'Text-days' are for delving into the words and theory of Advaita Vedanta.
[You are reminded that reviewing the previous week's posts will become essential as the meanings of the Sanskrit terms may not be repeated. There may come additional or alternative meanings, but all should be noted. As study progresses, the technical terms must necessarily become 'second nature' to the student. When the Sanskrit is used, the translation will fall easily into place - or likewise, if the English is used, the Sanskrit term must easily come forwards.]
Please revisit last week’s post and chant the mangala-charana. Think again on the meaning. Seek to focus on the subject.
Let us now look at the mangala as an exercise in breaking into the translation. Recall the different types of mangala described two weeks back and consider where this mangala sits compared to those descriptions. …remember that any text you enter requires that you have some idea of how the translation and therefore the interpretation have been derived. This may seem like ‘hard work’ at first, but actually all subjects require this intellectual approach to fulfill them… for example, you can look at and appreciate art as it hits your eye – or you can engage with it, get beneath its surface to understand more than its ‘at glance’ offering. Sanskrit is a highly contextual and yet supremely precise language. Many words have multiple colourations according to the context in which they are applied. Conversely, there are words which have one meaning in all contexts. Further, for any one context there can be multiple words. Here at Aatmaavrajanam it is not at all expected that you learn Sanskrit per se; however, there is no escaping the need to understand how it is ‘broken’ down.**
Vaasu – that which resides
Deva – principle of consciousness
VASUDEVENDRA – the Lord/king which resides as the consciousness of all.
Yogi – one who practices yoga (which, you will recall, means ‘union’ – not contortionism!)
Indra – being the power which enlivens all functions (‘king of’)
YOGIINDRA – the Lord/king of the practice of union with the Self
NATVAA – having prostrated/saluted
Jnaana – knowledge
Pradam – bestower, giving blessing
Gu – darkness
Ru – remover
JNAANAPRADAMGURUM – the one who gives the blessing of removing the darkness of our ignorance. How? By bestowing knowledge to light our way.
This is the first paada of the shloka. Having broken down the individual words which make up the sentence we can reconstruct it as “having saluted Vasudevendra, the King of the Yogis, the guru” and we can begin to appreciate the type of mangala this is. We see here an acknowledgement of the Higher in form of ‘lord’, we see acknowledgement of the teacher. (…did you take notes? Check back!)
Mumukshuunaam – ardent seekers
Hitaarthaaya – for the benefit of (in the assistance of)
TattvabodhaH – (the understanding of truth) this text
Abhi - is being
Thus with the second paada of the shloka we have “for those who seek deeply, this text by this name is being given”. Thus we find the subject matter is addressed as well as the type of reader expected to gain from the perusal thereof.
This brings up another technical construction called the अनुबन्ध चतुष्टय/anubandha chatushtaya. All modern text books will give the name and level of the text – “Chemistry, Module 4” – so that, instantly, it is clear that students who have a need to utilise chemistry may benefit from the text, provided they have read and understood modules 1 to 3! Similarly, the anubandha guides the reader and lays out the expectation of subject, purpose and for whom it is meant.
Anu – after
Bandha – binding/connection
Chatur – four
Taya – to begin
“The four points after knowing which you get connected.”
What are the four preliminaries then?
- अधिकार/Adhikaari – eligibility (one who has the ability); the one for whom the text is intended
- विषय/Vishaya – the content of the text, the subject matter
- प्रयोजन/Prayojana – expected outcome – i.e. purpose, the goal of the text which follows
- संबन्ध/Sambandha – relationship (of the text with the purpose).
This is applied to all texts. How does it apply to TattvabodhaH? Who is the adhikaari? The mumukshu. What is the content of the text? Tat (that) Tva (‘ness’, the essence of) Bodha (understanding of/knowledge). What is the purpose, what is the expectation of achievement from reading this text? That the mumukshu is helped in their process of obtaining the understanding provided here. What is the connection between text and the purpose stated? For TattvabodhaH this is straightforward – the text is a simple statement of its own goal; there is something (that) which is beyond description yet must be approached with many words in order to gain its essence.
We find that the anubandha is satisfied within the mangala-charana. The reader for whom it is intended is thus ‘primed’, interest sparked and the promise of a worthwhile outcome in pursuing the study of the text. The adhikaari for this text is one who seeks Knowledge for Knowledge’s sake. What is the Knowledge here? Liberation. From what? The bondage we call ‘life’. Freedom from bondage of external circumstances and/or the inner limitations. This is called मोक्ष/moksha. The whole of Vedanta is presented for this purpose!
**NB very soon, an additional ‘page’ will be added to blog containing the Devanagari script so that those who have a desire to be able to chant from the original can at least recognize the words… all adds to the fun of learning!