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Rule-extension Strategies in Ancient India

Ritual, Exegetical and Linguistic Considerations on the "tantra</I>- and "prasaṅga</I>-Principles

Elisa Freschi and Tiziana Pontillo

This study focuses on the devices implemented in Classical Indian texts on ritual and language in order to develop a structure of rules in an economic and systematic way. These devices presuppose a spatial approach to ritual and language, one which deals for instance with absences as substitutions within a pre-existing grid, and not as temporal disappearances. In this way, the study reveals a key feature of some among the most influential schools of Indian thought.
The sources are Kalpasūtra, Vyākaraṇa and Mīmāṃsā, three textual traditions which developed alongside each other, sharing – as the volume shows – common presuppositions and methodologies. The book will be of interest for Sanskritists, scholars of ritual exegesis and of the history of linguistics.

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Chapter 3 prasaṅga

Extract

prasaṅga is attested in several meanings. Are they connected? What is the object of prasaṅga as a technical device? An element or its function? What are the conditions for prasaṅga? Does prasaṅga as a device have any Vyākaraṇa counterpart? 3.1 How to translate prasaṅga We have long been struggling to find a single suitable translation for prasaṅga in its technical usage. At the end of our enquiry into Śrautasūtras, Grammar and Mīmāṃsā, we are sure of its general sense of “what happens automatically, unless one blocks it”. The prasaṅga is what would happen, if one were not to block it. It is used often in regard to rules, referring to the rules which would be applied, if there were not a contrary, more specific, rule blocking them. In the context of lopa, Benson often translates prasaṅga as “possible appearance” (Benson 1990, pp. 124–140), and prasakta as “something which would appear” (p. 131), a translation which works smoothly whenever a certain suffix “could appear” if it were not blocked by the lopa rules. However, we decided not to use “possible appearance” because it is too interpretative (i.e., it is an interpretation, not a translation) and it seems to overemphasise the mere effect of prasaṅga over its action. In a different case, Benson translates sarvaprasaṅga as “possible application to all” (1990, p. 129). This translation is, we believe, correct, but again, it...

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