meaning of the sentence must be got at through this juxtaposition of the words) specially, because the meaning of the sentence is dependent upon the meaning of the words composing it.
BHASHYA: In reply to this objection, we have the final conclusion of the eternality of the Veda embodied in this and the next sutra. Now, in answer to the above, it is replied that the meaning of the sentence does depend on the meanings of the words composing it; there is nothing to prove that the sentence has any other meaning than that which is afforded by the component words. For instance, in the sentence 'agnihotranjuhuyat svargakamah' we find that the word expressive of the Agnihotra sacrifice and also the word expressive of desiring heaven are both found in close proximity to the word 'juhuyat' which denotes the act of offering; and all the meaning that is afforded by this sentence is that which is obtained through the signification of the two former words taken along with the signification of the verb. The meaning is that 'one desirous of heaven should offer the agnihotra', which is nothing more than the denotations of the three words linked together. Hence, when the meanings of the words are eternal, sentences formed by these words are also eternal; and thus the eternality of sentences being established, there is no incongruity in the view that the Veda is the trustworthy authority for all matters relating to Dharma.

SUTRA 1.26: Inasmuch as we find a restriction in the case of ordinary parlance, it follows that (in the Vedas also) there would be a similar explanation for the use (of sentences).
BHASHYA: In the case of ordinary usage it is found that it is only when we know the meanings of each individual word that we can use or comprehend the meaning of the sentence composed of those words; from this analogy it is argued that the meaning of the sentence depends upon the meanings of the words. That is to say, it must be admitted that the meaning of the sentence 'agnihotranjuhuyat svargakamah' is nothing more or less than what is signified by each of those three words.

SCHOLIUM: I think some extra explanation may be necessary here in view of the fact that there is a tendency among modern people to treat the word-sound and the object that it refers to in a disjunct manner in isolation from each other. But a word cannot be treated in isolation from the object (or meaning) of the word. It is this tendency to divorce the two which makes it difficult to grasp how a sentence may be eternal; for even if it is granted that words are eternal, it seems unimaginable that words can come together to form a sentence without human agency. The difficulty arises due to the fact that we treat words and sentences in isolation, by themselves, just as we treat objects such as jar, table, etc. in isolation from other objects. While the components of a jar such as particles of clay are seen to simply exist in nature, the production of a pot needs human agency for the particles of clay to come together as a pot. When words are treated in isolation from their meanings as other objects such as jar are, then it appears that the same kind of agency as would be required in the case of the production of a jar would also be required in the case of production of sentences. But sentences are not required to be produced because they are related to knowledge and the nature of words as signs obviates the need for any such thing as production of sentences from a conglomeration of words.

As explained in the section 'Knowledge, Words and Objects – Traditional Semiotics', a word is something that is comprehensible by an idea binding together the phonemes. This idea – the binding idea – is the meaning. A meaning is something that shows forth to consciousness as the meaning that is known by the knower in the field of the knower's knowledge. A word can be a word only in the field of consciousness, whether manifest or unmanifest, because it is the knowledge of the idea - the meaning of the word - that binds together the phonemes. The meaning represents the knower's knowledge of the word. Now, a knower's knowledge does not exist in the form of knowledge of meanings of single objects alone but they exist as all kinds of knowledge such as knowledge of actions, causes, and so forth. These kinds of knowledge cannot be represented by single words. The very fact that knowledge exists in the form of objects comprising manifold things including such ideas of causes, etc, the knowledge is represented by sentences and not by single words alone Even single words exist as parts of sentences in a knower's field of consciousness as explained by Sri Shankaracharya:

"In every word there is the potentiality of a sentence 'it exists'. When someone says 'tree', it is understood that it exists. For the object signified by a word cannot fail to exist.... For bare words, like bare letter-sounds are meaningless, and do not amount to communication. Just as one aims at indicating a word by joining together the letter-sounds, so with words too: the means of constructing a sentence is by looking to other words as well. So, validity is in the sentence alone, since there is no understanding of the object from the use of a word in isolation. Even where an isolated word (like the name Devadatta) is supposed to be its own context, still inevitably it is supplemented in the mind with the sense of existence, so that the word means 'It is Devadatta' and so on; without context it is not intelligible." (Vivarana on Yoga Sutra, III.17).

So, the eternal existence of sentences is the eternal sign in Consciousness that refers to the eternal object in the Omniscience of Brahman. And we have already shown how words need not be manifest as speech for them to reside in Consciousness. This explains how sentences always persist in Consciousness and are eternal.


PART V –THE VEDA IS APAURUSHEYA (IT HAS NO HUMAN AUTHOR)

In this part is concluded the proof of Apaurusheyatva of the Vedas. Having shown that the Vedas are eternal, the sutrakara now refutes the remaining objections that are liable to arise due to the mention of individual names and other temporal things in the Vedas. Sutras 27 and 28 present the objections and sutras 29 to 32 provide the refutations of these objections and the final establishment of the Apaurusheyatva of the Vedas.

SUTRA 1.27: "According to some people the Vedas are the work of human authors; being, as they are, named after men."
BHASHYA: It has been asserted above that the Veda is the sole authority on matters related to Dharma; and that the Veda is authoritative because it is eternal, and as such free from all those discrepancies that words expressed by human beings are susceptible to. The opponent now proceeds to show that the Vedas, and the injunctions that are contained therein, are the works of human authors, and as such they cannot be considered as absolutely trustworthy sources of knowledge. The Veda, it is argued, must have had a human author, because we find various sections of the Veda named after men, eg. 'Kathaka' after the name of Katha, 'Paippalada' after the name of Pippalada, and so forth; all this proves that the section called 'Kathaka' is the work of an person called Katha and that 'Paippalada' of a person called Pippalada.

SUTRA 1.28: "Also because we find (in the Veda) (the mention of) many non-eternal things."
BHASHYA: Another argument in support of the view that the Veda is not eternal is the fact that we find such statements in the Veda as 'Auddalakih akamayata' (Audalaki desired) and 'Babara pravahani' (Babana desired), and so forth, wherein are mentioned persons and events that cannot be said to be eternal. That is to say, the presence of such sentences as the above proves that the sentences were composed long after the persons spoken of therein lived on the earth; and that they did not exist before these persons. That is to say, the Veda has had a beginning in time.

SUTRA 1.29: But the eternality of words has already been established.
BHASHYA: In answer to the above arguments, it is declared that the eternality of all words, whether divine or human, has already been established. Hence the objection is groundless. All that remains to be done on the present occasion is to answer the arguments put forth by the opponent. This is done in the following sutras.

SUTRA 1.30: The name (of the Vedic sections) is based upon exceptionally excellent study and teaching (of that section by a particular person).
BHASHYA: In answer to the objection stated in sutra 27, it is stated they are called after human names because those persons had direct insight and were the first to expound them (in the manifest world) and so the different parts of the Vedas are called after those sages in their honour.

SUTRA 1.31: The other is only a similarity of sounds.
BHASHYA: As for the mention of the names of men and things in the Veda, there is nothing to show that the word found in the Veda was actually the name of a person; it is, in fact, a resemblance arising out of the fact that these names came to be borne by men and things. The names of persons used in the Vedas are common nouns and not proper nouns. The persons bore the names subsequently (in the cycles of creation). So this argument of the objector does not detract from the eternality of the Vedas.

SUTRA 1.32: (Such apparently absurd Vedic declarations as `trees performed the sacrifices' and the like) are to be regarded as inducement towards certain actions; because of the relationship of connection (of those sentences) with actions.
BHASHYA: The opponents of Vedic authority argue that the Veda cannot be regarded as authoritative and trustworthy because it contains such apparently absurd statements as 'the cows sat at the sacrifice', 'the trees performed the sacrifice' and so forth. In answer to this, it is urged that though these statements are absurd when taken by themselves, they cease to be so when taken along with the context in which they occur. All these sentences are found in the section dealing with a certain sacrifice; and in praise of this sacrifice it is declared that even such inanimate things as trees and the like have had recourse to the performance of the sacrifice; so excellent it is, and so manifestly desirable are its results that even trees were induced to perform it; under the circumstances it is only natural that such intelligent beings as men should perceive the excellence of the action, and engage in performing it. There is nothing incongruous and absurd in the sentence if thus intelligently interpreted.

Thus then the Veda, not being the work of a human author – whereby it is free from all the discrepancies consequent upon such authorship – and there being nothing in the text of the Veda itself that shakes this authority, it must be admitted that it is a trustworthy and authoritative source of knowledge on all matters relating to Dharma; and as it has been shown that no other source of such knowledge is available, the Veda must be also acknowledged to be the only source of knowledge relating to Dharma.


7. CONCLUSION

The strength of Rta is far reaching
It brings wisdom to those that pursue it
Earth and Heaven owe their existence to eternal Rta
The Supreme Powers yield their ambrosial milk
In perfect obedience to the Lord of Eternal Existence.
(Rg.Veda. 4.32.1)

Infinite are the powers of the Eternal Law
Abiding by these do all afflictions end
The contemplation on Eternal Existence
Dispels all sorrows
Even an understanding of these Laws is
Illuminating and purifying to living beings
The Eternal message impresses and inspires even the unheeding ears.
(Rg.Veda.4.23.8)


I prostrate at the feet of Mata Annapurna through whose Grace this series could be completed.


END OF SERIES TITLED 'APAURUSHEYATVA OF THE VEDAS'.