Difference between revisions of "Shabda Vichara (शब्दविचारः)"

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The Darshana texts stand testimony to the fact that ancient Bharat was the fertile breeding ground for intellectual discussions about many unique and fundamental concepts of the material world such as physics, chemistry, mathematics and astronomy to quote a few. It is with awe that one may note that the characteristics of sound as explained in the Darshana shastras is the outstanding outcome of "''modern''" discussions in the past using logical recognizable forms of thinking and tackling questions that is unparalleled even in this modern day.  
 
The Darshana texts stand testimony to the fact that ancient Bharat was the fertile breeding ground for intellectual discussions about many unique and fundamental concepts of the material world such as physics, chemistry, mathematics and astronomy to quote a few. It is with awe that one may note that the characteristics of sound as explained in the Darshana shastras is the outstanding outcome of "''modern''" discussions in the past using logical recognizable forms of thinking and tackling questions that is unparalleled even in this modern day.  
  
'''Vaiseshika Darshana''' says that Sound is that object of which the organ of apprehension is the ear.<ref name=":3">Sinha, Nandalal (1923 Second Edition) ''The Vaisesika Sutras of Kanada with the commentary of Sankara Misra''. Allahabad: The Panini Office (Page 86-91)</ref> <blockquote>श्रोत्रग्रहणो योर्ऽथः स शब्दः । वैशेषिक-२,२.२१ । (Vais. Sutr. 2.2.21)<ref name=":4">Vaiseshika Sutras ([https://sa.wikisource.org/wiki/%E0%A4%B5%E0%A5%88%E0%A4%B6%E0%A5%87%E0%A4%B7%E0%A4%BF%E0%A4%95%E0%A4%B8%E0%A5%82%E0%A4%A4%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%8D Full Text])</ref></blockquote>'''Mahabhashya''' of Patanjali, expounds the vaiyakarana view and addresses the definition of "what is Shabda?"<blockquote>अथ गौरित्यत्र कः शब्दः ? ...... कस्तर्हि शब्दः? येनोच्चारितेन सास्नालाङ्गूलककुदखुरविषाणिनां सम्प्रत्ययो भवति स शब्दः ।। अथ वा प्रतीतपदार्थको लोके ध्वनिः शब्द इत्युच्यते।<ref name=":2">Mahabhashyam ([https://sa.wikisource.org/wiki/%E0%A4%AE%E0%A4%B9%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%AD%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%B7%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%AF%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%8D/%E0%A4%AA%E0%A4%B8%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%AA%E0%A4%B6%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%B9%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%A8%E0%A4%BF%E0%A4%95%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%8D Pushpashahnika])</ref></blockquote>Summary: Now, when one says गौः (cow), what is Shabda?... Shabda is that on whose manifestation the correct knowledge of the object (Cow) which has dew-lap (सास्ना), tail (लाङ्गूल), hump (ककुद), hoof (खुर), horns (विषाण) etc, is produced; or, the '''sound which has a decisive meaning is said to be shabda''' in the world.  
+
'''Vaiseshika Darshana''' says that Sound is that object of which the organ of apprehension is the ear.<ref name=":3">Sinha, Nandalal (1923 Second Edition) ''The Vaisesika Sutras of Kanada with the commentary of Sankara Misra''. Allahabad: The Panini Office (Page 86-91)</ref> <blockquote>श्रोत्रग्रहणो योर्ऽथः स शब्दः । वैशेषिक-२,२.२१ । (Vais. Sutr. 2.2.21)<ref name=":4">Vaiseshika Sutras ([https://sa.wikisource.org/wiki/%E0%A4%B5%E0%A5%88%E0%A4%B6%E0%A5%87%E0%A4%B7%E0%A4%BF%E0%A4%95%E0%A4%B8%E0%A5%82%E0%A4%A4%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%8D Full Text])</ref></blockquote>'''Mahabhashya''' of Patanjali, expounds the vaiyakarana view and addresses the definition of "what is Shabda?"<blockquote>अथ गौरित्यत्र कः शब्दः ? ...... कस्तर्हि शब्दः? येनोच्चारितेन सास्नालाङ्गूलककुदखुरविषाणिनां सम्प्रत्ययो भवति स शब्दः ।। अथ वा प्रतीतपदार्थको लोके ध्वनिः शब्द इत्युच्यते।<ref name=":2">Mahabhashyam ([https://sa.wikisource.org/wiki/%E0%A4%AE%E0%A4%B9%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%AD%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%B7%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%AF%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%8D/%E0%A4%AA%E0%A4%B8%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%AA%E0%A4%B6%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%B9%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%A8%E0%A4%BF%E0%A4%95%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%8D Pashpashahnika])</ref></blockquote>Summary: Now, when one says गौः (cow), what is Shabda?... Shabda is that on whose manifestation the correct knowledge of the object (Cow) which has dew-lap (सास्ना), tail (लाङ्गूल), hump (ककुद), hoof (खुर), horns (विषाण) etc, is produced; or, the '''sound which has a decisive meaning is said to be shabda''' in the world.  
  
 
When a word like गौः is pronounced, the following concepts appear in the mind of the hearer :—the species cow, her action, her qualities, genus cow, the shape of the cow—and also the word made up of ga, au and visarga strikes his ear. The hearer begins to doubt whether on pronouncing गौः the Shabda refers to the species cow, her actions etc. According to Vaiyakaranas the relation (sambandha) of शब्दः (word) and अर्थः (its meaning), गुणम् (attribute) and गुणिन् (object having the attribute), क्रिया (action) and क्रियावान् (performer of action) is identity (samavaya sambandha). However none of these are the connotation of shabda and true connotation, according to Vaiyakaranas, is Sphota, which, when manifested, enables the hearer to have a clear knowledge of the object cow. They admit that every letter that is pronounced makes an impression in the mind and the sum total of the impressions made by all the letters of the word suggest the sense. Hence Shabda is not what we hear, but it is that, Sphota or sound-essence, which is manifested in the mind after the whole word is pronounced.<ref name=":1" />
 
When a word like गौः is pronounced, the following concepts appear in the mind of the hearer :—the species cow, her action, her qualities, genus cow, the shape of the cow—and also the word made up of ga, au and visarga strikes his ear. The hearer begins to doubt whether on pronouncing गौः the Shabda refers to the species cow, her actions etc. According to Vaiyakaranas the relation (sambandha) of शब्दः (word) and अर्थः (its meaning), गुणम् (attribute) and गुणिन् (object having the attribute), क्रिया (action) and क्रियावान् (performer of action) is identity (samavaya sambandha). However none of these are the connotation of shabda and true connotation, according to Vaiyakaranas, is Sphota, which, when manifested, enables the hearer to have a clear knowledge of the object cow. They admit that every letter that is pronounced makes an impression in the mind and the sum total of the impressions made by all the letters of the word suggest the sense. Hence Shabda is not what we hear, but it is that, Sphota or sound-essence, which is manifested in the mind after the whole word is pronounced.<ref name=":1" />
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=== Vaidika (वैदिकाः) and Laukika (लौकिकाः) ===
 
=== Vaidika (वैदिकाः) and Laukika (लौकिकाः) ===
Mahabhashyam the celebrated text of vyakarana, given to the world by Maharshi Patanjali, gives an in depth analysis about the development of language and the siddhantas to be considered from the vyakarana standpoint. It describes about which shabdas should be studied (and understood) and classifies them as Vaidika and Laukika. Maharshi Patanjali says,<blockquote>केषां शब्दानाम्?</blockquote><blockquote>लौकिकानां वैदिकानां च। तत्र लौकिकास्तावत् - गोरश्वः पुरुषो हस्ती शकुनिः मृगो ब्राह्मण इति। वैदिकाः खल्वपि- शन्नो देवीरभिष्टये (अ.सं.1,1,1), इषे त्वोर्जे त्वा (तै.सं.1,1,1,1), अग्निमीले पुरोहितम् (ऋ.1,1,1), अग्न आयाहि वीतये (सा. सं. 1,1,1) इति ।। (Maha. Pushpashahnika)<ref name=":2" /></blockquote><nowiki>Summary : Of which shabdas? Of those current in the world and in the Vedas.  Among them the Laukika shabdas are गौः (cow), अश्वः (horse), पुरुषः (person), हस्ती (elephant), शकुनिः (bird), मृगः (deer), ब्राह्मणः (brahmana) etc. The Vaidika shabdas are शन्नो देवीरभिष्टये [Let the waters bring us happiness (so that we may perform sacrifice); इषे त्वोर्जे त्वा [(I cut) you for food and vitality]; अग्निमीले पुरोहितम् (I invoke Agni, the divine priest).</nowiki><ref name=":1" />
+
Mahabhashyam the celebrated text of vyakarana, given to the world by Maharshi Patanjali, gives an in depth analysis about the development of language and the siddhantas to be considered from the vyakarana standpoint. It describes about which shabdas should be studied (and understood) and classifies them as Vaidika and Laukika. Maharshi Patanjali says,<blockquote>केषां शब्दानाम्?</blockquote><blockquote>लौकिकानां वैदिकानां च। तत्र लौकिकास्तावत् - गोरश्वः पुरुषो हस्ती शकुनिः मृगो ब्राह्मण इति। वैदिकाः खल्वपि- शन्नो देवीरभिष्टये (अ.सं.1,1,1), इषे त्वोर्जे त्वा (तै.सं.1,1,1,1), अग्निमीले पुरोहितम् (ऋ.1,1,1), अग्न आयाहि वीतये (सा. सं. 1,1,1) इति ।। (Maha. Pashpashahnika)<ref name=":2" /></blockquote><nowiki>Summary : Of which shabdas? Of those current in the world and in the Vedas.  Among them the Laukika shabdas are गौः (cow), अश्वः (horse), पुरुषः (person), हस्ती (elephant), शकुनिः (bird), मृगः (deer), ब्राह्मणः (brahmana) etc. The Vaidika shabdas are शन्नो देवीरभिष्टये [Let the waters bring us happiness (so that we may perform sacrifice); इषे त्वोर्जे त्वा [(I cut) you for food and vitality]; अग्निमीले पुरोहितम् (I invoke Agni, the divine priest).</nowiki><ref name=":1" />
  
 
The Vaidika shabdas are considered to be more prominent than the laukika shabdas, since the latter should not be mispronounced only in Yajnas and the former on no occasion.  
 
The Vaidika shabdas are considered to be more prominent than the laukika shabdas, since the latter should not be mispronounced only in Yajnas and the former on no occasion.  
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== शब्दगुणाः ॥ Nature of Shabda ==
 
== शब्दगुणाः ॥ Nature of Shabda ==
 
There are various versions about the nature of sound. While many agree that it is the quality of Akasha, there are differences of opinion about a few other qualities such as  
 
There are various versions about the nature of sound. While many agree that it is the quality of Akasha, there are differences of opinion about a few other qualities such as  
* Its Eternal or Transient nature
+
* Eternal or Karya
 
* Substratum of Sound
 
* Substratum of Sound
 
* Relationship the Shabda (शब्दः) has with its Indriya (श्रोतेन्द्रियं)
 
* Relationship the Shabda (शब्दः) has with its Indriya (श्रोतेन्द्रियं)
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Sound has not for its substratum any of the tangible substances, namely, earth, water, fire and air. Its substratum is ether which pervades all space. hence sound is produced even in a vacuum which is devoid of smell, taste, color and touch - the qualities of tangible substances. The reason why the sound produced in vacuum does not reach our ears, is that there is no air to carry it.
 
Sound has not for its substratum any of the tangible substances, namely, earth, water, fire and air. Its substratum is ether which pervades all space. hence sound is produced even in a vacuum which is devoid of smell, taste, color and touch - the qualities of tangible substances. The reason why the sound produced in vacuum does not reach our ears, is that there is no air to carry it.
  
=== Nitya (Eternal) Anitya (Transient) Nature ===
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=== Nitya (Eternal) or Karya (Non-eternal) Nature ===
Schools of thought subscribing to Nityatva include the Mimamsa (1.1.6-22), Vedanta (1.3.28-29) and Vyakarana
+
Some say that sound being a quality of Akasha is all-pervading, eternal and capable of being manifested. Another school of thought believes that like smell, sound is quality or attribute of the substance in which it abides and is capable of being manifested, hence not eternal. Again, agreeing that sound is a quality of Akasha, another school says that it is subject to production and destruction like knowledge; thus it is anitya.
  
Mimamsaka holds Sabda to be nitya, not because of a lack of understanding of its nature, but because for him Sabda is something beyond "sound" as normally understood, or Sabda as understood by a Naiyayika.
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Schools of thought subscribing to Nitya and Anitya nature of Shabda include 
 +
{| class="wikitable"
 +
!शब्दः नित्यः (Nityatva)
 +
!Not Opposed to Nityatva
 +
!शब्द अनित्यः (Anityatva)
 +
|-
 +
|Mimamsa (1.1.6-23)
 +
|Shiksha
 +
|Nyaya (2.2.3 - 59)
 +
|-
 +
|Vedanta (1.3.28-29)
 +
|Niruktam (इन्द्रियनित्यः वचनमौदुम्बरायणः)
 +
|Vaiseshika (2.2.21-37)
 +
|-
 +
|Vyakarana (सिद्धे शब्दार्थसम्बन्धे)
 +
|
 +
|Sankhya (SPS 5.58-60)
 +
|}
 +
 
 +
==== Mimasa ====
 +
This is an important concept for Mimamsa explains the Apaurusheyatva of Vedas based on the Nityatva of Shabdas. Mimamsaka holds Shabda to be nitya, not because of a lack of understanding of its nature, but because for him Shabda is something beyond "sound" as normally understood, or Shabda as understood by a Naiyayika.  
  
 
लिङ्गाच्चानित्यः शब्दः । वैशेषिक-२,२.३२ ।
 
लिङ्गाच्चानित्यः शब्दः । वैशेषिक-२,२.३२ ।

Revision as of 14:51, 18 May 2020

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Shabda (Samskrit: शब्दः) a word similar to many others like Dharma and Jnana used in Sanatana Dharma, is of significance in the development of the language system and expression of thought. It is through Speech that one goes about his Lokayatra (journey through world). Acharya Dandi, one of the earliest Alamkarikas, further describes

वाचामेव प्रसादेन लोकयात्रा प्रवर्तते ।। १.३ ।।

इदमन्धन्तमः कृत्स्नं जायेत भुवनत्रयम् यदि शब्दाहवयं ज्योतिरासंसारन्न दीप्यते ।। १.४ ।। (Kavyadarsha. 1.3-4)[1]

All the three worlds would have been enveloped in blinding darkness, had there been no language, the brilliant light that shines eternally.[2]

Shabda is defined and explained as a that "heard by the ear" or it is a "sound (ध्वनिः)" or "a cry, roar (रवः)" by Vaiyakaranas, apart from being used as a technical term (संज्ञा) of a valid tool of knowledge (cognition) or Pramana (प्रमाणम्) by the Darshanikas.

Science of Dhvani (ध्वनिविज्ञानम्), involves the study of Dhvani (Sound), the synonymous terms, place of utterance and speech mechanism (उच्चारणस्थानानि वाग्यन्त्राणि), origin and classification of sounds, siddhantas involved in the production and propagation of sound, auditory organ and mechanism of reception of sound.

Shabdanushasanam (शब्दानुशासनम्) means Vyakarana (Grammar) a branch of Vedanga, which deals with the systematic study to comprehend the meaning of a sentence by understanding the connotation and the denotation of the words which make it up.[3]

परिचयः ॥ Introduction

As a means of communication the role of words is indispensable. It is known from ages that words are the main ways of conducting all activities by man; all the letters starting from Akara are Arthabodhaka-s i.e., used in words to clearly express the meaning.

Shabda literally means sound. In linguistics it means the words and sentences. A word is a particular kind of sound, thus a sentence is a group of sounds arranged in a certain order. According to Nyaya, sound is a physical phenomenon. It is the attribute of an intangible and all-pervading substance called Akasha (आकाशः).

आकाशगुणः शब्दः । Sound is the attribute of Akaasha (Nirukta. Shast. 13.17)[4]

Vayu is its medium of transmission from one place to another and not a substratum of the quality of sound.

Sound is a product of the conjunction of two bodies or of the disjunction of the parts of one composite body. It is thus non-eternal or subject to origin and cessation in time. The Mimamsakaras here differ from the Nyaya stance in that they hold that Sound is eternal, since it is not produced but only manifested by the contact of two bodies.[5]

व्युत्पत्तिः ॥ Etymology

According to Panini's dhatupata, the word शब्दः is derived from the dhatu श॑ब्दँ॑ used in the meaning of भाषणे शब्दक्रियायाम् उपसर्गादाविष्कारे च (speaking, in sound utterances, and revealing the meanings of upasargas)[6]

Shabdakalpadruma defines the word शब्दः as श्रोत्रग्राह्यगुणपदार्थ-विशेषः। that padartha having the quality of being captured (heard) by the ear. The synonyms for Shabda according to Amarakosha are

१ निनादः २ निनदः ३ ध्वनिः ४ ध्वानः ५ रवः ६ स्वनः ७ स्वानः ८ निर्घोषः ९ निर्हादः १० नादः ११ निःस्वानः १२ निःस्वनः १३ आरवः १४ आरावः १५ संरावः १६ विरावः इत्यमरः।

Shabda is two-fold as word (padam) and sentence (vakyam). A word is defined as that which has the meaning or signifying power (sakti). It is also defined as a unity of articulate letter-sounds having a (verbal or case-) ending.[7]

शब्दलक्षणानि ॥ Shabda Lakshanas

The Darshana texts stand testimony to the fact that ancient Bharat was the fertile breeding ground for intellectual discussions about many unique and fundamental concepts of the material world such as physics, chemistry, mathematics and astronomy to quote a few. It is with awe that one may note that the characteristics of sound as explained in the Darshana shastras is the outstanding outcome of "modern" discussions in the past using logical recognizable forms of thinking and tackling questions that is unparalleled even in this modern day.

Vaiseshika Darshana says that Sound is that object of which the organ of apprehension is the ear.[8]

श्रोत्रग्रहणो योर्ऽथः स शब्दः । वैशेषिक-२,२.२१ । (Vais. Sutr. 2.2.21)[9]

Mahabhashya of Patanjali, expounds the vaiyakarana view and addresses the definition of "what is Shabda?"

अथ गौरित्यत्र कः शब्दः ? ...... कस्तर्हि शब्दः? येनोच्चारितेन सास्नालाङ्गूलककुदखुरविषाणिनां सम्प्रत्ययो भवति स शब्दः ।। अथ वा प्रतीतपदार्थको लोके ध्वनिः शब्द इत्युच्यते।[10]

Summary: Now, when one says गौः (cow), what is Shabda?... Shabda is that on whose manifestation the correct knowledge of the object (Cow) which has dew-lap (सास्ना), tail (लाङ्गूल), hump (ककुद), hoof (खुर), horns (विषाण) etc, is produced; or, the sound which has a decisive meaning is said to be shabda in the world.

When a word like गौः is pronounced, the following concepts appear in the mind of the hearer :—the species cow, her action, her qualities, genus cow, the shape of the cow—and also the word made up of ga, au and visarga strikes his ear. The hearer begins to doubt whether on pronouncing गौः the Shabda refers to the species cow, her actions etc. According to Vaiyakaranas the relation (sambandha) of शब्दः (word) and अर्थः (its meaning), गुणम् (attribute) and गुणिन् (object having the attribute), क्रिया (action) and क्रियावान् (performer of action) is identity (samavaya sambandha). However none of these are the connotation of shabda and true connotation, according to Vaiyakaranas, is Sphota, which, when manifested, enables the hearer to have a clear knowledge of the object cow. They admit that every letter that is pronounced makes an impression in the mind and the sum total of the impressions made by all the letters of the word suggest the sense. Hence Shabda is not what we hear, but it is that, Sphota or sound-essence, which is manifested in the mind after the whole word is pronounced.[3]

According to Shri. N. Sivasenani[11], Sabda has two definitions as given by Patanjali:

"प्रतीतपदार्थकः ध्वनिः शब्दः। is thus a working definition - applicable to vaikharee shabdas as per Nagesa - which makes meaningful words Sabdas.

The other, more philosophical definition, applicable to madhyamaa according to Nagesa, which accomodates the concept of sphota is: येनोच्चारितेन सास्नालाङ्गूलककुदखुरविषाणिनां सम्प्रत्ययो जायते स शब्दः। The idea is like this. A word is meaningful only if the listener is aware of it. Let us say that I propose that our group of friends go to a tundra for a holiday. If my friends do not know what a tundra is, my statement does not make sense. If they know that tundra is a cold desert, then they can reply along the lines of: "Oh! why on Earth would you want to go to a place where nothing grows, and there is nothing to see" or "Yes, such great calmness would be very nice". So the words uttered by a speaker only trigger the sense that has already been acquired by the listener. Therefore, when one says गौः the image of an animal with a सास्ना (dew-lap in English, and గంగడోలు in Telugu, the loose skin hanging below the neck of a cow), tail, hump, hoof, horns etc. arises in the mind of the listener, hence the definition: Sabda is that on whose pronunciation (or, manifestation) the correct knowledge of the object with dewlap, tail etc. is produced."

शब्दभेदाः ॥ Classification of Shabda

One finds interesting classifications of shabda expounded by various darshanakaras such as Sankhyakaras, Vaiyakaranas, Naiyayikas, Mimamsakaras, Vedantins and each of them play a significant role in understanding the role of Shabda in verbal comprehension.

Vaidika (वैदिकाः) and Laukika (लौकिकाः)

Mahabhashyam the celebrated text of vyakarana, given to the world by Maharshi Patanjali, gives an in depth analysis about the development of language and the siddhantas to be considered from the vyakarana standpoint. It describes about which shabdas should be studied (and understood) and classifies them as Vaidika and Laukika. Maharshi Patanjali says,

केषां शब्दानाम्?

लौकिकानां वैदिकानां च। तत्र लौकिकास्तावत् - गोरश्वः पुरुषो हस्ती शकुनिः मृगो ब्राह्मण इति। वैदिकाः खल्वपि- शन्नो देवीरभिष्टये (अ.सं.1,1,1), इषे त्वोर्जे त्वा (तै.सं.1,1,1,1), अग्निमीले पुरोहितम् (ऋ.1,1,1), अग्न आयाहि वीतये (सा. सं. 1,1,1) इति ।। (Maha. Pashpashahnika)[10]

Summary : Of which shabdas? Of those current in the world and in the Vedas. Among them the Laukika shabdas are गौः (cow), अश्वः (horse), पुरुषः (person), हस्ती (elephant), शकुनिः (bird), मृगः (deer), ब्राह्मणः (brahmana) etc. The Vaidika shabdas are शन्नो देवीरभिष्टये [Let the waters bring us happiness (so that we may perform sacrifice); इषे त्वोर्जे त्वा [(I cut) you for food and vitality]; अग्निमीले पुरोहितम् (I invoke Agni, the divine priest).[3]

The Vaidika shabdas are considered to be more prominent than the laukika shabdas, since the latter should not be mispronounced only in Yajnas and the former on no occasion.

The laukika shabdas are illustrated by गौः (cow), अश्वः (horse) etc. It is worthy of note that the list of words given by Yaska in his Nirukta commences with the same words. The Vaidika shabdas are illustrated by the sentences शन्नो देवीरभिष्टये etc. This clearly shows that, in Vedas, the order of words should not he changed, that they should be pronounced with their respective svara and that the sentence accent is more powerful than the word accent.

Study of vyakarana as per Mahabhashyakara, is clearly applicable to only speech-words and not to the Shabda produced by birds or animals. One can correct the Apashabdas (अपशब्दाः) or incorrect expressions in usage by the knowledge of the science of language.

Dhvani (ध्वनिः) and Varna (वर्णम्)

According to Nayyayikas, Shabda (Sound) is of two kinds, namely, Dhvani (ध्वनिः) and Varna (वर्णम्). The same concept is mentioned in Bhashapariccheda.

शब्दो ध्वनिश्च वर्णश्च मृदङ्गादिभवो ध्वनि:।।164।।

कण्ठसंयोगादिजन्या वर्णास्ते कादयो मता: सर्व: शब्दो नभोवृत्ति: श्रोत्रोत्पन्नस्तु गृह्यते।।165।। (Nyayasiddhanta Muktavali 164-165)[12]

Meaning: Sound is inarticulate (ध्वनिः) and articulate (वर्णम्). Inarticulate sound is that which is produced from a drum. Sounds such as ka that are produced by the conjunction of the throat and so on, are regarded as articulate. All sounds abide (inherent) in ether or space (नभोवृत्ति:), but it is perceived when it is produced in the ear (in the case of distant sounds which are imperceptible).[13]

Classification based on Shabdotpatti

A dhvani is an inarticulate sound, e.g. the sound of a bell or a drum. It has no fixed nature of its own, nor any fixed relation to other similar sounds. This Dhvani is thus incapable of forming parts of a language. From a linguistic standpoint, the cries of birds, and beasts and even newborn babies are considered inarticulate. They are as variable and disorderly as sounds produced by physical things and do not lend themselves to any use as alphabet of a language.[5] It is clear from the fact that he who makes noise is told: "Make shabda", "Do not make shabda" etc, thus Dhvani is Shabda.

A varna is an articulate sound produced by the action of the vocal organ of humans, e.g. the alphabet a letter. A varna is a letter or syllable which has a fixed character and a definite place in the alphabet of any language. All varnas or letters are constituents of human speech but they independently do not have a specific meaning. These varnas are either spoken or written. Spoken letters are perceived by auditory sensation and written letters by visual sensation.[5]

Samyogaja (संयोगजः) Vibhagaja (विभागजः) Shabdaja (शब्दजः)

Based on the source of sound it has been classified by Vaisheshikas as

संयोगाद्विभगाच्च शब्दाच्च शब्दनिष्पत्तिः। (Vais. Sutr. 2.2.31)[9]

Sound is produced from conjunction (संयोगात्) disjunction (विभागात्) and from sound (शब्दात्) also.

From conjunction, i.e., from conjunction of the drum and the stick, from disjunction, i.e., when a bamboo stick is being split up and where Sound is produced in a distant flute and such other instruments, Sound is produced. Such sound reaches the portion of the ether present in the ear hollow and thereby gets heard.[8]

शब्दगुणाः ॥ Nature of Shabda

There are various versions about the nature of sound. While many agree that it is the quality of Akasha, there are differences of opinion about a few other qualities such as

  • Eternal or Karya
  • Substratum of Sound
  • Relationship the Shabda (शब्दः) has with its Indriya (श्रोतेन्द्रियं)
  • Relationship of the Shabda with its meaning

One perceives sound by the sense-organ of ear, which is कर्णविवरवृत्त्याकाशं श्रोतेन्द्रियं भवति । the space or ether enclosed in the ears (the auditory canal). There due to the proximity (सन्निकर्षः), and by identifying itself with the ether of Sravana indriya (by समवायसम्बन्धः) sound is recognized by the ear. Now, how is a sound generated at a distance by conjunction of two bodies such as the hand and drum (भेरीदण्डसंयोगेन) or the letters produced by the hitting of wind in the vocal organs such as Taalu, Kantha (ताल्वादिस्थानाघातेन मुखे जातो वा शब्दः) have any relationship with the ear?

Substratum of Sound

Sound has not for its substratum any of the tangible substances, namely, earth, water, fire and air. Its substratum is ether which pervades all space. hence sound is produced even in a vacuum which is devoid of smell, taste, color and touch - the qualities of tangible substances. The reason why the sound produced in vacuum does not reach our ears, is that there is no air to carry it.

Nitya (Eternal) or Karya (Non-eternal) Nature

Some say that sound being a quality of Akasha is all-pervading, eternal and capable of being manifested. Another school of thought believes that like smell, sound is quality or attribute of the substance in which it abides and is capable of being manifested, hence not eternal. Again, agreeing that sound is a quality of Akasha, another school says that it is subject to production and destruction like knowledge; thus it is anitya.

Schools of thought subscribing to Nitya and Anitya nature of Shabda include

शब्दः नित्यः (Nityatva) Not Opposed to Nityatva शब्द अनित्यः (Anityatva)
Mimamsa (1.1.6-23) Shiksha Nyaya (2.2.3 - 59)
Vedanta (1.3.28-29) Niruktam (इन्द्रियनित्यः वचनमौदुम्बरायणः) Vaiseshika (2.2.21-37)
Vyakarana (सिद्धे शब्दार्थसम्बन्धे) Sankhya (SPS 5.58-60)

Mimasa

This is an important concept for Mimamsa explains the Apaurusheyatva of Vedas based on the Nityatva of Shabdas. Mimamsaka holds Shabda to be nitya, not because of a lack of understanding of its nature, but because for him Shabda is something beyond "sound" as normally understood, or Shabda as understood by a Naiyayika.

लिङ्गाच्चानित्यः शब्दः । वैशेषिक-२,२.३२ ।

Shabda Brahma

At a higher level, Sabda is Brahman, as set out in the first five shlokas of Vakyapadiyam.[11]

अनादिनिधनं ब्रह्म शब्दतत्त्वं यदक्षरम्  । विवर्ततेऽर्थभावेन प्रक्रिया जगतो यतः   । । १.१  । ।

एकं एव यदाम्नातं भिन्नशक्तिव्यपाश्रयात् । अपृथक्त्वेऽपि शक्तिभ्यः पृथक्त्वेनेव वर्तते   । । १.२  । ।

अध्याहितकलां यस्य कालशक्तिं उपाश्रिताः   । जन्मादयो विकाराः षड्भावभेदस्य योनयः   । । १.३  । ।

एकस्य सर्वबीजस्य यस्य चेयं अनेकधा   । भोक्तृभोक्तव्यरूपेण भोगरूपेण च स्थितिः   । । १.४  । ।

प्राप्त्युपायोऽनुकारश्च तस्य वेदो महर्षिभिः   । एकोऽप्यनेकवर्त्मेव समाम्नातः पृथक्पृथक्  । । १.५  । ।

Translation of K. Raghavan Pillai from his book "The Vakyapadiya: Critical Text of Cantos I and II with English Translation, Summary fo Ideas and Notes" published by MLBD first in 1971.

1. That beginningless and endless One, the imperishable Brahman of which the essential nature is the Word, which manifests itself into objects and from which is the creation of the Universe,

2. which though described in the Vedas as one is divided on the basis of its powers, and although it is not different from its powers appears to be different;

3. the indestructible powers of which functioning through the powers of Time become the six transformations, namely, birth and the rest - the sources of all (these) manifold objects,

4. to which, Single One, the cause of all, belongs this manifold existence, under the forms fo the enjoyer, the enjoyed and the enjoyment;

5. of that (Brahman) the Veda is both the means of realisation and the reflection and it has been handed down the great Seers as if consisted of many paths, althought it (really) is One.

References

  1. Kavyadarsha by Dandi (Pariccheda 1)
  2. Sanskrit and Speech Language Pathology by Dr. Sampadananda Mishra
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Sastri. Subrahmaya. P. S. (1944) Lectures on Patanjali Mahabhashya. Vol 1. (Ahnikas 1 - 3). Annamalai Nagar: Annamalai University
  4. Nirukta Shastra (Adhyaya 13)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Chatterjee. Satischandra, (1950 Second Edition) The Nyaya Theory of Knowledge, A Critical Study of Some Problems of Login and Metaphysics. Calcutta: University of Calcutta. (Pages 322 - 335)
  6. Panini's Ashtadhyayi (Verb forms for Shabda)
  7. Dr. N. S. Ramanuja Tatacharya. (2005) Shabdabodhamimamsa. An Inquiry into Indian Theories of Verbal Cognition. Volume 1: The Sentence and its Significance. New Delhi : Rastriya Sanskrit Samsthan
  8. 8.0 8.1 Sinha, Nandalal (1923 Second Edition) The Vaisesika Sutras of Kanada with the commentary of Sankara Misra. Allahabad: The Panini Office (Page 86-91)
  9. 9.0 9.1 Vaiseshika Sutras (Full Text)
  10. 10.0 10.1 Mahabhashyam (Pashpashahnika)
  11. 11.0 11.1 Dr. Sivasenani Nori replying on What is meant by Ooha?
  12. Nyayasiddhanta Muktavali (न्यायसिद्धान्तमुक्तावली)
  13. Swami Madhavananda, (1954 Second Edition) Bhasa-Pariccheda with Siddhanta Muktavali by Visvanatha Nyaya-Panchanana. (English Translation) Almora: Advaita Ashram (Pages 266)