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From: Mani Varadarajan (mani_at_be.com)
Date: Fri Sep 11 1998 - 11:29:47 PDT
Dear Bhaktas, One member mentioned to me in private email that he had heard that it was permissible to chant the Vedas without intonation (svara), as opposed to incorrect intonation (apa-svara). A person (not a member of this list) who has studied the Vedas more than most in this country had this to say on this issue: ------------------------------------------------------------------ As far as this non-swara business of Veda-adhyayana goes: No!! Patanjali's statement is proof of this alpaksharaha swaratho varNatho vaa mithyaaprayukto nathamarthamaahaha sa vaak vajro yajamaanam hinasti yathendra shatru swarathOparaadhaat. The Veda gives the illustration of this - it is also in the PuraaNa and Patanjali states this. Twaashtha wanted a Son to avenge the death of Trishira - his Son whom Indra adopted as a preceptor in the time Brihaspathi had left him due to the disrespect Indra had shown toward his Acharya. Indra found that Trishira had an Asura Mother and when he offered oblations into the Sacred Agni for the victory of the Devas, he also uttered the mantras for the victory of the Asuras with his other mouth ( he had 3 ) - consequently the wars were stalemated. Indra in his anger killed Trishira with his Vajram and incurred Twaashtha's wrath. The mantra which Twaashtha chanted had the words "Indra shatru" in it. In this the Indra was to chanted with anudhaatam and the shatru with swaritam. Twaashtha made the mistake of chanting the word Indra with swaritam and the Shatru with anudhaatam - he consequently got a Son - Vritra - not one who would kill Indra - but one who would be killed by Indra. The meaning changed due to the incorrect swara and hence the term "Yajamaanam hinasti". There are many out there who claim that we can have our will with the Veda. With due respect these are people who have done no adhyayanam in a paathashaala or those who have had no formal teaching of the Veda from one who has learned it from someone educated in a paathashaala. These are in my view the paathakaadhamaas. I will not give serious credibility to this view. Sri Paramaachaarya is vehement in his stand on the correct intonation of the Veda as well as uchchaaraNam. In my life, I have seen several people who said things like this - and I have argued with them. Without Swara the Veda is not only meaningless - worse it has vipariita artham (contrary meaning). It is tantamount to chanting everything in one tone - swara - whatever you call it. Hence, wrong. Just as you cannot live without working, you cannot speak without intonation of any kind. Whatever you say - however you say it, by default has a swara - so there cannot be any non-swara chanting of anything - leave alone the Veda - there can only be apaswara chanting. Just a hundred years ago, people like us were learning the 18 Vidyas - The 4 Vedas - Rig, Yajus, Saaman, AtharvaNa The 6 Vedangas - Siiksha, VyaakaraNa, chchandas, nirukta, jyothisha and kalpa The 4 upangaas - Nyaaya, Miimaamsa, PuraaNa and Dharmashaastra The 4 Upavedas - Ayurveda, Dhanurveda, Gaandharvaveda and Arthashaastra One student spent 18 years in a Paathashaala learning and assimilating these 18 Vidyaas. We have lost all of it. We have lost all of it. What remains is the broken fabric of the Vedic chants - some correct chanting - mostly incorrect chanting. Sri Raama charaNau sharaNam prapadye.