Update: 2010-12-02 04:39 PM +0800


The Sphoṭa theory of language:
a philosophical analysis



by Harold G. Coward, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Ltd. 1st ed. Dehli 1980, reprints Delhi 1986, 1997. ISBN:81-208-0181-4, as given in Google book preview.

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Contents of this page

   PART 1 : Metaphysical background of the Sphoṭa theory - p017

02. Language in the Brahmanical tradition - p019
  The approaches of the Ṛṣi  to the Divine Vāk  - p021
    Sāṅkhya School - p031
    Yoga School - p032
    Mīmāṁsā School - p035
    Vedānta - p042

Passages of note in this file:
A rishi ऋषि ṛṣi {I.i.ra..} denotes a poet-sage through whom the Vedic hymns flowed, credited also as divine scribes.
  - Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rishi 090905

UKT notes
Kumārila Bhaṭṭa Mīmāṁsā Rishi {I.i.ra..}  Upanishad Vedānta वेदान्त {w-dn~ta.} Vāk {waak}

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02. Language in the Brahmanical tradition

[Pages 002 to 027 are not shown in the previews.]

UKT: Chapter 2 is supposed to begin from p019. So, the beginning of chapter 02 lies in pages not shown.

(Yoga) so that the intuition of the Real can occur. [p028-01] . In this direct vision, the Ṛṣi  ऋषि ṛṣi , {ra..}/ {I.i.ra..}, finds the Real to be the overflowing of peace and bliss or ānanda upon which all life depends. [p028-02] .

UKT: "Real" seems to be what is known in Pal-Myan as {pa.ra.mt~ta.}. In the doctrine of Brahman-Vāk (Universal Spirit) and Atman (individual Self or Soul within you which is indestructible), "Real" seems to be the Brahman (Universal Spirit - e.g. the Christian God). Note the difference between Brahma-Sarasvati , one of the Hindu Trinity, and Brahman-Vāk . -- UKT101119 .

This brief survey has shown that for the Ṛṣis {I.i.ra..} of the Saṁhitā, the Brāhmaṇas and the Upaniṣads alike, the supersensuous vision of Vāk वाक्  vāk {waak}, is the ultimate approach to or experience of the Real. As indicated in passages like Māṇḍūkya 3.33, this vision is seen to be a function of the mind in its capacity for direct intuition. [UKT ]

UKT: To comprehend the above passage, we need the dictionary meanings.

Skt-Devan: संहित  saṃhita  ppp. fixed, settled, connected with, composed of, agreeing with, joined, attached - SpkSkt
Skt-Devan: संहिता saṃhitā  f. connection, union, conjunction, any methodically arranged collection of texts or verses - SpkSkt
Pal-Myan: {n-hi.ta.} - - UHS-PMD0935

Skt-Devan: वाक्  vāk = vaac  voice - SpkSkt
Pal-Myan: {waak} - - UHS-PMD0860
*Pal-Lat: vākarā f. a net or snare - UPMT-PED190
*Pal-Lat: vākya n. speech, sentence - UPMT-PED190
Pal-Lat: vācā f. word, speech - UPMT-PED190

Also for the Upaniṣdic Ṛṣis {I.i.ra..}, the intuition of the Real has an internal rather than external focus in its symbolic expression. This approach depends for its validity upon the presupposition that the Real is a given truth which requires only to be discovered or revealed. Such a presupposition is held in common by Jainism, Buddhism and the Ṛṣis {I.i.ra..} of the Veda. {w-da.} [UKT]

UKT: H.G. Coward presumably means Hindu Ṛṣis , {ra..}/ {I.i.ra..}, by the phrase "Upaniṣdic Ṛṣis {ra..}". The corresponding personage, but with an opposite view, in Theravada Buddhism as given in Pal-Myan is yogi {yau:gi} in {wi.p~a.na}-meditation . I am waiting for input from my Myanmar Buddhist peers. -- UKT101121

Pal-Lat: yogi  m. an ascetic - UPMT-PED177
Pal-Myan: {yau:gi} - - UHS-PMD0802

Pal-Myan: {wi.p~a.na} - - UHS-PMD0888
Pal-Myan: {wi.p~a.na yau:ga.} - - UHS-PMD0889

It was also accepted by the Greek Philosopher such as Plato. However, this presupposition is currently challenged by various evolutionary and eschatological viewpoints which envision reality to be either a future goal capable of achievement (Marxism, contemporary Christian "Theology of Hope," e.g., Moltmann, or possibly Aurobindo's "Integral Philosophy") or an infinite evolutionary progress or regress in which everything remains phenomenally relative (twentieth century physical and social science). These latter viewpoints would be regarded as merely wrong ideas constructed by the mind which are obstructing the thought and experience of their proponents, so that the true reality is not seen.

Having surveyed the Vedic word or mantra, we have seen how the Upaniṣadic Seers sought to unify, interiorize, and give clearer philosophic expression to the common vision of the Real. This approach also depends upon the acceptance of certain presuppositions for validity. The unifying and abstracting tendency assumes an impersonal absolute (such as Divine Vāk ) to be the highest formulation of the Real. At the same time, the interiorizing approach to the real presupposes that the real is intrinsic in each individual. Consequently, for the Ṛṣis {I.i.ra..}, the revealed work (śruti) is not the ultimate truth in itself, but serves the necessary function of enabling one to "see" ultimate [{p028end/p029begin}] reality through its penultimate verbalizations (e.g., the Mahāvākyas). [UKT]

Buddhism, as will be shown, objects to all of these approaches to the Real: no scripture is necessary, only one's reason is required; unifying and interiorizing tendencies must be overcome by focusing on the discrete and momentary elements of reality. With regard to the question of a necessary revelation, the approach of the Upaniṣadic Seers seems superior for the reason that within Buddhism the words of the Buddha rapidly were taken to be necessary vehicle by which the direct intuition of the Real could be achieved -- filling the function of a necessary revelation. Of course, for both Buddhism and the Upaniṣads, the direct face to face vision or intuition of the Real is ultimate -- although the two views are in complete opposition as to the nature of the reality that is seen.

In relation to the Brahmanical tradition as whole, the effects of the approaches (fn029-01) adopted by the Upaniṣadic Ṛṣis {I.i.ra..} have been described as subordinating the material utility of the mantra and the ritual sacrifice to a more purely spiritual aim and intention. In practical terms, this resulted in an increased emphasis upon asceticism and renunciation. (fn029-02) In addition to achieving the culmination of the Vedic approach to the divine Vāk, these Upaniṣadic Ṛṣis also provided the foundations upon which the subsequent schools of the Brahmanical tradition base themselves. Let us now examine how the schools of MimāṁsSāṅkhya-Yoga, Mimāṁsā (although it rejects the jṅāna-kāṇḍa) and Vedāṇta give more syṣtematic formulation to this Daivi Vāk view of language.

UKT: In the following paragraph, I have to transliterate Sanskrit pramā into Pali-Myanmar. In this, the medial {pra.} becomes involved. This medial is pronounced as /pja/ in Burmese whereas it is /pra/ in Pali. Since, Sanskrit is more akin to Pali, I would have to denote the medial {pra.} as /pra/. Thus, pramā is: {pa.ra.ma}. From this, I understand it is Pali {pa.ra.ma.} which is related to paramattha (PTSDict420) 'truth in the ultimate sense, philosophical truth'. It would be {pa.ra.mt~ta.}:

parama [pramā : is not listed in SpkSkt ]
Skt-Devan: परम - adj. most excellent, profound, extreme, very, absolute, very great, highest, supreme, best - SpkSkt
Pal-Myan: {pa.ra.ma.} -  - UHS-PMD0615

Pal-Lat: parattā - m.  the heresy of the Soul-theory - UPMT-PED140
Pal-Myan: {pa.ra.mt~ta.} - - UHS-PMD0615
-- PMDict557.

If my above understanding is correct, then the Sanskrit-Hindu pramā is exactly the opposite of Burmese-Buddhist {pa.ra.mt~ta.}. What I understand by {pa.ra.mt~ta.} is "Reality" to be differentiated from the worldly 'definitions' {pi~t~ta.}. Sanskrit-Hindu pramā is communion with Brahma: Pali-Buddhist {pa.ra.mt~ta.} is "freedom from notions of the existence of the Hindu Brahma (or the Christian God) which no one has seen with his own eyes or talked-listened to with his mouth-and-ear". In other words, the Theravada Buddhists hold that the "Brahma" is just a figment of human imagination. Then, I have been asked, what about "re-incarnation" which the Buddhists are supposed to believe in. As a scientist, I must admit that "re-incarnation" is just a figment of imagination. Usually at this juncture at the end of my lectures, I have to stop the discussion saying that I keep my science and religion apart! - UKT101119

Before discussing the various views of language as such, it is necessary that the scholastic Indian conceptions of knowledge (pramā) and the methods or ways of knowing (pramāṇa) be understood, since they underlie all language discussions issuing from the Vedic views of Vāk. In Sanskrit the word jṅāna stands for all kinds of cognition irrespective of the question of truth and falsehood, whereas the word pramā is use to designate only a [{p029end /p030begin}] true cognition (yathārtha-jāna ) as distinct from a false one (mithyā-jāna ). Datta cites the Vedānta-paribhāṣā  definition or pramā  or knowledge as "a cognition the object of which is neither contradicted nor already known as an object (anadhigatārtha-viṣayarh jānam )". (fn030-01) Pramāṇa, according to the same authority, is the special source of particular pramā . "Special source" here is described in terms of active and unique causation. Datta describes exactly what is meant as follows:

In the case of perceptual knowledge or pratyakṣa pramā for example, a sense-organ (in the case of an external perception) or the mind (in the case of an internal perception) is said to be the kāraṇa or instrumental cause. There are many causes, e.g, the mind, the sense organ, etc., the existence of which is necessary for the production of perceptual knowledge of an external object. But of these, the mind is a cause the existence of which is common to all sorts of knowledge, perceptual and inferential; so it cannot be regarded as a special cause. The special cause here is the particular sense-organ involved in that perception, because it is not common to other kinds of knowledge; it is peculiar to external perception alone...

A pramāṇa  is, then, such an active and unique cause (kāraṇa ) of a pramā  or knowledge. (fn030-02)

Let us now briefly note the particular pramāṇas  accepted by each of the philosophic schools within the Brahmanical tradition. The Sāṅkhya and the Yoga Schools accept three pramāṇas; pratyakṣa (perception), anumāna {a.nu.ma-na.} (inference), and ṡabda (testimony). (fn030-03) The Mimāṁsā defines six pramāṇas: Pratyakṣa, anumāna, ṡabda, upamāna (analogy), arthāpatti (presumption) and abhāva (non-apprehension). (fn030-04) The same six pramāṇas are also stated by Vedānta. (fn030-05) Of course there are many differences of [{p030end/p031begin}] definition regarding a specific pramāṇa among the schools. Our purpose here is to focus only on the ṡabda pramāṇa and briefly examine the various interpretations offered by the above schools.

Skt-Devan: प्रमाण pramāṇa - n. warrant, authority, means of knowledge [science of], scale, proof, measure, limit, guideline, extent - SpkSkt

Skt-Devan: अनुमान anumāna - m. permission, consent, conclusion, conjecture, conclusion from given premises, guess, inference, reflection - SpkSkt
Pal-Myan: {a.nu.ma-na.} - - UHS-PMD0071


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Sāṅkhya School

UKT: Though TOC has given this as a subheading, the book preview does not. This subheading is mine for your easy reading.

Sāṇkhya describes ṡabda as being constituted by authoritative statements (āptavacana), and resulting in a knowledge of objects which cannot be known through perception or inference. Two kinds of ṡabda are distinguished -- vaidika and Laukika. Ṡabda as vaidika is the revelation of the Vedas. Ṡabda as Laukika is the testimony of ordinary trustworthy persons and, according to some authors, is not recognized in the Sāṅkhya as a separate pramāṇa, since it depends on perception and inference. It is vaidika ṡabda or the Vedas which alone give us true knowledge of the supersensuous realities that are beyond perception and inference. (fn031-01) This firm division of ṡabda, however, is called into question by the statement of the Sāṅkhya Aphorisms that ṡabda as secular is not different from ṡabda as Veda. (fn031-02) Here ṡabda is defined as the testimony arising from a person worthy to be believed. (fn031-03) A recent writer suggests that vaidika ṡabda is used in Sāṅkhya primarily with respect not to the Vedas, but to the tradition of Sāṅkhya teachers. (fn031-04) Although Sāṅkhya formally admits ṡabda as Veda as a independent pramāṇa, it is inference which is really the chief Sāṅkhya pramāṇa. (fn031-05) The attitude of this school would seem to be to keep ṡabda as Veda handy to fall back on when inference and perception fail. In this sense Scripture may be said to be subordinate to reason for Sāṅkhya.

The Vedas {w-da.} are described as not made by any person, therefore free from defects and possessing self-evident validity. (fn031-06) They are spontaneously conveyors of right knowledge as a result of their inherent natural power. (fn031-07) Although the Vedas are impersonal, they are not eternal for, as shown in the previous section, they arise out of the spiritual experiences of ṛṣis and are conserved by a continuous line of instruction from generation to [{p031end/p032 begin}] generation. [fn032-01] Vāk is not eternal in that it evolves from Ahaṅkāra according to its own teleology, and expresses itself as sound (this fact is shown to us by inference). [fn032-02] The Sāṅkhyan School does not delve into the question of just how śabda conveys meaning. It is simply affirmed that the intelligibility of the Veda {w-da.} is natural and undeniable. [fn032-03] The aim of all Sāṅkhyan thought is the achievement of discriminative knowledge so that the real separation of puruṣa from prakṛti can be realized and liberation from ignorance achieved. This truth, however, cannot be known from verbal authority or inference but must be directly discerned as an immediate intuition or perception. [fn032-04]

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Yoga School

UKT: Though TOC has given this as a subheading, the book preview does not. This subheading is mine for your easy reading.

Yoga adopts the Sāṅkhyan metaphysics with its three pramāṇas of perception, inference and verbal testimony, [fn032-05] but in Yoga the preimary concern is the achievement of a practical psychological technique by which the liberation of the puruṣa (as described by Sāṅkhya) can be achieved. Verbal testimony, here referred to as āgama, is defined as "a thing which has been seem or inferred by a trustworthy person is mentioned by word in order that his knowledge may pass over to some other person." [fn032-06] In Vācaspati's gloss the observation is made that according to this definition the teachings of Manu and other sages would not be judged as āgama since they speak of things neither seen nor inferred. But this objection is refuted by nothing that as long as such a teaching has been disclosed in the Veda {w-da.}, it is āgama, for all of the Veda was perceived by its original speaker - Iśvara. Truth (satya) is described as occurring when word and thought are in accord with the facts that have been seen, heard and inferred. Speech is uttered for the purpose of transferring one's knowledge to another. True speech can only be employed for the good of others and not for their injury. [fn032-07]

Perhaps the most noticeable difference between the Yoga and Sāṅkhya Schools is the high place accorded to Iśvara by the [{p032end}]

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Mīmāṁsā School  मीमांसा

Skt-Devan: मीमांसा  f.  a branch of Hindu philosophy [ miimaaMsaa school ] - SpkSkt
See my note on Mīmāṃsā (मीमांसा) .

the sentence as whole. Consequently the nature of the sentence is no different from that already shown to be the case for words -- it too is eternal. In answer to the charge that the sentence cannot be eternal because it is man-made, Ṡabara says that while this may be true in regard to sentences about ordinary things in this world, it cannot be true of sentences in the Veda {w-da.} which relate to supersensuous things and are author-less. (fn039-01)

Having safeguarded the eternality of the sentence as being identical with the eternality of the word, Ṡabara offers an interesting thought as to how the unified meaning of the sentence results from the comprehension of the meanings of the component words. In sūtra 25 it is stated, "In the sentence there is only mention of words with definite denotations along with a word denoting action, and the meaning of the sentence is based upon that." (fn039-02) The idea here is that the direct denotation of each word -- which consists of the universal -- is useless in itself, but becomes useful (as a Vedic injunction requiring action) only when it is qualified by the word in the sentence denoting action. [UKT ]

This concept is given full formalization in the Prabhākara [source Wikipedia: ca. 7th c. AD] view which holds that only the injunction of an action is expressive of meaning and hence valid. Prabhākara holds that words with imperative terminations express the Vedic injunction directly, while other words (e.g., the name of the act enjoined, the person enjoined, etc.) denote things related to that injunction. Thus the true meaning of the Vedic sentences is always found in the injunction and prohibition of action. As to how knowledge of the meaning of such words and sentences originally comes about, Prabhākara maintains that people learn the meaning of words only by watching the usage and activity of older people. One person voices a set of words to another, having the result that the latter person acts in a certain manner. It is clear to the observer, claims Prabhākara, that the words spoken must have been in the form of an injunction to do what the other person has done. If, on the face of it, the words do not appear to lay down any action, then their meaning can be found to depend indirectly upon some [{p039end/p040begin}] injunction. (fn040-01) As we shall soon see, this systematic position regarding the meaning of sentences (technically called the Anvitābhidhāna Theory) results in two important conflicts. It goes directly against the Vedānta view that the meaning of the most important Vedic sentences is found not in the laying down of something to be done, but in the pointing out of certain self-evident truths (e.g., the being of Brahman). Secondly, the emphases on the meaning of sentences being learned from the usage of older people opens the way for the objection "how can this be regarded as "eternal" when it is based upon the usage of people?" This objection will be examined when we consider the Nyāya position.

Even within the Mimāṁsā School itself there is no unanimity on the question of how the eternality of the sentence is to be defended. Kumārila {ku.ma-ri.la.}, in his Ṡlokavārttika, opposes the Anvitābhidhāna theory of Prabhākara according to which the meanings of words can be known only when they occur in injunctive sentences -- the meaning of words and sentences can only be understood when seen as related to something which has to be done. In objecting to this view Kumārila points out that even though we only encounter words when they are functioning in a sentence, we are still able to understand the individual meanings of words when taken separately. If this were not so a word learned in one context could not be applied in another context, and the isolated understanding of words must be possible if the experience we have of recognizing the same word in a variety of sentences is to be explained. According to Kumārila, all of this is quite understandable when we view the meaning of the sentence as a linking together of the individual meaning expressed by its words. The sentence has no meaning of its own, independent of words:

Inasmuch as the meaning of a sentence is always comprehended in accordance with the meaning of the words (composing the sentence), -- the fact of the sentence having a qualified (particular) signification cannot point to the fact of the sentence being independent (of the words). [{p040end/p041begin}]

For us, even in the signification of the sentence, the words (composing it) do not lose their significance (potentiality); and it is only because the direct function of the words ends in the signification of their own individual denotations, that we hold the meaning of the sentence to be deduced from the meanings of the words (and not from the words directly). (fn041-01)

In this view it is solely from the connection among the independently expressed word-meanings, that the meaning of the sentence arises. On hearing a sentence, we first have an understanding of the separate meanings of the words one after another, then these word-meanings are related on the basis of syntactic expectancy (ākāṅkṣā), fitness (yogyatā) and proximity (saṁnidhi) so that the meaning of the sentence as a whole is produced. The process is described as follows: "The individual word-meanings are remembered separately until all the words are heard; then there is a simultaneous congnition of the sentence-meaning in which all the word-meanings are properly related to one another on the basis of ākāṅkṣā, yogyatā, saṁnidhi." (fn041-02) the resulting sentence-meaning is something more than just the sum of the word-meanings. The individual word-meanings are verbal (ṡabda) since they are directly produced by the words. The sentence-meaning, however, is not produced directly by the words and therefore is not directly ṡabda, but neither is it non-verbal (aṡabda). It is verbal in that the intention of the speaker (causally operating via ākāṅkṣā, yogyatā, saṁnidhi), which is conveyed by the words, has not yet ceased to function. Thus the words are seen by Kumārila to be the indirect cause of the sentence-meaning. (fn041-03) The unified sentence-meaning is referred to by different terms : sentence-meaning (vākyārtha), association (saṁsarga) of the word-meanings and the purport or intention of the speaker (tātparyārtha). (fn041-04) This view of Kumārila, [{p041end/p042begin}] called the Abhihitānvaya Theory, defends the eternality of the sentence by showing how its meaning arises from the juxtaposition of words, the eternality of which has been proven previously.

On one point the Mimāṁsā School markedly differs from all others in the Brahmanical tradition -- its complete rejection of yogic intuition. The Mīmāṁsakas deny the possibility of omniscience of any kind, either eternal as of God, or as a result of samādhi  as described by Patajali. After reviewing the Mimāṁsā arguments in support of denial, Gopinath Kaviraj finds them "to be no more than the stale stock-in-trade arguments with which the common empirical sense of man seeks to overthrow the dictates of the higher mystic consciousness." [fn042-01] He suggests the real reason behind this denial is their conception of śabda as eternal, impersonal, self-revealed and the source of all knowledge. With this high conception of śabda, not only would it be superfluous to posit a personal omniścient being, but such knowing via personality (rather than by śabda) would open the door to doubting śabda since personality is a limitation which inevitably results in the relativity of consciousness, and the impossibility of omniscience and eternality. [fn042-02]

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Vedānta School

UKT: See my note on Vedānta .

Vedānta also accepts śabda pramāṇa as a valid and independent means of knowledge of the supersensuous. [fn042-03] As in the Mimāṁsā, the Vedānta School holds that the word, its meaning, and the relationship between the two is eternal and therefore not subject to creation by any person. Vedānta also agrees that śabda pramāṇa is vitally important in that it enables one to realize mokṣa (freedom or release from suffering). The capacity of śabda to give such "saving knowledge" assumes both the immediate apprehension of the meanings of words in a sentence, and the ability to understand the purport of a sentence. The former requires the absence of ignorance or delusion which would obstruct the apprehension of the knowledge inherent in śabda . The understanding of the purport of a sentence requires both concentrated study and the application of inference as developed [{p042end/p043begin}] by the Mimāṁsā School. The six characteristics of purport are: the harmony of the initial and concluding passages, repetition, novelty, fruitfulness, glorification by eulogistic passages or condemnation by deprecatory passages and intelligibility in the light of reasoning. [fn043-01] When the purport of a sentence is both uncontradicted by other pramāṇas and unknown through other pramāṇas, then that sentence is held to be śabda pramāṇa or a valid verbal revelation. From this viewpoint, a false statement results not because of any inadequacy in the words themselves, but because the delusions or ignorance of the person speaking act as an obstacle which prevents the intrinsic truth of the words from being cognized. In the case of a reliable person's statement meaning of the word is clearly cognized by the listener. On this theoretical basis, if it can be shown that there are certain sentences lacking authors, then the knowledge which they give will be free from error; thus the thesis of all the Brahmanical Schools that the Veda is authorless and eternal. In cases where some mantra is said to have been composed by a particular ṛṣi, this does not mean than the ṛṣi  himself has been generated from the words of the Veda. In his commentary of the Brahma Sūtra, Śaṅkara says that at the (relative) beginning of each creation (kalpa), God, who is self-illumined, creates Brahmā and delivers the Vedas to him in the same form as they existed in previous creations. With this power Brahmā them gives to all the ṛṣis who had existed previously their same names and their same vision of the Vedic mantras. Just as the various seasons of the year return in succession, so the same seers and Vedas appear again in each different creation cycle, so that the Vedas of the present are equal in name and form to those of the past. [fn043-02] It is in this way that Vedānta maintains the impersonality and eternality of the Veda. While at the same time suggesting that God is somehow the eternal omniscient author. The argument is [{p043end}]

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for example, teaches one to recognize the truth which is inherently given. Just as a prince kidnapped by robbers in his childhood does not know that he is a prince, but realizes himself to be a prince as soon as he is told, so also an individual ego (jiva) realizes himself to be Brahman as soon as he hears the mahāvākya  {ma.ha-wa-kya.}. It is via this kind of immediate intuition that Vedānta believes supersensuous knowledge to be given by śabda pramāṇa. Technical words and proper names are exceptions, however, since their referents are neither eternal nor universally known.

Within the Advaita Vedānta School itself there is some difference of interpretation in regard to just how this intuition of word meaning occurs. For example, Prakāśātman says that the word meanings are immediate from the start. Thinking or enquiry into the purport of the sentence (adhyāsa) is only required to remove the obstacles of avidyā, and does not result in any qualitative change in the meaning which is inherently present from the beginning. On the other hand Vācaspati Miśra regards śabda pramāṇa as capable of generating only mediate knowledge. The mahāvākyas are first perceived as mediate knowledge and only through continued adhyāsa does the sentence meaning become immediate. In this view there is a qualitative change in the meaning achieved. This interpretation is supported by appeal to scriptures such as the Chāndogya Upaniṣad where Indra, after knowing mediately the nature of the self as indicated in text, "That self which is devoid of defect, rid of ravaging effect of age, " [fn047-01] etc.. approached his teacher four times with the intention of acquiring the intuitive experience of the self. [fn047-02] Such differences of opinion regarding the way in which śabda achieves immediacy do not detract from the main thrust of the Advaita contention-that the pluralistic world of everyday experience cannot be consistently explained without admitting one underlying unity which transcends all diversities, and that this unity can only be known through the intuition of the meaning of the mahāvākyas (reports of the direct realization of that fundamental unity by the ṛṣis). These authoritative sentences will first be perceived as conveying only mediate [{p047end/p048begin}] knowledge, but as one undergoes the fourfold mental and moral discipline (fn048-01) these truths known from  śabda pramāṇa  attain immediacy ( aparokṣatva ). This process is illustrated by the story of ten persons who, having crossed a river count themselves. Every time the counter forgets to count himself and finds only nine. They mourn the loss of their tenth comrade. The error is corrected by a passerby who counts all, and tells the counter, "You are the tenth". This mediate knowledge when, counting again and including himself, the counter comes to realize "I am the tenth". (fn048-02). In a similar way the earnest seeker perceives from the  mahāvākyas  that  Brahman  is the one reality in all outer things and in the inner self, and achieves an immediate consciousness of "I am Brahman". Once this revelation is achieved, maintains Śaṅkara, then śabda and the Veda will have been superseded, since śabda is meaningful only when one is in the bondage of avidyā. (fn048-03) Although it is the only pramāna by which the liberation of absolute truth may be achieved, śabda even as the mahāvākyas, is ultimately seen to be a part of worldly phenomenal diversity (māyā) which must be negated if the ultimate absolute unity of Brahman is to be realized. (fn048-04) The Mināṁsā refusal to accept any kind of pratibhā or immediate intuition was to guard against just such an outcome in which the Vedas could be considered transcendable. [{p048end}]

[UKT: End of Chapter 2 text]

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Footnotes : Chapter 2

[Pages 002 to 027 are not shown in the previews.]

fn028-01. Ka. Up. 6.10 ff. fn028-01b

fn028-02. Tait. Up. 2.8 and 9. fn028-02b

fn029-01. The word "approaches" here has been interpreted in the sense of "methods of drawing near"
  from the definition given in The concise Oxford Dictionary. fn029-01b

fn029-02. Aurobindo, Veda, p. 17. fn029-02b

fn030-01. D.M. Datta, The Six Ways of Knowing, p. 27. Hereafter cited Datta, Six.
  On pp. 20-27 Datta examines the differences in interpretation given to pramā by the various Indian schools,
  but concludes that they all essentially agree with the definition quoted above. fn030-01

fn030-02. Ibid., pp. 27-28. fn030-02

fn030-03. See the Sāṅkhya Kārikā of Iṡvara Krishna, Kārikā IV;
  The Sāṅkhya Aphorisms, I:88, Yoga Sūtras of Patajali, I:7. fn030-03

fn030-04. See Ganganatha Jha, trans., Pūrva-Mimdṁsā in Its Sources, p.80.
  Hereafter cited Jha, Pūrva-Mimdṁsā. Prabhākara accepts only five pramdṇas. fn030-04

fn030-05. See Dharmarāja Adhvarin, Vedānta Paribhāṣā, Chapters 1-6. fn030-05

fn031-01. See S.C. Chatterjee and D. M. Datta, An Introduction to Indian Philosophy, p. 312.
  Hereafter cited Chatterjee and Datta, Introduction. fn031-01

fn031-02. Sāṅkhya Aphorisms, V:40. fn031-02

fn031-03. Ibid., Bk. I., Aph. 101. fn031-03

fn031-04. G. J. Larson, Classical Sāṅkhya, p. 172. fn031-04

fn031-05. Sāṅkhya Aphorisms, I:60. fn031-05

fn031-06. See S. Chatterjee, The Nyāya Theory of Knowledge, p. 320. fn031-06

fn031-07. Sāṅkhya Aphorisms, V:51. fn031-07

fn032-01. Sāṅkhya Aphorisms, V:45-50. fn032-01b

fn032-02. Ibid., I:62, V:50. fn032-02b

fn032-03. Ibid., V:43, 44. fn032-03b

fn032-04. Ibid., I:58, 59. fn032-04b

fn032-05. See Y.S., I:7. fn032-05b

fn032-06. See James Haughton Woods, Trans., The Yoga System of Patajali.
  Harvard Oriental Series, Vol. XVll, ed. Charles Rockwell Lanman, pp. 20-21. fn032-06b

fn032-07. Ibid., ll:30. fn032-07b

[Pages 033-038 are not part of this combined preview.]

fn039-01. Ṡabara-Bhāṣya, sūtra 26. fn039-01b

fn039-02. Ibid., sūtra 25. fn039-02b

fn040-01. Prabhākara's view on the meaning of the sentence as summarized by G. Jha, Ibid., p. 120. fn040-01b

fn041-01. Kumārila, Ṡlokavdrttika, trans. Ganganatha Jha, pp. 527-28. Hereafter cited Jha, Ṡlokavdrttika. fn041-01b

fn041-02. K. Kunjunni Raja, Indian Theories of Meaning, p. 208. Hereafter cited Raja, Theories. fn041-02b

fn041-03. See jha, Ṡlokavdrttika, pp. 527-28. According to Prabhākara's theory,
  on the other hand, each word, as it is being uttered, contributes to the meaning of the sentence
  which is revealed step by step, becoming clearer and clearer with the utterance of the subsequent words. fn041-03b

fn041-04. See Raja, Theories. fn041-04b

fn042-01. Gopinath kaviraj, The Doctrine of Pratibhā in Indian Philosophy,
  Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, 1924, pp. 120-121. Hereafter cited Kaviraj, Pratibhā. fn042-01b

fn042-02. Ibid. fn042-02b

fn042-03. Vedānta Paribhāṣā, trans. S. S. S. Sastri, pp. 65-88. fn042-03b

fn043-01. T. M. P. Mahadevan, The Philosophy of Advaita, p. 57. Hereafter cited Mahadevan, Philosophy. fn043-01b

fn043-02. Ś. B. B.S. I, 3.30. See George Thibaut, trans., Vedānta Sūtras with the Commentary
  by Saṅkarācārya. Sacred Books of the East Series, ed. F. Max Muller, XXXIV.
  All quotations from S. B. B. S. are taken from this translation. fn043-02b

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fn047-01. Ch. Up., 8.7.1. fn047-01b

fn047-02. Vācaspati's view as presented by T. M. P. Mahadevan, Philosophy, pp. 58-59.
  This is the difference between the Vivaraṇa and Bhāmati Schools. fn047-02b

fn048-01. These are the Sādhanacatuṣṭaya, the attainment of which, according to Śaṅkara,
  was a necessary precondition to the full-time monastic quest for the realization of the ultimate Brahman.
  The Sādhanacatuṣṭaya are: nityānitya vastuviveka (discrimination between the eternal and the non-eternal) ;
  ihdmutrārthaphalabhogavirāga (the relinquishing of the desire for the enjoyment of the fruits of action
  either here or hereafter) ; the acquisition of the powers of concentration (samādhi) and endurance (titikṣā) ;
  mumukṣutua (the ardent desire for liberation). See Ś. B. B. S., 1.1.1. fn048-01

fn048-02. Vidyāraṇya, Pacadaṡi, trans. Swāhānanda, 7:22-27, pp 239-41. fn048-02

fn048-03. Ś. B. B. S., 4.1.3. fn048-03

fn048-04. The Advaita Vedānta central tenet of the non-duality of Brahman raises
  many thorny issues when considered in relation to śabda. For example, śabda is
  held by Śaṅkara to be eternal. Thus it would seem that there are two eternal entities co-existing,
  Brahman and śabda, but this is unacceptable when Brahman is defined as "absolute non-duality."
  Then again it is held that Brahman alone is real and that truth is made known by śabda.
  Now, is śabda which is evidence for Brahman real or unreal? If it is real, then there is a reality
  other than Brahman. If it is unreal, then Brahman which is its content cannot be real.
  For the Advaitin such dilemmas are resolved by holding that, on the phenomenal side,
  there are various levels in our perception of truth. Ultimately, however, non-dual Brahman
  is the only absolute, and the unreality of śabda is accepted. For further discussion
  of these scholastic arguments, see D. M. Datta, Six, K. S. Murty, Reason, and
  T. M. P. Mahadevan. Philosophy. fn048-04

UKT: End of Chapter 2 footnotes.

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UKT notes

Kumārila Bhaṭṭa

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kum%C4%81rila_Bha%E1%B9%AD%E1%B9%ADa 101123

Kumārila Bhaṭṭa (Skt: कुमारिल भट्ट, fl. roughly AD 700) was a Hindu philosopher and Mimamsa scholar from Prayag (Now Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India). He is famous for many of his seminal theses on Mimamsa, such as Mimamsaslokavarttika. Bhatta was an staunch believer in the supreme validity of Vedic injunction, a great champion of Purva-Mimamsa and a confirmed ritualist. The varttika is mainly written as a subcommentary of Sabara's commentary on Jaimini's Purva Mimamsa Sutra.

Scholars differ as regards Kumarila's views on a personal God. For example, Manikka Vachakar believed that Kumarila promoted a personal God[1] (Parabrahman), which conflicts with the Mimamsa school. In his varttika Kumarila Bhatta goes to great lengths to argue against the theory of a creator God[2] and held that the actions enjoined in the Veda had definite results without an external interference. Salvation in Mimamsa was said to consist of the attainment of heaven.

Bhatta is also credited with the logical formulation of the Mimamsic belief that the Vedas are unauthored (apaurusheya). In particular his defence against medieval Buddhist position on Vedic rituals, is noteworthy. Some believe that this contributed, to the decline of Buddhism in India[3] although Buddhism continued to proliferate in most of southern and northern India until the late 8th century CE, even after the celebrated Adi Shankara. Records of this are found from Yi Jing's travelogue. His work strongly influenced other schools of Indian philosophy, most notably Advaita Vedanta, especially since Vedanta adopts purva Mimamsa's epistemological arguments almost verbatim, with the exception that while Mimamsa considers the Upanishads to be subservient to the Vedas, the Vedanta school does not think so.

Linguistic views

Kumarila Bhatta and his followers in the Mimamsa tradition (known as Bhāṭṭas) argued for a strongly Compositional view of semantics (called abhihitAnvaya). In this view, the meaning of a sentence was understood only after understanding first the meanings of individual words. Words were independent, complete objects, a view that is close to the Fodorian view of language.

This view was debated over some seven or eight centuries by the followers of Prabhakara school within Mimamsa, who argued that words do not directly designate meaning; any meaning that arises is because it is connected with other words (anvitAbhidhAna, anvita = connected; abhidhā = denotation). This view was influenced by the holistic arguments of Bhartrihari's sphoṭa theory.

Skt-Devan: स्फोट sphoṭa  m. boil, abscess, burst - SpkSkt
Pal-Myan: {hpau:Ta.} - - UHS-PMD0698

UKT: Sphoṭa reminds me of burst forth of Spring flowers out of the recently thawed barren ground after a Canadian winter. - UKT101202

Essentially the prābhākaras argued that sentence meanings are grasped directly, from perceptual and contextual cues, skipping the stage of grasping singly the individual word meanings,[4] similar to the modern view of linguistic underspecification, which relates to the Dynamic Turn in Semantics, that also opposes purely compositional approaches to sentence meaning.

Criticism of Buddhism

With the aim to prove the superiority of Vedic scripture, Kumarila presented several novel arguments:

1. "Buddhist (or Jain) scripture could not be correct because it had several grammatical lapses." He specifically takes the Buddhist verse: ime samkhada dhamma sambhavanti sakarana akarana vinassanti (These phenomena arise when the cause is present and perish when the cause is absent). Thus he presents his argument: [5]

The scriptures of Buddhists and Jains are composed in overwhelmingly incorrect (asadhu) language, words of the Magadha or Dakshinatya languages, or even their dialects (tadopabhramsa). Therefore false compositions (asannibandhana), they cannot possibly be true knowledge (shastra) ... By contrast, the very form itself (the well-assembled language) of the Veda proves its authority to be independent and absolute.

This argument of Bhatta relies heavily on his idea that the meanings of each individual word should be complete for the sentence to have a meaning. It may be noted, that the Pali Canon was intentionally recorded in local dialects and not in languages germane only to the scholarly.

2. Every extant school held some scripture to be correct. In order to show that the Veda was the only correct scripture, Kumarila ingeniously said that "the absence of an author would safeguard the Veda against all reproach" ( apaurusheya). [6] There was "no way to prove any of the contents of Buddhist scriptures directly as wrong in spirit...", unless one challenges the legitimacy and eternal nature of the scripture itself. It is well known that the Pali Canon was composed after the Buddha's parinirvana. Further, even if they were the Buddha's words, they were not eternal or unauthored like the Vedas.

3. The Sautrantika Buddhist school believed that the universe was momentary (kshanika). Kumarila said that this was absurd, given that the universe does not disappear every moment. No matter how small one would define the duration of a moment, one could divide the moment into infinitely further parts. Kumarila argues: "if the universe is does not exist between moments, then in which of these moments does it exist?" Because a moment could be infinitesimally small, Kumarila argued that the Buddhist was claiming that the universe was non-existent. This, in a lot of ways was consistent with his literal Sanskrit understanding of the word Shunya (literally 'zero'), found in the Pali Canon and well commented by several later Buddhists. It is noteworthy here, that the Pali Canon says that 'samsara' is characterized as 'anicca' (impermanent, not momentary). Further, the Mimamsic (and Vedantic) understanding of Shunya is inconsistent with the meaning as described in the Pali Canon.

4. The Determination of perception (pratyaksha pariccheda).[7] Kant's Critique of Pure Reason has a lot of similarities with this work, although they are not the same or even on the same subject matter.

Kumarila Bhatta's understanding of Buddhist school was far greater than that of any other non-Buddhist philosopher at the time. His junior contemporary Sankara (whom most modern Vedantists consider to be greater) also did not understand Buddhism so well.[8]

Legendary life

According to legend, Bhatta went to study Buddhism at Nalanda (the largest 4th century university in the world), with the aim of refuting Buddhist doctrine in favour of ritualist Vedic religion. He was expelled from the university when he protested against his teacher (Dharmakirti) ridiculing the Vedic rituals. Legend has it that even though he was thrown off of the university's tower, he survived with an eye injury. (Modern Mimamsa scholars and followers of Vedanta believe that this was because he imposed a condition on the infallibility of the Vedas thus encouraging the Hindu belief that one should not even doubt the infallibility of the Vedas.)

Kumarila Bhatta left Nalanda after that and settled down in Prayag (modern day Allahabad). Two years later, he challenged his teacher to a debate on grammar and logic. Life was at stake in this debate - the defeated one was to endure a slow death by self-immolation. It is said that overcome with guilt of causing his teacher to die, he too chose to commit suicide in the same manner.

One medieval work on the life of Sankara (considered most accurate) claims that Sankara challenged Bhatta to a debate on his deathbed.[9] Kumarila Bhatta could not debate Sankara and instead directed him to argue with his student Mandana Misra in Mahiṣmati (known today as Mahishi Bangaon, Saharsa in Bihar)[10]:

"You will find a home at whose gates there are a number of caged parrots discussing abstract topics like 'Do the Vedas have self-validity or do they depend on some external authority for their validity? Are karmas capable of yielding their fruits directly, or do they require the intervention of God to do so? Is the world eternal, or is it a mere appearance?' Where you find the caged parrots discussing such abstruse philosophical problems, you will know that you have reached Maṇḍana's place."

Another work on Sankara's life however claims that Sankara implored Bhatta not to commit suicide. Another contradictory legend however says that Bhatta continued to live on with two wives several students, one of whom was Prabhākara. According to this legend, Bhatta died in Varanasi at the age of 80.

UKT: End of Wikipedia article.

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Mīmāṃsā (मीमांसा)

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mim%C4%81%E1%B9%83s%C4%81 101202

Mīmāṃsā (मीमांसा), a Sanskrit word meaning "investigation" (compare Greek ἱστορία), is the name of an astika ("orthodox") school of Hindu philosophy whose primary enquiry is into the nature of dharma {Dm~ma.} based on close hermeneutics of the Vedas. The nature of dharma isn't accessible to reason or observation, and must be inferred from the authority of the revelation contained in the Vedas, which are considered eternal, authorless (apaurusheyatva), and infallible.[1]

UKT: The Hindu dharma मीमांस and the Theravada Buddhist {Dm~ma.}, though spelled the same, are quite different. -- UKT101202

Mimamsa strongly concerned with textual exegesis, and consequently gave rise to the study of philology and the philosophy of language. Its notion of shabda "speech" as indivisible unity of sound and meaning (signifier and signified) is due to Bhartrhari (7th century).[2]


Mimamsa is also known as Pūrva Mīmāṃsā ("prior" inquiry, also Karma-Mīmāṃsā), in contrast to Uttara Mīmāṃsā ("posterior" inquiry, also Brahma-Mīmāṃsā) is the opposing school of Vedanta. This division is based on the notion of a dichotomy of the Vedic texts into a karma-kāṇḍa, the department of the Veda treating of sacrificial rites (Samhitas and Brahmanas), and the jāna-kāṇḍa dealing with the knowledge of Brahman (the Upanishads). The core tenets of Pūrva Mīmāṃsā are ritualism (orthopraxy), anti-asceticism and anti-mysticism. The central aim of the school is elucidation of the nature of dharma, understood as a set ritual obligations and prerogatives to be performed properly.


The school's origins lie in the scholarly traditions of the final centuries BCE, when the priestly ritualism of Vedic sacrifice was being marginalized by Buddhism and Vedanta. To counteract this challenge, several groups emerged dedicated to demonstrating the validity of the Vedic texts by rigid formulation of rules for their interpretation. The school gathers momentum in the Gupta period with Śābara, and reaches its apex in the 7th to 8th centuries with Kumārila Bhaṭṭa and Prabhākara.

The school for some time in the Early Middle Ages exerted near-dominant influence on learned Hindu thought, and is credited as a major force contributing to the decline of Buddhism in India, but it has fallen into decline in the High Middle Ages and today is all but eclipsed by Vedanta.[3]

Mimamsa texts

The foundational text for the Mimamsa school is the Purva Mimamsa Sutras of Jaimini (ca. 3rd to 1st century BCE). A major commentary was composed by Śābara in ca. the 5th or 6th century CE. The school reaches its height with Kumārila Bhaṭṭa and Prabhākara (fl. ca. 700 CE). Both Kumarila Bhatta and Prabhākara (along with Murāri, whose work is no more extant) have written extensive commentaries on Śābara's Mimamsasutrabhāshyam. Kumārila Bhatta, Mandana Misra, Parthasarathi Misra, Sucharita Misra, Ramakrishna Bhatta, Madhava Subhodini, Sankara Bhatta, Krsnayajvan, Anantadeva, Gaga Bhatta, Ragavendra Tirtha, VijayIndhra Tirtha, Appayya Dikshitar, Paruthiyur Krishna Sastri, Mahomahapadyaya Sri Ramsubba Sastri, Sri Venkatsubba Sastri, Sri A. Chinnaswami Sastri, Sengalipuram Vaidhyanatha Dikshitar were some of the Mimamsa Scholars.

The Mīmāṁsā Sūtra of Jaimini (c. 3rd century BCE) has summed up the general rules of nyāya for Vedic interpretation. The text has 12 chapters, of which the first chapter is of philosophical value. The commentaries on the Mīmāṁsā Sūtra by Bhartṛmitra, Bhavadāsa, Hari and Upavarṣa are no more extant. Śabara (c. 1st century BCE) is the first commentator of the Mīmāṁsā Sūtra, whose work is available to us. His bhāṣya is the basis of all later works of Mīmāṁsā . Kumārila Bhaṭṭa (7th century CE), the founder of the first school of the Mīmāṁsā commented on both the Sūtra and its Śabara Bhāṣya. His treatise consists of 3 parts, the Ślokavārttika, the Tantravārttika and the Ṭupṭīkā. Manḍana Miśra (8th century CE) was a follower of Kumārila, who wrote Vidhiviveka and Mīmāṁsānukramaṇī. There are several commentaries on the works of Kumārila. Sucarita Miśra wrote a Kāśikā (commentary) on the Ślokavārttika. Someśvara Bhatta wrote Nyāyasudhā, also known as Rāṇaka, a commentary on the Tantravārttika. Pārthasarathi Miśra wrote Nyāyaratnākara (1300 CE), another commentary on the Ślokavārttika. He also wrote Śāstradīpikā, an independent work on the Mīmāṁsā and Tantraratna. Venkaṭa Dīkṣitas Vārttikabharaṇya is a commentary on the Ṭupṭīkā. Prabhākara (8th century CE), the originator of the second school of the Mīmāṁsā wrote his commentary Bṛhatī on the Śabara Bhāṣya. Śālikanāthas Ṛjuvimalā (9th century CE) is a commentary on the Bṛhatī. His Prakaraṇapacikā is an independent work of this school and the Pariśiṣṭa is a brief explanation of the Śabara Bhāṣya. Bhavanāthas Nyāyaviveka deals with the views of this school in details. The founder of the third school of the Mīmāṁsā was Murāri, whose works have not reached us.

Āpadeva (17th century) wrote an elementary work on the Mīmāṁsā, known as Mīmāṁsānyāyaprakaśa or Āpadevī. Arthasaṁgraha of Laugākṣi Bhāskara is based on the Āpadevī. Vedānta Deśikas Śeśvara Mīmāṁsā was an attempt to combine the views of the Mīmāṁsā and the Vedānta schools[4].


In the field of epistemology, later Mimamsakas made some notable contributions. Unlike the Nyaya or the Vaisheshika systems, the Prābhākara school recognizes five pramanas (means of valid knowledge) and the Bhāṭṭa school recognizes six. In addition to the four pramanas (pratyakṣa, anumāna, upamāna and śabda) accepted by the Nyaya school, the Prābhākara school recognizes arthāpatti (presumption) and the Bhāṭṭa school recognizes both arthāpatti and anuapalabdhi (non-apprehension) as the valid means of knowledge. A more interesting feature of the Mimamsa school of philosophy is its unique epistemological theory of the intrinsic validity of all cognition as such. It is held that all knowledge is ipso facto true (Satahprāmāṇyavāda). Thus, what is to be proven is not the truth of a cognition, but its falsity. The Mimamsakas advocate the self-validity of knowledge both in respect of its origin (utpatti) and ascertainment (japti). Not only did the Mimamsakas make the very great use of this theory to establish the unchallengeable validity of the Vedas, but later Vedantists also drew freely upon this particular Mimamsa contribution.

Dharma and atheism

Dharma as understood by Poorva Mimāmsā can be loosely translated into English as "virtue", "morality" or "duty". The Poorva Mimāmsā school traces the source of the knowledge of dharma neither to sense-experience nor inference, but to verbal cognition (i.e. knowledge of words and meanings) according to Vedas. In this respect it is related to the Nyaya school, the latter, however, allows less Prāmānas (proofs) than Poorva Mimāmsā.

The Poorva Mimāmsā school held dharma to be equivalent to following the prescriptions of the Samhitas and their Brahmana commentaries relating the correct performance of Vedic rituals. Seen in this light, Poorva Mimamsa is essentially ritualist (orthopraxy), placing great weight on the performance of Karma or action as enjoined by the Vedas.

Emphasis of Yajnic Karmakāndas in Poorva Mimāmsā is erroneously interpreted by some to be an opposition to Jnānakānda of Vedānta and Upanishadas. Poorva Mimāmsā does not discuss topics related to Jnānakānda, such as moksha or salvation, but it never speaks against moksha. Vedānta quotes Jaimini's belief in Brahman as well as in moksha:

In Uttara-Mīmāmsā or Vedānta (4.4.5-7), Bādarāyana cites Jaimini as saying (ब्राह्मेण जैमिनिरूपन्यासादिभ्यः) "(The mukta Purusha is united with the Brahman) as if it were like the Brahman, because descriptions (in Shruti etc) prove so".

In Vedānta (1.2.28), Bādarāyana cites Jaimini as saying that "There is no contradictiction in taking Vaishvānara as the supreme Brahman".

In 1.2.31, Jaimini is again quoted by Bādarāyana as saying that the nirguna Brahman can manifest itself as having a form.

In 4.3.12, Bādarāyana again cites Jaimini as saying that the mukta Purusha attains Brahman.

In Poorva Mimāmsā too, Jaimini emphasises the importance of faith in and attachment to the Omnipotent Supreme Being Whom Jaimini calls "The Omnipotent Pradhaana" (The Main):

Poorva Mimāmsā 6.3.1: "sarvaśaktau pravṛttiḥ syāt tathābhūtopadeśāt" (सर्वशक्तौ प्रवृत्तिः स्यात् तथाभूतोपदेशात्). The term Upadesha here is means instructions of the Shāstras as taught. We should tend towards the Omnipotent Supreme Being. In the context of Poorva Mimāmsā 6.3.1 shown above, next two sutras becomes significant, in which this Omnipotent Being is termed as "Pradhāna", and keeping away from Him is said to be a "Dosha", hence all beings are asked to get related ("abhisambandhāt" in tadakarmaṇi ca doṣas tasmāt tato viśeṣaḥ syāt pradhānenābhisambandhāt; Jaimini 6, 3.3) to the "Omnipotent Main Being" (api vāpy ekadeśe syāt pradhāne hy arthanirvṛttir guṇamātram itarat tadarthatvāt; Jaimini 6, 3.2). Karma-Mīmāmsā supports the Vedas, and Rgveda says that one Truth is variously named by the sages. It is irrelevant whether we call Him as Pradhāna or Brahman or Vaishvānara or Shiva or God.

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Rishi (Ṛṣi) {I.i.ra..}

UKT: Bur-Myan {ra..} is translated as <hermit> in English. However a Hindu rishi ऋषि ṛṣi  seems to have another meaning. The following are entries in Skt-Devan (for Hindu view) from SpkSkt:

मुनि  muni  m. hermit - SpkSkt
वानप्रस्त   vānaprasta  m. hermit - SpkSkt

मनीषिन्  manīṣin  m.  sage - SpkSkt
यति  yati  m. sage - SpkSkt
ज्ञानिन्  jānin  m. sage - SpkSkt
साधु  sādhu  m. sage - SpkSkt
ऋषि  ṛṣi  m. sage - SpkSkt
विप्र  vipra  m. sage - SpkSkt
कवि kavi  m. sage - SpkSkt
मुनि muni  m. sage - SpkSkt
बुध  budha  m. sage - SpkSkt

ऋषिकुमार   ṛṣikumāra  m. young sage - SpkSkt
राजर्षि  rājarṣi  m. royal sage - SpkSkt
ब्रह्मर्षि  brahmarṣi  m. priest-sage - SpkSkt

For comparison, the following are words in Pali for Theravada Buddhist view:

Pal-Lat: isi  m. a sage, anchorite - UPMT-PED043
Pal-Myan: {I.i.} - - UHS-PMD0195

Since, {I.i.} and {ra..} means the same to me, I have compounded into {I.i.ra..} to stand for ऋषि  ṛṣi . -- UKT101121


From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rishi 090905

A rishi ऋषि ṛṣi {I.i.ra..} denotes a poet-sage through whom the Vedic hymns flowed, credited also as divine scribes. According to post-Vedic tradition the rishi is a "seer" or "shaman" to whom the Vedas were "originally revealed" through states of higher consciousness. The rishis rose into prominence when Hinduism was in its early flowering, perhaps as far back as four thousand years ago.

UKT: The Bur-Myan {ra..} may not be comparable to the Vedic {I.i.ra..}. They seem to be just a bit lower in esteem than the regular monks {ra.hn}. The most visible difference being the head-gear of the {ra..} and their deep tanned robes. They observe celibacy and follow a strict code of conduct which may or may not be the same as that of the {ra.hn}.

It is generally agreed upon that some of the very greatest of the ancient rishis were in fact women. [1] According to the Sarvanukramanika text, there were as many as 20 women among the authors of the Rig Veda. A female rishi is known as a rishika. [2]

There is only one synonym for 'riṣi': satyavachāh (one who speaks truth). According to tradition, other sages might falter, but a riṣi was believed to speak truth only, because s/he existed in the Higher World (the unified field of consciousness) according to the Sanskrit 'riṣi'. Ṛṣis are also called kavi, "brahmn", "kāru", "kīri", "vāghat", "vipra", " yogini" etc.

Modern discussion of Rishis

"As the rishis described it, awareness begins in an unbounded state with pure consciousness and then cascades, plane by plane, until it reaches the physical world. That each level is within you, and the choice of boundaries - or unboundedness - is yours alone. Therefore journeys to heaven and hell are daily occurrences, not far-off possibilities." [3]

"To the rishis, bliss (ananda) was more than the expansive feeling of ecstasy. It was the basic vibration, or hum, of the universe, the ground state from which all diversity springs... the possibility for creation to manifest. Bliss itself is far from the feeling of happiness or even joy, though in diluted form it can be experienced as both. It is simply the vibratory connection that allows pure consciousness to enter into creation" [4]

"The seer, or observer, is rishi. The process of projecting is devata. The thing projected/created is chhandas. In a movie house, the audience is the rishi, the machine run by the projectionist is the devata, and the images on the screen are the chhandas. It's not so important to remember these terms, but ancient sages hit upon a universal rule of consciousness, called three-in-one. If you occupy any of these roles - seer, seen, or the process of seeing - you occupy all of them. These modest-sounding words have the potential to revolutionize the world." [5]


In Indian tradition, the word has been derived from the two roots 'rsh'. Sanskrit grammarians (cf. Commentary on Unādi-Sutra, iv, 119) derive this word from the second root which means (1) 'to go, move' (- Dhatupāth of Pānini, xxviii). V. S. Apte [6] gives this particular meaning and derivation, and Monier-Williams [7] also gives the same, with some qualification.

Another form of this root means (2) 'to flow, to move near by flowing'. (All the meanings and derivations cited above are based upon Sanskrit English Dictionary of Monier-Williams) [8]. Monier-Williams also quotes Tārānātha who compiled the great (Sanskrit-to-Sanskrit) dictionary named "ṛṣati jānena saṃsāra-pāram" (i.e., one who reaches beyond this mundane world by means of spiritual knowledge).

Manfred Mayrhofer in his Etymological Dictionary (I 261) prefers a connection to either ṛṣ "pour, flow" (PIE *h1ers), Rishi symbolizes intelligence and wisdom. The root has a close Avestan cognate ərəi (Yasna 31.5; cf. 40.4) "an ecstatic" (see also Yurodivy, Vates). However, the Indo-European dictionary of Julius Pokorny connects the word to a PIE root *h3er-s meaning "rise, protrude", in the sense of "excellent, egregious".

Monier-Williams tentatively suggests derivation from drś "to see"[1]. Monier-Williams also quotes Hibernian (Irish) form 'arsan' (a sage, a man old in wisdom) and 'arrach' (old, ancient, aged) as related to rishi. In Sanskrit, forms of the root 'rish' become 'arsh-' in many words, e.g., arsh. Monier-Williams also conjectures that the root 'drish' (to see) might have given rise to an obsolete root 'rish' meaning 'to see'.

Other uses

In Carnatic Music, Rishi is the seventh chakra (group) of Melakarta ragas. The names of chakras are based on the numbers associated with each name. In this case, there are seven rishis and hence the 7th chakra is Rishi. [9] [10]

"Seer" of the Vedas

In the Vedas, the word denotes an inspired poet of Ṛgvedic hymns, who alone or with others invokes the deities with poetry of a sacred character. In particular, Ṛṣi refers to the authors of the hymns of the Rigveda. Post-Vedic tradition regards the Rishis as "sages" or saints, constituting a peculiar class of divine human beings in the early mythical system, as distinct from Asuras, Devas and mortal men.

The main rishis recorded in the Brahmanas and the Rigveda-Anukramanis include Gritsamada, Vishvamitra, Vamadeva, Atri, Bharadvaja, Vasishta, Angiras, Kaṇva.

Seven Rishis (the Saptarshi) are often mentioned in the Brahmanas and later works as typical representatives of the character and spirit of the pre-historic or mythical period; in Shatapatha Brahmana (Brhad Aranyaka Upanisad), their names are Uddālaka Āruni (also called Gautama), Bharadvaja, Vishvamitra, Jamadagni, Vasishtha, Kashyapa, and Atri. Daksha, Bhrigu and Nārada were also added to the saptarshis riṣis in Āshvalāyana-Shrauta-Sutra, where these ten principals were created by the first Manu (Svāyambhuva Manu) for producing everyone else.

In Mahabharata 12, on the other hand, there is the post-Vedic list of Marici, Atri, Angiras, Pulaha, Kratu, Pulastya and Vasishtha. The Mahābhārata list explicitly refers to the saptarshis of the first manvantara (cf. SED by Monier-Williams) and not to those of the present manvantara. Each manvantara had a unique set of saptarshi. In Harivamsha 417ff, the names of the Rishis of each manvantara are enumerated.

In addition to the Saptarṣi, there are other classifications of sages. In descending order of precedence, they are Brahmarshi , Maharshi, Rajarshi. Devarṣi, Paramrṣi, Shrutarṣi and Kvndarṣi are added in Manusmriti iv-94 and xi-236 and in two dramas of Kālidasa.

The Chaturvarga-Chintāmani of Hemādri puts 'riṣi' at the seventh place in the eight-fold division of Brāhmanas. Amarakosha [11] (the famous Sanskrit synonym lexicon compiled by Amarasimha) mentions seven types of riṣis : Shrutarshi, Kāndarshi, Paramarshi, Maharshi, Rājarshi, Brahmarshi and Devarshi. Amarakosha strictly distinguishes Rishi from other types of sages, such as sanyāsi, bhikṣu, parivrājaka, tapasvi, muni, brahmachāri, yati, etc.


In Hindu astronomy, the Saptarṣi form the constellation of Ursa Major (e. g. RV 10.82.2 and 10.109.4 ; AV 60.40.1.), which are distinct from Dhruva (Polaris).

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UKT: Sanskrit like Burmese does not have singulars and plurals. The plurals given in Wikipedia are given in the fashion of English.

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upanishads 101119

The Upaniṣhads (Skt: उपनिषद्, IPA: [upəniʂəd]) are philosophical texts of the Hindu religion. More than 200 are known, of which the first dozen or so, the oldest and most important, are variously referred to as the principal, main (mukhya) or old Upanishads. The oldest of these, the Brihadaranyaka and Chandogya Upanishads, were composed during the pre-Buddhist era of India,[1][2][note 1] while the Taittiriya, Aitareya and Kausitaki, which show Buddhist influence, must have been composed after the fifth century BC:[2] the remainder of the mukhya Upanishads are dated to the first two centuries of the common era.[2] The new Upanishads were composed in the medieval and early modern period: discoveries of newer Upanishads were being reported as late as 1926.[5] One, the Muktika Upanishad, predates 1656[6] and contains a list of 108 canonical Upanishads,[7] including itself as the last. However, several texts under the title of "Upanishads" originated right up to the first half of the 20th century, some of which did not deal with subjects of vedic philosophy.[8] The newer Upanishads are known to be imitations of the mukhya Upanishads.

The Upanishads have been attributed to several authors: Yajnavalkya and Uddalaka Aruni feature prominently in the early Upanishads.[9] Other important writers include Shwetaketu, Shandilya, Aitreya, Pippalada and Sanat Kumara. Important women authors include Yajnavalkya's wife Maitreyi, and Gari. Dara Shikoh, son of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, translated 50 Upanishads into Persian in 1657. The first written English translation came in 1804 from Max Mller, who was aware of 170 Upanishads. Sadhale's catalog from 1985, the Upaniṣad-vākya-mahā-kośa, lists 223 Upanishads.[10] The Upanishads are mostly the concluding part of the Brahmanas, and the transition from the latter to the former is identified as the Aranyakas.[11]

All Upanishads have been passed down in oral tradition. The mukhya Upanishads hold the stature of revealed texts (shruti). With the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahmasutra,[12] the mukhya Upanishads provide a foundation for several later schools of Indian philosophy (vedanta), among them, two influential monistic schools of Hinduism.[note 2][note 3] [note 4] The Upanishads are collectively considered amongst the 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written by the British poet Martin Seymour-Smith. The texts have received praise from writers and scholars like Emerson, Thoreau, Kant, Schopenhauer and several others. Some criticism of the Upanishads revolves around the denial of pluralistic ideas due to the core philosophy of unity of the Upanishads.

... ... ...


Two words that are of paramount importance in grasping the Upanishads are Brahman and Atman.[35] The Brahman is the universal spirit and the Atman is the individual Self.[36] Differing opinions exist amongst scholars regarding the etymology of these words. Brahman probably comes from the root brh which means to grow.[37] The present day connotation of Brahman is "the source of all existence or from whom the universe has grown". Brahman is the ultimate, both transcendent and immanent, the absolute infinite existence, the sum total of all that ever is, was, or shall be. The word atman's original meaning was probably "breath" and it now means the soul of a living creature, especially of a human being. The discovery by the Upanashidic thinkers that Atman and Brahman are one and the same is one of the greatest contribution made to the thought of the world.[38][39][40][41]

The Brihadaranyaka and the Chandogya are the most important of the mukhya Upanishads. They represent two main schools of thought within the Upanishads. The Brihadaranyaka deals with acosmic or nis-prapancha, whereas the Chandogya deals with the cosmic or sa-prapancha.[11] Between the two, the Brihadaranyaka is considered more original. [42]

The Upanishads also contain the first and most definitive explications of the divine syllable Aum, the cosmic vibration that underlies all existence. The mantra Aum Shanti Shanti Shanti, translated as "the soundless sound, peace, peace, peace", is often found in the Upanishads. The path of bhakti or "Devotion to God" is foreshadowed in Upanishadic literature, and was later realized by texts such as the Bhagavad Gita. [43]

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Skt-Devan: वेदान्त { वेद - अन्त } , vedānta (= व े द ा न ् त ) {veda - anta}
 - m. essence (end) of the vedas -- SpkSkt
Pal-Myan: {w-dn~ta.} - - UHS-PMD0921

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vedanta 101202

Vedānta (Skt: वेदान्त, Vedānta ) was originally a word used in Hindu philosophy as a synonym for that part of the Veda texts known also as the Upanishads. The name is a morphophonological form of Veda-anta = "Veda-end" = "the appendix to the Vedic hymns." It is also speculated that "Vedānta" means "the purpose or goal [end] of the Vedas."[1] By the 8th century CE, the word also came to be used to describe a group of philosophical traditions concerned with the self-realisation by which one understands the ultimate nature of reality (Brahman).

Vedānta is also called Uttarā Mīmāṃsā, or the 'latter enquiry' or 'higher enquiry', and is often paired with Purva Mīmāṃsā, the 'former enquiry'. Pūrva Mimamsa, usually simply called Mimamsa, deals with explanations of the fire-sacrifices of the Vedic mantras (in the Samhita portion of the Vedas) and Brahmanas, while Vedanta explicates the esoteric teachings of the Āraṇyakas (the "forest scriptures"), and the Upanishads, composed from ca. the 9th century BCE until modern times.

Vedanta is not restricted or confined to one book and there is no sole source for Vedāntic philosophy.[2]


In earlier writings, Sanskrit 'Vedānta' simply referred to the Upanishads, the most speculative and philosophical of the Vedic texts. However, in the medieval period of Hinduism, the word Vedānta came to mean the school of philosophy that interpreted the Upanishads. Traditional Vedānta considers scriptural evidence, or shabda pramāna, as the most authentic means of knowledge, while perception, or pratyaksa, and logical inference, or anumana, are considered to be subordinate (but valid).

The systematization of Vedāntic ideas into one coherent treatise was undertaken by Badarāyana in the Vedānta Sutra which was composed around 200 BCE [3]. The Vedānta-sūtra are known by a variety of names, including (1) Brahma-sūtra, (2) Śārīraka, (3) Vyāsa-sūtra, (4) Bādarāyaṇa-sūtra, (5) Uttara-mīmāṁsā and (6) Vedānta-darśana.[4] The cryptic aphorisms of the Vedanta Sutras are open to a variety of interpretations, resulting in the formation of numerous Vedanta schools, each interpreting the texts in its own way and producing its own sub-commentaries. Consistent throughout Vedanta, however, is the exhortation that ritual be eschewed in favor of the individual's quest for truth through meditation governed by a loving morality, secure in the knowledge that infinite bliss awaits the seeker. Nearly all existing sects of Hinduism are directly or indirectly influenced by the thought systems developed by Vedantic thinkers. Hinduism to a great extent owes its survival to the formation of the coherent and logically advanced systems of Vedanta.

Source texts

All forms of Vedānta are drawn primarily from the Upanishads, a set of philosophical and instructive Vedic scriptures. "The Upanishads are commentaries on the Vedas, their putative end and essence , and thus known as Vedānta or "End of the Veda". They are considered the fundamental essence of all the Vedas and although they form the backbone of Vedanta, portions of Vedantic thought are also derived from some of the earlier āranyakas.

The primary philosophy captured in the Upanishads, that of one absolute reality termed as Brahman is the main principle of Vedanta. The sage Vyāsa was one of the major proponents of this philosophy and author of the Brahma Sūtras based on the Upanishads. The concept of Brahman the eternal, self existent, immanent and transcendent Supreme and Ultimate Reality which is the divine ground of all Being - is central to most schools of Vedānta. The concept of God or Ishvara is also there, and the Vedantic sub-schools differ mainly in how they identify God with Brahman.

The contents of the Upanishads are often couched in enigmatic language, which has left them open to various interpretations. Over a period of time, several scholars have interpreted the writings in Upanishads and other scriptures like Brahma Sutras according to their own understanding and the need of their time. There are a total of six important interpretations of these source texts, out of which, three (Advaita, Vishishtadvaita and Dvaita) are prominent, both in India and abroad. These Vedantic schools of thought were founded by Shri Adi Shankara, Shri Ramanuja and Shri Madhvacharya, respectively. It should be noted, however, that the Indian pre-Shankara Buddhist writer, Bhavya, in the Madhyamakahrdaya Kārika describes the Vedānta philosophy as "Bhedabheda". Proponents of other Vedantic schools continue to write and develop their ideas as well, although their works are not widely known outside of smaller circles of followers in India.

While it is not typically thought of as a purely Vedantic text, the Bhagavad Gita has played a strong role in Vedantic thought, with its representative syncretism of Samkhya, Yoga, and Upanishadic thought. Indeed, it is itself called an "upanishad" and thus, all major Vedantic teachers (like Shankara, Rāmānuja, and Mādhvāchārya) have taken it upon themselves to compose often extensive commentaries not only on the Upanishads and Brahma Sutras, but also on the Gita. In such a manner, Vedāntists both old and new have implicitly attested to the Gitā's importance to the development of Vedantic thought and practice.

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From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V%C4%81c 101119

Vāk or Vāc (stem vāc-, nominative vāk) is the Sanskrit word for "speech", "voice", "talk", or "language", from a verbal root vac- "speak, tell, utter".

Skt-Devan: वाक्  vāk  (= vaac) - voice  - SpkSkt
Pal-Myan: {waak} - - UHS-PMD0860

Personified, Vāk is a goddess, most frequently she is identified with Bharati or Sarasvati, the goddess of speech. In the Veda she is also represented as created by Prajapati and married to him; in other places she is called the mother of the Vedas and wife of Indra. [1] [2]

In the early Rigveda (books 2 to 7), vāc- refers to the voice, in particularly the voice of the priest raised in sacrifice. She is personified only RV 8 and RV 10, in RV 10.125.5 speaking in the first person (trans. Griffith),

ahm ev svaym idṃ vadāmi / jṣṭaṃ devbhir ut mnuṣebhiḥ
yṃ kāmye tṃ-tam ugrṃ kṛṇomi / tm brahmṇaṃ tm ŕṣiṃ tṃ sumedhm

"I, verily, myself announce and utter the word that Gods and men alike shall welcome.
I make the man I love exceeding mighty, make him a sage, a Rsi, and a Brahman."

The intimate connection of speech, sacrifice and creation in (late) Rigvedic thought is expressed in RV 10.71.1-4:

1. bŕhaspate prathamṃ vāc graṃ / yt prarata nāmadhyaṃ ddhānāḥ
yd eṣāṃ śrṣṭhaṃ yd ariprm sīt / preṇ td eṣāṃ nhitaṃ ghāvḥ

2. sktum iva tta'unā punnto / ytra dhrā mnasā vcam krata
ytrā skhāyaḥ sakhyni jānate / bhadraṣāṃ lakṣmr nhitdhi vāc 

3. yajna vācḥ padavyam āyan / tm nv avindann ŕṣiṣu prviṣṭām
tm ābhŕtyā vy dadhuḥ purutr / tṃ sapt rebh abh sṃ navante

4. ut tvaḥ pśyan n dadarśa vcam / ut tvaḥ śṛṇvn n śṛṇoty enām
ut tvasmai tanvṃ v sasre / jāyva ptya uśat suvsāḥ

"When men, Brhaspati!, giving names to objects, sent out Vak's first and earliest utterances
All that was excellent and spotless, treasured within them, was disclosed through their affection."

"Where, like men cleansing corn-flour in a cribble, the wise in spirit have created language,
Friends see and recognize the marks of friendship: their speech retains the blessed sign imprinted."

"With sacrifice the trace of Vak they followed, and found her harbouring within the Rsis.
They brought her, dealt her forth in many places: seven singers make her tones resound in concert." 

"One man hath ne'er seen Vak, and yet he seeth: one man hath hearing but hath never heard her.
But to another hath she shown her beauty as a fond well-dressed woman to her husband."

Vak also speaks, and is described as a goddess, in RV 8.100:

10. yd vg vdanty avicetanni / rṣṭrī devnāṃ niṣasda mandr
ctasra rjaṃ duduhe pyāṃsi / kv svid asyāḥ paramṃ jagāma

11. devṃ vcam ajanayanta devs / tṃ viśvrūpāḥ paśvo vadanti 
s no mandrṣam rjaṃ dhānā / dhenr vg asmn pa sṣṭutatu

"When, uttering words which no one comprehended, Vak, Queen of Gods, the Gladdener, was seated,
The heaven's four regions drew forth drink and vigour: now whither hath her noblest portion vanished?"

"The Deities generated Vak the Goddess, and animals of every figure speak her.
May she, the Gladdener, yielding food and vigour, the Milch-cow Vak, approach us meetly lauded."

RV 1.164.45 has:

catvri vk primitā padni / tni vidur brāhmaṇ y manīṣṇaḥ
ghā trṇi nhitā nṅgayanti / turyaṃ vāc manuṣyā̀ vadanti

"Speech hath been measured out in four divisions, the Brahmans who have understanding know them.
Three kept in close concealment cause no motion; of speech, men speak only the fourth division."

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