It is the first ever study of the fifth century scholar, Bhartrihari’s Vakyapadiya in an altogether modern: the post-Fregean, perspective on the Philosophy of Language. A uniquely original thinker in India’s splendid grammarians’ tradition, Bhartrihari overreached the limits of language analysis set by his predecessors, like Panini and Patanjali, constructing, as he did, a brilliant philosophy of language that sought to spell out, among other aspects, the subtle distinctions between the ‘knowable’ and the ‘sayable’, between ‘what is said’ and ‘what is meant’, between the semantics of ‘everyday speech’ and ‘literary discourse’. Sadly, Bhartrihari has, through the centuries, suffered neglect, largely because the Grammarian School never figured in the six major systems of traditional Indian philosophy.
For the first time, this monograph tries to reinterpret Bhartrihari’s position -- “as a philosopher,” emphasizing the high relevance of his Vakyapadiya to modern Western thought. A reputed scholar of grammar, philosophy and Sanskrit studies, the author presents Bhartrihari¹s analyses of language methodically, unbiasedly. And, significantly, in contemporary philosophical idiom -- with contextual focus on the views of modern Western philosophers: Frege, Wittgenstein, Grice, Austin, Davidson, Searle, Strawson and the like. Also offered here is a lucid exposition of the Sphota Theory.
Growing from Dr Patnaik’s a-decade-long research on Bhartrihari’s philosophy, the volume highlights not only ancient Indian contribution to the study of language, but the interconnectedness among its indigenous approaches to linguistics, philosophy, logic, and aesthetics as well.