From the Jacket:
This volume of Encyclopedia of Indian philosophies is devoted to the Philosophy of Grammarians. The introductory essay summarizes the main philosophical ideas contained in grammatical works. The summaries of the main sources that follow concentrate on the Philosophical ideas contained therein, so that the philosophers who are unable to read the original Sanskrit can get an idea of the positions taken and arguments offered. Covered in this text are chapters on Metaphysics, Epistemology, Word-meaning and sentence meaning, Accounts of Vedic Literature like Yaska's Nirukta, Panini's Asthadhyayi, 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.
About the General Editor:
Karl H. Potter is Professor of Philosophy and South Asian Studies and Chairman of the Philosophy Department at the University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, U.S.A. He is General Editor of Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies, an ongoing series of work on each of the systems of India thought, in which summaries of all available works of the system are being prepared and published by scholars throughout the world.
This Volume the fifth in the Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies is devoted to the philosophy of the Grammarians. The introductory essay is intended to set their school in its context and to summarize the main Grammarian teachings. The summaries of primary sources that follow the introduction aim at making available the substance of the main philosophical ideas contained in these works, so that philosophers who are unable to read the original Sanskrit and who find difficulty in understanding and finding their way about in the translations (where such exist) can get an idea of the positions taken and arguments offered. The summaries, then, are intended primarily for philosophers and only secondarily for indologists. Certain sections of the works have been omitted or treated sketchily because they are repetitions or deemed less interesting for philosophers, though they may be of great interest to Sanskritists. The summaries are not likely to make interesting consecutive reading: they are provided in the spirit of a reference work. The appendix, which contains a lengthy bibliography of original and secondary Writings on the philosophy of Grammar, is also presented as an aid to research.
References in the footnotes such as “0273” are to the bibliography presented in the appendix. References such as “RB10337” are to the first volume of this encyclopedia, 2nd edition (1984). Abbreviations used are listed at the beginning of the appendix.
Preparation of this volume has been made possible by grants from the American Institute of Indian Studies and the University of Calgary. These grants made possible the obtaining of the summaries and funded the travel that the editorial work required. The editors wish to thank Pradip R. Mehendiratta for his good offices. A debt of gratitude is also owed to the late Professor T. R. V. Murti, who gave generously of his time in was king with Harold Coward in the volume’s planning stages. A research fellowship awarded to K. Kunjunni Raja by the Calgary Institute for the Humanities enabled the two editors to work together in completing the project. Special gratitude is due to Karl H. Potter, editor of the Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies, for his many contributions, which have added greatly to the value of this volume.
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. All 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 language as a powerful and benign deity every ready to bestow favors on her devotees. The entire creation of the world was attributed by some sages to divine language and it was generally recognized that the ordinary speech of mortals was only a fraction of that language.
Among the six accessories to the study of the Vedas two are directly concerned with language grammar or linguistic analysis and etymology or interpretation of the meanings of selected words in the Vedas through etymological methods. Another accessory metrics is concerned with prosody.
Among the systems of Indian Philosophy Purvamimamsa is called vakyasastra or the science of sentences interpretation and the Nyaya system was also intrinsically language oriented. The Buddhist and Jain schools of though have also devoted considerable attention to the working of language. Grammar and literary criticism are directly interested in language problems including semantic and philosophical issues and Grammarians have claimed the status of an independent darsana for themselves.
The Indian approach to the study of language and linguistic problems has been characterized by both analysis and synthesis. On the one hand, a systematic attempt was made to analyze speech utterance in terms of sentences and words, stems and suffixes, morphemes and phonemes. The verbal root was considered as the core element to which proverbs, primary suffixes, and secondary suffixes, as well as nominal or verbal terminations, were added to evolve the word. On the other hand, rules of coalescence (samdhi) between these various elements and between words in a compound word or a sentence were studied and systematized. Rules of syntax were also studied carefully and attempts made to identify the cementing factors helping to form an integral unit.
The analytical method was older and more pop War. The Sanskrit term for grammar, vyäkarana, means literally “linguistic analysis”. Kumarila Bhatta, in the beginning of the seventh century, said that “we cannot think of any point of time totally devoid of some work or other dealing with the grammatical rules treating of the different kinds of roots and suffixes.” Sakalya’s padapatha of the Rg Veda was one of the early attempts in the direction of analysis; he broke down the samhitá text of the Rg Veda into words, identifying even the separate elements of Compound words. The Brhaddevatâ, attributed to Saunaka, says that a sentence is made up of words, and words are made up of phonemes (varza).’ Pãnini, who flourished about the fifth century B.C., brought the descriptive grammar of the Sanskrit language to its highest perfection in his Astadhyayi, which has been praised by Leonard Bloomfield, the father of modern linguistics, as “the greatest monument of human Intelligence.” Patnini’s primary concern was the building up 0f Sanskrit words, both Vedic and classical, from verbal roots, proverbs, primary and secondary suffixes, and nominal and verbal terminations; but he was also interested in syntactic problems involved in the formation of compound words and the relationship 0f the nouns in a sentence with the action indicated by the verb. Panini did not neglect meaning, but he was aware of the fact that meaning was likely to change over time and that the final authorities regarding meaning are the people who speak the language.
It was the etymological school 0f Yaska, author of the Nirukta commentary on the ghan(u list of select words in Vedic literature, that undertook a semantic analysis 0f words with their components in order to explain their meanings in the contexts of their occurrence. This school generally subscribed- to the view that nouns are derived from verbal roots. The Undisutras follow this view and attempt to find derivations for even apparently integral words.
Mimamsa, called vakyalasira, was mainly concerned with the methodology of textual interpretation in order to give a cogent explanation 0f prescriptive scriptural texts. It had to deal with apparent absurdities, inconsistencies, and contradictions, besides ambiguities, and evolved rules of interpretation that were accepted generally by all schools of thought and were used freely in legal practice and in commentaries, The Mimãmsakas used both analysis and synthesis in their approach to textual problems. They gave a semantic definition of the sentence, evolving the concepts of mutual expectancy (dkankra), consistency (yogyata), and contiguity (asatti) as factors necessary for the existence of a sentence. It was the Mimamsa school that developed the theory of metaphor to explain the apparent absurdities and inconsistencies in Vedic texts.
The Nyaya school, mainly interested in the theory of knowledge and the truth or falsity of judgments, had to be concerned with the theory of meaning, because understanding the proposition was a primary requirement for making any significant study about it.
The literary critics who were concerned with the understanding and appreciation of literature were very much interested in the stylistic analyses of language and in finding out the deviance of literary language from ordinary language, in order to see how far poets have been able to communicate their vision of beauty and emotional experience through the medium of words.
It is clear that for centuries the various schools of thought in India have carried out studies that have produced insights into the working of language. The Grammarians’ interest was not confined to the description and analysis of a particular language, but extended to the true nature and potentialities of language, including its role in effecting liberation.
One of the fundamental problems discussed is the relation between the linguistic elements (sabda) and their meanings (artha). The term sabda is normally used by the Grammarians to refer to a linguistic eement, a meaningful unit of speech.4 Patañjali’s definition is that sabda is that which, when articulated, is seen to convey the idea of the referent. Mandana Misra defines it in his Sphotasiddhi as the cause that produces the idea of its meaning. In any case, it is the meaning bearer. I ordinary parlance people may use the word sabda to mean sound, as pointed out by Patanjali himself, but for the Grammarian it is the meaning-bearing unit.
Is it the articulated sound, or the phoneme (varna), or the word pada), or the sentence (vakya) that is referred to by the term sabda? According to the sphota theory of Bhartrhari it is the complete utterance the sentence that is the unit, and it is called vakyasphoja; but at a lower analytical level the word can be considered as the unit, for which the term padasphota is used by the Grammarian. Those who know the language very well think and speak in units of sentences and also hear whole sentences. It is only those who d0 not know the language properly who hear words or phonemes or bits of sounds and have to struggle with them to get the connected sentence meaning. But in grammatical texts the words are taken as the unit for the sake of easy understanding.
This view is not acceptable to the Mimamsakas, who consider the letter (permanent articulated sound-unit) or phoneme (varna) to be the sabda or unit of language and the meaning bearer. They assume phonemes to be permanent and each utterance to be their realization. To the Naiyäyikas sabda means sound produced by the speaker and heard by the listener, and it is impermanent; pada means a morpheme (meaningful unit).
What is meant by artha or meaning? Is it the universal that is intended, or the particular? According to Kãtyãyana and Patanjali, two different positions were held by two ancient Grammarians, Vyadi and Vajapyayana, the former holding that words refer to dravya, ‘substance” or “individual”, and the latter holding that words (including proper names) refer to jail, “universal” or ‘‘attribute”. Papini seems to have left the question open, holding that words could refer to individuals or to the universals. The Mimamsakas held that the primary meaning of a word is the universal arid the sense of the particular in a sentence is obtained either through secondary significative power (according to Bhata Mimamsakas) or through both the universal and the particular being grasped by the same perceptive effort simultaneously (according to the Prabhakaras). The early Naiyayikas considered the meaning of words as comprising universal (jail), configuration (akrti), and particular;5 later Naiyayikas held that the primary meaning of words is the individual as qualified by the universal. The Buddhists of Dignaga’s school held that the meaning is vikalpa, a mental construct that has no direct correspondence with the real, its nature being to exclude other things (anyapoha). The function of a word or a name is the exclusion of other possibilities.
The significative power of words (sakti) is based on the relation that exists between a word and its meaning. The Grammarians hold that in the case of ordinary words in everyday speech it is permanent; but in the case of technical terms it is based on the convention. The Mimamsakas consider the relation as “original” (autpattika), that is, as permanent or eternal. The Grammarians explain this permanence in two ways: pravahanityata and yogyatanityata. We learn language from our elders; they in turn learned it from their forefathers; thus it could be traced back to any conceivable period of human society. This type of permanence is pravahanityata. The other view is based on the innate capacity of words to express any meaning; this capacity (yogyata) is restricted by convention. Patanjali made a distinction between absolute eternality (kutasthani4yata), by which an item is not liable to any modification, and the perennial nature as used through generations of speakers (pravahanityata).
It is generally believed that in an ideal language a word must have only one meaning, and a sense must have only one word to express it. This binary relationship between a word and its meaning is accepted in principle by all schools of thought. It is also believed that this relationship, which i5 the basis for the significative power of words, is stable and constant because linguistic communication would be imposible without it. If there is no general understanding of the meaning of words shared by the speaker and listener there will be chaos and mutual comprehension will be jeopardized.
The existence of polysemy is recognized in actual practice, however. Two words ma” have the same form, and the same word may develop more than one meaning. The problem of homophones and homonyms been discussed by scholars like Bhartrhari. Yaska’s discussion about the principle of word derivation in Sanskrit also sheds considerable light on the problem of synonyms. Nouns are normally derived fl-nm verbal roots. If all nouns are so derived from verbal roots denoting action, every object will have as many names as the actions with which it is associated, and by the same token each noun could be applied to as many objects as are associated with that action indicated by that verbal root. Yãska’s answer to the problem is that there are no restrictions. Language designates things in an incomplete manner; it can choose only one 0f the many activities associated with an object. Hence there is some sort of permanent relation between a word and its meaning.
It is accepted that even the primary meaning 0f a word is not definitely circumscribed and that the boundaries of the meaning often change on the basis of contextual factors, not only in the case of ambiguous words but even in that of ordinary words: thus “man is mortal” does not mean “woman is immortal”; but in the phrase “man and woman”, “man” does not include “woman”. When there is conflict between the correct etymological meaning and the popular usage, the meaning current in popular usage among the educated elite is to be accepted. Grammatical analysis and etymological interpretations are only means of approach; the final authority is the popular usage of the cultured.
Even though it is accepted that every word has a primary stable meaning core, in actual practice shifts in meaning, metaphoric transfers, and secondary usages are quite common. If there is discrepancy in sense when the primary meaning is taken, the passage will have to be explained by resorting to the secondary meaning. There are three conditions considered necessary for resorting to secondary meaning. The first, is inconsistency or incongruity of the words taken in the literal sense. A sentence like “He is an ass” or “He is a firebrand” cannot be taken in the literal sense because the human being referred to cannot be an animal or an inanimate object. A sentence like “The house is in the river” does not make sense, because a house cannot exist in the river. In such cases the primary meaning of the word has to be given up and another meaning used. The second condition is that the actual meaning and the primary meaning must be related in some way; it may be on the basis of similarity or common quality or it may be on the basis of some other relationship like proximity. The example “He is an ass” can be explained if the term “ass” is interpreted as “a fool” (as the donkey is notorious for its dullness). The example of the house on the river has to be explained by taking “river” to mean the bank of the river on the basis of proximity. The third condition for resorting to secondary significance is either sanction by popular usage, as in the case of faded metaphors, or a special purpose for which it is resorted to, as in the case of intentional metaphors. The inconsistency 0f primary meaning can mean impossibility of syntactic connection from the point of view of meaning, or it can mean inconsistency in the context. As an example, in “see that crows do not spoil the curd” “crows” implies all beings, including a dog, who might spoil it.
Literary critics like Anandavardhana proposed the element 0f purpose in intentional metaphors and pointed out its importance in enriching literature’s content.
How can we get a connected meaning from a sentence if each word gives only its isolated sense, which is of a universal nature? This problem has been discussed in India since ancient times, and three main factors have been pointed out as unifying of sentence meaning: expectancy consistency and contiguity. Words in a sentence must have mutual expectancy. Pãnini hinted as much when he stressed the need for samarthya or capacity along the meanings of words for mutual connection, mainly in compound words.6 This sdmart4ya has been interpreted as similar to akanksã or mutual expectancy and unity of sense. Later the Mimamsakas developed this concept, and the logicians made further modifications. Mutual expectancy consists in a word being unable to convey a complete sense in the absence of another word. Literally it is the desire on the part of the listeners to know the other words in the sentence in order to complete the sense. A word is said to have expectancy for another if it cannot, without the latter, produce knowledge of its interconnection in an utterance. The Mimimsakas were more interested in psychological expectancy, while the logicians and the Grammarians stressed the need for syntactic expectancy.
To this primary condition were added two more, yogyata or consistency of sense and asatti or the contiguity of the words. Grammarians did not emphasize the importance of yogyata for to them it is enough for a sentence to give a syntactically connected meaning. Its veracity is not a condition. From the Grammarian’s point of view laksanã, secondary meaning, is also of little interest. “He is a boy” and ‘He is an ass” are equally valid for them. Even empty phrases like “the child of a barren woman” are linguistically valid to them, for Grammarians are not concerned -uh the real existence of the thing meant by an expression. Yogyata involves a judgment on the sense or nonsense of a sentence. There is difference of opinion about whether it should be taken as a positive condition. If the lack of yogyata inconsistency-is only apparent and can be explained away by resorting to the metaphorical meaning of a word in the sentence, there is no difficulty in understanding the sentence’s meaning.
Asatti or contiguity is the uninterrupted utterance or the unbroken apprehension of the words in a sentence. In the case of elliptical sentences, one school believes that the syntactic relation is known by supplying the necessary meaning, while another school insists that the missing words have to be supplied and the meaning obtained. Some take tatparya, the intention of the speaker known from contextual factors, as a fourth condition for understanding the meaning of a sentence.
Regarding the comprehension of the sentence meaning there are two main theories, called anvitabhidhana and abhihitãnvaya. Speech is purposive in nature. People use words with the intention of conveying a connected, unified sense. Hence from the use of words in juxtaposition is assumed that the speaker has uttered them with the intention of conveying a connected sense. Expectancy, consistency, and continuity help in this comprehension of a unified sentence meaning. The sentence meaning is something more than the sum of the word meanings. Besides the word meanings, the syntactic connection of the word meanings has to he conveyed. The abhihitãnvaya theory says that in a sentence each word gives out its individual isolated meaning (which is universal) and their significative power is exhausted with that. Then with the help of 1ak1a,ã (secondary significative power) the syntactic relationship is obtained, and thus the sentence meaning is understood. According to the ancnabhidhana school, by contrast, each word in a sentence conveys not only its isolated meaning but also the syntactic element. The words convey the meaning of the universal and simultaneously the meaning as referring to the particular. The words themselves also give the syntactic relationship. Thus the entire sentence meaning is conveyed by the words themselves. The Naiyayikas, who believe that the words in a sentence denote primary meanings that are particulars as qualified by universal traits, contend that the sentence meaning is an association of the word meanings
Even in ancient India there were some scholars who emphasized the unreal nature of words and advocated the need for taking the sentence as a whole. In the Nirukta Yaska refers to Audumbarayana’s theory that it is the statement as a whole that is regularly present in the perceptive faculty of the hearer.’ The sphota theory, fully promulgated by Bhartrhari in the fifth century of the Christian era, is one of the most important contributions of India to the problem of meaning. He insisted that the fundamental linguistic fad is the complete utterance or sentence. Just as a letter or a phoneme has no parts, so also the word and the sentence are to be taken as complete integral units, not as made up of smaller elements. Bhart1hari says that although linguistic analysis—splitting sentences into words and further into roots and suffixes and into phonemes—may be a useful means for studying language, it has no reality. In a speech situation, communication is always through complete utterances. The speaker thinks and the listener understands the utterance as a single unit. It is only those who do not know the language thoroughly who analyze it into words, and further bits, in order to get a connected meaning. Those who know the language will conceive the idea and the expression as a single unit and express it; and the listener likewise comprehends it as a whole, the understanding is as an instantaneous flash of insight (pratibha). The fact that the expression has to be through the medium of phonemes, through a temporal or spatial series, does not warrant our considering it as made up of parts. When a painter conceives a picture in his mind and paints it on a canvas, he may use various colors, and make various strokes; that does not mean that the picture is not a unit. And we see the picture as a unit, not as different colors and strokes. Just as the meaning is unitary, integral, and indivisible, the symbol that signifies it must also be unitary and indivisible. This concept is called sphota—the sentence taken as an integral symbol, in which its apparent parts are irrelevant to it as parts. It is not something hypothetically assumed to explain language behavior; it is actually experienced and known through perception. On hearing a sentence those who know tile language well hear the sentence, not the phonemes or sound bits or even words. Those who do not know the language may hear only the sound bits. The sphota theory says that hearing the whole sentence is the real experience, while the apparent experience of hearing the sound bits is only for those who do not know the language.
It may he noted that even the so-called unity of meaning is often an illusion, for it is the language that makes the unity. Yaska in the fifth century B.C. and, following him, Bhartrhari in the fifth century of the Christian era have pointed out that a verb conveys a series of operations or activities taking place in a particular temporal sequence. Thus the word “cooks” conveys the idea of a series of activities— preparing the fire, putting the vessel on it, pouring water in the vessel, washing the rice, putting it in the water, blowing the fire to make it burn properly, putting out the fire, removing the excess water, and so on. It is the word ‘‘cooks’’ that collects all of these activities into a unitary, integral action. Each of these activities can be further analyzed into a series 0f activities taking place in time.
Later philosophers of language made further componential analysis of words from the semantic point of view and declared that every verbal root (dhatu) involved two semantic factors, activity (vyapara) and goal or result (phala). The verb “he cooks” means an activity directed toward the softening of the rice, and so forth. There is a difference of opinion about whether both arc primary meanings of the verbal root or one can be taken as the main meaning and the other as subsidiary. The verb was divided into the root and the suffix, and separate meaning bits assigned to them. Maidana Misra said that the meaning of the root is the result, and it is the suffix that indicates the activity. With the addition of proverbs the meaning changes considerably in Sanskrit, and there have been discussions of whether all the meanings are present in a latent form in the root, to be revealed by the prolverbs, or these proverbs can be assigned specific meanings.
The theory of literal (primary) and metaphoric (secondary) meaning developed by the Nyaya and Mimamsa schools of sentence interpretation in ancient India was extended farther by Anandavardhana in the second half of the ninth century to include emotive and other associative meanings under linguistic meaning. He did not attack the usual division of speech into words into stems and suffixes and the distinction between the primary and secondary meanings of words. He accepted all of these concepts but in addition he postulated a third capabililty of language which he called vyanjana or the capacity to suggest meaning other than its literal or metaphoric meaning. Anandvardhana pointed out that his suggestive function of language has a vital role to play in literature.
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