pada-vākya-pramāṇa… Since when?

If you have read post-Classical śāstra, you will have certainly encountered the formulation above, describing the three foundational disciplines as focusing on
words (pada), i.e., grammatical analysis in Vyākaraṇa
sentences (vākya), i.e., textual linguistics in Mīmāṃsā
means of knowledge (pramāṇa), i.e., epistemology in Nyāya

The tripartition is handy and catchy, but clearly post-classical, also since the idea of distinguishing schools according to their “forte” and studying each of them in a technical way is probably itself post-classical. Thus, when did the tripartition originate, and by whom? When and where did it become standard?
As for the first question, until now, I have encountered it in Jayanta (10th c. Kashmīr), in a non-standard form, so that it may be thought that Jayanta lies just before its standardization.
As for the last question, in the following quote by Veṅkaṭanātha (13th c. Tamil Nadu) the standardisation seems complete:

The knowers of the śāstra divide the śāstra into three, according to the division into words, sentences and means of knowledge.

(padavākyapramāṇabhedena hi tredhā vibhajanti śāstraṃ śāstravidaḥ)

When and wher did you encounter this tripartition first?

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

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10 thoughts on “pada-vākya-pramāṇa… Since when?

    • Many thanks, Daniele. For those who cannot read the linked article, David states that padavākyapramāṇajña is found already in Śaṅkara’s Brahmasūtrabhāṣya ad 1.1.5. David further notes that the compound is analysed as referring to Vyākaraṇa, Mīmāṃsā and Tarka respectively in Mukula Bhaṭṭa’s Abhidhāvṛttimātṛkā. Mukula was a Kashmiri himself and more or less coeval with Jayanta. Do you know whether they knew each other or whether the one lived before the other?

      • Daniele beat me to it! In Mukulabhaṭṭa, it is found in Verse 16, the penultimate verse.

        pada-vākya-pramāṇeṣu tad etat pratibimbitam |
        yo yojayati sāhitye tasya vānī prasīdati ||

        pada-avagati-hetutvāt padaṃ vyākaraṇam | vākyasya-anvaya-avasāya-hetutvād vākyaṃ mīmāṃsā. pramāṇa-pratipatti-kāritvāt pramāṇaṃ tarkaḥ |

        It seems to me that Mukula knew of Jayanta’s work as the way he organizes some of his discussion seems to follow the structure of the latter’s Nyāyamañjarī, but that is speculation as I haven’t made a careful study of parallels. Jayanta dismisses Ānandavardhana’s dhvani theory (tantalizingly at the end of a discussion on arthāpatti, in a transition which to me suggests he saw some connection between the two topics) but does not directly refer to Mukula’s work.

        • Thank you Malcolm! Meanwhile, at the Indian Philosophy Blog also Andrew mentioned Mukula (which is becoming more popular than Dharmakīrti, judging from our blogs!). Thanks also for the hint regarding the relative chronology of the two —it would be interesting to compare a specific topic and see if one can get anything out of it. Due to our current interest, arthāpatti could be a starting point, perhaps?
          Your last point, regarding the connection of arthāpatti and alaṅkāraśāstra might perhaps be relevant in view of the ongoing discussion on arthāpatti with Christophe Vielle.

  1. An occurrence of the set that is older than any mentioned by Hugo David (or by Haag)
    is in Bāṇa’s Kādambarī. A long list is given of the branches of knowledge in which
    Candrāpīḍa achieved mastery; it begins (p. 75 of vol. 1 of Peterson’s edition)
    pade vākye pramāṇe.

    • Many thanks for this reference, H.! I will check the passage, since it would be interesting to see whether there is anything else pointing again to Mīmāṃsā, Vyākaraṇa and Nyāya, thus showing that pada, vākya and pramāṇa were by the time of Bāṇa still topics of investigation and not yet place-holders for the names of three schools, as their position at the beginning of the list could suggest…

      • Unfortunately the book has been borrowed from the library by someone else until July the 7th. I will have to wait until I am back from Bangkok to check it. Thanks again!

  2. Hi Elisa and everybody,
    I’d like to add my own contribution to the topic: in the comm. to Ānandavardhana’s Devīśataka v. 64, Kayyaṭa, a Kashmiri writing in 978 AD, glosses the words “śāstraprabhāvahasitāḥ […] giraḥ” with “śāstraprabhāvena padavākyapramāṇānāṃ māhātmyena hasitā giro vācaḥ”. In the stanza, the Goddess herself endorses the speeches of the sages, that are “expanded/made clear through the strength of śāstra” and hence become flawless, flaming weapons against ignorance. I cannot say wether Kayyaṭa is alluding to the already-standardised triad of disciplines, or to still-separate topics of investigation (as you suggest for Bāṇa): after all, in this context both meanings would work well as ‘weaponry of the sage’. But maybe the fact that he doesn’t name explicitly Vyākaraṇa, Mīmāṃsā and Nyāya is significant. Alessandro