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Lectures on Grammarians

Indian texts in historical context seminar: Pandits and Sanskrit grammarians in 16th and 17th century north India

Dr James Benson
7 May 2004

Related: Grammarians, Text

Yoga and vyaakarana

Shivdasani Seminar
Professor Ashok Aklujkar
12 May 2005

Related: Grammarians, Philosophy, Yoga

Philosophy's linguistic turn

Shivdasani Lecture
Professor Ashok Aklujkar
12 May 2005

Related: Buddhism, Grammarians, Philosophy

The "Hindu" Goddess and Indian modernity

Professor Sumathi Ramaswamy
15 May 2008

Related: Gender, Goddesses, Grammarians, Hindu Theology, Iconography, Modern India

Ontological Issues in Samhita

Shivdasani Seminar
Dr Piyali Palit
13 Nov 2008

In Indian tradition, oral transmission of the Veda unfolds the mystery of perfect linguistic behaviour, i.e., maintaining formal contiguity of syllabic structures or ‘ekavakyata’ and thereby avoiding possibilities of ‘arthabheda’ or misunderstanding. Reasons for such linguistic structure have been well expressed in Taittiriya Aranyaka followed by the vedangas, namely, siksa, pratisakhya, vyakarana and nirukta. Illustrations in these texts reveal the fact that well-formed syllabic structures, learnt and pronounced in a fixed order, traditionally known as ‘krama’ or ‘anupurvi’ delivers the intended meaning as well as maintain the sanctity or authenticity of the Veda. Varna-s or aksara-s happen to be the micro units. On pronunciation in contiguity they form a string known as vakya, which also encases pada-s or short strings of varna-s. Formation of such syllabic strings has been noted as samhita, sandhi or santana in Taittiriiya Aaranyaka followed by Rk-pratisakhya and nirukta. In this context we may also quote the Panini-sutra– ‘parah sannikarsah samhita’. Paninian grammar expresses an algorithm of these syllabic forms in about 4000 sutra-s or operative rules composed as short strings. Narration of Mahesvara-sutra-s and discussions in Paspasha-kanda of the Mahabhasya distinctly expresses the motive and analytic mode of scanning sabda available in the Bhasa. While the Mahesvara-sutras display formal conjugation of varna-s, the vartika – ‘siddhe sabdarthasambandhe’ – brings forth nature of sabda, artha and their sambandha in contguity, which was presumably taken up by Bhartrhari on exposition of Paniniiya-darsana at a later stage (ref. Sad-darshanasamuccaya by Haribhadra Suri).

Related: Grammarians, Philosophy, Veda

Ontology of Bhartrhari

Shivdasani Seminar
Dr Piyali Palit
20 Nov 2008

In Bhartrhari, we find the only exception who delves into explaining nature of mantra-s. He formalizes the Mantrabhaga through his unique theory of aksara-brahman or Sabdadvaita without violating the cardinal form of ekavakyata in tune with the traditionalists view. He spells this ‘linguistic contiguity’ through statements like ‘anadi-nidhanam brahma sabdadvaitam yadaksaram’ etc. The concept of aksara unfolded in Paniniya-Varttika and Mahabhasya is also found to be very much relevant in the context of Bhartrhari’s Sabdadvaitavada.

In the Brahmakanda of Vakyapadiya, he illustrates the algorithm of mantras lying in eternity as Para Vak, revealed to the Rsi-s through Yogaja pratyaksa or supersensory perception. At the pasyanti level their experience consumed (sphutya/sphota-bhava; while at the madhyama level these were stuffed in forms as grahya/grahaka which was considered to be transformation or parinama of Para Vak. These cognitive forms, while articulated through physical verbal organ, gained the status of vaikhari. The word ‘Veda’ itself reveals the truth as stated. The empirical world, both internal and external, are wrapped up in this form and remain to be identical with sabda, although referred to as padartha or artha in terms of their jnana-visayata and vyavahara-visayata. Asara-Brahma in assistance with Kalashakti presents them as real entities though padarthas are nothing but vivarta, illusory perception of shell-silver or rope-snake.

Related: Grammarians, Philosophy