Book Review: Linguistic Traditions of Kashmir: Essays in Memory of Pandit Dinanath YakshPosted: September 19, 2011
Book Review: Linguistic Traditions of Kashmir: Essays in Memory of Pandit Dinanath Yaksh
Name of Book : Linguistic Traditions of Kashmir: Essays in Memory of Pandit Dinanath Yaksh
Edited by : Mrinal Kaul and Ashok Aklujkar, New Delhi & Jammu
Published by : DK Print world and The Harabhatta Shastri Indological Research Institute.
Price : Rs. 1250; US$ 62.50.Pages : xxxiii + 609.
Review by : Raj Nath Bhat, Professor, Department of Linguistics, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi.
Sanskrit scholarship suffered a sudden break and a loss of momentum when Persian came to occupy her place as the language of administration and royalty in the sub-continent. The tradition of a continuous flow of commentaries and treatises on earlier knowledge texts either slowed down or stopped. Even the preservation of knowledge texts became an uphill task. The destruction of libraries added a new dimension to the colossal loss of the knowledge and tradition of a civilization. A revival of Sanskrit learning made a second beginning during the British rule and a huge corpus of manuscripts have been procured and preserved.
For over two millennia, ‘Sanskrit-Kashmir’ has been a major centre of learning and scholarship in almost all branches of knowledge. During the last century or more Kashmir Shaivism and aesthetics has engaged scholars’ attention in a noticeable way, but very little has been done to explore the linguistic traditions of the region. The present Volume brought out in memory of Pandit Dinanath Yaksh – one of the doyens of Sanskrit scholarship of the twentieth century – is a noble, rich, refreshing and scholarly tribute to the great Pundit. The Volume comprises twenty-one essays authored by nineteen eminent scholars including such stalwarts as George Cardona, Johannes Bronkhorst, VN Jha, Raffaele Torella, C. Rajendran, P. Visalakshy, Bettina Baumer, HC Patyal among others. Mrinal Kaul, one of the editors – has given a thoughtful introduction to the linguistic traditions of Kashmir, besides providing, in the appendices, a very rich list of Sanskrit manuscripts from Kashmir that are available across the country and abroad.
The world of scholarship has maintained for quite some time now that Patanjali, the author of Mahabhashya, was a native of Gonda- east-central India, but Ashok Aklujkar in the present Volume argues that Patanjali was a native of the region between Madra and Punjab i.e. Kashmir. Despite being a grammatical text, Mahabhashya for several centuries occupied a pride of place with the kings as well as scholars in Kashmir. The rulers ensured continuation of its study which was linked to the welfare of the region and royalty. The Mahabhashya provides ample geographical details that can relate it to Kashmir. Aklujkar’s meticulously worked out essays cover nearly two hundred pages of the Volume.
Of the eight grammatical schools of ancient India, namely Indra, Kashakrtsna, Apishali, Shaktayana, Panini, Amara and Chandra, the Paninian grammatical thought has pervaded the linguistic scholarship in Kashmir and there have been scholars who went on to modify, reinterpret, even differ from the dominant Paninian tradition on several occasions. Rajatarangini testifies to the fact that “Kashmir has played a key role in the preservation of the commentarial tradition associated with the Mahabhashya” ( p.278). Two kinds of Paninian grammarians co-existed in Kashmir- the orthodox who followed Patanjali and Bhartrihari rigorously, and free thinkers who proposed altogether different interpretations of Astadhyaya where this seemed useful. Udbhata (8th cent.CE) belonged to the latter class. Sadly, the free thinkers could not last longer and their texts were subsequently lost. Katantra, a pedagogical grammar of Sanskrit, introduced by Sharvavarman shows a very strong dependence on Panini and Katyayana despite differing from Astadhyaya in its treatment of some phonological rules and derivational processes. Uvata, a predecessor of Mahidhara, for the first time makes a distinction between Shiksha texts and Pratishakhyas- the former is a text of phonetics and the latter that of phonology. Chandra vyakarana does not discuss Vedic Sanskrit, hence the Vedic portion of Panini is absent in it. Chandra vyakarana and Katantra have impacted Kashika in a significant way. Kashika is believed to be a joint work of the king Jayaditya and his minister Vamana and it is an “excellent aid for understanding the pithy sutras of Panini” ( p.560). The grammatical thought pervades monistic Shaivism in a very subtle way. In Trika singular, dual and plural numbers are analogous to Shiva, Shakti, and nara respectively (p.215). Shaivas do not believe in any unrelated components of a sentence. For the mall syntax is related through the agent (p. 468). Utpaladeva, a disciple of Somananda, in his masterpiece Ishwara pratyabhijnakarika overwhelmingly appropriates Bhartrhari’s epistemology to oppose the Buddhist notion of depersonalized universe made up of discrete and discontinuous realities, and to establish the Shaiva doctrine of absolutely unitary universe. The strong influence of Paninian thought can be gauged from the fact that in the last quarter of the nineteenth century Pandit Ishwara Kaula authored the first ever grammar of Kashmiri in Sanskrit which was published by the Asiatic Society under the guidance of Sir GA Grierson.
In her Foreword to the Volume, Kapila Vatsyayan rightly observes that the vigorous intellectual tradition of Kashmir in varied fields exhibits an interdisciplinary or multi-disciplinary epistemological base. She believes that the Volume shall persuade scholars in future to undertake elaborate analyses of texts and commentaries from Kashmir preserved in different parts of India and abroad. The Volume indeed provides ample material for researchers to be motivated and persuaded to undertake research on a massive scale on the philosophical and linguistic heritage of the subcontinent- Buddhist, Vaishnava, Jain, Shaiva etc. I wish the editors bring out a series of Volumes in the years to come where all schools of thought get plenty of space and exposure. The editors deserve all admiration and praise for conceiving and subsequently working out a Volume of such superb merit and scholarship.
The publishers deserve a word of admiration too for the care and attention with which they have brought it out. I could find just one singular error in the whole text on p. 30, para 1, line four classifie as in place of classifies.