Friday, November 21, 2008

Sanskrit usages: ācārya

Rāmāṇujācārya is a Prābhākara Mīmāṃsaka who has also commented in a Bhāṭṭa garb a Bhāṭṭa work, Pārthasārathimiśra's Nyāyaratnamālā. In Rāmānujācārya's works, Kumārila is constantly referred to as “ācārya” (see TR IV, §3, §3.17, §9.4.1, NR ad AN, III, 28, p. 253). And also Pārthasārathi Miśra uses the same appellation (1937: 75).
Is “ācārya” a self-understood way to refer to Kumārila? Is it common in Buddhist sources, too? Elsewehere, ācārya seems to be used in order to refer to a teacher of a rival school (against guru). So possibly in Madhyamaka literature, see D.S. Ruegg 1981: 58, fn. 171 (where svayūthya is opposed to ācārya).
By the way, R. does not call himself “ācārya”, this appellation is used among Sanskritists chiefly in order to distinguish him from the best known Śrī Rāmāṇuja.


Alessandro said...

ācārya, in bhakti tradition, is the teacher who teaches by the example. ācarati iti ācārya. Or, perhaps it indicates that the person in question has established something, a line, a tradition. A pioneering feat. In philosophical context, it is not clear to me why some former thinkers are labelled ācārya. In the Nyāyamañjarī there is a distinction between ācārya and vyākhyātṛ. We found the latter term also in the Abhinavabhāratī, if I am not wrong.

elisa freschi said...

In Śaivasiddhānta, ācārya is the name of the fourth level of śaiva adepts, i.e., of those who have received, after nirvāṇadīkṣā also ācāryābhiṣeka. Ācāryas are there also called (I could not see any reason in those variations) guru or deśika, they may give dīkṣā and pratiṣṭhā and may comment āgamas (cfr Brunner, 1994, p. 432).
So, it is surely wrong that ācārya might be used in general as a designation of the revered teacher of a rival school. Still, I cannot aptly distinguish it from guru, deśika and so on. Hope to be able to post further instances in the future.

elisa freschi said...

The author of the Tarkajvālā also refers to the author of the text it is commenting upon, namely the Madhyamakahṛdayakārikā, as “ācārya”. It has been argued, that both the TJ and the MHK have been composed by the same person, Bhāviveka (or Bhāvya, or Bhāvaviveka). So, at least, ācārya refers (or may refer) to someone of the same school.

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