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Vedic Accents Do Not Bring Any Fruit

Posted on: 02 Dec 2018
O Learned and Devoted Servants of God,

Dr. C. Annapurna asked: Please clarify once again the topic of “Indrashatru” mentioned in Veda, which is referred by you in the recent messages.

Swami Replied: The Vedic scholars of the Puurvamiimaamsa  philosophy lay a lot of emphasis on the recitation of the Veda with the correct accents, even if the meaning of the Veda is not understood. They say “Yathendrashatruh svaratoparaadhaat”, which means that the demon, Vrutra, was killed because of the wrong accent used in the recitation of the Veda. Vruta had forced the sages to perform a ritual worship for gaining victory over Indra, the king of angels. In Vedic recitation, every syllable is to be recited with one of three accents called svaras. These three svaras are anudaatta or the lower accent, svarita, which is the middle accent and udaatta, which is the higher accent. To bring victory to Vruta, the enemy of Indra, the sages were to recite a prayer with the words “Indrashatro vardhasva” which mean “May the enemy of Indra flourish”. But the sages, who were in support of Indra, changed the upper accent (udaatta svara) from the word ‘Shatro’ to the word ‘Indra’. With this seemingly unnoticeable change, the meaning of the sentence became exactly the opposite. It now meant “May Indra, the enemy (of Vruta) flourish”. In the battle that followed, Vruta was killed by Indra.

Quoting this incident, priests focus on blindly reciting the Veda with the correct accents. They justify it by saying that the meaning of the words in the Veda depends on the accent. They go to the extent of saying that even if the meaning is not understood, but the Veda is recited with correct accents, the desired results are received. They say that the mere sound accents of the Veda bring the desired fruits. In short, according to them, knowing the meaning of the Veda is not necessary. Using this argument, priests try to convince people to support their blind recitation of the Veda without knowing its meaning.

Actually, the word compound ‘Indrashatru’ used in the above sentence, is made up of two words, Indra, which is the name of the king of angels, and Shatru, which means enemy. It literally means ‘Indra-enemy’. This word compound can have two meanings based on the rules of Sanskrit grammar:

1) The first meaning is ‘Indra who himself is the enemy’ (Indrashchaasau shatrushcha). This type of a compound is called Prathamaatatpurusha samaasa.

2) The second meaning is ‘the enemy of Indra’, who is Vruta (Indrasya shatruh). This type of a compound is called Shashthiitatpurusha samaasa.

In the texts of grammar, it is not told that the difference in meaning is based on the accent. The difference in meaning comes as a result of the intention of the person who uses the word. The above theory claims that the meaning of the word changes with the accent, irrespective of the speaker’s intention. No such point is mentioned in the texts of grammar.

Let us assume that the priests had the intention to favour Indra and hence, Vruta instead of winning the battle got killed. So, if the result is based on the intention, there is no necessity of the accent! You might argue that both intention and the accent together are necessary to yield the result. But in both Vedic and non-Vedic ritual worships conducted by priests, when they declare their intention (Samkalpa) for performing the worship, they never use any Vedic accents. The declaration of the intention or Samkalpa is usually done before the worship in which no accents are used. If both accent and intention are necessary for the result, then such worships should never yield any result. But results are obtained even when the Samkalpa is declared without accents. Note that while performing any type of worship, Vedic or non-Vedic, the statements describing the Samkalpa are not from the Veda and hence, they do not possess the Vedic accents.

Actually, God gives fruits in response to the prayers done. But the sanction of results by God is based on His independent discrimination. God does not give results for the prayers based on the Vedic accents or the intention of the praying devotee. If the prayer is justified, God gives a positive result and if it is not justified, God keeps silent. In this case, Vruta was a bad demon and Indra is a good angel. God always supports good souls. Hence, God gave the opposite result in which Vruta was killed by Indra instead of the reverse. God is neither bound by the inert sound-accent nor by the non-inert intention of the soul. He does not give results mechanically and cannot be bent by either intention or accent.

In the above case of Indrashatru, God favoured Indra because Indra is a good soul. Incidentally, the accent in the prayer and the intention of the sages coincided with the decision of God to support the good side. This is called the Kaakataaliiyaka nyaaya, which means that when a person stood under a palm tree, a crow also came and sat on the tree at the same time, and right then a palm fruit fell on the person. The fruit fell on its own because its stem had become weak. The person thought that the fruit fell because the crow sat on the tree. In reality, it was only a case of coincidence in which the fruit fell just after the crow sat on the tree. There was a similar coincidence in the story of Vruta. The changed accent of recitation and the sages’ intention coincided with God’s independent decision to support Indra. This coincidence is exploited by the priests to support their blind recitation of the Veda since they neither know the true meaning of the Veda nor do they want to explain it to the public.


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