History of Logic from Aristotle to Gödel (www.historyoflogic.com)

by Raul Corazzon | e-mail: rc@ontology.co

Bibliography on Bhartrhari, grammarian-philosopher (Fourth part)


Bibliography (Studies in English) Par-Z

  1. Parsons, Terence. 2001. "Bhartṛhari on What Cannot Be Said." Philosophy East and West no. 51 (4):525-534.

    "Bhartṛhari claims that certain things cannot be signified -- for example, the signification relation itself. Hans and Radhika Herzberger assert that Bhartṛhari's claim about signification can be validated by an appeal to twentieth-century results in set theory. This appeal is unpersuasive in establishing this view, but arguments akin to the semantic paradoxes (such as the "liar" paradox) come much closer. Unfortunately, these arguments are equally telling against another of his views: that the thatness of the signification relation can be signified. Bhartṛhari also claims that the relation of inherence cannot be signified -- a quite different view that is not borne out by twentieth-century results. Finally, further research is needed to investigate what Bhartṛhari's own reasons might have been for these views."

  2. Patnaik, Tandra. 1994. Śabda, a Study of Bhartrhari's Philosophy of Language. New Delhi: D. K. Prrintworld.

  3. ———. 2014. Kālaśakti: Bhartṛhari's Philosophy of Time. New Delhi: D.K. Printworld.

  4. R., Pathiraj. 1995. "The Sphota doctrine of Bhartṛhari." Indian Philosophical Quarterly no. 22:67-74.

    "The lingustic theory of sphota is chiefly associated with the grammarian Bhartṛhari, although he is not the propounder of the doctrine. He gave sphota a metaphysical significance and defended it against its critics.

    One can trace the use of the word 'sphota' in the ancient writings, around the time of Pāṇini. It is doubted as to whether Pāṇini himself knew of such a thing as sphota, though the words 'sphotāyana' appears once in his work, Aṣṭādhyāyī (6.1.123). Anyway we don't know the propunder of the doctrine. It was Patanjali who, (in his Mahābhāshya), for the first time, made a distinction between sphota and dhvani. The sound that is produced when the word is uttered he called dhvani. It is ephemeral. The permanent element in the word, which is not affected by the peculiarities of the individual speaker, he called sphota. The sphota, in Patanjali's system, is an unchanging unit of sound. It may be an isolated letter (Varnasphota), having a normal and fixed size or a series of such letters (Padasphota).(1) Thls is quite diffferent from Bhartṛhari's concept of sphota.

    The claim of Bhartṛhari is that "a sentence is to be considered not a concatentaion made up of different sound-units arranged in a particular order but mainly as a single meaningful symbol."(2)

    (1) Cf. K. Kunjunnia Raja, Indian Theories of Meaning, (Madras: Adyar Library, 1963) ,p. 102. (Henceforward this book will be referred to as ITM)

    (2) Ibid., p. 97

  5. Raja, K. Kunjunni. 1969. Indian Theories of Meaning. Madras: Adyar Library and Research Centre.

    Second edition; first edition 1963.

    "To Bhartṛhari the linguistic theory of sphoṭa is part of his monistic and idealistic metaphysical theory according to which the transcendental speech-essence. (śabda-tattva)is the First Principle of the universe." (p. 146)


    "According to Bhartṛhari the speech-principle has three stages in the course of its manifestation, namely paśyantī, madhyamā and vaikharī.(1) Paśyantī is the supreme Reality, Śabdabrahman, and has been identified with pratibhā, the flash of insight or the principle of consiousness.) The Pratyabhijñā school of philosophy accepted four different stages in the manifestation of the Śabdabrahman, adding a fourth stage called parā which is identical with the paśyantī, stage in Bhartṛhari's system." (p. 147, two notes omitted)

    (1) VP I, 144.

  6. ———. 1990. "Chapter on Bhartṛhari's Tīkā on Patañjali’s Mahābhsāya." In Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies. Vol. 5: The Philosophy of the Grammarians, edited by Coward, Harold G. and Raja, Kuniunni, 172-174. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.

    "Ṭikā on Patañjali’s Mahābhāṣya.

    Bhartrhari's philosophical ideas are found in their fully developed form in the Vākyapadīya, which is his magnum opus; but the germs of his theories may be found in his commentary on the Mahābhāṣya, of which a fragmentary manuscript alone is now available. It has been establish ed that this fragmentary manuscript forms a genuine part of Bhartrhari's Mahābhāṣyaṭikā. Th.is work was mentioned by ltsing in the seventh century and by Kaiyaṭa as a source book for his Pradipa commentary on the Mahābhāṣya.

    The Ṭikā is not a regular word-for-word commentary on the Mahābhāṣya. It contains observations and comments on select words and points raised in them. Some of the ideas that were developed later into a cogent system are found scattered here and there in the commentary on the Mahābhāṣya.

    In some cases Bhartrhari's comments in the Ṭikā help us to understand his basic standpoint in the Vākyapadīya."

  7. ———. 1990. "Chapter on Helārāja." In Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies. Vol. 5: The Philosophy of the Grammarians, edited by Coward, Harold G. and Raja, Kuniunni, 193-197. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.


    This important commentator on Bhartṛhari tells us that he is the son of Bhūtirāja and a descendant of a minister named Lakṣaṇa, or King Muktāpīda of Kashmir. Abhinavagupta, who flourished in 1014, appears to have studied with Bhūtirāja as well as with a son of Bhūtirāja whom Abhinavagupta calls “ Indurāja.” It 'is clear that Abhinavagupta is referring to Helārāja in some passages, as he is credited with having written a grammatical work called Prakīrṇakavivaraṇa, which may have been a commentary on Helārāja’s Prakīrṇakaprakāśa—at least the title strongly suggests Abhinavagupta’s awareness of Helārāja’s work. Thus we may place Helārāja’s date about A.D. 980.

    Regarding his commentary on Bhartṛhari’s Trikāṇḍi, it seems clear that such a work was written covering the entire three chapters. There is some doubt about which portions of the work are available to us now. The commentary on book 3 is available in print. Aklujkar argues that its proper title is Prakīrṇakaprakāśa, and that Helārāja’s commentary on book I was called Śabdaprabhā, while that on book 2 was Vākyakāṇḍaṭikā or Vākyapradipa. Aklujkar further argues that the Tikā on book 2, which is available in print and credited to Punyarāja, is in fact Helārāja’s work instead." (p. 193, notes omitted)

  8. ———. 1997. "Bhartrhari's Philosophy of Language, Sphotavada and Sabdabrahmavada: Are they Interrelated?" In India and Beyond: Aspects of Literature, Meaning, Ritual and Thought: Essays in Honour of Frits Staal, edited by van der Meij, Dick, 405-407. London: Kegan Paul International.

    "Bhartṛhari, who flourished in the beginning of the fifth century, was an eminent Sanskrit grammarian and a deep and original philosopher of language. He is well known for enunciating two theories: the Sphoṭavāda and the Śabdabrahmavāda. They created a storm among thinkers; orthodox schools attacked them severely; modern thinkers of the present century are attracted by the novelty and significance of Bhartṛhari and are trying to understand these views in their proper perspective. Some scholars, like Biardeau, believed that the two theories are interrelated and cannot be explained in isolation. In my book Indian Theories of Meaning, l held that even if they are interrelated, each can be studied individually also. I shall try to give a brief summary of the two theories." (p. 405)

  9. Rath, Gayatri. 2000. Linguistic Philosophy in Vākyapadīya: With special reference to first two Kandas. Delhi: Bharatiya Vidya Prakashan.

  10. Ratié, Isabella. 2018. "On the Ṣaḍdhātusamīkṣā, a Lost Work Attributed to Bhartṛhari: An Examination of Testimonies and a List of Fragments." Journal of the American Oriental Society no. 138:709-741.

    Abstract: "The fifth-century grammarian-philosopher Bhartṛhari has long attracted scholarly attention, and deservedly so: his magnum opus, the Vākyapadīya, had a profound impact on later Indian schools of thought, Brahmanical as well as Buddhist. The Vākyapadīya is not, however, the only grammatical and/or philosophical work ascribed to Bhartṛhari in addition to a commentary on Patañjali’s Mahābhāṣya: according to several sources dating back at least to the tenth century, the same author also composed a Śabdadhātusamīkṣā or Ṣaḍdhātusamīkṣāi, which, unfortunately, has not come down to us, and which is still shrouded in mystery, as its main topic, and even title and attribution, are considered uncertain to date. The goal of this article is to examine the available fragments and testimonies and to establish on their basis that the work, the original title of which must have been the Ṣaḍdhātusamīkṣā, endeavored to show that the whole phenomenal world is made of six elements (earth, fire, water, air, ether, and consciousness) while ultimately defending a nondualistic point of view. Verses quoted by later authors as belonging to the Ṣaḍdhātusamīkṣā are gathered and translated in an appendix to the article."

  11. Rukmani, T. S. 1987. "Patañjali's 'Prajñā' and Bhartṛhari's Pratibā. A Comparative Study." Indian Philosophical Quarterly no. 14:81-90.

    In this paper I intend to undertake a comparative study of Patañjali's concept of Prajñā and Bhartṛhari's concept of Pratibhā and bring out some of their implications.

    The word prajñā occurs in 3 sūtras(1) in the 1st pāda, in one sūtra(2) in the 2nd pāda, in one sūtra 3 in the 3rd pāda and in no sūtra in the 4th pāda of the Yogasūtras. This means that Patañjjali has used the word prajñā in only five sūtras in the entire work of about 195 sūtras. If one were to deduce the importance of prajñā from the number of times the word is used in the sūtras then of course the answer is obvious. But the answer is also not correct because the entire system of Rājayoga hinges on the concept of prajñā." (p. 81)


    "lf we now turn to the concept of pratibhā in Patañjali's Yogasūtras, we find that it occurs for the first time in the Vibhūtipāda, sūtra 33.(19) Even here it is mainly used to describe the knowledge (jñāna) which arises from pratibhā. The sūtra mentions that 'Due to pratibhājñāna the yogi knows all'.

    Vyāsa states this is prior to the dawn of viveka or discriminate discernment between the 'sattva intellect' and Puruṣa.(20) Thus,pratibhā 1s not the highest state of prajñā which gives rise to kaivalya later." (p. 84)


    "In the Vākyapadīya Bhartṛhari uses the expression pratibhā in a comprehensive manner equating it to istinctive nature at one end of the scale and to the special insight of divine knowledge of rṣis and sages at the other end.(27) In all, Bhartṛhari has mentioned six kinds of pratibhā. What is common to all of them is a flash of understanding and the difficulty in analysing this process of understanding." (p. 86, sme notes omitted)

    (1) Yogasūtra, I. 20, 48, 49.

    (2) Yogasūtra, II. 27.

  12. Saito, Akane. 2017. "Internalization of Speech: Pronunciation and Perception of the Word." Journal of World Philosophies no. 2:109-120.

    Abstract: "There are various philosophers who have discussed the role of language in ancient India. Among them, Bhartṛhari considered the relation between the superficial appearance of speech and its essential nature. In actual life, we pronounce and perceive the word. He held that there must be some link between ideal logic and worldly truth. His focus in the Brahmakāṇḍa of the Vākyapadīya, is on the process of communication, the process of the internalization of speech. He differentiates the perspective of the speaker and the hearer, and explains the movement of sounds. The sphoṭa theory addresses both how to pronounce the word and how to perceive it. Traces of his discussion are found in the works of his follower Maṇḍanamiśra in his book, Sphoṭasiddhi."

  13. ———. 2020. "Mīmāṃsāsūtra 6.5.54 on bādha in Maṇḍanamiśra’s Brahmasiddhi." Journal of Indian Philosophy no. 48:915-944.

    Abstract: "This paper will show how the philosopher Maṇḍanamiśra discusses in his Brahmasiddhi the cancellation (bādha) of a former element by a latter, which is prescribed in Mīmāṃsāsūtra 6.5.54. We do not have yet a clear idea of what the value of this text holds for him. I would emphasize that probably more than we had expected, it forms an essential part of Maṇḍana’s philosophy. Its authority is sometimes stated explicitly and sometimes not; and we easily overlook the fact that his argument is highly dependent on the Mīmāṃsā scheme. This rule, 6.5.54, was originally purely concerned with the performance of the sacrifice, but Maṇḍana applies it to his epistemic analysis, i.e. his discussion on the relative strength of the valid means of knowledge, giving this rule the status of basic testimony. Furthermore, he interprets therule in his own unique way, or at least differently from Kumārilabhaṭṭa, integrating it with the argument by his famous predecessor Bhartṛhari.

    The mutual relationship among Maṇḍana, Kumārila, and Bhartṛhari, will be illuminated by focusing on what Mīmāṃsāsūtra 6.5.54 really means."

  14. ———. 2020. "The Theory of the Sphoṭa." In The Bloomsbury Research Handbook of Indian Philosophy of Language, edited by Graheli, Alessandro, 76-107. New York: Bloomsbury.

    § 3. Bhartṛhari on the Sphoṭa, pp. 79-82.

    "The investigation of the word’s phonetic form is found in the Vākyapadīya of Bhartṛhari, one of the greatest Grammarians and philosopher, who had a huge influence on the later history of Indian philosophy. Bhartṛhari refined the few remarks on sphoṭa left by Patañjali into an elaborate philosophical theory. His sphoṭa has three characteristics:

    1. Phonemes (varṇa), sounds (dhvani), and bodily resonance (nāda) are differentiated.

    2. Sphoṭa is the indivisible sound-form manifested in both the utterance and the hearing perception of a word, which are both discussed by Bhartṛhari.

    3. Various views on sound, the nature of sphoṭa, and the relation between them, are discussed by Bhartṛhari as alternatives." (p. 79)

  15. Sastri, Gaurinath. 1959. The Philosophy of Word and Meaning: Some Indian approaches with special reference to the philosophy of Bhartṛhari. Calcutta: Calcutta Sanskrit College Research Series.

    "It was Bhartṛhari, author of the Vākyapadīya, who was the first grammarian to take upon himself the task of evolving a school of philosophy which is known by the name of Verbal Monism, Śabdādvaita or Śabdābrahmavāda. Monism in Indian thought is said to have found expression in three ways -- the Brahmādvaita or Bhāvādvaita of the Vedāntist, the Vijñanādvaita of the Buddhist, and the Śabdādvaita of the grammarian. The term Śabdābrahman is no new coinage of Bhartṛhari's, for there are texts in the Upaniṣads where we are told that there are two Brahmans, Para and Apara, and while the Parabrahman means the Higher Brahman, i.e., the Transcendental Absolute, the Aparabrahman means the Lower Brahman or the Śabdābrahman, the realization of which leads one to the attainment of the other. But we must be careful not to identify the Śabdābrahman of the grammarian with the Śabdābrahman of the Upaniṣads, for according to Bhartṛhari Śabdābrahman is identical with the Transcendent Reality.

    The present work starts with an attempt to describe the Transcendental Reality of the grammarian, which, though a unitary principle in essence, is yet inseparably associated with Śaktis or Powers which lie therein, and of which the most important is the Kālaśakti or the Time Power. It is on the eve of creation that these Powers are sundered from the Śabdābrahman, as it were, and the cosmic process runs in two directions, viz, that of word (śabda) and that of meaning (artha). In the first four chapters of the book I have discussed the nature of the Sabdabrahman and of Kālaśakti and other Powers and have not only examined the cosmic process as presented by the grammarian-philosopher but compared it with parallel schemes in other systems of philosophy as well.

    From this I have proceeded to the study of the empiric realities on the śabda side, letters, words and sentences, and I have shown that the grammarian understands sphoṭa, the indivisible word, as śabda qua denoter." (Introduction, pp. XXIV-XXV, a note omitted)

  16. ———. 1980. A Study in the Dialectics of Sphota. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.

    "To discuss the nature of 'word' or more precisely, 'significany word' (upādāna śabda) is a problem that has arrested the attention of Indian philosophers for centuries. Words are used convey meanings. Now, a word in common parlance is not anything but the sum-total of a few letters and a sentence, which usually held to be the unit of our thoughts and expressions, is an aggregate of a few words. On a careful and scientific analysis, however, it appears that a combination of letters forming a word and, likewise, a combination of words forming a sentence is never possible. Life of letters is only of short duration as they die out the next moment after they are pronounced. And, as combination of objects is possible only in the case of their co-existence, it is not understood how an aggregate of a few lettersmaking up a word or that of some words forming a sentence is obtainable. !f it, however, be presumed that letters are not short-lived entities but are endowed with permanent existence, a combination of letter, constituting a word may be conceivable but the manner in which such combination is to be achieved for purposes of expression of meaning remains to be studied in detail. The Naiyāyikas who believe in the evanescent character of letters and the Mimāṁsakas who are advocates of their etemal character have in their own ways attempted to return suitable answers to the objections that at times seem to have been baffling. But, it is worthy of notice that the grammarians do not find them suitable for acceptance. They adumbrate a theory strikingly original to claim that both word and meaning are indivisible units. The indivisible unit of expression is called sphoṭa and the indivisible unit of meaning is also called sphoṭa or pratibhā. The grammarians do not believe that a word is divisible into letters or a sentence is divisible into words. Likewise. they do not believe that the meaning of a sentence is the sum-total of the meaning of words which are ordinarily described as its parts." (Preface, p. IX)


    We have stated that Bhartṛhari has elaborated the Vedic tradition when he describes the Absolute as brahman and śabdatattva.

    But, may we go a step further to point out that he introduces it as akṣara too. Usually, the expression akṣara means that which does not change or perish, i.e., unchanging or imperishable.

    The Transcendent is viewed as the prius of the universe that comes out of it but it remains constant in spite of those transformations.

    But, as it has been noticed before that the word may be derived from vaś, to pervade, meaning thereby 'what is pervasive and ubiquitous'. In this way the identity between brahman and akṣara may be understood. And, If brahman and śabdatativā are conterminous, it is understandable how the Indescribable One is described as brahman, śabdatativā and akṣara." (Preface, p. XI)

  17. Seneviratne, Rohana. 2019. "Bhartṛhari and Wittgenstein on Grammar: A Few Observations." IRA: International Journal of Education and Multidisciplinary Studies no. 15:129-140.

    Abstract: "Irrespective of spatiotemporal limitations of the world's intellectual history, discussions on the language have attracted considerable attention of philosophers, linguists, and even the public.

    The topics of such discussions have also included the meaning, nature or function/s, and necessity of grammar while diverse arguments have been raised both in support and against even its ontic presence. Among the philosophers from all ages who attempted to analyze the foundation of those arguments, i.e. the common notion that grammar is prescriptive and fruit of pedagogical instructions, Bhartṛhari (c. 450 - 510 C.E.) stands significant because of the richness and legitimacy of his arguments at such an early age of history. More than a millennium later, Ludwig Wittgenstein as a highly influential philosopher from the last century shows some relationship with Bhartṛhari in (re)confirming that our common construal of grammar cannot be valid because of its non-prescriptive nature. While attempting to examine the ways in which Bhartṛhari and Wittgenstein have interpreted grammar, this paper succinctly investigates each philosopher approaches towards the language in use."

  18. ———. 2019. "Unity of Sentential Meaning: Bhartṛhari's Approach to the Indivisibility Thesis." Asian Journal of Multidisciplinary Studies (AJMS) no. 7:18-26.

    Abstract: "A doyen of profound discussions on the Indian philosophy of language, Bhartṛhari (fl. 500 – 700 CE) introduced in the light of the Advaita Vedanta system of philosophy a major theory known as the indivisibility thesis (akhaṇḍapakṣavāda) of meaning. His expertise in Sanskrit grammar rooted in the time-honored tradition bolstered with applied approach to the language in use enabled him to establish firmly this theory. Some later grammarians in the mainstream Pāṇinian grammatical tradition and Vedantic philosophers modelled their theories on Bhartṛhari's approach to sentential meaning, while some others criticized him for misusing the Advaita Vedantic theology and its standard line of arguments in order to justify the indivisibility of meaning, whereas primacy of words cannot be ascertained in any context of language use. This paper examines the background of Bhartṛhari's arguments for the legitimacy of his claim that sentence meaning is the primary entity, which is divisible neither syntactically nor semantically. It also seeks to justify that his approach to the indivisibility thesis deserves a significant position among the early thoughts on the derivation of meaning and its composition."

  19. Serebryakov, Igor D. 1986. "Bhartṛhari Problem in Contemporary Indology " In Sanskrit and World Culture: Proceedings of the Fourth World Sanskrit Conference of the International Association of Sanskrit Studies, Weimar, May 23–30, 1979, 663-666. Berlin: De Gruyter.

    "The interest in studies of Bhartṛhari's scientific and philosophical heritage increased immensely within the last decades. It especially concerns Vākyapadīya.

    Many editions of the text itself as a whole or in parts appeared and we should like to remind about the critical text of the Vakyapadiya prepared and published by our highly esteemed colleague S. K. Iyer. The net result of all researches concerning this tract of Bhartṛhari is given in S. K. Iyer's fundamental monograph "Vākyapadīya in the Light of Ancient Commentaries".(6) It is worth to note that the Vākyapadīya is widely used by scholars dealing particularly with the theory of meaning. It involved some ontological and epistemological problems and brought to attempts to define the place of Bhartṛhari in the ideological field of his time." (pp. 664-665)

    (6) K. A. Subramania Iyer, Bhartṛhari, A Study of Vākyapadīya in the Light of the Ancient Commentaries, Poona 1969.

  20. Shastri, Gaurinath Bhattacharyya. 1991. The Philosophy of Bhartr̥hari. Delhi: Bharatiya Vidya Prakashan.

    "We propose to review in this monograph the cardinal ·points of this unique system of thought which, in our opinion, brings out Bhartṛhari's stature as one of the most outstanding intellectuals and dialecticians of all times. It is most unfortunate, however, that he could not become the fountain-head of a school like Dharmakirti or Śaṅkarācārya who had a continuous band of eminent writers to develop the central thesis of their original promulgators. Nevertheless, his sparkling originality of thought coupled with an amazingly compelling power of logic secured for him a position of great eminence with a host of outstanding philosophers belonging to rival schools of thought." (p. 1)


    "To sum up: Io the opinion of the grammarian, Śabda means both the perishable sound and the Imperishable Word.

    When the Absolute is described as a-śabda, śabda means ·'sound'. The grammarian adumbrates that the Absolute is Śabda. In the absence of a suitable expression in the English language, the Absolute in the system of the grammarian is called Word (Śabda) or the Eternal Verbum." (p. 7)

  21. Shukla, Ved Mitra. 2021. Meaning in Bhartrhari's Vakyapadiya. New Delhi: D. K Printworld.

  22. Shulman, David. 2008. "Illumination, Imagination, Creativity: Rājasekhara, Kuntaka, and Jagannātha on Pratibhā." Journal of Indian Philosophy no. 36:481-505.

    Abstract: "Sanskrit poeticians make the visionary faculty of pratibhā necessary part of the professional poet’s make-up. The term has a pre-history in Bhartṛhari's linguistic metaphysics, where it is used to explain the unitary perception of meaning.

    This essay examines the relation between pratibhā and possible theories of the imagination, with a focus on three unusual theoreticians—Rājasekhara, Kuntaka, and Jagannāthaita. Rājasekhara offers an analysis of pratibhā that is heavily interactive, requiring the discerning presence of the bhāvaka listener or critic; he also positions pratibhā in relation to Bildung (vyutpatti) and practice. For Kuntaka, pratibhā, never an ex nihilo creation by a poet, serves as the basis for the peculiar forms of intensified insight and experience that constitute poetry; these may also involve the creative scrambling and re-articulation of the object in terms of its systemic composition. At times, Kuntaka’s pratibhā comes close to a strong notion of imaginative process. But the full-fledged thematization of the imagination, and of pratibhā as its support and mechanism, is best seen in the seventeenth-century debates preserved for us by Jagannātha. A link is suggested between the discourse of poetic imagination in Jagannātha and similar themes that turn up in Indo-Persian poets such as Bedil."

  23. Subramania Iyer, K. A. 1969. Bhartṛhari: A Study of Vâkyapadîya in the Light of Ancient Commentaries. Poona: Deccan College Postgraduate Research Institute.

    "To put it briefly, an attempt has been made in this work, after giving a brief account of the problems relating to the text of Bhartrhari's work, including his commentary on the Mahabhashya of Patañjali and to the commentaries on the Vākyapadīya, to expound briefly the philosophical ideas and the notions pertaining to General Linguistics and those underlying the forms of the Sanskrit language, found mainly in the Vākyapadīya and to a certain extent, in the commentary on the Mahabhashya. As the whole of even the available fragment of the latter work has not yet been published, it has not been possible to bring out all the linguistic notion lying embedded in it.

    But I have taken note of some of the notions found in the published portion and they are found to confirm what one can gather from the Vākyapadīya. The present work is chiefly a study of the Vākyapadīya on the basis of the four available ancient commentaries. It does not claim to expound everything that the Vākyapadīya contains. It deals only with the basic notions found in its three kāṇḍas. The last section of the third kāṇḍa, the one relating to complex formations (Vrtti) is particularly rich in linguistic notions and some of them have been briefly explained here. The rest have not been dealt with, not only because they have been left for later treatment elsewhere, but also because some of them pertain particularly to the Sanskrit language whereas I have been anxious to bring out those notions like that of sphoṭa which concern language in general and not any particular language. The reason is that I look upon Bhartrhari as one who has, in a philosophical background, made a contribution to General Linguistics. He may be said to have given a definite shape to the contribution of ancient India to General Linguistics, though his ideas go back to Patañjali in the grammatical and linguistic tradition and to the Vedas themselves as far as the philosophical side is concerned. As I have indicated briefly what I have tried to do here in the section entitled 'Problems of Interpretation', it is not necessary to say anything more here." (Preface, pp. IX-X)

  24. ———. 1982. The Vākyapadīya: Some Problems. Poona: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute.

    Contents: Lecture I: Some Aspects of Bhartṛhari's Śabdādvaita 1-11; Lecture II: Bhartṛhari on Sphoṭa 12-50; Lecture III: the Vākyapadīya and the Pramāṇas 51-69.

    "In Vāk. I. 44, according to tradition, Bhartṛhari begins his treatment of two kinds of words, included among the eight topics declared by himself to form the subject matter of the Vākyapadīya.

    There he tells us that in connection with the expressive word, one has to distinguish between two things: (1) that element which is the cause of the manifestation, (2) that element which, when manifested, conveys the meaning. Of these, the latter is the real word, the vācaka and the former is what manifests it. It is through the former that the indivisible expressive word is manifested and transferred to the hearer. Patañjali, in his Mahābhāṣya also makes a distinction between that which conveys the object, the meaning and that which is mere sound (dhvani); but he does not say anywhere clearly that the latter manifests the former. That element which, when manifested conveys the meaning is the real indivisible word, the vācaka.

    It already exists in the speaker and the hearer but it has to be awakened or mianifested before it can convey the meaning. That which awakens it is called the nimitta. These two aspects exist only in the case of words which are expressive (upādānaśabda) ·and are therefore used for communication. The sounds which are uttered by the speaker awaken or manifest the expressive word, primarily the sentence, which already exists in the hearer.

    The manifesting sounds are, therefore, the nimitta, the immediate cause of the awakening. It is not they which convey the meaning. That is done by the indivisible, sequenceless word which is manifested because it is eternally associated with it. It always carries, as it were, the reflection of the object and that reflection is the meaning. The main purpose is to convey it." (pp. 18-19)

  25. Timalsina, Stfianeshwar. 2009. "Bharṭrhari and Mạndạna on Avidyā." Journal of Indian Philosophy no. 37:367-382.

    Abstract: "The concept of avidyā is one of the central categories in the Advaita of Sankara and Mạndạna. Shifting the focus from māyā, interpreted either as illusion or as the divine power, this concept brings ignorance to the forefront in describing duality and bondage. Although all Advaitins accept avidyā as a category, its scope and nature is interpreted in multiple ways. Key elements in Mạndạna’s philosophy include the plurality of avidyā, individual selves as its substrate and the Brahman as its field (visaya), and the distinction in avidyā between non-apprehension and misapprehension. A closer investigation shows that Mạndạna is directly influenced by Bhartṛhari's linguistic non-dualism in developing the concept of Bhartṛhari. This study also compares other key constituents such as vivartta and parināma that are relevant to the analysis of avidyā. As the concept of counter-image (pratibimba) emerges as a distinct stream of Advaita subsequent to Mạndạna, this study also compares the application of pratibimba in the writings of Bhartṛhari and Mạndạna."

  26. ———. 2009. "The Brahman and the Word Principle (Śabda). Influence of the Philosophy of Bhartrhari on Mạndạna's Brahmasiddhi." Journal of Indian Philosophy no. 37:189-206.

    Abstract: "The literature of Bhartrhari and Mạndạna have drawn significant attention in contemporary times. The writings of the prominent linguistic philosopher and grammarian Bhartrhari and of Mạndạna, an encyclopedic scholar of later seventh century and most likely a senior contemporary of Sankara, shape Indian philosophical thinking to a great extent. On this premise, this study of the influence of Bhartrhari on Mạndạna's literature, the scope of this essay, allows us to explore the significance of Bhartrhari's writings, not only to comprehend the philosophy of language, but also to understand the contribution of linguistic philosophy in shaping Advaita philosophy in subsequent times. This comparison is not to question originality on the part of Mạndạna, but rather to explore the interrelationship between linguistic philosophy and the monistic philosophy of the Upanịsadic tradition. Besides excavating the role of Bhartrhari's writings on the texts of Mạndạna, this analysis will reveal the interrelatedness of the Advaita school of Sankara, often addressed as 'pure non-dualism' (Kevalādvaita) and the Advaita of Bhartrhari, identified as 'non-dualism of the word-principle' (Śabdādvaita)."

  27. ———. 2014. "Semantics of Nothingness: Bhartṛhari’s Philosophy of Negation." In Nothingness in Asian Philosophy, edited by Liu, JeeLoo and Berge, Douglas R., 25-43. New York: Routledge.


    This discussion of Sanskrit semantics has multiple philosophical implications.

    Bhartṛharii’s treatment of negation as ultimately grounded on being, and his assertion that there is no absolute negation of speech, removes it from the paradox that underlies negating something. This speech, or vāc, of Bhartṛhari is not just a means of communication though. When speech is identified with the absolute, the Brahman, the consequence is that no negation of the foundational being is possible, a rejection of the Nāgārjunian approach.

    Bhartṛhari’s treatment of sentence negation and word negation further illuminate other issues. It has been discussed above that negation in a sentence relates to the verb and negation in compounds relate to the second word. The consequence is that word negations do not simply negate something. Bhartṛhari’s logic rests on three-tiered negation:

    ~ P = Q

    ~ P = ~

    ~ = P'

    (Where P' stands for something that is neither identical to P nor is absolutely different from it, in the sense that P' shares many of the constituents of P but not all.) While Bhartṛhari rejects the position that ~ P = Q , this is only in the context of the compound terms. His analysis of three-tiered negation (which stems from Patañjali’s analysis) still has relevance in understanding negation in the issues outside of semantics.

    The consequence of Bhartṛhari’s conclusion is that ~ P = P' leaves negation as affirming something existing. For the Advaitins, ‘ignorance’ (avidyā) is of the essential character of being (bhāvarūpa). This understanding of ignorance as something phenomenal (while not having its own intrinsic being) would be semantically impossible had not the philosophy of language allowed such interpretation. Along the same lines, the Svātantrika-Prāsangika discourse on negation also stems from the semantic issue of whether the negative terms simply negate being or affirm something else.

    The discourse on language is therefore pivotal to understanding a wide range of philosophical issues that originated in classical India. Although I have restricted myself to the philosophy of Bhartṛhari, his answers to the issues regarding negation are relevant for a wider discourse not only on language but also epistemology." (pp. 40-41)

  28. ———. 2018. "Bhartṛhari and the Daoists on Paradoxical Statements." Journal of Indian Philosophy and Religion:5-24.

    Abstract: "Rather than considering paradox in a literal sense to be unresolvable, both Bhartṛhari and the Daoists develop a distinctive hermeneutics to decipher them, always exploring an overarching meaning where the fundamental differences are contained within. The conversation on paradox escapes the boundary of paradox then, as it relates to interpreting negation, and above all, the philosophy of semantics. Being and non-being, one and many, or something being both true and false at the same time are examples found from their texts. Just as the static and dynamic domains of the Dao remain a key to address paradox in Chinese literature, the stratification of speech, wherein deeper layers of speech are capable of resolving the apparent tension found at the surface level, seems central to Bhartṛhari’s approach."

  29. Tiwari, Devendra Nath. 1997. "Bhartṛhari on the Indivisibility of Single-Word Expressions and Subordinate Sentences." Indian Philosophical Quarterly no. 24:197-216.

    "The aim of Bhartṛhari' s Philosophy of language is to explain the cognition accomplished by expressions in usual communication. By the term 'expression' Bhartṛhari means the unit of language which illuminates itself (its real nature) and the meaning as well on the basis of which communications are accomplished.

    It as such is a unit of communication comprising utterances, signs, symbols, gestures etc. as instrumental in the manifestation of real language (sphoṭa) and the sphoṭa as well which when manifested by them reveals itself and the meaning as well. Expression is not confined to tokens we utter, write or read because communication is accomplished by it. It is the differences of tokens used that the vitality or otherwise of an expression is decided; though Vaiyākaraṇas give importance to the tokens popularly used in ordinary usages. An expression is expressed in the mind of a speaker before communicating through utterances and reveals meaning when it is revealed in the mind of the audience through hearing and mainfesting sphoṭa. The utterances/tokens by proxy are called expressions. According to his philosophy there is no cognition without śabda (language) and all cognition. is congition shot through and through by sabda.(1)" (p. 197)

    (1) Vākyapadīyam, 1/ 123 edited, Sampurnanand Sanskrit Yisvavidyalya, Varanasi.

  30. ———. 2008. The Central Problems of Bhartrhari 's Philosophy. New Delhi: Indian Council of Philosophical Research.

    Contents: Notes on Transliteration of Sanskrit Alphabets VI; Abbreviations VII; Acknowledgements IX; Preface XI-XIX; Chapter I: Philosophical Problems of Vākyapadīya 1; Chapter II: Concept of Speech-Element (Vāk-tattva) 75; Chapter III: The Concept of Sentence (Vākya) 143; Chapter IV: The Concept of Sentential-Meaning (Vākyārtha) 176; Chapter V: The Concept of Word (Pada) 257; Chapter VI: The Concept of Word-Meaning (Padārtha) 285; Chapter VII: Concept of Grammatical Analysis (Apoddhāra) 360; Chapter VIII: Relation betweern Language and Meaning 377; Chapter IX: Critical Estimate 404; Index 420-434.

    "The present work is a cognitive approach that views Bhartrhari's philosophy in accordance with his goal of analyzing and interpreting cognition as revealed by language in usual communication. It views even the metaphysical concepts, as they are revealed in the mind by language. Philosophy cannot excel, or there is no possibility of any philosophy, if it is taken to engage with transcendental, non-cognitive and incommunicable things beyond the reach of language. Philosophy is a cognitive activity par excellence in the sense that it is concerned with and is confined to the beings that are awareness in character, and the world of awareness, for a Bhartṛharian, comprises the being of language and that of the meaning revealed non-differently by it in the mind. The language expresses/reveals those beings independently of things in-themselves - empirical or transcendental - and of our allegiances to them. Such beings, as are revealed by language, are alone intelligible and, hence, philosophical beings.

    Language (śabda) for Bhartṛhari is not confined to what we speak, read or write. It is the light, the unit of awareness, a conscious force, different in character and in function from other lights, viz. sun, lamp, etc. which serve as tools in perception. Unlike other lights, it is awareness and, hence, foundational in character. It functions as the expresser of both itself and its meaning. Lights, other than language, illuminate external things caught in their compass, while language reveals all light, non-light, consciousness, unconsciousness and self-awareness as well. As a lamp illuminates many things falling within its compass, but the thing desired or expected, specifically, is taken primarily as illuminated by it, language (śabda) is expressive of all meanings (sarve sarvārtha vācākāḥ), but the meaning popularly expected is primarily taken to be known by it and other meanings are known on its basis either by implication or by closeness to the primary meaning. The present work observes that any oversight of the importance of expressive or primary meaning may cause confusion in understanding philosophical excellence of Vākyapadīya, because it is the primary meaning on the basis of which secondary and tertiary meanings of the word/language are known by imposition and nearness to it." (Preface, p. XIII)


    "In order to impart to the book a pattern of organic unity, it is symmetrically arranged into nine chapters. The presentation contains investigations into the problem of different theories of language, meaning and the relation between the two from the point of view of analysis of cognition as revealed by language in communication. It deals with almost all the major arguments of the Naiyyikas, Bauddhas and the Mīmāṃsakas on the various issues of philosophical semantics and syntactics and answers them persuasively from the point of view of Bhartrhari's philosophy. Attempt has been made to present a philosophical exposition of the concepts without leaving any important verse of Vākyapadīya untouched. That is why, it has become a useful monograph not only for scholars, but also for general readers interested in the central philosophy of Vākyapadīya. The author is well aware of his limitations. It is up to wise readers to correct him for an improved next edition." (Preface, p. XIX)

  31. Todeschini, Alberto. 2010. "Bhartṛhari's view of the pramāṇas in the Vākyapadīya." Asian Philosophy: An International Journal of the Philosophical Traditions of the East:97-109.

    Abstract: "This paper is a study of Bhartṛhari's understanding of the pramāṇas, i.e. the means whereby knowledge is acquired, as can be evinced from his Vākyapadīya and the corresponding commentary (Vākyapadīya Vṛtti). Both Bhartṛhari's general attitude towards pramāṇas as well as his specific understanding of the individual means of knowledge are analyzed. In particular, it is established that Bhartṛhari accepts exactly three pramāṇas: perception (pratyakṣa), inferential reasoning (anumāna) and tradition (āgama). However, the status of the three is unequal: perception and inferential reasoning are fallible and hence cannot provide reliable guidance with regard to Dharma. These two pramāṇas do have their place and according to Bhartṛhari should not be discarded entirely. As for āgama, it is clear that Bhartṛhari accords it primacy in matters related to Dharma. But again, Bhartṛhari does not discard anumāna and pratyakṣa entirely. Rather, he seems to suggest that they have to be supplemented by āgama, which is the unimpeacheable judge of tradition."

  32. Tola, Fernando, and Dragonetti, Carmen. 1990. "Some Remarks on Bhartṛhari's Concept of Pratibhā." Journal of Indian Philosophy no. 18:95-112.

    "Among the meanings which the word pratibhā possesses in Bhartṛhari three interest us:

    (1) Pratibhā as the meaning of the word (pāda) and of the sentence (vākyārtha).

    (2) Pratibhā as an act of intuitive knowledge, whose object is the meaning of the word and of the sentence. Both aspects of pratibhā as the meaning of the word and of the sentence and as an intuitive knowledge are indissolubly connected. This relation is expressed by Punyarāja when he says, ad kārikā II, 13, that artha, the meaning is pratibhārūpa and, ad kārikā II, 31, that it is pratibhātmaka. Bhartṛhari himself affirms that the śabda(2) and the artha are not separated (II, 31, sabdārthāv apṛthakslhitau). It is only the conceptual analysis that can separate the meaning of the sentence (artha) from its cognition {pratibhā)(3)

    (3) Pratibhā as an act of intuitive knowledge whose object is not the meaning of the word or of the sentence, but the 'meaning of an action', 'the meaning of a situation', and other objects of diverse kinds. With this third value the semantic sphere covered by the word pratibhā becomes much broader. The second and third meanings differ only in relation to the object to which the act of intuition applies. So in what follows we shall treat them together." (pp. 95-96)

    (2) The word śabda comprises words (pāda) and sentences (vākya).

    (3) This remark on the indissoluble unity of the meaning of the sentence and its cognition is also valid for any other object of pratibhā.

  33. Unebe, Toshiya. 2000. "Jñānaśrībhadra's Interpretation of Bhartrhari as Found in the Lankāvatāravrtti ('Phags pa Langkar gshegs pa'i 'grel pa)." Journal of Indian Philosophy no. 28:329-360.

    "The Lankāvatārasūtra (LAS) is one of the most important scriptures of Mahāyāna Buddhism. It was translated into Chinese four times. Three translations are still extant. Many commentaries on those Chinese versions were written in China, as well as in Japan,(1) whereas only two commentaries on the Sanskrit version have come down to us in the form of Tibetan translations. Jñānaśrībhadra (Ye shes dpal bzang po), who is thought to have been active in the eleventh century in Kashmir, wrote one of them: the Ārya-Lankāvatāravrtti (’Phags pa Langkar gshegs pa’i ’grel pa = LAV)." p. 329)


    "In his LAV Jñānaśrībhadra frequently refers to the positions of Bhartṛhari, the Grammarians (vaiyākaraṇa/lung ston pa rnams), or the Śabdabrahmavādin (sgra tshangs par smra ba rnams) holders of the theory of Brahman as language). As far as I am aware, under these names, forty-six verses are directly quoted from the Vākyapadīya (VP), the magnum opus of Bhartṛhari. Given the fact that Śāntarakṣita in his Tattvasaṅgraha, cited Bhartṛhari’s verses in many places, and even devoted one chapter to refuting his Vedāntic philosophical thought, Buddhists could not ignore Bhartṛhari’s philosophy and linguistic theory.

    In this paper I will deal with some of the verses cited by JJñānaśrībhadra and his comments on them to illustrate how this Buddhist scholar understood Bhartṛhari's thought. The paper will also offer some interpretations of LAS passages in the light of the commentary of Indian origin; in addition it will provide material to understand the world of thought of eleventh century Kashmir from a Buddhist perspective." (p. 330, a note omitted)

    (1) For this tradition, based on the Chinese versions of the LAS, see Suzuki (1930: 3–11, 51–65).

  34. ———. 2004. "The "Grammarian Objection" in Sthiramati's Triṃśikābhāṣya and Bhartṛhari's Argument on the Secondary Application of Words." In Three Mountains and Seven Rivers: Prof. Musashi Tachikawa's Felicitation Volume, edited by Hino, Shoun and Wada, Toshihiro, 135-152. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.

    "My attempt in this paper is only to show that the connection between the objection recorded in the Sthiramati's commentary and the grammatical literature, especially, Bhartṛhari's Vākyapadīya. Using these earlier studies, we shall discuss it further in detail." (p. 136)


    "In conclusion, let us summarize our discussion briefly. As we have examined, the close ideas to the "Grammarian's objection" presented in Sthiramati's Triṃśikābhāṣya are recorded in Bhartṛhari's Vākyapadīya. But it is doubtful that he intends to make an objection to the Vijnanavadins per se, as he seems to introduce just various views with reference to the secondary application or secondary meanings of words. Among the various views taken up by Bhartrhari, the one particular to him is that a word primarily refers only to its form (svarupa), a ·particular pattern of phonemes; whatever else the word may refer to is secondary. In spite of Sthiramati's rejection of this view, we can see some kind of affinity between Bhartrhari and the Vijnanavadins on this point, since it is the Vijñānāvadins who assert that whatever a word may refer to is secondary." (p. 146)

  35. ———. 2010. "Bhartṛhari on Text and Context." In Indian Philosophy and Text Science, edited by Wada, Toshihiro, 115-131. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.

    "... in this paper, I would like to introduce the ancient Indian counterpart of modern contextualism by presenting how the fifth-century Indian grammarian/philosopher Bhartṛhari treats context in his linguistic theory, widely known as the theory of the indivisible sentence (akhaṇda-vākya-vāda). Scholars have clarified that Bhartṛhari considers a sentence (vākya) as the indivisible unit of speech and meaning of a sentence (vakyārtha) as something indivisibly and instantaneously perceived as a flash of understanding (pratibhā) by the listener of the speech. However; the role of context in his theory has not been sufficiently explained thus far.

    As the title of his magnum opus, the Vākyapadīya (VP), indicates, Bhartṛhari mainly argues about a sentence (vākya) in contrast with a word (pada). Therefore, he focuses on the significance of a sentence vis-a-vis the words that constitute it. Thus, there seems to be no independent section in Bhartṛhari's Vākyapadīya where he solely explains context. However, this still does not imply that he considers the issue to be an insignificant one. l hope that the idea of this ancient Indian grammarian will prove to be relevant even for the present Text Science." (p. 116, a note omitted)

  36. ———. 2011. "‘‘Apūrva,’’ ‘‘Devata¯,’’ and ‘‘Svarga’’: Arguments on Words Denoting Imperceptible Objects." Journal of Indian Philosophy no. 39:535-552.

    Abstract: "We cannot directly perceive and experience objects of words such as ‘‘apūrva’’ ‘‘devata¯ ,’’ and ‘‘svarga,’’ while objects of words such as ‘‘cow’’ and ‘‘horse’’ are perceptible. Therefore in the Indian linguistic context, some assert that there are two categories of words. However, a grammarian philosopher Bhartṛhari (450 CE) in the second book of his Vākyapadīya, introduces a verse stating that there is no difference between them. Other Indian thinkers as well deal with this issue in various contexts. This paper aims at exploring the ideas expressed in Bhartṛhari’s verse and the related arguments found in other treatises of different schools. It consists of discussions of the following: (1) Bhartṛhari's Vākyapadīya 2.119 and its commentarial texts; (2) Kumārila’s Criticism; (3) The Nyāya context; (4) The Sāmkhya and the Buddhist context; (5) Related grammatical passages and the background of the Vākyapadīya 2.119; and (6) Conclusion."

  37. ———. 2012. "Cognition and Language: A Discussion of Vākyapadīya 1.131 with Regard to Criticism from the Buddhists." In Saṃskṛta-Sādhutā. Goodness of Sanskrit: Studies in Honour of Professor Ashok Aklujkar, edited by Watanabe, Chikafuma, Desmarais, Michele M. and Honda, Yoshichika, 488-508. New Delhi: D. K. Printworld.

  38. ———. 2018. "Cognition and Language: Buddhist Criticism of Bhartṛhari' Thesis." In History of Indian Philosophy, edited by Bilimoria, Purushottama, 446-455. New York: Routledge.

    "This chapter is primarily concerned with the fifth-century (c. 450– 510 CE) Indian grammarian and philosopher Bhartṛhari. Bhartṛhari’s thesis on the relation between cognition and language is frequently visited by various thinkers from other schools. We will examine arguments in a few Buddhist logico- epistemological compendia, in which certain authors criticized Bhartṛhari for neglecting non- conceptual (avikalpa/ nirvikalpa) perception.

    Bhartṛhari proclaims his thesis in the first book of his magnum opus, the Vākyapadīya (V) as follows:

    [Sanskrit omitted]

    (VP 1.131; VPwr, p. 49; VPI, p. 188)

    In the world there is no notion (pratyaya) without conforming to/ accompaniment of language. All cognition (jñāna) appears as if penetrated by language.

    As it reads, Bhartṛhari asserts that all cognition is closely related to language. The relationship between language and cognition intrigued ancient Indian scholars, and Bhartṛhari’s theory generated arguments among them. Quoting this verse, many thinkers argue for and against his thesis.(2)" (p. 446)

    (2) See Jan Houben, “Language and Thought in the Sanskrit Tradition,” in History of the Language Sciences: An International Handbook on the Evolution of the Study of Language from the Beginnings to the Present, vol. 1, ed. S. Auroux et al. Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2000, pp. 146-157.


    VP Vākyapadīya of Bhartṛhari, with the commentaries Vrṭti and the Paddhati of Vṛṣabhadeva, Kāṇḍa I, ed. K. A. Subramania Iyer, Deccan College Monograph Series 32. Poona: Deccan College, 1966.

    VPI The Vākyapadīya of Bhartṛhari with the Vrṭtii: English translation, ch. 1. Deccan College Building Centenary and Silver Jubilee Series 26. Poona: Deccan College, 1965.

    VPwr Bhartṛhari’s Vākyapadīya, ed. Wilhelm Rau, Abhandlungen für die Kunde des Morgenlandes 42.4. Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner, 1977.

  39. Vergiani, Vincenzo. 2004. "Two Parallel Passages in the Mahabhayasyatika and the Vakyapadiya of Bhartrhari." Rivista degli Studi Orientali no. 77.

    "THE six kāraka categories are, as is known, a pivotal feature of Pāṇini's grammar. This explains why they have repeatedly drawn the attention of both ancient Grammarians and modern Indologists, stimulating considerable debate on the subject. Despite minor criticisms and modifications, the Pāṇiniyas have basically accepted the kāraka system as expounded in the Aṣṭādhyāyī, making a clear distinction between kāraka and non-kāraka syntactic relations.

    It is all the more disconcerting, therefore, to come across the mention of «seven kārakas» in one of the best-known and most authoritative commentaries on Patañjali's Mahābhāṣyaṣyaṭīkā,(1) the Mahābhāṣyapradīpa(2) of Kaiyaṭa, even though this occurs within the context of what appears to be an alternative view, which the author rejects.

    In all likelihood Kaiyaṭa is inspired by a remark made by Bhartṛhari in his Mahābhāṣyaṣyaṭīkā(3) the most ancient extant commentary on the MBh.(4) In Bhartṛhari's ṭikā on the Paspasāhnika, in fact, there is a puzzling statement, which is made more difficult to comprehend by the fact that in one place the manuscript has a barely legible akṣara (...). Here I would like to suggest a new interpretation of Bhartṛhari's words(5) by drawing a parallel with v. 44 of the Sādhanasamuddesa,(6) the chapter on the factors of action in the third kāṇḍa of the Vākyapadīya.(7) My interpretation is based on a reading of the passage that differs from the one found in the 1987 BORI critical edition of this section of the MBhT by Bronkhorst." (p. 86)

    (1) Henceforth, MBh.

    (2) Henceforth, MPr.

    (3) Henceforth, MBhT.

    (4) As is known, the MBhT is preserved in only one incomplete and often corrupt manuscript, the facsimile of which has been published by the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute of Pune.

    (5) And, consequently, of Kaiyaṭa's.

    (6) Henceforth, SaS. Unfortunately, for the understanding of this verse we cannot rely on Helārāja's help, because one of the two gaps occurring in the Prakīrṇaprakāśa (henceforth, PrPr) includes the

    commentary on this section of the SaS. The gaps are filled in the manuscripts with the text of an otherwise unknown author called Phullarāja.

    (7) Henceforth, VP.

  40. ———. 2009. "A Quotation from the Mahābhāṣyadīpikā of Bhartṛhari in the Pratyāhāra Section of the Kāśikāvṛtti." In Studies in the Kasikavrtti. The Section on Pratyaharas Critical Edition, Translation and Other Contributions, edited by Haag, Pascale and Vergiani, Vincenzo, 161-189. London: Anthem Press.

    "In the Kāśikāvṛtti (henceforth, KV) on psū. 5, ha ya va ra Ṭ, a passage occurs that is present in a very similar form in two earlier texts, the Mahābhāṣyadīpikā (henceforth, MD) of Bhartṛhari and the Cāndravṛtti (henceforth, CV) on the Cāndravyākaraña (henceforth, C.) of Candragomin. A second passage elaborating on the first is found in almost identical form in the CV and the KV. Although many scholars, from Kielhorn (1886) onwards, have drawn attentionto the numerous similarities that exist between the C., and especially its commentary, the CV, and the KV, even in the pratyāhāra section, these particular passages seem to have gone virtually unnoticed. However, as I will try to show in the following pages, they represent one piece of direct evidence that can help to establish on a more reliable basis the still controversial relative chronology of the authors and texts mentioned above, as well as their relationships to each other. Before examining the passages in question, I will present the terms of the ongoing debate, thus situating their interpretation in a historical perspective." (pp. 161-162, notes omitted)


    Kielhorn, Franz Lorenz (1886), “The Chāndra-Vyākaraṇa andthe Kāśikā-Vṛtti”, Indian Antiquary, 15, pp. 183-85. [Reprint: Rau, W. (Ed.), Franz Kielhorn. Kleine Schriften, 2 vols., Steiner, Wiesbaden 1969, pp. 244-46.]

  41. ———. 2012. "Bhartṛhari’s Views on the Role of Liminal Perception in Individual Self-awareness." In Saṃskṛta-Sādhutā. Goodness of Sanskrit: Studies in Honour of Professor Ashok Aklujkar, edited by Watanabe, Chikafuma, Desmarais, Michele M. and Honda, Yoshichika, 331-349. New Delhi: D. K. Printworld.

    "Even sensations and impressions that have hardly been consciously recorded at the time of their occurrence can often be retrieved to some extent by an effort of recollection and therefore verbalised. Thus, a question arises about their status after the sense-object interaction takes place: should they be regarded as unformed perceptions that already possess cognitive value, namely, that are already somewhat imbued with linguistic categories? And is it possible that Bhartṛhari uses the phrase avikalpa jñāna to refer to such liminal states of cognition, when one’s attention is either unfocussed or, on the contrary, deeply absorbed in what one is doing whilst generally alert to one’s surroundings?

    In order to answer these questions, I will first briefly present Bhartṛhari’s views on the physical and physiological aspects of perception, for I think these have a bearing on the topic of this article." (pp. 332-333, a note omitted)

  42. ———. 2013. "The Adoption of Bhartṛhari’s Classification of the grammatical object in Cēṉāvaraiyar’s commentary on the Tolkāppiyam." In Bilingualism and Cross-cultural Fertilisation: Sanskrit and Tamil in Medieval India, edited by Cox, Whitney and Vergiani, Vincenzo, 161-197. Pondichéry: Publications de l’Institut Français de Pondichéry.

    "In this article I will look at one episode in the long history of the interaction between the Sanskrit and Tamil grammatical traditions and draw from it some — largely tentative — conclusions in the hope that they may help to cast some light on larger processes at work.

    The episode in question is quite a clear-cut case of conceptual borrowing.

    It consists in the adoption of a semantic classiication of the grammatical object, irst formulated by the Sanskrit author Bhartṛhari (probably 5th century CE), at the hands of Cēṉāvaraiyar (13th–14th century CE), a mediaeval Tamil commentator of the Collatikāram (TC) of the Tolkāppiyam (T.). In order to assess the full significance and the wider implications of this borrowing, I will first have to situate both authors within their respective scholastic traditions. In particular, their views on the grammatical object will need to be seen in the broader context of each school’s treatment of cases. his is a vast, complex and a highly technical topic, and even more so in an inter-linguistic perspective like the one attempted here. I will therefore have to be content with providing an inevitably sketchy outline of the two systems before narrowing my focus down to the grammatical object, and with that focus in mind I will also briely discuss other broadly coeval texts and traditions, in the hope that even a simple presentation of textual data will give a sense of the complexity of the underlying socio-cultural dynamics." (pp. 161-162, a note omitted)

  43. ———. 2014. "The concept of prayoktṛdharma in the Vākyapadīya and some later works: The expression of feelings through words: a linguistic and philosophical outlook." Bulletin d'Études Indiennes no. 32:267-291.

    "It is not uncommon for an utterance in the context of ordinary communication not only to predicate something about a given state of affairs but also to convey something about the speaker’s emotional disposition towards the particular situation he/she is talking about. Clearly, any utterance reflects the uniquely subjective point of view of a certain speaker, which depends on the motivation behind his/her speech act as well as on what can be broadly defined as the context in which the communication takes place – and the context itself can be further described or analysed in terms of a number of variables such as the time and place, the level of formality/informality of the exchange, the nature of the relation between the people involved, and so on.


    In an article published in 1991 Saroja Bhate draws attention to this remarkable feature of Pāṇini’s work, one more token of his linguistic genius. “In his Aṣṭādhyāyī”, she writes, “he showed in at least two hundred rules that a number of emotive and attitudinal meanings were relevant to the form of language” (Bhate 1991: 59).(2)


    In the Pāṇinian tradition, the concept of vyañjanā was adopted by one of its greatest later exponents, Nāgeśa, in the 17th century (Bhate 1991: 56), to designate meanings that are not directly expressed but rather suggested or implied. However, long before Nāgeśa, the grammatical tradition, and in particular Bhartṛhari (5th c. CE), had speculated on this elusive aspect of semantics from a linguistic and philosophical point of view, coming up with different insights of great theoretical interest. In this paper I will focus on one such insight – the notion of prayoktr̥dharma “property of the speaker” – found in the third kāṇḍa of the Vākyapadīya (VP), Bhartṛhari’s major treatise on philosophical semantics, and look at the use some of the later Pāṇinīyas made of it in their works."

    (2) A systematic survey of these rules in the A. is still a desideratum. I intend to carry it out in the future.


    Bhate, Saroja (1991), “Vyañjanā as reflected in the formal structure of language”. Pāṇinian Studies. Professor S.D. Joshi Felicitation Volume, ed. by Madhav M. Deshpande & Saroja Bhate, 55-64. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Center for South and Southeast Asian Studies, The University of Michigan.

  44. ———. 2015. "Āgamārthānusāribhiḥ. Helārāja’s Use of Quotations and Othe Referential Devices in His Commentary on the Vakyapadiya." Journal of Indian Philosophy no. 43:191-217.

    Abstract: "Examining the function and style of the references to grammatical literature found in a substantial section of Helārāja’s Prakīrṇaprakāśa on Bhartṛhari's third book of the Vākyapadīya, the article argues that the likely ideological motive of this commentary was to establish its mūla work firmly within the Brahmanical canon and should therefore be seen in the context of the appropriation of Bhartṛhari's ideas on the part of the roughly contemporary Pratyabhijñā philosophers of Kashmir. Incidentally, it also touches upon the making of the Pāṇinian tradition and the relation between Helārāja and Kaiyaṭa, the Kashmiri commentator of Mahābhāṣya."

  45. ———. 2016. "Bhartṛhari on Language, Perception, and Consciousness." In The Oxford Handbook of Indian Philosophy, edited by Ganeri, Jonardon, 231-252. New York: Oxford University Press.

    "Among the followers of the three sages (munis)—Pāṇini, Kātyāyana, and Patañjali—Bhartṛhari is the first whose works are extant. But rather than focusing primarily on the technical side of grammar, in his magnum opus, the Vākyapadīya, Bhartṛhari develops the reflection on semantics initiated by Patañjali. This reflection is elaborated within the framework of his unique metaphysical vision according to which the very essence of brahman , the Absolute, is language (śabda), the ordering principle that is the fountainhead of the light of consciousness shining inside all living beings as well as the ultimate source of the physical world.

    If the language principle (śabda-tattva ) is the stuff the universe is made of, it follows that its sentient manifestations, and in particular human beings, are never divorced from language, for their capacity for knowledge (in fact their very consciousness and self-awareness, as will be argued below) is innately infused with language. The epistemological counterpart of Bhartṛhari’s ontological monism is epitomized in this much-quoted verse from the first book of the VP: “In ordinary experience there is no cognition that does not conform to language. All knowledge appears as if it were transfixed by language.” This position certainly has metaphysical underpinnings, as I have mentioned, but at the same time it is rooted—like all of the Grammarians’ statements on language and epistemology—in the insightful observation of the actual linguistic practices and mental processes at play in everyday experience. And yet, the content of this particular statement may seem counterintuitive, because we are not normally aware of language playing any evident role in the sensory apprehension of physical objects. For Bhartṛhari’s epistemology, it is of crucial importance, then, to show how language operates in a subtle but pervasive way even in perception, the most immediate mode of cognition." (p. 233, notes omitted)

  46. Watanabe, Chikafuma. 2012. "Bhartṛhari, Dignāga and the Epimenides Paradox." In Studies in Logic: A Dialogue between the East and the West: Homage to Bimal Krishna Matilal, edited by Mitra, Madhabendra Nath, Chakraborty, Mihir Kumar and Sarukkai, Sundar, 115-141. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal.

    "For the Indian Grammarians, including Bhartṛhari, a statement represents the speaker's intention.(7) Accordingly, the hearer should not assume in advance that the speaker is telling a lie or what he is saying is false, as otherwise it would not be possible to establish communication between the speaker and the hearer.

    However, when a speaker utters the sentence "all I say is lies" (sarvaṃ mithyā bravīmi), if the word "all" refers to the statement itself, then the statement itself would be refuted and the speaker's intention to convey what he has in mind would not be accomplished. In order to prevent this self-refutation, the meaning of the quantifier "all" must be restricted. As a result, the meaning of the statement is understood as "all I say is lies except for this statement."

    In this sense, it might be said that Bhartṛhari employs the theory of meta-language as devised from the semantic point of view. But the crucial point in his manner of evading self-reference is his introduction of the notion of the speaker's intention and his emphasis on the purpose of speech acts. This point is more intimately related to pragmatics than to semantics. It is to be noted that A.P. Martinich tries to solve the liar paradox from the pragmatic point of view. According to him, a statement must fulfill an "essential condition." He explains this technical term as follows:

    The essential condition for making a statement is that the speaker intends that the audience will take his utterance as representing how things are. (10)

    In the light of this "essential condition" for making a statement, a paradoxical sentence such as "this statement is false" cannot be accepted as an adequate statement, because the hearer of this statement cannot ascertain its truth. It can be said that this "essential condition" for making a statement is considered a means for preventing self-reference, ancl thus, this idea is quite similar to Bhartṛhari's theory described above.

    As is this "essential condition," Bhartṛhari 's notion of the speaker's intention is related to the purpose of speech acts, and it confines a speaker to saying something he considers to be true when he makes an utterance. Through such a presupposition, he precludes self-reference from arising." (pp. 119-120, two notes omitted)

    (7) See Ogawa [1999: 270-271, fn 7]

    (10) See Martinich [1983: 64).


    Martinich, A.P., 1983. "A Pragmatic Solution to the Liar Paradox." Philosophical Studies 43:63-67.

    Ogawa, Hideyo, 1999. "Bhartṛhari on Representations (buddhyākāra)." In Dharmakiti's Thought and Its Impact on Indian and Tibetan Philosophy, ?67-286. Wien, 1999.

Bibliographie (Études en Français)

  1. Biardeau, Madeleine. 1964. Théorie de la connaissance et philosophie de La parole dans le brahmanisme classique. La Haye: Mouton.

    Table des matières: Avant-propos 9; Introduction 11:

    Première partie: Théorie de la connaissance et probèmes du langage avant Bhartṛhari

    I. Le Mahābhāsya 31; II. Perception et Parole : connaissance du visible et de l'invisible 65; III. Théorie du langage 153;

    Seconde partie: La philosophie de la grammaire : Bhartṛhari

    Introduction : Bhartrhari 251; I. L'Etre et les êtres 263; II. La connaissance vraie 311; III. Théorie du langage 357;

    Conclusion 443; Bibliographie 453; Index des termes sanskrits 465; Index des noms propres 472; Répertoire des textes cités 476-481.

  2. Bronkhorst, Johannes. 1988. "Études sur Bhartṛhari, 1: L'auteur et la date de la Vṛtti." Bulletin d'Études Indiennes no. 6:105-143.

    Summary: "The article takes up anew the question of the authorship of the Vṛtti on the first two kāṇḍas of the Vākyapadīya. Section 1 reviews the most important relevant passages from classical Sanskrit authors; they are unanimous in ascribing the Vṛtti to the author of the Vākyapadīya. Section 2 shows that there are, on the other hand, very strong internal arguments to show that the Vṛtti and the Vākyapadīya had different authors; the most important of these arguments have not yet been brought forward, or evaluated properly in the literature on this question. Section 3 then deals with the question of the weight which must be given to the unanimity of tradition, and to the other arguments that have been used to prove identity of authorship. Most of these can be shown to be without value, because they can be explained by a stylistic feature of many commentaries from that period which have not been taken into account or even noticed previously. Only one important argument remains at this point, the argument according to which some verses of the Vākyapadīya are incomplete without words added by the Vṛtti; this argument too loses its value once it is seen that these verses remain incomplete even after the words from the Vṛtti have been added. The conclusion is drawn that the Vṛtti and the Vākyapadīya have different authors. Section 4 deals with the text-critical question of how to distinguish verses belonging to the Vākyapadīya from verses cited in the Vṛtti from elsewhere. Section 5 addresses the question of whether the author of the Vākyapadīya or the author of the Vṛtti, if either, wrote the Mahābhāṣya Dīpikā. Some arguments support the view that it was the former. Section 6 reviews some early quotations from the Vṛtti, which indicate that this commentary may be old, even perhaps older than Dignāga."

  3. ———. 1992. "Études sur Bhartṛhari, 4: L'absolu dans le Vākyapadiya et son lien avec le Madhyamaka." Asiatische Studien = Études Asiatiques no. 46:56-80.

  4. Houben, Jan E. M. 2001. "Paradoxe et perspectivisme dans la philosophie de langage de Bhartṛhari : langage, pensée et réalité." Bulletin d'Études Indiennes no. 19:173-199.

    [Bhartṛhari's Perspectivism (6)].