Svādhyāya


Svādhyāya

IAST|Svādhyāya (Devanagari: _sa. स्वाध्याय) is a Sanskrit term in Hinduism having several meanings, including study of the Vedas and other sacred books, self-recitation, repetition of the Vedas aloud, and as a term for the Vedas themselves. [For compound derivation as _sa. स्व + _sa. अध्यायः and meanings of "IAST|svādhyāya" as "1. self-recitation, muttering to one-self. -2. study of the Vedas, sacred study, perusal of sacred books. -3. the Veda itself. -4. a day on which sacred study is enjoined to be resumed after suspension." see: Harvnb|Apte|1965|p=1016, right column.] [For definition of "स्वाध्याय, m. repeating to oneself, study "of the Veda"; repetition "of the Veda" aloud" see: Harvnb|Macdonell|1996|p=373, left column.] [For definition as "the regular habit of study of religious books", see: Chatterjee and Datta (1984), p. 303.] IAST|Svādhyāya is extolled in orthodox Brahmanism in its traditional sense as "study of the scriptures and "darśanas" which help the understanding of the nature of the IAST|Paramātman." [For role in Brahmanism and quotation, see: Harvnb|Bhattacharyya|1956|pp=25-26, volume 4.] Some translators simply use the word "study" without qualifying the type of study. [For translation of YS 2.1 as ""Purificatory action, study, and making God the motive of action, constitute the "yoga" of action." see: Radhakrishnan and Moore, p. 462.] [For translation of YS 2.1 as "Austerity, study, and the dedication of the fruits of one's work to God: these are the preliminary steps to yoga." see: Prabhavananda and Isherwood, p. 95.]

Etymology

Adhyāya means "a lesson, lecture, chapter; reading" (- Monier-Williams). Svādhyāya (a compound of sva + adhyāya), therefore, literally means "one's own" (Vedic) "lesson" (taught by guru), i.e.,of one's own shakha (śākhā or recension)'.

IAST|Sāyana defines the "sva-" in "IAST|svādhyāya" as "IAST|āmnātah", i.e., "handed down as a sacred tradition" [Cf. āmnātah and āmnāya in Sanskrit English Dictionary of Monier-Williams.] , and says that "IAST|svādhyāya" is not a "IAST|kāmya" (depending on self will) but a "IAST|nitya karma" (a religious duty to be performed daily) [For classification of "IAST|svādhyāya" as a "IAST|nitya karma" rather than a "IAST|kāmya", see IAST|Sāyana's introduction in: Harvnb|Sontakke|1972|p=18.] Manusmriti defines svādhyāya as a daily duty (2.105) and extols its virtues (Mn.2.107).

There are certain days on which "IAST|svādhyāya" is prohibited, these are called "IAST|anadhyāya", after which "IAST|svādhyāya" must be resumed on the following day ; therefore the day of resumption is also called IAST|svādhyāya. [Sanskrit English Dictionary of Monier-Williams] All anadhyāya days are mentioned in traditional panchangas (religious almanacs) of Hindus. Manusmriti says that there should be no anadhyāya in the study of six Vedangas(Mn.2.105), but clears this statement in next verse by asserting that the mantras of nityakarma give virtue even on an anadhyāya day (Mn.2.106),which implies that other mantras should not be studied on anadhyāya days.

Learning one's Vedic recension

As a tool for memorization, "IAST|svādhyāya" had a unique meaning for Vedic scholars as the principal tool for the oral preservation of the Vedas in their original form for millennia. When used as a formal part of scriptural study, "IAST|svādhyāya" involves repeated recitations of scripture for purposes of mastering the mantras with their accurate pronunciation. [For traditional uses of "IAST|svādhyāya" in the sense of repetition of scriptural mantras for purposes of memorization, see: Harvnb|Arya|1986|p=6.]

The Vedas had not been committed to writing in ancient times. Almost all printed editions depend on the late manuscripts that are hardly older than 500 years, not on the still-extant and superior oral tradition. [Quotation of "... almost all printed editions depend on the late manuscripts that are hardly older than 500 years, not on the still extant and superior oral tradition" is from: Witzel, M., "Vedas and IAST|Upaniṣads", in: Harvnb|Flood|2003|p=69.] Monier Monier-Williams defines "śruti" as "sacred knowledge orally transmitted by the IAST|Brāhmans from generation to generations, the Veda". [For definition of "śruti" as "sacred knowledge orally transmitted" see: Harvnb|Monier-Williams|1899|p=1101.] Michael Witzel explains this oral tradion as follows:

The Vedic texts were orally composed and transmitted, without the use of script, in an unbroken line of transmission from teacher to student that was formalized early on. This ensured an impeccable textual transmission superior to the classical texts of other cultures; it is, in fact, something like a "tape-recording".... Not just the actual words, but even the long-lost musical (tonal) accent (as in old Greek or in Japanese) has been preserved up to the present. [For the quotation comparing recital to a "tape-recording" see: Witzel, M., "Vedas and IAST|Upaniṣads", in: Harvnb|Flood|2003|pp=68-69.] "

The commentator Sāyana discusses this term in the introduction of his commentary on the "IAST|Ṛgveda", in which he says that "IAST|svādhyāya" is the cause without which vedic rituals (yājnika karmakānda) cannot take place. [For text of Sāyana commentary as "IAST|karma-kārana-bhūta-svādhyāya" see: Harvnb|Sontakke|1972|p=19.] IAST|Sāyana also quotes "IAST|Yājnvalkya" Smriti as saying that "All vedas ought to be studied, and if all the Vedas cannot be studied then three or two or at least one Veda must be studied, because one Veda is handed down by one's own forefathers as a tradition (i.e., one's own shakha)". [For Sayana quotation on need to study all vedas, see: Harvnb|Sontakke|1972|p=18.]

IAST|Pattābhiram Shāstri says that since one is only allowed to use the mantras of one's own "śākhā" in rituals, it follows that the vedic meaning of "IAST|svādhyāya" is "a systematic recitation of one's own Vedic branch ("IAST|śākhā") according to the IAST|Śastric commands". [Quotation from Shāstri, Pattābhiram, "Introduction", in: Harvnb|Karpātri|1979|pp= 17.] He also says that "this recitation and study is that of one's own recension and not of entire Veda for there is a commandment (from Taittiriya Aranyaka 2.15 : IAST|svādhyayo-adhyetavyah) "study and recite one's own Vedic recension"." IAST|Śāstri quotes a traditionally practised rule which says : "one should recite a recension("IAST|śākhā") of another Veda only after one has recited one's own recension (in actual yajnic ritual)". [For IAST|Śāstri's interpretations of requirements for recitation of "IAST|śākhās", see: Shāstri, Pattābhiram, "Introduction", in: Harvnb|Karpātri|1979|pp=22.]

The strictly vedic meaning is still being practised by all vedic scholars.IAST|Pattābhiram Shāstri says "in this twentieth century the traditional recitation of the Veda is practically disappearing". [Quotation from Shāstri, Pattābhiram, "Introduction", in: Harvnb|Karpātri|1979|pp= 22.] , which means that fewer peoples are practising svādhyāya now in its strictly traditional ritualistic sense. This vedic meaning of svādhyāya can be understood only in the context of sampradaya, charana (cf. charanavyuha), shakha, etc.

Ongoing study of scriptures

The "Taittirīya Upanishad", which belongs to the "Yajur Veda", is still very popular among those who learn Vedic chanting in the traditional manner. [For "IAST|Taittirīya Upaniṣad" as part of "Yajur Veda", and continued popularity with students of Vedic chant, see: Harvnb|Gambhīrānanda|1986|p=iv.] The first chapter concludes with an exhortation by the Vedic teacher to his students, on the eve of their returning home after the completion of their studies, an event that S. IAST|Gambhīrānanda describes as "comparable to a Convocation Address of modern times, instructing them how to conduct themselves in the world." [For summary of the context of the exhortation in the first chapter, and quotation, see: Harvnb|Gambhīrānanda|1986|pp=iv-v.] It is the order of a guru to his disciple at the occasion of his Samāvartanam, a Hindu IAST|Saṃskāra that is comparable to a graduation ceremony. [For definition of "IAST|Samāvartanam", also known as "IAST|Snāna", as a Hindu sacramental ritual (Saṃskāra) that was performed at the close of the Brahmacharya period and marked the end termination of the student life, see: Harvnb|Pandey|1969|p=146.]

It includes a section (1.9) in which the ongoing importance of "IAST|svādhyāyā" is stressed again and again in a list of virtues that are to practiced, with each virture being followed by the phrase "IAST|svādhyāyapravacane ca", translated as "and learning and teaching" by S. Gambhīrānanda [For Sanskrit text of "Taittirīya Upanishad" 1.9.1; translation of _sa. स्वाध्यायप्रवचने च ("svādhyāyapravacane ca") as "and learning and teaching (are to be practiced)"; and comment that "Svādhyāyaḥ" is study (of the scriptures). "Pravacanam" is teaching (of the scriptures)", see: Harvnb|Gambhīrānanda|1986|pp=40-43.] and as "the study and recitation [of the Veda] " by R. C. Zaehner. [For translation of the repetitions in "Taittirīya Upanishad" 1.9.1 as "the study and recitation [of the Veda] ", see: Harvnb|Zaehner|1966|p=136.] This litany of virtues concludes with a final statement that "learning and teaching alone" are to be practiced, for "that indeed is the austerity" (Sanskrit: "tapas") [For translation of the closing words of "Taittirīya Upanishad" 1.9.1 ( _sa. स्वाध्यायप्रवचने एवेति..., etc., as "Learning and teaching alone (are the things) — this is what IAST|Nāka, son of Mudgala, thinks. For that indeed is the austerity; for that indeed is the austerity.", see: Harvnb|Gambhīrānanda|1986|p=41.] [For translation of the closing words of "Taittirīya Upanishad" 1.9.1 as "'Study and recitation (of the Veda) only,' said IAST|Nāka Maudgalya, 'for that is asceticism, that is (really) asceticism". See: Harvnb|Zaehner|1966|p=136.]

Maurice Winternitz cites another passage where the teacher sums up advice for the scholar who is departing on his life's journey, translating 1.11 as "Speak the truth, do thy duty, neglect not the study of the Veda." [For context as "the teacher gives the scholar who is departing on his life's journey", and translation of opening phrases of "Taittirīya Upanishad" 1.11, see: Harvnb|Winternitz|1972|p=259, vol. 1.] That section includes direct orders to "Do not neglect study" ("IAST|svādhyāyāt mā pramadaḥ") [For text and translation of "Taittirīya Upanishad" 1.11.1 phrase "IAST|svādhyāyānmā" (= "IAST|svādhyāyāt" "from study" + "IAST|mā pramadaḥ" "make no deviation") as "Make no mistake about study", see: Harvnb|Gambhīrānanda|1986|pp=47-48.] [For translation of "Taittirīya Upanishad" 1.11.1 phrase as "Do not neglect study [of the Veda] ", see: Harvnb|Zaehner|1966|1966|p=136.] and "Do not be careless about learning and teaching" ("IAST|svādhyāyapravacanābhyāṁ na pramaditavyam") [For text and translation of "Taittirīya Upanishad" 1.11.1 phrase "IAST|svādhyāyapravacanābhyāṁ na pramaditavyam" as "Do not be careless about learning and teaching." see: Harvnb|Gambhīrānanda|1986|pp=47-48.] [For translation of "Taittirīya Upanishad" 1.11.1 phrase "IAST|svādhyāyapravacanābhyāṁ na pramaditavyam" as "Do not be negligent in the study and recitation [of the Veda] ", see: Harvnb|Gambhīrānanda|1986|pp=47-48.]

Other scriptural mentions

The earliest mention of Svādhyāya is found in Taittiriya Aranyaka 2.15: "IAST|svādhyayo-adhyetavyah" ("svādhyāya must be done/studied"). Śatpath Brāhmana also repeats it. [Monier-Williams]

Chāndogya IAST|Upaniṣada (4.16.1-2) says that Brahmā (a brāhmana silently overlooking the yajna) must remain silent (mauna) during a yajna and keep on meditating over the meanings of mantras, while other priests should recite those mantras aloud. Hence, silent (mānas) and vocal (vāchika) both types of svādhyāya was necessary for adequate performance of yajnas. That is why Monier Williams gives both types of meaning for svādhyāya : (1) recite/repeat/rehearse the Veda in a low voice to oneself, and (2) repeat the Vedas aloud.

Study of sacred texts and related literature ("adhyayana") is one of six basic duties (IAST|ṣaṭkarma) required of every Brahmin (Sanskrit: "IAST|brāhmana") in Manu Smriti X.75. [For translation of Manusmriti X.75 as: "Studying, teaching, sacrificing for himself, sacrificing for others, making gifts and receiving them are the six acts prescribed for a brahmin." see: http://history.hanover.edu/courses/excerpts/261manu.html] . Svādhyāya may be loosely held to be a part of "adhyayana" as far as learning the texts is concerned, but svādhyāya is distinguised from "adhyayana" in two senses (1)svādhyāya for preserving the "pronunciation" of sacred oral tradition in its primordial form, and :(2)svādhyāya as a variety of japa which later gave rise to non-ritualistic variety of svādhyāya best exemplified by the svādhyāya of Yoga-Sutra.Fact|date=August 2007 Svādhyāya is distinct from adhyayana ; the latter is defined by Monier Williams as 'reading, studying, especially the Vedas (one of the six duties of a brāhmana)'.

vādhyāya in Yoga & Gita

Svādhyāya is one of the three key elements in the practice of yoga as defined in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, appearing in the opening verse of Book two on spiritual practice and elaborated upon in two other verses. [For Sanskrit text of verses 2.1, 2.32, and 2.44 and discussion as a key practice, see: Harvnb|Taimni|1961|pp=127-128, 220, 250.] Patanjali mentions IAST|svādhyāya a second time as one of the five recommended observances ("niyamas"), along with purity, contentment, austerity, and self-surrender. [For text and translation of YS 2.32, and translation of "niyama" as "observances", see: Harvnb|Taimni|1961|p=220.] The five "niyamas", together with the five abstentions ("yamas"), [For the five "yamas" or "restraints" as: abstention from injury ("IAST|ahiṁsā"), truthfulness ("satya"), non-stealing ("asteya"), control of the carnal desires and passions ("brahmacarya"), and non-acceptance of unnecessary gifts ("aparigraha"), see: Chatterjee and Datta (1984), p. 302.] have been described as "'the ten commandments' of the IAST|Sāṁkhya-Yoga." [For quotation including "IAST|svādhyāya" in the comparison to the ten commandments, see: Hiriyanna, M., "The IAST|Sāṁkhya", in: Harvnb|Bhattacharyya|1956|p=49, volume 3.]

Madhva, the dualistic Vaishnava philosopher, defined philosophy as the three-stage process of understanding ("IAST|śravaṇa"), reflection ("IAST|manana"), and application ("IAST|nididhyāsana"), expressing itself in two forms: study ("IAST|svādhyāya") and teaching ("IAST|pravacana"). Of these two, Madhva considered teaching to be the highest aspect of discipline leading to IAST|mokṣa. [For Madhva's threefold definition of philosophy and the twofold division of expression, see: Raghavendrachar, H. N., "Madhva's Brahma-Mīmāṁsā", in: Bhattacharyya (1956), volume 3, p. 330.] Mādhavāchārya's views on svādhyāya are to be found in chapter 15 of Sarva-Darśana-Sangraha (cf. references).

IAST|Svādhyāya is mentioned as one of the virtues in Bhagavad Gita 16.1. [For text of BG 16.1 and translation of "IAST|svādhyāya" as "study of the scriptures", see: Chidbhavananda, p. 779.] [For text of BG 16.1 and translation of "IAST|svādhyāya" as "intent on studying Holy Writ", see: Harvnb|Zaehner|1969|p=369.] It is mentioned a second time in BG 17.15 as one of the practices that comprise austerity of speech. [For text of BG 17.15 and translation of "IAST|svādhyāyābhyasanaṁ" as "the practice of the study of scriptures" see: Harvnb|Gambhīrānanda|1997|pp=644-645.]

Relationship to japa

The term "IAST|svādhyāya" also came to mean japa (repetitive prayer). The "Amarakośa", an early Sanskrit lexicon, distinguishes between two different types of "japa":

*Japa for the purpose of memorization of mantras is "IAST|svādhyāya". ["IAST|Amarakośa" 2.7.46] [For electronic edition of Amarakośa definition as "svaadhyaayaH syaajjapaH sutyaabhishhavaH savanaM cha saa\" see: [http://www.ms.uky.edu/~sohum/amar/amar2.itx] .]
*Japa for expiation of sin, is "IAST|aghamarśaṇa". ["IAST|Amarakośa" 2.7.47.] [For definition of _sa. अघमर्षण ("IAST|aghamarşaṇa") as "expiatory, removing or destroying sin, usually applied to prayer repeated by IAST|Brahmaṇas (the 190th hymn of Rv. 10.)", and citation of IAST|Amarakośa regarding this as " _sa. सर्वैनसामपध्वांसि जप्यं त्रिष्वघमर्षणं" see: Harvnb|Apte|1965|p=15.] [For electronic edition of Amarakośa definition as "sarvainasaamapadhva.nsi japyaM trishhvaghamarshhaNam\", see: [http://www.ms.uky.edu/~sohum/amar/amar2.itx] .]

Both types of japa, "IAST|svādhyāya" and "IAST|aghamarşaṇa" are parts of "IAST|nityakarma" or daily religious rites for every brahmin. [MW]

Notes

References

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  • Yoga-sûtra — Les Yoga sūtra ou Yogasūtra[1] de Patañjali, abrégé Y.S., est un recueil de 195 aphorismes (sūtra), phrases brèves, laconiques, destinées à être facilement mémorisées et appartenant à la philosophie indienne āstika. Ce texte qui comprend 1161… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Sūtra — (Sanskrit, Devanagari सूत्र) or Sutta (Pāli), literally means a rope or thread that holds things together, and more metaphorically refers to an aphorism (or line, rule, formula), or large a collection of such aphorisms in the form of a manual. It …   Wikipedia


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