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Shukla Yajurveda 26.2 states:

That I to all the people may address this salutary speech, To priest and nobleman, Sûdra and Arya, to one of our own kin and to the stranger. Dear may I be to Gods and guerdon-giver. Fulfilled be this my hope: be that my portion!

The above verse has been used by Neo-Vedantins to claim that everyone is allowed to study the Vedas (or at least hear Vedic chanting).

My question is:

How have traditional Vedic commentators (i.e. Vedic commentators before the nineteenth century) such as Sayanacharya, interpreted this verse?

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  • If you understand hinidi, I can post answer, but someone has to translate it into English. I can translate into English but I may not translate well because I am not familiar with some terms. This is not exact answer, but it is just reasoning which can be applied here.
    – user16618
    Dec 20 '18 at 16:22
  • @RaRe I can't read Hindi...
    – user9969
    Dec 20 '18 at 17:21
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Both Uvata and Mahidhara (who lived prior to Sayana), who have written commentaries on the Shukla Yajur Veda, explain this verse plainly. In other words, they take the meaning at face value.

Uvata: यथेमाम् । यथा इमां वाचं कल्याणीं अनुद्वेजिनीम् । दीयतां भुज्यतामित्येवमादिकाम् । आवदानि जनेभ्योऽर्थाय । के ते जना इत्यत आह । ब्रह्मराजन्याभ्यां ब्राह्मणाय राजन्याय च शूद्राय च अर्याय च । अर्यो वैश्यः । स्वाय चात्मीयाय च । अरणः अपगतोदकः पर इत्यर्थः ।

Just as, this auspicious i.e. non-violent speech, I shall speak for the sake of the people. Who are these people? brahma-rAjanya, i.e. brAhmaNa and rAjanya, and shUdra and arya - arya is vaishya, one's own people and others (i.e. strangers).

Mahidhara: इमां कल्याणीमनुद्वेगकरीं वाचमहं यथा यतः आवदानि सर्वतो ब्रवीमि दीयतां भुज्यतामिति सर्वेभ्यो वच्मि । केभ्यस्तदाह । ब्रह्मराजन्याभ्यां ब्राह्मणाय राजन्याय क्षत्रियाय च शूद्राय अर्याय वैश्याय स्वायात्मीयाय अरणाय पराय ।

This auspicious non-violent speech I speak all around. I say to them to use this speech. To whom? brahma-rAjanya i.e. brAhmaNa and kShatriya, shUdra, arya i.e. vaishya, one's own people and to outsiders.

So the Veda itself says that it is for the benefit of all classes of society and for all people, domestic and foreign.

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I am just posting a Hindi Screenshot of it, someone who understands it better can translate if the answer is relevant.

After Baladeva Vidyabhusana argues that Itihasas and Puranas are the fifth Veda, an objection may be raised that then they also should not be open for all, then he answers it with the below verse that in Vedas certain mantras are open for outcastes, in the same way puranas and itihasas are open for all. The main verse is his, then commentary is by someone unknown person, he may be one of his disciples. enter image description here.

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    @UdayKrishna I think it's the other way around, in general vedas are restricted and if puranas and vedas are to be considered vedas, then one may say that they are also restricted. then he says there are exceptions in vedas, similarly in the same way puranas and itihasas though vedas are exceptions and open for sudras. Any ways the main point I think is that certain places exceptions are made in 4 Vedas for sudras or others, but it is limited to only that mantra etc. not the whole of the Vedas.
    – user16618
    Dec 21 '18 at 7:15
  • @user16618- among the entire gamut of hindu scriptures is the four Vedas and Vedanta (Upanishad) alone which are apaurusheya..hence perfect and not even a syllable can be altered in them. All Puranas and Itihasas have an author including Bhagavad Geeta and are hence allowed to be read by the Shoodras. Geeta is also called as Upanishad but it is certainly not..similarly comparison with Veda doesn’t make Itihasas or Puranas any kind of Veda! Jun 24 '20 at 1:54
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    This does not answer the question at all!
    – RamAbloh
    Oct 16 '20 at 23:54
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In the highly upvoted answer, I don't see how reference to commentaries of Uvata and Mahidhara led the member to conclude that Vedas can be chanted by everyone.

Rishi Laugakshi is said to be the Mantra-Drashta for this verse. All this verse is talking about is one's wish to be blessed in a way that his speech can be addressed to everyone and let that speech be "kalyani" ( pleasing). Quoting again the English translation from the upvoted answer

जनेभ्योऽर्थाय । के ते जना इत्यत आह । ब्रह्मराजन्याभ्यां ब्राह्मणाय राजन्याय च शूद्राय च अर्याय च । अर्यो वैश्यः । स्वाय चात्मीयाय च । अरणः अपगतोदकः पर इत्यर्थः ।

Just as, this auspicious i.e. non-violent speech, I shall speak for the sake of the people. Who are these people? brahma-rAjanya, i.e. brAhmaNa and rAjanya, and shUdra and arya - arya is vaishya, one's own people and others (i.e. strangers).

Mahidhara: इमां कल्याणीमनुद्वेगकरीं वाचमहं यथा यतः आवदानि सर्वतो ब्रवीमि दीयतां भुज्यतामिति सर्वेभ्यो वच्मि । केभ्यस्तदाह । ब्रह्मराजन्याभ्यां ब्राह्मणाय राजन्याय क्षत्रियाय च शूद्राय अर्याय वैश्याय स्वायात्मीयाय अरणाय पराय ।

This auspicious non-violent speech I speak all around. I say to them to use this speech. To whom? brahma-rAjanya i.e. brAhmaNa and kShatriya, shUdra, arya i.e. vaishya, one's own people and to outsiders.

I don't see how wish to be blessed with a speech that is meant for everyone's "kalyan" is synonymous to Veda mantras can be chanted by all and sundry.

Also, as per Vachaspatya (a popular sanskrit to sanskrit dictionary authored in 19th century) this verse is to be used for "Kalyanavaachana". Just like Punyaahavaachana and associated rituals where Ritviks bless "let there be punyaha, shanti, vriddhi etc." , this verse is used to invoke let there be "kalyana".

Finally if one still feels otherwise then they need to help provide reconciliation with Krishna Yajurveda Taittiriya Samhita which says- तस्मात् शुद्रोयज्ञेऽनवक्लृप्त: (Shudras don't have Vedadhikara).

As a side note, the origin of this misinterpretation was the book Satyartha Prakash written in 19th century.

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