[Advaita-l] Theory of Language: Mimamsa, Vyakarana and Advaita - 1 of 3

Siva Senani Nori sivasenani at yahoo.com
Wed Dec 9 02:38:46 CST 2015

श्रीगुरुभ्यो नमः।  Earlier, Imade a statement that "Mimamsa also has a philosophy of language so tospeak but it gets tied up in so many knots as a given issue is explored that itbecomes a hindrance than help" based on a study of Mīmāṃsā. Sri S. Venkatraghavanthen asked that the results of the study be shared. I propose to do so inthree parts: Part 1:Introduction: Why this is relevant to Advaita and introduction to the tensionbetween nityatva of Śabda on one hand and the apparent vikāras that Śabda undergoesin sandhi etc. Part 2: Mīmāṃsā'sresolution of this tension. Part 3:Problems with the resolution; comparison with Vyākaraṇa's proposed resolution;and a conclusion that Advaita is better off resorting to the Theory of Languagethat Vyākaraṇa has developed rather than depend on the Mīmāṃsā-version. This isbased, by and large, on a forthcoming paper (to be published in the next issueof the Sanskrit Academy Journal, Hyderabad) "dadhi atra is notdadhyatra" that I co-authored with my teacher Brahmaśrī Vedamūrtulu Prof.Korada Subrahmanyam garu. Part 1:Introduction As is wellknown, Śabda is held to be nitya by Mīmāṃsā (and Advaita) whereas Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika and Sāṃkhyahold it to be anitya. Why is this concept of Śabdanityatva so important? Theshort answer is to achieve pramāṇatā of Veda. Accordingto Mīmāṃsā valid knowledge is that which is not later sublated, abādhitajñānam. A bookwritten by a man could be erroneous, i.e. it may be bettered or sublated by alater writer and hence pauruṣeya works cannot be taken as valid. Veda isapauruṣeya and is therefore infallible and hence a Pramāṇa. To this, it isobjected that Veda cannot be apauruṣeya because in the beginning somebody hasto make a convention that such and such Śabda means such and such Artha, suchas gauḥ means the animal with dewlap (sāsnā) etc., and only after such aconvention is current will language, and hence Veda, become meaningful. Inother words, if Veda is to be understood by the first man, he must knowlanguage, but language was developed by men as a means of communication.Therefore, from the very fact that Veda uses language used by men, it followsthat Veda is pauruṣeya. To this, the Mīmāṃsaka's defence is that Śabda, Arthaand the relation between them (i.e. this Śabda means this Artha) occur from thetime of utpatti, i.e. all the three are "natural", i.e. they are beginningless(autpattikasūtra, 1.1.5 – it might be of interest that Bādarāyaṇa is cited as an authority in this sūtra). Theremaining part of the first Pāda of the first Adhyāya is devoted to Śabdanityatvam,1.1.6 to 1.1.25, and Vedamprāmāṇyam, 1.1.26 to 1.1.32). Kumārila gives the justificationfor the discussion (7, Śabdanityatādhikaraṇam, Ślokavārtika): "therefore, forthe sake of establishing the Veda as a Pramāṇa, Śabda is being proved to be nitya":तस्माद्वेदप्रमाणार्थं नित्यत्वमिह साध्यते ॥७, शब्दनित्यताधिकरणम्, श्लोकवार्तिकम्॥ Therefore Śabdanityatvais an important position for Advaita as well which believes in the apauruṣeyatvaof Veda. The moment we accept Śabda as nitya, we face a number of problems.First sandhi involves lopa, āgama and vikāra – all of which are modificationsof Śabda. To give an example, it is widely accepted that dadhi + atra = dadhyatra,wherein the "i" is transforming to "y". If it be so, then thequestion arises as to how nitya Śabda could transform like this. It is notmerely transformation, sometimes it is dropped (devaḥ + atra = devo'tra) and sometimes anew letter comes in. Not only that, in forming compound words, rājñaḥ puruṣaḥ becomes rājapuruṣaḥ. Indeclensions, the base "rāma" 'transforms' into twenty one differentforms such as rāmaḥ, rāmau, rāmāḥ . . . rāmeṣu. It similarly extends to conjugations (bhūtransforming into bhavati, bhavataḥ, bhavanti . . .), formation of kṛdantas (primarynominal bases), taddhitāntas (secondary nominal bases) and so on. In short,either Śabdanityatā is not valid or Vyākaraṇam, as explicated by Pāṇini, is notvalid. This then is the tension between Śabdanityatva andsandhi, samāsa etc. as seen in Vyākaraṇa. RegardsN. Siva Senani

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list