Siksa comes first among the six limbs of the Vedas,
the nose of the Vedapurusa. The function of the nose here is not
be taken only as that of perceiving smells. It has also the
function of breathing; in fact it is one of the organs of
breathing. Siksa serves as the life-breath of the Vedic mantras.
is the life of a Vedic mantra centred? Each syllable of a hymn is
to be enunciated strictly according to its measure. Clarity of
pronunciation is what is intended. Apart from this, each syllable
is raised, lowered or pronounced evenly --
udatta, anudatta, savarita. If attention is paid to these points,
there will be tonal purity. A mantra yields the desired fruit if
each syllable is vocalised with clarity and tonal accuracy. The
phonetic and tonal exactitude of a mantra is even more important
that its meaning. In other words, even though the meaning is not
understood, if the tonal form takes shape correctly, the mantra
will bring the intended benefit. So the life-breath of the Vedas,
which are a collection of mantras, is their sound [the
"sound form" ].
is a mantra to cure scorpion sting. Its meaning is not
revealed. Its potency is in its sound. Certain sounds have
certain powers associated with them. It is sometimes asked: Why
should the sraddha mantras be in Sanskrit? May they not be in
English or Tamil? Those who raise these questions do not realise
that it is the sound that matters here, not the language as such.
If the teeth of a sorcerer were knocked off, his witchcraft
[magic] would have no effect. Why? Because the man would not be
able to recite this spell properly.
of the mantras is most important to the Vedas. What do we do
about it? Siksa is the science that deals with the character of
Vedic syllables it determines their true nature. The science
of the sounds of human speech is called phonetics and it is more
important to the Vedic language that to any other tongue. The
reason is that even if there is a slight change in how you
vocalise a syllable the efficacy of the mantra will be affected.
[The result sometimes will be contrary to what is intended ].
is because of the importance of Vedic phonetics that Siksa has
been placed first among the six Angas. It is dealt with in the
Taittiriya Upanishad. Its "Siksavalli" begins like
this: "Let us now explain the Siksa sastra ".
The name of the sastra occurs here as well as in many other Vedic
texts with a long "i" ("Siksa"). Sankara
observes in his commentary: "Dairghyam Chandasam": it
means that the usually short "i" occurs as long [in the
Vedas]. (Such examples are to be found in Tamil poetry also. ) I
told you that the Vedic language is not called Sanskrit but Chandas. "Chandasam", from "chandas",
denotes here a Vedic usage.
"Hindu Dharma" is a book
which contains English translation of certain invaluable and
engrossing speeches of Sri Sri Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi MahaSwamiji (at
various times during the years 1907 to 1994).
For a general background, please see here