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

Siva Senani Nori sivasenani at yahoo.com
Fri Dec 11 06:07:21 CST 2015

In the earlier posts, it was pointed out that schoolswhich hold Śabda to be nitya, treat the various apparent modifications duringsandhi etc., not as modifications but as different Śabdas altogether. This postexplores the differences between the Mīmāṃsā and Vyākaraṇa schools andcritiques the Mīmāṃsā position.

 The difference arises from the difference about thenature of Artha - the thing denoted by Śabda. For a Mīmāṃsaka, Artha is real, bāhyārthaḥ,whereas for a Vaiyākaraṇa, it is conceptual, i.e. it is in the mind, bauddhārthaḥ.It will be observed that this is a very deep difference – it defines thephilosophies of both schools. So, if Śabda, Artha and their Relation are allnitya, than we have to arrive at the position that Artha is nitya. This is apatently absurd position, for things like cows and pots could not possibly benitya. The Mīmāṃsaka's answer is that Śabda denotes not the vyakti, theindividual or particular, but jāti, genus or universal, which is nitya. For theVaiyākaraṇa, Śabdas sometimes denote jāti (such as in the sentence brāhmaṇo nahantavayaḥ) and vyakti at other times (say, in gāmānaya). At any rate, both areconcepts, i.e. ideas in one's mind. There is no need for either the jāti orvyakti to be real; or put, differently, whatever be the degree of reality (pāramārthika,vyāvahārika or prātibhāsika) of Artha, it does not matter. The Mīmāṃsaka doesnot accept the pāramārthika level of reality and different sub-schools within Mīmāṃsātreat erroneous knowledge (i.e. the prātibhāsika-artha) differently. Now, in Mīmāṃsāwe arrive at the position that jāti is nitya, For Advaita and Vyākaraṇa, thisis so, upto a point, but they visualize a situation where jāti is not there,during pralaya and sṛṣṭi, which the Mīmāṃsaka denies. Not having a role increation, sustenance (i.e. disseminating the just fruits of each jīva's karma)and dissolution, Īśvara is so emasculated that many describe Mīmāṃsā as nirīśvaravāda.To summarize the situation, the "realism" of Mīmāṃsā wedded to theposition of Śabdanityatva requires Mīmāṃsā to not recognize sṛṣṭi, Īśatvam of Īśvaraand pralaya and requires it to "explain away" hundreds of Śruti-sentencesdealing with the above topics. This is one strand.

 The other pertains to language proper. We have beensaying that "dadhy" is a different Śabda, but is it a sādhuśabda (aproper word)? The answer, of course, is that it is not a proper word. Kumārilaknows this and explains it away, using a technique of Vyākaraṇam itself, itmust be admitted. This discussion comes up in Vākyādhikaraṇam of Ślokavārtika,where the opponent asks as to what the word-boundary is in"dadhyatra". 

 तदुच्यते पदच्छेदे तदपभ्रंशतां व्रजेत्। 

संहिताविषये चास्य स्मर्यते साधुशब्दता ॥२१८॥

एतस्मिंस्तु प्रतीमोऽर्थमगृहीतावधावपि। 

तेनावच्छिद्यमानेऽपि पदे भेदोऽर्थभेदतः ॥२१९॥

ज्ञायते चावधिस्तत्र व्यञ्जनान्तो न तूच्यते। 

दधिशब्दावबोध्यत्वान्नित्यं नित्यसमासवत् ॥२२॰॥

It is being answered. If we split dadhyatra,it would become incorrect. The correct form has been taught only when it is inclose proximity (218). In this situation we understand the meaning even thoughthe limit (of word) is not known. Therefore, even though dadhyatra is notsplit into words there is difference due to difference of meaning (219). Or,the limit is known; the word ends in a consonant but is not spelt out (Śiṣṭaslike Kumārila never use apaśabdas and so the word "dadhy" will not bespelt out), because like in a Nityasamāsa, it is always understood as dadhi.


If word-boundary is not known, itis a shortcoming of the Śāstra which vows to teach proper forms of words. If wetake the other explanation, a different problem results. Nityasamāsas are aspecial, limiting case in Vyākaraṇam where a dissolution of the compound word isnot available. For instance, consider the word rathārūḍhaḥ. It is resolved or dissolved as ratham ārūḍhaḥ, one who has mounted achariot. But a similar resolution is not possible with khaṭvārūḍhaḥ, a nityasamāsa, which means "a despicableperson"; however when the same constituents are connected in a sentence,and not a compound word, as khaṭvām ārūḍhaḥ, the meaning of "one who is ona cot" obtains. That is the same constituents when connected in a samāsadenote censure, but not so otherwise. Therefore, if we try a vigrahavākya, themeaning is changed: this, then, is the position with nityasamāsas: a specialand narrow category, where the constituents cannot be spelt out. However, aspecial case is now applied very widely, as sandhi is indeed very wide, makingthe Śāstra inadequate in a very wide domain.


It does not end there. If ikoyaṇaci is a niyamasūtra,and not a vidhisūtra, as Vaiyākaraṇas hold, almost all the vidhisūtras of Vyākaraṇawould have to be re-designated as niyamasūtras, a very awkward position.Further, Sūtras like theinterpretative rule ṣaṣṭhī sthāne yogā 1.1.49 needs to be explained in avery convoluted manner. This Sūtra is used to interpret other Sūtras in Vyākaraṇam.It means that a word in genitive (in a Vyākaraṇasūtra) denotes "in theplace of". Thus, in iko yaṇaci, the first word ikaḥ being inthe genitive singular, should be understood to denote "in the place ofiK" – (the rest of the Sūtra is "yaṆ is substituted, when avowel, aC, follows"). In the Mīmāṃsā view "in the placeof" cannot be the meaning of the genitive, rather, it should indicate thegeneral form which will be substituted by its exception when the said rightcontext obtains. It is quite difficult to read such a meaning into "sthāneyogā", and would require a series of progressively more fantasticinterpretations. Kumārila does not get to this level in his discussion of theissue, but if a Mīmāṃsaka were to answer the question, it would be along thelines of "the yoga talked about in the Sūtra is not of the Ādeśa asVaiyākaraṇas say, but it is of the Apavāda (dadhya) to the general form(dadhi)". If this approach is taken to its logical end, Aṣṭādhyāyīwould not be left with any vācyārtha,and every sūtra would have to torturouslyinterpreted. The problem with such an approach is that it is in contraventionof the nyāya of Mīmāṃsā that a vidhivākya only denotes its vācyārtha and never lakṣaṇā or secondary meaning. This difficulty cannot be escaped bysaying that Vyākaraṇaśāstra is full of niyamasūtras, because niyamas are also vidhis. 


Then,another problem arises. If "dadhy" is a word, what would be itsmeaning? It cannot mean "curds" because Śiṣṭas do not use it in thatsense (they do not even utter it, where is the question of assigning ameaning?) Kumārila then derives meaning on the basis of sāmya, similarity, insounds. किञ्चिदंशसमानंहि तदर्थं तत्पदान्तरम् ॥२२१, वाक्याधिकरणम्, श्लोकवार्तिकम्॥ (If a small part is same, then the other word (related to agiven word) has the same meaning as the given word). To be sure, this is avalid technique mentioned in the Nirukta, but then again a special,narrow-range device ends up being used in a very wide domain. So Mīmāṃsārequires a distorted explanation of not only Vyākaraṇa but Nirukta as well.  


Incontrast the resolution offered by the Vaiyākaraṇa is very simple. Thesubstitution happens in the mind, though dadhi atra and dadhyatraare in reality two different Śabdas. Such an interpretation does not requireother Sūtras like ṣaṣṭhī sthāne yogā 1.1.49 to be interpreted anydifferently.


Due tospace constraints, the mental substitution method of Vyākaraṇa is not beingelaborated but only one sūtra 3.4.86 eruḥ would be cited as an example. The meaning of this sūtra is: In the place of i of the third-person,singular in present tense (bhavati) is substituted u to get thethird person, singular of the imperative mood (bhavatu). As earlier, allsubstitutions are "conceptual" or "mental". 


In fact, not merely substitution, the entire prakriyā is conceptual. Words and varṇas arenot real, according to Vyākaraṇa, the only reality is that of the sentence. We should let the prakriyā be kālpanikā andshould not try to use the terms of ultimate reality for practical operations.Otherwise, there would be no brevity. The imaginary creation of pratyayas etc.by Pāṇini is then an upāya, a device which should be discarded after the goal is reached, by whichstudents can know the millions of correct forms of Śabdas with the leastpossible effort. In fact, not merely the prakriyā of Śabda,but even the prakriyā called Jagat is kālpanikā and this is the reason why Vyākaraṇaoffers a much more elegant theory of language for Advaita.



N. Siva Senani

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