Who invented the apoha theory? On Kunjunni Raja 1986 SECOND UPDATE

Who invented the apoha theory? If you, like me, are prone to answer “Dignāga” and to add that Dignāga (as shown by Hattori) was inspired by Bhartṛhari’s theory and that Dharmakīrti and Dharmottara later fine-tuned Dignāga’s one, you are ready to have your view challenged by K. Kunjunni Raja’s article in Buddhist Logic and Epistemology (ed. by B.K. Matilal and R.D. Evans, 1986, I am grateful to Sudipta Munsi who sent me a copy of it).

Kunjunni Raja argues that, in fact, the theory of exclusion can already be found in the work by Vyāḍi, an ancient grammarian whose views are referred to by Patañjali in the Mahābhāṣya. Until now, I had known of Vyāḍi only because he is linked to the theory that words denote individuals (vyakti) and, therefore, opposed to Vājapyāyana who supported the opposite view that words mean universals (jāti). But, Kunjunni Raja explains, what happens if this theory is applied to the sentence-meaning? Words denoting individuals end up delimiting each other by excluding whatever else. Kunjunni Raja refers to a passage where Patañjali discussed sāmarthya, a condition given by Pāṇini for compounds (Kunjunni Raja quotes a shorter version of the same passage):

Indeed, the sāmarthya is the distinction (bheda), or the association [of words in the compound]. Someone else said: “The sāmarthya is the distinction and the association”. What is indeed the distinction and what is the association? In this [compound, namely rājapuruṣa, which can be analysed as “the servant of the king” (rajñaḥ puruṣaḥ)], the term “of the king” is automatically associated with everything which belongs to him, whereas “the servant” is automatically associated with all possible masters. Now, when one utters the sentence “Bring the servant of the king!” “the king” removes (nivṛt-) the servant from all other masters and also “the servant” [removes] the king from anything else which belongs to him. In this way, given that both are determined [by each other], if [each word] relinquishes its own meaning, let it be. It is not the case that one can bring a “servant” in general.
(sāmarthyaṃ nāma bhedaḥ, saṃsargo vā. apara āha —bhedasaṃsargau vā sāmarthyam iti. kaḥ punar bhedaḥ saṃsargo vā? iha rājña ity ukte sarvaṃ svaṃ prasaktam, puruṣa ity ukte sarvaṃ svāmī prasaktaḥ. ihedānīṃ rājapuruṣam ānayety ukte rājā puruṣaṃ nivartayaty anyebhyaḥ svāmibhyaḥ, puruṣo ‘pi rājānam anyebhyaḥ svebhyaḥ. evam etasminn ubhayato svavacchinne yadi svārthaṃ jahāti kāmam. jahātu na jātucit puruṣamātrasyānayanaṃ bhaviṣyati, MBh ad A, p. 330, my translation)

In other words, in order to accomplish the order to fetch someone, one needs a specification, and words, while connected, specify each other. Does this amount to a proto-apoha theory? I would not say so, although some key terms are there, most notably bheda and nivṛt-, since in this theory each words delimits another word’s meaning. It is not the case that no word has an own meaning. In other words, distinction steps in for Vyāḍi only at the sentence level, and not as the meaning of each single word (which is, as already mentioned, an individual).

By the way, I am by no means familiar with Patañjali, but I checked Kaiyaṭa’s Pradīpa and Nāgeśa’s Uddyota on this passage and could not find any indication of Vyāḍi’s name. Kunjunni Raja does not really elaborate on this point, but refers in a footnote to Helārāja’s commentary on VP 3.1.2:

According to the opinion of Vyāḍi, the meaning of a sentence is the distinction (bheda), because [the sentence-meaning] is denoted through the fact of being the purpose of the exclusion (nivṛtti) [operated] by the individual substances expressed by words.
(vyāḍimate bhedo vākyārthaḥ, padavācyānāṃ dravyāṇāṃ dravyāntaranivṛttitātparyeṇābhidheyatvāt, my translation).

UPDATE: Sudipta Munsi kindly located the passsage for me: It is not as claimed by Kunjunni Raja on VP 3.1.2, but rather on 3.1.5, p. 15 of Vākyapadīya of Bhartṛhari with the commentary of Helarāja, Part 3, Vol. 1, Ed. K. A. Subramania Iyer, 1963.

The interesting challenge now becomes to determin whether later authors had in view Vyāḍi or already an apohavādin while discussing about bheda as the sentence meaning. I will discuss Jayanta’s case next week, while Kunjunni Raja mentions Kumārila (“Tantravārttika, p, 447″) and Pārthasārathi (“Ślokavārttika (Benares ed.), p. 854″). I have not checked them yet, but the first one is quoted by Kunjunni Raja as follows:

bhedo nāma padārthānāṃ vyavacchedaḥ parasparam. […] vyaktipadārthapakṣe sarvavyaktīnāṃ gavādipadenaivopāttatvāt viṣayaśabdaiḥ śuklādibhiḥ kṛṣṇādivyavacchedamātraṃ vaktavyam.

I would imagine that a good criterion would be to focus on what is the locus of exclusion (sentence meaning or each word meaning?). Kumārila seems to fulfil it, also insofar as he mentions that the words themselves mean individuals (vyakti) and not exclusions. Pārthasārathi’s text is not reported, and I will need the library to reopen after Easter to check it.

Do you know the passages by Kumārila and Pārthasārathi? Do you agree with Kunjunni Raja’s attribution? Can you think of other examples of critiques against Vyāḍi (and not the apohavādins)? Last, how long and how much “popular” was Vyāḍi?

Comments and discussions are welcome. Be sure you are making a point and contributing to the discussion.

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9 thoughts on “Who invented the apoha theory? On Kunjunni Raja 1986 SECOND UPDATE

  1. Thanks for the post, Elisa. I’ll read the article. I’m working on the samâsa section of the Pali grammar Kaccayana (and its commentaries), and there is a good deal of philosophical discussion there, which is ultimately rooted in Patañjali (very indirectly, though). In the text’s I’ve read, and even though they are written by Buddhists, reference is made to exclusion (nivatthana in Pali) but not to any philosopher (using the stock example of râjapuriso in Pali). I thing that trying to find a single origin for the apoha theory is very difficult, given the complexity and the scholastic nature of the Indian philosophical tradition, so I agree with you. Maybe the idea was in Vyadi (if in a nutshell), but I think that without Dignaga it would have never become what we call a theory. (Maybe that applies to all theories, after all, because they don’t appear out of the blue).

  2. Vyāḍi’s view is presented by Kātyāyana in his vārtika (#45), dravyābhidhānaṃ vyāḍiḥ, under Pāṇini’s sūtra, sarūpāṇām ekaśeṣa ekavibhaktau (I.ii.64), and he adduces reason for it in a few subsequent vārtikas. They are as follows:

    1. Tathā ca liṅgavacanasiddhiḥ – Variations in gender and number are possible only if it is the dravya or individual that is expressed by words;

    2. Codanāsu ca tasyārambhāt – Ārambha or beginning is noticed only in dravya and not in the ākṛti or the universal:

    3. Na caikamanekādhikaraṇasthaṃ yugapat – Because of the plurality of dravyas, they are cognised at many places simultaneously.

    4. Vināśe prādurbhāve ca sarvaṃ tathā syāt – Origin and destruction are possible only with regard to dravya.

    From the reasons adduced above by Kātyāyana, itaravyavaccheda or mutual exclusion appears to be the intended view (tātparyārtha) of Vyāḍi.

    As against Vyāḍi, stands Vājapyāyana, holding that it is the ākṛti or the universal that is expressed by words. Vājapyāyana too is mentioned by Kātyāyana in his vārtika (# 35) on the same Pāṇini rule: Ākṛtyabhidhānād vaikaṃ vibhaktau Vājapyāyanaḥ.

    Patañjali, as Dr. Gangadhar Kar Nyāyācārya notes in his book, Śabdārthasambandhaparīkṣā (p. 184), strikes a balance between the two views and says:
    na hi ākṛtipadārthakasya dravyaṃ na padārthaḥ, dravyapadārthakasya ākṛtirna padārthaḥ / Ubhayorubhayaṃ padārthaḥ / (Mahābhāṣya ad. Pā. Sū. 1/2/64)
    [Neither can the universalist say that substance is not the meaning of words, nor can the individualist deny that the universal is the meaning of the word. Both (the views) of both (the contending parties) are the meaning of words. My translation]

    Prof. Gangadhar Kar Nyāyācārya comments that it is according to the degree of preference one attaches that ākṛti and dravya are said to be meaning of words by ākṛtivādins and dravyavādins respectively; but it should not be lost sight of that while ākṛti is preferred by the ākṛtivādins, dravya is secondarily expressed by the word; similarly when dravya is highlighted as word-meaning, ākṛti too is expressed, though secondarily.

    Again, Kātyāyana is found to say in his vārtika on the Pā. Sū. I.ii.58, jātyākhyāyāmekasmin bahuvacanamanyatarasyām, that it is the dravya that is expressed by the term jāti. Patañjali also endorses Kātyāyana’s view and says in the Mahābhāsya thereon: jātiśabdena hi dravyamapi abhidhīyate jātirapi.

    • Thanks for all this documentation, Sudipta. Now a question: Who do you think was referring to Vyadi after Katyayana and Patanjali? Should we postulate that his view of sentence-meaning was as well-known as that of word-meaning?

      • Another interesting passage discussing the views of Vājapyāyana and Vyāḍi on sentence-meaning comes from Pārthasārathi Miśra’s Nyāyaratnākara commentary on Ślokavārtika Vākyādhikaraṇa verse 30:

        “जातिपदार्थपक्षे गोशब्देन गोत्वमात्रम् अभिहितम्, शुक्लपदं तु तदेकवाक्यभूतं तस्यैव शुक्लगुणानुरागं प्रतिपादयति – इति संसर्गो वाक्यार्थः, तदेकत्वाच्च पदानामेकवाक्यता । व्यक्तिपदार्थपक्षे तु गोशब्देनैव शुक्लकृष्णादिव्यक्तिषु सर्वास्वभिहितासु शुक्लपदं शुक्लसंसर्गं प्रतिपादयत् अपि तत्परत्वे सति आनर्थक्यात् कृष्णादिव्यवच्छेदेनैव विशेषणं भवतीति भेदो वाक्यार्थः। प्रथमपक्षे तु आर्थिकः कृष्णादिव्यवच्छेदः।” [Quoted by Prof. Prabal Kumar Sen in his Bengali edition (p. 29) of Nyāyamañjarī, 5th Āhnika (section on sentence-meaning)]

        On the above passage Sen comments:

        “It is clearly understood from this exegetical discourse that saṃsarga is the sentence-meaning according to the Jātiśaktivādins; and according to the Vyaktiśaktivādins difference (bheda) or mutual exclusion (itaravyavaccheda) is the sentence-meaning. And that according to the Jātiśaktivādins, mutual exclusion (itaravyavaccheda) is understood later through reflection, is also understood from this comment of Pārthasārathi Miśra.” [My translation]

        The last line of Sen’s above comment is further corroborated by the following lines of the Śaktivāda of Gadādhara (Pariśiṣṭa Kāṇḍa, [Chowkhamba], p. 183):

        “अत्र भट्टाः पदान्न व्य्क्तेः स्मरनमनुभवो वा किन्त्वाक्षेपादेव व्यक्तिधीः, आक्षेपिका च जातिरेव । आक्षेपश्चानुमानमर्थापत्तिर्वा ।” [Quoted in Dr. Gangadhar Kar Nyāyacārya’s Śabdārthasambandhasamīkṣā (in Bengali), p. 436 fn.]

        Patañjali’s (and as a matter of that, the Vaiyākaraṇa’s) definition of a sentence is found in the following line of the Mahābhāṣya on the 9th vārtika of Kātyāyana, ākhyātaṃ sāvyayakārakaviśeṣaṇaṃ vākyam, on Pā. Sū.: samarthaḥ padavidhiḥ (2/1/1) –

        “आख्यातं साव्ययं सकारकं सकारकविशेषणं वाक्यसंज्ञकं भवति – इति वक्तव्यम् ।” (cited in Sen, op. cit., p. 2)

        So for the Vaiyākaraṇas, it is the meaning of the verb that is the chief qualificand in verbal cognition (आख्यातार्थमुख्यबविशेष्यकः शाब्दबोधः). Here ākhyāta means the conjugated form of a verb –

        “आख्यातशब्दः क्वचित्तिङ्परः क्वचिच्च तिङन्तपर। तिङ्परः इति नैयायिकसमयः। तिङन्तपर इति वैयाकरणसमयः।…. तत्र व्याकरणग्रन्थेष्वपि यत्र आख्यातशब्दस्तिङ्परः, तत्र नैयायिकवासनया स इति बोध्यम्। यथा – ‘ननु अनयोराख्यातार्थत्वे किं मानम्?’ – इत्यादि सारे। शाब्दिकमते यथा – ‘आख्यातमाख्यातेन क्रियासातत्ये’, (‘मयूरव्यंसकादयश्च’ २।१।७२ इतिसूत्रीयगणपातठे गणसूत्रम्), ‘आख्यातं साव्ययकारकविशेषणं वाक्यम्’ इत्यादिवार्तिके, ‘भावप्रधानमाख्यातम्’, ‘चत्वारि पदजातानि-नामाख्यातोपसर्गनिपाताश्च’ इति निरुक्तादौ च तथादर्शनात्।” [Mm. Pt. Manudeva Bhattachary’s notes to his edition of the Bṛhadvaiyākaraṇabhūṣaṇasāra (1985), Chaukhamba, pp. 52-53]

        • Shishir Saxena (Cambridge) sent me the following comment:

          Sudipta Munsi refers to “Prof. Prabal Kumar Sen in his Bengali edition (p. 29) of Nyāyamañjarī, 5th Āhnika (section on sentence-meaning)” who quotes PSM on v.29-30. And he concludes that “according to the Vyaktiśaktivādins difference (bheda) or mutual exclusion (itaravyavaccheda) is the sentence-meaning.”

          But, the commentary quoted is different – we read it as “vyaktipadārthapakṣe tu … kṛṣṇādivyavacchedenaiva viśeṣaṇaṃ bhavatīti. bhedo vā vākyārthaḥ.” but he quotes as “vyaktipadārthapakṣe tu …kṛṣṇādivyavacchedenaiva viśeṣaṇaṃ bhavatīti bhedo vākyārthaḥ.” i.e. the “vā” and the sentence break are dropped! I do not know whether this paragraph has been quoted directly as this in any of the commentaries of the Nyāyamañjarī, or whether Prof. Prabal Kumar Sen has sourced it from elsewhere – since the book is not available in our library.

          Of course, as we were discussing yesterday, there seemed to be 2 versions of the vyaktipadārthapakṣa here – one seemingly Vyāḍi’s and the other apoha (bheda). What do you think?