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Language in Hinduism

The latest estimates place the Hindu tradition in literature as far back as 8000 BCE.
The basis for Hindu revealed literature is:
1) Sruti--that which is heard (inspired)
2) Smriti--that which is remembered (traditional)
3) Commentaries on 1 & 2
4) Subcommentaries on the commentaries

Concerns in Hindu literature:
Dharma--derived from the Sanskrit root dhri, meaning to support, hold up, or bear. Dharma is the central organizing principle of the cosmos; it is that which supports and maintains all existence, that which must be if anything is to continue to be. It is similar to the Chinese Tao, the Egyptian Maat, and the Sumerian Me. On the individual level, it refers to duty and inner nature.

Subcategories of Dharma:
1) Psychology--the theory of the gunas: Sattva--which Eliade describes as "the modality of luminosity, of purity and comprehension" (Mircea Eliade, Yoga: Immortality and Freedom, 20); rajas--"the motor energy that makes all physical or cognoscitive experience possible" (Yoga 21); and tamas--"inertia of matter, darkness of consciousness, the barrage of the passions" (Yoga 21). Consciousness is determined by the relative proportions of the three gunas:
When sattva predominates, consciousness is calm, clear, comprehensible, virtuous; dominated by rajas, it is agitated, uncertain, unstable; overwhelmed by tamas, it is dark, confused, passionate, bestial. (Mircea Eliade, Yoga: Immortality and Freedom, 23).
2) Linguistics----transformational grammar
phonetics
stylistics--meter
etymology--a heard not a seen etymology
3) Acoustics--sound is at the basis of Hindu spirituality and literature.

Poetry is spiritual power--the underlying power of the universe. Sound--and the language, literature, and song which springs therefrom--is in service of salvation.

Universe--two levels of reality:
1) unmanifest--3/4 of the universe
2) manifest--1/4 of the universe


Silence:
1) Sat--Truth or true unchanging being
2) Cit (chit)--Consciousness
3) Ananda--Bliss
Truth, bliss, and consciousness are properties of the state of silence
Sound and silence are deeply related
Poetry=divine speech. Poetry works to reduce sound to silence.

rsi (rishi)--seer--resuces sound and thought to the point of ultimate reality
kavi--poet
vipra--vibration
all of the above relates to Veda--knowlege (in the sense of gnosis): wit/wisdom/vision

The universe can be crudely split into two levels:

Silence--Sat
Cit

Ananda
There is no duality at this level
Sound--Feeling
Word
Subject/Object duality



The Universe is vibration (sound--language)
The relation of sound to silence is shown in the sacred syllable--AUM
1) A--creating
2) U--maintaining
3) M--destroying
AUM is a threefold sound which rises from, and returns to the fourth element--Silence.
Levels of speech:
1) A--spoken (vaikari)
2) U--thought (madhyama)
3) M--(pushyanti)
4) Silence--supreme (para)
Subject and Object come together in silence. All oppositions come together in silence.
The meaning of the Veda is its effect--on the chanter, the hearer, and the universe-- when chanted. The meaning is the sound.