पदशक्ति: The Shakti of Words (A Rare Book)

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Item Code: NZL407
Author: Vidvan Umakantha Bhatta
Publisher: Academy of Sanskrit Research, Melkote
Language: Sanskrit Only
Edition: 1995
ISBN: 8185929289
Pages: 135
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 7.5 inch x 5.0 inch
Weight 140 gm
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Book Description


Despite the quantum leaps scientific researchtechnological invention has taken in the west, the Mystery of this universe and of man's place in it, is only deepening further and further. Whether to investigate what course research should next take or to find peace and happiness, people are looking to India's glorious spiritual heritage for guidance. Hence it is most befitting that institutions in India should equip and qualify themselves to meet the intellectual and spiritual hunger of the people. For this it is necessary to develop new perspectives based on ancient insights.

Considering the philosophic and academic background of this place, a high-level Committee was constituted by Government of Karnataka in 1976 to implement the project for establishing a Sanskrit research institute at Melkote for taking advantage of the several factors conducive to such a project the place is naturally endower with. Among these factors are the availability of unpublished manuscripts, the presence of scholars specialized in traditional learning and above all a hermitage-like environment to enkindle that spark of creativity.

With the two-fold aim of grappling with the past heritage and modern realities, the Academy is poised on the frontiers of achieving that elusive synthesis of science and Sastras.

Thus most recent restitution, in this long process of loss and restitution going on through the aeons and centuries, is being carried on by the Academy of Sanskrit Research.

Through these techniques of information dissemination, some ancient and some modem, the Academy is trying to reach out, in order to know and in order to convey.

Seminars, conferences and workshops are very popular these days, but the ancient method was to conduct a Vidvatgosthi under the patronage of a king where sholars who had specialised in various sastras would debate on a given topic. 'Ibis tradition of vidvatgostis fast disappearing. In order to keep alive this ancient form of debate and to train young .Sanskrit scholars, the Academy organises vidvadgostis, the proceedings of which are completely in Sanskrit. The following is a list of the vidvadgostis conducted by the Academy:

Visistadvaita February 1981
Jagatsrstivicarah January 1986
Apohavadah January 1991
Apohavadah September 1993
Abhavapadartha parisilanam January 1994

As a part of its programme to connect modem scientific developments with the leanings in the ancient sastras, the Academy has taken upon itself the responsibility of providing scientists and sanskritists a common platform for interaction. It also organises sabbas to probe into ancient texts to find whether they contain anything that can be applied to modem science. These are called the Sastravakyarthasabhas. The proceedings of such sabbds are entirely in Sanskrit. The objectives of such sabhas are many:

(i) closer re-investigation of the sastraic texts;
(ii) deeper study of ancient texts,
(iii) to re-discover the potential theories for research;
(iv) enriching the sum-total of knowledge by under standing the views of the various Sastrakaras,
(v) training young scholars in the traditional meth ods of debate;
(vi) publishing the proceedings of such sabbas for disseminating the knowledge contained in the ancient texts.
This programme has been on for the last two years. Several such sabhas have been organised and now it gives us great pleasure to place before our readers the proceedings of the sabba on padasakti, the first of our publications based on the proceedings of the sabbas. We intend bringing out the proceedings of the two other sabbas in the form of booklets very soon.

The financial grant given by the Government of kamataka towards conducting this sabha and publishing its proceedings has gone a long way in helping us place this book before our readers. We are greatly indebted to them and request them to continue to assist us in many of our similar ventures.

I take this opportunity to place on record the unstinted support given by our president Sri M.A.S. Rajan in such ventures. I also thank our Secretary, Sri P. Nageshwara Rao, LA.S., Commissioner for Endoments Government of Karnataka for encouraging and backing every attempt of the Academy.

My deep sense of gratitude is due to Vidvan Umakanta Bhatta, the convener of Sastravakyarthasabhas in the Academy, for the pains he has taken to edit the papers on Padasakti.

I also thank Kum. Padmashree Mohan for having prepared the gist of all the papers in English and also for having given English translations for the introductions under the guidance for Vidvan Umakanta Bhatta.

I request that the Vidvans to continue and extend their support and co-operation to the Academy and help it further its endeavours.

Publication of book a is the result of team-work. My hanks are due to Vidvan V. Sowmya Narayanan, Vidvan Vadiraja V. Agnihotri 'and Sri Javaregowda whose team work has resulted in this publication.

Our efforts will bear fruit if the readers come forward with their responses in the form' of suggestions or critisisms if any.


May that Saraswati be ever victorious by whose grace the discerning - minded poets visualise the entire world as if it were a badari fruit on their palm. (Vasavadatta)
Language is the unique treasure of mankind endowed with intelligence; .. It is got only by the grace of God; not by any self-effort. The importance of the role played by language in man's life is unimaginable. Man's mind has evolued to such a great extent by the use of language that he alone, among all species, can attain joy untainted by sorrow both in this world and the next. If this treasure in the form of language were not available all the life-processes would have collapsed in lethean darkness. The same opinion is disclosed by Mahakavi Dandi who is verily the touch - stone for evaluating the worth of other poets. He says in his Kavyadarsa

'In this world, all life-processes continue only be- cause of Vakprasada the gracious gift of speech'. (stanza 3) 'If the says in the guise of speech did not pervade in all the three worlds - earth. Heaven and hell - they would all have been enveloped by an impregnable darkness. (stanza 4)

Speech, just like light, congers a favour upon the world, by illuminating the objects made known by its meaning. It acts as a medium for transmission and exchange of ideas and ideals between men who are not only contemporary to each other, but are also spatially and temporally separated from each other. Ah! the incomparable grace of Saraswati, the deity of speech. Words form themselves into the person of Saraswati. The movement of the limbs of this All - pervasive Goddess expound the meaning and significance of speech; may be, even give rise to a distinct language itself. She is the bed-rock on whichis built the edifice of all philosophic and Scientific knowledge. The very Goddess has incarnated in various forms such as Samskrit, Prakrt and so on for the sole purpose of lokopakara for doing good to the entire world. In fact, Dandi obserues in one of the stanzas in the Kavyadarsa that the linguists (the Aryas) have identified four divisions of language - v Samslerta, Prdhrta, Apabbramsa and Misra.

A word is an especial arrangement of phonemes (varnas). A group of such varnas bound by the precedent and succession of other varnas has the potency to conney meaning. The Naiyayikas trace this opinion based on the etymological derivation of the word padyate gamyate artho anena padam. The grammarians have spelt out sutra as aphorism - for the definition of a word. According to them, a word is formed only when it possesses the sup or tin suffixes along with the stem. (suptinantam padam). Still there is no conflict between the views of the Naiyayikas and of the grammarians. Whereas the former address the question form the point of view of meaning, the latter see it form the point of view of usage. Hence when Maharsi Gautama says in one of his Nyayasutras - te vibhaktyantah padam words are those which are suffixed by a vibhakti.

Vatsyayana, the commentator on the Nyayasutras observes - 'As according to the objects are the number of words, and from the meaning of these words, precedes every transaction'. In our daily transactions, each of us employs words whose meanings are known to us; at times, inspired by the moment, we may even coin new words. This opinion has the backing of the Upanisadic statement Ndmarupevyakaravai (the Lord says I wish to create both the objects and the related words).

Inspite of having two media to convey what man has grasped and conceived, language surpassess gestures in making communication more effective. For gestural communication,

(i) the immediate presence of the two persons involved in the transaction is required;
(ii) both must be alert and vigilant throughout the duration of the transaction;
(iii) the subject to be expressed through gesture must be concrete and not abstract; and
(iv) there must be no physical barriers or obstacles when communication is taking place.
Language triumphs over such shortcomings present in gestural communication. Although the latter may have greater impact in special transactions, gesture can at best, serve as an auxiliary to language. Hence the primacy and the indispensability of language. Vatsyayana goes to the extent of saying that all beings, inclusive of gods, men animals and even plants, are at the mercy of language when they have to effect communication. Only upon close observation, we realise that all our thoughts are couched in language. Language enriches our life to the extent that in its absente, even direct perception would have become feeble. Even to refer to a pen or a book present right before our eyes, we would have to use only demonstrative pronouns such as 'this' or 'that' and it would have been very insufficient and ineffective. Moreover, the very idea of an object called 'pen' could not have been grasped, if it had not been for language. Bartrhari was the first to identify this when he stated in his Vakyapadiya that every object is inseparably associated with a word. So subtle and suprasensory is speech, the angelic emnate(?) of Goddess Saraswati that no one but the creator could know its scope.

The words exist; they possess meanings listeners abound; the mind is eager and the tongue unstoppable in its wish to prattle. So should the words tumble off the tongue of a person? Far from it. This is never the bharati - the voice of the bharatiyas - the Indians. The bharatas - Indians - are, by nature, bha-ratah - harnessed to the exercise of seeking light. Possessed with the power of discrimination, they choose the right listener, use words appropriately 'Sanctified' as suited to the occasion. Such is the vigilance with regard to speech. Only in such circumstances could the Vedas originate; the emancipative sastras take shape and the branches of arts, which help man alight But, people today hurry to speak. They have grossly neglected the principles of speech advocated by the rsis. If only people realised the responsibility of the speaker whenhe utters a word! One word -just one word - known thoroughly and used aptly- will fulfil all the desires of the speaker both on Earth and in Heaven just like the Heavenly cow, Kamadbenu. The poet says - 'Gaub' 'speech appropriately used is verily 'gauh' - the Kamadbenu which fulfils all desires. Used with ineptitude, gaub - speech - will on] reflect the gotva - the cow - ness of the speaker meaning here is that ineptitude in speech will reflect the foolhardi ness of the speaker.

The Indians have conferred a place. par excellence t Agni. In every ritual, Agni occupies a prominent position. Even while in the brabmacaryasrama, the student is initiated into the details and procedure of the fire - sacrifice. He is expected to aid his guru in protecting that agni. While entering grbastbasrama, the fire that is lit at the time of marriage must be protected by him. Infact, the fire serve as a link ginding together the members of the family - the father, the mother and the son. Even the last rites of the person must be performed using the fire be has protected throughout his life. Thus Agni sustains and supports life. A word is like this very Agni. It has to be carefully mustard and used with uttermost reverence. Such a word can lead a person from asat - vileness to sat - goodness; from tamas - darkness to jyoti - light; and from mrtyu - death to amrta immortality. We have already said that meaning is known from the word. The speaker utters the word; it is heard by the listener, he is then reminded of its meaning - the remembered meaning then becomes a part of his new experience. When we delve deep into the understanding of this process several fundamental questions arise. What, for instance, are the characteristics of speech that is heard by the ear? How is it possible to know the object denoted by the meanings of myriad words? Since a word and its meaning are qualitatively different, is any relation between them possible? If such a relation is plausible, how did it come to be established? How can we understand such a subtle relation between words and meanings when they exist in such a profusion around us? such are the hundreds of questions that naturally arise in every thinker's mind. Several deep and enigmatic answers have been proposed by the sastrakaras who have worked untiringly to search for answers to these questions. Scores of opinions have been forwarded; hundreds of conclusions have been drawn; thousands of syllogisms have been evolved in support of their views. It is amusing that while some syllogisms are meant exclusively to exhibit one's scholastic capabilities; others are meant to blur the thinking of the listeners. Hence every researcher in the field of linguistic enquiry is driven to diffidence at every step and he cannot help remembering the subhasita which says - 'The Vedas express (apparently) contradictory opinions; the smrtis are never concentric; and there is not a single sage whose words are final.'

The linguistic enquiry has been going on for centuries; Indians have been particularly concerned about it. Right from the philosophic texts of the Bhuddists to ordinary texts, we find lengthy debates regarding the word and its meaning. Even to browse through the texts dealing with this topic, five or six years are a terribly short span of time. Need anything more be said?

Modem linguists seek to examine the question word and its meaning from new scientific angles. New experiments have yielded novel insights. The latest opments in the field of computer science depend on the accomplishment of the linguists. Therefore the need of the hour is to mutually evaluate modem scientific developments as well as the probings of the ancient thinker such as Panini, Patanjali, Gautama, ]aimini and so on.

Time and again, the intelligensia has striven to undo this Gordian Knot. And we have to keep this effort going on, not because it is binding on us to give onclusive answers, but because it is our privilege to understand how deep the water runs in such issues.

Sabda, as a pramdna is distinct from anumana While discussing the characteristics of sabda, thinkers have held different opinions. The Mimamsakas hold that vedic speech is sentient; the Sankyas say that in the Earth along with rupa, rasa, gandha etc., sabda also is present, but finds expression only when there is forceful impact akasa, that is not all-pervasive and that is momentary. Thus every school of philosophy proposes a different theory.

Vagarthaviva samprktau vagarthprtipattaye
Jagatah pitarau vande Parvatiparamesvarau

The association of speech (vak) and meaning (artha) is at the heart of creation. That association can be grasped only through penence.

The exalted poet, Kalidasa, has in the above stanza, humbled himself before the creators of the world and hasbeseeched that he be blessed with direct first-hand knowledge of the association of vak and artha. He sought to actualise that samparka (relation of unity) underlying vak and artha through seeking a vision of the samparka between Parvati and Parameswara. The word is so coupled with its meaning that Kalidasa naturally propitiates the divine couple-hood of Parvati and Parameswara for an insight into uagartha.

Thus has been placed before our readers this book which is a collection of essays by vidvans who have stepped into this territory of vagartha. Our efforts in publishing this book would be fruitful only if vidvans accept this book with their critical appreciation.

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