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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Validity of commendatory statements

According to a standard Mīmāṃsā rule, commendatory statements (arthavādas) are to be understood only together with the prescription which they supplement. Hence, they have no independent meaning. However, Uttaramīmāṃsakas, i.e., Vedāntins of all sorts ground their doctrines basically on statements which are deemed to be arthavādas by (Pūrva)mīmāṃsakas. Does this mean that they altogether deny the above mentioned rule? Usually not. Rather, they acknowledge two kinds of commendatory statements, the ones which are supplementary to prescriptions and the independent ones. Interestingly enough, according to Jayaratha in his commentary on Abhinavagupta's Tantrāloka (§IV), one and the same commendatory statement can have both aspects.

Even a commendatory statement, whenever it regards another prescription or [prohibition], |

can be [in itself] untrue; in case it is independent, on the other hand, it is prescriptive || 236 ||

Whenever indeed a commendatory statement, whose nature is eulogy or despise, becomes part of another prescriptive sentence, that is, a prescription or a prohibition, then it can be untrue and there is no flaw, since it does not point to its own nature. In fact, its meaning as it is heard is not something to be known, rather it is something to be prescribed or prohibited, so that . For this very reason the experts on sentence (i.e., the Mīmāṃsakas) say that its validity (prāmāṇya) derives precisely out of its constituting a single sentence with the prescriptive sentence. As [they] stated:

«Hence those commendatory statements partake of the validity because they are a single sentence with the prescription».

To elaborate:

in regard to the commendatory statement

«He cried (rud-); what cried is the Rudra-ness of Rudra»,

which is to be supplemented to this prescription:

«silver should not be given on a bed of kuśa grass»

no roaring of Rudra should be understood, rather

«Before one year has lapsed there [will] be crying in the home of the one who gives silver on a bed of kuśa grass, hence silver should not be given on a bed of kuśa grass». Precisely this commendatory statement, on the other hand, if it would not become a part of another [prescription], would be prescriptive, i.e., it would cause one to understand [its] meaning as it has been heard. This is the meaning [of the TĀ verse]. In regard to the commendatory statement beginning with “he roared”, in fact, there is precisely this true meaning, which is the fact of letting known what has happened:

«Rudra cried. A tear of him felt out and became silver».

[The above said meaning is true] because there is [indeed] an oblation (iṣṭi) through the truth of many happenings similar to this one.

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