Dhvani Workshop, New Delhi (March 4-8, 2018)

dhvani poster.jpg


Dhvani Workshop, New Delhi (March 4-8, 2018)

Organized by

The Abhyas Trust, New Delhi

The Abhyas Trust invites applications for a week-long Workshop on the Dhvani Theory from March 4-8, 2018,  at New Delhi.

The workshop will commence with a public lecture by Prof C Rajendran, titled Resonance Beyond: The Aesthetics of Dhvani, at the Gulmohar Hall, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, on 3rd March 2018, at 7 p.m.

About the Workshop

This workshop will principally include a close textual reading of selections from the Dhvanyāloka of Ānandavardhana—the celebrated work on Indian literary theory—together with the Locana commentary of Abhinavagupta. The Dhvanyāloka deals with the entire gamut of signification in poetic language, arguing that great literature always communicates through suggestion (dhvani). Another salient feature of the work is that it offers a broad-based aesthetic theory relevant in other art forms like music, drama and painting. The workshop will focus on select passages of the text and explain its sense in English putting Ānandavardhana’s work in proper perspective. The aim of the workshop is to familiarize the participants with core themes in the text of the Dhvanyāloka so that the necessary theoretical background could be created to explore its aesthetic dimensions, which could broaden their horizons of thought and enhance their artistic sensibilities as creative artists and connoisseurs of art.

Deadline for Application:  Tuesday 30 January, 2018

Program and Faculty

Professor C. Rajendran, University of Calicut, Calicut will be the principal instructor. We are also expecting a few other experts of Indian aesthetics to join us. The morning and afternoon sessions will include the readings of the text in Sanskrit followed by special lectures in the evening by various experts in the field of Indian aesthetics. The seminar will be held in English and readings will be circulated in advance. The workshop will be preceded by a special lecture by Prof Rajendran on the topic Resonances Beyond: The Aesthetics of Dhvani on 3rd March 2018 to set the workshop in motion. This special lecture will also serve as an introduction to the workshop and all participants are mandatorily expected to attend. There will also be an evening lecture by Prof. Parul Dave Mukerji (Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi) who will talk about the Indian aesthetics from the lens of comparative aesthetics. Prof. Milind Wakankar (IIT-New Delhi) and Dr. Malcolm Keating (Yale-NUS College in Singapore) will also deliver lectures. A special performance will also be organized during the workshop.

Confirmed Scholar Participants

Prof. Parul Dave Mukerji, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

Dr. Mrinal Kaul, Manipal Centre for Philosophy and Humanities, Manipal, Karnataka

Dr. Malcolm Keating, Yale-NUS College in Singapore

Prof. Milind Wakankar, Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi

Selection Criteria

Though a rudimentary knowledge of the Sanskrit language on part of the participants would definitely help, the workshop does not presuppose any theoretical background of textual scholarship. We seek interested research students and scholars from across India and abroad. The selection will be made based on the strength of the application. We cannot accept more than 25 participants  and the priority will be given to the applications from research scholars in disciplines or with experience in Sanskrit, Philosophy, Aesthetics, Yoga, Performing Arts, Religion and Literature. There will be a participation fee for all participants. Applicants will be informed about the decision of selection after the deadline of application.

Location and Accommodations

The event will be held at Studio Abhyas, 112 Anand Lok (basement), New Delhi. Centrally located in South Delhi, the studio is close to all the major cultural venues of the capital and easily accessible; it is also close to the Metro line. A registration fee will be charged that includes a working lunch, tea/coffee with snacks for the five days of the workshop. Travel cost will not be reimbursed. Unfortunately, we are not in a position to offer accomodation.

Registration Fees

Registration is mandatory for attending the workshop. No participation without due registration will be allowed.

Regular Participants: Rs. 4000

Student Participants: Rs. 3000

Application Information

Applications should include the following, preferably sent as PDFs:

1. Description of research interests and their relevance to the topic of the workshop (max. 300 words)

2. Brief Curriculum Vitae / resume highlighting relevant skills, experience and training.

Applications should be sent to:

Navtej Johar

(Convenor-Workshop on the Dhvani Theory)

Studio Abhyas

F 27 Green Park, New Delhi 110016


email: <info@abhyastrust.org>

Tel +91-981-888-2918

For more information please contact Studio Abhyas


Call for Participation: (ICPR) Workshop on Trika Philosophy of Kashmir, Lucknow (February 15 – 28, 2018)

Workshop on Trika Philosophy of Kashmir

(Reading of Abhinavagupta’s Īśvara-pratyabhijñā-vimarśinī Jñādhikāra: Last Four Chapters)

 The Indian Council of Philosophical Research (ICPR) is organizing a fourteen-day workshop from February 15 – 28, 2018 on Pratyabhijñā philosophy, the epistemological school of the Trika Śaivism. The workshop constitutes the Phase-II of the Level Three annual workshop as part of the four-year programme that aims at studying-in-depth the entire text of the Īśvara-pratyabhijñā-vimarśinī by the celebrated Abhinavagupta on his master Utpaladeva’s Īśvara-pratyabhijñā-kārikā, the path setting prasthāna text of the system. The sole purpose in the  phase-II is to cover the last 4 chapters of the Book on Knowledge called Jñādhikāra. In this part our masters deconstruct the established paradigms of Indian philosophical discourse (specially those of Buddhist logicians) and reconstruct a system of logic defined by life-affirming world-view via core concepts of Prakaśa, Vimarśa, Vikalpa, Vāk et al encompassing within their ambit issues of logic, language, metaphysics and aesthetics, fully underscoring the need of “bringing psychology in accord with metaphysics” (to borrow an expression from Prof. TRV Murti) as integrated within a robust system of philosophical discipline which could be construed as integral dynamic absolutism. Understood in this way, the Vimarśinī claiming to be a Samyak Vyākhyāna (proper and comprehensive exposition) of the original Pratyabhijñā-Kārīkas (a text in the āgamic tradition), offers a counter perspective to the prevalent narrative of Kashmir Śaivism as a tantra-based doctrinal school and projects Utpala and Abhinavagupta as logician-metaphysicians par excellence in their own right.

The workshop will primarily have two parts – namely, reading of the core text and concerted theme lectures covering the issues raised in the text and/or the prima facie stand-points necessary for navigating the text. The basic purpose of these workshops including the one in hand is to prepare the new generation of young Indian scholars in an area which is suffering from the acute scholarship-deficit by enabling them to have first hand exposure to the original thought structure and methodology of the masters through their primary textual articulations.

 The workshop will be conducted at the Lucknow Academic Centre of ICPR by Prof. Navjivan Rastogi, the Course Director and Coordinator, together with other eminent scholars such as Goswami Shyam Manohar ji, Professors K.D. Tripathi, Rajneesh Kr. Shukla, Mithilesh Chaturvedi, Ambikadatta Sharma, Sacchidanand Mishra, Prakash Pandey and Drs. Meera Rastogi, Balram Shukla and others. Besides participants would be encouraged to proactively interact among themselves. For this a few sessions could be exclusively earmarked.

Each day of the workshop will have two academic sessions i.e., from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. with a lunch break from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The workshop will be open to all those who are interested in Kashmir Śaivism. As such faculty members and research scholars in the departments of philosophy/Indian philosophy, departments of Sanskrit with philosophy as one of its courses (including Sanskrit Universities) and also those who are connected with academic centres and institutions operating in the similar field will be eligible to apply. However preference will be given to the participants of earlier workshops. The candidates must bear in their mind that this workshop constitutes the 2nd leg of a four-year workshop programme. Hence those candidates who have participated in earlier workshops and undertake to participate in future ones as well will claim preference.

Those interested should apply online here.

Deadline for application: 31 October 2017

Workshop on Rasa Theory in Manipal University, February 2017

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Pandit Vrajvallabh Dwivedi and Prof Alexis Sanderson in 1987


Courtesy:  Dr Tarun Dwivedi

A New Review of the ‘Linguistic Traditions of Kashmir’ by S. Bhuvaneshwari

Published in The Adyar Library Bulletin 2014-15.

About the Linguistic Traditions of Kashmir

Pandit Dinanath Yaksh (1921–2004), a humble Kashmirian scholar par excellence, rightly deserves to be honoured for his painstaking efforts to preserve and propagate the Sanskrit tradition of Kashmir in general, and the Kashmirian Grammatical tradition in particular. A brief life-sketch of this great scholar, by the editor Mrinal Kaul, should serve as an eye-opener to the condition and struggles of intellectuals in modern India and the additional responsibility of carrying the work, being a Kashmiri Pandit. This book, thoughtfully prepared by the editors, illuminates the glorious past of Kashmir and its intellectual contribution to Sanskrit studies, specifically in the field of Grammar and Linguistics. The book consists of twenty-one essays arranged alphabetically following the last name of the authors. Here, the contents are analysed in a thematic flow of topics, broadly classified as Vedic, Historical, Grammatical in relation to Linguistics, Philosophy and Poetics.

Paippalada recension of the Atharvaveda is known to be prevalent in Kashmir that constitutes several hapax legomenon and five such words are analysed by Hukam Chand Patyal in his essay titled “Some Peculiar Vocables in the Paippalada Samhita”. Rigveda has also received the attention of Kashmirian scholars and the commentarial contribution of Uvatacharya on Rigveda Pratishakhyais highlighted by Nirmala Kulkarni, which includes a revisit into the controversial historical account of Uvata.

In three independent as well as inter-connected essays, Ashok Aklujkar tries to establish Kashmir as the homeland of Patanjali in the background of the importance assigned to the study of the Mahabhashya by the royalties and the epithets associated with Patanjali, who came to be worshipped as Naga/Ananta. The Rajatarangini statements on the revival of the Mahabhashya study in three widely separated times are reinterpreted along with the Vakyapadiya II.486 by Johannes Bronkhorst in his essay titled “A Note on Kashmir and Orthodox Paninian Grammar”. In his second essay, the author gives an insight into the free thinking of Udbhata, drawing from his interpretation of rules of Ashtadhyayi and the Lokayatasutra.

About nine essays directly deal with grammatical nuances and technicalities as found in the writings of Kashmiri thinkers. George Cardona tries to show the presence of theoretical precedents to one of the earliest grammatical elementary text namely, Katantra attributed to Sarvavarman. P. Visalakshy in her paper gives a comprehensive note on the authorship and structure of Kashika with a detailed account of its influence of Candragomin’s grammatical thought. Malhar Kulkarni’s new research findings of the manuscripts of the Kashikavritti in Shrada script adds to the rich repository of grammatical literature.

The paper by M.G. Dhadphale deals with nama, akhyata, upasarga and nipata — the four basic grammatical categories that are fully treated by Kshirasvamin and also points out to the errors in his Kshiratarangini. Supporting Jayanta Bhatta’s interpretation of Panini’s aphorism namely, sadhakatamam karanam, V.N. Jha tries to gain a dual purpose of not abandoning logic and rationally explaining the said aphorism. In the explanation of iko gunavriddhi, Kaiyata cites an example referring to Panini’s sutra VI.3.108, which is misunderstood by Nagesha Bhatta as referring to Panini’s sutra VI.4.146. S.D. Joshi in his essay elucidates the position of Kaiyata and shows the unnecessary attack undertaken by Nagesha in this case.

Vincenzo Vergiani in his paper explores the procedure of language that organises the cognitive data oscillating between distinction and unification by studying the padavadhika and vakyavadhikamethods in Prakirnaprakasha of Helaraja. The essay by Oliver Hahn proposes to identify a Samanvaya grammatical tradition and hopes for a reconstruction of Kudaka’s text from the available fragments. The co-authors Estella Del Bon and Vincenzo Vergiani deal with the ninteenth-century Kashmiri Grammarian Ishvara Kaula’s Kashmirashabdamrita, a grammar of Kashmiri language in Sanskrit. This paper focusses on the treatment of the present tense in Kashmirashabdamrita.

Utpaladeva’s concealed favouritism to Bhartrihari’s Philosophy of language is succinctly brought out by Raffaele Torella in his paper titled “From an Adversary to the Main Ally: The Place of Bhartrihari in the Kashmirian Shaiva Advaita”. David Peter Lawrence draws some parallels between the Shaiva semantic concepts of action and contemporary Western theories and compares some aspects of philosophical kriyakaraka theory with grammar of motives as propounded by Kenneth Burke. Bettina Baumer highlights the relation between grammar and metaphysics based on Abhinavagupta’s Vivarana to ParatrishikaTantra and presents grammatical argument to establish the universality of Trika in which the absolute pure consciousness is said to be the One principle behind the three persons (I, You, It/He/She) and their relationships.

The essay by C. Rajendran analyses the fluctuating status of grammar in the hands of Poeticians, categorized as Pre-dhvani (Bhamaha, Vamana), Post-dhvani (Anandavardhana, Abhinavagupta) and Anti-dhvani (Mahima Bhatta). M.M. Agrawal highlights the grammatico-rhetorical question of abhidha and lakshana of Mukula Bhatta and the severe criticism that he faced in the hands of Mammata.

The book adds value by providing a list of available manuscripts related to linguistic tradition of Kashmir. Though the book may appear incomplete in terms of not venturing into the mine of information lying in the Aesthetic works of Abhinavagupta on the linguistic and grammatical traditions, it is expected to engage one’s intellectual quest in the field of grammar, linguistics, poetics and history as well. Some areas of research by Professor David Peter Lawrence listed in the introduction hopes to give a sense of direction for future research.

La conoscenza è come una prostituta

More than a decade ago, in an interview with Inlaks Scholarship committee, the chair, who was supposed to be one of the top scientists in India working on Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, very arrogantly challenged me if I answered his question correctly (obviously what he thought to be correct) he would guarantee me the scholarship. Since I had also mentioned in my proposal that I was collaborating with a Sanskrit professor from Italy, the question was: “Why do foreigners study Sanskrit? Why do Italians study Sanskrit?” As stupid as I might have sounded to him, I was innocently practical and I started telling him the historical tale narrating a long story that started with Giuseppe Tucci and ended with Francesco Sferra. Very boring indeed. Unfortunately, this is not what he was looking forward to. As I look back, with a certain amount of conviction, I can say that he wanted me to talk about Orientalism. Perhaps he wanted me to quote Colonial Orientalists and explain to him how they feminized the Orient. I hardly knew what the word ‘Orient’ meant then. However, I had often come across ‘Oriental’ while looking for ‘Sanskrit’ on the websites of Oxford and Cambridge universities. There are still a few ‘faculty of oriental learning’ in some Indian universities too. Once in a college book-fair, when I was an undergraduate student, I caught the sight of a book titled ‘Orientalism’ by some Edward Said. I was curious to know what this word meant, but Sanskrit classes in Indian universities hardly touch anything else than Sanskrit as a result of which one ‘may’ know something about ‘Sanskrit culture’ without being able to intellectually talk about it and without developing a skill of being able to think through one’s own thinking and the knowledge one has cultivated over a period of time.

To come back to our topic, the chair of the committee also sounded quite anti-fascist to me. Since the right-wing political party BJP was in power in India back then and the then education minister was glorifying Sanskrit with more emphasis on ancient scientific literature written in the ‘language of Gods’, and since my proposal had the word ‘Sanskrit’ used innumerable times, the chair probably mistook me as a supporter of BJP ideology. As I left the interview room he said to me that I should not have been wearing a tie since I studied Sanskrit. I don’t know what he meant and I still do not understand why he said what he did. Perhaps my modern attire and ‘antique’ brain was an unbearable contradiction to him. How is a man who is supposed to study something traditional, supposed to be wearing a modern dress, he must have thought. Perhaps what he was studying was supposed to be modern enough and what I was studying was labelled as more traditional.

Moreover, it was in itself interesting that my interview panel constituted of lawyers, industrialists, general academics and scientists, but not a single specialist in social sciences or humanities, or if not asking for anything more, but an Indologist. A lawyer asked me if I ever though of comparing the ideas of the theory of relation (I had mentioned of focusing on the Sambandhasiddhi of Utpaladeva and also Abhinavagupta’s ideas on the concept of sambandha in my proposal) as discussed by Utpaladeva with that of Einstein’s theory of relativity and if I ever tried thinking of a possibility that the former could have been influenced by the latter. The only problem, according to me, I said, was that the former existed a bit earlier than the latter. A little difference of almost nine-hundred years is not too much. However, I did say I could try a reverse method.

After spending so many years in Indology I think I do identify with the feeling of the committee chair. On the one hand he wanted to support someone like me who was doing classical studies, more importantly focusing on Sanskrit that in itself was not very usual. But on the other hand he was forgetting that he himself was lacking a social scientific sense. Perhaps he would have been happy if I had said all past Orientalists had the nefarious mission of intellectually subjugating India, (which no doubt many of them did) and the process is still continuing. Fortunately, this is not the case anymore. What we call Indology or Oriental Studies today is not what it used to be a couple of centuries ago. The discipline (object) remains the same while the methodology (subject) has changed completely. So an Indologist or an Orientalist sitting somewhere in Europe today is not studying Indology because s/he wants to colonize the minds of South Asians, but because s/he is passionate about his/her discipline, s/he wants to learn and contribute to our scholarly and scientific understanding of South Asia, its history and philosophy, both pre modern and modern. We live in a post-colonial and post-modern world today. We want to learn from each other and experience each other’s culture of learning. While someone might want to think with a little amount of cynicism that one can sufficiently see the Western influence on everything that we do today, and thus South Asia has lost its ‘cultural moorings’ to the West, I would like to argue otherwise. Is West the same as it was two or three hundred years back? It also has ‘lost’ its ‘cultural moorings’ to the ‘cultural change’. We need to understand that ‘cultural’ is a dynamic concept. If a culture cannot change, it will seize to exist. Civilizations come and go. They are born and they die, but cultures continue to ‘be’ while changing their textures.

Let me speak for myself alone. I am simply arguing that when we talk about Indology and Sanskrit studies in South Asia from an academic point of view, we do observe that it lacks critical approach. This is unfortunately true not only in case of Sanskrit, but of Humanities in general and classical studies in particular. A friend of mine told me once that he often used to observe students seeking admission in master’s level Persian course in a prestigious Indian university because they wanted the facilities of hostel, bus pass etc. This is certainly not completely untrue about the departments of Sanskrit either. One of my Sanskrit teachers in Delhi once told me that even a sabzi-wala (vegetable vendor) could teach me an Upaniṣad, but he was forgetting that I did not go to a sabzi-wala and instead came to him. While I do partly agree with my teacher for even a sabzi-wala can tell you something about the basic metaphysical thinking so deeply inherent in South Asian minds, but a sabzi-wala cannot offer me an academic training, and that it why I was sitting in a university class to study an Upaniṣad with him. I quote this example because I want to emphasize the lack of critical training in humanities and social sciences in Indian universities. A student who comes to study an Upaniṣad or some traditional scripture in a classical language in a university is not a ‘spiritual seeker’, but a ‘student’ who should be trained in a scholarly method of understanding and developing a capacity of making others understand what a particular Upaniṣad is talking about and why is it saying what it is saying. It is easy to become a ‘seeker of truth’ than to be an aspiring student who really wants to understand and digest what this ‘truth’ is all about. And for doing this a serious academic approach is unavoidable. Unfortunately, it is truly possible to study also spirituality from purely academic point of view. My teacher was forgetting that I was not in front of him because I wanted to be blessed by the divine revelation of the Upaniṣadic sermons, but was only seeking a little semi-divine knowledge of the methodology with which I could understand the ‘divine revelation’ and I was happy enough doing that. For a long time even my teacher of Sanskrit grammar gave me the impression that even if I did not understand everything in Pāṇinian grammar, still a little saṃskāra (impression) will be left in my head. As a result I never worked hand enough to learn much Pāṇini.

A scholar of Tantra and Āgama-śāstra as renowned as Pandit Vrajavallabh Dwivedi, in his edited work titled Aṣṭaprakaraṇam (1988), all of a sudden mentions on page 3 of his introduction the following:


When I read these words, I wondered about two things: one, why are these words mentioned in bold characters, and two, the embedded concern of Pandit Dwivedi about Indological scholarship in India. As someone who has known Sanskrit scholars both in India and outside India, apart from the uncritical approach with which Indology is dealt with in India, I have been more concerned about the relations between so called traditional and modern scholars of early modern India. I would sound very orientalist if I say that Indian Sanskrit scholarship is all about traditional scholarship, and the non-Indian scholarship is about modern. There are more modern Sanskrit scholars in India than traditional ones. However, I think what is in question is the quality of research and the methodological approach towards a discipline.

Kashmiris are free thinkers, like Mamaṭṭa: (apāre kāvyasaṃsāre kavireko prajāpatiḥ |). So am I. And like so many of my countrymen, I have often imagined knowledge like a prostitute, as also perhaps Kṣemendra would do. It (knowledge) belongs to none while at the same time it belongs to everyone. If you pamper her, she will be yours, and if you do not, she will not. Sanskrit and allied disciplines of knowledge belong to all while not belonging to anyone at the same time. I am not talking of the spirituality of Sanskrit. I am talking about the academic knowledge of Sanskrit, both traditional and modern. Obviously, you can still only find world’s best pizza in Napoli alone for even though pizza has travelled all over the world, it’s traditional form is still only found in its birthplace. If one is looking for traditional Sanskrit knowledge, you can only find it in the best form in places like Benaras etc. But the question is if we can ignore American pizza (what is called Focaccia in Italy) at all.

apūrvaḥ ko’pi kośo’yam vidyate tava bhārati |
vyayato vṛddhimāyāti kṣayamāyāti sañcyāt ||

A traditional Sanskrit scholar would dubiously be frowning at me if I compare Sanskrit knowledge with a prostitute and not unlike him, with Goddess Bhārati.