The Present volume is a collection of papers originally presented in the first National Seminar held at the Special Centre for Sanskrit Studies, JNU, New Delhi from 11-13 February, 2005 on "Veda as Word." The seminar was cosponsored by Jawaharlal Nehru University and the Indian Council of Philosophical Research, New Delhi.
It must be acknowledged at the outset that the topic of the seminar was prompted by another seminar on the theme " Veda As Knowledge" organized by Rashtriya Veda Vidya Pratishthan, Ujjain in collaboration with ICPR in January, 2004. It was while participating in the above programme that this idea struck my mind to organize a seminar on Veda As Word and I kept nurturing it till such time that an apt occasion for a full-fledged seminar was available. During this period, I not only applied to ICPR and JNU for financial assistance but also interacted with prospective participants and the idea blossomed into many aspects. Once the ICPR sanction came and the faculty as well as administration at JNU endorsed the proposal for holding the seminar, I swung into action and started executing the proposal.
It is worth mentioning here that the seminar on Veda was intended to focus mainly on the expressed form and features involved in the recitation of mantras of the Veda. Right from the time of Yaska, the author of Nirukta, there has been a group of scholars, which opines that Vedic verses are meant for recitation only, these do not have any meaning. We may agree with him or not, but this view of Kautsa highlights a point worth pondering that words of Veda are unique in the sense that mere utterance of these in the given form does have some special effect.
In the Indian philosophical tradition, the Mimamsakas have been upholding this view with a firm conviction that Veda is eternal, infallible and unchangeable. On the other hand, there are the Naiyayikas who propound that all words, including the Vedic ones, are created, and hence non-eternal.
In view of the above, some significant issues which emerged during the course of discussion in the seminar on Veda as Word, may be mentioned as follows:
· Is Veda Merely a word, utterance or recitation or is there some real, hidden meaning of the Vedic word?
· If there is a meaning of the Vedic word, then what is the relation between word and meaning and how to decipher is exactly, since so many varied interpretations of the same Vedic verse are available?
· How is Vedic word different from an ordinary utterance? Is Mantra really an extraordinary, contemplated word of the rsis?
· Is Vedic word eternal or non-eternal?
· Is Vedic Word impersonal or Personal?
· What is so significant about proper accentuation of Vedic verses? Does is really have any effect?
· Do Vedic words connote history or are they simply etymological as claimed by some of the interpreters?
· Is Veda a self -validated, ultimate evidence in the process of knowledge as has been propounded by different schools of Indian Philosophy?
These and many more aspects related to the theme were discussed in three days of the seminar wherein nineteen* papers were presented under nine academic sessions besides the inaugural and the valedictory session.
From The Jacket
"Precious or durable materials- gold, silver, bronze, marble, onyx or granite- have been used by most ancient peoples in an attempt to immortalize their achievements. Not so, however, with the ancient Aryans. They turned to what may seem the most volatile and insubstantial material of all- the spoken word- and out of this bubble of air fashioned a monument which more than thirty, perhaps forty, centuries later stands untouched by time or the elements. For the pyramids have been eroded by the desert wind, the marble broken by earthquakes, and the gold stolen by robbers, while the Veda remains recited daily by an unbroken chain of generations, traveling like a great wave through the living substance of mind."
" The Veda itself is the secret of the Veda. The foundation stone that India contributed to civilization, the Veda, is said to embody the regulations, the laws of the universe as 'seen' by the gifted poets, prophets or seers, the rsis." "Set by them in a special language to be joyfully proclaimed for future ages, it has come down to us through an elaborate oral tradition, consciously designed to prevent any distortion. Even today had we no written record available, it would still be possible to have access to the Veda as it existed when the text was fixed three or four thousand years ago! This supreme monument of an early religion, which has left us with no archaeological remains, no church, no drama, no founder, and virtually no history, forms the canon of the Hindu scriptures, the core of which is a collection of over a thousand hymns, more than ten thousand stanzas in all, known as the Rgveda."
About the Book
The Present volume is a collection of papers originally presented at the first National Seminar held at the Special Centre for Sanskrit Studies, JNU, New Delhi, during 11-13 February, 2005 on Veda as Word.
The book covers in its gamut Vedic Philosophy, phonetics, ritual, accentology, mantravijnana, exegisis, narratives, lexicography, etymology, grammar, ethics, epistemology and also some select hymns of the Veda which deal specifically with word or sound.
Prof. (Dr) Shashiprabha Kumar, Chairperson, Special Centre for Sanskrit Studies, JNU taught as a Reader in Classical Indian Philosophy at the University of Delhi before joining JNU in 2001. She has a total teaching experience of thirty-four years. She has authored Vaisesika Darsana mein Padartha Nirupana (Delhi University, 1992) which is widely acclaimed and highly appreciated. Her other works are-Self, Society and Value: Reflections on Indian Philosophical Thought, (Vidyanidhi, 2005); Facets of Indian Philosophical Thought (1999); Bharatiyam Darsanam (1999); Vaisesika Parisilana (1999); Vedic Anusilana (1998); and Vedic Vimarsa (1996). She has edited Garima (2001); Kala- Tattva-Chintana (1997); Bharatiya Sanskrit- Vividh Ayama (1996); Relevance of Indian Philosophy in Modern Context (1993); and co-edited Quest for Excellence (2000). Dr. Kumar has also translated Nyayamanjari 1st chapter in Hindi (2001) and Sanskrit Maxims from Nyaya-Vaisesika texts in Hindi and English (Delhi Sanskrit Academy, Delhi, 2001). She has published more than seventy papers in journals and has edited several books. She has published more than seventy research papers in journals and has edited several books. She has contributed chapters to the volumes of Centre for Studies in Civilization, Indian Council for Philosophical Research, New Delhi and Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla. Her Current research interests include Vedic Philosophy, Upanishads, Vedanta and Vaisesika.
The Vedas have been acclaimed and accepted as a reservoir of profound knowledge both in India and abroad. This sacred literature, because of its vastness in the form of Brahmanas, Aranyakas, Upanisads and Vedangas, has been studied with deep faith. The oral tradition of Veda was preserved in this great country of ours for centuries together and even now this tradition is alive throughout the length and breadth of our country. It is a happy augury that scholars from India and abroad have studied, researched and debated the contents of this literature, as a result of which we cannot underrate its importance or marginalize it even today.
I, indeed, feel honoured to have been asked by Prof.
Shashiprabha Kumar, Chairperson of the Special Centre for Sanskrit Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, to write a Fo