Aspects of Speech In Vedic Ritual (Rare Book)


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From The Jacket
The Indian mantra has evoked great curiosity and his invited studies on it from many scholars. The mantra as such though efficacious by itself, is important more for the principle of Highest Speech, underlying it.

The present book deals with the concept of Speech and its various aspects as seen in the Vedic ritual. Many ideas occurring in the Vedic ritual, get correlated when once the various aspects of Speech are taken into accounts. These aspects of Speech include not only the rc-s, Yayus-es, saman-s, stotra-s and sastra-s but also metres, silpa-s, mystic utterance such as the word Svaha, Vasat, Hin, Om, the three Vyahrti-s (Bhuh, Bhuvah, and Svah), Sloka-s and gatha-s, as well as singing and playing on instruments, which are the inarticulate forms of Speech, as well as siging and playing on instruments, which are the inarticulate forms of Speech.

With her thousand-fold ‘progeny’ Speech plays a major role in the Vedic ritual. The book takes note of this manifold ‘progeny’ of Speech and the belief connected with it.

Dr. (Mrs.) Sindhu S. Dange is R.G. Bhandarkar Professor of Sanskrit and Head, Department of Sanskrit, University of Bombay, where she teaches Veda and Sanskrit Grammar. Well known in Indian for her contribution in the field of Sanskrit, she is particularly interested in Vedic Ritual and Hindu customs and beliefs. Her books include–

Critiques on Sanskrit Dramas (co-author Dr. S.A. Dange); The Bhagavata Purana – A Mytho-social Study; Hindu Dumestic Rituals – A Critical Glance; Puranic Etymologies and Flexible Forms; and three books in Marathi – Bharatiya Sahityaca Itihasa (Part I); Bauddha Dharma ani Tattvajnana and Jain Dharma ani Tattvajnana. She has conducted various National Seminars at the Bombay University; the Proceeding of three have been published under her Editorship: (1) Myths of Creation; (2) Sacrifice; in India: Concept and Evolution; and (3) Ultimate in Ancient Indian Thought and Discipline.

Mantra (or, prayer) has drawn the attention of a number of scholars, it being the indispensable factor of ritual and worship, not among the Hindus but also other in time and regions. There is, however, something beyond the mantra, of which the mantra is the expressed form. This something which is beyond is the Highest Speech, the various aspects of which in the Vedic ritual tradition the present study has in view. The works (including translations) of scholars writing on Vedic ritual were of great help.

My thanks are Miss Harshada Lavana and Miss Alka Pimdi (the then Research Assistants of the Dept.) for the help they rendered and Mrs. Vidya Joshi, lecturer, J.J. School of Arts, Bombay, for the cover-picture and the line-drawing of the same.

I thank Shri Vikas Arya who has brought out the present study in the form of a book in a neat way and within a short time.

I hope this study will help correlate many unconnected ideas in the Vedic ritual, once the concept of the Highest Speech and its aspects are taken into account.

In the worship of any kind mantra (chant) plays an important part. This is seen all the more patent in the Vedic ritual tradition. A mantra could be in the from of a rc. (which is in the metrical form) or yahus (prose-formula), or simply in the form of uttering some stray words, which may not constitute a sentence. Sometimes a mantra could be some harsh sounds, such as hau, hai, I, u, hum, to form the stobha-s, as is seen in the Samavedic tradition. On some occasions mantra, or a gatha or a sloka (the latter two servong as mantra) is seen to be accompanied with instrumental music. But, in all these modes of mantra, sound (dhvani) of either form-articulate or inarticulate – is thought to be of utmost importance; for, in ritual, it stands as a form of the Highest Speech, which is conceived as far above these modes of expression. Back Guy L. taking a not major textual sources of the Hindus regarding the sacred sound, maintains that Hinduism is essentially a sonic theology.

The idea that there is the eternal Highest form of Speech, beyond the articulate, spoken by the humans, can be traced back to a verse from the Asyavammiya hymn from the Rgveda (I.164.45), which mentions the four divisions of Speech; it says, that the brahmana-s (the wise there is no reference to caste here) who are sagacious known them. Three (forms of Spech) deposited in a secret place do not move, i.e. do not become patent (Sayana, na cestante, na prakasante); of Speech, men speak only fourth division. According to Agrawala, V.S., the verse in question inculcates the full-fledged doctrine of Vak in its twofold aspect, viz. Para Vak and Apara Vak, Amrta Vak and Martya Vak, Indrani Vak, The trascendant Speech existing in Parama Vyoma (the conceptual Highest Place) and the immanent Speech manifesting on the plane of Master.

The later grammatical tradition which evolved and developed the doctrine of sphota, clearly names the Speech beyond as Para Vak. The Para Vak stays in the human body at the mula-cokra (lower end of the spinal cord). The same tradition elaborates the further stages of Vac, viz., Pasyanti as situated at the navel. Madhyama which stays in the heart and Vaikhari which escapes the glottal region to come out of the mouth. This is the aspect of Speech produced by the vibrations of the inner breath and getting expressed in articulate sound.

The Hindu grammatical tradition evolved the concept of sphota which is the name given by it to the residual impression of the sound even when it is uttered and vanished; it is this impression that ultimately helps cognize the meaning of a group of such sound expressed in a set order fixed in a particular language. This is possible because the impression created by each of the letters, and words that gets thus formed, remains to form a coherent combination that enters the meaning side of language. Hence it is, that, though the uttered sounds and words are non-eternal, the sphota of each of them, and of all of them together, is eternal. Nagesa, the author of the Paramalaghumanjusa, explains that the sound made by a drum-without any support and meaningless. The sound made by the Madhyama aspect of Speech is more subtle; it is this sound that suggests the sphota, though inaudible, it is this inaudible sound, prior to its being thrown out of the glottal apparatus, that has the status of sabha-brahman, which is eternal. The grammatical tradition tried to find out the eternal that is beyond the transitory and the non-eternal world. This is common with the traditional Hindu sastra-s from Dharmasastra to Dramaturgy and philosophy to Poetics. At the beginning of his Vakyapadiya Bhartrahari says that the word-principle, the aksara (syllable) is the beginningless and endless immutable (a-ksara) Brahman, from which starts the process of creation of the world. This statement explains the principle of sphota, which is also eternal. On this concept of sphota is also based the theory of Dhvani in the discipline of Sanskrit Poetics, though Bhamaha, the rhetorician seems to be totally against the concept and theory of sphota, as far as Poetics is concerned. Apart from the question of the acceptability or non-acceptibility of sphota, it has to be accepted that the sphota theory, once again, brought to the fore-front the point that there was something beyond the mere uttered sound.

Actually, the concept behind sphota goes back to Yaska (Nirukta I.1), who recorded the opinion of Audumbarayana, that speech is permanent in the organ (either mouth or the ear) associated with speech. In other words, according to this opinion, speech is permanent only as long as it spoken and subsequently heard. Yaska objects to this opinion. He believes that speech is eternal. He argues, that in the event of accepting he opinion of Aud

Item Code: IDK927
Cover: Hardcover
Edition: 1996
Publisher: Aryan Books International
ISBN: 8173050783
Size: 8.9” X 5.8”
Pages: 292
Other Details: Weight of the Book: 505 gms