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By Julius J Lipner

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Additional info for The Face Of Truth: A Study of Meaning and Metaphysics in the Vedāntic Theology of Rāmānuja

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But it is worth stressing that, where it seems justified, Ramanuja too resorts to oblique meanings. As we have pointed out, in 36 The Face of Truth his interpretation of the Taittiriya text these oblique meanings take the form of intrinsic analogy. But in his exegeses there are instances of extrinsic analogy or metaphorical predication as well. 1- 'pleasure is its head, joy the right wing, delight the left wing, bliss the body, Brahman the tail, the foundation'he comments, 'since the [supreme] Self cannot have head, wings, tail, and so forth, its having pleasure for its head and so on is but metaphor, for the sake of easy understanding'.

In other words, these Vedic terms have an inherent objectivity, an inner impetus demanding fruition in the real existence of the particular members subsumed by their iik~tis The Vedic word gau, for instance, has an inner dynamic through its lik~ti towards the production of real oxen. Ramanuja as a fully fledged monotheist rationalises this creative power of Vedic words by locating it ultimately in the essence of, and by mediating it through the will of, Brahman. Yet he reveres the mystique of Vedic creativity sufficiently to acknowledge the (at least) logical priority of the word- object lik~tz relation as a guide even for the divine will in the originative production of things, as the following extract clearly implies: All the Vedic [naming] words make known their objectsjmeanings57 as terminating in the supreme Self.

The bystander is ignorant of this tongue, but he rightly has no doubt, Ramanuja points out, that the sense of the gestures- and this is a factual rather than a prescriptive sense- has been conveyed merely by the use of words. Further, if the bystander is acutely observant, he may gather that a particular word refers to a particular thing, and this has been learnt in a non-performative context. e. 50 Though the focus of Ramanuja's debate with the Prabhakara was the nature and purpose of the canonical scriptures or sruti, he was aware that the argument had to be extended to language in general, since the sruti was only a special case of language.

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