Retrieving the hidden meaning: Jain commentarial techniques and the art of memory [Book Review]

Journal of Indian Philosophy 38 (2):133-162 (2010)
One of the peculiar characteristics of the vast body of Jain commentarial literature is the primacy given to artha , meaning, over sūtra , the root text itself. It is the task of the commentator—or, in a pedagogical context, the teacher—to retrieve and explain a text’s true, hidden meaning, which often appears to stretch and even contradict its apparent meaning. This article examines the interpretive processes in one of the most important Jain commentaries on monastic discipline, the Bṛhatkalpabhāṣya attributed to the sixth-century CE Śvetāmbara Jain exegete Saṅghadāsa. An examination of passages where the commentator claims to uncover the real—but sometimes less-than-apparent—meaning of monastic rules enables us to detect the interpretive moves involved and the underlying assumptions about the nature of text and the work of commentary. I argue that this commentarial tradition presupposes particular practices of memory, and a degree of internalizing the traditional hermeneutical methods, on the part of a monastic practitioner who wants to understand the text correctly and live according to its true meaning.
Keywords Jainism  Commentary  Interpretation  Memory   Bṛhatkalpabhāṣya  Saṅghadāsa
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DOI 10.1007/s10781-010-9086-8
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References found in this work BETA
Jonardon Ganeri & M. Miri (2010). Sanskrit Philosophical Commentary. Journal of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research 27:187-207.

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