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Sacred Sound and Language in Classical Saiva Siddhanta- A Hermeneutical Approach to Philosophy and Ritual in Early Dualistic Saivism

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Item Code: UAB811
Author: Mikael Stamm
Publisher: Motilal Banarsidass Publishing House, Delhi
Language: English
Edition: 2022
ISBN: 9789391430771
Pages: 418
Other Details 8.50 X 5.50 inches
Weight 460 gm
Book Description
About the Book
This book explores the implications of the "philosophy and theory of language as propounded in the Indian dualist Saiva Siddhanta philosophy. This ancient Siva-tradition is described evolving from its original roots through its early development to its fully established form, which laid the foundation of today’s Tamil Saiva philosophy.

The author focuses on the translation of Nadakarika by Kashmiri Bhatta Ramakantha, which formulated a theory of sound, speech and meaning. This is explained and highlighted through a discussion of three opposing Indian traditions: The ritualistic Mimamsa, the logicians of the Nyaya- tradition, and the idealistic school of the grammarian Bhartrhari. The text is analyzed and interpreted as an important contribution to the role and nature of speech in relation to its hidden source, the true self and the outer world.

It is the author's intention to show that the tradition of dualist Saiva Siddhanta implies a view on language as a manifestation of an excess of cosmic expressiveness, which the author further connects to the crucial initiation ritual, the alkies., which shows the theory of nada (subtle sound) in action through the application of holy mantras. Thus, in the final inter- portative part, the path of liberation is seen as an event in a field in which speech manifests, rooted in both ignorance and divine visions. This is related to the later Heidegger's view on art, through which the possibility of the (re) appearing of gods is given.

About the Author
MIKAEL STAMM is born in Denmark 1957, has completed his BA in philosophy at University of Copenhagen, further an MA-degree in Indian philosophy at University of Madras, continued as Ph.D. student at Department of Sanskrit, and completed at Assumption University in Bangkok. His connection to University of Madras and the French Institute in Pondicherry further motivated his research in the South Indian Saiva Siddhanta and its philosophical foundation in the earlier dualistic Saivism, which is the subject of this study.

In January 2002 I went to India for the first time. I promised myself before I left Denmark that I would learn about Indian philosophy and culture, and a few days after my arrival I bought a book about the philosophy of Bhagavad Gita. It contained the celebrated dialogue between Krsna and Arjuna, and a discussion of the philosophical implications and wider interpretation of Bhagavad Gita, including a characterization of some of the classical philosophical systems. From that day I read works of philosophy' and religion whenever I had the opportunity; in evenings after dinner, in trains and busses, at railway stations, dentists 0):' whenever I was idle. These readings in Indian philosophy were systemized when I decided in 2008 to resume an earlier study of (Western) philosophy at University of Copenhagen, and in this context chose my elective course under Prof. Kenneth Zysk in Dep. of Indology. There, concurrently with classes in Western philosophy, I did an assignment about the Samkhya tradition on the basis of readings in the primary Samhyakarika and subsequent commentaries, sub-commentaries and treatises. I was struck by its original simplicity and the beauty in its outlook, expressing a universal insight in the principle. of a Self and its relation to the world, forming a concept of the Self as topologically different from any conceivable object or relation in the world. Samkhya illuminates an inherent material world, which the followers of this tradition conceive as a coherent structure guiding the manifestation of empirical phenomena, and which, understood in this way, pointed to a method to attain release from the world's intricate web of concealments and projections. In this (current) state of ignorance, the nature of the Self is disguised from itself, thus being caused to perceive itself as something it is essentially not: A limited object, a thing to be (scientifically) explored and described as any other object. The Samkhya tradition states that only knowledge of the true nature of the Self and its relation to the world, could offer a way out of this web of phenomena; the realization of this alone would cause the Self to enter in a liberated self-contained state (kevel: without relations) eternally wrapped around itself - no bliss, no limitations, no changes.

When going through the history of Western philosophy in search for a counterpart to the Samkhya tradition, such a system is not easily to be found. But I am reminded of the words of Hans Jonas in praise of Gnosticism and the possibilities of a dualistic outlook: "Whether a third road is open to it [the spirit of modem times} - one by which the dualistic alienation can be avoided and yet enough of the dualistic insight saved to uphold the humanity of Man to explore this is the task of philosophy".

A text or an articulated sound begins, as everything else we know, with a hint of a thought, a movement towards something.

This emergence of a subtle thought may be viewed as an ephemeral inner appearance or maybe as a manifestation of a self, either way, from the point of this preliminary level an initial movement, is there, like the movement of a sign appearing as itself as well as pointing to something else. The thought, without beginning or end, becomes word and the word enters a world as a meaning reflecting other meanings, expressed by a stream of words, all pointing to their common field of subject. They may emerge as speech or, as in this instance, as a manuscript which has itself as its subject. As thought it projects itself in a limited text, which,' though potentially capable of assuming an infinity of meanings, develops into concepts and relations, qualifying itself with specific meanings and accentuations, acquiring the form and structure of a text, and in this case positing a subject pointing back to itself with a purpose to grasp its own nature, to catch itself.

1.1 The nature of the proposed subject

Thoughts that pushes forward present themselves as objectively accessible audible or visible words and sentences, which are our only means of seizing, holding, analyzing and communicating, and ideally producing knowledge through new combinations of previously established words and word- meanings. If the subject covered is itself, i.e. the nature of the words, it adds an additionally problem to its field, a problem which may be viewed as both strength and a weakness: That which is the subject of this text is also that which is both means of its production and the product itself. It seems to belong to the closest and most intimate part of a self, in the form of an author as well as a reader and everything between the two; we cannot form and express a knowledge of ourselves and the world without language, and it seems that every form of knowledge and act, including the emotions attached to them, are embedded in a linguistic structure, even before any consciously or explicitly framed sentences are formed.

On one hand, language seems to be as close to us as our own consciousness, impossible to objectify due to its nature being a '. condition of our experience as such. On the other hand, language often assumes forms which seems to be derived from the opposite; as something which stands out as an intersubjective accessible self-moving object, which can be studied through established formal rules and methods, thus connected to an entirely different domain than what we normally perceive as our selves.

Book's Contents and Sample Pages

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