Vṛṣabhadeva’s Sphuṭākṣarā on Bhartṛhari’s Metaphysics: Commentarial Strategy and New Interpretations [Book Review]

Journal of Indian Philosophy 41 (2):133-149 (2013)

Marco Ferrante
Oxford University
Although somewhat neglected in the scholarly debate, Vṛṣabhadeva’s commentary (known as Sphuṭākṣarā or Paddhati, possibly 8th c. CE) on Vākyapadīya’s first chapter, offers a remarkable analysis of Bhartṛhari’s views on metaphysics and philosophy of language. Vākyapadīya’s first four kārikās deal with ontological issues, defining the key elements of Bhartṛhari’s non-dualistic edifice such as the properties of the unitary principle, its powers, the role of time and the ontological status of worldly objects. Vṛṣabhadeva’s interpretation of the kārikās in question is intriguing and seems to be guided by the urgency to find a solution to the riddle which every non-dualistic theory has to face: how is it possible to postulate a unitary principle of reality when reality is cognized as multiple? In accomplishing the task Vṛṣabhadeva proposes various solutions (some of them based on concepts which are hardly detectable in Vākyapadīya and appear close to the ones propounded in certain trends of Advaita Vedānta), finally suggesting an explanation which, focusing on the pragmatic aspect of language, is altogether consistent with Bhartṛhari’s theoretical picture
Keywords Bhartṛhari  Vṛṣabhadeva  Philosophy of language  Ontology   Vākyapadīya   Sphuṭākṣarā
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DOI 10.1007/s10781-013-9176-5
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The Advaita Vedānta of Brahma-Siddhi.Allen Wright Thrasher - 1993 - Motilal Banarsidass Publishers.

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