The following pages embody a new commentary, called Ratnaprabha on Laghumanjusa, the famous work of Nages’s a Bhatta, dealing with the philosophy of the Grammatical School. The commentary is from the pen of Pandit Sabhapati Upadhyaya and is purported to have been written with the aim of meeting the requirements of the Sanskrit students. It is, therefore, free from unnecessary prolixity and verbiage which generally characterize learned commentaries interested in initiating new system of thought.
The Laughumanjusa claims to represent the outlook of the Vaiyakaranas on the order of Reality. How far this claim is vindicated by its contents is a question which can only be decided on careful analysis and comparison. But it appears to me that as a modern work its eclectic character often comes into prominence and its departure from the line of thought associated with the name of Bhartrihari and his predecessors in the field is sometimes clear. Orthodoxy demands that any work which is affiliated to the philosophy of Sanskrit Grammar should be ultimately based upon the Vyakarana Agama to which the Vakyapadiya refers. This Agama was evidently an aspect of the vast S’aiva culture which in the subsequent age revived in different forms in different parts of the country. A close study of the S’aiva Agama, even in the form in which it survives to us e. g. in the Schools of Kashmir in the north and of the Siddhantins in the south, is, therefore essential for a proper valuation of the work of Bhartrihari.
To Nages’s Bhatta credit is undoubtedly due for awakening a fresh interest in the study of the Vakyapadiya, at a time when all interest in the subject had practically disappeared. Nages’a was a versatile scholar and in his days was considered as an authority in ancient S’astra. His commentary on Kaiyata’s Mahabhasya-pradipa and his dialectical tracts on Sanskrit Grammar viz. S’abdendu S’ekhara and Paribhasendu s’ ekhara, were master productions and had won for him high renown from all quarters. And it was thoroughly merited. When a man of his reputation and intellectual caliber took upon himself the task of reclaiming the well-nigh forgotten system of the philosophy of Vyakarana, based upon the teachings of patanjali and Bhartrihari, the subject could not but draw the attention of scholars But there is no denying the fact that the interest created was short-lived and far from extensive. In course of time, however, the study of S’ekhara grew in popularity and caused every other study to fall into the back-ground. The study of the Mahabhasya as well as the philosophical study of Grammar in general suffered a long set-back in consequence. It is only recently that attempts are again being made to give these subjects the importance which really attaches to them. Any effort which is calculated to popularize the study of these neglected works and to render intelligible and easy the texts is highly welcome and deserves to be encouraged.
Pandit Sabhapatiji’s commentary on the Laghumanjusa has also the same end in view, viz. to bring the work within easy reach of students by liberating the text from mis-readings which have crept in through age-long neglect and by substituting simple explanations in place of the more erudite lucubrations of professional commentators. It is a virgin attempt and has obvious shortcomings, but it cannot but commend itself to one’s admiration as a noble attempt in the right direction.
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