World Sanskrit Conference (WSC) (17th : 2018)

Bitextual Meaning in Two Pre-navya Vyākaraṇas : The Case of Rāmacandrācārya and Jīva Gosvāmin Blinderman, Radha


Rāmacandrācārya’s Prakriyākaumudī and Jīva Gosvāmin’s Harināmāmṛtavyākaraṇa (15th-16th centuries) are the first two grammars in the Brahminical context to include verses with bitextual meaning (śleṣa). In those verses, the authors simultaneously talk about grammar and the divine, often expressing their Vedāntic views. They make extensive use of religious examples and invocation (maṅgala) verses like the 13th century Mugdhabodha and many 17th-18th century navya (“new school”) grammar texts. What is new is their use of śleṣa. This paper examines how śleṣa in these texts correlates with the authors’ project of religious assimilation in Sanskrit grammar; how it provides a useful commentary on Rāmacandra’s and Jīva’s attitudes towards grammatical correctness and authority; and what it can indicate about their religious and grammatical positions. I will argue that both Rāmacandra and Jīva, who was one of the first to critique Rāmacandra’s grammar, innovated with śleṣa to further the process of theologization of grammar, which commenced with Vopadeva’s Mugdhabodha. Their grammatical śleṣa aims to produce not only more than one meaning, but also more puṇya (religious merit) and bears a striking correspondence with these authors’ desire to grammatically sanction a wider variety of Sanskrit words than does the later navya school. The texts under discussion will be Rāmacandra’s Prakriyākaumudī with Viṭṭhala’s and Śeṣaśrīkṛṣṇa’s commentaries and the Harināmāmṛtavyākaraṇa with its commentaries. In addition to exploring the role of śleṣa in the history of grammar, this paper responds to Belvalkar’s critique of “sectarian” grammars and discusses the implications of the absence of śleṣa in navya grammars.

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