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Friday, May 15, 2009

On closeness to prescription and the validity of commendatory statements


Commendatory statements (arthavāda) are said by Mīmāṃsakas to be valid in so far as they are to be supplemented to a nearby prescription. Interestingly enough, a Śaiva author who wishes to prove the independent epistemic value of commendatory statements explains the role of closeness to prescriptions in a different way: the very fact that, close to a prescription they become meaningful means that they are in themselves meaningful. A collection of meaningless parts, in fact, does not produce a meaningful whole, just like a collection of grains of sand does not produce what a single grain of sand cannot produce. In the words of Jayaratha (commentary on Abhinavagupta's Tantrāloka, §IV, text out of KSS):

A [commendatory statement] does not have a true meaning only when autonomous, but even when heteronomous. Hence [Abhinavagupta] stated:

Or, although reaching the condition of member of another prescriptive sentence, |

this (commendatory statement) is not without meaning, because of closeness (sannidhi) [with the prescription] like [the phonemes] ga, ja, ḍa. etc.. || 237 ||

This commendatory statement, although reaching the condition of member of a prescriptive sentence, being a prescription or a prohibition, because of the proximity can not be without meaning. In this regard there is an example: like [the phonemes] ga, ja, ḍa, etc. Like indeed the phonemes which are close through being member of a word or [a sentence] are not without meaning, so also this [commendatory statement]. In fact, if the phonemes were meaningless, no different meaning would be understood when the phonemes are changed, like: gajaḥ (elephant), jaḍaḥ (inanimate), gaḍaḥ (screen)1. Even a collection [of meaningless phonemes] would not have any meaning, since if the parts are meaningless also the aggregate is meaningless. Like a single grain of sand (sikatā) cannot yield any oil and a collection of them, that is, a mass, is also unable [to yield it], in the same way if the commendatory statement were meaningless, in case of a prescribed or prohibited meaning there would not be an attentive initiation of action or cessation of it through its closeness. In case of [the commendatory statement] beginning with “He cried”, in fact, the silver originating out of crying is said to be so in order [for one] to despise [it], so that one would attentively give up giving it on a bed of kuśa grass (being sacred). Even ordinary people, indeed, do not become buyers just because of “this cow has to be bought”, like through such words of praise: “This [cow] gives very fat milk, is well=disciplined and has feminine, faultless progeny”. So, this meaning [of the commendatory statements] has as witness one's own experience. || 237 ||

For this very reason [Abhinavagupta] stated:

The fact that it (commendatory statement) conveys its meaning appears through one's own awareness |

[in case one would deny it], its negation would be made also in regard to prescriptions and prohibitions || 238 ||

Or, if this [conveying of a meaning by commendatory statements] is forcibly negated, then the negation of a meaning can be made also in regard to a prescriptive sentence, being a prescription or a prohibition. Hence he said its negation etc. || 238 ||

In this regard one's own awareness alone is not the only instrument of knowledge establishing it, but there is even reason (yukti). Hence [Abhinavagupta] stated:

And in case of these [commendatory] sentences, in regard to their [conveying a meaning] there is one's own awareness, non invalidated, which ascertains the reality of a ruby in all its aspects (artha), and also reason || 239 ||


1The text has “ṣoḍaḥ (?)” (sic!), my emendation is due to the fact that it would not make sense to introduce other phonemes, the argument pointing to the fact that a different order of the same phonemes conveys different meanings.


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