Semantics in Classical Indian Philosophy. Jayanta Bhaṭṭa's Nyāyamañjarī, Critical Edition of the Sixth Āhnika

01.07.2009 - 30.06.2011

Leitung: Alessandro Graheli

FWF, M1160-G15


  • Karin Preisendanz

The Nyāyamañjarī was composed in Kashmir, in the latter part of the ninth century, by Jayanta Bhaṭṭa. The twelve books of the Nyāyamañjarī form an authoritative and encyclopaedic representation of the theses concerning ontological, epistemological and linguistic issues developed in the classical period of Indian philosophy and presented from the viewpoint of the Nyāya philosophical tradition. The Nyāyamañjarī is widely used by historians of Indian philosophy for the assessment not only of Nyāya theories, but also of those belonging to other mainstream traditions, which are extensively discussed by Jayanta Bhaṭṭa. The work has indeed become a milestone in the historiography of Indian philosophy, not only because of the accuracy with which rival theories are presented in it, but also because its date is confirmed by both internal and external evidences, which helps to determine the relative chronology of other important works, preceding and following it.
Seventeen manuscripts of the Nyāyamañjarī were located during the preparation of the project. They are written in different North and South Indian scripts and are preserved in a variety of locations from Kashmir to Kerala. Only two editions of the Nyāyamañjarī are based on manuscript sources, but their editors had access only to a limited numbers of manuscripts: the editio princeps was practically based on a single manuscript and a more reliable edition, published in 1983, on five. Besides this limitation, these two editions lack a detailed description of the manuscripts used and an analysis of their genealogical relation. They were also prepared without the help of the presently available technology, particularly digital photography, software for collating and editing, and cladistic software. A new critical edition will therefore significantly improve the knowledge of Jayanta Bhaṭṭa's oeuvre on the basis of a comprehensive use of all sources, a detailed description of the manuscripts, a genealogical study of the textual transmission, and the consideration of indirect textual witnesses, eventually resulting in an enriched understanding of the work.
The sixth chapter of the Nyāyamañjarī will be the focus of this project. In the larger context of the epistemological role of the Sanskrit language, this chapter discusses important theories relating to word-meaning and sentence-meaning, from the productive as well as receptive point of view. Though Jayanta belongs to the Nyāya tradition, he displays proficiency also in the two other disciplines involved in the discussion, Mīmāṃsā (Vedic exegetics) and Vyākaraṇa (Sanskrit grammatical science). The project will contribute to the historical knowledge of the pre- and post-Jayanta traditions of Nyāya, Mīmāṃsā and Vyākaraṇa, and will culminate in a fully documented critical edition of the sixth chapter. Its results will be useful to Sanskrit philologists, historians of Sanskrit and general linguistics, historians of Indian philosophy (particularly philosophy of language), specialists on Nyāya, Mīmāṃsā and Vyākaraṇa, and researchers interested in interdisciplinary studies. The resulting critical edition will also facilitate further studies and translations of the sixth chapter because of the clarification of difficult and obscure textual passages, and thus benefit today’s philosophical and linguistic discourses related to historically, geographically and linguistically distant ideas.