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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Prescriptions embedding actions

According to the hermeneutic of Sacred Texts devised by the followers of Kumārila Bhaṭṭa, the linguistic bhāvanā constituting the prescription first requires (through expectation, ākāṅkṣā) an object to be brought about, that is, the purpose[-oriented] bhāvanā (arthabhāvanā). This is also conveyed by the prescriptive verbal suffix (just as it would be by any other finite verbal suffix), more precisely by its finite verbal component (ākhyātatva).

In order to fulfil the role of the result that must be accomplished, this bhāvanā must be somehow desirable (the action noun ākāṅkṣā retaining its desiderative shade of meaning). Since, however, the undertaking of an action is not desirable in itself, one must assume that it is indirectly desirable given that it is the means for achieving something desirable. In this way, although sacrificing is not in itself an agreeable activity, one undertakes it as if it were something desirable because one longs for the sacrifice's result, e.g., heaven.

In fact, the purpose[-oriented] bhāvanā also requires an object to be achieved thereby. The first candidate, because of proximity, is the meaning of the verbal root, since it is part of the same verbal form whose ending conveys the objective bhāvanā. However, the meaning of the verbal root is not by itself desirable and cannot hence fulfil the role of the bhāvya. This is, instead, revealed within the same prescription by an expression such as “one-who-is-desirous-of-heaven” (svargakāma), which indirectly indicates the sacrifice’s result, whereby “heaven” can be replaced by “cattle”, “a son”, “rain”, etc.

Immediately thereafter, the question arises “how can this result be achieved?” To answer this, the verbal root is connected to the bhāvanā as its instrument. Hence, by hearing “one who is desirous of heaven should sacrifice”, one simultaneously understands an urging (the linguistic bhāvanā), the contents of this urging (the undertaking of an action or purpose[-oriented] bhāvanā), its result (heaven) and the instrument for its achievement (the sacrifice). But the expectation is not completely appeased, insofar as the mere knowledge that heaven is to be achieved through a sacrifice is not enough. One also needs to know how this sacrifice will be instrumental for the arising of this result. Consequently, a procedure is also required, which is offered through the other sentences describing the sacrifice.

Summing up,

object to be brought about, e.g., heaven

bhāvanā instrument, e.g., sacrifice

procedure, e.g., rites composing the sacrifice


object to be brought about (heaven)

object to be brought about, e.g.,bhāvanā →instrument (sacrifice)

śabdabhāvanā instrument procedure


Lastly, since the sacrifice would not be a suitable instrument (as it does not last until the arousal of the result, as the Prābhākara point out), a new potency, arisen through the sacrifice and lasting until the result is also necessarily connected as an intermediate element.

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