When a child begins to reas he should be taught to pronounce the letters according to the methods of the science of orthepy so that he may have knowledge of the modulation of voice and of the organs used in and the method of pronouncing different letters, so that he may know correctly the way of pronouncing
vowels and consonants. e.g. in pronouncing ‘p’ both the lips should be joined. Here the lips are the organs of pronunciation and bringing the lips together is the method of pronouncing it and so on. The great Muni Patanjali – the author of the Mahabhashya says on this subject:-
‘The letters are not clearly and distinctly audible and the expressions do not appear beautiful unless the pronunciation is made with due regard to the organs and methods of pronuciation, e.g., if a singer were to sing without paying attention to the tone, such as Shadaja, etc. or to it pitch or were he to sing in a false tone he would be to blame. In the same manner it is incumbent that in reciting the Vedas the vowels and the consonants should be pronounced with due regard to the organs and methods of pronunciation otherwise the pronounced word would be unpleasant and meaningless.
If a man were to pronounce a word transgressing the correct methods of pronunciation it would be his own fault and he would be censured; ‘Thou has made a wrong use of the words.’ A word used wrongly does not express the meaning which
one wants to express thereby, i.e., in pronouncing Sakala (whole, Shakala (part), Sakrit (once) and Shakrit (ordure) if one were to pronounce ‘s’ as ‘sh’ or ‘sh’ as ‘s’ the words would not convey their true meaning and would destroy speech, i.e., would destroy the meaning to express which they were pronounced by the speaker.
They would injure the speaker or the Yajamana, i.e., would deprive him of the meaning he wanted to express thereby. Take, for instance, the compoundIndrashatruh. By the change of accent it would express opposite meanings. If it be taken as a Tat-purusha the accent should be placed on the last syllable of both the words Indra and Shatru.
On the other hand, if it be taken as a ‘Bahubrihi‘ the accent should be placed in the first syllable of both words. This compound employs the figure of speech called Tulya Yogita and describes the sun and the cloud. Hence by a change of accent it expresses two opposite meanings. In a Tatpurusha compound the chief member the last word and in a Bahubrihi compound the main thing is a third and a different thing. Therefore he who wants the
the compound Indrashatruh to denote the sun he should pronounce it with the accent on the last syllable and take it as a Karmadaharaya but he who wants it to signify the cloud he should pronounce it with the accent on the first syllable and take it as a Bahubrihi. It will be his own fault if he does otherwise. Consequently, vowels and consonants should be pronounced correctly. Maha I. I.1.
A child should also be taught the manner of speech, hearing, sitting, walking, eating, reading, thinking and interpreting, etc. The best results are obtained when a thing is read with a knowledge of its sense, but in comparison to a man who does not read at all even he is to be preferred who reads only without understanding the meaning. He who reads and understands the meanings of words is decidedly superior to a mere reader. And he who having read the Vedas and understood their meaning acquires good qualities and acts
rightly and thereby does good to all, is the best of all. The following texts condemn reading without understanding the sense.
“Brahma is imperishable, the highest and the best and all-pervading like Akasha. in Him are established the four Vedas, the Rig., etc. [Here the word Rig is used as a class name for the four Vedas.] In Him are stationed all the learned, the organs of cognition and action, all the globes, the sun, etc. What will he, who does not know Him and does not obey His will which ordains the doing of universal good, do with the Vedic mantras he has read.
He can never reap the fruit born of the knowledge of the meaning of the Vedas. But they, who know that Brahma, obtain fully the fruit called virtue, worldly riches, desires and salvation. It is, therefore, imperative that the Vedas, etc. should be intelligently reas.” Rig I. 164. 39.
“The man, who has simply read the Vedas and having read them does not know their meaning and the man, who having known their meaning does not act according to their teaching, are like logs of wood (i.e. lifeless) and the carriers of burden. As a man or an animal carrying a burden does not use it and ghi, sugar, musk, saffron, etc., which he is carrying, are enjoyed by some other lucky man, so a man, who reads (a book) without understanding its meaning is like the carrier of a burden.
He who having read the Vedas acquires a knowledge of words and their meaning and acts righteously, becomes purged of sin by virtue of the knowledge of the meaning of the Vedas, and obtains complete bliss even before death and after leaving the body attains to the station of Brahma, called Moksha, which is free from all pain.” The Vedas should, therefore, be read with knowledge of their meaning and one should act according to them.
“A man, who reads the Vedas without understanding their sense and simply recites them, gets no illumination. Just as in a place devoid of fire even dry fuel, ready to catch
fire, does not burn and produce heat and light, so the mere reading without understanding the meaning does not produce the light of knowledge.” Nirukta. I. 18.
There are men who hear words but do not understand them and also those who pronounce them without understanding their sense. As the words spoken and heard by such men remain unknown to them, so reading without knowing the import of words is of no use.
[This hemistich describes the characteristics of the ignorant].
But to the man who studies the Vedas and understands their meaning, speech (learning) reveals her form in various ways. As a wife desiring the favor of her husband puts on beautiful garments and displays the beauty of her person to her lord, similarly, the learning i.e., the knowledge of things from God to earth, reveals her form to the man who reads the Vedas with a full grasp
of their meaning. Rig X. 71.4
“The man, who is a master of learning, who instructs others in entertaining friendly feelings and doing friendly actions towards all creatures, who by righteous conduct obtains Moksha i.e. the realization of God, and who brings the highest happiness to all, is called the friend of all. No one injures such a learned man in any act or transaction because he always does what is pleasing to all.
No carpings, criticisms and objections of unfriendly and adverse critics can harm the man who studies the Vedas with a knowledge of their meaning. His speech is united with true knowledge and is the bringer of desired objects and he is endowed with the good qualities of true knowledge.
[The first hemistich of this verse is in the praise of a learned man. The second hemistich describes the characteristics of an ignorant man.]
An ignorant man who speaks words which are devoid of a knowledge of the science of conduct,
worship and manners and of the knowledge of God roams about in this world accompanies with his deceitful, meaningless and erroneous speech. He is unable to do good either to his own self or to others in his life as a human being. Consequently that study alone is the best which is accompanied with the knowledge of the sense of the thing studied. Rig. X. 71. 5.
For a complete understanding of the Vedas men should first read grammar, the Ashtadhyayi and the Mahabhashya, then the limbs of the Vedas, the Nighantu(lexicology) and the Nirukta (etymology), prosody and astronomy; after them the six subsidiary limbs, viz., Mimansa, Vaisheshika, Nyaha, Yoga, Samkhya and Vedanta and lastly, having studied the Brahmanas, the Aitareya, the Shatapatha, the Sama and the Gopatha, they should take up the study of the Vedas. Or, men in general should know the teachings of the Vedas by reading the Vedic commentaries written by those who have
studied the former after having studied all the above books and subjects. No one can know God, Dharma and the sciences without knowing the meaning of the Vedas, because , the Vedas are the basis of all the sciences. Without knowing the Vedas no one can acquire true knowledge.
Whatever knowledge of true sciences was, is or will be found in the books or minds of men on the earth has its source in the Vedas, for, all exact and true knowledge has been placed by God in them.
The light of truth, wherever and in whatever quantity it has shone, has issued from the Vedas. For this reason, al men should endeavor to know their meaning and teachings.