Study of the Scriptures

Since most scriptures are available in translation, it would be a pointless exercise to apply the dictionary and Dhatu-Patha to merely confirm the translation; in fact, all translations are significantly flawed by two factors: the first is the translator's level of understanding of the subject (in respect of the scriptures that means spiritual understanding) and his ability to express that understanding in another language; secondly, the student (the reader of the translation) has his own limited associations with the words in his native tongue. These sources of error and misunderstanding are minimized by studying the scriptures in the original language, and, through tracing the etymology of each word to its finest, most universal source, thereby overcoming the limitations that the individual has with particular words and ideas.

The translations are helpful in selecting a passage for study, and to confirm that the correct word is being traced through the dictionary. After this preparatory work with the dictionary and Dhatu-Patha, the passage is considered in relation to the section of scripture in which it occurs, in relation to the scripture as a whole, in relation to the entire Veda: the mind is thus turned towards the spiritual world, and slowly trained to view all of life in terms of that spiritual world. It does take practice before realising that the scriptural texts can only be understood through contemplation and meditation.

As an illustration of this method of study, let us examine a verse from the Bhagavad

GTta: Chapter 10 Verse 33 is selected simply because it has some words and concepts

introduced in this course. It is an extract from SrT Krsna's response to Arjuna's asking for details of His Glory and powers; the first line of the verse is:

Of letters I am the letter A; I am the copulative of compound words.

At first glance, this statement does not appear to be at all profound or have any spiritual associations whatsoever, but nonetheless we pursue it through the dictionary and Dhatu-Patha to see what may be discovered.

Removing the sandhi from this line, we have:

3TW: IMIRl*^Tl

MW3b a-kshara mfn. imperishable ... n. a syllable, letter, vowel, sound, word.

MWla 3T 3.a a prefix having a negative or privative or contrary sense.

MW327a Ksara mfn. melting away, perishable; m. a cloud; n. water; the body. MW327a y/ksar, cl.l.P. to flow, stream, glide; to melt away, wane, perish ...

MWll32a Sam-calana n. moving about, agitation, trembling, shaking.

— prathama eka-vacana of ^ K. MWla 3T-kara m. the letter or sound a. (see beginning of Lesson 3.A). MW274b K l.kara mf(i)n. y/l.kri ... making, doing, working ... m. (ifc.) an act, action; the term used in designating a letter or sound or indeclinable word ... MW300c sj l.kri ... cl.2.P. ... to do, make, perform, accomplish

MW254a Karana mf(l)n. doing, making, effecting, causing ... m. a helper, companion ... n. the act of making, doing, producing, effecting ...

— eka-vacana uttama-purusa lat (present indicative) of y/as = 'I am'. MWll7a l.as cl.2. P. to be, live, exist, be present...

MW760c 2.Bhu mfn. becoming, being, existing ... f. the act of becoming or arising; the place of being, space, world or universe.

MW503b n. a couple, male and female ... m. a copulative compound (or any compound in which the members if uncompounded would be in the same case and connected by the conjunction 'and'). MW503b ^ original stem of dvi. MW504c fl" two.

— sasthi eka-vacana

MWl206b WITTl%^> mf(i)n. (from sam-asa), comprehensive, concise, succinct, brief; relating to or belonging to a compound word; m. or n. a compound word, Bhag.

MWll52a ^HT 2.sam ind. (connected with 7.sa and 2.sama), with, together with, along with, altogether.

MWll52a "M JH 2.sama mf(a)n. even, smooth ... same, equal, similar like, equivalent, like to or identical or homogeneous with ...

MWllllb ^T 7.sa ind. expressing 'junction', 'conjunction' ... 'similarity', 'equality' ... 'having the same'. MWl59c l.Asa m. seat.

MWl59c y/3i I "M 2.as to sit quietly, abide, remain.

MW207a Upa-vesana n. the act of sitting down, a seat; the being devoted to or engaged in.

MW380a ^ 2. ca ind. and, both, also, moreover, as well as ...

Reflections: The following personal reflections are offered as illustrative of this process of study: they are neither right nor wrong, neither good nor bad; they are simply what were presented to the mind in considering the passage.

In all languages the first letter of the alphabet is A. The primacy of its position at the head of the alphabet reflects its role as the source of the whole alphabet. In Sanskrit this is easy to demonstrate: the figure given in 1.A.6 summarizes the core role of 3T in forming all the vowels; and from the five mouth positions of these vowels, are derived all the consonants. All words are formed from sound, and all sounds are derived from 3T; they are all but a modified form of that 3T, which is their source and support.

In responding to Arjuna's question, Krsna gives many examples of being the foremost of several classes, and here the illustration is being the A of letters. Here the allusion is also to Consciousness as being the underlying Source and Support of the manifest creation (-y/asa bhuvi, 'in this world').

The sounds of the alphabet are imperishable (aksara): they may be manifest, they may change, they may be unmanifest, but are not subject to absolute destruction. If the sounds of the alphabet are imperishable, how then does one describe their source and support, the ever-present 3T? This may be understood as referring to the immutable Consciousness underlying the whole creation.

The mark of the dvandva samasa is that there is an equality between the joined elements, and each retain its individuality (see ll.B.l). Giving this as the foremost of the samasa — where there is no difference in importance between the elements — places the emphasis on that which links them together. By analogy it is Consciousness that underlies the ever-changing variety of creation, holding it all together as one, yet allowing the elements to retain their individuality.

By way of illustration, the attention at the moment is on the words on this page, on their significance and meaning. But what of the letters which form the words? Or the ink that forms the letters? And what about the paper that holds the ink in place? The plain white paper, which is taken for granted, is like Consciousness; and all the words, which are deemed important and interesting, are like creation.

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