Vakyapadiya (study of the concept of Sentence)

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

This page relates ‘Origin and Development of the Concept of Pratibha’ 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).

1. Origin and Development of the Concept of Pratibhā

The concept of Pratibhā is discussed elaborately in almost all schools of thought in India and the preceptors perceive this concept in different dimensions. Normally, In Indian philosophy, the concept of Pratibhā might be conceived as the 'supersensuous and suprarational apperception for grasping the truth directly'. (Gayathri Rath, 2000, p.141). Even though there are a few references to the term Pratibhā in Vedic literature, we can trace the concept in Ṛgveda and Nirukta.

In Ṛgveda, the term Pratibhā is referred to as ' pratibabhau':

"tritam kūpe' vahitam etat sūktaṃ pratibabhau",
  —(Ṛgveda 1.105.17).

Here, the word ' pratibabhau' denotes revelation or a quick understanding of insight or a sudden thought (Gayathri Rath, 2000, p.142). In Nirukta, it is stated as pratibabhau, which signifies 'it was revealed'. Yāska uses the word in a different sense also as 'image', 'light' or 'splendour' (2002, 4.6; 14.4)

The word Pratibhā is etymologically derived from the root 'bhā', which means 'to shine' (dīptau). The prefix prati and the suffixes kaḥ and ṭāp are added to the root. The suffix kaḥ is added in the sense of either 'karma' or 'bhāva'. Hence the meaning of the word Pratibhā can be taken as 'Pratibhāti, śobhate iti Pratibhā' (to shine) or 'Pratibhāti arthaḥ anayā iti sā Pratibhā' (that which gives the meaning). Dasgupta remarks that in its ordinary non-technical use, the term Pratibhā refers to an intuition of what may occur in future. It also includes the power of understanding of all kinds of sounds without effort, all that may be communicated by any animal in the world and the power of having heavenly visions (1975, p.342). Various Indian schools of thought used this concept in their technical discussions in different dimensions. It may be discussed here at some length and afterwards Bhartṛhari's conception of Pratibhā will be discussed elaborately.

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