Vakyapadiya (study of the concept of Sentence)

by Sarath P. Nath | 2018 | 36,088 words

This page relates ‘Requisites (a): Akanksha (Syntactic Expectancy)’ of the study on Vakyapadiya by Bhartrhari and his treatment of the Concept of Sentence in Language. Bhartrhari was a great grammarian and philosopher who explored the depth and breadth of Sanskrit grammar. These pages analyse the concepts and discussions on sentence and sentence-meaning presented in the Vakyapadiya, against the different systems of knowledge prevalent in ancient India (such as Mimamsa, Nyaya and Vyakarana).

6. Requisites (a): Ākāṅkṣā (Syntactic Expectancy)

[Full title: 6. Requisites for Understanding the Sentence-Meaning, (a): Ākāṅkṣā (Syntactic Expectancy)]

The word ' ākāṅkṣā' is derived from the root ' kāṅkṣ' which signifies 'to desire'. Thus, the term literally means the desire to know something. Vācaspatimiśra defines ākāṅkṣā as the desire to know on the part of the listener (Tatacharya, Introduction, 2005, p.44). It can be simply defined as the desire on the part of the listeners to know other words or their meaning to complete the sense. A word is said to have mutual expectancy for another, only if it cannot, without the latter, produce knowledge of its interconnection in an utterance (Raja, 1963, p.156). In a sentence, a word (noun or verb) always require another word to complete the meaning of the sentence. If one says " gāmānaya" (bring the cow), the verb 'bring' requires a noun in the nominative case to complete the sentence-meaning. At the same time, a series of words such as 'cow, horse, man, elephant' does not convey a unified sense, as there is no connection between them because of the absence of ākāṅkṣā.

Ākāṅkṣā can be of two types viz.

  1. utthitākāṅkṣā and
  2. utthāpyākāṅkṣā.

The former [utthita-ākāṅkṣā] is the actual expectancy of one word for the other to give a unified sense. The latter [utthāpya-ākāṅkṣā] is the potential expectancy which could be awakened if necessary. For example, when one says to another "bring the cow", the latter may ask the question "which colour?" Then the speaker has to imply an adjective like 'white', 'black' etc. These potential expectancies have no limit because it can be awakened when the listener necessitates (S C Chatterjee, 1939, p.367). While expounding this concept, Raja refers to two types of ākāṅkṣā, described by the Naiyāyikas; one is psychological and the other is syntactical or grammatical (1963, p.163). The grammatical expectancy between the words in a sentence necessitates the syntactic completeness of the sentence, while the psychological expectancy gives rise to the semantic unity of the sentence. It is well explained by Nāgeśa, the great grammarian, as; ākāṅkṣā is the desire on the part of the listeners on hearing a word in a sentence to know the idea, which can be related to its meaning in order to get a complete sense (Paramalaghumañjūṣā, 1985, p.33). Here, the expectancy is on the part of listeners and is superimposed on words and their meanings.

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