Friday, January 11, 2013

Kumārila's commentators

Kumārila's Ślokavārttika has been commented several times. The main three commentators are
  • Uṃveka Bhaṭṭa
  • Sucarita Miśra
  • Pārthasāsathi Miśra
Uṃveka was possibly a direct disciple of Kumārila and is surely the most ancient commentator. As for Sucarita and Pārthasārathi, they surely lived several centuries thereafter. Their relative chronology is under discussion. The two share a lot which is distinctive to them and not borrowed from Uṃveka. Personally (see an article by me on Kumārila's commentators published on Sambhāṣā in 2008) I am inclined to think that Sucarita is the source of Pārthasārathi.

Uṃveka is original and interesting in approach and seems to be the most philosophically interesting author (which also means that he might not be completely reliable as for the interpretation of Kumārila's thought, as shown by John Taber in regard to the thesis of svataḥ prāmāṇya). The edition of Uṃveka has the text of Kumārila reproduced on the top, but the text has been added by the editor and needs not be exactly the same which Uṃveka had before his eyes.

This last remark applies even more to Sucarita. In his case one often has the feeling (at least, I do) that he might have had a different text before his eyes. I enjoy reading Sucarita, since he seems to me to offer a good balance between philosophical acumen and adherence to the text.

Pārthasārathi is the most useful commentator as for understanding Kumārila's text in itself but one hardly finds any new idea elaborated by him (and not already traceable in Sucarita).

Pārthasārathi's commentary is the only one which has been completely published. Sucarita's commentary is possibly complete (Taisei Shida is currently editing the unedited portions), but has only been partially published (see the etext of the available part here). Uṃveka's commentary is, so far, incomplete.
Thus we have:
—Uṃveka covering from the beginning to the sphoṭa section (i.e., covering MS 1.1.1, MS 1.1.2, MS 1.1.3, MS 1.1.4, and the following sections out of MS 1.1.5: vṛttikāragrantha, nirālambanavāda, śūnyavāda, anumāna, śabda, upamāna, arthāpatti, abhāva, citrākṣepa-sambandhākṣepa, sphoṭavāda).
—Sucarita covering from the beginning to almost the end of the citrākṣepa section.
—Pārthasārathi covering the whole Ślokavārttika.

(this post has been prompted by a question by Sudipta Munsi.)

Which one do you know and use?

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