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Akhanda Vakya Sphota

Akhanda Vakya Sphota

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Published by Randolph Dible

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Published by: Randolph Dible on Apr 03, 2009
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Randy DibleDecember, 2008Professor Andrew NicholsonAkhanda Vakya Sphota (Vyakarana): Bhartrhari’s Philosophy of Linguistic AnalysisBhartrhari (circa Fifth century C.E.) was an Indian grammarian who developedVyakarana(linguistic analysis) into a darsana (perspective, point of view, school of thought). The understanding of language here employed is more expansive thanthe one typically dealt with in linguistics, and it is furthermore a spiritual disciplinewith an interesting metaphysical structure. Language, as here employed, meansexpression in general, or articulation in the sense of manifestation, which accountsfor the cognitive construct of the contingent world of the multiplicity of representations. As such, it is a very unique perspective (darsana), although wefind a similar truth in the cosmogony, ontogeny and morphology implied in theHeraclitean and Stoic (Ancient Greek) notion of Logos (the Word), later identifiedwith Jesus in Christianity
, and so in certain underpinnings of Western philosophyensuing from the Greek tradition. Bhartrhari’s system was also influential directlyon the cunning linguist Ferdinand de Saussure
, who begat semiotics (semiologie)and developed the field of linguistics into its present state.
Indeed, the Gospel of John identified Jesus with the incarnation of Logos, through which allthings are made, and even identified Logos with Theos, with God. This is the case in Advaitatraditions such as in Bhartrhari’s Sabdadvaita wherein the Word is ultimately Brahman,Sabda-Brahman-- the Absolute as Word (see the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad 4.1.2).
 The Saussurian sign is divided into the signifier and signified (subject and object), and thethird element is the sign itself. His Ph.D. dissertation was on the “Genitive Case in Sanskrit”.
Bhartrhari’s principal work is the Vakya-padiya, and it is divided into threechapters: Brahman-Kanda, Vakya-kanda, Pada-Kanda. The word-essence (sabda-tattva) is called Sabda-Brahman (the Absolute as the Word, the Word is ultimatereality), which Bhartrhari, in the first part of the Vakyapadiya (On Words andSentences, or On the Saying and the Word), says is beginningless and endless, andmanifests in the form of the Universe(Vakyapadiya 1.1). Furthermore, it is the taskof the grammarian to preserve the purity of the Vedas and prevent the corruption of its language (Vakyapadiya 1.11). In this way, Bhartrhari’s linguistic analysis can beseen as a spiritual discipline, but the term ‘philosophy’ fits better than ‘religion’. The best label for what Bhartrhari does is science. The analysis of language hasvarious aspects (epistemological, phonetic, etymological, syntactical, semantic,logical, metaphysical etc.), and can mean an analysis into different fundamentalunits (letter, word or sentence, respectively, varna, pada, and vakya), and spansfrom the ultimate reality of Sabda-Brahman (Sabdadvaita) to the vaikhari, the grossword (sthula sabda) which refers to the gross object (sthula artha). But thefundamental analysis in the Vakyapadiya is the four levels of speech: Para(Transcendent Speech), Pasyanti (Subtle Speech), Madhyama (Inner Speech), andVaikhari (Manifest Speech). And these correspond to the analysis of the basicsyllable, the symbol of Brahman, and quite literally the fundament, AUM, wherein afourth element is hidden, the turiya (literally, “the fourth state”), which representsthe transcendent, is typographically appropriate. And three of these fourcorrespond to states of consciousness; waking, dreaming, and deep sleep states(King pp.49). The fourth state could be said to correspond to the ground oconsciousness, transcendent consciousness. There is also their correspondence totime, past, present and future (the fourth, again, being beyond the scope of time, in
this case, which we could call by Proust’s label ‘atemporal time’), and in Tantrikaphilosophy, they correspond to energy centers or cakras, as correlated by Sir JohnWoodroffe in
The Serpent Power 
Muladhara Cakra
is the special center of the sacro-coccygeal region(i.e. the region below the genitals). It is the region that the mysteriouskundalini (coiled serpentine energy) lays. It is the
seat of para vak 
Svadhisthana Cakra
is the special center in the region of the navel. It isthe seat of 
 pasyanti vak 
 Anahata Cakra
is the special center in the region on the heart. It is theseat of 
madhyama vak 
Visuddha Cakra
is the special center in the region of the throat. It is theseat of 
vaikhari vak 
.(Professor Hari Mohan Jha,
Trends of Linguistic Analysis in IndianPhilosophy 
, pp. 8)“It is through the
susumna nadi
that the vital air (
 prana vayu
) passes throughthe cakras. It is the interior of the cerebro-special axis and extends from the basicplexus (
) to the
sahasrara cakra
(in the vertical region). It is most closelyassociated with speech (
). Thus sound that is uttered as a letter (
) is theresult of a long-drawn process originating in the
and carried gradually to
visuddha cakra
by the force of air till it assumes the stage of 
or articulatesound (
).” (Hari Mohan Jha, pp. 9, from Purnananda Svami’s
) These four stages can be traced back to the Rig Veda, where it is said:“While the former three are hidden into the cave, the fourth is spoken by men.”(Rig Veda, 1.164, 165) The principle of Vac is found already in the Rig Veda, where

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