Jump to content

Bhartṛhari

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bhartṛhari
भर्तृहरि
Born
Notable workVākyapadīya
Era5th century CE
RegionMadhya Pradesh, India
LanguageSanskrit
Main interests
Grammar, linguistics
Notable ideas
Sphota

Bhartṛhari (Devanagari: भर्तृहरि; Bhartrihari; fl. c. 5th century CE) was an Indian philosopher and poet and is known for his contributions to the field of linguistics, grammar, and philosophy. He is believed to born in the 5th century in Ujjain, Malwa, India. He decided to live a monastic life and find higher meaning, however, he was unable to detach from worldly life. He lived as a yogi in Ujjain until his death.

He is best known for his works the Vākyapadīya (a treatise on sentences and words), Mahābhāṣyatikā (a commentary on Patanjali's Mahabhashya), Vākyapadīyavṛtti (commentary on Vākyapadīya kāṇḍas 1 and 2), Śabdadhātusamīkṣā, and the 300-verse collection Śatakatraya.

Bhartrhari's philosophy is marked by the concept of "Shabda-Brahman" or the ultimate reality being expressed through words. He posited that language and cognition are linked and by understanding grammar, one can attain spiritual liberation.

Bhartrhari's works have been studied in various Indian philosophical traditions, including Vedanta and Mimamsa. Islamic and Western scholars have also shown interest through various translations and commentaries. In the field of Indian poetics, Bhartrhari's Śatakatraya continue to be revered and studied and have been translated into many languages allowing access to a global audience.

Life and background[edit]

Bhartrhari, best known as a grammarian and a philosopher, is believed to have been born in Ujjain, Malwa, India and lived in the 5th century.[1][2][3] Details of his personal life are not known, but it is assumed, and accepted by scholars, that he lived between 485 and 540 AD.[1][3][4] He was associated to the court of Valabhi (modern Vala, Gujarat); however, he decided to follow the path of Indian sages and renounced a sensuous life to find higher meaning.[2] He attempted to live a monastic life but he was unable to successfully detach from worldly pleasures. After some time, he lived a life as a yogi in Ujjain till his death.[2]

Siṃhasūrigaṇi, a 6th-century Jain writer, states that Bhartrhari studied under a Grammarian named Vasurāta.[4] Additionally, Bhartrhari credits some of his theories to Vasurāta in his work the Vakyapadiya.[1]

Chinese traveler, Yi-Jing (635-713 CE), mentions Bhartrhari in his travel notes. He claims that Bhartrhari was a Buddhist and wrote the works Vakyapadiya, Peina, and a commentary on Patanjali's Mahabhashya. Researchers have found that some of the details by Yi-Jing are erroneous, specifically the time period that Bhartrhari was alive and that he was a Buddhist.[5] Bhartrhari's philosophical position is widely held to be an offshoot of the Vyākaraṇa or grammarian school, closely allied to the realism of the Nyayas and distinctly opposed to Buddhist positions like Dignaga, who are closer to phenomenalism.[6][7]

Philosophical contributions[edit]

Bhartrhari is known for his work in the philosophy of language, particularly his theories articulated in the "Vākyapadīya," (which translates to "Treatise on Sentences and Words"). This text is a comprehensive study of grammar and its metaphysical foundations. Bhartrhari's philosophy is marked by the concept of "Shabda-Brahman" or the ultimate reality being expressed through words. He posited that language and cognition are linked and by understanding grammar, one can attain spiritual liberation.[3][8]

Works[edit]

Bhartrhari is best known for his work in the philosophy of language. He wrote four books on grammar (vyākaraṇa): Vākyapadīya, Mahābhāṣyatikā (an early sub-commentary on Patanjali's Vyākaraṇa-Mahābhāṣya), Vākyapadīyavṛtti (commentary on Vākyapadīya kāṇḍas 1 and 2), and Śabdadhātusamīkṣā.[1][5][8][9] As a poet, he also wrote the Śatakatraya, or Śataka, a three-part collection of 300 verses.[10][3]

Vākyapadīya[edit]

The Vākyapadīya, also known as Trikāṇḍī (three books) is an Indian linguistic treatise on the philosophy of language, grammar, and semantics. It is divided into 3 main sections (or kāṇḍa): Brahma-kāṇḍa (Book of Brahman), Vākya-kāṇḍa (Book of Sentences), and Pada-kāṇḍa (Book of Words) and contains about 635 verses. The Brahma-kāṇḍa contains the metaphysical aspects of language. The Vākya-kāṇḍa deals with sentence structure and the relationship between its components. The Pada-kāṇḍa focuses on the meaning of words, phonetics, morphology, and semantics.[11][3][1]

Bhartrhari's philosophy is centered around the concept of "sphoṭa". He believed that sphoṭa carries the meaning of the word(s) and it is revealed to the listener upon hearing the word(s).[11] Unlike Patanjali, Bhatrihari applies the term sphoṭa to each element of the utterance, varṇa (varṇasphoṭa; the letter or syllable), pada (padasphoṭa; the word), and vākya (vākyasphoṭa; the sentence).[11]

Mahābhāṣyatikā[edit]

The Mahābhāṣyatikā, also known as Tripadi or Mahabhashyadipika, is commentary on Patanjali's Mahabhashya, which itself is a commentary on Pāṇini's Aṣṭādhyāyī. Bhartrhari analyzes the grammatical rules and explores the metaphysical and epistemological aspects of language. Within this text, Bhartrhari also discusses the connection between words and their meanings which is further elaborated in the Vākyapadīya. This text is studied by Sanskrit grammarians and philosophers.[11]

Śatakatraya[edit]

The Śatakatraya (three centuries; śataka, "century"; traya, "three") consists of three collections of 100 verses each. The collections are Niti Śataka (Ethics; details principles of righteous living), Śringara Śataka (Love; details the complexities of love and relationships), and Vairagya Śataka (Detachment; a reflection of Bhartrhari's renunciation). The composition date is unknown, however, it is believed to have been written over the course of Bhartrhari's life. Bhartrhari uses various poetic devices such as metaphors, similes, and paradoxes to convey complex ideas.[3][10]

Influence and legacy[edit]

Bhartrhari's works have been studied in various Indian philosophical traditions, including Vedanta and Mimamsa. Islamic and Western scholars have also shown interest through various translations and commentaries.[8][3]

In the field of Indian poetics, Bhartrhari's Śatakatraya continue to be revered and studied.[10] The Śatakatraya have been translated into many languages allowing access to a global audience.[3]

Further reading[edit]

  • B. K. Matilal, 1990, The Word and the World: India's Contribution to the Study of Language. Delhi: Oxford University Press. p. 129-130.
  • Hemanta Kumar Ganguli, "Theory of Logical Construction and Solution of some Logical Paradoxes" , appendix to Philosophy of Logical Construction: An Examination of Logical Atomism and Logical Positivism in the light of the Philosophies of Bhartrhari, Dharmakirti and Prajnakaragupta, Calcutta, 1963.
  • Jan E.M. Houben, The Sambandha-samuddeśa (chapter on relation) and Bhartrhari's philosophy of language, Gonda Indological Series, 2. Groningen: Egbert Forsten, 1995, pp. 213–219.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Bhartrihari | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy". Retrieved 20 June 2024.
  2. ^ a b c "Bhartrihari | Indian Poet, Sanskrit Scholar | Britannica". www.britannica.com. Retrieved 20 June 2024.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Craig, Edward; Routledge (Firm), eds. (1998). Routledge encyclopedia of philosophy. London ; New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-07310-3.
  4. ^ a b Potter, Karl H., ed. (1977). Encyclopedia of Indian philosophies. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-07281-4.
  5. ^ a b Srimannarayana Murti, M. (1997). Bhartṛhari, the grammarian. Makers of Indian literature. Sahitya Akademi. New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi. ISBN 978-81-260-0308-2.
  6. ^ Bimal Krishna Matilal (1990). The Word and the World: India's contribution to the study of language. Oxford University Press.
  7. ^ N. V. Isaeva (1995), From early Vedanta to Kashmir Shaivism: Gaudapada, Bhartrhari, and Abhinavagupta, SUNY Press, p. 75, ISBN 978-0-7914-2450-6Bhartrihari may have been "within the fold of Vedānta".
  8. ^ a b c Herzberger, Radhika (1986). Bhartṛhari and the Buddhists. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands. doi:10.1007/978-94-009-4666-8. ISBN 978-94-010-8574-8.
  9. ^ Extensively used by later grammarians such as Kaiyaṭa, the text is only fragmentarily preserved. An edition based on an incomplete manuscript was published by Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune (1985-1991), in six fascicules (fascicule 6 in two parts).
  10. ^ a b c Wortham, Biscoe Hale; Wortham, Biscoe Hale (2000). The Śatakas of Bhartr̥ihari. India : language and literature, in 14 volumes (Reprint ed.). London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-24510-4.
  11. ^ a b c d Coward, Harold G.; Kunjunni Raja, Kumarapuram (1990). The philosophy of the grammarians. Encyclopedia of Indian philosophies. Princeton (N.J.): Princeton university press. ISBN 978-0-691-07331-6.

External links[edit]