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Ashvamedha [Ashummeed Jugg]
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 9/1/20
Explanation of the Ashummeed Jugg.
The Ashummeed Jugg does not merely consist in the Performance of that Ceremony which is open to the Inspection of the World, namely, in bringing a Horse and sacrificing him; but Ashummeed is to be taken in a mystic Signification, as implying, that the Sacrificer must look upon himself to be typified in that Horse, such as he shall be described, because the religious Duty of the Ashummeed Jugg comprehends all those other religious Duties, to the Performance of which all the Wise and Holy direct all their Actions, and by which all the sincere Prosessors of every different Faith aim at Perfection: The mystic Signification thereof is as follows: The Head of that unblemished Horse is the Symbol of the Morning; his Eyes are the Sun; his Breath the Wind; his wide-opening Mouth is the Bishwaner, or that innate Warmth which invigorates all the World; his Body typifies one entire Year; his Back Paradise; his Belly the Plains; his Hoof this Earth; his Sides the four Quarters of the Heavens; the Bones thereof the intermediate Spaces between the four Quarters; the Rest of his Limbs represent all distinct Matter; the Places where those Limbs meet, or his Joints, imply the Months and Halves of the Months, which are called Peche (or Fortnights;) his Feet signify Night and Day; and Night and Day are of four Kinds: 1st. The Night and Day of Brihma; 2d. The Night and Day of Angels; 3d, The Night and Day of the World of the Spirits of deceased Ancestors; 4th. The Night and Day of Mortals: These four Kinds are typified in his four Feet. The Rest of his Bones are the Constellations of the fixed Stars, which are the twenty-eight Stages of the Moon's Course, called the Lunar Year; his Flesh is the Clouds; his Food the Sand; his Tendons the Rivers; his Spleen and Liver the Mountains; the Hair of his Body the Vegetables, and his long Hair the Trees; the Forepart of his Body typifies the first Half of the Day, and the hinder Part the latter Half; his Yawning is the Flash of the Lightning, and his turning himself is the Thunder of the Cloud; his Urine represents the Rain; and his mental Reflection is his only Speech. The golden Vessels which are prepared before the Horse is let loose are the Light of the Day, and the Place where those Vessels are kept is a Type of the Ocean of the East; the silver Vessels which are prepared after the Horse is let loose are the Light of the Night, and the Place where those Vessels are kept is a Type of the Ocean of the West: These two Sorts of Vessels are always before and after the Horse. — The Arabian Horse, which on Account of his Swiftness is called Hy, is the Performer of the Journies of Angels; the Tajee, which is of the Race of Persian Horses, is the Performer of the Journies of the Kundherps (or  good Spirits;) the Wazba, which is of the Race of the deformed Tazee Horses, is the Performer of the Journies of the Jins (or Demons;) and the Ashoo, which is of the Race of Turkish Horses, is the Performer of the Journies of Mankind: This one Horse, which performs these several Services, on Account of his four different Sorts of Riders, obtains the four different Appellations: The Place where this Horse remains is the great Ocean, which signifies the great Spirit of Perm-Atma, or the universal Soul, which proceeds also from that Perm-Atma, and is comprehended in the same Perm-Atma. The Intent of this Sacrifice is, that a Man should consider himself to be in the Place of that Horse, and look upon all these Articles as typified in himself; and, conceiving the Atma (or divine Soul) to be an Ocean, should let all Thought of Self be absorbed in that Atma."

This is the very Acme and Enthusiasm of Allegory, and wonderfully displays the picturesque Powers of Fancy in an Asiatic Genius. But it would not have been inserted at Length in this Place, if the Circumstance of letting loose the Horse had not seemed to bear a great Resemblance to the Ceremonies of the Scape-Goat; and perhaps the known Intention of this latter may plead for the like hidden Meaning in the former.

-- A Code of Gentoo Laws, Or, Ordinations of the Pundits, From a Persian Translation, Made From the Original, Written in the Shanscrit Language, by Nathaniel Brassey Halhed

A somewhat droll and almost dramatic feast is the chase of the demon of ill-luck, evidently a relic of a former demonist cult. It is called "Chongju Sewang," and is held at Lhasa on the twenty-ninth and thirtieth days of the second month, though it sometimes lasts about a week. It starts after divine service. A priest represents a Grand Lama, and one of the multitude is masqueraded as the ghost-king. For a week previously he sits in the market-place with face painted half black and half white, and a coat of skin is put on his arm and he is called "King of the Years'" (? head). He helps himself to what he wants, and goes about shaking a black yak's tail over the heads of the people, who thus transfer to him their ill-luck.

This latter person then goes towards the priest in the neighbourhood of the cloister of La-brang and ridicules him, saying: "What we perceive through the five sources (the five senses) is no illusion. All you teach is untrue," etc., etc. The acting Grand Lama contradicts this; but both dispute for some time with one another; and ultimately agree to settle the contest by dice; the Lama consents to change places with the scape-goat if the dice should so decide. The Lama has a dice with six on all six sides and throws six-up three times, while the ghost-king has a dice which throws only one.

When the dice of the priest throws six six times in succession and that of the scape-goat throws only ones, this latter individual, or "Lojon" as he is called, is terrified and flees away upon a white horse, which, with a white dog, a white bird, salt, etc., he has been provided with by government. He is pursued with screams and blank shots as far as the mountains of Chetang, where he has to remain as an outcast for several months in a narrow haunt, which, however, has been previously provided for him with provisions.

We are told that, while en route to Chetang, he is detained for seven days in the great chamber of horrors at Sam-yas monastery filled with the monstrous images of devils and skins of huge serpents and wild animals, all calculated to excite feelings of terror. During his seven days' stay he exercises despotic authority over Sam-yas, and the same during the first seven days of his stay at Chetang. Both Lama and laity give him much alms, as he is believed to sacrifice himself for the welfare of the country. It is said that in former times the man who performed this duty died at Chetang in the course of the year from terror at the awful images he was associated with; but the present scape-goat survives and returns to re-enact his part the following year.
From Chetang, where he stays for seven days, he goes to Lho-ka, where he remains for several months.

-- The Buddhism of Tibet, or Lamaism With Its Mystic Cults, Symbolism and Mythology, and in its Relation to Indian Buddhism, by Laurence Austine Waddell

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Ashwamedha yagna of Yudhisthira

The Ashvamedha (Sanskrit: अश्वमेध aśvamedha) is a horse sacrifice ritual followed by the Śrauta tradition of Vedic religion. It was used by ancient Indian kings to prove their imperial sovereignty: a horse accompanied by the king's warriors would be released to wander for a period of one year. In the territory traversed by the horse, any rival could dispute the king's authority by challenging the warriors accompanying it. After one year, if no enemy had managed to kill or capture the horse, the animal would be guided back to the king's capital. It would be then sacrificed, and the king would be declared as an undisputed sovereign.

The best-known text describing the sacrifice is the Ashvamedhika Parva (Sanskrit: अश्वमेध पर्व), or the "Book of Horse Sacrifice," the fourteenth of eighteen books of the Indian epic poem Mahabharata
. Krishna and Vyasa advise King Yudhishthira to perform the sacrifice, which is described at great length. The book traditionally comprises 2 sections and 96 chapters.[1][2] The critical edition has one sub-book and 92 chapters.[3][4]

The ritual is recorded as being held by many ancient rulers, but apparently only by two in the last thousand years. The most recent ritual was in 1741, the second one held by Maharajah Jai Singh II of Jaipur. The original Vedic religion had evidently included many animal sacrifices, as had the various folk religions of India. Brahminical Hinduism had evolved opposing animal sacrifices, which have not been the norm in most forms of Hinduism for many centuries. The great prestige and political role of the Ashvamedha perhaps kept it alive for longer.

The sacrifice

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A 19th-century painting, depicting the preparation of army to follow the sacrificial horse. Probably from a picture story depicting Lakshmisa's Jaimini Bharata

The Ashvamedha could only be conducted by a powerful victorious king (rājā).[5][6] Its object was the acquisition of power and glory, the sovereignty over neighbouring provinces, seeking progeny and general prosperity of the kingdom.[7] It was enormously expensive, requiring the participation of hundreds of individuals, many with specialized skills, and hundreds of animals, and involving many precisely prescribed rituals at every stage.[8]

The horse to be sacrificed must be a white stallion with black spots. The preparations included the construction of a special "sacrificial house" and a fire altar. Before the horse began its travels, at a moment chosen by astrologers, there was a ceremony and small sacrifice in the house, after which the king had to spend the night with the queen, but avoiding sex.[9]

The next day the horse was consecrated with more rituals, tethered to a post, and addressed as a god. It was sprinkled with water, and the Adhvaryu, the priest and the sacrificer whispered mantras into its ear. A black dog was killed, then passed under the horse, and dragged to the river from which the water sprinkled on the horse had come. The horse was then set loose towards the north-east, to roam around wherever it chose, for the period of one year,[10] or half a year, according to some commentators. The horse was associated with the Sun, and its yearly course.[11] If the horse wandered into neighbouring provinces hostile to the sacrificer, they were to be subjugated. The wandering horse was attended by a herd of a hundred geldings, and one or four hundred young kshatriya men, sons of princes or high court officials, charged with guarding the horse from all dangers and inconvenience, but never impeding or driving it.[10] During the absence of the horse, an uninterrupted series of ceremonies was performed in the sacrificer's home.

After the return of the horse, more ceremonies were performed for a month before the main sacrifice. The king was ritually purified, and the horse was yoked to a gilded chariot, together with three other horses, and Rigveda (RV) 1.6.1,2 (YajurVeda (YV) VSM 23.5,6) was recited. The horse was then driven into water and bathed. After this, it was anointed with ghee by the chief queen and two other royal consorts. The chief queen anointed the fore-quarters, and the others the barrel and the hind-quarters. They also embellished the horse's head, neck, and tail with golden ornaments. After this, the horse, a hornless he-goat, and a wild ox (go-mrga, Bos gaurus) were bound to sacrificial stakes near the fire, and seventeen other animals were attached to the horse. A great number of animals, both tame and wild, were tied to other stakes, according to one commentator, 609 in total. The sacrificer offered the horse the remains of the night's oblation of grain. The horse was then suffocated to death.[10]

The chief queen ritually called on the king's fellow wives for pity. The queens walked around the dead horse reciting mantras. The chief queen then had to spend a night with the dead horse.[12]

On the next morning, the priests raised the queen from the place. One priest cut the horse along the "knife-paths" while other priests started reciting the verses of Vedas, seeking healing and regeneration for the horse.[13]

The Laws of Manu refer to the Ashvamedha (V.53): "The man who offers a horse-sacrifice every day for a hundred years, and the man who does not eat meat, the two of them reap the same fruit of good deeds."[14]


On Gupta coins

One type of the gold coins of the Gupta Empire kings Samudragupta (reigned c. 350-370 CE) and Kumaragupta (reigned c. 415-455 CE) commemorates their Ashvamedha sacrifices. The obverse shows the horse anointed and decorated for sacrifice, standing in front of a Yūpa sacrificial post, and is inscribed "The king of kings who has performed the Vajimedha sacrifice wins heaven after protecting the earth". The reverse shows a standing figure of the queen, holding a fan and a towel, and is inscribed "Powerful enough to perform the Ashvamedha sacrifice".[15]

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Samudragupta, Ashvamedha horse; The queen, reverse of last

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Samudragupta

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Kumaragupta

Similar sacrifices elsewhere

Main article: Horse sacrifice

Many Indo-European branches show evidence for horse sacrifice, and comparative mythology suggests that they derive from a Proto-Indo-European ritual. Most appear to be funerary practices associated with burial, but for some other cultures there is tentative evidence for rituals associated with kingship. The Ashvamedha is the clearest evidence preserved, but vestiges from Latin and Celtic traditions allow the reconstruction of a few common attributes.

A similar ritual is found in Celtic tradition in which the king in Ireland conducted a rite of symbolic marriage with a sacrificed horse.[12] The October Horse Roman horse sacrifice was an annual event, and apparently the only time horses were sacrificed, rather than cattle or smaller animals.[16]

Horse sacrifices were performed among the ancient Germans, Armenians, Iranians,[17] Chinese, Greeks,[18] among others.

List of performers

Sanskrit epics and Puranas mention numerous legendary performances of the horse sacrifice.[19] For example, according to the Mahabharata, Emperor Bharata performed a hundred Ashvamedha ceremonies on the banks of Yamuna, three hundred on the banks of Saraswati and four hundred on the banks of the Ganga. He again performed a thousand Ashvamedha on different locations and a hundred Rajasuya.[20] Following the vast empires ruled by the Gupta and Chalukya dynasties, the practice of the sacrifice diminished remarkably.[5]

The historical performers of Ashvamedha include:

Monarch / Reign / Dynasty / Source

Pushyamitra Shunga / 185-149 BCE / Shunga / Ayodhya inscription of Dhanadeva and Malavikagnimitra of Kalidasa[21]
Sarvatata / 1st century BCE / Gajayana / Ghosundi and Hathibada inscriptions.[21] Some scholars believe Sarvatata to be a Kanva king, but there is no definitive evidence for this.[22]
Devimitra / 1st century BCE / Unknown / Musanagar inscription[21]
Satakarni I / 1st or 2nd century CE / Satavahana / Nanaghat inscription mentions his second Ashvamedha[23][21]
Vasishthiputra Chamtamula / 3rd century CE / Andhra Ikshvaku / Records of his son and grandson[24]
Shilavarman / 3rd century CE / Varshaganya J/ agatpur inscriptions mention his fourth Ashvamedha[21]
Pravarasena I / c. 270 – c. 330 CE / Vakataka / Inscriptions of his descendants state that he performed four Ashvamedha sacrifices[25]
Bhavanaga / 305-320 CE / Nagas of Padmavati / The inscriptions of Vakataka relatives of the Nagas credit them with 10 horse-sacrifices, although they do not name these kings.[21][24]
Vijaya-devavarman / 300-350 CE / Shalankayana / Ellore inscription[25][26]
Shivaskanda Varman / 4th century CE / Pallava / Hirahadagalli inscription[25]
Kumaravishnu / 4th century CE / Pallava / Omgodu inscription of his great-grandson[25]
Samudragupta / c. 335/350-375 CE / Gupta / Coins of the king and records of his descendants[25][27]
Kumaragupta I / 414 – 455 CE / Gupta / [28]
Madhava Varman / 440-460 CE / Vishnukundina / [24]
Dharasena / 5th century CE / Traikutaka / [26]
Krishnavarman / 5th century CE / Kadamba / [26]
Narayanavarman / 494–518 CE / Varman Legend of Bhaskaravarman's seals[29]
Bhutivarman / 518–542 CE / Varman / Barganga inscription[29]
Pulakeshin I / 543–566 CE / Chalukyas of Vatapi / [30]
Sthitavarman / 565–585 CE / Varman / [31]
Pulakeshin II / 610–642 CE /Chalukyas of Vatapi / [24]
Madhavaraja II (alias Madhavavarman or Sainyabhita) / c. 620-670 CE / Shailodbhava / Inscriptions[32][29]
Simhavarman (possibly Narasimhavarman I) / 630-668 CE / Pallava / The Sivanvayal pillar inscription states that he performed ten Ashvamedhas[25]
Adityasena / 655-680 CE / Later Gupta / Vaidyanatha temple (Deoghar) inscription[29]
Madhyamaraja I (alias Ayashobhita II) / c. 670-700 CE / Shailodbhava / Inscriptions;[33] one interpretation of the inscriptions suggests that he merely participated in the Ashvamedha performed by his father Madhavaraja II[29]
Dharmaraja (alias Manabhita) / c. 726-727 CE / Shailodbhava / Inscriptions; one interpretation of the inscriptions suggests that he merely participated in the Ashvamedha performed by his grandfather Madhavaraja II[29]
Rajadhiraja Chola / 1044–1052 CE / Chola / [34]
Jai Singh II / 1734 and 1741 CE / Kachwahas of Jaipur / Ishvaravilasa Kavya by Krishna-bhatta, a participant in Jai Singh's Ashvamedha ceremony and a court poet of his son Ishvar Singh[35][36]


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The Dhanadeva-Ayodhya inscription, 1st century BCE, mentions two Ashvamedha rituals by Pushyamitra in the city of Ayodhya.[37]

The Udayendiram inscription of the 8th century Pallava king Nandivarman II (alias Pallavamalla) states that his general Udayachandra defeated the Nishada ruler Prithvivyaghra, who, "desiring to become very powerful, was running after the horse of the Ashvamedha". The inscription does not clarify which king initiated this Ashvamedha campaign. Historian N. Venkataramanayya theorized that Prithvivyaghra was a feudatory ruler, who unsuccessfully tried to challenge Nandivarman's Ashvamedha campaign. However, historian Dineshchandra Sircar notes that no other inscriptions of Nandivarman or his descendants mention his performance of Ashvamedha; therefore, it is more likely that the Ashvamedha campaign was initiated by Prithvivyaghra (or his overlord), and Nandivarman's general foiled it.[38]

In Hindu revivalism

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The horse Shyamakarna on the bank of Lake Dudumbhi, illustrating Jaimini's commentary on Ashvamedha, 19th century, Maharashtra

In the Arya Samaj reform movement of Dayananda Sarasvati, the Ashvamedha is considered an allegory or a ritual to get connected to the "inner Sun" (Prana)[11][39] According to Dayananda, no horse was actually to be slaughtered in the ritual as per the Yajurveda. Following Dayananda, the Arya Samaj disputes the very existence of the pre-Vedantic ritual; thus Swami Satya Prakash Saraswati claims that

the word in the sense of the Horse Sacrifice does not occur in the Samhitas [...] In the terms of cosmic analogy, ashva s the Sun. In respect to the adhyatma paksha, the Prajapati-Agni, or the Purusha, the Creator, is the Ashva; He is the same as the Varuna, the Most Supreme. The word medha stands for homage; it later on became synonymous with oblations in rituology, since oblations are offered, dedicated to the one whom we pay homage. The word deteriorated further when it came to mean 'slaughter' or 'sacrifice'.[40]


He argues that the animals listed as sacrificial victims are just as symbolic as the list of human victims listed in the Purushamedha.[40] (which is generally accepted as a purely symbolic sacrifice already in Rigvedic times).

All World Gayatri Pariwar since 1991 has organized performances of a "modern version" of the Ashvamedha where a statue is used in place of a real horse, according to Hinduism Today with a million participants in Chitrakoot, Madhya Pradesh on April 16 to 20, 1994.[41] Such modern performances are sattvika Yajnas where the animal is worshipped without killing it,[42] the religious motivation being prayer for overcoming enemies, the facilitation of child welfare and development, and clearance of debt,[43] entirely within the allegorical interpretation of the ritual, and with no actual sacrifice of any animal.

Reception

The earliest recorded criticism of the ritual comes from the Cārvāka, an atheistic school of Indian philosophy that assumed various forms of philosophical skepticism and religious indifference. A quotation of the Cārvāka from Madhavacharya's Sarva-Darsana-Sangraha states: "The three authors of the Vedas were buffoons, knaves, and demons. All the well-known formulae of the pandits, jarphari, turphari, etc. and all the obscene rites for the queen commanded in Aswamedha, these were invented by buffoons, and so all the various kinds of presents to the priests, while the eating of flesh was similarly commanded by night-prowling demons."[44]

Charvaka (Sanskrit: चार्वाक; IAST: Cārvāka), also known as Lokāyata, is an ancient school of Indian materialism. Charvaka holds direct perception, empiricism, and conditional inference as proper sources of knowledge, embraces philosophical skepticism and rejects ritualism, and supernaturalism. It was a very popular belief system in India before the emergence of Jain and Buddhist tradition.

Brihaspati is traditionally referred to as the founder of Charvaka or Lokāyata philosophy, although some scholars dispute this. During the Hindu reformation period in the 600 BCE, when Buddhism and Jainism arose, the philosophy was well documented and opposed by the new religions.[10] Much of the primary literature of Charvaka, the Barhaspatya sutras, were lost either due to waning popularity or other unknown reasons. Its teachings have been compiled from historic secondary literature such as those found in the shastras, sutras, and the Indian epic poetry as well as in the dialogues of Gautama Buddha and from Jain literature. However, there is text that may belong to the Charvaka tradition, written by the skeptic philosopher Jayarāśi Bhaṭṭa, known as the Tattvôpaplava-siṁha, that provides information about this school, albeit unorthodox.

One of the widely studied principles of Charvaka philosophy was its rejection of inference as a means to establish valid, universal knowledge, and metaphysical truths. In other words, the Charvaka epistemology states that whenever one infers a truth from a set of observations or truths, one must acknowledge doubt; inferred knowledge is conditional.

Charvaka is categorized as a heterodox school of Indian philosophy. It is considered an example of atheistic schools in the Hindu tradition...

In 8th century CE Jaina literature, Saddarsanasamuccaya by Haribhadra,Lokayata is stated to be the Hindu school where there is "no God, no samsara (rebirth), no karma, no duty, no fruits of merit, no sin."

The Buddhist Sanskrit work Divyavadana (ca. 200–350 CE) mentions Lokayata, where it is listed among subjects of study, and with the sense of "technical logical science". Shantarakshita and Adi Shankara use the word lokayata to mean materialism, with the latter using the term Lokāyata, not Charvaka...

The tenets of the Charvaka atheistic doctrines can be traced to the relatively later composed layers of the Rigveda, while substantial discussions on the Charvaka is found in post-Vedic literature. The primary literature of Charvaka, such as the Brhaspati Sutra is missing or lost. Its theories and development has been compiled from historic secondary literature such as those found in the shastras (such as the Arthashastra), sutras and the epics (the Mahabharata and Ramayana) of Hinduism as well as from the dialogues of Gautama Buddha and Jain literature.

Substantial discussions about the Charvaka doctrines are found in texts during 600 BCE because of emergence of competing philosophies such as Buddhism and Jainism. Bhattacharya posits that Charvaka may have been one of several atheistic, materialist schools that existed in ancient India during the 600 BCE...

The earliest Charvaka scholar in India whose texts still survive is Ajita Kesakambali. Although materialist schools existed before Charvaka, it was the only school which systematised materialist philosophy by setting them down in the form of aphorisms in the 6th century BCE. There was a base text, a collection sūtras or aphorisms and several commentaries were written to explicate the aphorisms. This should be seen in the wider context of the oral tradition of Indian philosophy. It was in the 600 BCE onwards, with the emergent popularity of Buddhism that ancient schools started codifying and writing down the details of their philosophy.

E. W. Hopkins, in his The Ethics of India (1924) claims that Charvaka philosophy predated Jainism and Buddhism, mentioning "the old Cārvāka or materialist of the 6th century BC". Rhys Davids assumes that lokāyata in ca. 500 BC came to mean "skepticism" in general without yet being organised as a philosophical school. This proves that it had already existed for centuries and had become a generic term by 600 BCE. Its methodology of skepticism is included in the Ramayana, Ayodhya kanda, chapter 108, where Jabāli tries to persuade Rāma to accept the kingdom by using nāstika arguments (Rāma refutes him in chapter 109):[44]

O, the highly wise! Arrive at a conclusion, therefore, that there is nothing beyond this Universe. Give precedence to that which meets the eye and turn your back on what is beyond our knowledge. (2.108.17)...


Charvaka was a living philosophy up to the 12th century in India's historical timeline, after which this system seems to have disappeared without leaving any trace...

The Charvaka epistemology holds perception as the primary and proper source of knowledge, while inference is held as prone to being either right or wrong and therefore conditional or invalid. Perceptions are of two types, for Charvaka, external and internal. External perception is described as that arising from the interaction of five senses and worldly objects, while internal perception is described by this school as that of inner sense, the mind. Inference is described as deriving a new conclusion and truth from one or more observations and previous truths. To Charvakas, inference is useful but prone to error, as inferred truths can never be without doubt.[48] Inference is good and helpful, it is the validity of inference that is suspect – sometimes in certain cases and often in others. To the Charvakas there were no reliable means by which the efficacy of inference as a means of knowledge could be established.

Charvaka's epistemological argument can be explained with the example of fire and smoke. Kamal states that when there is smoke (middle term), one's tendency may be to leap to the conclusion that it must be caused by fire (major term in logic). While this is often true, it need not be universally true, everywhere or all the times, stated the Charvaka scholars. Smoke can have other causes. In Charvaka epistemology, as long as the relation between two phenomena, or observation and truth, has not been proven as unconditional, it is an uncertain truth. In this Indian philosophy such a method of reasoning, that is jumping to conclusions or inference, is prone to flaw. Charvakas further state that full knowledge is reached when we know all observations, all premises and all conditions. But the absence of conditions, state Charvakas, can not be established beyond doubt by perception, as some conditions may be hidden or escape our ability to observe. They acknowledge that every person relies on inference in daily life, but to them if we act uncritically, we err. While our inferences sometimes are true and lead to successful action, it is also a fact that sometimes inference is wrong and leads to error.Truth then, state Charvaka, is not an unfailing character of inference, truth is merely an accident of inference, and one that is separable. We must be skeptics, question what we know by inference, question our epistemology.

This epistemological proposition of Charvakas was influential among various schools of in Indian philosophies, by demonstrating a new way of thinking and re-evaluation of past doctrines. Hindu, Buddhist and Jain scholars extensively deployed Charvaka insights on inference in rational re-examination of their own theories...

Since none of the means of knowing were found to be worthy to establish the invariable connection between middle term and predicate, Charvakas concluded that the inference could not be used to ascertain metaphysical truths. Thus, to Charvakas, the step which the mind takes from the knowledge of something to infer the knowledge of something else could be accounted for by its being based on a former perception or by its being in error. Cases where inference was justified by the result were seen only to be mere coincidences.

Therefore, Charvakas denied metaphysical concepts like reincarnation, an extracorporeal soul, the efficacy of religious rites, other worlds (heaven and hell), fate and accumulation of merit or demerit through the performance of certain actions. Charvakas also rejected the use of supernatural causes to describe natural phenomena. To them all natural phenomena was produced spontaneously from the inherent nature of things.

The fire is hot, the water cold, refreshing cool the breeze of morn;
By whom came this variety ? from their own nature was it born.


The Charvaka did not believe in karma, rebirth or an afterlife. To them, all attributes that represented a person, such as thinness, fatness etc., resided in the body. The Sarvasiddhanta Samgraha states the Charvaka position as follows,

There is no other world other than this;
There is no heaven and no hell;
The realm of Shiva and like regions,
are fabricated by stupid imposters.

— Sarvasiddhanta Samgraha, Verse 8


Charvaka believed that there was nothing wrong with sensual pleasure. Since it is impossible to have pleasure without pain, Charvaka thought that wisdom lay in enjoying pleasure and avoiding pain as far as possible. Unlike many of the Indian philosophies of the time, Charvaka did not believe in austerities or rejecting pleasure out of fear of pain and held such reasoning to be foolish.

The Sarvasiddhanta Samgraha states the Charvaka position on pleasure and hedonism as follows,

The enjoyment of heaven lies in eating delicious food, keeping company of young women, using fine clothes, perfumes, garlands, sandal paste... while moksha is death which is cessation of life-breath... the wise therefore ought not to take pains on account of moksha.

A fool wears himself out by penances and fasts. Chastity and other such ordinances are laid down by clever weaklings.

— Sarvasiddhanta Samgraha, Verses 9-12


Charvakas rejected many of the standard religious conceptions of Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Ajivakas, such as an afterlife, reincarnation, samsara, karma and religious rites. They were critical of the Vedas, as well as Buddhist scriptures.

The Sarvadarśanasaṃgraha with commentaries by Madhavacharya describes the Charvakas as critical of the Vedas, materialists without morals and ethics. To Charvakas, the text states, the Vedas suffered from several faults – errors in transmission across generations, untruth, self-contradiction and tautology. The Charvakas pointed out the disagreements, debates and mutual rejection by karmakanda Vedic priests and jñānakanda Vedic priests, as proof that either one of them is wrong or both are wrong, as both cannot be right.

Charvakas, according to Sarvadarśanasaṃgraha verses 10 and 11, declared the Vedas to be incoherent rhapsodies whose only usefulness was to provide livelihood to priests. They also held the belief that Vedas were invented by man, and had no divine authority.


Charvakas rejected the need for ethics or morals, and suggested that "while life remains, let a man live happily, let him feed on ghee even though he runs in debt".

The Jain scholar Haribhadra, in the last section of his text Saddarsanasamuccaya, includes Charvaka in his list of six darśanas of Indian traditions, along with Buddhism, Nyaya-Vaisheshika, Samkhya, Jainism and Jaiminiya. Haribhadra notes that Charvakas assert that there is nothing beyond the senses, consciousness is an emergent property, and that it is foolish to seek what cannot be seen.

The accuracy of these views, attributed to Charvakas, has been contested by scholars...

There was no continuity in the Charvaka tradition after the 12th century. Whatever is written on Charvaka post this is based on second-hand knowledge, learned from preceptors to disciples and no independent works on Charvaka philosophy can be found.[43] Chatterjee and Datta explain that our understanding of Charvaka philosophy is fragmentary, based largely on criticism of its ideas by other schools, and that it is not a living tradition:

"Though materialism in some form or other has always been present in India, and occasional references are found in the Vedas, the Buddhistic literature, the Epics, as well as in the later philosophical works we do not find any systematic work on materialism, nor any organised school of followers as the other philosophical schools possess. But almost every work of the other schools states, for refutation, the materialistic views. Our knowledge of Indian materialism is chiefly based on these...."


Buddhists, Jains, Advaita Vedantins and Nyāya philosophers considered the Charvakas as one of their opponents and tried to refute their views. These refutations are indirect sources of Charvaka philosophy. The arguments and reasoning approach Charvakas deployed were significant that they continued to be referred to, even after all the authentic Charvaka/Lokāyata texts had been lost. However, the representation of the Charvaka thought in these works is not always firmly grounded in first-hand knowledge of Charvaka texts and should be viewed critically.

-- Charvaka, by Wikipedia


According to some writers, ashvamedha is a forbidden rite for Kaliyuga, the current age.[45][46]

This part of the ritual offended the Dalit reformer and framer of the Indian constitution B. R. Ambedkar and is frequently mentioned in his writings as an example of the perceived degradation of Brahmanical culture.[47]

While others such has Manohar L. Varadpande, praised the ritual as "social occasions of great magnitude".[48] Rick F. Talbott writes that "Mircea Eliade treated the Ashvamedha as a rite having a cosmogonic structure which both regenerated the entire cosmos and reestablished every social order during its performance."[49]

See also

• Ashva, horse in Vedic culture
• October Horse in Roman religion
• Cruelty to animals

Footnotes

1. Ganguli, K.M. (1883-1896) "Aswamedha Parva" in The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa (12 Volumes). Calcutta
2. Dutt, M.N. (1905) The Mahabharata (Volume 14): Ashwamedha Parva. Calcutta: Elysium Press
3. van Buitenen, J.A.B. (1973) The Mahabharata: Book 1: The Book of the Beginning. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, p 478
4. Debroy, B. (2010) The Mahabharata, Volume 1. Gurgaon: Penguin Books India, pp xxiii - xxvi
5. Mansingh, Surjit. Historical Dictionary of India. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 68.
6. Rick F. Talbott 2005, p. 111.
7. Gopal, Madan (1990). K.S. Gautam (ed.). India through the ages. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 72.
8. Glucklich, 111-114
9. Glucklich, 111-112
10. Glucklich, 112
11. Roshen Dalal 2010, p. 399.
12. Thomas V. Gamkrelidze; Vjaceslav V. Ivanov (1995). Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans: A Reconstruction and Historical Analysis of a Proto-Language and Proto-Culture. Part I: The Text. Part II: Bibliography, Indexes. Walter de Gruyter. pp. 402–403.
13. Rick F. Talbott 2005, p. 123.
14. The Laws of Manu, translated by Wendy Doniger with Brian K. Smith, p.104. Penguin Books, London, 1991
15. Glucklich, 111
16. Thomas V. Gamkrelidze; Vjaceslav V. Ivanov (1995). Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans: A Reconstruction and Historical Analysis of a Proto-Language and Proto-Culture. Part I: The Text. Part II: Bibliography, Indexes. Walter de Gruyter. p. 70.
17. Rick F. Talbott 2005, p. 142.
18. Roshen Dalal 2010, p. 44.
19. David M. Knipe 2015, p. 234.
20. K M Ganguly 1896, pp. 130–131.
21. Dineshchandra Sircar 1971, p. 175.
22. Dinesh Chandra Shukla (1978). Early history of Rajasthan. Bharatiya Vidya Prakashan. p. 30.
23. David M. Knipe 2015, p. 8.
24. Jayantanuja Bandyopadhyaya 2007, p. 203.
25. Dineshchandra Sircar 1971, p. 176.
26. Upinder Singh 2008, p. 510.
27. David M. Knipe 2015, p. 9.
28. Ashvini Agrawal 1989, p. 139.
29. Dineshchandra Sircar 1971, p. 179.
30. David M. Knipe 2015, p. 10.
31. Karl J. Schmidt (20 May 2015). An Atlas and Survey of South Asian History. Taylor & Francis. p. 77. ISBN 978-1-317-47680-1.
32. Snigdha Tripathy 1997, p. 67.
33. Snigdha Tripathy 1997, pp. 74-75.
34. Rama Shankar Tripathi (1942). History of Ancient India. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 466. ISBN 978-81-208-0018-2.
35. P. K. Gode (1953). "Some contemporary Evidence regarding the aśvamedha Sacrifice performed by Sevai Jayasing of Amber (1699-1744 A. D.)". Studies in Indian Literary History. 2. Singhi Jain Shastra Sikshapith. pp. 288–291. OCLC 2499291.
36. Catherine B Asher (2008). "Rethinking a Millennium: Perspectives on Indian History from the Eighth to the Eighteenth Century : Essays for Harbans Mukhia". In Rajat Datta (ed.). Excavating Communalism: Kachhwaha Rajadharma and Mughal Sovereignty. Aakar Books. p. 232. ISBN 978-81-89833-36-7.
37. Ayodhya Revisited by Kunal Kishore p.24
38. Dineshchandra Sircar 1962, p. 263.
39. as a bahuvrihi, saptāśva "having seven horses" is another name of the Sun, referring to the horses of his chariot.; akhandjyoti.orgArchived September 29, 2007, at the Wayback Machine glosses 'ashva' as "the symbol of mobility, valour and strength" and 'medha' as "the symbol of supreme wisdom and intelligence", yielding a meaning of 'ashvamedha' of "the combination of the valour and strength and illumined power of intellect"
40. The Critical and Cultural Study of the Shatapatha Brahmana by Swami Satya Prakash Saraswati, p. 415; 476
41. Hinduism Today, June 1994 ArchivedDecember 13, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
42. "Ashwamedha Yagam in city". Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. The Hindu. Oct 13, 2005. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
43. Ashwamedhayagnam.org ArchivedSeptember 29, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
44. Madhavacarya, Sarvadarsana-sangraha, English translation by E. B. Cowell and A. E. Gough, 1904 quoted in Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya (ed.), Carvaka/Lokayata: An Anthology of Source Materials and Some Recent Studies (New Delhi: Indian Council of Philosophical Research, 1990)
45. Rosen, Steven. Holy Cow: The Hare Krishna Contribution to Vegetarianism and Animal Rights. Lantern Books. p. 212.
46. The Vedas: With Illustrative Extracts. Book Tree. p. 62. horse sacrifice was prohibited in the Kali Yuga
47. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, Writings and Speeches. p. 1376.
48. "History of Indian Theatre, Volume 1" by Manohar Laxman Varadpande, p.46
49. "Sacred Sacrifice: Ritual Paradigms in Vedic Religion and Early Christianity" by Rick F. Talbott, p. 133

References

• Ashvini Agrawal (1989). Rise and Fall of the Imperial Guptas. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 978-81-208-0592-7.
• Charles Drekmeier (1962). Kingship and Community in Early India. Stanford University Press. p. 46. ISBN 978-0-8047-0114-3.
• David M. Knipe (2015). Vedic Voices: Intimate Narratives of a Living Andhra Tradition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
• Dineshchandra Sircar (1962). Ramesh Chandra Majumdar (ed.). The History and Culture of the Indian People: The classical age. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.
• Dineshchandra Sircar (1971). Studies in the Religious Life of Ancient and Medieval India. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 978-81-208-2790-5.
• Jayantanuja Bandyopadhyaya (2007). Class and Religion in Ancient India. Anthem. ISBN 978-1-84331-332-8.
• K M Ganguly (1896). The Mahabharata of Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa. Sacred Texts.
• Glucklich, Ariel (2007). The Strides of Vishnu: Hindu Culture in Historical Perspective. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195314052.
• Rick F. Talbott (2005). Sacred Sacrifice: Ritual Paradigms in Vedic Religion and Early Christianity. Wipf and Stock. ISBN 978-1-59752-340-0.
• Roshen Dalal (2010). Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. Penguin Books India. ISBN 9780143414216.
• Snigdha Tripathy (1997). Inscriptions of Orissa. I - Circa 5th-8th centuries A.D. Indian Council of Historical Research and Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 978-81-208-1077-8.
• Stephanie Jamison (1996). Sacrificed Wife / Sacrificer's Wife. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
• Upinder Singh (2008). A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India. Pearson Education India. ISBN 9788131711200.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Wed Sep 02, 2020 6:17 am

Indigo revolt
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 9/1/20

Image
A [Bikaner dye] factory in Bengal, 1867

The Indigo revolt (or Nil bidroha) was a peasant movement and subsequent uprising of indigo farmers against the indigo planters that arose in Chaugacha village of Nadia in Bengal in 1859.

Causes leading to revolt

Indigo planting in Bengal dated back to 1777 when Louis Bonnard, a Frenchman introduced it to the Indians. He was the first indigo planter of Bengal. He started cultivation at Taldanga and Goalpara near Chandannagar (Hooghly).[1]With the Nawabs of Bengal under British power, indigo planting became more and more commercially profitable because of the demand for blue dye in Europe. It was introduced in large parts of Burdwan, Bankura, Birbhum, North 24 Parganas, and Jessore (present Bangladesh). The indigo planters persuaded the peasants to plant indigo instead of food crops. They provided loans, called dadon, at a very high interest. Once a farmer took such loans he remained in debt for his whole life before passing it to his successors. The price paid by the planters was meagre, only 2.5% of the market price. The farmers could make no profit growing indigo. The farmers were totally unprotected from the indigo planters, who resorted to mortgages or destruction of their property if they were unwilling to obey them. Government rules favoured the planters. By an act in 1833, the planters were granted a free hand in oppression. Even the zamindars sided with the planters. Under this severe oppression, the farmers resorted to revolt.

The Bengali middle class supported the peasants wholeheartedly. Bengali intellectual Harish Chandra Mukherjee described the plight of the poor farmer in his newspaper The Hindu Patriot. However the articles were overshadowed by Dinabandhu Mitra, who depicted the situation in his play Nil Darpan.His play created a huge controversy which was later banned by the East India Company to control the agitation among the Indians.

The revolt

The revolt started from the villages of - Gobindapur and Chaugacha[2] in Krishnanagar, Nadia district, where Bishnucharan Biswas and Digambar Biswas first led the rebellion against the planters in Bengal ,1859. It spread rapidly in Murshidabad, Birbhum, Burdwan, Pabna, Khulna, and Narail. Some indigo planters were given a public trial and executed. The indigo depots were burned down. Many planters fled to avoid being caught. The zamindars were also targets of the rebellious peasants.

Image
Mongolganj Indigo Kuthi in North 24 Parganas

The revolt was ruthlessly suppressed. Large forces of police and military, backed by the British Government and the zamindars, mercilessly slaughtered a number of peasants. British police mercilessly hanged great leader of indigo rebels Biswanath Sardar alias Bishe Dakat in Assannagar, Nadia after a show trial. Some historians opined that he was the first martyr of indigo revolt in undivided Bengal. In spite of this, the revolt was fairly popular, involving almost the whole of Bengal. The Biswas brothers of Nadia, Kader Molla of Pabna, and Rafique Mondal of Malda were popular leaders. Even some of the zamindars supported the revolt, the most important of whom was Ramratan Mullick of Narail.[3]

The effect on the British rulers in India

The historian Jogesh Chandra Bagal describes the revolt as a non-violent revolution and gives this as a reason why the indigo revolt was a success compared to the Sepoy Revolt. R.C. Majumdar in "History of Bengal"[4] goes so far as to call it a forerunner of the non-violent passive resistance later successfully adopted by Gandhi. The revolt had a strong effect on the government, which immediately appointed the "Indigo Commission" in 1860.[5] In the commission report, E. W. L. Tower noted that "not a chest of Indigo reached England without being stained with human blood".[6]

Finally, the British government formed the Indigo Commission in 1860 due to Nawab Abdul Latif’s initiative with the goal of putting an end to the repressions of indigo planters(by creating the Indigo Act 1862).

Cultural effects

Dinabandhu Mitra's 1860 play Nil Darpan is based on the revolt (was published from Dhaka). It was translated into English by Michael Madhusudan Dutta and published by Rev. James Long. It attracted much attention in England, where the people were stunned at the savagery of their countrymen. The British Government sent Rev. Long to a mock trial and punished him with imprisonment and fine. Kaliprasanna Sinha paid the fine of Rs 1000 for him.

The play was the first play to be staged commercially in the National Theatre in Kolkata.

More About History

• Sepoy Revolt
• History of Bengal
• Indigo plant
• Indigo rebellion

References

1. Chaudhuri, Kalyan (2016). Madhyamik History And Environment. 56, Surya Sen Street, Kolkata-700009: Oriental Book Company Pvt. Ltd. p. 54.
2. Bhattacharya, Subhas (July 1977). "The Indigo Revolt of Bengal". Social Scientist. 5 (60): 17. JSTOR 3516809.
3. Bhattacharya, Subhas (July 1977). "The Indigo Revolt of Bengal". Social Scientist. 5 (60). JSTOR 3516809.
4. Majumdar, R. C. The Government in 1860 enacted the Indigo Act, according to which no planter could be forced to cultivate indigo against his will. The History of Bengal ISBN 81-7646-237-3
5. Bhattacharya, Subhas (July 1977). "The Indigo Revolt of Bengal". Social Scientist. 5 (60): 14. JSTOR 3516809.
6. The Calcutta Review. University of Calcutta. 1861-01-01. p. 291.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Wed Sep 02, 2020 7:24 am

Charvaka
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 9/2/20

A quotation of the Cārvāka from Madhavacharya's Sarva-Darsana-Sangraha states: "The three authors of the Vedas were buffoons, knaves, and demons. All the well-known formulae of the pandits, jarphari, turphari, etc. and all the obscene rites for the queen commanded in Aswamedha, these were invented by buffoons, and so all the various kinds of presents to the priests, while the eating of flesh was similarly commanded by night-prowling demons."

-- Ashvamedha, by Wikipedia


Charvaka (Sanskrit: चार्वाक; IAST: Cārvāka), also known as Lokāyata, is an ancient school of Indian materialism.[1] Charvaka holds direct perception, empiricism, and conditional inference as proper sources of knowledge, embraces philosophical skepticism and rejects ritualism, and supernaturalism.[2][3][4][5][6] It was a very popular belief system in India before the emergence of Jain and Buddhist tradition. [a]

Brihaspati is traditionally referred to as the founder of Charvaka or Lokāyata philosophy, although some scholars dispute this.[8][9] During the Hindu reformation period in the 600 BCE, when Buddhism and Jainism arose, the philosophy was well documented and opposed by the new religions.[10] Much of the primary literature of Charvaka, the Barhaspatya sutras, were lost either due to waning popularity or other unknown reasons.[11] Its teachings have been compiled from historic secondary literature such as those found in the shastras, sutras, and the Indian epic poetry as well as in the dialogues of Gautama Buddha and from Jain literature.[11][12] However, there is text that may belong to the Charvaka tradition, written by the skeptic philosopher Jayarāśi Bhaṭṭa, known as the Tattvôpaplava-siṁha, that provides information about this school, albeit unorthodox.[13]

One of the widely studied principles of Charvaka philosophy was its rejection of inference as a means to establish valid, universal knowledge, and metaphysical truths.[14][15] In other words, the Charvaka epistemology states that whenever one infers a truth from a set of observations or truths, one must acknowledge doubt; inferred knowledge is conditional.[16]

Charvaka is categorized as a heterodox school of Indian philosophy.[17][18] It is considered an example of atheistic schools in the Hindu tradition.[ b][7][c][21][d]

Etymology and meaning

The etymology of Charvaka (Sanskrit: चार्वाक) is uncertain. Bhattacharya quotes the grammarian Hemacandra, to the effect that the word cārvāka is derived from the root carv, ‘to chew’ : “A Cārvāka chews the self (carvatyātmānaṃ cārvākaḥ). Hemacandra refers to his own grammatical work, Uṇādisūtra 37, which runs as follows: mavāka-śyāmāka-vārtāka-jyontāka-gūvāka-bhadrākādayaḥ. Each of these words ends with the āka suffix and is formed irregularly.”[22] This may also allude to the philosophy's hedonistic precepts of "eat, drink, and be merry".[23]

Others believe it to mean "agreeable speech" or pejoratively, "sweet-tongued", from Sanskrit's cāru "agreeable" and vāc "speech" (which becomes vāk in the nominative singular and in compounds). Yet another hypothesis is that it is eponymous, with the founder of the school being Charvaka, a disciple of Brihaspati.[24]

As Lokayata

According to Chattopadhyaya 1992, p. 1, the traditional name of Charvaka is Lokayata. It was called Lokayata because it was prevalent (ayatah) among the people (lokesu), and meant the world-outlook of the people. The dictionary meaning of Lokāyata (लोकायत) signifies "directed towards, aiming at the world, worldly".[23][e]

In early to mid 20th century literature, the etymology of Lokayata has been given different interpretations, in part because the primary sources are unavailable, and the meaning has been deduced from divergent secondary literature.[26] The name Lokāyata, for example, is found in Chanakya's Arthashastra, which refers to three ānvīkṣikīs (अन्वीक्षिकी, literally, examining by reason,[27] logical philosophies) – Yoga, Samkhya and Lokāyata. However, Lokāyata in the Arthashastra is not anti-Vedic, but implies Lokāyata to be a part of Vedic lore.[28] Lokāyata here refers to logic or science of debate (disputatio, "criticism").[29] Rudolf Franke translated Lokayata in German as "logisch beweisende Naturerklärung", that is "logically proving explanation of nature".[30]

In 8th century CE Jaina literature, Saddarsanasamuccaya by Haribhadra,[31] Lokayata is stated to be the Hindu school where there is "no God, no samsara (rebirth), no karma, no duty, no fruits of merit, no sin."[32]

The Buddhist Sanskrit work Divyavadana (ca. 200–350 CE) mentions Lokayata, where it is listed among subjects of study, and with the sense of "technical logical science".[33] Shantarakshita and Adi Shankara use the word lokayata to mean materialism,[11][34] with the latter using the term Lokāyata, not Charvaka.[35]

In Silāṅka's commentary on Sūtra-kṛtāṅgna, the oldest Jain Āgama Prakrt literature, he has used four terms for Cārvāka viz. (1) Bṛhaspatya (2) Lokāyata (3) Bhūtavādin (4) Vāmamārgin.[36]

Origin

The tenets of the Charvaka atheistic doctrines can be traced to the relatively later composed layers of the Rigveda, while substantial discussions on the Charvaka is found in post-Vedic literature.[11][37][f] The primary literature of Charvaka, such as the Brhaspati Sutra is missing or lost.[11][37] Its theories and development has been compiled from historic secondary literature such as those found in the shastras (such as the Arthashastra), sutras and the epics (the Mahabharata and Ramayana) of Hinduism as well as from the dialogues of Gautama Buddha and Jain literature.[11][12]

Substantial discussions about the Charvaka doctrines are found in texts during 600 BCE because of emergence of competing philosophies such as Buddhism and Jainism.[11][37][39] Bhattacharya posits that Charvaka may have been one of several atheistic, materialist schools that existed in ancient India during the 600 BCE.[40] Though there is evidence of its development in Vedic era,[41] Charvaka school of philosophy predated the Āstika schools as well as a philosophical predecessor to subsequent or contemporaneous philosophies such as Ajñana, Ājīvika, Jainism and Buddhism in the classical period of Indian philosophy.[42]

The earliest Charvaka scholar in India whose texts still survive is Ajita Kesakambali. Although materialist schools existed before Charvaka, it was the only school which systematised materialist philosophy by setting them down in the form of aphorisms in the 6th century BCE. There was a base text, a collection sūtras or aphorisms and several commentaries were written to explicate the aphorisms. This should be seen in the wider context of the oral tradition of Indian philosophy. It was in the 600 BCE onwards, with the emergent popularity of Buddhism that ancient schools started codifying and writing down the details of their philosophy.[43]

E. W. Hopkins, in his The Ethics of India (1924) claims that Charvaka philosophy predated Jainism and Buddhism, mentioning "the old Cārvāka or materialist of the 6th century BC". Rhys Davids assumes that lokāyata in ca. 500 BC came to mean "skepticism" in general without yet being organised as a philosophical school. This proves that it had already existed for centuries and had become a generic term by 600 BCE. Its methodology of skepticism is included in the Ramayana, Ayodhya kanda, chapter 108, where Jabāli tries to persuade Rāma to accept the kingdom by using nāstika arguments (Rāma refutes him in chapter 109):[44]

O, the highly wise! Arrive at a conclusion, therefore, that there is nothing beyond this Universe. Give precedence to that which meets the eye and turn your back on what is beyond our knowledge. (2.108.17)


There are alternate theories behind the origins of Charvaka. Bṛhaspati is sometimes referred to as the founder of Charvaka or Lokāyata philosophy, although other scholars dispute this.[8][9] Billington 1997, p. 43 states that a philosopher named Charvaka lived in or about the 6th century BCE, who developed the premises of this Indian philosophy in the form of Brhaspati Sutra. These sutras predate 150 BC, because they are mentioned in the Mahābhāṣya (7.3.45).[44]

Basham 1981, pp. 11–17, citing the Buddhist Samaññaphala Sutta, suggests six schools of heterodox, pre-Buddhist and pre-Jain, atheistic Indian traditions in 6th century BCE, that included Charvakas and Ajivikas. Charvaka was a living philosophy up to the 12th century in India's historical timeline, after which this system seems to have disappeared without leaving any trace.[45]

Philosophy

The Charvaka school of philosophy had a variety of atheistic and materialistic beliefs. They held perception and direct experiments to be the valid and reliable source of knowledge.[46]

Epistemology

The Charvaka epistemology holds perception as the primary and proper source of knowledge, while inference is held as prone to being either right or wrong and therefore conditional or invalid.[16][47] Perceptions are of two types, for Charvaka, external and internal. External perception is described as that arising from the interaction of five senses and worldly objects, while internal perception is described by this school as that of inner sense, the mind.[16] Inference is described as deriving a new conclusion and truth from one or more observations and previous truths. To Charvakas, inference is useful but prone to error, as inferred truths can never be without doubt.[48] Inference is good and helpful, it is the validity of inference that is suspect – sometimes in certain cases and often in others. To the Charvakas there were no reliable means by which the efficacy of inference as a means of knowledge could be established.[14]

Charvaka's epistemological argument can be explained with the example of fire and smoke. Kamal states that when there is smoke (middle term), one's tendency may be to leap to the conclusion that it must be caused by fire (major term in logic).[16] While this is often true, it need not be universally true, everywhere or all the times, stated the Charvaka scholars. Smoke can have other causes. In Charvaka epistemology, as long as the relation between two phenomena, or observation and truth, has not been proven as unconditional, it is an uncertain truth. In this Indian philosophy such a method of reasoning, that is jumping to conclusions or inference, is prone to flaw.[16][48] Charvakas further state that full knowledge is reached when we know all observations, all premises and all conditions. But the absence of conditions, state Charvakas, can not be established beyond doubt by perception, as some conditions may be hidden or escape our ability to observe.[16] They acknowledge that every person relies on inference in daily life, but to them if we act uncritically, we err. While our inferences sometimes are true and lead to successful action, it is also a fact that sometimes inference is wrong and leads to error.[40] Truth then, state Charvaka, is not an unfailing character of inference, truth is merely an accident of inference, and one that is separable. We must be skeptics, question what we know by inference, question our epistemology.[16][37]

This epistemological proposition of Charvakas was influential among various schools of in Indian philosophies, by demonstrating a new way of thinking and re-evaluation of past doctrines. Hindu, Buddhist and Jain scholars extensively deployed Charvaka insights on inference in rational re-examination of their own theories.[16][49]

Comparison with other schools of Hinduism

Charvaka epistemology represents minimalist pramāṇas (epistemological methods) in Hindu philosophy. The other schools of Hinduism developed and accepted multiple valid forms of epistemology.[50][51] To Charvakas, Pratyakṣa (perception) was the one valid way to knowledge and other means of knowledge were either always conditional or invalid. Advaita Vedanta scholars considered six means of valid knowledge and to truths: Pratyakṣa (perception), Anumāna (inference), Upamāna (comparison and analogy), Arthāpatti (postulation), Anupalabdhi (non-perception, cognitive proof) and Śabda (word, testimony of past or present reliable experts).[50][51][52] While Charvaka school accepted just one, the valid means of epistemology in other schools of Hinduism ranged between 2 and 6.[50][51]

Metaphysics

Since none of the means of knowing were found to be worthy to establish the invariable connection between middle term and predicate, Charvakas concluded that the inference could not be used to ascertain metaphysical truths. Thus, to Charvakas, the step which the mind takes from the knowledge of something to infer the knowledge of something else could be accounted for by its being based on a former perception or by its being in error. Cases where inference was justified by the result were seen only to be mere coincidences.[53]

Therefore, Charvakas denied metaphysical concepts like reincarnation, an extracorporeal soul, the efficacy of religious rites, other worlds (heaven and hell), fate and accumulation of merit or demerit through the performance of certain actions.[43] Charvakas also rejected the use of supernatural causes to describe natural phenomena. To them all natural phenomena was produced spontaneously from the inherent nature of things.[54]

The fire is hot, the water cold, refreshing cool the breeze of morn;
By whom came this variety ? from their own nature was it born.[54]


Consciousness and afterlife

The Charvaka did not believe in karma, rebirth or an afterlife. To them, all attributes that represented a person, such as thinness, fatness etc., resided in the body. The Sarvasiddhanta Samgraha states the Charvaka position as follows,[55]

There is no other world other than this;
There is no heaven and no hell;
The realm of Shiva and like regions,
are fabricated by stupid imposters.

— Sarvasiddhanta Samgraha, Verse 8[55]


Pleasure

Charvaka believed that there was nothing wrong with sensual pleasure. Since it is impossible to have pleasure without pain, Charvaka thought that wisdom lay in enjoying pleasure and avoiding pain as far as possible. Unlike many of the Indian philosophies of the time, Charvaka did not believe in austerities or rejecting pleasure out of fear of pain and held such reasoning to be foolish.[46]

The Sarvasiddhanta Samgraha states the Charvaka position on pleasure and hedonism as follows,[56]

The enjoyment of heaven lies in eating delicious food, keeping company of young women, using fine clothes, perfumes, garlands, sandal paste... while moksha is death which is cessation of life-breath... the wise therefore ought not to take pains on account of moksha.

A fool wears himself out by penances and fasts. Chastity and other such ordinances are laid down by clever weaklings.

— Sarvasiddhanta Samgraha, Verses 9-12[57]


Religion

Charvakas rejected many of the standard religious conceptions of Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Ajivakas, such as an afterlife, reincarnation, samsara, karma and religious rites. They were critical of the Vedas, as well as Buddhist scriptures.[58]

The Sarvadarśanasaṃgraha with commentaries by Madhavacharya describes the Charvakas as critical of the Vedas, materialists without morals and ethics. To Charvakas, the text states, the Vedas suffered from several faults – errors in transmission across generations, untruth, self-contradiction and tautology. The Charvakas pointed out the disagreements, debates and mutual rejection by karmakanda Vedic priests and jñānakanda Vedic priests, as proof that either one of them is wrong or both are wrong, as both cannot be right.[58][59][60]

Charvakas, according to Sarvadarśanasaṃgraha verses 10 and 11, declared the Vedas to be incoherent rhapsodies whose only usefulness was to provide livelihood to priests. They also held the belief that Vedas were invented by man, and had no divine authority.[54]


Charvakas rejected the need for ethics or morals, and suggested that "while life remains, let a man live happily, let him feed on ghee even though he runs in debt".[54]

The Jain scholar Haribhadra, in the last section of his text Saddarsanasamuccaya, includes Charvaka in his list of six darśanas of Indian traditions, along with Buddhism, Nyaya-Vaisheshika, Samkhya, Jainism and Jaiminiya.[61] Haribhadra notes that Charvakas assert that there is nothing beyond the senses, consciousness is an emergent property, and that it is foolish to seek what cannot be seen.[62]

The accuracy of these views, attributed to Charvakas, has been contested by scholars.[63][64]

Public administration

An extract from Aaine-Akbari (vol.III, tr. by H. S. Barrett, pp217–218) written by Abul Fazl, the famous historian of Akbar's court, mentions a symposium of philosophers of all faiths held in 1578 at Akbar's instance. The account is given by the historian Vincent Smith, in his article titled "The Jain Teachers of Akbar". Some Carvaka thinkers are said to have participated in the symposium. Under the heading "Nastika" Abul Fazl has referred to the good work, judicious administration and welfare schemes that were emphasised by the Charvaka law-makers. Somadeva has also mentioned the Charvaka method of defeating the enemies of the nation.[65][66]

Works

No independent works on Charvaka philosophy can be found except for a few sūtras composed by Brihaspati. The 8th century Tattvopaplavasimha of Jayarāśi Bhaṭṭa with Madhyamaka influence is a significant source of Charvaka philosophy. Shatdarshan Samuchay and Sarvadarśanasaṅ̇graha of Vidyaranya are a few other works which elucidate Charvaka thought.[67]

In the epic Mahabharata, Book 12 Chapter 39, a villain who dresses up like a scholar, appoints himself as spokesperson for all scholars, and who then advises Yudhishthira to act unethically, is named Charvaka.[68]

One of the widely studied references to the Charvaka philosophy is the Sarva-darśana-saṅgraha (etymologically all-philosophy-collection), a famous work of 14th century Advaita Vedanta philosopher Mādhava Vidyāraṇya from South India, which starts with a chapter on the Charvaka system. After invoking, in the Prologue of the book, the Hindu gods Shiva and Vishnu ("by whom the earth and rest were produced"), Vidyāraṇya asks, in the first chapter:[69]

...but how can we attribute to the Divine Being the giving of supreme felicity, when such a notion has been utterly abolished by Charvaka, the crest-gem of the atheistic school, the follower of the doctrine of Brihaspati? The efforts of Charvaka are indeed hard to be eradicated, for the majority of living beings hold by the current refrain:

While life is yours, live joyously;
None can escape Death's searching eye:
When once this frame of ours they burn,
How shall it e'er again return?[69]


Sanskrit poems and plays like the Naiṣadha-carita, Prabodha-candrodaya, Āgama-dambara, Vidvanmoda-taraṅgiṇī and Kādambarī contain representations of the Charvaka thought. However, the authors of these works were thoroughly opposed to materialism and tried to portray the Charvaka in unfavourable light. Therefore, their works should only be accepted critically.[43]

Loss of original works

Main article: Barhaspatya sutras

There was no continuity in the Charvaka tradition after the 12th century. Whatever is written on Charvaka post this is based on second-hand knowledge, learned from preceptors to disciples and no independent works on Charvaka philosophy can be found.[43] Chatterjee and Datta explain that our understanding of Charvaka philosophy is fragmentary, based largely on criticism of its ideas by other schools, and that it is not a living tradition:

"Though materialism in some form or other has always been present in India, and occasional references are found in the Vedas, the Buddhistic literature, the Epics, as well as in the later philosophical works we do not find any systematic work on materialism, nor any organised school of followers as the other philosophical schools possess. But almost every work of the other schools states, for refutation, the materialistic views. Our knowledge of Indian materialism is chiefly based on these."[70]


Controversy on reliability of sources

Bhattacharya 2011, pp. 10, 29–32 states that the claims against Charvaka of hedonism, lack of any morality and ethics and disregard for spirituality is from texts of competing religious philosophies (Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism). Its primary sources, along with commentaries by Charvaka scholars is missing or lost. This reliance on indirect sources raises the question of reliability and whether there was a bias and exaggeration in representing the views of Charvakas. Bhattacharya points out that multiple manuscripts are inconsistent, with key passages alleging hedonism and immorality missing in many manuscripts of the same text.[63]

The Skhalitapramathana Yuktihetusiddhi by Āryadevapāda, in a manuscript found in Tibet, discusses the Charvaka philosophy, but attributes a theistic claim to Charvakas - that happiness in this life, and the only life, can be attained by worshiping gods and defeating demons. Toso posits that as Charvaka philosophy's views spread and were widely discussed, non-Charvakas such as Āryadevapāda added certain points of view that may not be of the Charvakas'.[71]

Buddhists, Jains, Advaita Vedantins and Nyāya philosophers considered the Charvakas as one of their opponents and tried to refute their views. These refutations are indirect sources of Charvaka philosophy. The arguments and reasoning approach Charvakas deployed were significant that they continued to be referred to, even after all the authentic Charvaka/Lokāyata texts had been lost. However, the representation of the Charvaka thought in these works is not always firmly grounded in first-hand knowledge of Charvaka texts and should be viewed critically.[43]

Likewise, states Bhattacharya, the charge of hedonism against Charvaka might have been exaggerated.[63] Countering the argument that the Charvakas opposed all that was good in the Vedic tradition, Riepe 1964, p. 75 states, "It may be said from the available material that Cārvākas hold truth, integrity, consistency, and freedom of thought in the highest esteem."

Commentators

Aviddhakarṇa, Bhavivikta, Kambalasvatara, Purandara and Udbhatabhatta are the five commentators who developed the Carvaka/Lokayata system in various ways. [72] [73]

Influence

• Dharmakirti, a 7th-century philosopher deeply influenced by Carvaka philosophy wrote in Pramanvartik.[74]
• Pyrrho
• The influence of this heterodox doctrine is seen in other spheres of Indian thought.

Organisations

• The Charvaka Ashram founded by Boddu Ramakrishna in 1973 has stood the test of time and continues to further the cause of the rationalist movement.[75]

Criticism from Abrahamic philosophers

Ain-i-Akbari, a record of the Mughal Emperor Akbar's court, mentions a symposium of philosophers of all faiths held in 1578 at Akbar's insistence[76](also see Sen 2005, pp. 288–289). In the text, the Mughal historian Abu'l-Fazl ibn Mubarak summarizes the Charvaka philosophy as "unenlightened" and characterizes their works of literature as "lasting memorials to their ignorance". He notes that Charvakas considered paradise as "the state in which man lives as he chooses, without control of another", while hell as "the state in which he lives subject to another's rule". On state craft, Charvakas believe, states Mubarak, that it is best when "knowledge of just administration and benevolent government" is practiced.[76]

See also

• Ajñana
• Atheism
• Cyrenaics
• Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya
• Epicureanism
• Lokayata: A Study in Ancient Indian Materialism
• Materialism
• Positivism
• Śramaṇa

Notes

1. "Aside from nontheistic schools like the Samkhya, there have also been explicitly atheistic schools in the Hindu tradition. One virulently anti-supernatural system is/was the so-called Charvaka school."[7]
2. "some of the ancient Hindu traditions like Charvaka have a rich tradition of materialism, in general, other schools..."[19]
3. "Of the three heterodox systems, the remaining one, the Cārvāka system, is a Hindu system."[20]
4. For a general discussion of Charvaka and other atheistic traditions within Hindu philosophy, see Frazier 2013, p. 367
5. See loka and ayata, Cologne Digital Sanskrit Lexicon, Germany; (लोक, loka which means "worlds, abode, place of truth, people", and आयत, āyata means "extended, directed towards, aiming at"[25]
6. "These atheistical doctrines existed from the earliest times as their traces are visible even in the Rigveda in some hymns of which Prof Max Muller pointed out the curious traces of an incipient scepticism. (...) Two things are therefore clear that the Brihaspatya tenets also called Charvaka tenets are of a very old standing..."[38]
1. Seema Chishti (21 August 2018). "Indian rationalism, Charvaka to Narendra Dabholkar". The Indian Express.
2. Tiwari 1998, p. 67.
3. Perrett 1984, pp. 161-174.
4. Bhattacharya 2011, pp. 21–32.
5. Radhakrishnan & Moore 1957, pp. 187, 227–234.
6. Flint 1899, p. 463.
7. Raman 2012, pp. 549–574.
8. Bhattacharya, Ramkrishna (December 2002). "Cārvāka Fragments: A New Collection". Journal of Indian Philosophy. Springer. 30. doi:10.1023/A:1023569009490.
9. Jeaneane Fowler (2015). A. C. Grayling (ed.). The Wiley Blackwell Handbook of Humanism. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 114 with footnote 17. ISBN 978-1-119-97717-9.
10. Quack 2011, p. 50:See footnote 3
11. Radhakrishnan & Moore 1957, pp. 227–249.
12. Bhattacharya 2011, pp. 21–44, 65–74.
13. Balcerowicz, Piotr (2016), Zalta, Edward N. (ed.), "Jayarāśi", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2016 ed.), Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University, retrieved 8 July 2020
14. Acharya 1894, p. 5.
15. Bhattacharya 2011, p. 58.
16. Kamal 1998, pp. 13-16.
17. Radhakrishnan & Moore 1957, pp. 1–3, Contents.
18. Flood 1996, p. 224.
19. Thomas 2014, pp. 164-165.
20. Tiwari 1998.
21. Cooke 2006, p. 84.
22. Bhattacharya 2011, pp. 166–167.
23. Isaeva 1993, p. 27.
24. Sharma 1987, p. 40.
25. Stöwe 2003.
26. Bhattacharya 2011, pp. 187–192.
27. Hacker 1978, p. 164.
28. Bhattacharya 2011, pp. 188–190.
29. Bhattacharya 2011, pp. 27, 189–191.
30. Bhattacharya 2011, p. 188.
31. Chapple 2003, p. 2.
32. Haribhadrasūri 1989.
33. Bhattacharya 2011, pp. 193–195.
34. Bhattacharya 2011, pp. 196.
35. Bhattacharya 2002, p. 6.
36. Joshi 1987.
37. Koller 1977, pp. 155-164.
38. Vaidya 2001, p. 503.
39. Riepe 1964, p. 53-58.
40. Bhattacharya 2013, p. 133-149.
41. Sinha 1994, pp. 235-241.
42. Bhattacharya 2011, p. 9.
43. Bhattacharya 2011a.
44. Schermerhorn 1930, pp. 132-138.
45. Bhattacharya 2011, pp. 65–74.
46. Acharya 1894, p. 3.
47. Bhattacharya 2010, pp. 529-542.
48. Bhattacharya 2011, pp. 55–67.
49. Chatterjee 1977, pp. 195-209.
50. Deutsch 2001, pp. 245-248.
51. Grimes 1996, p. 238.
52. Flood 1996, p. 225.
53. Acharya 1894, p. 9.
54. Acharya 1894, p. 10.
55. Billington 1997, p. 44.
56. Billington 1997, pp. 44-45.
57. Billington 1997, p. 45.
58. Hayes 2001, p. 187-212.
59. Madhavacharya n.d., pp. 3-7.
60. Acharya 1894, pp. 5-9.
61. Potter 2003, pp. 435–436:See verses 78-end (ET99-end)
62. Potter 2003, pp. 435.
63. Bhattacharya 2011, pp. 10, 29–32.
64. Riepe 1964.
65. Salunkhe, A. H. (16 October 1998). "Astik Shiromani, Charvak". Lokayat – via Google Books.
66. Smith, Vincent Arthur (16 October 1917). "The Jain Teachers of Akbar". Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute – via Google Books.
67. Joshi 2005, p. 37.
68. Roy 1894, pp. 121-122.
69. Acharya 1894, p. 2.
70. Chatterjee & Datta 2004, p. 55.
71. Del Toso 2010, pp. 543-552.
72. Bhattacharya, Ramkrishna; BHATTACHARYA, BAMKRISHNA (2010). "Commentators on the "Cārvākasūtra": A Critical Survey". Journal of Indian Philosophy. 38 (4): 419–430. doi:10.1007/s10781-010-9088-6. JSTOR 23497726.
73. Bhattacharya, Ramkrishna (15 January 2000). "Materialism in India; After Carvaka". Indian Skeptic. 12: 31–36 – via ResearchGate.
74. http://www.vkmaheshwari.com/WP/?p=2769
75. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/h ... sts-100193
76. Mubarak 1894, pp. 217-218.

References

• Acharya, Mādhava (1894). The Sarva-darśana-samgraha: Or, Review of the Different Systems of Hindu Philosophy. Translated by Cowell, E. B.; Gough, A. E. London: Trübner & Company.
• Basham, Arthur Llewellyn (1951). History and Doctrines of the Ajivikas, a Vanished Indian Religion. Motilal Banarsidass (published 2002). ISBN 978-81-208-1204-8.
• Bhattacharya, Ramakrishna (2002). "Cārvāka Fragments: A New Collection". Journal of Indian Philosophy. 30 (6): 597–640. doi:10.1023/A:1023569009490.
• Bhattacharya, Ramkrishna (2010). "What the Cārvākas Originally Meant". Journal of Indian Philosophy. 38 (6): 529–542. doi:10.1007/s10781-010-9103-y. ISSN 0022-1791.
• Bhattacharya, Ramkrishna (2011). Studies on the Carvaka/Lokayata. Anthem Press. ISBN 978-0-85728-433-4.
• Bhattacharya, Ramkrishna (21 August 2011). "Materialism in India: A Synoptic View". carvaka4india.com. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
• Bhattacharya, Ramkrishna (2013). "The Base Text and Its Commentaries: Problems of Representing and Understanding the Cārvāka/Lokāyata". Argument Biannual Philosophical Journal. 3 (1): 133–149.
• Billington, Ray (1997). Understanding Eastern Philosophy. Psychology Press. ISBN 978-0-415-12964-0.
• Chatterjee, D (1977). "Skepticism and Indian philosophy". Philosophy East and West. 27 (2): 195–209. doi:10.2307/1397616. JSTOR 1397616.
• Chatterjee, Satischandra; Datta, Dhirendramohan (2004). An Introduction to Indian Philosophy. University of Calcutta.
• Cooke, Bill (2006). Dictionary of Atheism, Skepticism, and Humanism. Prometheus Books. ISBN 978-1-59102-299-2.
• Chapple, Christopher Key (2003). Reconciling Yogas: Haribhadra's Collection of Views on Yoga With a New Translation of Haribhadra's Yogadrstisamuccaya by Christopher Key Chapple and John Thomas Casey. SUNY Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-5899-0.
• Chattopadhyaya, Debiprasad (1964) Indian Philosophy: A Popular Introduction. New Delhi: People's Pub. House.
• Chattopadhyaya, Debiprasad (1992) [1959]. Lokayata: A Study in Ancient Indian Materialism (7th ed.). New Delhi: People's Publishing House. p. 1. ISBN 978-81-7007-006-1.
• Chattopadhyaya, Debiprasad (1994). Carvaka/Lokayata: An Anthology of Source Materials and Some Recent Studies. New Delhi: People's Publishing House.
• Del Toso, Krishna (2010). "The Stanzas on the Cārvāka/Lokāyata in the Skhalitapramathanayuktihetusiddhi". Journal of Indian Philosophy. 38 (6): 543–552. doi:10.1007/s10781-010-9106-8. ISSN 0022-1791.
• Deutsch, Elliot (2001). "Karma in the Advaita Vedanta". In Roy W. Perrett (ed.). Philosophy of Religion. Vol. 4. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-0-8153-3611-2.
• Doniger, Wendy (2018). Against Dharma: Dissent in the Ancient Indian Sciences of Sex and Politics. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-23523-4.
• Flint, Robert (1899). "Appendix Note VII - Hindu Materialism: The Charvaka System". Anti-theistic theories. London: William Blackwood.
• Flood, Gavin (1996). An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
• Frazier, Jessica (2013). "Hinduism". In Bullivant, Stephen; Ruse, Michael (eds.). The Oxford Handbook of Atheism. OUP Oxford. ISBN 978-0-19-964465-0.
• Grimes, John A. (1996). A Concise Dictionary of Indian Philosophy: Sanskrit Terms Defined in English. SUNY Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-3067-5.
• Haribhadrasūri (1989). Saddarsanasamuccaya. Translated by M Jain. Asiatic Society. OCLC 255495691.
• Hacker, Paul (1978). Kleine Schriften (in German). Steiner Franz Verlag. ISBN 978-3-515-02692-5.
• Hayes, Richard (2001). "The Question of Doctrinalism in the Buddhist Epistemologists". In Roy W. Perrett (ed.). Philosophy of Religion. Vol. 4. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-0-8153-3611-2.
• Isaeva, N. V. (1993). Shankara and Indian Philosophy. SUNY Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-1281-7.
• Joshi, Dinkar (2005). Glimpses of Indian Culture. Star Publications. ISBN 978-81-7650-190-3.
• Joshi, Rasik Vihari (1987). "Lokayata in Ancient India and China" (PDF). Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. 68 (1/4): 393–405.
• Kamal, M. Mostafa (1998). "The Epistemology of the Carvaka Philosophy". Journal of Indian and Buddhist Studies. 46 (2): 1048–1045. doi:10.4259/ibk.46.1048. ISSN 1884-0051.
• Koller, John M. (1977). "Skepticism in Early Indian Thought". Philosophy East and West. 27 (2): 155–164. doi:10.2307/1397613. JSTOR 1397613.
• Mubarak, Abu'l-Fazl ibn (1894). The Ain-i-Akbari. Vol. 3. Translated by Henry Sullivan Jarrett.
• Madhavacharya (n.d.). Sarva-Darsana-Samgraha [Sanskrit-Hindi] [An Epitome of the Different Systems of Indian Philosophy] (in Hindi). Translated by Narain Sinh.
• Perrett, Roy W (1984). "The problem of induction in Indian philosophy". Philosophy East and West. 34 (2): 161–174. doi:10.2307/1398916. JSTOR 1398916.
• Potter, Karl H. (2003). Buddhist Philosophy from 350 to 600 A.D. Vol. IX. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 978-81-208-1968-9.
• Quack, Johannes (2011). Disenchanting India: Organized Rationalism and Criticism of Religion in India. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-981261-5.
• Raman, V.V. (2012). "Hinduism and Science: Some Reflections". Zygon - Journal of Religion and Science. 47 (3): 549–574. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9744.2012.01274.x.
• Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli; Moore, Charles (1957). A Source Book in Indian Philosophy. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-01958-1.
• Riepe, Dale (1964). The Naturalistic Tradition of Indian Thought (2nd ed.). Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.
• Roy, Pratap Chandra (1894). "§ XXXIX Shanti Parva". The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa. Translated by Kisari Mohan Ganguli. Calcutta : Bharata press.
• Schermerhorn, R. A. (1930). "When Did Indian Materialism Get Its Distinctive Titles?". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 50: 132–138. doi:10.2307/593059. JSTOR 593059.
• Sen, Amartya (2005). The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian History, Culture and Identity. London: Allen Lane. ISBN 978-0-7139-9687-6.
• Sharma, Chandradhar (1987). A critical survey of Indian philosophy(Reprinted. ed.). Delhi: M. Banarsidass. ISBN 9788120803657.
• Sinha, A. K. (1994). "Traces of Materialism in Early Vedic Thought: A Study". Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. 75 (1): 235–241. JSTOR 41694419.
• Stöwe, Kira (11 February 2003). "Sanskrit and Tamil Dictionaries". sanskrit-lexicon.uni-koeln.de. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
• Tiwari, KN (1998). Classical Indian Ethical Thought. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 978-8120816077.
• Thomas, R. (2014). "Hindu Perspectives on Evolution: Darwin, Dharma, and Design". Sociology of Religion. 75 (1): 164–165. doi:10.1093/socrel/sru003. ISSN 1069-4404.
• Vaidya, CV (2001). Epic India, Or, India as Described in the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Asian Educational Services. ISBN 978-81-206-1564-9.

Further reading

• Charvaka Sixty by Dr. Tanvir Ratul
• Bhatta, Jayarashi. Tattvopaplavasimha (Status as a Carvaka text disputed)
• Gokhale, Pradeep P. The Cārvāka Theory of Pramāṇas: A Restatement, Philosophy East and West (1993).
• Nambiar, Sita Krishna (1971). Prabodhacandrodaya of Krsna Misra. Delhi: Motilal Banarasidass.

External links

• The Lokāyata, Nāstika and Cārvāka, Surendranath Dasgupta, 1940
• Jayarāśi, a 9th-century Indian philosopher associated with Cārvāka / Lokāyata school, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2011)
• Lokāyata/Cārvāka – Indian Materialism (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
• Materialism in India: A Synoptic View Ramkrishna Bhattacharya
• Bibliography: Carvaka/Lokayata secondary literature, Karl Potter, University of Washington
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Vedas
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 9/2/20

I have a larger vision or fantasy of original Indian Buddhism as an ocean with many icebergs, each representing the local textual traditions...of the different parts of the Indian world. Those icebergs are mostly gone...We have the Pali canon...the partial Sanskrit canon...They had a common core but they had many different texts in and around that basic commonality... and... there's no hope of finding them mainly for a simple physical reason, the climate of...India proper is such that organic materials...never last for more than a few hundred years. There are really no really old manuscripts in India proper. You only get the ancient manuscripts from the borderlands of India, in this case Gandhara which has a more moderate climate.

-- One Buddha, 15 Buddhas, 1,000 Buddhas, by Richard Salomon


-- Language and Testimony in Classical Indian Philosophy, by Madhav Deshpande

-- The Texts of the White Yajurveda, translated With a Popular Commentary by Ralph T.H. Griffith

-- The Veda of the Black Yajus School Entitled Taittiriya Sanhita, Translated from the Original Sanskrit Prose and Verse by Arthur Berriedale Keith, D.C.

-- Hymns of the Samaveda: Translated with a Popular Commentary, Ralph T.H. Griffith

-- The Hymns of the Atharvaveda, translated by Ralph T.H. Griffith

-- The Rig Veda, translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith

-- Ezourvedam: A French Veda of the Eighteenth Century, Edited with an Introduction by Ludo Rocher

-- Anquetil-Duperron's Search for the True Vedas, Excerpt from The Birth of Orientalism, by Urs App

-- Ezour-Védam: Europe’s illusory first glimpse of the Veda, by Dermot Killingley

-- The Absent Vedas, by Will Sweetman

-- The Arctic Home in the Vedas, by Wikipedia

-- Vedanta, by Wikipedia

-- Aryans, Jews, Brahmins: Theorizing Authority through Myths of Identity, by Dorothy M. Figueira

-- Claiming India: French Scholars and the Preoccupation With India During the Nineteenth Century, by Jyoti Mohan


Image
Vedas
Four Vedas
Information
Religion: Hinduism
Language: Vedic Sanskrit
Period: c. 1500-1200 BCE (Rig Veda),[1][note 1]; c. 1200-900 BCE (Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, Atharva Veda)[1][2]
Verses: 20,379 mantras[3]

Image
The Vedas are ancient Sanskrit texts of Hinduism. Above: A page from the Atharvaveda.

The Vedas (/ˈveɪdəz, ˈviː-/;[4] Sanskrit: वेदः vedaḥ, "knowledge") are a large body of religious texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism.[5][6]

There are four Vedas: the Rigveda, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda and the Atharvaveda.[7][8] Each Veda has four subdivisions – the Samhitas (mantras and benedictions), the Aranyakas (text on rituals, ceremonies, sacrifices and symbolic-sacrifices), the Brahmanas (commentaries on rituals, ceremonies and sacrifices), and the Upanishads (texts discussing meditation, philosophy and spiritual knowledge).[7][9][10] Some scholars add a fifth category – the Upasanas (worship).[11][12] The texts of the Upanishads discuss ideas akin to the heterodox sramana-traditions.[13]

Vedas are śruti ("what is heard"),[14] distinguishing them from other religious texts, which are called smṛti ("what is remembered"). Hindus consider the Vedas to be apauruṣeya, which means "not of a man, superhuman"[15] and "impersonal, authorless,"[16][17][18] revelations of sacred sounds and texts heard by ancient sages after intense meditation.[19][20]

The Vedas have been orally transmitted since the 2nd millennium BCE with the help of elaborate mnemonic techniques.[21][22][23] The mantras, the oldest part of the Vedas, are recited in the modern age for their phonology rather than the semantics, and are considered to be "primordial rhythms of creation", preceding the forms to which they refer.[24] By reciting them the cosmos is regenerated, "by enlivening and nourishing the forms of creation at their base."[24]

The various Indian philosophies and Hindu denominations have taken differing positions on the Vedas; schools of Indian philosophy which acknowledge the primal authority of the Vedas are classified as "orthodox" (āstika).[note 2] Other śramaṇa traditions, such as Lokayata, Carvaka, Ajivika, Buddhism and Jainism, which did not regard the Vedas as authorities, are referred to as "heterodox" or "non-orthodox" (nāstika) schools.[13][25]

Etymology and usage

The Sanskrit word véda "knowledge, wisdom" is derived from the root vid- "to know". This is reconstructed as being derived from the Proto-Indo-European root *u̯eid-, meaning "see" or "know."[26]

The noun is from Proto-Indo-European *u̯eidos, cognate to Greek (ϝ)εἶδος "aspect", "form" . This is not to be confused with the homonymous 1st and 3rd person singular perfect tense véda, cognate to Greek (ϝ)οἶδα (w)oida "I know". Root cognates are Greek ἰδέα, English wit, etc., Latin videō "I see", German wissen "to know" etc.[27]

The Sanskrit term veda as a common noun means "knowledge".[28] The term in some contexts, such as hymn 10.93.11 of the Rigveda, means "obtaining or finding wealth, property",[29] while in some others it means "a bunch of grass together" as in a broom or for ritual fire.[30]

Vedas are called Maṛai or Vaymoli in parts of South India. Marai literally means "hidden, a secret, mystery". But the Tamil Naan Marai mentioned in Tholkappiam isn't Sanskrit Vedas.[31][32] In some parts of south India (e.g. the Iyengar communities), the word veda is used in the Tamil writings of the Alvar saints. Such writings include the Divya Prabandham (aka Tiruvaymoli).[33]

Vedic texts

Image
Rigveda manuscript in Devanagari

Vedic Sanskrit corpus

The term "Vedic texts" is used in two distinct meanings:

1. Texts composed in Vedic Sanskrit during the Vedic period (Iron Age India)

2. Any text considered as "connected to the Vedas" or a "corollary of the Vedas"[34]

The corpus of Vedic Sanskrit texts includes:

• The Samhitas (Sanskrit saṃhitā, "collection"), are collections of metric texts ("mantras"). There are four "Vedic" Samhitas: the Rig-Veda, Yajur-Veda, Sama-Veda and Atharva-Veda, most of which are available in several recensions (śākhā). In some contexts, the term Veda is used to refer only to these Samhitas, the collection of mantras. This is the oldest layer of Vedic texts, which were composed between circa 1500-1200 BCE (Rig Veda book 2-9),[note 1] and 1200-900 BCE for the other Samhitas. The Samhitas contain invocations to deities like Indra and Agni, "to secure their benediction for success in battles or for welfare of the cln."[35] The complete corpus of Vedic mantras as collected in Bloomfield's Vedic Concordance (1907) consists of some 89,000 padas (metrical feet), of which 72,000 occur in the four Samhitas.[36]
• The Brahmanas are prose texts that comment and explain the solemn rituals as well as expound on their meaning and many connected themes. Each of the Brahmanas is associated with one of the Samhitas or its recensions.[37][38] The oldest dated to about 900 BCE, while the youngest Brahmanas (such as the Shatapatha Brahmana), were complete by about 700 BCE.[39][40] The Brahmanas may either form separate texts or can be partly integrated into the text of the Samhitas. They may also include the Aranyakas and Upanishads.
• The Aranyakas, "wilderness texts" or "forest treaties", were composed by people who meditated in the woods as recluses and are the third part of the Vedas. The texts contain discussions and interpretations of ceremonies, from ritualistic to symbolic meta-ritualistic points of view.[41] It is frequently read in secondary literature.
• Older Mukhya Upanishads (Bṛhadāraṇyaka, Chandogya, Kaṭha, Kena, Aitareya, and others),[42][1] composed between 800 BCE and the end of the Vedic period.[43] The Upanishads are largely philosophical works, some in dialogue form. They are the foundation of Hindu philosophical thought and its diverse traditions.[44][45] Of the Vedic corpus, they alone are widely known, and the central ideas of the Upanishads are still influential in Hinduism.[44][46]
• The texts considered "Vedic" in the sense of "corollaries of the Vedas" are less clearly defined, and may include numerous post-Vedic texts such as the later Upanishads and the Sutra literature, such as Shrauta Sutras and Gryha Sutras, which are smriti texts. Together, the Vedas and these Sutras form part of the Vedic Sanskrit corpus.[1][note 3][note 4]

While production of Brahmanas and Aranyakas ceased with the end of the Vedic period, additional Upanishads were composed after the end of the Vedic period.[47] The Brahmanas, Aranyakas, and Upanishads, among other things, interpret and discuss the Samhitas in philosophical and metaphorical ways to explore abstract concepts such as the Absolute (Brahman), and the soul or the self (Atman), introducing Vedanta philosophy, one of the major trends of later Hinduism. In other parts, they show evolution of ideas, such as from actual sacrifice to symbolic sacrifice, and of spirituality in the Upanishads. This has inspired later Hindu scholars such as Adi Shankara to classify each Veda into karma-kanda (कर्म खण्ड, action/sacrificial ritual-related sections, the Samhitas and Brahmanas); and jnana-kanda (ज्ञान खण्ड, knowledge/spirituality-related sections, mainly the Upanishads').[48][49][50][51][52][note 5]

Śruti and smriti

Vedas are śruti "what is heard"),[53] distinguishing them from other religious texts, which are called smṛti ("what is remembered"). This indigenous system of categorization was adopted by Max Müller and, while it is subject to some debate, it is still widely used. As Axel Michaels explains:

These classifications are often not tenable for linguistic and formal reasons: There is not only one collection at any one time, but rather several handed down in separate Vedic schools; Upanişads [...] are sometimes not to be distinguished from Āraṇyakas [...]; Brāhmaṇas contain older strata of language attributed to the Saṃhitās; there are various dialects and locally prominent traditions of the Vedic schools. Nevertheless, it is advisable to stick to the division adopted by Max Müller because it follows the Indian tradition, conveys the historical sequence fairly accurately, and underlies the current editions, translations, and monographs on Vedic literature."[42]


Authorship

Hindus consider the Vedas to be apauruṣeya, which means "not of a man, superhuman"[15] and "impersonal, authorless."[16][17][18] The Vedas, for orthodox Indian theologians, are considered revelations seen by ancient sages after intense meditation, and texts that have been more carefully preserved since ancient times.[19][20] In the Hindu Epic Mahabharata, the creation of Vedas is credited to Brahma.[54] The Vedic hymns themselves assert that they were skillfully created by Rishis (sages), after inspired creativity, just as a carpenter builds a chariot.[20][note 6]

The oldest part of the Rig Veda Samhita was orally composed in north-western India (Punjab) between c. 1500 and 1200 BC,[note 1] while book 10 of the Rig Veda, and the other Samhitas were composed between 1200-900 BCE more eastward, between the Yamuna and the Ganges, the heartland of Aryavarta and the Kuru Kingdom (c. 1200 – c. 900 BCE).[56][2][57][58][59] The "circum-Vedic" texts, as well as the redaction of the Samhitas, date to c. 1000–500 BCE.

According to tradition, Vyasa is the compiler of the Vedas, who arranged the four kinds of mantras into four Samhitas (Collections).[60][61]

Chronology, transmission and interpretation

See also: Vedic period

Chronology

The Vedas are among the oldest sacred texts.[62][63] The bulk of the Rigveda Samhita was composed in the northwestern region (Punjab) of the Indian subcontinent, most likely between c. 1500 and 1200 BC,[2][56][64] although a wider approximation of c. 1700–1100 BC has also been given.[65][66][note 1] The other three Samhitas are considered to date from the time of the Kuru Kingdom, approximately c. 1200–900 BCE.[1] The "circum-Vedic" texts, as well as the redaction of the Samhitas, date to c. 1000–500 BCE, resulting in a Vedic period, spanning the mid 2nd to mid 1st millennium BCE, or the Late Bronze Age and the Iron Age.[note 7] The Vedic period reaches its peak only after the composition of the mantra texts, with the establishment of the various shakhas all over Northern India which annotated the mantra samhitas with Brahmana discussions of their meaning, and reaches its end in the age of Buddha and Panini and the rise of the Mahajanapadas (archaeologically, Northern Black Polished Ware). Michael Witzel gives a time span of c. 1500 to c. 500–400 BCE. Witzel makes special reference to the Near Eastern Mitanni material of the 14th century BCE, the only epigraphic record of Indo-Aryan contemporary to the Rigvedic period. He gives 150 BCE (Patañjali) as a terminus ante quem for all Vedic Sanskrit literature, and 1200 BCE (the early Iron Age) as terminus post quem for the Atharvaveda.[67]

Transmission

The Vedas were orally transmitted since their composition in the Vedic period for several millennia.[68][21][69] The authoritative transmission[70] of the Vedas is by an oral tradition in a sampradaya from father to son or from teacher (guru) to student (shishya),[69][71][22][72][21] believed to be initiated by the Vedic rishis who heard the primordial sounds.[73] Only this tradition, embodied by a living teacher, can teach the correct pronunciation of the sounds and explain hidden meanings, in a way the "dead and entombed manuscript" cannot do.[71][note 8] As Leela Prasad states, "According to Shankara, the "correct tradition" (sampradaya) has as much authority as the written Shastra," explaining that the tradition "bears the authority to clarify and provide direction in the application of knowledge."[74]

The emphasis in this transmission[note 9] is on the "proper articulation and pronunciation of the Vedic sounds," as prescribed in the Shiksha,[76] the Vedanga (Vedic study) of sound as uttered in a Vedic recitation,[77][78] mastering the texts "literally forward and backward in fully acoustic fashion."[79] Houben and Rath note that the Vedic textual tradition cannot simply be characterized as oral, "since it also depends significantly on a memory culture."[80] The Vedas were preserved with precision with the help of elaborate mnemonic techniques,[21][22][23] such as memorizing the texts in eleven different modes of recitation (pathas),[70] using the alphabet as a mnemotechnical device,[81][82][note 10] "matching physical movements (such as nodding the head)[disputed – discuss] with particular sounds and chanting in a group"[83] and visualizing sounds by using mudras (hand signs).[84] This provided an additional visual confirmation, and also an alternate means to check the reading integrity by the audience, in addition to the audible means.[85] Houben and Rath note that a strong "memory culture" existed in ancient India when texts were transmitted orally, before the advent of writing in the early first millennium CE.[82] According to Staal, criticising the Goody-Watt hypothesis "according to which literacy is more reliable than orality,"[86] this tradition of oral transmission "is closely related to Indian forms of science," and "by far the more remarkable" than the relatively recent tradition of written transmission.[note 11]

While according to Mookerji understanding the meaning (vedarthajnana[89] or artha-bodha[90][note 12]) of the words of the Vedas was part of the Vedic learning,[90] Holdrege and other Indologists[91] have noted that in the transmission of the Samhitas the emphasis is on the phonology of the sounds (śabda) and not on the meaning (artha) of the mantras.[91][92][71] Already at the end of the Vedic period their original meaning had become obscure for "ordinary people,"[92][note 13] and niruktas, etymological compendia, were developed to preserve and clarify the original meaning of many Sanskrit words.[92][94] According to Staal, as referenced by Holdrege, though the mantras may have a discursive meaning, when the mantras are recited in the Vedic rituals "they are disengaged from their original context and are employed in ways that have little or nothing to do with their meaning."[91][note 14] The words of the mantras are "themselves sacred,"[95] and "do not constitute linguistic utterances."[24] Instead, as Klostermaier notes, in their application in Vedic rituals they become magical sounds, "means to an end."[note 15] Holdrege notes that there are scarce commentaries on the meaning of the mantras, in contrast to the number of commentaries on the Brahmanas and Upanishads, but states that the lack of emphasis on the "discursive meaning does not necessarily imply that they are meaningless."[96] In the Brahmanical perspective, the sounds have their own meaning, mantras are considered as "primordial rhythms of creation", preceding the forms to which they refer.[24] By reciting them the cosmos is regenerated, "by enlivening and nourishing the forms of creation at their base. As long as the purity of the sounds is preserved, the recitation of the mantras will be efficacious, irrespective of whether their discursive meaning is understood by human beings."[24][note 16] Frazier further notes that "later Vedic texts sought deeper understanding of the reasons the rituals worked," which indicates that the Brahmin communities considered study to be a "process of understanding."[97]

A literary tradition is traceable in post-Vedic times, after the rise of Buddhism in the Maurya period,[note 17] perhaps earliest in the Kanva recension of the Yajurveda about the 1st century BCE; however oral tradition of transmission remained active.[68] Jack Goody has argued for an earlier literary tradition, concluding that the Vedas bear hallmarks of a literate culture along with oral transmission,[99][100] but Goody's views have been strongly criticised by Falk, Lopez Jr,. and Staal, though they have also found some support.[101][102]

The Vedas were written down only after 500 BCE,[103][68][21] but only the orally transmitted texts are regarded as authoritative, given the emphasis on the exact pronunciation of the sounds.[70] Witzel suggests that attempts to write down the Vedic texts towards the end of 1st millennium BCE were unsuccesfull, resulting in smriti rules explicitly forbidding the writing down of the Vedas.[68] Due to the ephemeral nature of the manuscript material (birch bark or palm leaves), surviving manuscripts rarely surpass an age of a few hundred years.[104] The Sampurnanand Sanskrit University has a Rigveda manuscript from the 14th century;[105] however, there are a number of older Veda manuscripts in Nepal that are dated from the 11th century onwards.[106]

Vedic learning

Main article: Svādhyāya

The Vedas, Vedic rituals and its ancillary sciences called the Vedangas, were part of the curriculum at ancient universities such as at Taxila, Nalanda and Vikramashila.[107][108][109][110] According to Deshpande, "the tradition of the Sanskrit grammarians also contributed significantly to the preservation and interpretation of Vedic texts."[111] Yāska (4th c. BCE[112]) wrote the Nirukta, which reflects the concerns about the loss of meaning of the mantras,[note 13] while Pāṇinis (4th c. BCE) Aṣṭādhyāyī is the most important surviving text of the Vyākaraṇa traditions. Mimamsa scholar Sayanas (14th c. CE) major Vedartha Prakasha[note 18] is a rare[113] commentary on the Vedas, which is also referred to by contemporary scholars.[114]

Yaska and Sayana, reflecting an ancient understanding, state that the Veda can be interpreted in three ways, giving "the truth about gods, dharma and parabrahman."[115][116][note 19] The pūrva-kāņda (or karma-kanda), the part of the Veda dealing with ritual, gives knowledge of dharma, "which brings us satisfaction." The uttara-kanda (or jnana-kanda),[note 20] the part of the Veda dealing with the knowledge of the absolute, gives knowledge of Parabrahma, "which fulfills all of our desires."[117] According to Holdrege, for the exponents of karma-kandha the Veda is to be "inscribed in the minds and hearts of men" by memorization and recitation, while for the exponents of the jnana-kanda and meditation the Vedas express a transcendental reality which can be approached with mystical means.[118]

Holdrege notes that in Vedic learning "priority has been given to recitation over interpretation" of the Samhitas.[113] Galewicz states that Sayana, a Mimamsa scholar,[119][120][121] "thinks of the Veda as something to be trained and mastered to be put into practical ritual use," noticing that "it is not the meaning of the mantras that is most essential [...] but rather the perfect mastering of their sound form."[122] According to Galewicz, Sayana saw the purpose (artha) of the Veda as the "artha of carrying out sacrifice," giving precedence to the Yajurveda.[119] For Sayana, whether the mantras had meaning depended on the context of their practical usage.[122] This conception of the Veda, as a repertoire to be mastered and performed, takes precedence over the internal meaning or "autonomous message of the hymns."[123] Most Śrauta rituals are not performed in the modern era, and those that are, are rare.[124]

Mookerji notes that the Rigveda, and Sayana's commentary, contain passages criticizing as fruitless mere recitation of the Ŗik (words) without understanding their inner meaning or essence, the knowledge of dharma and Parabrahman.[125] Mookerji concludes that in the Rigvedic education of the mantras "the contemplation and comprehension of their meaning was considered as more important and vital to education than their mere mechanical repetition and correct pronunciation."[126] Mookerji refers to Sayana as stating that "the mastery of texts, akshara-praptī, is followed by artha-bodha, perception of their meaning."[90][note 12] Mookerji explains that the Vedic knowledge was first perceived by the rishis and munis. Only the perfect language of the Vedas, as in contrast to ordinary speech, can reveal these truths, which were preserved by committing them to memory.[128] According to Mookerji, while these truths are imparted to the student by the memorized texts,[129] "the realization of Truth" and the knowledge of paramatman as revealed to the rishis is the real aim of Vedic learning, and not the mere recitation of texts.[130] The supreme knowledge of the Absolute, para Brahman-jnana, the knowledge of rta and satya, can be obtained by taking vows of silence and obedience[131] sense-restraint, dhyana, the practice of tapas (austerities),[116] and discussing the Vedanta.[131][note 21]

Vedic schools or recensions

Main article: Shakha

The four Vedas were transmitted in various śākhās (branches, schools).[133][134] Each school likely represented an ancient community of a particular area, or kingdom.[134] Each school followed its own canon. Multiple recensions are known for each of the Vedas.[133] Thus, states Witzel as well as Renou, in the 2nd millennium BCE, there was likely no canon of one broadly accepted Vedic texts, no Vedic “Scripture”, but only a canon of various texts accepted by each school. Some of these texts have survived, most lost or yet to be found. Rigveda that survives in modern times, for example, is in only one extremely well preserved school of Śåkalya, from a region called Videha, in modern north Bihar, south of Nepal.[135] The Vedic canon in its entirety consists of texts from all the various Vedic schools taken together.[134]

Each of the four Vedas were shared by the numerous schools, but revised, interpolated and adapted locally, in and after the Vedic period, giving rise to various recensions of the text. Some texts were revised into the modern era, raising significant debate on parts of the text which are believed to have been corrupted at a later date.[136][137] The Vedas each have an Index or Anukramani, the principal work of this kind being the general Index or Sarvānukramaṇī.[138][139]

Prodigious energy was expended by ancient Indian culture in ensuring that these texts were transmitted from generation to generation with inordinate fidelity.[140] For example, memorization of the sacred Vedas included up to eleven forms of recitation of the same text. The texts were subsequently "proof-read" by comparing the different recited versions. Forms of recitation included the jaṭā-pāṭha (literally "mesh recitation") in which every two adjacent words in the text were first recited in their original order, then repeated in the reverse order, and finally repeated in the original order.[141] That these methods have been effective, is attested to by the preservation of the most ancient Indian religious text, the Rigveda, as redacted into a single text during the Brahmana period, without any variant readings within that school.[141]

The Vedas were likely written down for the first time around 500 BCE.[103] However, all printed editions of the Vedas that survive in the modern times are likely the version existing in about the 16th century AD.[142]

Four Vedas

The canonical division of the Vedas is fourfold (turīya) viz.,[143]

1. Rigveda (RV)
2. Yajurveda (YV, with the main division TS vs. VS)
3. Samaveda (SV)
4. Atharvaveda (AV)

Of these, the first three were the principal original division, also called "trayī vidyā"; that is, "the triple science" of reciting hymns (Rigveda), performing sacrifices (Yajurveda), and chanting songs (Samaveda).[144][145] The Rig Veda most likely was composed between c. 1500 and 1200.[note 1] Witzel notes that it is the Vedic period itself, where incipient lists divide the Vedic texts into three (trayī) or four branches: Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva.[134]

Each Veda has been subclassified into four major text types – the Samhitas (mantras and benedictions), the Aranyakas (text on rituals, ceremonies such as newborn baby's rites of passage, coming of age, marriages, retirement and cremation, sacrifices and symbolic sacrifices), the Brahmanas (commentaries on rituals, ceremonies and sacrifices), and the Upanishads (text discussing meditation, philosophy and spiritual knowledge).[7][9][10] The Upasanas (short ritual worship-related sections) are considered by some scholars[11][12] as the fifth part. Witzel notes that the rituals, rites and ceremonies described in these ancient texts reconstruct to a large degree the Indo-European marriage rituals observed in a region spanning the Indian subcontinent, Persia and the European area, and some greater details are found in the Vedic era texts such as the Grhya Sūtras.[146]

Only one version of the Rigveda is known to have survived into the modern era.[135] Several different versions of the Sama Veda and the Atharva Veda are known, and many different versions of the Yajur Veda have been found in different parts of South Asia.[147]

The texts of the Upanishads discuss ideas akin to the heterodox sramana-traditions.[13]

Rigveda

Main article: Rigveda

Nasadiya Sukta (Hymn of non-Eternity):
Who really knows?
Who can here proclaim it?
Whence, whence this creation sprang?
Gods came later, after the creation of this universe.

Who then knows whence it has arisen?
Whether God's will created it, or whether He was mute;
Only He who is its overseer in highest heaven knows,
He only knows, or perhaps He does not know.

—Rig Veda 10.129.6–7[148]


The Rigveda Samhita is the oldest extant Indic text.[149] It is a collection of 1,028 Vedic Sanskrit hymns and 10,600 verses in all, organized into ten books (Sanskrit: mandalas).[150] The hymns are dedicated to Rigvedic deities.[151]

The books were composed by poets from different priestly groups over a period of several centuries between c. 1500 and 1200 BC,[note 1] (the early Vedic period) in the Punjab (Sapta Sindhu) region of the northwest Indian subcontinent. According to Michael Witzel, the initial codification of the Rigveda took place at the end of the Rigvedic period at ca. 1200 BCE, in the early Kuru kingdom.[152]

The Rigveda is structured based on clear principles. The Veda begins with a small book addressed to Agni, Indra, Soma and other gods, all arranged according to decreasing total number of hymns in each deity collection; for each deity series, the hymns progress from longer to shorter ones, but the number of hymns per book increases. Finally, the meter too is systematically arranged from jagati and tristubh to anustubh and gayatri as the text progresses.[134]

The rituals became increasingly complex over time, and the king's association with them strengthened both the position of the Brahmans and the kings.[153] The Rajasuya rituals, performed with the coronation of a king, "set in motion [...] cyclical regenerations of the universe."[154] In terms of substance, the nature of hymns shift from praise of deities in early books to Nasadiya Sukta with questions such as, "what is the origin of the universe?, do even gods know the answer?",[148] the virtue of Dāna (charity) in society,[155] and other metaphysical issues in its hymns.[note 22]

There are similarities between the mythology, rituals and linguistics in Rigveda and those found in ancient central Asia, Iranian and Hindukush (Afghanistan) regions.[156]

Samaveda

Main article: Samaveda

The Samaveda Samhita[157] consists of 1549 stanzas, taken almost entirely (except for 75 mantras) from the Rigveda.[42][158] While its earliest parts are believed to date from as early as the Rigvedic period, the existing compilation dates from the post-Rigvedic Mantra period of Vedic Sanskrit, between c. 1200 and 1000 BCE or "slightly later," roughly contemporary with the Atharvaveda and the Yajurveda.[158]

The Samaveda samhita has two major parts. The first part includes four melody collections (gāna, गान) and the second part three verse “books” (ārcika, आर्चिक).[158] A melody in the song books corresponds to a verse in the arcika books. Just as in the Rigveda, the early sections of Samaveda typically begin with hymns to Agni and Indra but shift to the abstract. Their meters shift also in a descending order. The songs in the later sections of the Samaveda have the least deviation from the hymns derived from the Rigveda.[158]

In the Samaveda, some of the Rigvedic verses are repeated.[159] Including repetitions, there are a total of 1875 verses numbered in the Samaveda recension translated by Griffith.[160] Two major recensions have survived, the Kauthuma/Ranayaniya and the Jaiminiya. Its purpose was liturgical, and they were the repertoire of the udgātṛ or "singer" priests.[161]

Yajurveda

Main article: Yajurveda

The Yajurveda Samhita consists of prose mantras.[162] It is a compilation of ritual offering formulas that were said by a priest while an individual performed ritual actions such as those before the yajna fire.[162] The core text of the Yajurveda falls within the classical Mantra period of Vedic Sanskrit at the end of the 2nd millennium BCE - younger than the Rigveda, and roughly contemporary with the Atharvaveda, the Rigvedic Khilani, and the Sāmaveda.[163] Witzel dates the Yajurveda hymns to the early Indian Iron Age, after c. 1200 and before 800 BCE.[164] corresponding to the early Kuru Kingdom.[165]

Image
A page from the Taittiriya Samhita, a layer of text within the Yajurveda

The earliest and most ancient layer of Yajurveda samhita includes about 1,875 verses, that are distinct yet borrow and build upon the foundation of verses in Rigveda.[166] Unlike the Samaveda which is almost entirely based on Rigveda mantras and structured as songs, the Yajurveda samhitas are in prose and linguistically, they are different from earlier Vedic texts.[167] The Yajur Veda has been the primary source of information about sacrifices during Vedic times and associated rituals.[168]

There are two major groups of texts in this Veda: the "Black" (Krishna) and the "White" (Shukla). The term "black" implies "the un-arranged, motley collection" of verses in Yajurveda, in contrast to the "white" (well arranged) Yajurveda.[169] The White Yajurveda separates the Samhita from its Brahmana (the Shatapatha Brahmana), the Black Yajurveda intersperses the Samhita with Brahmana commentary. Of the Black Yajurveda, texts from four major schools have survived (Maitrayani, Katha, Kapisthala-Katha, Taittiriya), while of the White Yajurveda, two (Kanva and Madhyandina).[170][171] The youngest layer of Yajurveda text is not related to rituals nor sacrifice, it includes the largest collection of primary Upanishads, influential to various schools of Hindu philosophy.[172][173]

Atharvaveda

Main article: Atharvaveda

The Artharvaveda Samhita is the text 'belonging to the Atharvan and Angirasa poets. It has about 760 hymns, and about 160 of the hymns are in common with the Rigveda.[174] Most of the verses are metrical, but some sections are in prose.[174] Two different versions of the text – the Paippalāda and the Śaunakīya – have survived into the modern times.[174][175] The Atharvaveda was not considered as a Veda in the Vedic era, and was accepted as a Veda in late 1st millennium BCE.[176][177] It was compiled last,[178] probably around 900 BCE, although some of its material may go back to the time of the Rigveda,[179] or earlier.[174]

The Atharvaveda is sometimes called the "Veda of magical formulas",[180] an epithet declared to be incorrect by other scholars.[181] The Samhita layer of the text likely represents a developing 2nd millennium BCE tradition of magico-religious rites to address superstitious anxiety, spells to remove maladies believed to be caused by demons, and herbs- and nature-derived potions as medicine.[182][183] The text, states Kenneth Zysk, is one of oldest surviving record of the evolutionary practices in religious medicine and reveals the "earliest forms of folk healing of Indo-European antiquity".[184] Many books of the Atharvaveda Samhita are dedicated to rituals without magic, such as to philosophical speculations and to theosophy.[181]

The Atharva veda has been a primary source for information about Vedic culture, the customs and beliefs, the aspirations and frustrations of everyday Vedic life, as well as those associated with kings and governance. The text also includes hymns dealing with the two major rituals of passage – marriage and cremation. The Atharva Veda also dedicates significant portion of the text asking the meaning of a ritual.[185]

Embedded Vedic texts

Image
Manuscripts of the Vedas are in the Sanskrit language, but in many regional scripts in addition to the Devanagari. Top: Grantha script (Tamil Nadu), Below: Malayalam script (Kerala).

Further information: Brahmanas

The Brahmanas are commentaries, explanation of proper methods and meaning of Vedic Samhita rituals in the four Vedas.[37] They also incorporate myths, legends and in some cases philosophy.[37][38] Each regional Vedic shakha (school) has its own operating manual-like Brahmana text, most of which have been lost.[186] A total of 19 Brahmana texts have survived into modern times: two associated with the Rigveda, six with the Yajurveda, ten with the Samaveda and one with the Atharvaveda. The oldest dated to about 900 BCE, while the youngest Brahmanas (such as the Shatapatha Brahmana), were complete by about 700 BCE.[39][40] According to Jan Gonda, the final codification of the Brahmanas took place in pre-Buddhist times (ca. 600 BCE).[187]

The substance of the Brahmana text varies with each Veda. For example, the first chapter of the Chandogya Brahmana, one of the oldest Brahmanas, includes eight ritual suktas (hymns) for the ceremony of marriage and rituals at the birth of a child.[188][189] The first hymn is a recitation that accompanies offering a Yajna oblation to Agni (fire) on the occasion of a marriage, and the hymn prays for prosperity of the couple getting married.[188][190] The second hymn wishes for their long life, kind relatives, and a numerous progeny.[188] The third hymn is a mutual marriage pledge, between the bride and groom, by which the two bind themselves to each other. The sixth through last hymns of the first chapter in Chandogya Brahmana are ritual celebrations on the birth of a child and wishes for health, wealth, and prosperity with a profusion of cows and artha.[188] However, these verses are incomplete expositions, and their complete context emerges only with the Samhita layer of text.[191]

Aranyakas and Upanishads

Further information: Vedanta, Upanishads, and Aranyakas

The Aranyakas layer of the Vedas include rituals, discussion of symbolic meta-rituals, as well as philosophical speculations.[12][41]

Aranyakas, however, neither are homogeneous in content nor in structure.[41] They are a medley of instructions and ideas, and some include chapters of Upanishads within them. Two theories have been proposed on the origin of the word Aranyakas. One theory holds that these texts were meant to be studied in a forest, while the other holds that the name came from these being the manuals of allegorical interpretation of sacrifices, for those in Vanaprastha (retired, forest-dwelling) stage of their life, according to the historic age-based Ashrama system of human life.[192]

The Upanishads reflect the last composed layer of texts in the Vedas. They are commonly referred to as Vedānta, variously interpreted to mean either the "last chapters, parts of the Vedas" or "the object, the highest purpose of the Veda".[193] The central concern of the Upanishads are the connections "between parts of the human organism and cosmic realities."[194] The Upanishads intend to create a hierarchy of connected and dependent realities, evoking a sense of unity of "the separate elements of the world and of human experience [compressing] them into a single form."[195] The concepts of Brahman, the Ultimate Reality from which everything arises, and Ātman, the essence of the individual, are central ideas in the Upanishads,[196][197] and knowing the correspondence between Ātman and Brahman as "the fundamental principle which shapes the world" permits the creation of an integrative vision of the whole.[195][197] The Upanishads are the foundation of Hindu philosophical thought and its diverse traditions,[44][198] and of the Vedic corpus, they alone are widely known, and the central ideas of the Upanishads have influenced the diverse traditions of Hinduism.[44][199]

Aranyakas are sometimes identified as karma-kanda (ritualistic section), while the Upanishads are identified as jnana-kanda (spirituality section).[49][50][51][note 5] In an alternate classification, the early part of Vedas are called Samhitas and the commentary are called the Brahmanas which together are identified as the ceremonial karma-kanda, while Aranyakas and Upanishads are referred to as the jnana-kanda.[52]

Post-Vedic literature

Vedanga


Main article: Vedanga

The Vedangas developed towards the end of the vedic period, around or after the middle of the 1st millennium BCE. These auxiliary fields of Vedic studies emerged because the language of the Vedas, composed centuries earlier, became too archaic to the people of that time.[200] The Vedangas were sciences that focused on helping understand and interpret the Vedas that had been composed many centuries earlier.[200]

The six subjects of Vedanga are phonetics (Śikṣā), poetic meter (Chandas), grammar (Vyākaraṇa), etymology and linguistics (Nirukta), rituals and rites of passage (Kalpa), time keeping and astronomy (Jyotiṣa).[201][202][203]

Vedangas developed as ancillary studies for the Vedas, but its insights into meters, structure of sound and language, grammar, linguistic analysis and other subjects influenced post-Vedic studies, arts, culture and various schools of Hindu philosophy.[204][205][206] The Kalpa Vedanga studies, for example, gave rise to the Dharma-sutras, which later expanded into Dharma-shastras.[200][207]

Parisista

Main article: Parisista

Pariśiṣṭa "supplement, appendix" is the term applied to various ancillary works of Vedic literature, dealing mainly with details of ritual and elaborations of the texts logically and chronologically prior to them: the Samhitas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Sutras. Naturally classified with the Veda to which each pertains, Parisista works exist for each of the four Vedas. However, only the literature associated with the Atharvaveda is extensive.

• The Āśvalāyana Gṛhya Pariśiṣṭa is a very late text associated with the Rigveda canon.
• The Gobhila Gṛhya Pariśiṣṭa is a short metrical text of two chapters, with 113 and 95 verses respectively.
• The Kātiya Pariśiṣṭas, ascribed to Kātyāyana, consist of 18 works enumerated self-referentially in the fifth of the series (the Caraṇavyūha) and the Kātyāyana Śrauta Sūtra Pariśiṣṭa.
• The Kṛṣṇa Yajurveda has 3 parisistas The Āpastamba Hautra Pariśiṣṭa, which is also found as the second praśna of the Satyasāḍha Śrauta Sūtra', the Vārāha Śrauta Sūtra Pariśiṣṭa
• For the Atharvaveda, there are 79 works, collected as 72 distinctly named parisistas.[208]

Upaveda

The term upaveda ("applied knowledge") is used in traditional literature to designate the subjects of certain technical works.[209][210] Lists of what subjects are included in this class differ among sources. The Charanavyuha mentions four Upavedas:[211]

• Archery (Dhanurveda), associated with the Yajurveda
• Architecture (Sthapatyaveda), associated with the RigVeda.
• Music and sacred dance (Gāndharvaveda), associated with the Samaveda
• Medicine (Āyurveda), associated with the Atharvaveda.[212][213]

"Fifth" and other Vedas

Some post-Vedic texts, including the Mahabharata, the Natyasastra[214] and certain Puranas, refer to themselves as the "fifth Veda".[215] The earliest reference to such a "fifth Veda" is found in the Chandogya Upanishad in hymn 7.1.2.[216]

Let drama and dance (Nātya, नाट्य) be the fifth vedic scripture. Combined with an epic story, tending to virtue, wealth, joy and spiritual freedom, it must contain the significance of every scripture, and forward every art. Thus, from all the Vedas, Brahma framed the Nātya Veda. From the Rig Veda he drew forth the words, from the Sama Veda the melody, from the Yajur Veda gesture, and from the Atharva Veda the sentiment.

— First chapter of Nātyaśāstra, Abhinaya Darpana [217][218]


"Divya Prabandha", for example Tiruvaymoli, is a term for canonical Tamil texts considered as Vernacular Veda by some South Indian Hindus.[32][33]

Other texts such as the Bhagavad Gita or the Vedanta Sutras are considered shruti or "Vedic" by some Hindu denominations but not universally within Hinduism. The Bhakti movement, and Gaudiya Vaishnavism in particular extended the term veda to include the Sanskrit Epics and Vaishnavite devotional texts such as the Pancaratra.[219]
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Puranas

Main article: Puranas

The Puranas is a vast genre of encyclopedic Indian literature about a wide range of topics particularly myths, legends and other traditional lore.[220] Several of these texts are named after major Hindu deities such as Vishnu, Shiva and Devi.[221][222] There are 18 Maha Puranas (Great Puranas) and 18 Upa Puranas (Minor Puranas), with over 400,000 verses.[220]

The Puranas have been influential in the Hindu culture.[223][224] They are considered Vaidika (congruent with Vedic literature).[225] The Bhagavata Purana has been among the most celebrated and popular text in the Puranic genre, and is of non-dualistic tenor.[226][227] The Puranic literature wove with the Bhakti movement in India, and both Dvaita and Advaita scholars have commented on the underlying Vedanta themes in the Maha Puranas.[228]

Authority of the Vedas

The various Hindu denominations and Indian philosophies have taken differing positions on the authority of the Vedas. Schools of Indian philosophy which acknowledge the authority of the Vedas are classified as "orthodox" (āstika).[note 23] Other śramaṇa traditions, such as Lokayata, Carvaka, Ajivika, Buddhism and Jainism, which did not regard the Vedas as authorities, are referred to as "heterodox" or "non-orthodox" (nāstika) schools.[13][25]

Though many religious Hindus implicitly acknowledge the authority of the Vedas, this acknowledgment is often "no more than a declaration that someone considers himself [or herself] a Hindu,"[230][note 24] and "most Indians today pay lip service to the Veda and have no regard for the contents of the text."[231] Some Hindus challenge the authority of the Vedas, thereby implicitly acknowledging its importance to the history of Hinduism, states Lipner.[232]

Hindu reform movement such as Arya Samaj and Brahmo Samaj accepted the authority of Vedas,[233] while the authority of the Vedas has been rejected by Hindu modernists like Debendranath Tagore and Keshub Chandra Sen;[234] and also by social reformers like B. R. Ambedkar.[235]

Western Indology

Further information: Sanskrit studies

The study of Sanskrit in the West began in the 17th century. In the early 19th century, Arthur Schopenhauer drew attention to Vedic texts, specifically the Upanishads. The importance of Vedic Sanskrit for Indo-European studies was also recognized in the early 19th century. English translations of the Samhitas were published in the later 19th century, in the Sacred Books of the East series edited by Müller between 1879 and 1910.[236] Ralph T. H. Griffith also presented English translations of the four Samhitas, published 1889 to 1899.

Rigveda manuscripts were selected for inscription in UNESCO's Memory of the World Register in 2007.[237]

See also

• Hindu philosophy
• Historical Vedic religion
• Pyramid Texts
• Shakha
• Vedic chant
• Brahminism

Notes

1. It is certain that the hymns of the Rig Veda post-date Indo-Iranianseparation of ca. 2000 BC and probably that of the relevant Mitanni documents of c.1400 BC. The oldest available text is estimated to be from 1200 BC. Philological estimates tend to date the bulk of the text to the second half of the second millennium:
 Max Müller: "the hymns of the Rig-Veda are said to date from 1500 B.C."[238]
 The EIEC (s.v. Indo-Iranian languages, p. 306) gives 1500–1000 BC.
 Flood and Witzel both mention c. 1500–1200 BC.[2][56]
 Anthony mentions c. 1500–1300 BC.[64]
 Thomas Oberlies (Die Religion des Rgveda, 1998, p. 158) based on 'cumulative evidence' sets a wide range of 1700–1100 BC.[65] Oberlies 1998, p. 155 gives an estimate of 1100 BC for the youngest hymns in book 10.[239]
 Witzel 1995, p. 4 mentions c. 1500–1200 BC. According to Witzel 1997, p. 263, the whole Rig Vedic period may have lasted from c. 1900 BCE to c. 1200 BCE: "the bulk of the RV represents only 5 or 6 generations of kings (and of the contemporary poets)24 of the Pūru and Bharata tribes. It contains little else before and after this “snapshot” view of contemporary Rgvedic history, as reported by these contemporary “tape recordings.” On the other hand, the whole Rgvedic period may have lasted even up to 700 years, from the infiltration of the Indo-Aryans into the subcontinent, c. 1900 B.C. (at the utmost, the time of collapse of the Indus civilization), up to c. 1200 B.C., the time of the introduction of iron which is first mentioned in the clearly post-gvedic hymns of the Atharvaveda."
2. Elisa Freschi (2012): "The Vedas are not deontic authorities in absolute sense and may be disobeyed, but are recognized as a deontological epistemic authority by a Hindu orthodox school."Freschi 2012, p. 62 This differentiation between epistemic and deontic authority is true for all Indian religions.
3. For a table of all Vedic texts see Witzel, Michael, "Vedas and Upaniṣads", in: Flood 2003, pp. 100–101.
4. The Vedic Sanskrit corpus is incorporated in A Vedic Word Concordance (Vaidika-Padānukrama-Koṣa) prepared from 1930 under Vishva Bandhu, and published in five volumes in 1935–1965. Its scope extends to about 400 texts, including the entire Vedic Sanskrit corpus besides some "sub-Vedic" texts. Volume I: Samhitas, Volume II: Brahmanas and Aranyakas, Volume III: Upanishads, Volume IV: Vedangas; A revised edition, extending to about 1800 pages, was published in 1973–1976.
5. Edward Roer (Translator), Shankara's Introduction at Google Books to Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad at pp. 1–5: "The Vedas are divided in two parts, the first is the karma-kanda, the ceremonial part, also (called) purva-kanda, and treats on ceremonies; the second part is the jnana kanda, the part which contains knowledge, also named uttara-kanda or posterior part, and unfolds the knowledge of Brahma or the universal soul."
6. "As a skilled craftsman makes a car, a singer I, Mighty One! this hymn for thee have fashioned. If thou, O Agni, God, accept it gladly, may we obtain thereby the heavenly Waters". – Rigveda 5.2.11, Translated by Ralph T.H. Griffith[55]
7. Gavin Flood sums up mainstream estimates, according to which the Rigveda was compiled from as early as 1500 BCE over a period of several centuries.[2]
8. Broo 2016, p. 92 quotes Harold G. Coward and K. Kunjunni Raja.
9. Of the complete Veda, by pāțha-śālā (priestly schools), as distinguished from the transmission in the pūjā, the daily services.[75]
10. Several authors refer to the Chinese Buddhist Monk I-Tsing, who visited India in the 7th century to retrieve Buddhist texts and gave examples of mnemonic techniques used in India:[81] "In India there are two traditional ways in which one can attain great intellectual power. Firstly by repeatedly committing to memory the intellect is developed; secondly the alphabet fixes (to) one's ideas. By this way, after a practice of ten days or a month, a student feels his thoughts rise like a fountain, and can commit to memory whatever he has heard once."[82][81]
11. Staal: [this tradition of oral transmission is] "by far the more remarkable [than the relatively recent tradition of written transmission], not merely because it is characteristically Indian and unlike anything we find elsewhere, but also because it has led to scientific discoveries that are of enduring interest and from which the contemporary West still has much to learn." Schiffman (2012, p. 171), quoting Staal (1986, p. 27)
Staal argued that the ancient Indian grammarians, especially Pāṇini, had completely mastered methods of linguistic theory not rediscovered again until the 1950s and the applications of modern mathematical logic to linguistics by Noam Chomsky. (Chomsky himself has said that the first generative grammar in the modern sense was Panini's grammar).[87] These early Indian methods allowed the construction of discrete, potentially infinite generative systems. Remarkably, these early linguistic systems were codified orally, though writing was then used to develop them in some way. The formal basis for Panini's methods involved the use of "auxiliary" markers, rediscovered in the 1930s by the logician Emil Post.[88]
12. Artha may also mean "goal, purpose or essence," depending on the context.[127]
13. Klostermaier 2007, p. 55: "Kautas, a teacher mentioned in the Nirukta by Yāska(ca. 500 BCE), a work devoted to an etymology of Vedic words that were no longer understood by ordinary people, held that the word of the Veda was no longer perceived as meaningful "normal" speech but as a fixed sequence of sounds, whose meaning was obscure beyond recovery."

The tenth through twelfth volumes of the first Prapathaka of the Chandogya Upanishad (800-600 BCE) describe a legend about priests and it criticizes how they go about reciting verses and singing hymns without any idea what they mean or the divine principle they signify.[93]
14. According to Holdrege, srotriyas (a group of male Brahmin reciters who are masters of sruti[70]) "frequently do not understand what they recite" when reciting the Samhitas, merely preserving the sound of the text.[91]
15. Klostermaier: "Brahman, derived from the root bŗh = to grow, to become great, was originally identical with the Vedic word, that makes people prosper: words were the pricipan means to approach the gods who dwelled in a different sphere. It was not a big step from this notion of "reified speech-act" to that "of the speech-act being looked at implicitly and explicitly as a means to an end." Klostermaier 2007, p. 55 quotes Madhav M. Deshpande (1990), Changing Conceptions of the Veda: From Speech-Acts to Magical Sounds, p.4.
16. Coward 2008, p. 114: "For the Mimamsa the ultimate reality is nothing other than the eternal words of the Vedas. They did not accept the existence of a single supreme creator god, who might have composed the Veda. According to the Mimamsa, gods named in the Vedas have no existence apart from the mantras that speak their names. The power of the gods, then, is nothing other than the power of the mantras that name them."
17. The early Buddhist texts are also generally believed to be of oral tradition, with the first Pali Canon written many centuries after the death of the Buddha.[98]
18. Literally, "the meaning of the Vedas made manifest."
19. Sayana repeats Yaska; see interpretation of the Vedas.
20. The Upanishads.[50]
21. Mookerji also refers to the Uśanā smriti (81-2), which "states that mastery of mere text of Veda is to be followed up by its meaning" by discussing the Vedanta.[131]where-after they were able to engage in doscourses on the Vedas.[132][97]
22. For example,
Hymn 1.164.34, "What is the ultimate limit of the earth?", "What is the center of the universe?", "What is the semen of the cosmic horse?", "What is the ultimate source of human speech?"
Hymn 1.164.34, "Who gave blood, soul, spirit to the earth?", "How could the unstructured universe give origin to this structured world?"
Hymn 1.164.5, "Where does the sun hide in the night?", "Where do gods live?"
Hymn 1.164.6, "What, where is the unborn support for the born universe?";
Hymn 1.164.20 (a hymn that is widely cited in the Upanishads as the parable of the Body and the Soul): "Two birds with fair wings, inseparable companions; Have found refuge in the same sheltering tree. One incessantly eats from the fig tree; the other, not eating, just looks on.";
Sources: (a) Antonio de Nicholas (2003), Meditations Through the Rig Veda: Four-Dimensional Man, ISBN 978-0595269259, pp. 64–69;
Jan Gonda, A History of Indian Literature: Veda and Upanishads, Volume 1, Part 1, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447016032, pp. 134–135;
Rigveda Book 1, Hymn 164 Wikisource
23. Elisa Freschi (2012): "The Vedas are not deontic authorities in absolute sense and may be disobeyed, but are recognized as a deontological epistemic authority by a Hindu orthodox school."[229] This differentiation between epistemic and deontic authority is true for all Indian religions.
24. Lipner quotes Brockington (1981), The sacred tread, p.5.

References

1. Witzel, Michael, "Vedas and Upaniṣads", in: Flood 2003, p. 69.
2. Flood 1996, p. 37.
3. https://sites.google.com/a/vedicgranth. ... obile=true
4. "Veda". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
5. see e.g. Radhakrishnan & Moore 1957, p. 3; Witzel, Michael, "Vedas and Upaniṣads", in: Flood 2003, p. 68; MacDonell 2004, pp. 29–39; Sanskrit literature(2003) in Philip's Encyclopedia. Accessed 2007-08-09
6. Sanujit Ghose (2011). "Religious Developments in Ancient India" in Ancient History Encyclopedia.
7. Gavin Flood (1996), An Introduction to Hinduism, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0521438780, pp. 35–39
8. Bloomfield, M. The Atharvaveda and the Gopatha-Brahmana, (Grundriss der Indo-Arischen Philologie und Altertumskunde II.1.b.) Strassburg 1899; Gonda, J. A history of Indian literature: I.1 Vedic literature (Samhitas and Brahmanas); I.2 The Ritual Sutras. Wiesbaden 1975, 1977
9. A Bhattacharya (2006), Hindu Dharma: Introduction to Scriptures and Theology, ISBN 978-0595384556, pp. 8–14; George M. Williams (2003), Handbook of Hindu Mythology, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195332612, p. 285
10. Jan Gonda (1975), Vedic Literature: (Saṃhitās and Brāhmaṇas), Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447016032
11. Bhattacharya 2006, pp. 8–14.
12. Barbara A. Holdrege (1995), Veda and Torah: Transcending the Textuality of Scripture, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791416402, pp. 351–357
13. Flood 1996, p. 82.
14. Apte 1965, p. 887
15. Vaman Shivaram Apte, The Practical Sanskrit–English Dictionary, see apauruSeya
16. Sharma 2011, p. 196–197.
17. Westerhoff 2009, p. 290.
18. Todd 2013, p. 128.
19. Pollock 2011, p. 41–58.
20. Scharfe 2002, p. 13–14.
21. Wood 2007.
22. Hexam 2011, p. chapter 8.
23. Dwyer 2013.
24. Holdrege 1996, p. 347.
25. "astika" and "nastika". Encyclopædia Britannica Online, 20 April 2016.
26. Monier-Williams 2006, p. 1015; Apte 1965, p. 856
27. see e.g. Pokorny's 1959 Indogermanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch s.v. u̯(e)id-²; Rix' Lexikon der indogermanischen Verben, u̯ei̯d-.
28. Monier-Williams, Monier (1899). A Sanskrit-English dictionary : etymologically and philologically arranged with special reference to cognate Indo-European languages. Oxford: Clarendon Press., p. 1015
29. Monier-Williams, Monier (1899). A Sanskrit-English dictionary : etymologically and philologically arranged with special reference to cognate Indo-European languages. Oxford: Clarendon Press., p. 1017 (2nd Column)
30. Monier-Williams, Monier (1899). A Sanskrit-English dictionary : etymologically and philologically arranged with special reference to cognate Indo-European languages. Oxford: Clarendon Press., p. 1017 (3rd Column)
31. Vasudha Narayanan (1994), The Vernacular Veda: Revelation, Recitation, and Ritual, University of South Carolina Press, ISBN 978-0872499652, p. 194
32. John Carman (1989), The Tamil Veda: Pillan's Interpretation of the Tiruvaymoli, University of Chicago Press, ISBN 978-0226093055, pp. 259–261
33. Vasudha Narayanan (1994), The Vernacular Veda: Revelation, Recitation, and Ritual, University of South Carolina Press, ISBN 978-0872499652, pp. 43, 117–119
34. according to ISKCON, Hindu Sacred Texts, "Hindus themselves often use the term to describe anything connected to the Vedas and their corollaries (e.g. Vedic culture)."
35. Prasad 2020, p. 150.
36. 37,575 are Rigvedic. Of the remaining, 34,857 appear in the other three Samhitas, and 16,405 are known only from Brahmanas, Upanishads or Sutras
37. Klostermaier 1994, p. 67–69.
38. Brahmana Encyclopædia Britannica (2013)
39. Michael Witzel, "Tracing the Vedic dialects" in Dialectes dans les litteratures Indo-Aryennes ed. Caillat, Paris, 1989, 97–265.
40. Biswas et al (1989), Cosmic Perspectives, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0521343541, pp. 42–43
41. Jan Gonda (1975), Vedic Literature: (Saṃhitās and Brāhmaṇas), Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447016032, pp. 424–426
42. Michaels 2004, p. 51.
43. William K. Mahony (1998). The Artful Universe: An Introduction to the Vedic Religious Imagination. State University of New York Press. p. 271. ISBN 978-0-7914-3579-3.
44. Wendy Doniger (1990), Textual Sources for the Study of Hinduism, 1st Edition, University of Chicago Press, ISBN 978-0226618470, pp. 2–3; Quote: "The Upanishads supply the basis of later Hindu philosophy; they alone of the Vedic corpus are widely known and quoted by most well-educated Hindus, and their central ideas have also become a part of the spiritual arsenal of rank-and-file Hindus."
45. Wiman Dissanayake (1993), Self as Body in Asian Theory and Practice (Editors: Thomas P. Kasulis et al.), State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791410806, p. 39; Quote: "The Upanishads form the foundations of Hindu philosophical thought and the central theme of the Upanishads is the identity of Atman and Brahman, or the inner self and the cosmic self.";
Michael McDowell and Nathan Brown (2009), World Religions, Penguin, ISBN 978-1592578467, pp. 208–210
46. Patrick Olivelle (2014), The Early Upanisads, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195352429, p. 3; Quote: "Even though theoretically the whole of vedic corpus is accepted as revealed truth [shruti], in reality it is the Upanishads that have continued to influence the life and thought of the various religious traditions that we have come to call Hindu. Upanishads are the scriptures par excellence of Hinduism".
47. Flood 2003, pp. 100–101
48. Bartley 2001, p. 490.
49. Holdrege 1996, p. 30.
50. Nakamura 1983, p. 409.
51. Bhattacharya 2006, pp. 9.
52. Knapp 2005, pp. 10–11.
53. Apte 1965, p. 887.
54. Seer of the Fifth Veda: Kr̥ṣṇa Dvaipāyana Vyāsa in the Mahābhārata Bruce M. Sullivan, Motilal Banarsidass, pp. 85–86
55. "The Rig Veda/Mandala 5/Hymn 2".
56. Witzel 1995, p. 4.
57. Anthony 2007, p. 49.
58. Witzel 2008, p. 68.
59. Frazier 2011, p. 344.
60. Holdrege 2012, p. 249, 250.
61. Dalal & 2014-04-15.
62. Dutt.
63. Gomes 2012, p. 54.
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66. Kumar 2014, p. 179.
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69. Holdrege 1995, p. 344.
70. Holdrege 1996, p. 345.
71. Broo 2016, p. 92.
72. Pruthi 2004, p. 286.
73. Holdrege 2012, p. 165.
74. Prasad 2007, p. 125.
75. Wilke & Moebus 2011, p. 344-345.
76. Wilke & Moebus 2011, p. 345.
77. Banerji 1989, p. 323–324.
78. Wilke & Moebus 2011, pp. 477–495.
79. Holdreg3 1996, p. 345.
80. Rath 2012, p. 22.
81. Griffiths 1999, p. 122.
82. Rath 2012, p. 19.
83. Doniger 2010, p. 106.
84. Annette Wilke & Oliver Moebus 2011, p. 479.
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86. Schiffman 2012, p. 171.
87. An event in Kolkata Archived May 10, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, Frontline
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90. Mookerji 2011, p. 35.
91. Holdrege 1996, p. 346.
92. Klostermaier 2007, p. 55.
93. Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120814684, pages 80-84
94. Jackson 2016, p. "Sayana, Vidyaranya’s brother".
95. Holdrege 1996, p. 346-347.
96. Holdrege 1996, p. 346,347.
97. Frazier 2011, p. 34.
98. Donald S. Lopez Jr. (1995). "Authority and Orality in the Mahāyāna" (PDF). Numen. 42 (1): 21–47. doi:10.1163/1568527952598800. hdl:2027.42/43799. JSTOR 3270278.
99. Wilke, A and Moebus O (2011). Sound and communication : an aesthetic cultural history of Sanskrit Hinduism. Berlin ; New York: De Gruyter. p. 192.
100. Goody 1987.
101. Lopez Jr. 2016, p. 35-36.
102. Olson & Cole 2013, p. 15.
103. Avari 2007, pp. 69–70, 76
104. Brodd, Jeffrey (2003), World Religions, Winona, MN: Saint Mary's Press, ISBN 978-0-88489-725-5
105. Jamison, Stephanie W.; Brereton, Joel P. (2014). The Rigveda. vol. 1. Oxford University Press. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-19-972078-1.
106. "Cultural Heritage of Nepal". Nepal-German Manuscript Preservation Project. University of Hamburg. Archived from the original on 18 September 2014. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
107. Buswell & Lopez, Jr. 2013.
108. Frazier, Jessica, ed. (2011). The Continuum companion to Hindu studies. London: Continuum. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-8264-9966-0.
109. Walton, Linda (2015). "Educational institutions" in The Cambridge World History Vol. 5. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 122. ISBN 978-0-521-19074-9.
110. Sukumar Dutt (1988) [First published in 1962]. Buddhist Monks And Monasteries of India: Their History And Contribution To Indian Culture. George Allen and Unwin Ltd, London. ISBN 81-208-0498-8. pp. 332–333
111. Dashpande 1990, p. 33.
112. Misra 2000, p. 49.
113. Holdrege 1996, p. 354.
114. Jackson 2016, ch.3.
115. Coward 1990, p. 106.
116. Mookerji 2011, p. 34.
117. Mookerji 2011, p. 30.
118. Holdrege 1996, p. 355, 356-357.
119. Galewicz 2004, p. 40.
120. Galewicz 2011, p. 338.
121. Collins 2009, "237 Sayana".
122. Galewicz 2004, p. 41.
123. Galewicz 2004, p. 41-42.
124. Michaels, p. 237–238.
125. Mookerji 2011, p. 29-31.
126. Mookerji 2011, p. 29, 34.
127. See:
 Sanskrit English Dictionary University of Kloen, Germany (2009)
 Karl Potter (1998), Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies, Volume 4, ISBN 81-208-0310-8, Motilal Banarsidass, pp 610 (note 17)
128. Mookerji 2011, p. 34-35.
129. Mookerji 2011, p. 35-36.
130. Mookerji 2005, p. 36.
131. Mookerji 2011, p. 196.
132. Mookerji 2100, p. 29.
133. Flood 1996, p. 39.
134. Witzel, M., "The Development of the Vedic Canon and its Schools : The Social and Political Milieu", Harvard University, in Witzel 1997, pp. 261–264
135. Jamison and Witzel (1992), Vedic Hinduism, Harvard University, p. 6
136. J. Muir (1868), Original Sanskrit Texts on the Origin and History of the People of India – their religion and institutions at Google Books, 2nd Edition, p. 12
137. Albert Friedrich Weber, Indische Studien, herausg. von at Google Books, Vol. 10, pp. 1–9 with footnotes (in German); For a translation, Original Sanskrit Texts at Google Books, p. 14
138. For an example, see Sarvānukramaṇī Vivaraṇa Univ of Pennsylvania rare texts collection
139. R̥gveda-sarvānukramaṇī Śaunakakr̥tāʼnuvākānukramaṇī ca, Maharṣi-Kātyayāna-viracitā, OCLC 11549595
140. (Staal 1986)
141. (Filliozat 2004, p. 139)
142. Michael Witzel, "Vedas and Upaniṣads", in: Flood 2003, p. 69, Quote: "... almost all printed editions depend on the late manuscripts that are hardly older than 500 years"
143. Radhakrishnan & Moore 1957, p. 3; Witzel, Michael, "Vedas and Upaniṣads", in: Flood 2003, p. 68
144. Witzel, M., "The Development of the Vedic Canon and its Schools : The Social and Political Milieu" in Witzel 1997, pp. 257–348
145. MacDonell 2004, pp. 29–39
146. Jamison and Witzel (1992), Vedic Hinduism, Harvard University, p. 21
147. Witzel, M., "The Development of the Vedic Canon and its Schools : The Social and Political Milieu" in Witzel 1997, p. 286
148.
 Original Sanskrit: Rigveda 10.129 Wikisource;
 Translation 1: Max Müller (1859). A History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature. Williams and Norgate, London. pp. 559–565.
 Translation 2: Kenneth Kramer (1986). World Scriptures: An Introduction to Comparative Religions. Paulist Press. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-8091-2781-8.
 Translation 3: David Christian (2011). Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History. University of California Press. pp. 17–18. ISBN 978-0-520-95067-2.
149. see e.g. Avari 2007, p. 77.
150. For 1,028 hymns and 10,600 verses and division into ten mandalas, see: Avari 2007, p. 77.
151. For characterization of content and mentions of deities including Agni, Indra, Varuna, Soma, Surya, etc. see: Avari 2007, p. 77.
152. Witzel 1997, p. 261.
153. Prasad 2020, p. 150-151.
154. Prasad 2020, p. 151.
155. Original text translated in English: The Rig Veda, Mandala 10, Hymn 117, Ralph T.H. Griffith (Translator);
C Chatterjee (1995), Values in the Indian Ethos: An Overview, Journal of Human Values, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 3–12
156. Michael Witzel, The Rigvedic religious system and its central Asian and Hindukush antecedents, in The Vedas – Texts, Language and Ritual, Editors: Griffiths and Houben (2004), Brill Academic, ISBN 978-9069801490, pp. 581–627
157. From sāman, the term for a melody applied to a metrical hymn or a song of praise, Apte 1965, p. 981.
158. Witzel, M., "The Development of the Vedic Canon and its Schools : The Social and Political Milieu" in Witzel 1997, pp. 269–270
159. M Bloomfield, Rig-veda Repetitions, p. 402, at Google Books, pp. 402–464
160. For 1875 total verses, see the numbering given in Ralph T. H. Griffith. Griffith's introduction mentions the recension history for his text. Repetitions may be found by consulting the cross-index in Griffith pp. 491–499.
161. Annette Wilke and Oliver Moebus (2011), Sound and Communication: An Aesthetic Cultural History of Sanskrit Hinduism, Walter de Gruyter, ISBN 978-3110181593, p. 381
162. Michael Witzel (2003), "Vedas and Upaniṣads", in The Blackwell Companion to Hinduism (Editor: Gavin Flood), Blackwell, ISBN 0-631215352, pp. 76–77
163. The Development of the Vedic Canon and its Schools, Michael Witzel, Harvard University
164. Autochthonous Aryans? Michael Witzel, Harvard University
165. Early Sanskritization Archived 20 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Michael Witzel, Harvard University
166. Antonio de Nicholas (2003), Meditations Through the Rig Veda: Four-Dimensional Man, ISBN 978-0595269259, pp. 273–274
167. Witzel, M., "The Development of the Vedic Canon and its Schools : The Social and Political Milieu" in Witzel 1997, pp. 270–271
168. Witzel, M., "The Development of the Vedic Canon and its Schools : The Social and Political Milieu" in Witzel 1997, pp. 272–274
169. Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120814684, pp. 217–219
170. Michaels 2004, p. 52 Table 3
171. CL Prabhakar (1972), The Recensions of the Sukla Yajurveda, Archív Orientální, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp. 347–353
172. Paul Deussen, The Philosophy of the Upanishads, Motilal Banarsidass (2011 Edition), ISBN 978-8120816206, p. 23
173. Patrick Olivelle (1998), Upaniṣhads, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-282292-6, pp. 1–17
174. Michaels 2004, p. 56.
175. Frits Staal (2009), Discovering the Vedas: Origins, Mantras, Rituals, Insights, Penguin, ISBN 978-0143099864, pp. 136–137
176. Frits Staal (2009), Discovering the Vedas: Origins, Mantras, Rituals, Insights, Penguin, ISBN 978-0143099864, p. 135
177. Alex Wayman (1997), Untying the Knots in Buddhism, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120813212, pp. 52–53
178. "The latest of the four Vedas, the Atharva-Veda, is, as we have seen, largely composed of magical texts and charms, but here and there we find cosmological hymns which anticipate the Upanishads, – hymns to Skambha, the 'Support', who is seen as the first principle which is both the material and efficient cause of the universe, to Prāna, the 'Breath of Life', to Vāc, the 'Word', and so on." Zaehner 1966, p. vii.
179. Flood 1996, p. 37.
180. Laurie Patton (2004), Veda and Upanishad, in The Hindu World (Editors: Sushil Mittal and Gene Thursby), Routledge, ISBN 0-415215277, p. 38
181. Jan Gonda (1975), Vedic Literature: Saṃhitās and Brāhmaṇas, Vol 1, Fasc. 1, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447016032, pp. 277–280, Quote: "It would be incorrect to describe the Atharvaveda Samhita as a collection of magical formulas".
182. Kenneth Zysk (2012), Understanding Mantras (Editor: Harvey Alper), Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120807464, pp. 123–129
183. On magic spells and charms, such as those to gain better health: Atharva Veda 2.32 Bhaishagykni, Charm to secure perfect health Maurice Bloomfield (Translator), Sacred Books of the East, Vol. 42, Oxford University Press; see also chapters 3.11, 3.31, 4.10, 5.30, 19.26;
On finding a good husband: Atharva Veda 4.2.36 Strijaratani Maurice Bloomfield (Translator), Sacred Books of the East, Vol. 42, Oxford University Press; Atharvaveda dedicates over 30 chapters to love relationships, sexuality and for conceiving a child, see e.g. chapters 1.14, 2.30, 3.25, 6.60, 6.78, 6.82, 6.130–6.132; On peaceful social and family relationships: Atharva Veda 6.3.30 Maurice Bloomfield (Translator), Sacred Books of the East, Vol. 42, Oxford University Press;
184. Kenneth Zysk (1993), Religious Medicine: The History and Evolution of Indian Medicine, Routledge, ISBN 978-1560000761, pp. x–xii
185. Witzel, M., "The Development of the Vedic Canon and its Schools : The Social and Political Milieu" in Witzel 1997, pp. 275–276
186. Moriz Winternitz (2010), A History of Indian Literature, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120802643, pp. 175–176
187. Klostermaier 1994, p. 67.
188. Max Müller, Chandogya Upanishad, The Upanishads, Part I, Oxford University Press, p. lxxxvii with footnote 2
189. Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120814684, p. 63
190. The Development of the Female Mind in India, p. 27, at Google Books, The Calcutta Review, Volume 60, p. 27
191. Jan Gonda (1975), Vedic Literature: (Saṃhitās and Brāhmaṇas), Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447016032, pp. 319–322, 368–383 with footnotes
192. AB Keith (2007), The Religion and Philosophy of the Veda and Upanishads, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120806443, pp. 489–490
193. Max Müller, The Upanishads, Part 1, Oxford University Press, p. lxxxvi footnote 1
194. Olivelle 1998, p. liii.
195. Olivelle 1998, p. lv.
196. Mahadevan 1956, p. 59.
197. PT Raju (1985), Structural Depths of Indian Thought, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0887061394, pp. 35–36
198. Wiman Dissanayake (1993), Self as Body in Asian Theory and Practice (Editors: Thomas P. Kasulis et al), State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791410806, p. 39; Quote: "The Upanishads form the foundations of Hindu philosophical thought and the central theme of the Upanishads is the identity of Atman and Brahman, or the inner self and the cosmic self.";
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199. Patrick Olivelle (2014), The Early Upanisads, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195352429, p. 3; Quote: "Even though theoretically the whole of vedic corpus is accepted as revealed truth [shruti], in reality it is the Upanishads that have continued to influence the life and thought of the various religious traditions that we have come to call Hindu. Upanishads are the scriptures par excellence of Hinduism".
200. Patrick Olivelle 1999, p. xxiii.
201. James Lochtefeld (2002), "Vedanga" in The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Vol. 1: A–M, Rosen Publishing, ISBN 0-8239-2287-1, pp. 744–745
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203. Harold G. Coward 1990, pp. 105–110.
204. The Encyclopædia Britannica: A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature and General Information. Encyclopædia Britannica. 1911. p. 161.
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• Witzel, Michael (2001), "Autochthonous Aryans? The Evidence from Old Indian and Iranian Texts" (PDF), Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies, 7 (3): 1–115
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• Wood, Michael (2007), The Story of India Hardcover, BBC Worldwide, ISBN 9780563539155
• Zaehner, R. C. (1966), Hindu Scriptures, Everyman's Library, London: J. M. Dent

Further reading

Overviews


• J. Gonda, Vedic Literature: Saṃhitās and Brāhmaṇas, A History of Indian literature. Vol. 1, Veda and Upanishads, Wiesnaden: Harrassowitz (1975), ISBN 978-3-447-01603-2.
• J.A. Santucci, An Outline of Vedic Literature, Scholars Press for the American Academy of Religion, (1976).
• S. Shrava, A Comprehensive History of Vedic Literature – Brahmana and Aranyaka Works, Pranava Prakashan (1977).

Concordances

• M. Bloomfield, A Vedic Concordance (1907)
• Vishva Bandhu, Bhim Dev, S. Bhaskaran Nair (eds.), Vaidika-Padānukrama-Koṣa: A Vedic Word-Concordance, Vishveshvaranand Vedic Research Institute, Hoshiarpur, 1963–1965, revised edition 1973–1976.

Conference proceedings

• Griffiths, Arlo and Houben, Jan E.M. (eds.), The Vedas : texts, language & ritual: proceedings of the Third International Vedic Workshop, Leiden 2002, Groningen Oriental Studies 20, Groningen : Forsten, (2004), ISBN 90-6980-149-3.

External links

• Sketch of the Historical Grammar of the Rig and Atharva Vedas, Edward Vernon Arnold, Journal of the American Oriental Society
• On the History and the Present State of Vedic Tradition in Nepal, Michael Witzel
• GRETIL etexts
• A Vedic Concordance, Maurice Bloomfield, Harvard University (an alphabetic index to every line, every stanza of the Vedas published before 1906)
• An Enlarged Electronic Version of Bloomfield's A Vedic Concordance, Harvard University
• The Vedas at sacred-texts.com
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

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Part 1 of 2

Language and Testimony in Classical Indian Philosophy
by Madhav Deshpande <mmdesh@umich.edu>
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Copyright © 2020
First published Fri Aug 20, 2010; substantive revision Sat Jun 13, 2020

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Speculations about the nature and function of language in India can be traced to its earliest period. These speculations are multi-faceted in that one detects many different strands of thought regarding language. Some of these speculations are about what one may call the principle of language, but others are about specific languages or specific uses of these languages. One sees speculations regarding the creation of language as well as the role of language in the creation of the universe. Language appears in relation to gods as well as humans, and occupies the entire width of a spectrum from being a divinity herself to being a means used by gods to create and control the world, and ultimately to being a means in the hands of the human beings to achieve their own religious as well as mundane purposes. Gradually, a whole range of questions are raised about all these various aspects of language in the evolving religious and philosophical traditions in India, traditions which shared some common conceptions, but thrived in full-blooded disagreements on major issues. Such disagreements relate to the ontological nature of language, its communicative role, the nature of meaning, and more specifically the nature of word-meaning and sentence-meaning. On the other hand, certain manifestations of language, whether in the form of specific languages like Sanskrit or particular scriptural texts like the Vedas, became topics of contestation between various philosophical and religious traditions. Finally, one must mention the epistemic role and value of language, its ability or inability to provide veridical knowledge about the world. In what follows, I intend to provide a brief account of these diverse developments in ancient, classical and medieval India. (For an approximate chronology of Indian philosophers, see the supplement.)

• 1. Pre-systematic conceptions of language in Vedic texts
• 2. Conception of Language among Sanskrit grammarians
• 3. General philosophical approaches to the status of Vedic scriptures
• 4. Language and Meaning
• 6. Different views regarding sentence-meaning
• 7. Some important conceptions
• 8. Why the differences?
• Bibliography
• Academic Tools
• Other Internet Resources
• Related Entries

1. Pre-systematic conceptions of language in Vedic texts

The Vedic scriptural texts (1500–500 bce) consist of the four ancient collections, i.e., the Ṛgveda, the Sāmaveda, the Yajurveda, and the Atharvaveda. The next layer of Vedic texts, the Brāhmaṇas, consists of prose ritual commentaries that offer procedures, justifications, and explanations. The last two categories of Vedic literature are the Āraṇyakas, “Forest Texts”, and the Upaniṣads, “Secret Mystical Doctrines”.

The word saṃskṛta is not known as a label of a language variety during the Vedic period. The general term used for language in the Vedic texts is vāk, a word historically related to “voice”. The Vedic poet-sages perceived significant differences between their own language and the languages of the outsiders. Similarly, they perceived important differences between their own use of language in mundane contexts and the use of language directed toward Gods. The Gods are generically referred to by the term deva, and the language of the hymns is said to be devī vāk, “divine language.” This language is believed to have been created by the Gods themselves. The language thus created by the Gods is then spoken by the animate world in various forms. The divine language in its ultimate form is so mysterious that three-quarters of it are said to be hidden from the humans who have access only to a quarter of it. The Vedic poet-sages say that this divine language enters into their hearts and that they discover it through mystical introspection. Just as the language used by the Vedic poet-sages is the divine language, the language used by the non-Vedic people is said to be un-godly (adevī) or demonic (asuryā).

In the Vedic literature, one observes the development of mystical and ritual approaches to language. Language was perceived as an essential tool for approaching the gods, invoking them, asking their favors, and thus for the successful completion of a ritual performance. While the Gods were the powers that finally yielded the wishes of their human worshipers, one could legitimately look at the resulting reward as ensuing from the power of the religious language, or the power of the performing priest. This way, the language came to be looked upon as having mysterious creative powers, and as a divine power that needed to be propitiated before it could be successfully used to invoke other gods. This approach to language ultimately led to deification of language and the emergence of the Goddess of Speech (vāk devī), and a number of other gods who are called “Lord of Speech” (brahmaṇaspati, bṛhaspati, vākpati).

In contrast with the valorous deeds of the divine language, the language of the non-Vedic people neither yields fruit nor blossom (Ṛgveda, 10.71.5). “Yielding fruit and blossom” is a phrase indicative of the creative power of speech that produces the rewards for the worshiper. From being a created but divine entity, the speech rises to the heights of being a divinity in her own right and eventually to becoming the substratum of the existence of the whole universe. The deification of speech is seen in hymn 10.125 of the Ṛgveda where the Goddess of Speech sings her own glory. In this hymn, one no longer hears of the creation of the speech, but one begins to see the speech as a primordial divinity that creates and controls other gods, sages, and the human beings. Here the goddess of speech demands worship in her own right, before her powers may be used for other purposes. The mystery of language is comprehensible only to a special class of people, the wise Brāhmaṇas, while the commoners have access to and understanding of only a limited portion of this transcendental phenomenon.

The “Lord of Speech” divinities typically emerge as creator divinities, e.g., Brahmā, Bṛhaspati, and Brahmaṇaspati, and the word brahman which earlier refers, with differing accents, to the creative incantation and the priest, eventually comes to assume in the Upaniṣads the meaning of the creative force behind the entire universe. While the Vedic hymns were looked upon as being crafted by particular poet-sages in the earlier period, gradually a rising perception of their mysterious power and their preservation by the successive generations led to the emergence of a new conception of the scriptural texts. Already in the late parts of the Ṛgveda (10.90.9), we hear that the verses (ṛk), the songs (sāma), and the ritual formulas (yajus) arose from the primordial sacrifice offered by the gods. They arose from the sacrificed body of the cosmic person, the ultimate ground of existence. This tendency of increasingly looking at the scriptural texts as not being produced by any human authors takes many forms in subsequent religious and philosophical materials, finally leading to a wide-spread notion that the Vedas are not authored by any human beings (apauruṣeya), and are in fact uncreated and eternal, beyond the cycles of creation and destruction of the world. In late Vedic texts, we hear the notion that the real Vedas are infinite (ananta) and that the Vedas known to human poet-sages are a mere fraction of the real infinite Vedas.

In the late Vedic traditions of the Brāhmaṇas, we are told that there is perfection of the ritual form (rūpasamṛddhi) when a recited incantation echoes the ritual action that is being performed. This shows a notion that ideally there should be a match between the contents of a ritual formula and the ritual action in which it is recited, further suggesting a notion that language mirrors the external world in some way. In the Āraṇyakas and Upaniṣads, language acquires importance in different ways. The Upaniṣads, emphasizing the painful nature of cycles of rebirths, point out that the ideal goal should be to put an end to these cycles of birth and rebirth and to find one’s permanent identity with the original ground of the universal existence, i.e., Brahman. The term brahman, originally referring to creative ritual chants and the chanters, has now acquired this new meaning, the ultimate creative force behind the universe. As part of the meditative practice, one is asked to focus on the sacred syllable OM, which is the symbolic linguistic representation of Brahman. Here the language, in the form of OM, becomes an important tool for the attainment of one’s mystical union with Brahman. The Sanskrit word akṣara refers to a syllable, but it also means “indestructible.” Thus, the word akṣara allowed the meditational use of the holy syllable OM to ultimately lead to one’s experiential identity with the indestructible reality of Brahman.

The role of language and scripture in the Upaniṣadic mode of religious life is complicated. Here, the use of language to invoke the Vedic gods becomes a lower form of religious practice. Can Brahman be reached through language? Since Brahman is beyond all characterizations and all modes of human perception, no linguistic expression can properly describe it. Hence all linguistic expressions and all knowledge framed in language are deemed to be inadequate for the purpose of reaching Brahman. In fact, it is silence that characterizes Brahman, and not words. Even so, the use of OM-focused meditation is emphasized, at least in the pre-final stages of Brahman-realization.

By the time we come to the classical philosophical systems in India, one more assumption is made by almost all Hindu systems, i.e., that all the Vedas together form a coherent whole. The human authorship of the Vedic texts has long been rejected, and they are now perceived either as being entirely uncreated and eternal or created by God at the beginning of each cycle of creation. Under the assumption that they are entirely uncreated, their innate ability to convey truthful meaning is unhampered by human limitations. Thus if all the Vedic texts convey truth, there cannot be any internal contradictions. If an omniscient God, who by his very nature is compassionate and beyond human limitations, created the Vedas, one reaches the same conclusion, i.e., there cannot be any internal contradictions. The traditional interpretation of the Vedas proceeds under these assumptions. If there are seeming contradictions in Vedic passages, the burden of finding ways to remove those seeming contradictions is upon the interpreter, but there can be no admission of internal contradictions in the texts themselves.

2. Conception of Language among Sanskrit grammarians

Before the emergence of the formalized philosophical systems or the darśanas, we see a number of philosophical issues relating to language implicitly and explicitly brought out by the early Sanskrit grammarians, namely Pāṇini, Kātyāyana and Patañjali. Pāṇini (400 bce) composed his grammar of Sanskrit with a certain notion of Sanskrit as an atemporal language. For him, there were regional dialects of Sanskrit, as well as variation of usage in its scriptural (chandas) and contemporary (bhāṣā) domains. All these domains are treated as sub-domains of a unified language, which is not restricted by any temporality.

Patañjali’s Mahābhāṣya refers to the views of Vyāḍi and Vājapyāyana on the meaning of words. Vyāḍi argued that words like “cow” denote individual instances of a certain class, while Vājapyāyana argued that words like “cow” denote generic properties or class properties (ākṛti), such as cowness, that are shared by all members of certain classes. Patañjali presents a long debate on the extreme positions in this argument, and finally concludes that both the individual instances and the class property must be included within the range of meaning. The only difference between the two positions is about which aspect, the individual or the class property, is denoted first, and which is understood subsequently. This early debate indicates philosophical positions that get expanded and fully argued in the traditions of the Nyāya-Vaiśeṣikas and the Mīmāṃsakas.

The early commentators on Pāṇini’s grammar from the late Mauryan and post-Mauryan periods, Kātyāyana and Patañjali (200–100 bce), display a significant reorganization of Brahmanical views in the face of opposition from Jains and Buddhists. For Kātyāyana and Patañjali, the Sanskrit language at large is sacred like the Vedas. The intelligent use of Sanskrit, backed by the explicit understanding of its grammar, leads to prosperity here and in the next world, as do the Vedas. Kātyāyana and Patañjali admit that vernaculars as well as Sanskrit could do the function of communicating meaning. However, only the usage of Sanskrit produces religious merit. This is an indirect criticism of the Jains and the Buddhists, who used vernacular languages for the propagation of their faiths. The grammarians did not accept the religious value of the vernaculars. The vernacular languages, along with the incorrect uses of Sanskrit, are all lumped together by the Sanskrit grammarians under the derogatory terms apaśabda and apabhraṃśa, both of which suggest a view that the vernaculars are degenerate or “fallen” forms of the divine language, i.e., Sanskrit. Kātyāyana says: “While the relationship between words and meanings is established on the basis of the usage of specific words to denote specific meanings in the community of speakers, the science of grammar only makes a regulation concerning the religious merit produced by the linguistic usage, as is commonly done in worldly matters and in Vedic rituals” (first Vārttika on the Aṣṭādhyāyī). Kātyāyana refers to these “degenerate” vernacular usages as being caused by the inability of the low-class speakers to speak proper Sanskrit. The grammarians tell the story of demons that used improper degenerate usages during their ritual and hence were defeated.

The relationship between Sanskrit words and their meanings is said to be established (siddha) and taken as given by the grammarians. Patañjali understands this statement of Kātyāyana to mean that the relationship between Sanskrit words and their meanings is eternal (nitya), not created (kārya) by anyone. Since this eternal relationship, according to these grammarians, exists only for Sanskrit words and their meanings, one cannot accord the same status to the vernaculars, which are born of an inability on the part of their speakers to speak proper Sanskrit.

While Pāṇini uses the term prakṛti to refer to the derivationally original state of a word or expression before changes effected by grammatical operations are applied, Kātyāyana and Patañjali use the term vikṛta to refer to the derivationally transformed segment. However, change and identity are not compatible within more rigid metaphysical frameworks, and this becomes apparent in the following discussion. In his Vārttikas or comments on Pāṇini’s grammar, Kātyāyana says that one could have argued that an item partially transformed does not yet lose its identity (Vārttika 10 on P. 1.1.56). But such an acceptance would lead to non-eternality (anityatva) of language (Vārttika 11, Mahābhāṣya, I, p. 136), and that is not acceptable. Patañjali asserts that words in reality are eternal (nitya), and that means they must be absolutely free from change or transformation and fixed in their nature. If words are truly eternal, one cannot then say that a word was transformed and is yet the same. This points to the emerging ideological shifts in philosophical traditions, which make their headway into the tradition of grammar, and finally lead to the development of newer conceptions within the tradition of grammar and elsewhere.

In trying to figure out how the emerging doctrine of nityatva (“permanence”, “immutability”) of language causes problems with the notion of transformation (vikāra) and how these problems are eventually answered by developing new concepts, we should note two issues, i.e., temporal fixity or flexibility of individual sounds, and the compatibility of the notion of sequence of sounds, or utterance as a process stretched in time. From within the new paradigm of nityatva or eternality of sounds, Kātyāyana concludes that the true sounds (varṇa) are fixed in their nature in spite of the difference of speed of delivery (Vārttika 5 on P. 1.1.70, Mahābhāṣya, I, p. 181). The speed of delivery (vṛtti) results from the slow or fast utterance of a speaker (vacana), though the true sounds are permanently fixed in their nature. Here, Kātyāyana broaches a doctrine that is later developed further by Patañjali, and more fully by Bhartṛhari. It argues for a dual ontology. There are the fixed true sounds (varṇa), and then there are the uttered sounds (vacana, “utterance”). It is Patañjali who uses, for the first time as far as we know, the term sphoṭa to refer to Kātyāyana’s “true sounds which are fixed” (avasthitā varṇāḥ) and the term dhvani (“uttered sounds”). Patañjali adds an important comment to Kātyāyana’s discussion. He says that the real sound (śabda) is thus the sphoṭa (“the sound as it initially breaks out into the open”), and the quality [length or speed] of the sound is part of dhvani (“sound as it continues”) (Mahābhāṣya, I, p. 181). The term sphoṭa refers to something like exploding or coming into being in a bang. Thus it refers to the initial production or perception of sound. On the other hand, the stretching of that sound seems to refer to the dimension of continuation. Patañjali means to say that it is the same sound, but it may remain audible for different durations.

This raises the next problem that the grammarians must face: can a word be understood as a sequence or a collection of sounds? Kātyāyana says that one cannot have a sequence or a collection of sounds, because the process of speech proceeds sound-by-sound, and that sounds perish as soon as they are uttered. Thus, one cannot have two sounds co-existing at a given moment to relate to each other. Since the sounds perish as soon as they are uttered, a sound cannot have another co-existent companion (Vārttikas 9 and 10 on P. 1.4.109). Kātyāyana points out all these difficulties, but it is Patañjali who offers a solution to this philosophical dilemma. Patañjali suggests that one can pull together impressions of all the uttered sounds and then think of a sequence in this mentally constructed image of a word (Mahābhaṣya, I, p. 356). Elsewhere, Patañjali says that a word is perceived through the auditory organ, discerned through one’s intelligence, and brought into being through its utterance (Mahābhaṣya, I, p. 18). While Patañjali’s solution overcomes the transitoriness of the uttered sounds, and the resulting impossibility of a sequence, there is no denial of sequentiality or perhaps of an imprint of sequentiality in the comprehended word, and there is indeed no claim to its absolutely unitary or partless character. Patañjali means to provide a solution to the perception of sequentiality through his ideas of a mental storage of comprehension. But at the same time, this mental storage and the ability to view this mental image allows one to overcome the difficulty of non-simultaneity and construct a word or a linguistic unit as a collection of perceived sounds or words, as the case may be. Kātyāyana and Patañjali specifically admit the notion of samudāya (“collection”) of sounds to represent a word and a collection of words to represent a phrase or a sentence (Vārttika 7 on P. 2.2.29). Thus, while the ontology of physical sounds does not permit their co-existence, their mental images do allow it, and once they can be perceived as components of a collection, one also recognizes the imprint of the sequence in which they were perceived. Neither Kātyāyana nor Patañjali explicitly claim any higher ontological status to these word-images. However, the very acceptance of such word-images opens up numerous explanatory possibilities.

Although Kātyāyana and Patañjali argue that the notion of change or transformation of parts of words was contradictory to the doctrine of nityatva (“permanence”) of language, they were not averse to the notion of substitution. The notion of substitution was understood as a substitution, not of a part of a word by another part, but of a whole word by another word, and this especially as a conceptual rather than an ontological replacement. Thus, in going from “bhavati” to “bhavatu”, Pāṇini prescribes the change of “i” of “ti” to “u” (cf. P.3.4.86: “er uḥ”). Thus, “i” changes to “u”, leading to the change of “ti” to “tu”, and this consequently leads to the change of “bhavati” to “bhavatu”. For Kātyāyana and Patañjali, the above atomistic and transformational understanding of Pāṇini’s procedure goes contrary to the doctrine of nityatva (“permanence”) of words. Therefore, they suggest that it is actually the substitution of the whole word “bhavati” by another whole word “bhavatu”, each of these two words being eternal in its own right. Additionally they assert that this is merely a notional change and not an ontological change, i.e., a certain item is found to occur, where one expected something else to occur. There is no change of an item x into an item y, nor does one remove the item x and place y in its place (Vārttikas 12 and 14 on P. 1.1.56). This discussion seems to imply a sort of unitary character to the words, whether notional or otherwise, and this eventually leads to a movement toward a kind of akhaṇḍa-pada-vāda (“the doctrine of partless words”) in the Vākyapadīya of Bhartṛhari. While one must admit that the seeds for such a conception may be traced in these discussions in the Mahābhāṣya, Patañjali is actually not arguing so much against words having parts, as against the notion of change or transformation (Mahābhāṣya on P. 1.2.20, I, p. 75).

Kātyāyana and Patañjali clearly view words as collections of sounds. Besides using the term “samudāya” for such a collection, they also use the word “varṇasaṃghāta” (“collection of sounds”). They argue that words are built by putting together sounds, and that, while the words are meaningful, the component sounds are not meaningful in themselves. The notion of a word as a collection (saṃghāta) applies not only in the sense that it is a collection of sounds, but also in the sense that complex formations are collections of smaller morphological components.

This leads us to consider the philosophical developments in the thought of Bhartṛhari (400 ce), and especially his departures from the conceptions seen in Kātyāyana and Patañjali. Apart from his significant contribution toward an in depth philosophical understanding of issues of the structure and function of language, and issues of phonology, semantics and syntax, Bhartṛhari is well known for his claim that language constitutes the ultimate principle of reality (śabdabrahman). Both the signifier words and the signified entities in the world are perceived to be a transformation (pariṇāma) of the ultimate unified principle of language.

For Kātyāyana and Patañjali, the level of padas (“inflected words”) is the basic level of language for grammar. These words are freely combined by the users to form sentences or phrases. The words are not derived by Kātyāyana and Patañjali by abstracting them from sentences by using the method of anvaya-vyatireka (“concurrent occurrence and concurrent absence”) (Vārttika 9 on P. 1.2.45). On the other hand, they claim that a grammarian first derives stems and affixes by applying the procedure of abstraction to words, and then in turn puts these stems and affixes through the grammatical process of derivation (saṃskāra) to build the words. Here, Kātyāyana and Patañjali do make a distinction between the levels of actual usage (vacana) and technical grammatical analysis and derivation. While full-fledged words (pada) occur at the level of usage, their abstracted morphological components do not occur by themselves at that level. However, they do not seem to suggest that the stems, roots, and affixes are purely imagined (kalpita).

Bhartṛhari has substantially moved beyond Kātyāyana and Patañjali. For him, the linguistically given entity is a sentence. Everything below the level of sentence is derived through a method of abstraction referred to by the term anvaya-vyatireka or apoddhāra. Additionally, for Bhartṛhari, elements abstracted through this procedure have no reality of any kind. They are kalpita (“imagined”) (Vākyapadīya, III, 14, 75–76). Such abstracted items have instructional value for those who do not yet have any intuitive insight into the true nature of speech (Vākyapadīya, II. 238). The true speech unit, the sentence, is an undivided singularity and so is its meaning which is comprehended in an instantaneous cognitive flash (pratibhā), rather than through a deliberative and/or sequential process. Consider the following verse of the Vākyapadīya (II.10):

Just as stems, affixes etc. are abstracted from a given word, so the abstraction of words from a sentence is justified.


Here, the clause introduced by “just as” refers to the older more widely prevalent view seen in the Mahābhāṣya. With the word “so,” Bhartṛhari is proposing an analogical extension of the procedure of abstraction (apoddhāra) to the level of a sentence.

Without mentioning Patañjali or Kātyāyana by name, Bhartṛhari seems to critique their view that the meaning of a sentence, consisting of the interrelations between the meanings of individual words, is essentially not derived from the constituent words themselves, but from the whole sentence as a collection of words. The constituent words convey their meaning first, but their interrelations are not communicated by the words themselves, but by the whole sentence as a unit. This view of Kātyāyana and Patañjali is criticized by Bhartṛhari (Vākyapadīya II.15–16, 41–42). It is clear that Bhartṛhari’s ideas do not agree with the views expressed by Kātyāyana and Patañjali, and that the views of these two earlier grammarians are much closer, though not identical, with the views later maintained by the Nyāya-Vaiśeṣikas and Mīmāṃsakas. For Bhartṛhari, the sentence as a single partless unit conveys its entire unitary meaning in a flash, and this unitary meaning as well as the unitary sentence are subsequently analyzed by grammarians into their assumed or imagined constituents.

Finally, we should note that Bhartṛhari’s views on the unitary character of a sentence and its meaning were found to be generally unacceptable by the schools of Mīmāṃsā and Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika, as well as by the later grammarian-philosophers like Kauṇḍabhaṭṭa and Nāgeśabhaṭṭa. Their discussion of the comprehension of sentence-meaning is not couched in terms of Bhartṛhari’s instantaneous flash of intuition (pratibhā), but in terms of the conditions of ākāṅkṣā (“mutual expectancy”), yogyatā (“compatibility)”, and āsatti (“contiguity of words”). In this sense, the later grammarian-philosophers are somewhat closer to the spirit of Kātyāyana and Patañjali.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Wed Sep 02, 2020 9:48 am

Part 2 of 2

3. General philosophical approaches to the status of Vedic scriptures

Early Vedic notions about the authorship of the Vedic hymns are different from philosophical views. Vedic hymns use words like kāru (“craftsman”) to describe the poet, and the act of producing a hymn is described as (Ṛgveda 10.71.2): “Like cleansing barley with a sieve, the wise poets created the speech with their mind”. The poets of the Vedic hymns are also called mantrakṛt (“makers of hymns”). Further, each hymn of the Veda is associated with a specific poet-priest and often with a family of poet-priests. But, already in the Ṛgveda, there are signs of the beginning of an impersonal conception of the origin of the Vedas. For instance, the famous Puruṣa-hymn of the Ṛgveda describes the hymns of the Ṛgveda, the formulae of Yajus and the songs of Sāman as originating from the primordial sacrifice of the cosmic being (Ṛgveda 10.90.9). This trend to ascribe impersonal origin to the Vedas gets further accentuated in the Brāhmaṇas and the Upaniṣads.

Later Hindu notions about the Vedic scriptures and their authority are in part reflections of Hindu responses to the criticisms of the Vedas launched by the Buddhists and the Jains. The early Buddhist critique of the Vedas targets the authors of the Vedic hymns. Vedic sages like Vasiṣṭha, Viśvāmitra, and Bhṛgu are described as the ancient authors of the mantras (porāṇā mantānaṃ kattāro), but they are criticized as being ignorant of the true path to the union with Brahmā (Tevijjasutta; Dīghanikāya; Suttapiṭaka). So the Vedas are depicted as being words of ignorant human beings who do not even recognize their own ignorance. How can one trust such authors or their words? The Buddhist and the Jain traditions also rejected the notion of God, and hence any claim that the Vedas were words of God, and hence authoritative, was not acceptable to them. On the other hand, the Jain and the Buddhist traditions claimed that their leading spiritual teachers like Mahāvīra and Buddha were omniscient (sarvajña) and were compassionate toward humanity at large, and hence their words were claimed to be authoritative.

Beginning around 200 bce, Hindu ritualists (Mīmāṃsakas) and logicians (Naiyāyikas and Vaiśeṣikas) began to defend their religious faith in the Vedas and in the Brahmanical religion with specific arguments. Some of these arguments have precursors in the discussions of the early Sanskrit grammarians, Kātyāyana and Patañjali. The Mīmāṃsakas accepted the arguments of the Buddhists and the Jains that one need not accept the notion of a creator-controller God. However, the Mīmāṃsakas attempted to defend the Vedas against the criticism that the ancient human sages who authored the hymns of the Vedas were ignorant, while the figures like the Buddha and Mahāvīra were omniscient. They contested the notion of an omniscient person (sarvajña), and argued that no humans could be omniscient and free from ignorance, passion, and deceit. Therefore, the Buddha and Mahāvīra could not be free from these faults either, and hence their words cannot be trusted. On the other hand, the Vedas were claimed to be eternal and intrinsically meaningful words, uncreated by any human being (apauruṣeya). Since they were not created by human beings, they were free from the limitations and faults of human beings. Yet the Vedas were meaningful, because the relationship between words and meanings was claimed to be innate. The Vedas were ultimately seen as ordaining the performance of sacrifices. The Mīmāṃsakas developed a theory of sentence-meaning which claimed that the meaning of a sentence centers around some specific action denoted by a verb-root and an injunction expressed by the verbal terminations. Thus, language, especially the scriptural language, primarily orders us to engage in appropriate actions.

In this connection, we may note that Mīmāṃsā and other systems of Hindu philosophy developed a notion of linguistic expression as one of the sources of authoritative knowledge (śabdapramāṇa), when other more basic sources of knowledge like sense perception (pratyakṣa) and inference (anumāna) are not available. Particularly, in connection with religious duty (dharma), and heaven (svarga) as the promised reward, only the Veda is available as the source of authoritative knowledge. For Mīmāṃsā, the Veda as a source of knowledge is not tainted by negative qualities like ignorance and malice that could affect a normal human speaker.

To understand the Mīmāṃsā doctrine of the eternality of the Vedas, we need to note that eternality implies the absence of both a beginning and an end. In Indian philosophy, two kinds of persistence are distinguished, namely the ever unchanging persistence (kūṭastha-nityatā), like that of a rock, and the continuous and yet incessantly changing existence of a stream like that of a river (pravāha-nityatā). The persistence claimed for the Vedas by the Mīmāṃsakas would appear to be of the kūṭastha (“unchanging persistence”) kind, while its continuous study from time immemorial would be of the pravāha-nitya (“fluid persistence”) kind. Further, the meanings which the words signify are natural to the words, not the result of convention. Mīmāṃsā does not think that the association of a particular meaning with a word is due to conventions among people who introduce and give meanings to the words. Further, words signify only universals. The universals are eternal. Words do not signify particular entities of any kind which come into being and disappear, but the corresponding universals which are eternal and of which the transient individuals are mere instances. Further, not only are the meanings eternal, the words are also eternal. All words are eternal. If one utters the word “chair” ten times, is one uttering the same word ten times? The Mīmāṃsakas say that, if the word is not the same, then it cannot have the same meaning. The word and the meaning both being eternal, the relation between them also is necessarily so. An important argument with which the eternality of the Vedas is secured is that of the eternality of the sounds of a language.

The Mīmāṃsā conceives of an unbroken and beginningless Vedic tradition. No man or God can be considered to be the very first teacher of the Veda or the first receiver of it, because the world is beginningless. It is conceivable that, just as at present, there have always been teachers teaching and students studying the Veda. For the Mīmāṃsakas, the Vedas are not words of God. In this view, they seem to accept the Buddhist and the Jain critique of the notion of God. There is no need to assume God. Not only is there no need to assume that God was the author of the Vedas, there is no need to assume a God at all. God is not required as a Creator, for the universe was never created. Nor is God required as the Dispenser of Justice, for karman brings its own fruits. And one does not need God as the author of the Vedas, since they are eternal and uncreated to begin with. The Ṛṣis, Vedic sages, did not compose the Vedas. They merely saw them, and, therefore, the scriptures are free from the taint of mortality implicit in a human origin. The Mīmāṃsā notion of the authority of the authorless Veda also depends upon their epistemic theory, that claims that all received cognitions are intrinsically valid (svataḥ pramāṇa), unless and until they are falsified by subsequent cognitions of higher order.

The traditions of the Naiyāyikas and the Vaiśeṣikas strongly disagreed with the views of the Mīmāṃsakas and they developed their own distinctive conceptions of language, meaning, and scriptural authority. They agreed with the Mīmāṃsakas that the Vedas were a source of authoritative knowledge (śabda-pramāṇa), and yet they offered a different set of reasons. According to them, only the words of a trustworthy speaker (āpta) are a source of authoritative knowledge. They joined the Mīmāṃsakas in arguing that no humans, including Buddha and Mahāvīra, are free from ignorance, passion, etc., and no humans are omniscient, and therefore the words of no human being could be accepted as infallible. However, they did not agree with the Mīmāṃsakas in their rejection of the notion of God. In the metaphysics of the Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika tradition, the notion of God plays a central role. In defending the notion of God (as in the Nyāyakusumāñjali of Udayana), they claimed that God was the only being in the universe that was omniscient and free from the faults of ignorance and malice. He was a compassionate being. Therefore, only the words of God could be infallible, and therefore be trusted. For the Naiyāyikas and Vaiśeṣikas, the Vedas were words of God, and not the words of human sages about God. The human sages only received the words of God in their meditative trances, but they had no authorship role.

On a different level, this argument came to mean that God only spoke in Sanskrit, and hence Sanskrit alone was the language of God, and that it was the best means to approach God. God willfully established a connection between each Sanskrit word and its meaning, saying “let this word refer to this thing.” Such a connection was not established by God for vernacular languages, which were only fallen forms of Sanskrit, and hence the vernaculars could not become vehicles for religious and spiritual communication. The Naiyāyikas argued that vernacular words did not even have legitimate meanings of their own. They claimed that the vernacular words reminded the listener of the corresponding Sanskrit words that communicated the meaning.

4. Language and Meaning

The term artha in Sanskrit is used to denote the notion of meaning. However, the meaning of this term ranges from a real object in the external world referred to by the word to a mere concept of an object which may or may not correspond to anything in the external world. The differences regarding what meaning is are argued out by the philosophical schools of Nyāya, Vaiśeṣika, Mīmāṃsā, various schools of Buddhism, Sanskrit grammar, and poetics. Among these schools, the schools of Nyāya, Vaiśeṣika, and Mīmāṃsā have realist ontologies. Mīmāṃsā focuses mainly on interpreting the Vedic scriptures. Buddhist thinkers generally pointed to language as depicting a false picture of reality. Sanskrit grammarians were more interested in language and communication than in ontology, while Sanskrit poetics focused on the poetic dimensions of meaning.

The modern distinction of “sense” versus “reference” is somewhat blurred in the Sanskrit discussions of the notion of meaning. The question Indian philosophers seem to raise is “what does a word communicate?” They were also interested in detecting if there was some sort of sequence in which different aspects of layers of meaning were communicated. Generally, the notion of meaning is further stratified into three or four types. First there is the primary meaning, something that is directly and immediately communicated by a word. If the primary meaning is inappropriate in a given context, then one moves to a secondary meaning, an extension of the primary meaning. Beyond this is the suggested meaning, which may or may not be the same as the meaning intended by the speaker.

The various Indian theories of meaning are closely related to the overall stances taken by the different schools. Among the factors which influence the notion of meaning are the ontological and epistemological views of a school, its views regarding the role of God and scripture, its specific focus on a certain type of discourse, and its ultimate purpose in theorizing.

In the Western literature on the notion of meaning in the Indian tradition, various terms such as “sense,” “reference,” “denotation,” “connotation,” “designatum,” and “intension” have been frequently used to render the Sanskrit term artha. However, these terms carry specific nuances of their own, and no single term adequately conveys the idea of artha. Artha basically refers to the object signified by a word. In numerous contexts, the term stands for an object in the sense of an element of external reality. For instance, Patañjali says that when a word is pronounced, an artha “object” is understood. For example: “bring in a bull”, “eat yogurt”, etc. It is the artha that is brought in and it is also the artha that is eaten.

The schools of Nyāya and Vaiśeṣika set up an ontology containing substances, qualities, actions, relations, generic and particular properties, etc. With this realistic ontology in mind, they argue that if the relation between a word and its artha (“meaning”) were a natural ontological relation, there should be real experiences of burning and cutting in one’s mouth after hearing words like “agni” (“fire”) and “asi” (“sword”). Therefore, this relationship must be a conventional relationship (saṃketa), the convention being established by God as part of his initial acts of creation. The relationship between a word and the object it refers to is thought to be the desire of God that such and such a word should refer to such and such an object. It is through this established conventional relationship that a word reminds the listener of its meaning. The school of Mīmāṃsā represents the tradition of the exegesis of the Vedic texts. However, in the course of discussing and perfecting principles of interpretation, this system developed a full-scale theory of ontology and an important theory of meaning. For the Mīmāṃsakas, the primary tenet is that the Vedic scriptural texts are eternal and uncreated, and that they are meaningful. For this orthodox system, which remarkably defends the scripture but dispenses with the notion of God, the relationship between a word and its meaning is an innate eternal relationship. For both Nyāya-Vaiśeṣikas and Mīmāṃsakas, language refers to external states of the world and not just to conceptual constructions.

The tradition of grammarians, beginning with Bhartṛhari, seems to have followed a middle path between the realistic theories of reference (bāhyārthavāda) developed by Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika and Mīmāṃsā on the one hand, and the notional/conceptual meaning (vikalpa) of the Buddhists on the other. For the grammarians, the meaning of a word is closely related to the level of understanding. Whether or not things are real, we do have concepts. These concepts form the content of a person’s cognitions derived from language. Without necessarily denying or affirming the external reality of objects in the world, grammarians claimed that the meaning of a word is only a projection of intellect (bauddhārtha, buddhipratibhāsa). The examples offered by Sanskrit grammarians such as “śaśaśṛṅga” (“horn of a rabbit”) and “vandhyāsuta” (“son of a barren woman”) remain meaningful within this theory. Sanskrit grammarians are thus not concerned with ontological or truth functional values of linguistic expressions. For them the truth of an expression and its meaningfulness are not to be equated.

By the middle of the second millennium of the Christian era, certain uniformity came about in the technical terminology used by different schools. The prominent schools in this period are the new school of Nyāya initiated by Gaṅgeśa, the schools of Mīmāṃsā, Vedānta, and Sanskrit grammar. While all these schools are engaged in pitched battles against each other, they seem to accept the terminological lead of the neo-logicians, the Navya-Naiyāyikas. Following the discussion of the term artha by the neo-logician Gadādharabhaṭṭa, we can state the general framework of a semantic theory. Other schools accept this general terminology, with some variations.

It may be said that the term artha (“meaning”) stands for the object or content of a verbal cognition or a cognition that results from hearing a word (śābda-bodha-viṣaya). Such a verbal cognition results from the cognition of a word (śābda-jñāna) on the basis of an awareness of the signification function pertaining to that word (pada-niṣṭha-vṛtti-jñāna). Depending upon the kind of signification function (vṛtti) involved in the emergence of the verbal cognition, the meaning belongs to a distinct type. In general terms:

1. When a verbal cognition results from the primary signification function (śakti / abhidhāvṛtti / mukhyavṛtti) of a word, the object or content of that verbal cognition is called primary meaning (śakyārtha / vācyārtha / abhidheya).
2. When a verbal cognition results from the secondary signification function (lakṣaṇāvṛtti / guṇavṛtti) of a word, the object or content of that verbal cognition is called secondary meaning (lakṣyārtha).
3. When a verbal cognition results from the suggestive signification function (vyañjanāvṛtti) of a word, the object or content of that verbal cognition is called suggested meaning (vyaṅgyārtha / dhvanitārtha).
4. When a verbal cognition results from the intentional signification function (tātparyavṛtti) of a word, the object or content of that verbal cognition is called intended meaning (tātparyārtha).

Not all the different schools of Indian philosophy accept all of these different kinds of signification functions for words, and they hold substantially different views on the nature of words, meanings, and the relations between words and meanings. However, the above terminology holds true, in general, for most of the medieval schools. Let us note some of the important differences. Mīmāṃsā claims that the sole primary meaning of the word “bull” is the generic property or the class property (jāti) such as bull-ness, while the individual object which possesses this generic property, i.e., a particular bull, is only secondarily and subsequently understood from the word “bull”. The school called Kevalavyaktivāda argues that a particular individual bull is the sole primary meaning of the word “bull,” while the generic property bull-ness is merely a secondary meaning. Nyāya argues that the primary meaning of a word is an individual object qualified by a generic property (jāti-viśiṣṭa-vyakti), both being perceived simultaneously.

Sanskrit grammarians distinguish between various different kinds of meanings (artha). The term artha stands for an external object (vastumātra), as well as for the object that is intended to be signified by a word (abhidheya). The latter, i.e., meaning in a linguistic sense, could be meaning in a technical context (śāstrīya), such as the meaning of an affix or a stem, or it may be meaning as understood by people in actual communication (laukika). Then there is a further difference. Meaning may be something directly intended to be signified by an expression (abhidheya), or it could be something which is inevitably signified (nāntarīyaka) when something else is really the intended meaning. Everything that is understood from a word on the basis of some kind of signification function (vṛtti) is covered by the term artha. Different systems of Indian philosophy differ from each other on whether a given cognition is derived from a word on the basis of a signification function (vṛtti), through inference (anumāna), or presumption (arthāpatti). If a particular item of information is deemed to have been derived through inference or presumption, it is not included in the notion of word-meaning.

The scope of the term artha is actually not limited in Sanskrit texts to what is usually understood as the domain of semantics in the western literature. It covers elements such as gender (liṅga) and number (saṃkhyā). It also covers the semantic-syntactic roles (kāraka) such as agent-ness (kartṛtva) and object-ness (karmatva). Tenses such as the present, past, and future, and the moods such as the imperative and optative are also traditionally included in the arthas signified by a verb root, or an affix. Another aspect of the concept of artha is revealed in the theory of dyotyārtha (“co-signified”) meaning. According to this theory, to put it in simple terms, particles such as ca (“and”) do not have any lexical or primary meaning. They are said to help other words used in construction with them to signify some special aspects of their meaning. For instance, in the phrase “John and Tom”, the meaning of grouping is said to be not directly signified by the word “and”. The theory of dyotyārtha argues that grouping is a specific meaning of the two words “John” and “Tom”, but that these two words are unable to signify this meaning if used by themselves. The word “and” used along with these two words is said to work as a catalyst that enables them to signify this special meaning. The problem of use and mention of words is also handled by Sanskrit grammarians by treating the phonological form of the word itself to be a part of the meaning it signifies. This is a unique way of handling this problem.

6. Different views regarding sentence-meaning

Most schools of Indian philosophy have an atomistic view of meaning and the meaning-bearing linguistic unit. This means that a sentence is put together by combining words and words are put together by combining morphemic elements like stems, roots, and affixes. The same applies to meaning. The word-meaning may be viewed as a fusion of the meanings of stems, roots, and affixes, and the meaning of a sentence may be viewed as a fusion of the meanings of its constituent words. Beyond this generality, different schools have specific proposals. The tradition of Prābhākara Mīmāṃsā proposes that the words of a sentence already convey contextualized inter-connected meanings (anvitābhidhāna) and that the sentence-meaning is not different from a simple addition of these inherently inter-connected word-meanings. On the other hand, the Naiyāyikas and the Bhāṭṭa Mīmāṃsakas propose that words of a sentence taken by themselves convey only uncontextualized unconnected meanings, and that these uncontextualized word-meanings are subsequently brought into a contextualized association with each other (abhihitānvaya). Therefore, the sentence-meaning is different from word-meanings, and is communicated through the concatenation (saṃsarga) of words, rather than by the words themselves. This is also the view of the early grammarians like Kātyāyana and Patañjali.

For the later grammarian-philosopher Bhartṛhari, however, there are no divisions in speech acts and in communicated meanings. He says that only a person ignorant of the real nature of language believes the divisions of sentences into words, stems, roots, and affixes to be real. Such divisions are useful fictions and have an explanatory value in grammatical theory, but have no reality in communication. In reality, there is no sequence in the cognitions of these different components. The sentence-meaning becomes an object or content of a single instance of a flash of cognition (pratibhā).

7. Some important conceptions

The terms śakyatāvacchedaka and pravṛttinimitta signify a property which determines the inclusion of a particular instance within the class of possible entities referred to by a word. It is a property whose possession by an entity is the necessary and sufficient condition for a given word being used to refer to that entity. Thus, the property of potness may be viewed as the śakyatāvacchedaka controlling the use of the word “pot”.

The concept of lakṣaṇā (“secondary signification function”) is invoked in a situation where the primary meaning of an utterance does not appear to make sense in view of the intention behind the utterance, and hence one looks for a secondary meaning. However, the secondary meaning is always something that is related to the primary meaning in some way. For example, the expression gaṅgāyāṃ ghoṣaḥ literally refers to a cowherd-colony on the Ganges. Here, it is argued that one obviously cannot have a cowherd-colony sitting on top of the river Ganges. This would clearly go against the intention of the speaker. Thus, there is both a difficulty of justifying the linkage of word-meanings (anvayānupapatti) and a difficulty of justifying the literal or primary meaning in relation to the intention of the speaker (tātparyānupapatti). These interpretive difficulties nudge one away from the primary meaning of the expression to a secondary meaning, which is related to that primary meaning. Thus, we understand the expression as referring to a cowherd-colony “on the bank of the river Ganges”.

It is the next level of meaning or vyañjanā (“suggestive signification function”) which is analyzed and elaborated more specifically by authors like Ānandavardhana in the tradition of Sanskrit poetics. Consider the following instance of poetic suggestion. With her husband out on a long travel, a lovelorn young wife instructs a visiting young man: “My dear guest, I sleep here and my night-blind mother-in-law sleeps over there. Please make sure you do not stumble at night.” The suggested meaning is an invitation to the young man to come and share her bed. Thus, the poetic language goes well beyond the levels of lexical and metaphorical meanings, and heightens the aesthetic pleasure through such suggestions.

8. Why the differences?

The nuances of these different theories are closely related to the markedly different interests of the schools within which they developed. Sanskrit poetics was interested in the poetic dimensions of meaning. Grammarians were interested in language and cognition, but had little interest in ontological categories per se, except as conceptual structures revealed by the usage of words. For them words and meanings had to be explained irrespective of one’s metaphysical views. Nyāya-Vaiśeṣikas were primarily into logic, epistemology, and ontology, and argued that a valid sentence was a true picture of a state of reality. The foremost goal of Mīmāṃsā was to interpret and defend the Vedic scriptures. Thus, meaning for Mīmāṃsā had to be eternal, uncreated, and unrelated to the intention of a person, because its word par excellence, the Vedic scripture, was eternal, uncreated, and beyond the authorship of a divine or human person. The scriptural word was there to instruct people on how to perform proper ritual and moral duties, but there was no intention behind it. The Buddhists, on the other hand, aimed at weaning people away from all attachment to the world, and hence at showing the emptiness of everything, including language. They were more interested in demonstrating how language fails to portray reality, than in explaining how it works. The theories of meaning were thus a significant part of the total agenda of each school and need to be understood in their specific context.

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Joshi, S. D., 1967. The Sphoṭanirṇaya of Kauṇḍabhaṭṭa, edited with Introduction, Translation, and Critical and Exegetical Notes (Series: Publications of the Centre of Advanced Study in Sanskrit, Class C, No. 2), Pune: University of Pune.
Keeting, Malcolm, 2019. Language, Meaning and Use in Indian Philosophy, An Introduction to Mukula's Fundamentals of the Communicative Function, New York: London, Bloomsbury Academic.
Matilal, B. K., 1971. Epistemology, Logic and Grammar in Indian Philosophical Analysis, The Hague, Paris: Mouton.
–––, 1985. Logic, Language and Reality: an introduction to Indian philosophical studies, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.
–––, 1998. The Character of Logic in India, Albany: State University of New York Press.
–––, 2002. Mind, Language, and World, New York: Oxford University Press.
Padoux, A., 1990. Vāc: The Concept of the Word in Selected Hindu Tantras, translated from French by J. Gontier, Albany: State University of New York Press.
Pandeya, R. C., 1963. The Problem of Meaning in Indian Philosophy, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.
Patañjali, 2nd century BCE. Mahābhāṣya, 3 volumes, F. Kielhorn (ed.) 1880–1885; Pune: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute; K. V. Abhyankar (ed.), 3rd revised edition, 1962–1972.
Prasad, J., 1956. History of Indian Epistemology, Delhi: Munshi Ram Manohar Lal.
Raja, K., 1963. Indian Theories of Meaning (Series: The Adyar Library Series 91), Madras: Adyar Library and Research Centre.
Rao, V. S., 1969. The Philosophy of a Sentence and its Parts, Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal.
Ṛgveda-Saṃhitā, with Sāyaṇa’s commentary, 5 volumes, N. S. Sonatakke and C. G. Kashikar (eds.), Pune: Vaidika Saṃśodhana Maṇḍaḷa, 1933–1951.
Sastri, G. N., 1959. The Philosophy of Word and Meaning, Calcutta: Sanskrit College.
Scharf, P. M., 1996. “The denotation of generic terms in ancient Indian philosophy: grammar, Nyāya, and Mīmāṃsā,” Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, 86(3): i–x, 1–336.
Scharfe, H., 1961. Die Logik im Mahābhāṣya, Berlin: Deutsche Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin, Institut für Orientforschung.
Shaw, Jaysankar Lal, and Matilal, Bimal Krishna (eds.), 1985. Analytical philosophy in comparative perspective : exploratory essays in current theories and classical Indian theories of meaning and reference, Dordrecht – Boston: D. Reidel.
Staal, J. F., 1960. “Correlations between language and logic in Indian thought,” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 23: 109–122.
–––, 1966. “Indian semantics: I,” Journal of the American Oriental Society, 86: 304–311.
–––, 1969. “Sanskrit Philosophy of Language,” in T. A. Sebeok (ed.), Current Trends in Linguistics (Volume 5: Linguistics in South Asia), The Hague: Mouton, pp. 499–531).
–––, 1979. “Oriental ideas on the origin of language,” Journal of the American Oriental Society, 99: 1–14.
–––, 1988. Universals: Studies in Indian Logic and Linguistics, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Wed Sep 02, 2020 10:25 am

Part 1 of 2

Mystical Imperialism, Excerpt from "Tournament of Shadows: The Great Game and the Race for Empire in Central Asia"
by Karl E. Meyer and Shareen Blair Brysac
© 1999 by Karl E. Meyer and Shareen Blair Brysac

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CHAPTER TEN: Mystical Imperialism

THE YEAR IS 1891. A RUSSIAN FRIGATE, THE PAMIAT AZOVA, lies in Colombo harbor. The imperial party, composed of the twenty-two-year-old Tsarevich Nicholas and a miscellany of Grand Dukes, Princes, and Guard Officers, is stopping at Ceylon. The heir to the Throne of all the Russians is midway through a ten-month Asian Grand Tour suggested by his father Alexander III in the hope that Nicky will get to know his future Central Asian subjects and, equally important, forget his mistress, the tiny ballerina of the Maryinsky Theater, Mathilde Kschessinska. In India, Nicky has found the tiger shoots and balls irritating, complaining to his mother, the Empress Marie Feodorovna, "How intolerable it is to be once again surrounded by Englishmen in their scarlet uniforms." She has replied, urging him to be "very courteous to all the English who are taking such pains to give you the best possible reception." She warns that he must set his personal comfort aside -- "you will do this, won't you, my dear Nicky?" Above all, he must" dance more and smoke less in the garden with officers just because it is more amusing." The Tsarevich must "leave a good impression with everybody everywhere."

Perhaps the most important member of the party in the context of our story is Prince Esper Esperovich Ukhtomsky (1861-1921), whom we will meet again as the sponsor of Agvan Dorzhiev at the Russian court. Ukhtomsky's father founded a steamship company to link the Baltic with India and China via the Black Sea. His son, while still a St. Petersburg student, developed a scholarly interest in Buddhism and had become Russia's most important collector of Tibetan and Mongolian art. Upon graduation, Esper Esperovich entered the ranks of the Department of Foreign Creeds in the Ministry of the Interior. He is now its chief. He is a member both of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society and the Russian Committee for the Study of Central and Eastern Asia. A staunch protector of the Buriats, the Mongol people living around Lake Baikal in Siberia, Ukhtomsky leads the Eastern lobby which also includes such influential figures as the Finance Minister, Count Sergei Witte, and the Buriat society doctor, Pyotr Badmaev. These men are advocates of an aggressive forward policy in Asia, and are known collectively as vostochniki, or "Easterners," or in their most extreme mode as proponents of Zheltorossiya, or "Yellow Russia."

Chosen to accompany the Tsarevich on this trip, Ukhtomsky will recount their adventures in the multi-volumed 'Travels in the East of Nicholas II, Emperor of Russia, when Czarevitch 1890-91, in which he will give vent to his pan-Asiatic notions: "We are, and must be supported by the idea of an ever-possible advance of the irresistible North over the Hindu Kush." The book will be published in many editions, assuring Ukhtomsky's future position as Tsar Nicholas's consultant on eastern affairs.

The Tsarevich is hardly ignorant about the East. In 1881, when the intrepid Przhevalsky became his tutor on Central Asia, Nicholas was much taken by the explorer's exploits and tales of lamas and Buddhism. Nor will the intensely religious Nicholas be immune to occult persuasions -- after the birth of the hemophiliac Tsarevich Alexis, the Romanov court would become a collective for seers, monks, and mystics. As Count Witte explained: "A soft haze of mysticism refracts everything he beholds and magnifies his own functions and person."

Now his imperial highness informs the Russian Consul in Colombo that he wishes to "have the honor of meeting" Colonel Olcott (1832-1907), a retired American officer who sports an enormous Santa Claus beard and is the champion of a worldwide Buddhist revival. It happens that Henry Steel Olcott, now resident in Colombo (the Sinhalese are Buddhists), is also the "chum" and associate of the Tsar's compatriot Helena P. Blavatsky. Together in 1875 they founded the Theosophical Society.

The Russians have already called at Adyar, near Madras, where the Society has established its international headquarters. Ukhtomsky is convinced of the deep spiritual kinship between Russia and "the East," in which he includes Islam, Brahminism, Buddhism, and Confucianism.
In his book, Ukhtomsky inserts remarks assuredly designed to alienate his British hosts:

Clearly history is preparing new and complex problems in the East for the colonizing states of Western Europe, which are not really at home in Asia (as we Russians always have been, and still are, without being aware of it) ... The journey of the Tsarevich through the civilized countries of the East is full of deep significance for Russia. The bonds that unite our part of Europe with Iran and Turan, and through them with India and the Celestial Empire, are so ancient and lasting that, as yet, we ourselves, as a nation and a state, do not fully comprehend their full meaning and the duties they entail on us, both in our home and foreign policy.


Olcott, in the fourth volume of his memoir, Old Diary Leaves, recalls the delightful hour-long meeting with the Tsarevich's party aboard the frigate. He is particularly drawn to Ukhtomsky "because of his intense interest in Buddhism, which for many years he has made a special study among the Mongolian lamaseries." The Prince invites Olcott to make a tour of the Buddhist monasteries of Siberia and asks for a copy of the Theosophical Society's Fourteen Propositions so that he "might translate them and circulate them among the Chief Priests of Buddhism throughout the Empire." Which, Olcott notes with satisfaction, he did. As for his compatriot Mme. Blavatsky, Ukhtomsky is enthusiastic about the "Russian lady who knew and has seen much."

The age of mystical imperialism had dawned.

NOT JUST RUSSIA BUT ALL EUROPE WAS DRAWN TO THE ESOTERIC religions and spiritual spices of the Orient. Starting in the Georgian Age, British merchant fleets sailed homeward with mystical creeds and Sanskrit grammars mixed with more earthbound cargoes. The timing was propitious: the light from the East arrived at a moment of moral crisis and revolutionary upheaval in the West. Chance seemed to clear the path. Alexander Hamilton, an East India Company servant fluent in Sanskrit, was taken prisoner in Paris during the Napoleonic wars, and taught Sanskrit, then almost unknown in Europe, to his fellow captives. One of his pupils was the Romantic poet Schlegel, who returned to Germany in 1808 and wrote the first book there on the language and creeds of the Indies, sparking a fashion. So smitten was the philosopher Schopenhauer on reading The Upanishads that he called it "the solace of my life," adding hopefully, "it will be the solace of my death."

This anxiety about the afterlife became especially acute after the appearance in 1859 of Darwin's Origin of Species, with its unspoken challenge to Genesis. Across Europe and America, disciples flocked to new faiths of every kind, ranging from the occult arts to the science of spiritual healing. Unbelievers scoffed and cried fraud, but persons of standing in the West concerned themselves with Spiritualism, Reincarnation, Channeling, the Brotherhood of Masters, Great White Lodges, Cosmogenesis, and a host of Secret Doctrines said to spring from the timeless wisdom of the East. Still, even as they scoffed, the worldly saw a gleam of utility in the otherworldly. Thus it happened that in Russia and England the Mystical Channel developed into an interesting new medium for imperial intrigues, or in some cases anti-imperial agitation. It was, however, a medium that eluded easy manipulation, and a cloak of ambiguity shielded its avatars, so that it was often hard to say who was using whom.

This was especially true of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-91), whose precise loyalties were the focus of exasperated speculation for decades in Britain and Russia. Madame Blavatsky, the author of The Secret Doctrine and other bulky occult works, has never been out of print or entirely forgotten. Self-described as "a hippopotamus of an old woman," HPB, with her hypnotic gaze, seems to spring from faded photographs. In his memoirs, Rudyard Kipling recalls that his father, Lockwood, who knew her well, spoke of Madame Blavatsky as "one of the most interesting and unscrupulous impostors he had ever met."

Soon after her arrival in 1879 at Simla, then in its heyday as summer capital of British India, everybody who counted had an opinion about HPB, as she was commonly known. She sailed to India from New York, where she first gained her reputation as a clairvoyant and where she and her devoted disciple, Colonel Olcott, had founded the Theosophical Society in 1875. "TS" Lodges rapidly multiplied, and HPB and the Colonel were anxious to propagate the new faith in India, nearer to its cradle in Tibet.

Blavatsky's fascination with Tibet and Buddhism dated from her childhood. Her maternal grandfather, Andrei Fadeyev, was administrator for the Kalmyk settlers in the Caspian seaport region of Astrakhan, and while her father was away on military duty, Blavatsky's mother -- who wrote a novel about Kalmyk life -- took her to live with the Fadeyevs. Distant ethnic cousins of the Buriats, the Kalmyks had migrated from Dzungaria in Central Asia to the lower Volga region in the seventeenth century but were still practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism. Helena met and was impressed by the Kalmyk leader Prince Tumen [Prince Tseren-Djab Tumen' (1824-1864)] and his Tibetan lama.\

Russian and other foreign travelers who visited the migratory Kalmyks in the 18th and 19th centuries took note of their musical ability. They reported that most of the musicians playing the dombra, a two-stringed, triangular-shaped musical instrument, were women. (The instrument's strings were made from sheep intestines.) One of the most prominent foreign visitors was Alexandre Dumas père (1802-1870), a famous French novelist and dramatist, who visited the Kalmyk steppe in October 1859. He was entertained at a dinner in his honor at the mansion of Prince Tseren-Djab Tumen' (1824-1864) by an orchestra of Kalmyk musicians who played overtures by Mozart and Rossini.

-- Kalmyks, by Encyclopedia.com


Somewhat later she would claim that the tenets of Theosophy had been vouchsafed to her by just such lamas, her "Himalayan Masters" during the seven years she claimed to have spent in Tibet. There she learned of a divine hierarchy of Masters, or Mahatmas, the terms being synonymous, who belonged to an invisible Brotherhood headed by the Lord of the World who inhabited Shambhala, the source of universal wisdom, located by Blavatsky beyond Tibet, somewhere in the Gobi Desert.

First in the chain of command was Buddha, then came a series of Masters, of whom the most accessible to HPB were Morya (known simply as M) and Koot Hoomi (called KH), each in the Hindu mode enjoying a variety of incarnations and tasks (KH attended the University of Leipzig and curated an underground Occult Museum). Others in the Brotherhood included Jesus, Confucius, Solomon, Lao Tze, Moses, Abraham, Plato, Mesmer, and the two Bacons, Roger and Francis. The Brotherhood was hidden from most mortals, and was sometimes persecuted by humans under the influence of the Dark Force, but it communicated with Adepts, like Madame Blavatsky, through letters written in gold ink or other psychic means. According to Peter Washington in his history of Theosophy, Madame Blavatsky's Baboon (1995), her cosmology was a blend drawn from Buddhism and other more improbable sources, notably the mystical novels of Edward Bulwer-Lytton.

Fascinated, baffled, and scandalized by this new High Priestess and her American consort, the powerful along with the obscure, Indians as well as Europeans, flocked to Theosophy, so that by 1885, 106 lodges had been chartered in India, Burma, and Ceylon, out of 121 lodges worldwide. An important reason for its popularity among Indians was that Theosophists took Buddhism and Hinduism seriously, not with the sneering condescension of many Europeans. In fact, it was her extravagant regard for Hindus and visible contempt for their rulers that caused HPB to be regarded as a spy and placed under British surveillance.

The movement also had its political spillover among Europeans. A notable convert was Alfred Percy Sinnett, the influential editor of The Allahabad Pioneer, then the leading newspaper in India, whose rising star was Rudyard Kipling. Another catch was Allan Octavian Hume, the wealthy son of the radical Scottish parliamentarian Joseph Hume. "AO" was a decorated hero of the Great Mutiny, the "pope" of Indian ornithology, and a high-ranking civil servant. Hume eventually broke with Blavatsky, and took up the national cause.

Hume met Blavatsky and Olcott at Allahabad, and, after spending some time with them, concluded most of the phenomena linked with her, about which Sinnett wrote a book, were genuine (Sinnett 1881). Hume, the son of Joseph Hume, a Radical social reformer who had been active in the movement to repeal the Corn Laws, joined the East India Company in 1849 and rose to a high position in the Indian Civil Service, though he never got the seat on the Viceroy's Council for which he hoped (Wedderburn 1913). It is possible that one of the reasons he failed to attain the highest offices was his clear commitment to social and political reform in India. In 1882 he retired to Simla, where he became a confident of the new Viceroy, Lord Ripon.5 Hume joined the Theosophical Society in 1880, became the President of the Simla Branch in 1881, and seems to have provided the financial backing that enabled Blavatsky to begin publishing The Theosophist.

Before long, Sinnett and Hume began to send letters to, and supposedly receive letters from, two of the Great White Brotherhood - Koot Hoomi and Morya.6 The process of communication depended on the role as an intermediary of Blavatsky, whose authority over the Theosophical Society rested largely on her unique ability supposedly to communicate with the Mahatmas. Hume and Sinnett wrote their letters and gave them to Blavatsky who placed them in a wooden box, from where they dematerialised, supposedly having been called away by the Mahatmas. The replies from the Mahatmas apparently precipitated from nowhere, they were found sitting in the shrine, they fell from the ceiling, or they dropped on to a pillow. Understandably Hume became a bit discouraged by this indirect form of communication, and so he began to try to exercise his own occult powers in the hope of developing an ability to communicate directly with the Mahatmas. Eventually, in 1883, he broke with Blavatsky and resigned his post in the Simla Branch of the Society. He did so just before the now notorious Coulomb Affair. (When Blavatsky and Olcott returned to London early in 1884, they left Monsieur and Madame Coulomb in charge of the Theosophical Society's headquarters at Adyar; the Coulombs then made a number of allegations about the fraudulent ways Blavatsky produced the phenomena associated with her, and an investigation of the shrine in her room lent support to what they had said.) Hume, however, continued to believe in the existence of the Mahatmas and their mission despite both the Coulomb Affair and his personal disagreements with Blavatsky (Ripon Papers). Certainly he thought that the Mahatmas guided not only his spiritual growth, but also, as we will see, his political work...

Hume was probably the single most important individual for the formation of the Indian National Congress. He said that in 1878 he read various documents that convinced him large sections of the Indian population violently opposed British rule, and some even plotted rebellion (Wedderburn 1913: 78-83).11 These documents were communications he had received supposedly from the Mahatmas - Koot Hoomi and Morya. In one of the letters the Mahatmas supposedly sent Sinnett, they explained how the Great White Brotherhood successfully had controlled the Indian masses in the Rebellion of 1857 so as to preserve Imperial rule, which apparently was necessary to bring India to its allotted place in a new world order (Morya 1923: 324). Now the Mahatmas seemed to be directing Hume to maintain the correct balance between east and west (Ripon Papers). Certainly Hume thought the Mahatmas were superhuman beings with a special interest in the welfare of India. He believed their occult powers meant they possessed an unquestionable knowledge of Indian affairs; and, of course, their intense spirituality meant they were undeniably trustworthy. From their exalted position, the Mahatmas saw India was in danger, and, knowing of Hume's interest in the East and his political contacts, they had come to him to avert the danger. They had decided to reveal some of their wisdom to him so he could do what was necessary to forestall chaos. Even after Hume had turned against Blavatsky, he continued to believe in the Great White Brotherhood, their powers and their mission. Now he thought the Mahatmas, with their impeccable credentials, had chosen to pass some of their understanding on to him so he might act accordingly. They had warned him of an impending catastrophe so he might ward-off the disaster of which they wrote. His desire to do so now informed his political work. Hume tried to influence politics in two ways. First, he tried to convince Ripon to reform the administration of India so as to make it more responsive to the Indian people (Ripon Papers). Second, he tried to promote an all-India organisation so as to give voice to the concerns and aspirations of the Indians themselves (Wedderburn 1913).

Early in 1885, Hume helped to bring about the formation of the Bombay Presidency Association. Really, however, he wanted to create an all-India body, and he immediately used the Bombay group as a springboard from which to advance his idea of an Indian National Union. Soon he acquired the backing of the Poona Sarvajanik Sabha, as well as the Bombay group, for a proposal to schedule an all-India political conference to be held in Poona during December 1885. His quarrel with Blavatsky meant, however, that he had to work hard to win over the theosophists of the Madras Mahajana Sabha and the Indian Association of Calcutta. By May, he had visited Madras not only to discuss his proposals for the Poona conference with the members of the Mahajana Sabha, but also to put forward his views on the way the Theosophical Society should revive itself in the wake of the Coulomb fiasco. He did enough to convince the local leaders to fall in with his plans for an Indian National Union. Next Hume travelled to Calcutta where he seems to have contacted several prominent members of the Indian Association. Although Sen decided to give his backing to Hume, many of the others did not, preferring instead to go ahead under Banerjea's leadership with their alternative conference. An outbreak of cholera in Poona forced Hume to change the venue of his proposed conference, but, finally, in December 1885, the Indian National Union convened in Bombay (Indian National Congress 1885). Those present immediately renamed themselves the Indian National Congress, and when the Congress next met in December 1886, it did so in Calcutta, thus ensuring the adherence of Banerjea's alternative National Conference (Indian National Congress 1886).

The Indian National Congress was formed by nationalists from all over India together with a retired British official. Hume worked alongside some of the people he had met at the annual conventions of the Theosophical Society -- Malabari, Rao, and Sen - in order to arrange the founding conference of Congress. The Theosophical Society made it possible for someone like Hume to work in the way he did alongside Indian nationalists, and if he had not done so, it would have been, at the very least, more difficult to found an all-India political body. "No Indian could have started the Indian National Congress," G. K. Gokhale later wrote: "if the founder of the Congress had not been a great Englishman and a distinguished ex-official, such was the distrust of political agitation in those days that the authorities would have at once found some way or other to suppress the movement" (Wedderburn 1913: 63-4).


-- Theosophy and the Origins of the Indian National Congress, by Mark Bevir


In 1885, on retiring from the civil service, Hume summoned the first meeting of the Indian National Congress, in the hope of winning a greater role for Indians in administration under the British Crown. Over time, under Gandhi and Nehru, the Congress became the main propellant of independence, and in India today Hume's role as forerunner is still remembered and acknowledged. (The thirteen-year-old Nehru was, in fact, initiated into the Theosophical Society by its third leader, Annie Besant, and the "thrilled" youngster later saw "old Colonel Olcott with his fine beard.")
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Thu Sep 03, 2020 7:53 am

Part 2 of 2

Theosophy's links to Indian nationalism were of special concern to British officialdom because of Blavatsky's Russian connections. Born the daughter of Baron von Hahn, into the lesser ranks of Russian-German nobility, she was the cousin of Count Sergei Witte -- railway magnate, Russian Finance Minister, and (as of 1904) Prime Minister. So widespread was the belief that HPB was a Russian agent that for months she was followed everywhere by Major Philip D. Henderson, chief of the Simla police, prompting indignant protests by Colonel Olcott. In 1884, she was accused of serving "Russian interests" by a special investigator, Richard Hodgson, employed by the Society for Psychical Research, a charge amply ventilated in the press and furiously denied by Madame herself.

The question which will now inevitably arise is — what has induced Madame Blavatsky to live so many laborious days in such a fantastic work of imposture? And although I conceive that my instructions did not require me to make this particular question a province of my investigation, and to explore the hidden motives of Madame Blavatsky, I should consider this Report to be incomplete unless I suggest what I myself believe to be an adequate explanation of her ten years' toil on behalf of the Theosophical Society. It may be supposed by some who are unfamiliar with her deficiencies and capacities that the Theosophical Society is but the aloe-blossom of a woman's monomania, and that the strange, wild, passionate, unconventional Madame Blavatsky has been "finding her epos" [epic poem] in the establishment of some incipient world-religion. But a closer knowledge of her character would show such a supposition to be quite untenable; not to speak of the positive qualities which she habitually manifested, there are certain varieties of personal sacrifice and religious aspiration, the absence of which from Madame Blavatsky's conduct would alone suffice to remove her ineffably far from the St. Theresa type.

As Madame Blavatsky in propria persona, she can urge her followers to fraudulent impersonations; under the cloak of Koot Hoomi she can incite "her" Chelas to dishonourable statements; and as an accomplished forger of other people's handwriting, she can strive to save herself by blackening the reputation of her enemies. She is, indeed, a rare psychological study, almost as rare as a "Mahatma"; she was terrible exceedingly when she expressed her overpowering thought that perhaps her "twenty years" work might be spoiled through Madame Coulomb; and she developed a unique resentment for the "spiritualistic mediums," whose trickeries, she said, she "could so easily expose," but who continued to draw their disciples, while her own more guarded and elaborate scheme was in danger of being turned inside out. Yet I must confess that the problem of her motives, when I found myself being forced to the conclusion that her claims and her phenomena were fraudulent, caused me no little perplexity.

It appeared to me that, even should the assertions of Theosophists that their Society has been partly dependent upon the gifts of Madame Blavatsky prove to be the reverse of truth, the sordid motive of pecuniary gain would be a solution of the problem still less satisfactory than the hypothesis of religious mania. More might be said in support of the supposition that a morbid yearning for notoriety was the dominant emotion which has stimulated and sustained her energetic efforts in the singular channel which they have so long pursued. But even this hypothesis I was unable to adopt, and reconcile with my understanding of her character.

At last a casual conversation opened my eyes. I had taken no interest in Central Asian perplexities, was entirely unaware of the alleged capacities of Russian intrigue, and had put aside as unworthy of consideration the idea — which for some time had currency in India — that the objects of the Theosophical Society were political, and that Madame Blavatsky was a "Russian spy." But a conversation with Madame Blavatsky, which arose out of her sudden and curious excitement at the news of the recent Russian movement upon the Afghan frontier, compelled me to ask myself seriously whether it was not possible that the task which she had set herself to perform in India was to foster and foment as widely as possible among the natives a disaffection towards British rule. [45] [There is a special rule in the Society providing for secret membership. Madame Blavatsky's influence is felt, moreover, far beyond the limits of the Society. When she returned to India, at the end of last year, an address of sympathy was presented to her by a large body of native students of Madras, of whom, apparently, only two or three were Theosophists.] Madame Blavatsky's momentary emotional betrayal of her sympathies in the onset of her excitement was not rendered less significant by the too strongly-impressed "afterstroke" of a quite uncalled-for vituperation of the Russians, who, she said, "would be the death-blow of the Society if they got into India." That she was ever seven years in Thibet there is much reason for disbelieving. In a letter she wrote to a Hindu from America, she professed no more than that she had acquired some occult knowledge from some wandering Siberian Shamans, which, being interpreted, probably means, if her statement has any foundation of truth at all, that she learnt their conjuring performances. According to her own account, in one of the Blavatsky-Coulomb letters, it appears that before her acquaintance with Madame Coulomb at Cairo, in 1872, she had been filling a page which she wishes to be "torn out of the book" [46] [That this life page was partly known to Madame Coulomb, and that Madame Blavatsky feared her in consequence, is borne out by the fact that, in a dispute which arose, in 1880, while Madame Blavatsky was at Ceylon, between Madame Coulomb and another member of the Society at its headquarters, then in Bombay, Madame Coulomb boasted of her power. Her boast was apparently justified upon Madame Blavatsky's return. Madame Coulomb was supported by Madame Blavatsky, and therefore also by Colonel Olcott, and the dispute resulted in the withdrawal from the Society of some of the most influential members at Bombay, who regarded the action taken in the matter by the founders as wanting in straightwardness. I have had personal interviews with some of these ex-members, who consider that the recent exposures of the Coloumbs have thrown much light on the formerly mysterious behaviour of Madame Blavatsky and Madame Coulomb in connection with the Bombay episode.] of her life. This part of her history does not at present concern us, except that it proves the story of her Thibetan experiences to be fabulous. But the letter also refers to her sojourn at Cairo and her later adventures, and it appears that she and a certain Madame Sebire had established a Society in Cairo, which was evidently "spiritualistic," and which failed; that shortly after parting with Madame Coulomb in Cairo, she went to Odessa, taking Madame Sebire, who dragged her into an enterprise of "making some extraordinary inks," which proved a losing speculation; that from Odessa she proceeded to India, where "she remained over eight months, and then returning by Odessa to Europe, went to Paris, and thence proceeded to America," where the Theosophical Society was established. The same letter contains the following explanation to Madame Coulomb, clearly in order that the latter might understand that the new Society was on a different basis from that which Madame Blavatsky had countenanced, in 1872, in Egypt.

"We believe in nothing supernatural, and discard every miracle — those of the Jewish Bible especially. But we are believers in and students of phenomena, though we do not attribute every manifestation to 'spirits' of disembodied people solely, for we have found out that the spirit of the living man was far more powerful than the spirit of a dead person. We have quite a number of members theosophists in Ceylon among the Buddhist priests and others.

"How far this agrees with your present ideas I do not know. But I hope you will answer me frankly, dear Mrs. Coulomb, and say what you think of it. And thus we may be able to elucidate more than one mystery before we meet each other again."


It seems, then, that Madame Blavatsky, a Russian lady, the daughter of Colonel Hahn (of the Russian Horse Artillery), and quondam widow of General Blavatsky (Governor during the Crimean War, and for many years, of Erivan in Armenia), assisted in starting a spiritualistic Society in Egypt, which failed; that she afterwards spent eight months in India, and then proceeded to America for what would appear to have been the express purpose of becoming an American citizen, "for the sake of greater protection that the citizenship of this free country affords." The fact, moreover, that she was an American citizen was urged on her behalf when, upon her arrival in India, she was for some time subjected to the surveillance of the Indian Government as being possibly a Russian agent. She apparently made the mistake in the first instance, of adopting "an attitude of obtrusive sympathy with the natives of the soil as compared with the Europeans," as Mr. Sinnett tells us ("The Occult World," p. 25); but she soon remedied this error by obtaining the public adhesion to her following of such men as Mr. A. O. Hume (see p. 273) and Mr. Sinnett. And without attempting to show in detail how strongly the patriotic feeling of the natives has been enlisted in connection with the Theosophical Society, or how well the procedure of Madame Blavatsky may be shown to comport with the view that her ultimate object has been the furtherance of Russian interests, I may quote several passages which, I think, suggest meanings which Madame Blavatsky would hardly dare to blazon on the banner of the Theosophical Society. Thus Colonel Olcott wrote, and apparently italicised the sentence, in a letter from New York to a Hindu, in 1878: —

"While we have no political designs, you will need no hint to understand that our sympathies are with all those who are deprived of the right of governing their own lands for themselves. I need say no more."...


The following passage is from a fragmentary script which forms one of the Blavatsky-Coulomb documents; on one side of the paper are written a few broken lines in Russian, the full significance of which is dubious without their context, and on the other side are written these words: —

military men, more than any other, must remember that the approaching act of the Eastern drama is to be the last and the decisive one. That it will require all our efforts, every sacrifice on our part, and requires far more careful preparations in every direction than did the last war. They must remember, that to sit idle now, when every one has to be busily preparing, is the highest of crimes, a treason to [47] [The letters "Ru" crossed out in this place may be observed in the facsimile in Plate I.] their country and their Czar.''

"He who hath ears let him.


(A facsimile of the manuscript of this passage is given in Plate I.) While I was in India Madame Blavatsky obtained a partial knowledge of the substance of this document (which I had no permission at the time either to show to her or to publish), and she said that it was probably a portion of a translation which she had made from a Russian work, and was not her original composition. Be this as it may, I cannot profess myself, after my personal experiences of Madame Blavatsky, to feel much doubt that her real object has been the furtherance of Russian interests. But although I have felt bound to refer to my own view on this point, I suggest it here only as a supposition which appears best to cover the known incidents of her career during the past 13 or 14 years. That she is a remarkably able woman will scarcely be questioned by any save those of her followers whose very infatuation of belief in her "occult relations'' is perhaps the most conspicuous proof of that ability which they deny; and it would be no venturesome prognostication to say that, in spite of recent exposures, she will still retain a goodly gathering of disciples on whom she may continue to inculcate the ethics of a profound obedience to the behests of imaginary Mahatmas. The resources of Madame Blavatsky are great; and by the means of forged letters, fraudulent statements of Chelas, and other false evidence, together with the hypothesis of Black Magicians, she may yet do much in the future for the benefit of human credulity. But acting in accordance with the principles upon which our Society has proceeded, I must express my unqualified opinion that no genuine psychical phenomena whatever will be found among the pseudo-mysteries of the Russian lady alias Koot Hoomi Lal Sing alias Mahatma Morya alias Madame Blavatsky.

-- The Hodgson Report: Report on Phenomena Connected With Theosophy, by Richard Hodgson and the Society for Psychical Research


In fact, documents first published in 1993 suggest that British suspicions were not entirely off the mark. In a seemingly authentic letter from Odessa in December 1872 to the Director of the Third [Intelligence] Section (discovered by the American scholar Maria Carlson), HPB set forth her qualifications as an agent to "Your Excellency and my native land," with this candid explanation: "Hundreds of people believed and will undoubtedly believe in spirits. But 1... must confess that three-quarters of the time the spirits spoke and answered in my words and out of my considerations, for the success of my own plans. Rarely, very rarely, did I fail by means of this little trap, to discover people's hopes, plans and secrets. I have played every role, I am able to represent myself as any person you may wish."

What the Third Section, precursor of the notorious Okhrana, made of this offer is not known.Yet there was nothing secret about HPB's association with Mikhail Katkov (1818-87), the publicist and journalist whose Moscow Chronicle was read by all who mattered in St. Petersburg, where its influence (in the estimate of George Kennan) nearly outweighed the rest of the press together. Once a liberal advocate of parliamentary democracy, Katkov had by the 1870's become an almost fanatical reactionary, an apostle of imperial expansion to the East and South, and an opponent of liberal reforms and of Russia's alliance with Germany, which he helped terminate. Portly, heavily bearded, and known for his percussive enthusiasms, Katkov presided at a huge dinner table, surrounded by his eleven children, two adopted nephews, and assorted hangers-on. He was not a groveler, and in a famous 1887 editorial courted Alexander Ill's wrath by exposing the details of a secret defensive treaty, the Dreikaiserbund, signed by the emperors of Russia, Austria, and Germany.

Madame Blavatsky was a frequent and well-paid contributor to the Chronicle, which serialized her book on occult India, From the Caves and Jungles of Hindostan. When Katkov died in 1887, she contributed an effusive panegyric, speculating that "some dark forces" might have been to blame since the "riffraff" in Berlin and Austria were rejoicing that he could no longer "crush their lying brains under his heel."

And now, HPB moved with a master's dexterity as rumors of a Sikh rebellion against British rule swirled around her. The Sikhs, fierce fighters whose support of the Raj tipped the scale during the Great Mutiny, were said to be plotting a revolt in collusion with their exiled Maharajah. His name was Duleep Singh (1838-93), and he was Queen Victoria's favorite Indian prince, a vivid, undeservedly forgotten personage. His life was the stuff of a grand opera scored by Puccini, but with a libretto by Durrenmatt.

DULEEP SINGH WAS THE HEIR OF RANJIT SINGH, THE LION OF Lahore, under whose leadership the Sikhs became masters of the rich and fertile "Land of Five Rivers." Their rule was enforced by the Khalsa, a disciplined army second in India only to that of the East India Company. With its elephant-drawn field cannons, its European officers, and its 53,000 infantrymen, all smartly dressed in red jackets and blue turbans, the Khalsa was, in the words of then Governor-General Sir Henry Hardinge, Britain's "bravest and most warlike and most disruptive enemy in Asia." While Ranjit Singh lived, the Punjab was allied by treaty to the British, but his death in 1839 led to a chaotic struggle for succession. Ranjit Singh had forty-six wives and left four acknowledged sons, of whom Duleep Singh was the last. The boy's mother was Rani Jandin, the old Lion's youngest wife, and his true father (it was commonly gossiped) was her lover, a former bhishti, or palace water-carrier. No matter: Ranjit Singh acknowledged the child as his own, and the Rani, herself the daughter of a palace doorkeeper, was by all accounts the cleverest of the Lion's mates.

As Ranjit Singh's various offspring and relations slew each other, Rani Jandin managed in 1843 to have her son proclaimed Maharajah on his fifth birthday, with herself as Regent. There followed a test of wills with the Khalsa, whose commanders threatened to install their own candidate on the throne at Lahore. To fend off the army, the Rani and her ministers encouraged its commanders to do battle with British forces now mobilizing on the far bank of the Sutlej. The result was the first of two Sikh Wars, both of which, after considerable exertion, the Company's soldiers won. ("Another such victory and we are undone," murmured Hardinge after the Battle of Ferozeshah in 1845.) When the Khalsa surrendered in a solemn ceremony, a grizzled warrior cried out as he lay down his musket, "Aj Ranjit Singh mar gaya" (Today Ranjit Singh is dead).

Having prevailed, however, the British drew back from annexing the troublesome Sikh state, and instead turned the Punjab into a protectorate. Duleep Singh remained on the throne, under the tutelage of an astute Resident, Sir Henry Lawrence. The arrangement was not a success. The Rani and the Resident quarreled constantly and bitterly, and the former was finally banished by the latter, who complained of "her general misconduct and habits of intrigue." A fresh uprising on her behalf led to the Second Sikh War, in which British troops ostensibly fought in the name of Duleep Singh -- and having won, expeditiously removed him from his throne. A new Governor-General, Lord Dalhousie, saw no alternative to outright annexation of the Punjab, and the elimination of "a brat begotten of a bhishti, and no more the son of old Ranjit Singh than Queen Victoria." In 1849, the ten-year-old Maharajah, warned that hesitation could only make things worse, signed away for himself and his heirs "all right and title to the sovereignty of the Punjab" and all its state property, expressly including "The gem called the Koh-i-Noor," which was to be surrendered to the Queen of England.

The Koh-i-Noor, the Mountain of Light, was unearthed in the sixteenth century and originally weighed 787 carats. The diamond passed from Mughal Emperors to Afghan Emirs, then to Ranjit Singh, and eventually to Henry Lawrence's brother John, who (so the story goes) carelessly mislaid it in a waistcoat pocket until its recovery from a forgotten tin box by an aged servant who thought it nothing more than a "bit of glass." The gem, the size of a pigeon egg, was presented to the Queen with the compliments of the East India Company, and shipped westward under armed guard in 1850. It was last worn in state by the present Queen Mother at the 1937 coronation of her husband George VI.

There remained the matter of what to do with the "brat"-not a simple problem. His mother had just fled to Nepal, where she was certain to be a focus for disaffection, leaving the East India Company literally in loco parentis. The Governor-General approved putting the young Maharajah under the guardianship of a Scottish medical officer, Dr. John Login, who found for him a suitable young companion named Tommy Scott. The Maharajah liked Tommy, learned fluent English, absorbed such alien curiosities as The Boys' Own Book, and found nourishment in the Holy Scriptures. In 1850, on turning twelve, Duleep Singh announced his determination to "embrace the Christian religion," a decision that caused anxiety in Calcutta lest the Sikhs suspect coercion. After an inquiry, Lord Dalhousie found no improper influence. "This is the first Indian prince," he marveled to a colleague, "of the many who have succumbed to our power and acknowledged it, that has adopted the faith of the stranger. Who shall say to what it may lead? God prosper and multiply it!" Duleep Singh did more than embrace the religion of the stranger: he cut his hair, and "broke caste" by conspicuously making tea with his own hands.

In 1854, on Dalhousie's recommendation and with the approval of the Company's Court of Directors, Duleep Singh sailed to England. Soon after his arrival, the fifteen-year-old Maharajah was presented to Queen Victoria, who was then thirty-five. She was enchanted; it was first of many meetings and led to a close friendship and extensive correspondence. As the Queen wrote in her journal, after receiving him, "He is extremely handsome and speaks English perfectly, and has a pretty, graceful and dignified manner. He was beautifully dressed and covered with diamonds ... I always feel so much for these deposed Indian princes." She reported all this to her Viceroy, Lord Dalhousie, adding that it was "not without mixed feelings of pain and sympathy that the Queen sees this young prince, destined to so high and powerful a position, and now reduced to so dependent a one by our arms .. .it will be a pleasure to us to do all we can to help him and to befriend and protect him."

Victoria was as good as her word. It is difficult not to be touched and impressed by her voluminous correspondence with, and about, Duleep Singh, as generously extracted by Michael Alexander and Sushila Anand in Queen Victoria's Maharajah (1980). She stuck by him, and forgave his worst trespasses. At her insistence, he was called Maharajah, was granted what appeared to be princely pension of £50,000 per annum, and was portrayed in his regal sash and aigrette by the court artist Winterhalter. With his pension, he acquired Elveden Hall, near Thetford in Suffolk. There the "Black Prince" played host at elaborate hunts for titled guests, including the Prince of Wales; the Maharajah himself was reckoned the fourth best shot in Britain, once felling a record 780 partridges with a thousand cartridges. Duleep Singh was well aware how much he owed to the Queen. At one of their meetings, Victoria graciously placed in his hands the Koh-i-Noor, and with deferential tact he returned it, saying "It is to me, Ma'am, the greatest pleasure to have the opportunity, as a loyal subject, of myself tendering to my sovereign, the Koh-i-Noor."

The Queen approved the Maharajah's unconventional choice of a bride, named Bamba, half German and half Ethiopian, whom he met at the American Protestant Mission in Cairo. Victoria understood his conflicted silence during the Indian Mutiny-after all, "his best course was to say nothing." She loyally (if vainly) backed him up when he protested that his pension was subject to excessive deductions and was inadequate to the style of life he was expected to maintain. She remonstrated gently when the Maharajah went public with his grievances in angry letters to The Times. ("If I might advise you -- it would be better not to write to the papers. It is beneath you to do so.") What proved beyond Victoria's healing words was the midlife crisis (as we would call it) that followed when the Maharajah discovered he was not an English squire, but an Indian Sikh.

IN 1861, DULEEP SINGH WAS ALLOWED A VISIT TO INDIA, WHERE he was greeted with the prescribed twenty-one-gun salute, yet the authorities cautiously forbade a trip to the Punjab. He was permitted a reunion in India with his half-blind mother (still a "she-devil" in the view of the Viceroy, Lord Canning). As much to be rid of her as to accommodate him, the Government approved the son's request to allow her to sail with him to England. There the Rani died two years later. The reunion reconnected the Maharajah with a painful past. He now heard a very different view of his patrimony, and how it was taken from him. Each subsequent quarrel over money, each real or imagined snub, each refusal of his principal demand -- an impartial hearing of his grievances -- rubbed raw his sense of loss. To placate the Queen, Prime Minister Gladstone agreed to proffer a seat in the House of Lords, but what might have been an interesting experiment failed as the Liberals lost the next election.

Duleep Singh was by now the father of two sons and three daughters, and as his household bills grew, so did his anger and frustration. In the 1880's, he began examining his rejected religion. He listened intently when two Indian cousins, one of them the Sikh militant Thakar Singh Sandhanwalia, journeyed to Elveden with important tidings. It appeared that Nanuk, the Hindu founder of the Sikh faith, prophesied that an Eleventh Guru named Deep Singh would be stripped of his inheritance, forced into exile, and suffer great hardships before returning in triumph to the Punjab during a war between the bear and the bulldog. After that, the Eleventh Guru would purify the Sikh religion. The import seemed obvious: Duleep Singh was Deep Singh, whose descendants were destined, as the sacred books promised, to reign for three generations "over the land between Calcutta and the Indus," with the propitious advent of a war between Russia and England.

In 1885, it so happened, England and Russia were briefly at the brink of war over the occupation by the Tsar's forces of the Pandjeh, a disputed tract in eastern Afghanistan. It also happened that the Maharajah's cousin, Thakar Singh, headed a Sikh reform group, Singh Sabha, allied with the Theosophists. Not only was Thakar Singh Madame Blavatsky's prime link to the Punjabi Sikhs, whose creed she studied and greatly admired, but he was a possible author of her occult Mahatma Letters. Thakar Singh made no secret of his hostility to Christian missionaries, or his ardor for Sikh liberation. He now became the Maharajah's principal champion and intelligence source within India.

In the midst of the Pandjeh crisis, professing a wish to show his loyalty, Duleep Singh sought permission to sail to India in support of the British cause. In Calcutta, his offer was seen as a ruse by intelligence operatives -- especially Colonel Henderson, who had shadowed Madame Blavatsky in Simla. Secret cables were rushed to Sir Henry Mortimer Durand, the Foreign Secretary of India, detailing a plot in which Duleep Singh would accompany a Russian army through Central Asia, and incite a rebellion by native troops, who would sabotage rail and telegraph lines, aided by a cabal of disloyal princes. The memory of the Mutiny was fresh, and the scenario seemed all too plausible.

Hence the consternation in Calcutta's Government House when the Maharajah on his own authority embarked in March 1886 on the P & O steamer verona. Prior to his departure he released this open letter, addressed to "My beloved Countrymen," saying that obedient to his destiny he was returning to India "to occupy a humble sphere" and begged forgiveness for converting to Christianity when he was very young. Yet in resuming his Sikh faith, he had "no intention of conforming to the errors introduced into Sikhism by those who were not true Sikhs -- such, for instance, as wretched caste observances or abstinence from meats and drinks." He was compelled to write his open letter "because I am not permitted to visit you in the Punjaub ... Truly a noble reward for my unwavering loyalty to the Empress of India." He signed himself "Your own flesh and blood, Duleep Singh."

Once on the Verona, the Maharajah wrote a farewell note to his Empress blaming her ministers and begging her forgiveness for not personally paying "my last homage before starting for India." A second message, consisting of a single word, went by telegraph to his Sikh friends in India: "Started."

In India, anxious officials pondered Duleep Singh's proclamation and the intercepted telegram. On their desks were intelligence dossiers detailing symptoms of unrest ("The spirit of the Sikhs is not dead and they are full of national fire") and signs of incipient rebellion, fanned by the vernacular press. So what was to be done? The safest but legally dubious solution was to arrest the Maharajah in Aden, then under the authority of the Indian Government, relying on a catchall regulation adopted in 1818 permitting arrests to prevent "internal commotion." But could the measure be used against a British subject (and regal favorite)? It says much about the panic in Simla that even the leading liberal on the governing council, Sir Courtenay Ilbert, ruled out "for reasons of State" further deliberations over legality. With the approval of the Viceroy, Lord Dufferin, an arrest warrant was issued naming the Maharajah but not his children ("We must not court ridicule by serving warrants on babies"). In Aden, the British Resident boarded the Verona and as courteously as he could, avoiding the word "arrest," informed Duleep Singh that he could not proceed further. Passengers and crew cheered in support as the Maharajah and his brood, all prisoners of state, filed down the gangway.

They were incarcerated in the Residency, and from there Duleep Singh fired angry cables to the Viceroy protesting his use of the word "disloyal," and refusing to return to England until he was promised a full and fair hearing. Lord Dufferin was polite but unyielding. From Balmoral, the Queen did her best to plead her friend's case: "The Queen Empress thanks the Viceroy for his last kind letter of the 5th of May about the poor Maharajah Duleep Singh. He was so charming and so good for so many years that she feels deeply grieved at the bad hands he has fallen into and the way in which he has been led astray,& the Queen thinks it will have a very bad effect in India if he is ill-used & rather severely punished & especially if the Maharanee (an excellent pious woman) & their six children especially the two boys, quite Englishmen, are in poverty or discomfort." The Queen offered to speak to the Maharajah when he calmed down, and reiterated her wish that he or his son be given a British peerage with suitable emoluments.

In Aden, Duleep Singh was formally initiated into his ancestral faith, in a ceremony witnessed by the prescribed five Sikhs. The Maharajah had already sent his family back to England, and in his lonely misery he had become something of a hero to his people. "Poor Duleep Singh!" wrote the editor of the Lahore "Tribune. "Your countrymen can only weep for you." When his appeal for an impartial inquiry was once again rejected, he cabled the Viceroy: "I return to Europe. From 1st of July next I resign the stipend paid to me under Treaty of Annexation, thus laying aside that iniquitous document." In June, he boarded a French mail steamer bound for Marseilles, and proceeded directly to Paris. Once settled there, he confided his plans to a ducal shooting-partner: "I wrote yesterday to the Russian Ambassador offering my services to the Emperor and requested a passport which as soon as I receive I shall go to St. Petersburg. If I am well received by the Emperor I shall go to the border of India. If not I shall go to Pondicherry [a French possession] and be a thorn in the side of Lord Dufferin."

The Maharajah's arrival in Paris occurred at a turbulent moment. On Bastille Day, huge and boisterous crowds shouted and sang their support for General Boulanger, the Minister of War, who many believed was destined to crush Germany and regain Alsace-Lorraine. In the event, Boulangism proved to be bombast, and within a few years the General meekly accepted banishment to Brussels, where he committed suicide on the grave of his mistress. But the movement confirmed a popular hunger for assertive militarism, and presaged the unraveling of Bismarck's intricate system of alliances binding Germany to Russia and Austria-Hungary. Out of the ferment a new alignment arose, pairing an odd couple, Republican France and Tsarist Russia, a partnership solemnized in 1894, with profound reverberations two decades later.

It was a confusing moment, and a shrewder participant than Duleep Singh could have misread shifting signals. He expected a heartfelt welcome from the Russian charge, and instead was brushed off with a letter saying the Imperial Government "protects peace" and had no wish to provoke troubles in India. A more candid explanation can be inferred from the charge's cable to the Russian Foreign Minister, Nikolai Karlovich Giers ("probably the most seasoned and able statesman of his time, after Bismarck," in the view of George Kennan). The charge, Prince Ernest Kotzebue, reported that Duleep Singh had shown him a letter he had just received from Queen Victoria, asking if she should believe rumors that he was offering his services to the Russians. In questioning him, Kotzebue continued, "I have come to know that he hopes to extract a large sum of money from the English Government. Hence, it is to be feared that the offers which the oriental Prince makes us are only a means of blackmail." It was what Giers needed to know. The son of a Lutheran postmaster who had risen through merit, Giers was a firm advocate of restraint and stability. He wished to preserve Russia's alliance with Bismarck, was dismayed by the Pandjeh war scare, and strove to calm Anglo-Russian relations. He had no use for the forward-school adventures in Central Asia supported by his most nettlesome critic, the Muscovite editor Mikhail Nikiforovich Katkov.

Katkov had his own sources in France, and learned soon enough about Duleep Singh. The likely go-between was his paper's Paris correspondent, Elie de Cyon (1843-1910), a figure out of a Conrad novel: born a Russian Jew, trained as a scientist, and at the time an ardent proponent of a Franco-Russian alliance. In his memoirs, Cyon claims he tried to interest the French in giving military aid to Duleep Singh, without success. In turn, Cyon was introduced to the Maharajah through Patrick Casey, an Irish expatriate who, with his brother James, had befriended a fellow enemy of the Crown. Thus the Sikh prince, who once caroused with the Prince of Wales, now toasted the Empire's downfall with Fenian revolutionaries.

The Caseys tutored the novice rebel in conspiratorial ways and ferried through the print shop his increasingly militant proclamations. Katkov liked what he learned, and cared not a whit what the Foreign Ministry thought. He invited Duleep Singh to Moscow and volunteered The Moscow Gazette's backing, which then meant a good deal. Katkov's paper was described in 1886 by a British visitor, Sir Charles Dilke, as the most powerful in the world "because it is all powerful or nearly all-powerful in one great empire." Katkov was at his polemical prime. In one celebrated article he likened the visits of Giers to Bismarck to the supine pilgrimages of Russian princes to the Golden Horde of the Tartars: "If Germany stands so high, it is because Germany stands on Russia."

In Paris, two problems attended Duleep Singh's departure in March 1887. He had acquired an English mistress and lacked a passport (Russia was among the few countries that required a passport). The Maharajah decided to take along eighteen-year-old Ada Wetherill as his honorary wife, and to embark for Berlin under the alias "Patrick Casey."Between trains at the Berlin terminal, the putative revolutionary was victimized by a pickpocket who made off with his money and travel documents. From Moscow, Katkov came to the rescue. He contacted a crony at the Interior Ministry, who made sure the frontier officials waived the rules for the Maharajah -- a fact seized upon by Giers, when informed of this wire-pulling by a complaining British Ambassador. "C'etait un acte de trahison!" the Foreign Minister protested, and promised to do all he could to prevent further mischief- making by the Maharajah. When the Tsar learned of all this, he remarked to his Foreign Minister, "It is passing strange that the British Ambassador should have at his disposal better police than I have."

Nonetheless Duleep Singh was allowed to remain in Moscow, a tacit tit-for-tat for British hospitality to Russian revolutionaries viewed as terrorists and criminals. Unable to obtain a personal audience with the Tsar but with Katkov's coaching, in May the Maharajah laid before the Imperial Government "the humble prayer of the Princes and people of India for deliverance from their oppression." Writing directly to Alexander III, Duleep Singh boldly guaranteed the "easy conquest of India" since he was able "to raise the entire Punjab in revolt." Should an invasion of India be undertaken by Russia, he added, "an army of not less than 200,000 men and 2,000 cannons" would be required. The Maharajah promised that other Indian princes, if allowed ro manage their own affairs, would pay "a large tribute annually to the Russian Treasury," possibly as much as ten million pounds.

This dramatic proposal did not have its intended effect. Tsar Alexander was cautious in deeds if not always in words. "I am glad that I have taken part in actual warfare and seen with my eyes the horrors which are inevitably connected with a military action," he once wrote. "After such an experience, not only will a ruler never desire war, but he will employ every honourable means of sparing his subjects the trials and terrors of armed conflict." Moreover, the Tsarina, Marie Feodorovna, was the sister of Alexandra, the Princess of Wales, so the Tsar was the brother-in-law to the heir to the British throne. The invasion scheme was so wild, its author so unsteady, that even a bolder Tsar would have drawn back. Still, Alexander III did pencil in marginal notes that indicated interest, and he did authorize further discussions by others with the Maharajah.

In India, HPB, possibly through Elie de Cyon or Thakar Singh, got wind of the purported Sikh plot. Either through genuine misunderstanding, or as a deliberate diversion, she claimed that France was the external force diabolique, and used her information to counter doubts about her loyalty to India. In great alarm, she wrote to a friend, the editor A. P. Sinnett, in February 1887, that through "some theosophists" she learned of "this horrid conspiracy" and wanted to "upset these French plans." She concluded fervently: "I am ready to become an infamous informer of your English Govt., WHICH I HATE, for their sake, for the sake of my Society and of my beloved Hindus ... Ah! if only Master would show me the way! If he would only show me what I have to do to save India from new blood-shed, for hundreds and perhaps a thousand innocent victims being hung for the crime of the few. For I feel, however great the harm will be done, it will end with the English having the best; Master says the hour for the retirement of you English has not struck, nor will it till the next century."

HPB appealed to Sinnett to pass on her warning to the Viceroy, and to accept her gesture as proof she was no Russian spy, begging him as a gentleman and man of honor not to compromise her needlessly because "I would indeed be regarded as an infamous mouchard, an informing spy, and this shame is worse than death."

Nothing came of what Colonel Henderson called "the Dalip Singh business." Whatever hopes the Sikh prince had for Russian encouragement expired with the fatal stroke that claimed Mikhail Katkov, "The Thunderer," on August 1, 1887. Though Duleep Singh lingered in Russia, he knew he was beaten. He married his British companion, who had borne him two daughters, settled in Paris, and there suffered a disabling stroke in 1890. Soon thereafter he dictated to his son Victor a letter to Queen Victoria begging her forgiveness for all he had done "against You and Your Government." The Queen graciously pardoned him, and saw her Maharajah for the last time in 1891 at Grasse: "He is quite bald and vy. grey ... I asked him to sit down-and almost directly he burst into a most terrible and violent fit of crying .. .it was vy. sad-still I am so glad we met again and I cld. say I forgave him." He died two years later, at fifty-five, and following a church service was buried in a stone vault at Elveden. Among the wreaths was one "From Queen Victoria."

So matters rested until 1997, when Swiss banks, responding to a global campaign to identify holders of accounts unclaimed since 1945, published 1,872 names. Most were Holocaust victims, along with a miscellany of Nazis, Fascists, and collaborators. One entry was for Princess Catherine Duleep Singh, "last heard of living in Penn, Bucks in 1942." With this clue, Christy Campbell, an enterprising reporter for the London Sunday Telegraph, checked old Buckinghamshire directories, found the princess's name, and located her will, filed in 1943 after her death. She wished her ashes to be interred in Elveden, her father's Suffolk estate, later the home of Lord Iveagh, head of the Guinness family, but no mention was made of any Swiss bank accounts. The princess was one of Duleep Singh's three daughters by his first marriage. Campbell's story, headlined "Nazi Gold Fortune Awaits the Heir of the Maharaja," was picked up by papers all over India, and he hoped a lawful claimant would come forward.

It developed that the Maharajah's five daughters and two sons all died childless; in the jargon of genealogy, they were fin de ligne. As the reporter learned from a Punjabi historian, this was the result of the curse of Gobind Singh, the great Sikh spiritual leader, who had a golden treasure box buried with him. The guru warned that whoever touched it would "vanish from the light," a warning ignored by Ranjit Singh, who dug it up, passing the curse to Duleep Singh. But other descendants of the old Lion came forth in India. Campbell flew to Amritsar to meet Ranjit Kaur, the great-great-great-granddaughter of Ranjit Singh, a descendant of Sher Singh, the Maharajah assassinated before the five-year-old Duleep was enthroned. Ranjit Kaur recalled her mother's description of meeting two of Duleep's daughters, Sophia and Bamba, during a homecoming in the 1920's at the Shalimar Gardens in Lahore: "My mother remembered exactly how the princesses looked, one in bottle-green, the other in a maroon sari in fine French georgette ... My mother cried; they looked so beautiful, our cousins, come here after so many years. The princesses cried too. They could not bear it. They could speak no Punjabi; they had to speak through translators with the fine English accents they had been taught. ..Then the police broke up the crowd. It was too dangerous politically. My mother never saw them again." The matter of the legal title became moot when the box in the Zurich bank vault was finally opened. It was empty.
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Emissary to the White Tsar, Excerpt from "Tournament of Shadows: The Great Game and the Race for Empire in Central Asia"
by Karl E. Meyer and Shareen Blair Brysac
© 1999 by Karl E. Meyer and Shareen Blair Brysac

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CHAPTER ELEVEN: Emissary to the White Tsar

FEW FIGURES OF IMPORTANCE IN THE IMPERIAL DUELS OF Central Asia have been so commonly misrepresented as Agvan Dorzhiev (1854-1938), the Buddhist lama and Russian subject who fought long and worthily for Tibetan nationhood. It was his presence that brought British bayonets to Lhasa in 1904, an event whose magnitude required a suitable provocation. So Dorzhiev "was elevated to the position of Evil Genius at the Court of the Dalai Lama, two parts Rasputin to one part Macavity the Mystery Cat," in the apt phrase of Patrick French, the biographer of Sir Francis Younghusband, leader of the Tibetan expedition. Indeed Dorzhiev in one of his aspects was Macavity. When he so wished, he left no tracks. It did not help his cause.

At least three times Dorzhiev passed invisibly through India, slipping over frontiers and eluding police scrutiny while a guest at Buddhist monasteries, but his appearances at the Russian court were not secret-they were announced in the press. For Lord Curzon, the Viceroy of India, angered and humiliated by lapses of his intelligence service, the import was plain. Tibet was supposedly closed to foreigners, and the Dalai Lama returned unopened urgent messages from Curzon. Yet here was a presumed Russian agent commuting across the Himalaya, lending substance to reports that the Tsar had already signed a secret pact with China to allow Russian officials and mining engineers into Tibet. "I am myself," Curzon wrote in 1902 to the Foreign Secretary in London, "a firm believer in the existence of a secret understanding, if not a secret treaty, between Russia and China about Tibet; and, as I have said before, I regard it as a duty to frustrate their little game while there is still time."

Was there really a "little game"? It cannot be ruled out. The British themselves prompted its initial moves. In 1868, the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society published the first in a series about Tibet based on clandestine visits by Indian pundits posing as pilgrims. This "cunning enterprise" was noted with keen interest in St. Petersburg by the military-scientific section of the General Staff, writes the Russian scholar Alexandre Andreyev. Among the many nationalities in the Russian Empire were several groups of Mongolians -- a potential indigene cadre for similar forays. In recently opened archives, Dr. Andreyev found that as early as 1869 the Imperial Geographical Society and the General Staff tried to recruit the Russian equivalent of pundits among Buriats and Kalmyks.

The Buriats were a Mongolian people who for centuries lived near Lake Baikal in Eastern Siberia. Revered as the "Holy Sea" or "Blue Miracle," the lake is a natural wonder nonpareil. It is the earth's deepest body of fresh water, filling an abyss fifty miles wide, 250 miles long, and more than a mile deep, with a surface area (12,162 square miles) bigger than Belgium. Near its shores the Buriats tended their livestock, pursuing a nomadic life that persisted after their conversion in the seventeenth century from shamanism to Tibeto- Mongolian Buddhism. The Kalmyks, also Mongolians by virtue of language, culture, and appearance, belong to a clan that migrated circa 1632 from Dzungaria in Central Asia to the lower Volga region. Renowned for their horsemanship, Kalmyk warriors joined Cossack cavalry regiments and fought so well against Napoleon that Alexander I awarded them a fertile domain whose revenues were to be used for schools and hospitals. Protected by royal favor, the Kalmyks adhered to Buddhism and looked to Lhasa as their Holy City-ideal potential recruits for Tsarist secret services.

Andreyev found that in 1869 a senior officer on the Imperial General Staff proposed sending a Buriat, Naidak Gomboev, as part of a religious delegation of pilgrims who eventually proceeded to Tibet in 1873. What came of this plan is unclear. Mysteriously, key prerevolutionary fiIes relating to Tibet are still missing in the archives of post-Soviet Russia. But it appears that Agvan Dorzhiev was among the pilgrims who made their way to Lhasa, so that a connection with the General Staff is not implausible. Even so, the core question is how Dorzhiev viewed his own role, and what his purposes were -- and on this, the record seems clear. Far from being a Russian agent, Dorzhiev saw himself as Tibet's emissary to the White Tsar. His purpose was to create a Tibetan-Mongolian federation in collaboration with Russia. As events dictated, he changed his tactics. Dorzhiev continued to pursue the same goal in Bolshevik times, and did so until his death in Stalin's Gulag. A learned monk as well as statesman, a tutor to the Dalai Lama, Dorzhiev was among the first to acquaint the West with the rich traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. His influence reached the United States. He was the "root lama" to Geshe Wangyal, who in 1955 resettled in Freehold Acres, New Jersey, and there founded what was to be the first Tibetan Buddhist monastery open to Americans.

If Dorzhiev had realized his dreams for Tibet and Mongolia, he might well have won a niche beside Gandhi, Sun Yat-sen, and Thomas Masaryk in the pantheon of nation-builders and freedom-seekers. Regrettably for the people he championed, it was not to be.

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GHOOM MONASTERY, NEAR DARJEEUNG, WAS THE UNMONITORED way station to India for monks and mystics. Here in 1885-87 Madame Blavatsky, the founder of Theosophy, met Sarat Chandra Das, the pundit who covertly explored Tibet for the British. Years later, Madame's American disciple, Colonel Olcott, stopped at Ghoom, where he was given (as he describes in Old Diary Leaves), a white silken scarf that the Panchen Lama presented to Das during the pundit's stay in Tashilhunpo. Das also gave the Colonel rare Tibetan texts that were forwarded to Madame. Subsequently, having founded the Buddhist Text Society in Bengal, Sarat Chandra Das invited Olcott to address its first general meeting. In an intricate feat of deduction, K. Paul Johnson, a scholarly explorer of the esoteric tradition, maintains in The Masters Revealed (1994) that among the real-life models for Madame Blavatsky's Tibetan Masters were Das and his fellow pundit Ugyen Gyatso, along with their Tibetan patron, Losang Palden, the chief minister of the Panchen Lama.

In 1900, British police questioned Das about a mysterious Buriat and a Kalmyk who had recently visited Ghoom. The monks were guests of the Mongolian abbot, Sherab Gyatso. Like Das and Ugyen Gyatso, the abbot was a British agent, and like them received 55 rupees a month for supplying information on suspicious visitors. In their responses, all three agents were "economical with the truth." The Buriat was Agvan Dorzhiev, then one of seven teachers of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, and the Kalmyk was his companion, Ovshe Norzunov.

Dorzhiev was not someone easily lost in a crowd; he had the manner of command and a calm but determined gaze. Born of devout parents in remote Buriatia, schooled in a local datsan or Buddhist monastery, Dorzhiev early on showed a facility for languages, especially Tibetan, the difficult lingua franca of lamaism. At fourteen he set off for Urga, the Mongolian capital, to continue his studies, and five years later traveled to Tibet with his tutor, the Great Abbot Penden Chomphel, just possibly, as Andreyev speculates, at the behest of the Russian General Staff.

In a memoir written around 1924, Dorzhiev asserts that he set off for Tibet, via Alasha, Kumbum, and Koko Nor, together with the Mongolian princes and lamas, dispatched to accompany there the eighth reincarnation of the Urga Khutuku, the Grand Lama of Mongolia. Dorzhiev wished to remain in Lhasa but was refused permission on the grounds he was a prohibited "foreign European." Unfazed and persistent, he appealed his case, and eventually was permitted, in 1880, to enroll in one of the seminaries at Drepung, the largest Tibetan monastery, where he earned the Buddhist equivalent of a doctorate of metaphysics. So completely did Dorzhiev dispel suspicion that after the enthronement of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama he joined the inner curia, initially as the Work Washing Abbot, whose duty it was to sprinkle saffron-scented water on His Holiness. So taken was the young pontiff with Dorzhiev that when the Thirteenth attained his majority in 1895, the outsider from Siberia became his chief political adviser.

Nga-Wang Lopsang Tupden (Thupten) Gyatso (1876-1933), the Great Thirteenth Dalai Lam.a,was the first Incarnation in more than a century who actually ruled. His four predecessors passed away before coming of age, their demise reputedly assisted by their Regents, a circumstance not unwelcome to the Ambans, the representatives of China in Lhasa, who preferred childish god-kings. The Thirteenth survived, having taken the precaution of putting his own Regent under house arrest, and his reign lasted almost four decades. He strove to end Tibet's Chinese bondage and did win de facto independence though not recognized statehood. "His courage and energy were inexhaustible," writes his friend and biographer, Sir Charles Bell. "He recoiled from nothing."

The search for the Thirteenth followed the usual practice. When a Dalai Lama "retires to the heavenly fields," the oracles at Nechung and Samye provide clues to the whereabouts of the next incarnation or tulku. A council of lamas carries out the search. To prevent powerful nobles from adding to their privileges, the Dalai Lama was customarily chosen from a peasant family. Besides the appropriate physical signs, like long ears and tiger skin marks on his legs, the candidate must recognize the possessions of his predecessor, such as the dorje, a ritual object shaped like a dumbbell, connoting the thunderbolt of the Hindu god Indra. When high lamas verified that the spirit of the Twelfth had passed into the three-year-old Thirteenth, the news was transmitted to Peking and after his confirmation by the Manchu Emperor, the young boy was ceremoniously enthroned.

During the Dalai Lama's minority, a Regent, himself a tulku, was chosen by a National Assembly, composed primarily of monks, and the Kashag, or cabinet, consisting of three laymen and one monk, nearly all from noble families. But real power lay with the monasteries and their puissant abbots. As much as a third of the male population joined Buddhist orders, and of these as many as fifteen percent were "fighting monks," armed and rebellious. When they descended on Lhasa and terrorized the populace, they had to be quelled by the Dalai Lama's own troops. Nor did they eschew politics. The enormous monasteries nearest Lhasa, Drepung, Sera, and Ganden, were particularly troublesome. The Chinese, realizing their power, sought monastic support by lavishing quantities of "presents." Complicating matters was the role of the Chinese Resident or Amban, who took sides in internal politics.

At the center of this labyrinth, ensconced in the immense Potala, was the Dalai Lama, plus his parents and siblings, newly ennobled and frequently meddlesome. Tibet in 1895 was an outlying province of a crumbling Chinese Empire, whose Manchu rulers had been humiliated only that year in a disastrous war with Japan. Peking was too weak, too corrupt, and too remote to defend Tibet against "the powerful elephants from the south," the British. For their part, the British were frustrated in their negotiations with Peking and Lhasa. In 1885, the British obtained Chinese permission to send a mission from India to Tibet, only to have the project vetoed by Lhasa. As compensation, Peking was obliged to recognize British annexation of Upper Burma. This followed a clash concerning the ill-defined status and frontiers of Sikkim, over which China and Tibet both claimed authority. To enforce their own claims, the British destroyed a frontier fort and routed a Tibetan force, causing the Amban to proceed to the disputed border and negotiate directly with the Indian Foreign Secretary. The resulting 1890 treaty defined a border, acknowledged British control of Sikkim, and provided for opening a British trade mart within Tibet. Yet when the Government of India tried to open that mart, Tibetans objected, insisting China had no right to negotiate in their name. Protests caromed from Lhasa to Peking, and exasperated British officials suspected that China covertly encouraged Tibetan obduracy.

Such was the setting when Dorzhiev advised the youthful Dalai Lama to seek the protection of the White Tsar.[i] The Buriat played skillfully on the fears of his monastic brethren, who had been warned by the Chinese that the British wished to abolish lamaism, and who feared the trade mart would open the way for missionaries. In his memoir, Dorzhiev recalls the advice he gave to Tibetan high lamas. When the question of seeking help from foreign Christians arose, he said, "because Russia is the enemy of Great Britain, she will come to the assistance of the Land of Snows to prevent her being devoured." Under the White Tsar's tolerant rule, he maintained, "the pure teachings of the Buddha flourished among the Torgut [Kalmyks] and the Buriats." He reminded them that the Tsarevich passed through Buriatia on his Asian Grand Tour, bestowing favors on its inhabitants. Dorzhiev cited the legend of Shambhala, which he located somewhere in Russia, and explained that Nicholas II was also an incarnation. "Such a Bodhisattva-tsar," he said, "could also bestow favors on Tibet." As if to confirm Dorzhiev's prescience, in 1890 a French expedition led by the Central Asian explorer Gabriel Bonvalot and the Due de Chartres's eldest son, Prince Henry of Orleans, appeared on Tibet's borders. Stopped north of Lhasa by Tibetan officials, the Chinese Amban, and an armed escort, the Prince (according to Dorzhiev's memoir) urged Tibetans to befriend the French and Russians, "the strongest powers in the world," who had recently become allies. This coincided with the statement by the omniscient Nechung Oracle that spoke of a prince: "An emanation of a Bodhisattva [seemingly d'Orleans but possibly the Tsar] is in the North and East." The oracle also pointedly repeated a pungent proverb, "Even dog fat can be good for a wound."

It was therefore determined that Dorzhiev should go to Russia, a momentous decision since no Dalai Lama had ever appealed to foreign Christians. Even if he failed to obtain the White Tsar's help, the Lhasa authorities reasoned, Dorzhiev could call attention to Tibet's plight. In 1898, wearing the thumb-ring of the Nechung Oracle for good luck, Dorzhiev and two companions set out for St. Petersburg via India. He traveled as a Mongol claiming Chinese citizenship, using a passport provided by the Amban in Lhasa. When the party was challenged by a suspicious Tibetan border guard, a bribe and three prostrations eased its passage.When stopped by British police at the Indian frontier, Dorzhiev showed his Chinese passport, persuading them that although he was Mongolian, he was a Chinese citizen who had "decided to return to his homeland by the easier sea route." Finally, after pausing near Darjeeling, the party boarded a train bound for Calcutta.

Buddhism originated in India, and the pilgrims visited Bodhgaya in Bihar, where Buddha attained enlightenment while sitting under the Bodhi tree. From Calcutta, they continued by sea to Peking. Finally, on reaching his old home in Buriatia, Dorzhiev received the essential letter from Prince Esper Ukhtomsky (1861-1921) inviting him to St. Petersburg.

Prince Ukhtomsky was the logical intermediary. He had spent most of 1886 studying "the Lamaist question," reporting on conflicts between the proselytizing Orthodox missionaries and the Buriats. Traveling incognito, he visited the Buriats and their datsans, and conferred with their clergy in Urga and Peking. Unlike Przhevalsky, the apostle of the carbine and whip, Ukhtomsky did not belittle Asian cultures, and instead approached Buddhism and Islam with sympathetic curiosity. As to missionaries, the Prince ventured the skeptical notion that their conversions were often the result of bribes.

Ukhtomsky himself leaned to the mystical, and as a student of Theosophy, the occult, and esoteric Buddhism, he was increasingly drawn to the "luminous realms" of Asia "where hatreds and the fraternal quarrels among nations dissolve before the divine power." He believed fervently, as Schimmelpenninck van der Oye has documented, that the Buriats were a central element of Russian policy in the East. "Trans-Baikalia is the key to the heart of Asia, the vanguard of Russian civilization on the frontier of the 'Yellow Orient,'" he remarked. Thousands of lamaists made annual pilgrimages to Mongolia and Tibet, bringing into "this Asiatic wilderness" ideas of the White Tsar, and these non-Slavs would be drawn to the giant Russian Empire "not by cruelty but by kindness."

In 1895 Ukhtomsky found a new platform as editor of the St. Petersburg News, and in its columns he published his most celebrated sentence, seized upon ever since by Russophobes: "Properly speaking, in Asia we have not, nor can we have, any bounds, except the boundless sea breaking on her shores." Since Russia was on a "higher spiritual plane" than Britain, the Prince felt, there was no need to emulate its crude brand of imperialism, which was merely a cover for commercial exploitation. Russia had no reason to employ force since "it could depend mainly on benevolence to fulfill its manifest destiny." All of this was divinely ordained, and would occur through "some process of natural fusion." He criticized British India for its "exotic mushroom universities and expensive administrative reforms carried out with all the blind energy of self-sufficient ignorance," and scoffed at the irony lurking "in such cheap catchwords as 'native congresses,' 'a free native press,' 'the right of natives to be citizens of a great colonial empire.'" Russia offered the antidote to the evils of Western imperialism: the more the East was exploited, "the brighter becomes the name of the White Tsar." Largely forgotten today, his editorials were viewed in London, Berlin, and Paris as litmus words on Russia's Far Eastern policies.

WORKING WITH PRINCE UKHTOMSKY WASAN EQUALLY INTERESTING figure, Zhamsaran (Pyotr Aleksandrovich) Badmaev (1851- 1919). A fashionable practitioner of Tibetan medicine and an adviser on Mongolian affairs to the Russian Foreign Ministry, he was also the most influential Buriat in St. Petersburg. When Badmaev converted to Orthodox Christianity, none other than Alexander III acted as his godfather at the ceremony. Yet it was his Tibetan medicine that won him access to the Romanov court. In his laboratory he prepared an entire pharmacopoeia of alchemic remedies, "infusions of asoka flowers," "Nienchen balsam," "black lotus essence," "nikrik powder," and the "Tibetan elixir of life," which he prescribed for Petersburg's upper classes. Eventually, he would be summoned to treat the hemophiliac Romanov heir, Alexis. It was also whispered that he successfully treated the Tsar for a stomach ailment with a mixture of henbane and hashish -- "the effects of which were marvelous." Although some thought his presence sinister, according to James Webb, an historian of the occult, Badmaev "stood head and shoulders above the crowd of magi and holy fools who clamored around the steps of the throne."

Among those seeking his herbal pills and potions was the Finance Minister, Sergei Witte (1849-1915). The prime architect of Russia's forward policy in East Asia and godfather of the Trans-Siberian Railway, Witte wrote approvingly in his memoirs of Badmaev's plan to construct a 3,500-mile spur to the already overlong railroad. Although Alexander III was skeptical about the project, dismissing it as "all so new, strange, and fantastic," Witte's enthusiasm swayed the Government. In 1893, it advanced two million rubles to P.A. Badmaev and Co. to extend the railway from Irkutsk on Lake Baikal to the Chinese city of Lanzhou across the Gobi Desert. Ostensibly, the new line would help expand Russian trade in Central Asia.

The deeper motive was to provide a commercial cover for thousands of Buriat infiltrators who then could foment a pro-Russian revolt against the Manchu Dynasty. The resulting territorial gains would make possible a Pan-Buddhist confederacy in Central Asia under the White Tsar. Count Witte, then the dominant figure in Russian politics, supported the plan, which comported with his own grand design: "From the shores of the Pacific and the heights of the Himalayas, Russia would dominate not only the affairs of Asia but those of Europe as well." Or, as he put it in a confidential note to Nicholas II: "Given our enormous frontier with China and our exceptionally favorable situation, the absorption by Russia of a considerable part of the Chinese Empire is only a matter of time."

When Badmaev became aware of his compatriot Dorzhiev's influence in Lhasa, he was quick to sense new opportunities for employing Buriats and Kalmyks. "I am training young men in two capitals -- Peking and Petersburg-for further activities," Badmaev informed the Tsar. By 1895, Tibetan reluctance to entertain foreign Buddhists had been somewhat overcome, and Badmaev's Buriat emissaries were apparently entertained in Lhasa by none other than Dorzhiev himself. The intelligence they gathered was so highly regarded that Nicholas II bestowed gold medals on two of Badmaev's Buriat agents, Ochir Jigjitov and Dugar Vanchinov. In appreciation for his hospitality, Dorzhiev received a gold watch inscribed with the imperial monogram, which he collected on his visit to Buriatia in 1898.

The most successful of Badmaev's proteges was Gombodjab Tsybikov (1873-1930), a leading member of the Buriat intelligentsia and a teacher at the Oriental Institute in Vladivostok. Tsybikov was at one level a Russian agent, but like Dorzhiev, as the historian Robert Rupen points out, in working for a Greater Mongolian State he was also a nationalist who later came into conflict with Soviet authorities. In a mission for the Imperial Geographical Society, Tsybikov succeeded in entering Tibet from Amdo traveling as a Buddhist pilgrim. In 1900-1901, he visited not only Lhasa but a number of monasteries. Using his camera surreptitiously, he returned to Russia with a portfolio of photographs, including some of the earliest of Lhasa, along with a bundle of Tibetan texts, earning him the Geographical Society's Przhevalsky Medal. He also provided notes on Tibet's government and population, the size of the standing army and the Chinese garrison, the practice of polygamy and polyandry, and the independent position of women.

As to Badmaev's ambitious railway scheme, nothing came of it save for the loss of the two million rubles advanced to his company. Nonetheless, Badmaev retained his mansion on the Vyborg road and his position at court, where he advised the Tsar not only on medical matters but on politics. Rasputin's biographer, Rene Fulop-Miller, asserts that Badmaev's files combined medical and encoded political data. In any case, before his death in 1919, the obscure Buriat doctor transformed a small Tibetan pharmacy into a great sanitarium, and spawned a homeopathic dynasty whose cures are today available on the Internet.

HAVING PROMOTED BADMAEV AT COURT, UKHTOMSKY NOW BECAME Dorzhiev's principal sponsor. Through the Prince's mediation, the lama appears to have met with the Tsar at Peterhof, his palace on the Gulf of Finland. By this time, the once shy and sensitive Tsarevich was the Autocrat of All Russia. Yet after reigning four years, Nicholas still disdained politics, hated confrontation, and had difficulty asserting himself. He was bullied by his uncles and, as his Empire veered from crisis to crisis, browbeaten by his wife, the Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna. His cousin, Grand Duke Alexander Mikailovich, recalls in his memoirs that the slightly undersized Nicholas dreaded being alone with his outsized uncles: "the instant the door of his study closed to outsiders -- down on the table would go with a bang the weighty fist of Uncle Alexis ... two hundred and fifty pounds packed in the resplendent uniform of Grand Admiral of the Fleet Uncle Serge and Uncle Vladimir developed equally efficient methods of intimidation ... They all had their favorite generals and admirals ... their ballerinas desirous of organizing a 'Russian season' in Paris; their wonderful preachers anxious to redeem the Emperor's soul... their clairvoyant peasants with a divine message." The Tsar's irresolution caused his War Minister, General Vannovsky, to lament that he "takes counsel from everyone: with grandparents, aunts, mummy and anyone else; he is young and accedes to the view of the last person to whom he talks." Still, it should be noted that Witte, who preferred Alexander to his son, asserts in his memoirs that Nicholas "has a quick mind and learns easily. In this respect he is far superior to his father."

Into these murky waters waded the emissary of the Dalai Lama. No official account of the lama's audience with the White Tsar has turned up -- the Russian archives are silent on the matter so we have only Dorzhiev's own recollection: "When I talked with him [Nicholas II] about Tibet, he told me how Russia would help Tibet not to be lost to enemy hands." When the Tsar consulted with his Foreign Minister, Count Lamsdorff, his War Minister, General Kuropatkin, and his Finance Minister, Witte, they suggested through Ukhtomsky that a Russian official be sent to Lhasa. Dorzhiev replied: "Definitely do not send a European. The nobles, ministers, ordinary monks and lay people have made an oath not to allow them. For the moment, there is no way to send anyone." If the Tibetans allowed Russians in Lhasa, other Europeans would not be far behind. Dorzhiev relates that "this made him [the Tsar] a little displeased." As to Russian help in countering the British and Chinese, the Tsar asked "to receive the request officially in written form" from the Dalai Lama. On both sides, the meeting fell short of expectations, but a dialogue had opened between Lhasa and St. Petersburg.

From St. Petersburg, Dorzhiev traveled south to the lower Volga, where he sought to renew and strengthen ties between the geographically separated Kalmyk and Central Asian Buddhists. There he met Ovshe Muchkinovich Norzunov (born ca. 1874), whom we have met as the other invisible guest at Ghoom monastery. An educated Kalmyk from the province of Stavropol, Norzunov was to become Dorzhiev's steadfast lieutenant.

Dorzhiev continued his "sondage politique," traveling to Paris in quest of further allies. His Russian friends introduced him to the anthropologist and Buddhist scholar Joseph Deniker, and through the professor he met a number of French notables interested in Buddhism, including Georges Clemenceau and (it would appear) Alexandra David-Neel, a devotee who by sheer grit later made her way to Lhasa. At the Musee Guimet, Dorzhiev conducted a lamaist ceremony, which was translated by Buddha Rabdanov, an eminent Buria t-- and recorded on wax cylinders. While in Paris, Dorzhiev purchased a phonograph and cylinders, as well as photographic equipment.

On his return to Russia, Dorzhiev was reunited with Norzunov, who, it was now agreed, would attempt a pilgrimage to Lhasa. The two traveled to Urga, Mongolia's capital, then separated as the Kalmyk headed toward Tibet. Norzunov passed as a Mongolian pilgrim until his caravan crossed the Gobi, when, after being halted by Kurluk Mongols, he was discovered to be a Russian. His accent and the European jacket beneath his fur garment gave him away.A bribe sufficed to satisfy the Kurluks, who guided him part of the way to Nagchu, where he eluded the Tibetan border guards who had earlier blocked Przhevalsky. Braving March gales, Norzunov arrived safely in Lhasa and there presented the Dalai Lama with a letter from Dorzhiev "describing in detail the greatness of the Russian people, the critical situation of China and expressing the opinion that the connection with Russia promises a great future for Tibet."

After six weeks in Lhasa, Norzunov headed home, following the favored route through Darjeeling, Calcutta, Peking, and Urga, arriving in Russia in August 1899. He bore an urgent summons to Dorzhiev to return as soon as possible to Lhasa, where the emissary was received by the Dalai Lama "with trust and charity." At the Great Lhasa Chanting ceremony, tens of thousands witnessed Dorzhiev's presentation to the Dalai Lama of diamonds, silks, and silver ingots cast as horseshoes, some of them gifts of the White Tsar. Dorzhiev wisely took care to provide the monasteries with their portion of Russian largesse.

Even so, the Buriat's successes, and his new rank as Senior Abbot, provoked murmurs of envy and displeasure. According to Deniker, some were scandalized by a photograph of Dorzhiev with a Russian lady. He was forced to destroy the photographic equipment-considered demonic by the monks -- that he had brought from Paris. In the pontiff's court, according to Dorzhiev's memoirs, dissension had become open and bitter:

In those times, the influential people of Tibet had these things to say about politics. Some thought, "Since the kindness of the Manchu Emperor has been so great, he will not forget about us even now. Therefore, we should not divorce ourselves from China." Others said, "The Chinese government will collapse before long. Therefore, so long as we have no agreements with the enemies [the British] nearby, we will certainly be conquered. So it would be good if we had close relations with them." Still others said, "The Russians, being very rich and powerful, we would not fall into the enemy hands. Also, since they are far away, they could not devour us. But for just that same reason, it is difficult to work with them."


In St. Petersburg, meanwhile, Norzunov accepted a commission from the Imperial Geographical Society to photograph Tibet with a camera it provided him. He very probably met with the Tsar. A note from Ukhtomsky to Nicholas II asked him to receive two Kalmyks, one being Norzunov. "You know how I love Buriats," remarked the ever-hopeful Prince, "but Kalmyks are closer and more akin to us on account of their martial character and other virtues. We have not yet had the last word on the awakening of Central Asia." In January 1900 Norzunov stopped in Paris, where at Dorzhiev's request, he took delivery of four crates of steel begging bowls that had been ordered to replace an earlier shipment lost when a coracle capsized in a Tibetan river. On his departure from Marseilles on the steamer Dupleix, he took aboard one of the crates; the remaining three were to follow on another ship. He arrived in Calcutta that March with a passport from General Nipi Khoraki, the Governor of Stavropol, and a letter of introduction to the French Consul. Concealing his identity, Norzunov registered at the Continental Hotel as Myanoheid Hopityant, an employee of Stavropol's Post and Telegraph Department.

His troubles began when British customs discovered he was carrying a .45 caliber sporting rifle, and confiscated it. Tipped off by a Russian-speaking Briton that he was about to be arrested, Norzunov panicked. He decamped for Darjeeling by train. In spite of his Chinese disguise, he was spotted and placed under house arrest at Ghoom monastery by the Deputy Police Commissioner for Darjeeling. Police records describe him as about 5 feet 10 inches tall, "broad and well built, head now shaved, Mongolian features, slight moustache twisted down Chinese fashion, medium complexion." His age was given as twenty-six. He at first told his interrogators he was a trader from Peking taking the less arduous route to Lhasa. Later he altered his story: he was a Khalkha Mongolian named Obishak. Under further questioning, he finally admitted he had come from Marseilles by way of Calcutta.

From Ghoom, Norzunov managed to get word of his plight to Dorzhiev, who was then about to depart for Russia. Cool as Macavity, Dorzhiev arrived in May at Ghoom as Abbot Sherab Gyatso's guest, carrying a document certifying that Norzunov was a Buddhist who had already made a pilgrimage to Lhasa. When his document failed to impress the British, Dorzhiev felt he had had no choice but to continue his own travels.

A police escort took Norzunov to Calcutta and placed him under arrest. During his detention, Thomas Cook & Son cleared up the matter of the crates of begging bowls that had been impounded, along with the rest of Norzunov's luggage. They forwarded 590 metal bowls, two phonographs, and a camera to Lhasa. Norzunov was expelled from India aboard the Dupleix to Odessa, "on the ground that it is undesirable that a Mongolian or quasi-Russian adventurer with several aliases should trade with Tibet through British India." In a final interrogation, Norzunov produced a letter of recommendation from Prince Ukhtomsky, on the stationery of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society, describing him as a member "undertaking a journey to Tibet on a pilgrimage and in the interests of commerce and science." Norzunov now acknowledged his travel expenses had been paid for by a rich Chinese Mongolian lama from Urga named "Akchwan Darjilicoff" who had studied in Lhasa before visiting Europe. The same rich lama had ordered the steel bowls in Paris from J. Deniker and Cie. He was merely the courier.

Two months after his expulsion, the indefatigble Norzunov was again on his way to Tibet, which he reached in winter 1901.While in Lhasa, he took the photographs commissioned by the Geographical Society. They were published along with an introduction by the American diplomat William W Rockhill in The Century magazine in 1903.

"DARJILICOFF'S" NAME MEANT NOTHING TO NORZUNOV'S interrogators and it would appear that neither the Abbot of Ghoom nor Das volunteered further reports on the matter. (It was their silence that earned Sherab Gyatso, Ugyen Gyatso, and Sarat Chandra Das their probably unwarranted reputation as double agents.) The real Dorzhiev, having thwarted his would-be captors, made his way by sea to China, where he witnessed the Boxer Rebellion. He recorded his impression of a Boxer massacre at the Chinese city of Aigun on the Amur River: "Those who killed everyone and burned the city down without leaving a trace may have been men, but their brutality was greater than that of tigers and leopards." Finding Peking besieged by Chinese rebels, he proceeded to Japan, then to Vladivostok, and traveled by train and steamer to St. Petersburg, only to learn that his patron, Prince Ukhtomsky, had just been dispatched to Peking. To break the tedium of waiting for a royal audience, Dorzhiev revisited Paris, and ordered more begging- bowls.

Eventually, Dorzhiev, armed with a letter from the Dalai Lam.a, met with Tsar Nicholas on September 30, 1900, at Livadia, the Tsar's palace at the Crimean resort of Yalta. This time the audience was reported in the columns of the Journal de Saint-Petersbourg. Having witnessed the Boxer massacres in China, the lama was now convinced that the intrusion of Europeans and their missionaries in Asia could have catastrophic results. As described by the Russian Foreign Ministry, the purpose of this mission was to seek "the intercession of Russia for Tibet, which is menaced ... by England, mainly from Nepal." There was the ritual exchange of presents, but otherwise the White Tsar proffered little. Dorzhiev made better headway with the Minister of War, General Kuropatkin, who promised the Tibetans the "cannons of the latest make" which the Russians had captured during the Boxer Rebellion. All this Dorzhiev reported on his return to Lhasa, where he presented the Dalai Lama with the Tsar's gifts, a gold watch studded with diamonds, and a "gorgeous set of clerical vestments."

In 1901 Dorzhiev and Norzunov were again on the move, passing through Nepal en route to Petersburg. According to a British intelligence report, Dorzhiev's abrupt departure from Lhasa was prompted by the Chinese Amban, who, angered by his unauthorized diplomatic negotiations, issued a warrant for his arrest. In Katmandu, Dorzhiev visited monasteries and made offerings of powdered gold and saffron at the great Bodh-Nath stupa. In a boastful moment, he showed the chief lam.a the inscribed watch worth 300 rupees given him by the Russians-an episode promptly reported to the British. At the Nepalese border, British guards searched his luggage but failed to find the gifts he was carrying from the Panchen Lama, or the letters from the Dalai Lama intended for the Tsar. Nor did border officials discover Norzunov's Russian passport, which he had hidden in the sole of a boot, or the films tucked in a small box inside his trousers. In Colombo, with the assistance of the Russian consulate, the party of six embarked without incident on the Russian liner Tambov on June 12, 1901, bound for Odessa.

There Dorzhiev and his party were accorded a rousing welcome, complete with roses, blaring music, and crackling fireworks. The Russian press described the group as "Extraordinary Envoys of the Dalai Lama of Tibet. "The British Consul General, in a hastily cabled report, remarked that when the Grand Lama's mission disembarked, "they were met with real Russian cordiality, with bread and salt on a gold-plated tray," all of which "produced a deep and pleasant impression on the Lamas." As much pomp surrounded Dorzhiev's audience with the Tsar at Peterhof. The Dalai Lama's letter, written in Tibetan with a copy in Mongolian, was resoundingly firm: "The Buddhist faith of the Tibetan people is threatened by enemies and oppressors from abroad -- the English. Be so kind as to instruct my ambassadors how they may be reassured about their pernicious and foul activities." The Tibetan pontiff made no specific requests for assistance, but rather expressed a hope for protection. A passage suggesting Dorzhiev's influence asserts: "Your Majesty does not reject people who confess different religions ... and especially expresses solicitude towards the Buddhist Kalmyks and Buriats."

In a careful response, Nicholas was noncommittal. His Majesty expressed pleasure "about your wish to establish regular connections between the Russian State and Tibet" and ventured the hope that "given the friendly and fully well-disposed attitude of Russia, no danger will threaten Tibet in her fortune hereafter."

Besides meeting with the Tsar, Dorzhiev conferred with Finance Minister Witte, War Minister Kuropatkin, and Foreign Minister Lamsdorff. When asked if St. Petersburg might open diplomatic relations with Tibet, Dorzhiev responded that if the Russians allowed a consulate in Lhasa, the British would want representation as well. The Dalai Lama's emissary suggested instead that Russians could open a consulate just across the Chinese-Tibetan border, with Buddha Rabdanov as consul. With its advantageous location and a telegraph connection to Lhasa, the consulate could promptly pass news from Tibet to the Russian Foreign Ministry. Authorized the following year, the consulate was opened at Ganding in Szechuan, in autumn 1903.

As before, Dorzhiev returned to Lhasa laden with gifts and, according to his memoir, "documents written in solid gold letters stating the relations between Russia and Tibet." But this was not a treaty. The Buriat's missions had not achieved Lhasa's overriding objective, a formal alliance in which Russia would agree to protect the Tibetans. In his invaluable recollections, published in 1926, the Russian diplomat Ivan Yakobevich Korostovets provides a sense of the lama's negotiating style: "Dorzhiev spoke with marked authority and expertise, and mightily pleased the Tsar, in spite of his fantastic plans, which were not to be realized and which implied a Russian advance across the Himalayas in order to liberate the oppressed people ... He behaved in a very modest way yet demanded respect, while at the same time he was mysteriously anxious to avoid attracting the attention of the English to his mission."

Aside from specialized academic works, little attention has been paid by biographers to Nicholas II's obsession with the East. Following his Asian Grand Tour in the company of Ukhtomsky, the Tsarevich consented in 1893 to serve as chairman of the Siberian Railway Committee, a major Witte project. Indeed, his support for Witte's ambitious schemes contributed to the ill-starred Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5, which in turn contributed to the Finance Minister's downfall. Many of the Tsar's advisers justifiably complained that Russia's limited resources were squandered in Asia. The War Minister, General Kuropatkin, noted with alarm in his diary entry for September 22, 1899: "The Emperor is restless on foreign policy matters. I consider one of the sovereign's more dangerous character traits to be his love for mysterious lands and individuals such as the Buriat Badmaev and Prince Ukhtomsky. They inspire him with fantasies about the Russian Tsar's greatness as ruler over all Asia. The Emperor is drawn to Tibet and similar places. This is all very worrisome, and I shudder about the harm these delusions may cause to Russia."

In March 1903, Kuropatkin communicated his fears to the Finance Minister: "I told Witte that our sovereign has grandiose plans in his head: to absorb Manchuria into Russia, to begin the annexation of Korea. He also dreams of taking Tibet under his orb. He wants to rule Persia, to seize both the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles."

Despite Witte's successes as Finance Minister -- during his ten-year tenure, the revenues of the empire nearly doubled -- he was brought down in 1906 after Russia's military debacle in the East, his demise hastened by the intrigues of his rivals. Witte was demoted to the purely ceremonial post of President of the Committee of Ministers. As his stock declined, so did Ukhtomsky's. Yet if Dorzhiev failed to obtain the wholehearted support for Tibet he sought from the Russians, his missions played to the worst fears of Lord Curzon, the Viceroy of India, who was rarely half-hearted about anything.

_______________

Notes:

i. The Russians carefully cultivated the belief that the Tsar was the ''tsagan'' or "White Khan," the heir to Ghengis Khan. What we know as the Golden Horde was actually called the White Horde by the Russians, thus the appellation "White Tsar."
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