Hugo David’s review of Duty, language and exegesis in Prābhākara Mīmāṃsā

This post is part of a series dedicated to a discussion of the reviews of my book Duty, language and exegesis in Prābhākara Mīmāṃsā. For more details on the series, see here. For the first post (on Andrew Ollett’s review) of the series, see here. For the second post (dedicated to Taisei Shida’s review), see here. As already hinted at, I welcome comments and criticism.

Hugo David’s review is (to my knowledge) the only one in French. It is encouraging that great work is still done in languages other than English, but I will allow myself some longer summaries of it, for the sake of readers who may not know French. (I beg the reader’s pardon for my translations, which do not convey the elegance of David’s original French).

First of all, the review is part of a longer essay on “new developments in the study of Mīmāṃsā”, which discusses also James Benson’s edition and translation of the Mīmāṃsānyāyasaṅgraha and Kei Kataoka’s edition, translation and study of the codanā portion of the Ślokavārttika. I cannot but be pleased to be among these brilliant colleagues (whose works I listed in my annotated bibliography of Mīmāṃsā in 15 titles and I have myself reviewed, see here for Kataoka’s, and here for Benson’s).

David states almost at the outset that

No effort has been avoided in order to facilitate to the reader the access to philosophical and linguistic theories which are often very complex and to which almost no previous study had been dedicated. (p. 406)

This points to one of my leading ideas, namely the attempt to communicate what I understand. I am sure that some readers might be annoyed by my attempts to make the life of the reader easier and to demystify Sanskrit Philosophy: they are warned!

This concern is also the reason for my choice, rightly noted by David, “to generally priviledge systematicity over chronology” (which is very true, given that I use also the late Mīmāṃsānyāyaprakāśa to explain this or that concept). David is further right in noting that the only part of the book in which the history of ideas becomes predominant is the chapter regarding the evolution in the classification of prescriptions.

More importantly, David disagrees with my interpretation of the role of desire in Mīmāṃsā. Interested readers can read his alternative explanation in a recent article on the Journal of Value Inquiry, the beginning of which can be read here.

Being a learned reader and scholar of Mīmāṃsā and of Sanskrit theories of language in general, David engages also with the details of the Tantrarahasya‘s translation. He suggests (p. 405, n. 21) to understand tantradvaya, ‘the two tantras’ Rāmānujācārya announces to be his topic, as the Mīmāṃsāsūtra and the Vedāntasūtra, on the basis of the fact that the alternative understanding I suggested (the two schools of Pūrva Mīmāṃsā) is not usually attested for tantra. This may well be true, and this suggestion is intriguing, since elsewhere in his work Rāmānujācārya reveals to be a Viśiṣṭādvaitavedāntin. However, the Vedāntasūtras are never mentioned in the Tantrarahasya, so that their mention as the topic of the whole text would be at least misleading.

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

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2 thoughts on “Hugo David’s review of Duty, language and exegesis in Prābhākara Mīmāṃsā

  1. i was (and am) intrigued by tantradvayam, but i think you got it right: it is true that many mīmāṃsakas of a later period were also vedāntins of some description, but the TR itself systematically goes through each topic according to the bhāṭṭa and prābhākara view (and as you say, vedānta never comes up in the same way). and there’s also the fact that, contrary to what it seems HD was suggesting, tantra is attested in the sense of one of the two systems of (“pūrva-”) mīmāṃsā—in fact, it is in the title of the book in front of me, khaṇḍadeva’s bhāṭṭatantrarahasyam.

    • many thanks! That’s quite interesting and I will make sure to mention it in the Introduction to the complete translation of the TR (if ever I come to publish it), given that the titles are so similar that one can start day-dreaming about possible contacts.