A Devoted Disciple

It is indeed extremely difficult to sum the extent of Mishraji’s scholarship in these writings or to do justice to them in limited pages. But, the best approach would be to choose some pearls from this vast treasure house.

Explaining the structure of the Four Vedas viz. Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva Veda Mishraji first gives us the extent of the Veda Shastra or the entire extent of the branches of the Vedic knowledge. They are fourteen branches in total. The main four Vedas have six Vedangas or auxiliary texts : Shiksha (phonetics), Vyakarana (grammar), Chhands (meter), Nirukta (etymology), Kalpa (real life applications of rituals and rites) and Jyotisha (astronomy/ astrology). This makes it Ten so far. The Four Vedas are ‘shruti’ texts i.e. they precipitated as mantras into the minds of the meditating rishis and the rest that follow are all ‘smriti’ texts i.e. they were developed from the minds of the subsequent scholars and then committed to memory.

The balance four are Meemamsa (directs the practitioner in how to put the Vedic rituals into practice), Nyaya (logic), Puranas (metaphorical myths & ancient anthologies) and Dharmashastra (doctrine of duties & law of the land). Thus these are the fourteen branches of Indian tradition. [Mishraji outlines subsequent four more practical, everyday life Vidyas bringing this total to eighteen in all viz.: Ayurveda (the science of healthcare), Arthashastra (knowledge of political practices & economy), Dhanurveda (warfare) and Gandharva Veda (the practice of music).]

Mishraji, quoting his grand-guru Ojhaji, also corrects the categorization of the six Darshanas or schools of philosophy given by western scholars. These schools evolved as a cross discussion to “satisfy the enquiries which arise in people’s minds”. Instead of the popular translations that the six philosophical systems are Purva-Meemamsa, Uttara- Meemamsa, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Samkhya and Yoga the corrected version should be 1. Charvaka; 2. Baudha; 3. Jain; 4. Vaisheshika; 5. Samkhya and 6. Vedanta(and Srimad Bhagwad Gita).

Mishraji outlines at the beginning of each Volume different aspects of the speech used in Sanskrit scholarship. Each Veda has a phonetic treatise attached to it called Pratishakhya that with meticulous care gives the pronunciation, rules for prosody and accentuation of the shabdas or the words of the mantras. To quote – “Words in Sanskrit are living organisms. They grow from a root, like a plant…… As it grows, with the addition of prefixes and suffixes, it acquires new dimensions and numerous facets.” This leads to understanding the spoken words –“Indian seer-scientists have discussed in detail whether the relation between a linguistic term (Shabda) and its meaning (Artha) is permanent or a human invention. They maintain that a linguistic item is not merely the sound but that unit or symbol which, when articulated, brings about the notion of the meaning.” Thus the power of the metaphor is largely used in the Vedas and what seems a story or myth at the primary level is deep philosophy as its etymology unfolds. This often happens after repetitively chanting the mantras and also as the perspicacity of the student alters with experience and age i.e. the awastha. Mishraji writes further – “Mantras do not openly express or explain. They reveal their ‘message’ by means of their indicative meaning and in so doing, guide us to the Truth.” Therefore the Vedas are divided into increasing layers of intricacy. The initial collection of mantras is the Samhita and the last of the philosophical extract is the Vedanta or Upanishads. The root verbs grow into the shabdas and in the words of Mishraji –“If the Mantra or Samhita is the tree, then the Brahmana is the flower, the Aranyaka is the fruit (in its unripe stage), and the Upanishads are the mellow or fully ripened fruits.”

This essentially lays the basis of the structure of Sanskrit as a language that pre-dates and is as intricate as pure mathematics. This fact is recognized by the father of modern Metaphysics – Fritj of Capra in his famous book –‘The Tao of Physics’ where in the Chapter titled “The Parallels” he places the equations of Einstein’s theory of General Relativity on one side and the mantras of Rig Veda, with all their phonetic accents, on the other side and asks the question –“Are these two knowledge equivalent even though separated by 5000 years?”

Misraji touches upon the uniqueness of the structure of the Sanskrit language in Before the Beginning and After the End. He explains how the words have various layers of meaning which change with the perspicacity of the scholar. Using Bindu as a remarkable example he shows how it can be derived from the word indu to mean “a bright drop; a spark” or it can be derived from the root bhid to mean a “hole”; yet, in the Shiv Sutras, it is a dimensionless point that gives birth to the entire Creation.

Talking further about the nature of sound Misraji explains ‘the distinction between the word (shabda) and the sound (dhwani)’ as being like the body and the soul. Motilal Shastriji explains this in his scientific treatise on the Shatpatha Brahmana that there are two ways to look at the energy of nada (sound energies) – firstly, the mantras unfold the sound energies as we view outwards from the Earth and talk to each other. This view is termed bhugolik or earth-centric and our speech is called vaak. If we look from the heavens downwards, filtering the cacophony, we hear the natural sounds or what is called dhwani or music. And this view is termed Khagolik. Thus Vaani is the ‘words that are sung’ and it is both vaak and dhvani put together. This is the Divine song.

Misraji talks about the “Supraphysical Universe” in his first Book – “Before the Beginning and after the End” and then he has devoted the entire third Book- “The Realm of Supraphysics” to this unique insight. What is the Supraphysical? It is the realm that gives us an “extra-sensory” awareness. Any object or pinda has an emanation or mahima around it that is subtler in energy and this is the “Supraphysical” dimension of that object. He links the knowledge of an object, according to the Vedas, at three respective levels viz. first is the knowledge gained through the senses – Rik Veda, second is the knowledge gained through the mind – Sama Veda and the third is the knowledge gained by the AtmaYaju Veda. In the later Book Misraji goes into more details and explains the further sub-division of the mahima as five groups of prana or life-force energy. He clearly establishes the basic Vedic premise that one is a replica of the entire macrocosm and therefore one can be aware of anything in this Universe just by delving into one’s own consciousness.