By Swami Harshananda
Laksanā literally means ‘implication’.
Modes of Expression of Words
There are three ways in which words can express their meanings. They are:
- The direct way or vācya, as for instance ‘ayah’ which means iron.
- The meaning hinted at or vyañgya as in ‘saśaṅkhacakro harih,’ ‘Viṣṇu with śañkha (conch) and cakra (discus)’. Here though the word ‘harih’ has several meanings like lion, monkey, Yama, Vāyu or Viṣṇu, the additional word ‘saśaṅkhacakrah’ limits it to Viṣṇu alone.
- The implied meaning or lakṣya is the third. For instance in the sentence ‘Kaliṅgah sāhasikah’, ‘The Kaliñga is a bold man’, though the word ‘Kaliṅga’ means the country of that name, by implication it denotes a citizen of that country.
Types of Implication
Implication is called as ‘lakṣaṇā’. It is of three types:
- Jahal-lakṣaṇā - In ‘jahal-lakṣaṇā’, the direct meaning is completely given up (jahad = giving up) in favor of the implied meaning. For example, consider the sentence ‘gaṅgāyām ghoṣah’, ‘The village of cowherds is in the Gaṅgā river’. Since a village cannot exist inside a river it is to be interpreted as ‘on the bank of the Gañgā river’ so near that it looks as if it is under the river.
- Ajahal-lakṣaṇā - In ‘ajahal-lakṣaṇā’ the direct meaning is not altogether given up though it cannot also be accepted in toto. For instance, in the sentence ‘śoṇah dhāvati’ which means ‘red color is running’, obviously it means a red animal like a horse which is running and not red color (śoṇa = red) itself.
- Jahad-ajahal-lakṣaṇā - In ‘jahad-ajahal-lakṣaṇā’, a part of the direct meaning is given up and another part is retained. In a sentence like ‘soyam devadattah’ which means ‘This is that Devadatta’, Devadatta who is seen here and now is recognized as the same person seen earlier in some other place. In this recognition,Devadatta, the person, is retained whereas the time and place are ignored.
Advaitins adopt ‘jahad-ajahal-lakṣaṇā’ by interpreting the famous Vedāntic dicta like tat tvam asi (‘That thou art’) or aham brahmāsmi (‘I am Brahman’).
- Ajahad means not giving up.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore