By Dr Manish Pandit
I have taken up the first of 32 words taken to denote Ma Tara for discussion. This word is विरुद्ध वाक्यार्थ शरीरा
Meanings taken from standard Sanskrit koshas
The layers of different meaning appear to be as follows:
I think it’s important to explain the word Vakyartha first, (a term also explained by Bhrtuhari) is an expression of what suggested words should actually mean when expressed in Sanskrit according to “abhida” “lakshana” and “vyanjana”. These cause a sentence or group of words to have a meaning which is usually thought of.
Based on the standard definitions, I have come to the following conclusions, that this word विरुद्ध वाक्यार्थ शरीरा denotes the following:
- The Living Murti which encodes the sort of knowledge which comes as a flash (by intution or by Divine intervention) here Vakyartha is taken to give Pratibha (ie. Bhratuhari’s idea where the meaning of a sentence flashes in the mind after utterance) and by using one meaning of the word विरुद्ध (logic where it proves the reverse) also means that which prevents this knowledge from being seen/understood. Frequently it so happens that some knowledge cannot be easily known because the way to its acquisition is against that which is thought to be straight forward.
- The embodiment (Murti) which gives forth a forbidden sort of knowledge or meaning which can be considered as improper or against convention (as its impossible to think of from the rules of) from the viewpoint of traditional “Vakyartha” and that force which obstructs this knowledge: Explanation: Frequently in Tantra there are various sorts of knowledge which are forbidden. These may seem opposite to convention and indeed against conventional wisdom. The Great Goddess Tara appears to be the repository of that sort of knowledge which is why She is called a Great Wisdom or Mahavidya. In the old days, the great Rishi Vasistha is said to have undertaken many anusthanas but is said to not have received the grace of Her vision. He is said to have cursed Her Vidya in response. It is then that the path of Maha chinachara is said to have opened up. Regardless of the origins of this myth, in any case, it gives us the direction of thought, whereby that which is obviously convention as seen by the eye and by the mind may not be the actual truth in Tantra which may only be reached by going against all convention. Perhaps this great Truth is being shown in this name of the Great Wisdom Tara.
- Finally the meaning of the word can also be “the embodiment of the forces which run inimical to each other in the opposite direction but spring from the same source (living Murti/ Deha)”. This then could also be the idea of the Great Wisdom Tara. All of these fit in well with the origin myths of Tara as well as with the ideas ruling Her worship.
- There is another possibility to this word: That Murti which is the embodiment of a flash of knowledge (through Vakyartha) which proves unfavourable. Here I have taken the word विरुद्ध: to mean hostile or unfavourable which is indeed one possibility. Explanation: Occasionally some sadhakas describe circumstances where the worship produces some sort of turbulence in life to material circumstances. Although the later knowledge may be that of Sattwa, in the earlier part of the receipt of such a flash of knowledge, there may be some affliction which appears poisonous. This is seen by many sadhakas as the manifestation of the Great Wisdom who has come to cut the attachments of the sadhaka from all material manifestations of reality. (Hard but necessary but turns the sadhaka into a Vajra)
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