9:30 AM - 1:00 PM (UTC+5.5)
Vyākaraṇa as a Meta-Discipline of Indic Thought
Arvind V Iyer
Guest curator and Independent researcher
Dr. Sowmya Krishnapur
Chief Linguistic Officer, Vyoma Labs, Bengaluru
Dr. Korada Subrahmanyam
Professor of Sanskrit (retd.), University of Hyderabad; Adjunct Professor in the Department of Heritage, Science, and Technology, IIT Hyderabad
Dr. Sharda Narayanan
Assistant Professor, Department of Natya, Dr. MGR - Janaki College of Arts and Science for Women, Chennai
Dr. Jayaraman Mahadevan
Director, Textual Research Division in Yoga, INDICA
Guest Faculty at the Department of Sanskrit, Panjab University
Dr. Nagaraj Paturi
Senior Director & Cheif Curator, INDICA
Director – Special Projects, INDICA
Vyākaraṇa arose as the discipline of words, and ever since, has served as the grammar of thought itself. In antiquity, Vyākaraṇa is close to the revelation of the Veda itself. In purpose, it is intended to serve the living Veda as a living organ (Vedāṅga). The organic unity of the Vedāṅga disciplines concerning words, can be seen from the very births of these disciplines. The definitive Vyākaraṇa text, the Aṣtādhyāyī, contains within itself the Dhātupāṭha which also finds application in the Vedāṅga called Nirukta (Etymology). The Aṣtādhyāyī’s author Pāṇini is also the author of an authoritative text of the Vedāṅga called Śikṣā (Phonetics). Sounds and words are central to these Vedāṅga disciplines, and their scope accordingly encompassed everything in the world that sounds and words can identify and express. In how their works on Vyākaraṇa and Nirukta have the world itself as their subject matter, Pāṇini and Yāska can rightly also be counted among the earliest encyclopedists. Later luminaries in Vyākaraṇa such as Patañjali and Bhartṛhari also concerned themselves with the question of how the nature of objects can be truly described in words in a manner intelligible to other persons, thus expanding the scope of Vyākaraṇa well beyond Linguistics into Ontology and Epistemology, and also Psychology.
The Aṣtādhyāyī of Pāṇini remains the abiding gold-standard of the Sūtra format ubiquitous in Śāstra literature, be it geometry in the Śulba-sūtra or the foundational Sūtra texts of the Ṣaḍdarśana schools such as the Nyāyasūtra, Yogasūtra and Brahmasūtra. Though Vyākaraṇa has itself not been named as a school of Philosophy among the Ṣaḍdarśana-s, its indispensability to philosophical inquiry and the study of any Śāstra is extensively acknowledged. A dual foundation for the study of all disciplines, be they in the Natural Sciences or Social Sciences or Arts, is said to comprise of Kāṇāda (i.e. Logic, as formulated in the Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika systems) and Pāṇinīya (i.e. Words, under the discipline of Vyākaraṇa). All textual study is said to require investigation and understanding at the three levels of Pada (words), Vākya (statements) and Pramāṇa (proof), which are respectively the subject matter of the disciplines of Vyākaraṇa, Mīmāṃsā and Nyāya. The utility of Vyākaraṇa as an interpretive tool for Sūtra texts, is on impressive display in the commentarial texts relating to the Nyāyasūtra, Yogasūtra and Brahmasūtra by the polymath Vācaspatimiśra. Competence in Vyākaraṇa remains a prerequisite in the Vākyārtha format of scholastic discussion in any traditional Śāstra. A school of Philosophy outside of the Ṣaḍdarśana-s where Vyākaraṇa has had a uniquely distinct impact, is the Trika school, commonly referred to as the Kāśmīra Śaiva school. A fundamental subject of investigation as well as reverence in the Trika school is Vāk (the potency and phenomenon of Speech) based on the conceptualization in Vyākaraṇa texts like Bhartṛhari’s Vākyapadīya. The polymath Abhinavagupta is a representative of the Trika school, who like Vācaspatimiśra before him, adeptly wielded Vyākaraṇa as a tool of textual interpretation and philosophical inquiry.
In the vast corpus of Sanskrit poetry, the deepest and loftiest of emotions are given utterance with barely any lapse from the order of Chandas (prosody) and of Vyākaraṇa. The Itihāsa-s, namely the Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata, are in a class of their when it comes to their cultural legacy, and also when it comes to how language is used in them. Usages in these epics that apparently depart from the Pāṇinian standard have traditionally been designated as ārṣa-prayoga (usage of the seers) and can in their own right be a complementary source of understanding of the use of language and its effects on human minds. In the world of the epics, practical knowledge of Vyākaraṇa is seen to be prized (as in Rāma’s praise of Hanumān’s gift of speech during their first encounter) and the terminology of Vyākaraṇa is familiar enough to supply metaphors in conversation (as Kṛṣṇa draws on in Bhagavadgītā 10:33). Sanskrit poets from Bhāsa onwards all the way to contemporary āśu-kavi-s (extempore poets) in Sāhitya-avadhāna settings have exercised immense creative freedom in content and style, without the need for the sort of poetic licence that resents or neglects Vyākaraṇa. This simultaneous commitment to the art of poetry and science of grammar is strikingly illustrated in the Bhaṭṭikāvyam, a poetic retelling of the Rāmāyaṇa which also serves the pedagogic function of teaching Vyākaraṇa through carefully designed examples.
Vyākaraṇa has through the ages been the archetypal scholastic endeavour, supplying a template for Śāstra-s to develop their formalisms, and supplying a basis of intelligibility for Kāvya to then expand the scope of expression. The symposium proceeds with to emphasis on Vyākaraṇa as applied in other Śāstra-s and Kāvya after an analysis of some key texts considered pivotal to the study of Vyākaraṇa as a meta-discipline.
|0930-0935||Invocation and Welcome||Megh Kalyanasundaram|
|0935-0945||Symposium Concept: Vyākaraṇa as a meta-discipline of Indic thought||Arvind V Iyer|
|0945-1015||Analysis of texts targeted at the study of Vyākaraṇa as a meta-discipline||Sowmya Krishnapur|
|1015-1100||Vyākaraṇa vis-à-vis Nyāya, Mīmāṃsā and Sāhitya Śāstra-s||Korada Subrahmanyam|
|1100-1130||The light of Vyākaraṇa in Poetry||Sharda Narayanan|
|1130-1200||Śabda-Yoga: Role and Significance of Vyākaraṇa for Yoga||Jayaraman Mahadevan|
|1200-1230||Accessibility of Vyākaraṇa across social classes: clues from Dharmaśāstra, Itihāsa and historical records||Satyan Sharma|
|1230-1245||Symposium Summary||Arvind V Iyer|
|1245-1300||Impressions and Closing remarks||Nagaraj Paturi|