Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies Vol. 5

The Philosophy of the Grammarians, Potter, Karl, Panini, Nagesa Bhatta, Bhartrhari, Motilal Banarsidass, Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies, Pages: 621, Hardcover, Dust jacket, English, Year: 2001, Bulgaria

Covered in this text are chapters on Metaphysics, Epistemology, Word-meaning and Sentence meaning, accounts of Vedic literature like Yaska`s Nirukta, Panini`s Astadhyayi, Patanjali`s Mahabhasya and 80 other accounts. An exhaustive bibliography of original and secondary writings on the philosophy of grammar is included. Cumulative Index is also given. Bhartrhari, Mandanamisra, Kondabhatta and Nagesa have been dealt with at length.

1 item/s

This volume of the monumental reference series being prepared under the general editorship of Karl Potter provides summaries of the main works in the Grammarian tradition of Indian philosophy. Describing the functions of language on different levels, from ordinary empirical speech to the poetic intuition of the divine, the Grammarians sought to demonstrate that the correct grammatical use of language and the devotional chanting of mantras are ways of moving from lower to higher stages of knowledge and self-realization. This work gives special emphasis to the thought of Bhartrhari, the great systematizer of the Grammarian philosophy. For those unacquainted with Indian philosophy, the editors' introduction provides an explanation of the basic concepts found in the Grammarian texts.

Grammarian thought is based on the Vedas, and the writings of Panini, Patanjali, Bhartrhari, and others develop implicit Vedic ideas about language and its function. Their works combine a grammatical analysis of Sanskrit language with a philosophy that takes language as divine.

(pp. 3-32) 

Language has been one of the fundamental concerns of Indian philosophy and has attracted the serious attention of all thinkers from the outset. In India the study of language has never been the monopoly of the Grammarians or the Rhetoricians. AU schools of thought began their philosophical discussions from the fundamental problem of communication. The poet-philosophers of the Rg Veda were greatly concerned with the powers and limitations of language as a means of communicating their mystic, personal experiences of an ecstatic nature to their fellows and they tried to stretch the power of language by various means. They praised...

 (pp. 33-50)

The goal of the Indian Grammarians’ philosophy, which we here call vyākaraṇa, is not mere intellectual knowledge, but direct experience of ultimate truth. Knowledge of grammar resulting in correct speech not only conveys meaning but also enables one to “see” reality. This is the philosophical meaning of the Indian term darshana, which literally means “sight”. It is this feature that sets Indian philosophy apart from modern western perspectives on language. Vyakarana not only addresses itself to the analysis of grammatical rules (though that is certainly important) or to theorizing about the way speech conveys meaning (though that too is achieved),...

 (pp. 51-62)

Recent western thought has focused much attention on the relation between language and knowledge, but it has consistently taken a narrower perspective than vyākaranawould accept. Within the contemporary school of linguistic philosophy, language seems to be restricted to the printed word and then analyzed for a one-to-one correspondence with objective reality. While the computer-like functions of language must be highly respected, modem linguists and philosophers often seem to consign all other dimensions of the word to the unreality of a mystic’s silence.¹ Emst Cassirer has taken a much broader perspective including the natural sciences, the humanities, and all hum...

 (pp. 63-82)

Significative power (śakti) is defined as the relation that exists between a word (śabda) and its meaning (artha). This relation is considered to be permanent and stable, so that linguistic discourse be possible. The Naiyayikas consider this significative power to be conventional, having been established by the will of God. The Grammarians consider the relation to be based on the superimposition of one on the other, creating a sort of identity, one evoking the other. The Buddhist Logicians also consider that there is a causal relation between a word and its meaning. This relation is primary denotative power and is...

 (pp. 83-98)

Those who believe that a sentence is made up of words, each with an independent meaning of its own, will have to explain how a connected and cogent meaning is understood from the sentence. This problem has been discussed by all schools of thought in India, and various theories have evolved. Mīmāmsā, the vākyaśāstra, takes a lead in this field. Bhartrhari too has discussed various aspects of the problem and made his observations, though his final view is that the partless sentence is the unit of utterance.

Panini uses the term vākya in the general sense of an utterance...

Author :
Potter, Karl
Co-authors :
  • Bhartrhari
  • Nagesa Bhatta
  • Panini
  • Coward, Harold K.
  • Kunjunni Raja
Place :
  • Delhi
Publisher :
Motilal Banarsidass
Series :
Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies
Pages :
  • 8120804260
  • Hardcover
  • Dust jacket
Language :
  • English
Year :
Condition :
Ships from :
This collaborative work - the fifth volume in the Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies under the general editorship of Karl H. Potter - contains contributions by Ashok Aklujkar, John G. Arapura, S. R. Bannerjee, S. D. Joshi, Shoryu Katsura, G. B. Palsule, Karl H. Potter, V. K. S. N. Raghavan, and K. A. Subramania Iyer as well as by the two editors. The book is divided into three major parts.

The first - "Introduction to the Philosophy of the Grammarians," by Harold G. Coward and K. Kunjunni Raja - is itself divided into five sections: historical resume, metaphysics, epistemology, word meaning, sentence meaning. Part two ("Survey of the Literature of Grammarian Philosophy," pp. 101-432) begins with sections on philosophical elements in Vedic literature (John G. Arapura and K. Kunjunni Raja), Yaska's Nirukta, Panini's Astadhyayi, and Patanjali's Mahabhasya (K. Kunjunni Raja) and continues with eighty sections devoted to various authors and their works. There follows a bibliography on grammar, compiled by Karl H. Potter, which is divided into three parts: authors whose dates are (more or less) known, authors and works whose dates are unknown, secondary literature on vyakarana. A section of notes and a cumulative index complete the work. In a preface, the editors explain that their introductory essay on the philosophy of grammarians "is intended to set their school in its context and to summarize the main Grammarian teachings." As for the summaries of works, these "are intended primarily for philosophers and only secondarily for indologists," so that some sections of works - deemed repetitious or of minor interest to philosophers - are omitted. The introductory section meets the criteria set forth by its authors: the reader is introduced to the general principles and procedures of grammarians as well as views on language and grammar held by Mimamsakas, Naiyayikas, Buddhist logicians, and Alankarikas.

The sections in the main survey vary considerably, which is only to be expected. As noted above, the first four sections survey philosophical elements in various works. In addition, this section contains summaries of the contents of grammatical texts, and these too necessarily differ in length and detail. For example, Aklujkar's summary of Bhartrhari's Vakyapadiya, S. D. Joshi's summaries of Kaundabhatta's Vaiyakaranabhusana and Vaiyakaranabhusanasara, K. Kunjunni Raja's summary of Nagesabhatta's Paramalaghumanjusa, and G.B. Palusule's summaries of the Sphotatattvanirupana, Sphotasiddhi, and Sphotacandrika reflect the extent of each work dealt with. On the other hand, some very long works are dealt with quite briefly because their contents do not lend themselves to be described in the same way as the contents of the texts just mentioned. Thus, S. R. Bannerjee and K. Kunjunni Raja deal with Kaiyata's Pradipa on the Mahabhasya in less than two pages. In still other instances, the length of the summary appears to reflect a contributor's conciseness. This seems true of K. A. Subramania Iyer's treatment of the Sphotasiddhigopalika. Finally, the main section of this book includes quite a few entries--in fact, about two-thirds of the total - that consist of nothing more than brief mentions of authors, dates, and works, and each such entry is given on a separate page, with blank pages between it and the preceding and following entries. For example, the entries for P. S. Anantarnarayana Sastri (no. 74, p. 409) and Brahmadeva (no. 75, p. 411) are respectively: "A recognized scholar who wrote a work on Grammar titled Vakyatattva. His dates are 1885-1947" and "Brahmadeva wrote his Vaiyakaranasiddhantamanjusa in 1943." In any such large collaborative effort, one is bound to find some inconsistency. For example, Aklujkar uses "signified" and "cosignified" to render vacya and dyotya, but S. D. Joshi remarks: "Konda Bhatta following Patanjali and Bhartrhari, maintains that both preverbs and particles are suggestive (dyotaka) and not independently denotative (vacaka)"; and in the index the entry dyotaka is followed by "See suggestive meaning."

As the editors note in their preface, the summaries in the present volume are intended mainly for philosophers, and I think it fair to say that readers who are not intimately acquainted with the original texts could be puzzled or misled by renditions such as "suggestive meaning." To be sure, grammarians like Nagesa do indeed link their acceptance of linguistic units that are dyotaka and associated meanings that are dyotya with the acceptance of suggestion (vyanjana) in addition to a primary signifying relation (sakti) and a secondary metaphoric relation (laksana). Nevertheless, Nagesa also explicitly says that being a dyotaka consists in bringing out a primary signifying capacity that resides in a term that is uttered together with the cosignifying term. To paraphrase the pertinent statement of the Paramalaghumanjusa, saying "the nipatas suggest the power existing in words that are uttered along with them" is, I think, not calculated to bring out clearly to a nonspecialist just what Nagesa is claiming. A verb like bhu 'be, become' is listed in Panini's Dhatupatha, which does not also include combinations such as anu-bhu 'experience'. In order to account for the syntax associated with the latter--as in anubhuyate sukham 'happiness is experienced' - without listing a separate transitive complex anu-bhu, the simple verb is treated as having also the meaning of the complex, but to have this meaning expressed requires the use of the preverb anu, which serves as a cosignifier. The term "cosignifier" is, I think, preferable to "suggestive" in that it conveys what grammarians from Katyayana on intended and corresponds precisely to the definition given by Nagesa. There are other instances of terminology which, in my opinion, are less than felicitous. For example, Aklujkar uses "aspect" to render upagraha. It would, I think, have been preferable to use a term such as "diathesis," since upagraha refers to differences associated with the use of atmanepada and parasmaipada affixes.

As the author of a critical bibliography on Panini, I can understand the effort which has gone into compiling the bibliographies and lists of authors in the work under review, and I think readers will profit from these. I also cannot honestly refrain from noting that this aspect of the work leaves something to be desired. For example, under "KONDA or KAUNDA BHATTA (1630), I do not find any reference to two recent editions of the Vaiyakaranabhusana: Brhadvaiyakaranabhusanam ... edited with 'Rupali' notes and appendix by Pt. Manudeva Bhattacharya (Varanasi: Chowkhamba Amarabharati Prakashan, 1985); Kaunda Bhatta's Vaiyakaranabhusanam ... vol. 1, edited by Dr. Vidya Niwas Misra (Delhi, Varanasi: Bharatiya Vidya Prakashan, 1987). Under "NAGESA or NAGOJI BHATTA (1714)", no editions of the Vaiyakaranasiddhantamanjusa are listed, although this version of the Manjusa has recently been edited twice: Vaiyakaranasiddhantamanjusa by Nagesa Bhatta, edited by Dr. Kalika Prasad Sukla (Varanasi: Sampurnanand Sanskrit Vishvavidyalaya, 1977); Nagesa Bhatta's Vaiyakaranasiddhantamanjusa, edited by Kapil Der Shastri (Kurukshetra: Vishal Publications, 1985). Nor is there an entry for V. B. Bhagavat's edition and Marathi translation of the Paramalaghumanjusa: Paramalaghumanjusa (Bhasecya svarupaci tattvika bhumika mamdanara Nagesabhatta-likhita-gramtha), bhaga pahila (mula va marathi anuvada) (Pune: Poona University, 1984). Note also that a commentary by Pt. Peri Suryanarayanasastri on parts of the Laghumanjusa has appeared recently: Nagesabhavaprakasah (Nagesakrtalaghumanjusayam dhatvarthanipatarthayoh vyakhya; Nagesakrtalaghumanjusayam subarthavade prathamadvitiyarthavicarau) (Tirupati: Dr. Peri Subbarayan, 1987, 1988).

Again, under "ASADHARA BHATTA (1770?)", three works are listed, with references for two editions of the Trivenika, and an article by U. P. Shah concerning Asadhara and his works is also referred to. However, no mention is made of another work on semantics, the Kovidananda, edited by Kalika Prasad Shukla--who also edited the Trivenika--in the journal Sarasvati Susama (16.3-4 |samvat 2018/19~). Some of these editions may have appeared so close to the time that the manuscript for the work under review was submitted that they could not be consulted, but this cannot excuse the absence of reference to all of them. The information given concerning authors also reflects less than full diligence or knowledge. For example, the historical resume contains a checklist of authors and works, including dates and places for each author. Under "Sabhapati Sarman" the date given is 1963, a question mark appears under "Place," and under "Title" is listed "Paramalaghumanjusaratnaprabha." The date in question is the publication date for Pt. Sabhapati Sarma Upadhyaya's edition of part of the Vaiyakaranasiddhantalaghumanjusa (not the Paramalaghumanjusa) with Sabhapati's Ratnaprabha. Moreover, Sabhapati also composed a commentary (Laksmi) on Bhattojidiksita's Vaiyakaranasiddhantamanjusa (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1966), which was edited by his student Balakrsna Pancoli. The introduction to this work (vol. I, pp. 2-4), gives information concerning the life of Sabhapati: he was born in v.s. 1937 in Ballia District and died in A.D. 1964.

The practice of giving the dates on which works were published as the dates for modern authors also has some curious results. Thus, the same checklist gives 1952 and 1970 respectively as the dates for Rama Prasada Tripathi and Raghunatha Sarma, although the latter--who died in 1989 in his 90th year - was the former's teacher.

In addition, part 2 of the bibliography has the following entry: "RAGHUNATHA SASTRI VAIYAKARANA Laghutika on Nagesa Bhatta's Paribhasendusekhara." In fact, however, the author in question is Raghunatha Sarma, writing under one of several names he used, so that his dates are not unknown, and the title of the work is Laghujutika.

The general introduction and several of the longer summaries of works contained in this volume should be of use to nonspecialists interested in learning about the philosophy of Indian grammarians and the background for their ideas. The bibliography also can be consulted with profit, although deficiencies such as those I have noted obviously call for caution on the part of readers. 
Write a review