In this posting we continue with the Mundakopanishad with the fourth and fifth mantras and their explanations.
thasmai sahovAcha – dvevidye vedithavye|
ithihasma yadbrahmavido vadanthi – parAchaivAparA cha||
Word meanings:
thasmai                             =    to that S’aunaka
sah uvAcha ha                =    that Angiras said as follows
brahmavido                    =    the inteligentia, who knew about Brahman
vadanthi sma ha           =    said that
yath (prApthum)          =    to reach that Brahman
dvevidye                           =    two types of knowledge
parAchaivAparA cha  =    called parA and aparA
vedithavye ithi              =    should be obtained
with such knowledge about Brahman, they will be endowed with the knowledge about the whole universe.
The explanation:
When Saunaka asked Angiras about the entity, by knowing about which, the knowledge about this whole universe will be obtained, he replied as follows –
Sages like ParAs’ara etc. prescribe that to reach the presence of the Brahman, the seeker should obtain the knowledges called parA and aparA. That knowledge about Brahman is the one identified as eka vijnAna and by having that knowledge, one is considered to have the knowledge about the whole universe. This is the substance of the above mantra. In this mantra, the word prApthum is to be borrowed to get the meaning of the word yath. The meaning of this mantra will then be “one will be able to obtain the complete knowledge about the whole universe if he is able to have the knowledge about Brahman. This knowledge Brahman can be obtained only by studying the two sciences called parA and apara.” Otherwise, there will be no coordination between the question “by knowing about which entity, one will be able to obtain the knowledge about the whole universe?” and the answer of Angiras – “the intelligentsia having the knowledge about the Brahman prescribe study of the two sciences parA and apara.” If the word is not borrowed, there will be no connection for the word yath with the rest in this sentence.
How do you arrive at the meaning – two sciences for the word vidye? The following lines of the Vishnu PurANa shlokas are the basis for arriving at the meaning –
thathprApthihethurjnAnam cha – karmachoktham mahAmune|
Agamoththham vivekAchcha dvithhAjnAnam thathhochyathe||
S’abdabrahmAgamamayam parambrahma vivekajam|
The jnAna and karma are the sources to obtain the knowledge about Brahman. The jnAna amongst the two is again of two types – borne out of the science and borne out of judgement. These two types are indicated by the word dvevidye. The next mantra clarifies about these two types of jnAnas – the knowledges.
thathrAparA, Rigvedo yajurvedah sAmavedodharvaveda|
s’ikshA kalpo vyAkaraNam niruktham chando jyothishamithi|
athha parA, yayA thadaksharamadhigamyathe||
Word meanings:
thathra aparA,                             = amongst them aparavidya means
Rigvedah yajurvedah               |        = the four Vedas viz., Rig-Veda,
sAmavedo adharvavedah|          yajurveda, SAmavEda & adharva vEda
s’ikshA kalpah vyAkaraNam|         = and the six subsidiaries called Siksha
niruktham chandah                |      kalpam etc. (the knowledge of Brahman
jyothisham ithi                           |    obtained by studying these ten sciences
                                                                   is called as aparavidya.
athha parA                                     =   now, paravidya means, that knowledge
yayA                                                  = obtained through the devotion
                                                                   to Brahman, from which,
adhigamyathe                              = one perceives directly
aksharam thath                           = that Brahman designated by the word
                                                                   akshara (that is known as paravidya)
The first amongst those two learning process  – Vidyas, which facilitate knowing about that Brahman, by knowing about whom, one gets to know about the entire universe is called aparavidya. The other is called paravidya. Meaning of the word VidyA is the learning process which results in obtaining the knowledge. Amongst them the aparavidya is that obtained from the preceptor – the AchArya, who taught the six subsidiary studies and then graduate to the level of a person knowing about that Brahman, the principal subject of all the four vEdas. It has been declared by Him that vedais’cha sarvaih aham eva vedyah – all the vEdas speak about Him only. The s’ruthi VAkyas called Upanishads also belong to these four branches of vEdas. Thus, the knowledge acquired through attending the discourses – the teachings of the preceptors, on the four vEdas and their six subsidiaries – the six vedAngas, is the aparavidya. Amongst these the vEdas are well known for their authenticity and the six subsidiaries that help one to understand, recite and practice them. The subsidiary Siksha is that science which teaches the process of reciting the vEdas in proper sound characteristics. The subsidiary kalpam is that science which describes the various methods of conducting the prescribed rites like daily rituals, occasional rituals like Yajnas etc. the subsidiary called vyAkaraNa is the science of the words and their different forms, the sentences etc., which is known to us as grammar.  The subsidiary niruktham is the lexicon or dictionary of the Vedic words. The subsidiary Chhandas is the science of the poetry, their metres, the number of lines a poem should consist of and other rules that govern the poetical works. The last subsidiary Jyotisha is the science of astronomy/astrology. This helps one to study the movement of various celestial bodies like the planets, stars, their positions, and their relation to the various places in the universes and decide about the most favourable and unfavourable time slots for conducting the various rituals to result in the maximum benefits. It is seen from the adris’yatvAdhikaraNa of Sribhashyam that apart from the above six subsidiaries, the ithihAsAs etc., are also included in the aparavidya from the statement “IthihAsa purANam nyAyo mImAmsa dharmas’AsthrANi ithi”. However this is only a different version of the mantra.
The knowledge obtained by the practice of unflinching affectionate devotion to Him, which results in the direct perception of Him by the practitioner – the upAsaka. While the aparavidya is the knowledge acquired about Brahman by attending the discourses of the preceptors of the vEdas, their subsidiaries and other connected subjects, this paravidya is different in the sense that this is the knowledge of practising the meditation with affectionate devotion, to be able to perceive Him directly. This is the difference between these two Vidyas. This paravidya, otherwise known as bhakthi-thaththva will be discussed at a greater length when the mantra nAyamAthmA pravachanena labhyah.
This matter was discussed by Bhagavad Ramanuja in adris’yatvAdhi-karaNa of Sribhashyam by stating dve vidye vedithavye – brahmavishaye parokshAparoksharoope dve jNAne upAdeya ithyarthhah. The substance of this statement of BhAshyakAra is as follows –
A seeker of Brahman should first acquire the knowledge of Brahman indirectly through the listening to the discourses of the vEdas and its subsidiaries. After such acquisition of knowledge, he should acquire the knowledge of UpAsana – the meditating with affectionate devotion, which results in his direct perception of Him. These are the two Vidyas mentioned in this mantra.
An objection:
dve vidye here, for the word VidyA, the meanings should be explained that the knowledge from Rig-Veda and other vEdas along with the six subsidiaries should be called as paravidya and the knowledge from Upanishads etc., detailing about the Brahman, should be termed as apara VidyA. These meanings are obvious and that would be the proper. Instead of giving accordingly, terming the knowledge acquired by listening the Vedas and the six Vedangas as paravidya – the indirect knowledge, and the knowledge acquired by meditating with affectionate devotion as aparavidya is drawing meanings which are hard to conceive.
Answer: In case your suggestion is accepted, then the knowledge from the Upanishads has to be called as paravidya and that would have to be out of the purview of the Vedas. But this will be contradicting the s’ruthi vAkya yA vedabAhyAh smrithayah yAs’cha kAs’cha kudrishTayah| sarvAsthA nishphalAh prethya thamo nishThA hi thAh smrithAh and the paravidya in the form of knowledge from the Upanishads would be out of the purview of the Vedic principles like all the narrow minded and wrongly interpreted theories such as the chArvAkas – the rationalists, which depend more on tricky interpretations and apparent and superficial meanings. Then the Upanishads have to be discarded as unauthentic and useless. Further it will result in stating that the Vedas do not speak about Brahman and only Upanishads detail the Brahman. In that case, the pramANas – the authentic statements such as sarve vedA yath padam Amananthi and vedais’cha sarvai rahameva vedyah, would be contradictory. Hence the meanings put forward by Bhagavad Ramanuja only will be appropriate.
It is worth noting that S’ankara BhagavathpAda also has mentioned the meaning of aparavidya to be the Vedas. Further he argued that in case the meaning for paravidya is taken to be Upanishads which will have to be different than the Vedas, the Upanishads have to be discarded since they will not follow the dictum yA vedabAhyAh smrithayah yAs’cha kAs’cha kudrishTayah| sarvAsthA nishphalAh prethya thamo nishThA hi thAh smrithAh and hence the meaning of the second knowledge – paravidya to be the knowledge about Brahman. Further it was shown by him that the aparavidya – the knowledge from the Vedas teaches mostly about the rituals and results in temporary worldly fruits of those rituals and hence it is a form of ignorance only. The second VidyA – the apara VidyA, the knowledge about the eternal Brahman only, results in the mOkSha – the release from the bondage. Thus he showed the difference between both the Vidyas. But this is not correct, the reason being – in the phrase dve vidye, different meanings, which are contradictory, are attributed for the same word VidyA. One meaning is the Vedas like Rig-Veda etc. The second meaning is said to be the knowledge of the Brahman acquired from the study of Upanishads. Further rejecting on the plea that the vEdas do not impart the knowledge about the Brahman, and hence they are forms of ignorance only. This argument is in contravention to the vAkya vedais’cha sarvairahameva vedyah. Again, if the vEdas are forms of ignorance only and hence fit to be rejected, why should it be said that they are to be learnt – vedithavye? Hence, the meanings given by Ramanuja that both the knowledges – the Vidyas, are about Brahman only; that the first aparavidya is the indirect knowledge about Brahman, acquired from listening to the discourses of the preceptors about the vEdas and their subsidiary angams; secondly that this indirect knowledge will lead to the knowledge from direct perception, which is the result of the meditation with devotion to Him laced with affection towards Him. These meanings only are free from any faults.
to be continued….
Courtesy –Srinivasa Ramanuja DAsan
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