Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Paśyanti - the First Level of Language

The first level of language, which is called paśyanti, is undifferentiated in any way and word and meaning remain without sequence or form. This is the unmanifested śabdabrahman. Later grammarians have suggested there is a higher division of paśyanti which is always beyond verbal manifestation, and which is referred to as param rupam. However Punyarāja, who falls into this category of grammarians, seems to offer evidence which contradicts the necessity to posit a higher level of paśyanti. Gaurinath Sastri reports that “...Punyarāja himself in course of his elucidation of the text of Bhartṛhari on the Eternal Verbum and its manifestations writes to point out that paśyanti is free from all impurities, embraces all and is transcendent.” (Sastri, 1959; 69)

Unlike the other two levels, there is absolutely no dependence on vital breath. Paśyanti is the shining one, ever resplendent in its eternal purity. It is without a beginning and an end and is unchangeable. As we have already seen Brahman is described in just this way. Realisation at this level is indeed ‘mokṣa’ and Ksemendra, in his Pratyabhijñāhṛdaya, tells us that “...the soul of the grammarian is called śabdabrahman or paśyanti.  (Sastri, 1959; 69)

Reference: Sastri, Gaurinath, The Philosophy of Word and Meaning, Sanskrit College Calcutta 1959

Excerpted from "An Exploration of the Metaphysical Rationale at the Heart of Bhartṛhari’s Vākyapadīya (Grammar as the door to liberation, a problem for the modern scholar?)" MWright; Dissertation, 2000 
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