The Vaiyakaranabhusana of Kondabhatta (also spelt as Kaundabhatt) belongs to the category of the sabdabodha (verbal understanding) literature contributed by the grammarians.
The text Vaiyakaranabhusana is divided into thirteen chapters dealing with thirteen components of a Sanskrit expression. The first chapter is called dhatvarthanirupana which deals with referent of a root. While deciding the meaning of a root Kondabhatta takes into account all the views prevalent at his time and held mainly by the Naiyayikas and the Mimamsakas and refer to them one by one in order to establish the stand point of the grammarian philosophers. The language of the text is the chaste Navya Nyaya language. This translation will establish meaningful interaction with even modern disciplines like Semantics, Philosophy of Language. Epistemology, Logic, Artificial Intelligence etc.
Prof. V.N. Jha is director, Centre of Advanced Study in Sanskrit, University of Poona, Pune.
A Language can be studied from two angles: (1) from the angle of a speaker and (2) from the angle of a listener. From both these angles the language has been studied in India, right from the ancient days. The enquiry as to how a speaker encodes his knowledge into a sentence and how his world of experience emerges has given rise to a philosophical text like the Vakyapadiya of Bhartrhari. But more attempts were made to analyse the process through which a listener decodes that sentence and gets at the knowledge of the speaker and through that to the world of his experience. There is huge amount of literature on the study of language from this point of view i.e. from the point of view of a listener. The entire Sanskrit philosophical traditions seem to be engaged in reaching at the logical end of this process of verbal understanding arising from a sentence.
But the basic problem is how to explain the relationship between language and what language speaks about. Each philosophical system has a frame-work of its own world-view and accordingly a particular philosophical system advocates a particular theory of verbal understanding. Never-the—less all the system are trying to relate each morphamic unit of a sentence with its respective referent. It was the Mimamsa system which initiated this enquiry while proposing a set of principles of sentence- interpretation. The schools of Nyaya and Vyakarana joined the endeavour, in course of time, each having a distinct stand of its own. After the emergence of Navya Nyaya Language almost all systems adopted this language as an analytic tool to persue their point. This gave rise to a very analytical literature on sabdabodha. A Sanskrit sentence was broken into morphemes and each morpheme was taken for discussion with regard to its referent. The text like the Sabdasaktiprakasika of a Navya-Naiyayika, Jagadisa Tarkalankara and the Saktivada of Gadadhara Bhattacarya may be cited as examples of that order. These texts are written with the philosophical frame work of Nyaya Vaisesika in mind.
The same is the case with the Vaiyakaranabhusana of Kondabhatta (also written as Kaundabhatta). It is a text written in the Navya Nyaya Language. It deals with the referents of various morphemic parts of a Sanskrit sentence from the view—point of a grammarian philosopher. Here, one finds a deliberate attempt to demonstrate that the grammatical rules of Panini are prepared after full semantic considerations. The entire Paninian grammatical tradition is drawn in support of this view. It is, therefore, not proper to hold that a grammarian is concerned only with the form of a language he describes and not with what it refers to. Resting on the philosophy of language of the Patanjali-Bhartrhari tradition, therefore, Kondabhatta decides the referent of a morpheme of Sanskrit and sets aside the arguments of the Mimamsa and Nyaya schools. While doing so he takes into consideration all the views available at his time and examines their logical validity. The text of Vaiyakaranabhusana is the best example of a critical mind. It is presented in several chapters. The present volume is a running English translation of the first chapter Dhatvarhanirnaya, where he decides the meaning of a verbal root. The translation is presented in a dialogue form in order to make arguments understandable. One—by—one the English translation of the remaining chapters will made available in the same format as and when it will be ready
I am sure this translation will provide a good opportunity of interaction among many disciplines like Philosophy of Language, Linguistics, Analytic Philosophy, over and above different schools of Indian Philosophy and Philosophy of Grammar.
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