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Many Paths to One God

Vedic Linguistics or The Vedic Science of Language
by Vamadeva Shastri

Vedic, Hindu or yogic linguistics or science of language is quite 
detailed from Vedic texts that emphasize mantra and akshara, to late Vedic 
texts like Aitareya Aranyaka which refer to 360 different types of consonants, 
360 vowels and 360 sibilants, to Panini and other great grammarians, to such 
great yogis of the Yoga of Sound like Bhartrihari, Abhinavagupta and the Kashmiri 
Shaivite school, up to the great modern poet Sri Aurobindo and also Ram 
Swarup. The literature is enormous and would fill several libraries.

Of the six Vedangas or ways of viewing the Vedas, four relate to 
language with

etymology (Nirukta), 
grammar (Vyakarana), 
pronunciation (Siksha) and 
meter (Chandas).

The Vedic language itself was called meter or Chandas.

The Vedic view traces language back to primary roots to the ultimate 
root OM and the great silence beyond (Brahman). It views these roots as 
mantras, as sacred sounds, as defining consciousness and as creating the entire 

Each of these mantras is connected to a Devata or divine power of 
creation, particularly different forms of the Goddess who herself is Vak or the 
Divine Word.

To understand these roots requires the practice of mantra yoga in 
which the Devata and Shakti of the mantra is revealed in a state of samadhi or 
one-pointed awareness.

Modern linguistics, by contrast, is a mundane thing which tries to 
reduce words to their outward and literal meaning. It relies on the outer 
oriented intellect and does not revere speech as such a sacred power. It is 
very different than the Vedic language which echoes

'paroksha priya hi devah, pratyaksha dvishah', 

meaning the Devas or divine powers prefer what is symbolic or cryptic (paroksha) and dislike the obvious or literal (pratyaksha).

This issue of language is but one of many philosophical differences 
between the Vedic/Hindu school of thought and that of modern western 
civilization. It is quite a gap and naturally those coming from the two different 
backgrounds are unlikely to arrive at similar conclusions about how languages 
developed historically or even what certain texts may mean.

The tendency in the West is to ignore the Indic school of thought and 
try to interpret Indian civilization according to its own disciplines and 
standards that Indian civilization did not usually share. For a study of Indian civilization, it is important to examine such Indic studies of language and not simply look at language in terms of western linguistics.

Source: Kishore Mohan, Vedic History Group

See Also:

Hindu Scriptures

Mantras And Sacred Symbols


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