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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 4 Śabara and Bhartṛhari and thereafter


In Śabara, just as in Bhartṛhari among the Grammarians, tantra and prasaṅga figure as a structured couple of mutually distinct devices. Śabara and Bhartṛ- hari, who both elaborated on the same quoted verse, do not seem to improve much on the concept of tantra, whereas their treatment of prasaṅga as con- trasted to tantra is noteworthy. prasaṅga is scarcely found in Śrautasūtras and MS and it is probably only through a conscious effort that the opposing cou- ple has been elaborated. After Śabara and Bhartṛhari, the opposition between tantra and prasaṅga develops further, so that the balance found in these two authors (see infra, § 4.1.3) is superseded by new ones (see infra, § 4.2.1).1 Consequently, this study derives part of its framework, namely an enquiry into tantra and prasaṅga as two distinct models of rule-extension, from Śabara’s and Bhartṛhari’s approach to the topic. This approach might have influenced us even beyond our will, although we have tried to reconstruct the history of tantra and prasaṅga according to the sources and not just according to the viewpoint of Śabara and Bhartṛhari. 1 Settling the time of Śabara and Bhartṛhari goes beyond the scope of the present work. There seems to be a certain consensus among scholars favouring a later date for Śabara, see for instance, the chronological table in Kataoka 2011, p. 21. However, Śabara does not quote any author later than Patañjali and the...

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