Yoga Sutra 3.17 understanding of the cries of all beings

Sūtra III.17

There is confusion from the mutual projection of word, meaning and idea on to each other. From saṃyama on their distinctness (comes) understanding of the cries of all beings

Now, another object for saṃyama is presented, directed towards word, meaning, and understanding. There is confusion from the mutual projection of word, meaning, and idea on to each other. From saṃyama on their distinctness, understanding of the cries of all beings is attained. Of these, what is word, and what again are the meaning and the idea? What is the cause of the confusion, and how are they to be distinguished?

With regard to these, speech has its function only in (uttering) letter-sounds. Hearing has as its field merely transformations of sound.

With regard to these: what can be uttered by speech, and heard by ear, is word. The further point is examined, as to whether it is the voice alone, or apart from that. Bare utterance is not word. Why not? speech has its function only in letter-sounds. What is called speech is when the sense-organ is manifesting letter-sounds, depending on the eight places (of articulation), and fulfilling its purpose in mere manifestation of the letter-sounds. But it does not function to manifest a meaning, nor to manifest a word.

Nor is the sense of hearing of itself word, nor is word its special object. How so? Because hearing has as its field merely transformations of sound, and what is called sound may be either syllabic or non-syllabic. One particular transformation of it is of the nature of letter-sounds, a and so on; another would be the unintelligible sounds perceived in the cries of crows and other birds. The hearing being confined to making manifest merely transformations of sound, is not concerned with meaning and word.

A word, moreover, is something comprehensible by an idea binding together the tones (letter-sounds). They cannot combine (of themselves) because they cannot come together.

(Opponent) Surely a word is simply what we can hear?

(Answer) No, because it must produce the notion of meaning; word is what causes meaning to be understood. What further is it? A word, moreover, is something comprehensible by an idea binding together the tones.

Tones are the sounds, objects of hearing, each of which ends after laying down a separate saṃskāra in the one attentive to them; the buddhi-idea which has been made to arise by the final sound is the buddhi-idea which binds together the tones. It originates from the saṃskāra which is laid down in the attentive mind from the binding together in sequence from the first sound onwards. What is grasped by that single buddhi(-notion) is the word. And since it is a matter of direct perception, as much as colours for instance, no other proof of it is needed.

(Opponent) But Revered (bhagavat) Upavarṣa says (that the word gauḥ – cow – is the letter-sounds g, au and a visarga (ḥ).

(Answer) It is not so, for (in mere letter-sounds) there is no expressiveness (of meaning). Why not? Because they cannot (of themselves) combine. They cannot combine, because they cannot come together. For at the time of pronunciation of g there is no au or ḥ; and at the time of pronunciation of the au there is no g, or ḥ; nor on the occasion of the operation of the visarga ḥ; are the other two there. Thus the letter-sounds cannot express (any meaning) because they cannot combine.

Just as there is no basis for simultaneous coexistence of the letter-sounds, in the same way their saṃskāra-s and memories, not being produced from them at the same time, cannot express (meaning) either. Another reason is that memory has a particular relation, applying only to some (previously) experienced object of its saṃskāra, whereas the (word-) notion is of something new.

To admit that saṃskāra-s had expressive power would contradict the accepted principles: ‘Meaning is ascertained from word,’ ‘Relationship between things prior and things posterior is expressible by a verb,’ and ‘Dharma (right conduct) has (sacred) Word as its basis, so what is not based upon Word is to be disregarded.’

(Opponent) Still, capacity-to-be-a-word might be figuratively allowed to memory and saṃskāra, inasmuch as they consist essentially of the letter-sounds.

(Answer) Not so. The fact of consisting of letter-sounds as such amounts only to an unreal existence, (true only) if it were proved that letter-sounds are the word. (But they are not.) The world, because of indiscrimination, is under the delusion that the self is the body, etc., and so has this idea of it, though incorrect. But (popular opinion) is never a ground for taking something as an established fact.

Moreover, it is only with the operation of speech and hearing that the meaning is grasped, and this operation is necessary for them to have capacity-to-be-a-word as their essence. Now the final letter-sound does not express meaning because it is (only) a letter-sound like the first one, and it follows that memory-saṃskāra-s of final letter-sounds do not express meaning, because they are simply memory-saṃskāra-s like the memory-saṃskāra of the first one.

(Opponent) Suppose we say that the final letter-sound, with the aid of the saṃskāra-s laid down by the previous letter-sounds, expresses the meaning.

(Answer) Not so. Why not? Because that would entail that the meaning was produced simply from the pronunciation of the final letter-sound. How so? Because the hearer has (already) a mass of saṃskāra-s laid down by the letter-sounds g and so on uttered in days past, but the meaning would be recognized only from the utterance (today) of the final letter-sound.

(Opponent) Well, the pronunciation of the first letter-sound might have a limiting function?

(Answer) No. Since there is a time difference of the earlier ones from the last one, they cannot come into association to effect the restriction.

(Opponent) But for you too, when the letter-sounds do manifest the word, the earlier letter-sounds must have been pronounced as (progressively) limiting, so it is more reasonable that the expressive capacity be in the letter-sounds themselves rather than to propose (some entity like a sphoṭa meaning-flash) that is supposed to manifest the word.

(Answer) No. We only admit that the individual letter-sounds lay down their respective saṃskāra-s in the buddhi as their dharmin. For it is in the buddhi, where the saṃskāra-s of all the letter-sounds, uttered and then vanishing, have been progressively accumulated, that the word shines forth. This is the manifestation of the word by letter sounds – it is not that they act directly, like a light, on the word.

Nor is it any better (for you) to say that inasmuch as the saṃskāra-s are held in the same receptacle of buddhi as their dharmin-possessor, there is mutual co-operation between them, any more than in the case of memories, desires and aversion in regard to perception of things desired and undesired. It can never be supposed that the previous letter-sounds, or their saṃskāra-s have any association with the final letter-sound.

(Opponent) I too hold that the capacity of the letter-sounds to be a word is simply that they produce a buddhi-idea comprising the progressively accumulated saṃskāra-s produced by the letter-sounds in a defined order.

(Answer) Not so: that would contradict what has been admitted (by you). Insofar as it is an idea distinguished by the various saṃskāra-s, is this an idea of the meaning, or of the word? If it is of the meaning, then it turns out to be the word itself. Because what makes the notion of the meaning is that very thing. If it is of the word, then it would go against the principle: Meaning is ascertained from word.

So it has to be accepted that word is the object of a single idea apart from the letter-sounds. It follows that neither the final sound assisted by saṃskāra-s laid down by the previous letter sounds, nor memory, nor saṃskāra-s of them, have the expressive power. Because they all need something like an idea to help the saṃskāra-s.

(Opponent) In that case, why not the operation of the letter-sounds with the meaning, or word, as object?

Letter-sounds cannot possibly exist together, so essentially they have no concern with each other. Without amounting to and presenting any word, they appear and disappear. Individually, they are essentially non-verbal.

(Answer) He says: Letter-sounds cannot possibly exist together, cannot possibly exist at the same time, because speech is a sequence. So essentially they have no concern with each other, they are not mutually co-operative since they have no connection of any kind. Without amounting to and presenting any word, not performing any function as a word, they appear and disappear. Neither individually nor collectively can they by any bodiless projection ever attain to being a word. Individually, they are essentially non-verbal, because they have no contemporaneous basis. Even as a combination their nature is still nonverbal, so what to say when they are separate parts of things established as not meaningful?

Still, each single letter-sound is full of potentialities for expressing all kinds of things: by the fact of mutual co-operation with other letter-sounds, it is endowed with all kinds of potential forms.

A letter-sound is established by an earlier letter-sound as belonging to a particular formation, and an earlier one by a later one. Thus certain letter-sounds, assuming a particular sequence, are assigned by convention to a particular object. To that extent the particular letter-sounds have come to lose their power to express anything else. The g and au and ḥ are now indicating something having a dewlap.

Still, each single letter-sound is full of potentialities for expressing all kinds of things, what is expressed being the words of the expression. And in the sense that it has the potentialities of manifesting the words, each one is full of those expressions, as the spokes are each drawn together in the hub of a wheel. For instance, the letter-sound g is full of the potentialities of indicating words like go (cow), varga (class), agni (fire), gagana (sky).

By the fact of mutual co-operation with other letter-sounds, as the word gauḥ is a co-operative interdependence of g, au, and ḥ, the word agni has the g co-operating with i and the others. So from joining up with various other letter-sounds as adjuncts according to the case, it is endowed with all kinds of potential forms.

A letter-sound is established by an earlier letter-sound as belonging to a particular formation, as indicating a particular word, and an earlier one by a later one, and one in the middle by both earlier and later ones.

Thus certain letter-sounds, assuming a particular sequence, being set in order in that specific sequence, are assigned by convention to a particular object. The conventional usage is: ‘This, inasmuch as its constituent elements are in this particular sequence, means this object.’ By that convention as to the object, they are assigned to it.

By a convention as to letter-sounds, the actual word is conventionally agreed. For the word is a general conventional usage regarding a particular letter-sequence, an unambiguous function of the letter-sounds.

To that extent the particular letter-sounds have come to lose their power to express anything else since they are functioning solely to manifest one definite word expressing a particular object which has a dewlap, etc. (in the case of ‘cow’); they have lost the other potentialities of manifesting other words. These powers of indicating other words are inoperative, are lost, because in the concentration (on the one word) those other particularities are subdued, and its are dominant. The g and au and ḥ are not indicating something having a dewlap: they are making manifest the word gauḥ (cow).

The single idea-flash of the letter-sounds in the recognized order of the sounds as assigned to their object by convention, is the Word, which is conventionally accepted as expressing what is to be expressed. That word is a simple unity. It is the object of a single idea, uttered with a single impetus, undivided, having no sequence and not of the nature of letter-sounds, brought into operation by the notion of the final letter-sound.

When one person wishes to inform another, it is by the letter-sounds as spoken by speakers and heard by hearers, conforming to the saṃskāra-groups of the business of speech, to which no beginning can be ascribed. It is recognized by the minds of the people, who all regard it as something well-established.

The single idea-flash (buddhi-nirbhāsa) the flash of the idea which is the unifier of the letter-sounds in the recognized order of the sounds, combined in a particular fixed sequence, which sequence is one with which they are potentially endowed, as assigned to their object by convention according to established rules, is the Word, the basis, what alone gives them their support, which is conventionally accepted as expressing what is to be expressed and not the letter-sounds, though it is conventionally accepted as through letter-sounds.

That word is a simple unity. A thing like a jar, though it is one, yet has parts, and so is found to be the object of a number of ideas: not so the word (for it).

It is the object of a single idea, perceived directly by all the world. The letter-sounds, being more than one, do not arise at the same moment, and never come to be the object of a single idea. But he who would reject by inference this unity of the (buddhi-) idea which is directly perceived, would be going against direct perception.

And so it is uttered with a single impetus with the awareness that the idea caused by the saṃskāra-s laid down, in the production of the letter-sound sequence, has reached completion. It is flashed out in an instant (jhaṭiti) in the final ideas as (a thing) undivided without having parts, and therefore having no sequence, and not of the nature of letter-sounds, brought into operation by the notion of the final letter-sound. The operation of the first letter-sound being passed along the line, it is only in the comprehension of the final letter-sound that it shines forth.

When one person wishes to inform another another mind, it is by the letter-sounds as spoken by speakers and heard by hearers, conforming to the saṃskāra-groups (vāsanā) of the business of speech, to which no beginning can be ascribed. It is recognized by the minds of the people who all regard it as something well established, and so goes on the beginningless whirling of the wheel of the world (saṃsāra).

Worldly life presupposes that it is from words that we understand what is intended, and so it is said that this is recognized by the worldly intelligences, impressed as they are with the saṃskāra-groups. There is erroneous understanding in those who are impelled to engage in goals purely of worldly business, that a word is as it were a (real) self.

Therefore, the word is distinct from its letter-sounds, because being grasped as a single idea (buddhi) it produces the notion (pratyaya) like a lamp, and because it is the cause of comprehension of an intended object, like a lamp and like the mind (buddhi). The letter-sounds are not the word because they are joined up in sequence by a single agent, and because they are (merely) instruments, like an axe or a carpenter’s chisel and the like.

Now on this point, there is a view which is maintained by some:

(The verses which follow, and which Śaṅkara is going to criticize, re-interpret and finally amend, are from Kumārila’s Ślokavārttika, XII. 131–136 – Tr.)

Neither letters nor sounds manifest any meaning-flash (sphoṭa) of word or sentence,

Because they (themselves) are manifestors, like the light of a lamp etc.

And from their mere existence, they are means – like a jar and such things;

Apart from worldly use, meaning is imaginable for them freely as one likes.

There is no sphoṭa-flash expressing the meaning, because it would (have to) be other than letter-sounds

Like a jar and such things; nor does this (statement) contradict perception, for no such dharmin is shown.

He who would deny that it is letter-sounds (which express the meaning) refuses what is directly experienced;

Since (the meaning) springs up immediately on the knowledge of the letter-sounds. He is like one denying the marks (of the hare) on the moon.

Arising from the letter-sounds, springing up immediately on the knowledge of them, is knowledge of the meaning;

What arises from a thing is like it, as for instance the knowledge of fire from smoke.

Again, g and the other letter-sounds express, like a lamp, the meaning such as gauḥ (cow);

For so it is firmly recognized, and so it has been previously.

Here it is being said: Neither letters nor sounds manifest any meaning-flash (sphoṭa) of word or sentence. Now neither word nor sentence is brought about just by itself. Since, then, no word or sentence is supposed to exist apart from the letter-sounds, and these do not manifest any meaning-flash of word or sentence, how is there any possibility of verbal communication between intelligent beings? And in any case, having spoken of a meaning-flash of word and sentence, to deny it now means that word and sentence have been accepted (as entities in their own right).

(Opponent) Let it be the meaning-flash as understood by others that is spoken of.

(Answer) That is making an issue of what is already settled (siddha-sādhyatā). It is not some other meaning-flash of the word and sentence (supposed) by another person which is being denied. He is denying any meaning-flash at all in any word or sentence.

(Opponent) Then let us say: The letter-sounds, set in their particular order, are what determines the meaning. What is denied is word and sentence (as such determiners).

(Answer) That too is wrong: it is self-contradictory.

(Opponent) Let us say that it is word and sentence apart from letter-sounds that are being denied.

(Answer) To have spoken of their being apart, though denying that they manifest meaning, shows that word and sentence have been accepted as existing apart.

(Opponent) Other people imagine them so, and that imaginary fact is what is being denied.

(Answer) Still, inasmuch as manifestation does occur, your argument fails.

(Opponent) Why?

(Answer) There are three possibilities. The letter-sounds:

have the capacity to manifest a word apart from themselves; or

have the capacity to manifest a word which is not apart from themelves;

or

have the capacity to manifest the meaning.

If they manifest what is apart from themselves, then they are not sufficient to themselves. If they manifest what is not apart from themselves, then nothing else is accomplished. In fact, manifesting capacity is only of something apart, not of what is not apart, just as in the case of the lamp. For a manifestor like a lamp is used to manifest other things, not to manifest itself. If self-manifestation were to be the purpose, there is after all self-manifestation by darkness too.

It being established that they manifest something apart from themselves, are they to manifest the word, or the meaning? Now a task such as carrying along a birch-tree, for example, which needs to be undertaken by a number, cannot be accomplished by only one among them. So the presentation of the meaning by just one of the letter-sounds is not possible, because it is something that has to be presented by a number.

Nor can it be said that the letter sounds, having laid down their respective saṃskāra-s, revive to reveal more and more, on the analogy of a man digging a well. Because the object is the single buddhi-idea of what is meant.

And just as the perishing consciousness (vijñāna) would not be able to lay down a saṃskāra for the consciousness that is to arise (immediately after it), as supposed in the Buddhist doctrine, because there is (for them) no persisting dharmin, so here there is no reciprocal relation between the letter-sounds, produced (as they are) at different times; for there is nothing to carry any force (effect) from each perishing earlier one to each subsequent one which is to arise. So the letter sounds do not manifest the meaning.

As the only alternative left, they are thus shown to be essentially manifestors purely of a word, which is apart from themselves. For us, this does not entail the flaw of the saṃskāra-s’ having nothing to hold them. Because in the persisting conscious dharmin, aware of the continued incompleteness of the saṃskāra-s laid down successively by each precedent letter-sound, at the instant of the production of the last one there springs up in a flash the idea (buddhi) which is the undivided single idea intended.

If it is said that the letter-sounds manifest their own buddhi-idea, still that buddhi is only an instrument as regards comprehension of meaning; it is not the letter-sounds which bring about the result (in the hearer) by that instrumentality, because they have exhausted their efficacy in producing the instrumental buddhi. The operation in regard to the result belongs to the buddhi-idea alone, and the proof is that it is the word which operates to bring about that result. Since the comprehension of the meaning is distinct from the instrumental idea, expressiveness is not from the letter-sounds, though it is not denied that they are indirectly a means to the word.

So the verse cited above –

(Neither letters nor sounds manifest any meaning-flash
(sphoṭa) of word or sentence,

Because they (themselves) are manifestors,
like the light of a lamp, etc.)

it should be amended to read:

Both letters and sounds manifest a meaning
ever distinct from themselves,

Because they (themselves) are manifestors,
like the light of a lamp, etc.

As generally recognized, the whole point of a thing like a jar is that it serves for something else: by its mere appearance it calls to mind its use for cooking, carrying, holding or whatever it may be. It is similarly true that what is wanted from letter-sounds is this: that from being there – like a jar – in their sequence, they serve to bring up a word distinct from themselves.

And from their mere existence, they are means – like a jar and such things:

Apart from worldly use, meaning is imaginable for them freely as one likes.

Whether it is a produced thing or an idea, however it may be, that from which the meaning is grasped, which is not composed of the rising and perishing letter-sounds because it is other than letter-sounds, is the meaning-flash (sphoṭa). Its effect must be accepted, because it is not comprised of letter-sounds. So the line

There is no sphoṭa-flash expressing the meaning,
Because it would (have to) be other than letter-sounds

(Like a jar and such things; nor does this (statement)
Contradict perception, for no such dharmin is shown.)

is contradicted by what any speaker accepts. And to argue because it would be other than letter-sounds establishes nothing about that other. A thing does not establish what is other than itself.

Furthermore, one who accepts the four-fold classification of words into nouns, verbal roots, prefixes and particles, has to accept that there must be something else, apart from the letter-sounds, to manifest the classes. For letter-sounds have no power to manifest classes of words: they manifest only classes of letter-sounds. Nor could there be a manifestation of a class considered as a whole, of which parts would be arising and perishing at different times. Even in cases where the parts are enduring, still the hands and feet and the rest do not make up corporeality without the body itself, so what to say of the case where they are not enduring?

(Grammatical Excursus)

(In what follows, homonyms are given to show that the same group of letter-sounds may produce widely different meanings: aśvaḥ can mean ‘horse’, or ‘thou didst go’ and so on. The structure of Saṃskṛt words is analysed to make related points. Translation is pointless because the English words would not exemplify what is meant. Tr.)

When it is said, for instance: ‘aśvaḥ ayātam ayātam aśvaḥ bhavati tena mama vāyur vāyuḥ’, the forms (aśvaḥ, ayātam, vāyuḥ’ – homonyms) are the same, but mutually opposed as one of each pair belongs to the noun and the other to the verb class, a fact which letter-sound on its own cannot manifest. If, when the word aśvaḥ is spoken, its a-ś-v-a-ḥ letters are manifesting as noun-class, they are different from manifestors of it as verb-class, which means that in the separate classes there is manifestation of separate things. This does not occur in a simple unity.

If it is supposed that it is by the context of the sense and juxtaposition with other words that it can be said ‘Here it is a noun’ and ‘Here it is a verb’, still, manifestation of the classes of noun and verb is by the context of the sense and so on, which letter-sound entirely on its own cannot effect. For a Brahmin on his own does not exemplify warrior status as well as his own Brahminhood.

It has to be accepted that there are many separate a-s and ś-s and v-s and so on. In the same way, words like ‘cow’ are quite separate. The facts that ‘cow’ is a word and ‘horse’ (aśva) is a word are well known, as are ma-ness and mā-ness and i-ness and ī-ness. So it is that a and so on manifest only universal classes of a-ness, etc., not the class differences of noun and verb of words like aśva.

So the word, distinct from the letter-sounds, has to be admitted as what manifests the universal of word-ness. Such being the case, the verses:

(He who would deny that it is the letter-sounds (which express the meaning) would be refusing what is directly experienced,

Since (the meaning) springs up immediately on the knowledge of the letter-sounds. He is like one denying the marks (of the hare) on the moon.

Arising from the letter-sounds, springing up immediately on the knowledge of them, is knowledge of the meaning:

What arises from a thing is like it, as for instance the knowledge of fire from smoke.)

should be amended to read:

He who would deny the sphoṭa meaning-flash following immediately on knowledge of the letter-sounds,

Would be refusing what is directly experienced. He is like one denying the marks (of the hare) on the moon.

Not arising from the letter-sounds is understanding of the meaning, which springs up instantly on the knowledge of them;

What arises from a thing is like it: as the under- standing of fire is not from smoke (itself).

No instant arising has been shown without an idea to cause that understanding. If it is said that the mere succession is sufficient (cause), that would be casting doubt on an established truth (siddha-sādhyatā). For smoke alone is not a cause of the knowledge of fire: the cause is knowledge of the smoke (in the standard inference). What we are saying is this: as in cases such as smoke, so with the letter-sounds – something (else) is needed to help in the succession.

Nor could the g and au letter sounds combine, like (oil and wick in) a lamp, to manifest (the word gauḥ = cow) the meaning of the animal with the dewlap and horns. As they have no common time basis, it is clear that there will be no certainty about them. Even when they have the ḥ at the end, the common basis is still lacking. Letter-sounds have no contemporaneous basis for manifestation of meaning, whereas a lamp in its unbroken continuity holds evenly steady, and so provides a cause (for manifestation).

So this verse also –

(Again, g and the other letter-sounds express,
like a lamp, the meaning such as gauḥ (cow);

For so it is firmly recognized,
and so it has been previously.)

should read:

Again, g and the other letter-sounds do not express,
like a lamp, the meaning such as gauḥ;

For so it is firmly recognized,
and so it has been previously.

Again, letter-sounds like g do not act like a lamp to express gauḥ, because continuity is accepted (as needed for that), and they came (and went) before (the cognition).

Now comes the question of valid cognition. The letter-sounds do not express meaning, nor are they even a means of cognition (pramāṇa) of it, for they depend directly on a convention, like a numeral digit or an image (of a god such as Viṣṇu) and the like.

As the digit in the hundreds place, for instance, or the image of the god, are dependent on a convention, they illustrate merely the tradition; but they do not even approach giving valid knowledge in regard to what is meant by (the god) Viṣṇu, or one hundred, or another number.

Whereas valid cognition is something that does not depend on any convention, like for example a sentence or a lamp, which belong to the other category, and unlike letter-sounds, which can no more give valid cognition than an image. So, the letter-sounds manifest something distinct from themselves, which supplies the meaning; for they themselves are directly dependent on convention as much as a numeral digit or an image of Viṣṇu. That the sphoṭa meaning-flash does not depend directly on any such convention we have pointed out.

So who can refuse to accept the sphoṭa meaning-flash thus powerfully presented with these numerous arguments? This being now settled, the commentary goes on:

It is different from the idea of a convention, which is, that the binding together of just these (letter-sounds) as a particular group is expressive of a particular meaning. But convention has the nature of an illusory projection of word and meaning on to each other as memory-forms: ‘This word is what is meant here, and what is meant here is this word; and the concept is what is meant and the word (for it).’

Convention is this sort of mutual illusory projection. Because of the mutual projection, the word, meaning and concept are mixed up: cow is the word, cow is the meaning, cow is the concept (jñāna). He who knows the difference between them is an omniscient one.

It a word is different from the idea of a convention, for the conventional idea is an inseparable conjunction of word, meaning and concept (jñāna). The difference of this from the sphere of the word has to be made out.

Convention is: that the binding together of just these, as a particular group, is expressive of a particular meaning, in the same way that this digit is 100, or again 1,000, or this image is Viṣṇu. But convention has the nature of illusory projection (adhyāsa) of word and meaning on to each other as memory-forms, and is not a (valid) cognition. For instance, ‘This image is Viṣṇu, it indeed is the Four-armed (god)’. The concept is both, and both are the concept, with the concepts of the image and Viṣṇu projected on to each other.

So ‘This word is what is meant here, and what is meant here is this word, and the concept (pratyaya) is what is meant and the word (for it).’ Convention is this sort of mutual illusory projection (adhyāsa). Because of the mutual projection, the word, meaning and concept are mixed up: cow is the word, cow is the meaning, cow is the concept (jñāna).

He who knows the difference between them, is an omniscient one. Because of the extreme difficulty of knowing the difference, no one who is not omniscient can experience them as different.

In every word there is the potentiality of a sentence: ‘it exists’. When someone says ‘tree’, it is understood that it exists. For the object signified by a word cannot fail to exist. Nor can there be an action (expressed by a verb) without its factors-of-action.

In every word there is the potentiality of a sentence: ‘it exists’. When someone says ‘tree’, it is understood that it exists. For the object signified by a word cannot fail to exist. Why is this said? Because what he wishes to explain is the means of knowing the cries of all beings. Now ‘cries of all beings’ is in the field of meaning of sentences, not the field of meaning of words; for bare words, like bare letter-sounds, are meaningless, and do not amount to communication. Just as one aims at indicating a word by joining together letter-sounds with other letter-sounds, so with words too: the means of constructing a sentence is by looking to other words as well. So it is that validity is in the sentence alone, since there is no understanding of the object from the use of a word in isolation. Even where an isolated word (like the name Devadatta) is supposed to be its own context, still inevitably it is supplemented in the mind with the sense of existence, so that the word means ‘It is Devadatta!’ and so on; without context it is not intelligible.

In pralambate, paryāgacchati, abhyāgacchati and others of the same class, the karma-pravacanīya prefixes carry no significance at all. Then in the class typified by abhimanāyate, sumanāyate, durmanāyate, it is accepted that the prefix has an indicatory force. Also in such words as pratiṣṭhate, adhīte, etc. there is merely indicatory force and not direct denotation.

Nor can there be action (expressed by a verb) without its factors-of-action; in the simple context of action, some instrument, material or attribute is assumed.

Then, without fixed determination between base and suffix, the expression fails because of uncertainty. For instance, the word daridrātiḥ is understood by some as a complete word (dravya mātra). Yet daridra appears to be made up of nipāta and upasarga prefix elements; for we find drāti, nidrāti, daridrāti. So it must be said what the base is, whether drā or daridrā.

Those who take it to be daridrā, class the word drā as separate. In that case they read (the word) as its own bare letters, and to this ‘zero-affixed’ word they put on addition and augment as the affix. But others take (the word) to be with affix, getting the ‘zero-affixed’ word by lopping off the affix. In which cases it has to be said what the base is. And the point is no trivial one: once it has been determined to be a base, or else to be an affix, the force of the meanings, as base or affix, will be distinct.

Sometimes an upasarga prefix becomes part of the base, as for instance in a-saṅgrāmayata śūra, and in ataternaḥ, aḥ, asyāpatyamiḥ, iyān, adhunā, and so on, who is going to speak of the meaning of the base when there is no base? Then with agnicit, somasut, bhidā, chidā, atha, kati, amā, paca, paṭha and the like, who will speak of the meaning of the affix when there is no affix?

In such cases, who can imagine any meaningfulness of bases or affixes that are evidently not there?

(Opponent) Let it be so in these cases, but not elsewhere.

(Answer) You cannot have someone who is old in just half of the body.

Take the saying: Uddālaka-puṣpaḅhañjikā-pāram na Puṣpa-pracāyikā (the end of the game Crushing Uddālaka Flowers is not Flower-Gathering). What does the first member of the compound mean, and what the later? With words like pra-jñaḥ, saṃ-jña, without any context, what is the meaning of what?

With ṛṣabho, vṛṣabho, vṛṣah, udakam, udakumbhaḥ, kṣīrodaḥ, yāvo, yāvakaḥ, kūpaḥ, sūpaḥ, yūpaḥ, and so on, it has to be said which is the meaning of which. With dadhyaśāna, madhvatra and the like, what is the expressive word and what its limit?

Therefore in all cases, letter-sounds, bases, affixes, words, evidently unreal and without meaning, are simply means to sentences, which are without parts and evidently not unreal. These things are analysable out from the homogeneous partless sentence, when differentiated by illusory (mithyābhūta) letter-sounds, words, and intonations.

These things are not parts of the sentence. But inasmuch as they are means, they appear as if parts of it. When it comes to the result, they do not exist in it, so that they are unreal, like the stroke representing 100 and other numbers. In order to indicate a sentence which itself is not a thing uttered, they each take a particular form in conjunction with the sense organ, and then pass away. As they display differences of time of appearance and disappearance in their own order, they present the sentence itself as if it had a temporal succession, as if arising, as if disappearing, as if enduring, as if temporal, as if having differences – in these various forms.

So it is said, what is there of the sharp horn when it is abstracted from ‘the horned hare’? It is a fancy (conjured up) just as the fancy of mirage water that attracts the thirsty deer is conjured up from the salty ground which is real, and a man from a post (mistaken for a man) or a post from a man, and silver from nacre.

As the mirage water and so on are in fact causes of one’s coming to know the fact of the actual salty ground and so on, so letter-sounds, words, bases and affixes, being the cause of coming to know the actual meaning of the sentence, are discarded (similarly) when that is known. In some cases (the fancy) is removed (only) when the fact is reached, as with the mirage water, but in other cases it is purposefully intended (as a conventional fiction), as when from a number like 100 the digits are discarded (when the meaning is grasped), and as written letters in their forms standardized by convention are discarded from the letter-sounds a and so on (when they have been read). Now these are all accepted as being means to come to know the actual meaning; they do not thereby cease to be unreal. And so with words, etc.

He who acts independently with conventions of his own as to bases, suffixes, words, and letter-sounds, and the idea of the supposed written letters as other conventional means, and thinks that he comes to anything true in them by thus manipulating various methods of arriving at the meaning of sentences, is surely like a man who, wishing to see the moon during the rainy season, takes the cloud (indicated to him) as a pointer to the moon, as the moon itself.

As the sentence alone is real, so the meaning of the sentence is real; words, or word-meanings in isolation, do not amount to truth. Everything is inherently a universal and a particular, for there is no particular without a universal, nor a universal without a particular. When it is said ‘cow’, the implication is ‘it exists’. Though the context is just that word in isolation, it is not an isolated word-meaning that is understood, but a sentence-meaning, a further meaning with the other words mentally supplied.

Therefore we hold this verse to be wrong:

The word-meanings (together) convey the sense,
when taken separately there would be a doubt;

Because certainty arises in (considering) the whole,
as with (the phrase): post-top-perch-crow. (Vā. Adhi. 363)

For it is clear that ‘post’, as a word-meaning in isolation, has not the meaning of a sentence. So there is wood, there is a post, there is a top, there is a crow – but unless account is taken of another word ‘perch’ supplied to ‘at the top of the post’, there is no idea of (what is meant by) the post-top-perch-crow (compound). Even supposing it is meant that these things are simply there, still the idea inevitably involves the extra word-meaning ‘being’.

Therefore when even a sentence-meaning, standing by itself, is intrinsically dubious, how should word-meanings, which do not stand by themselves, reveal a sentence-meaning?

So the verse should be amended to

But the sentence conveys the sense,
when taken separately there would be a doubt;

Because certainty arises in (considering) the whole,
as with (the phrase): post-top-perch-crow.

And so:

By sentence alone is sentence-meaning spoken, for it is not something figurative made up by other things;

Because at the end there is the realization: ‘It is so.’ Treeness (is established) by the tree alone.

(Opponent) Treeness is not established by the word ‘Palāśa!’.

(Answer) Quite true. By the sentence ‘Palāśa!’ the sentence-meaning ‘Tree!’ is not stated. For the object is different, one being the meaning of the sentence ‘Palāśa!’ as ‘The palāśa exists’ or ‘The palāśa stands’, and the other being the meaning of the sentence ‘The tree’. And when a separate existence is accepted for words and letter-sounds, not having parts, how can it be imagined that a sentence made up of letter-sounds and words, which have no parts, should itself have parts? For it could not be made particular by any action of space, etc. So to insist on supposing that there are parts (in a sentence) is wholly unsound.

(Opponent) ‘If in truth there are divisions into words and
letter-sounds, it will be the same with the
ultimate atoms,

And so nothing will exist at all’ – this is a
frightener for children. (Vā. Adhi. 150)

(Answer) As we accept that the atoms themselves are nothing but dharma-s of sattva and the other two guṇa-s, (the opponent’s) ‘having cut them up, we affirm them’ – this is a frightener for grown-ups.

(Opponent) Granted that in the case of an isolated word (there is understanding) from supplying something else to it, then what is the use of (ever) having a number of words?

There is confirmation (in the case of ‘cooks’) of the agent, instrument and object in a restrictive sense, namely as Caitra, fire and rice. We see an isolated word with the meaning of a sentence, for instance śrotriya (scriptural scholar) = knows the hymn by heart; lives = maintains the life-currents. There the word manifests as a sentence. The word has to be taken apart and parsed, to find whether it is here expressing an action, or an agent (in some cases). Otherwise, with words like bhavati (= in being, O Lady, it becomes), aśvaḥ (horse, thou didst go, etc.), ajāpayaḥ (thou didst conquer, goat’s milk, etc.), where the form is common to both a noun and a verb, how can the distinction be made out?

There is confirmation (in the case of ‘cooks’) of the agent, instrument, and object in a restrictive sense, namely as Caitra, fire, and rice. From the verbal form, the means is known, and this is confirmed by restriction among (possibly) understood objects: it is Caitra alone who is the agent, and fire alone that is the instrument, and rice alone that is the object.

The confirmation is purely by restriction of the meaning. We see an isolated word with the meaning of a sentence, for instance śrotriya (scriptural scholar) = knows the hymn by heart. The single word śrotriya, which is a description of a means (learning by heart) conveys the sense of the association of action and means as ‘knows the hymn by heart’. So also lives is a word describing an action particularized by the indicated means for the action. The sentences ‘knows the hymn by heart’ and ‘maintains the life-currents’ are bringing out the meaning of the words ‘śrotriya’ and ‘lives’.

So what is being said is that all words are ultimately meanings of other words, using the potentiality of making sentences, which is always there in all words.

Then in some places, by the mere verb, the means is indicated; elsewhere, by the mere noun, an action is declared. So it is said that the line between them is hard to determine.

The word has to be taken apart and parsed, to find whether it is expressing an action such as ‘he lives’ or an agent such as ‘śrotriya’, or ‘kṣatriya’ (warrior). Otherwise, if it is not analysed by abstraction from the sentence, then with words like bhavati or aśvaḥ or ajapayah, how will one parse them as verb or alternatively as agent, without having distinguished each from the noun or verb of the same form? ‘O you, do you serve’ – here bhavati (you, fern.) is a pronoun, but it can also be the form of the kṛt (present participle) suffix in the locative case: ‘in being’; and bhavati as a verb means ‘it comes to be’, as a shoot from a seed.

‘A horse (aśvas) goes’ expresses a class; but in ‘thou wentest (aśvas) to the village’ the context is that aśvas is the second person singular of an aorist, of śu. In ‘let the goat’s milk (ajāpayas) be drunk’, ajāpayas is a noun; in ‘thou didst conquer (ajāpayas) the king’, it is the second person singular of the imperfect of a causal form, of ji.

There is difference between word, meaning, and idea. When it is said for instance, ‘The mansion shines-white (svetate)’, the meaning is of action; in ‘the white (svetaḥ) mansion’, it is of an agent-subject. The meaning of it (‘white’) and the idea of it consist of action and agent. Why is this? Because of the association: ‘this is that’, which idea of their non-difference is called the convention.

Between word, meaning, and idea, having shown how they are confused, the difference is now made out. ‘The mansion shines-white (svetate)’ means an action; ‘the white (svetaḥ) mansion’ is an agent-subject. From the fact of the thing’s having action and agency, ‘the white shines-white’ displays both the sense of a verb and the sense of agent.

As the word consists of action and agent – in ‘what is white, shines white; what shines white, is white’, the one word is never without action and agent – so the meaning expressed by it consists of action and agent, and the idea of that meaning consists of action and agent. So the meaning consists of word and idea, and the idea too consists of word and meaning. Why is this? Because of the association: ‘this is that’: what the meaning is, that is the word; what the word is, that is the meaning and the idea; what the idea is, that is the meaning and the word – this sort of idea of their non-difference which is essentially memory, is what is called the convention.

But the white object has become the support of the word and the idea. Still, the word and idea do not correspond to it when it is being changed by its own changes of condition. So too the idea, and so too the word, do not change along with each other. Word changes in one way, meaning in another, and idea in yet another. So they are distinct. Out of the yogin’s saṃyama on the distinctness, there comes to him understanding of the cries of all beings.

How is the distinction to be made? But the white object something like a mansion which has the quality white has become the support of the word and the idea as being expressible (by word) and being the content (of the idea). Still, the word and idea too do not correspond to it when it is being changed by its own changes, e.g. new or old; and it can exist when word and idea do not. So too the idea is not followed (in its changes) by the word or by the object (meant), for it goes on existing even when word and object do not. So too the word for the object meant, and the idea, are unstable. Word changes in one way, meaning in another, and idea in yet another. So they are distinct.

Out of the yogin’s saṃyama on the distinctness: ‘this is a manifestation of the nature of a sentence by convention out of letter-sounds; this is its meaning, and this the idea of that’; coming to direct perception of each in its own form as distinct word, meaning and idea, there comes understanding of the cries of all beings.

 

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