kaarikaa, aagama

aklujkar at unixg.ubc.ca aklujkar at unixg.ubc.ca
Fri May 3 22:00:47 UTC 1996

        I began the following message on 26 April as a response to J.
Silk's question and wrote about three paragraphs. But I  can complete the
response only now. You see,the end of April is the deadline for filing
income tax returns in Canada, and, as a Sanskitist, I have so many sources
of income that I get exhuasted  just keeping track of  my team of

        The delay has bestowed on me the advantage that I can take into
account even the more recent postings by S. Vidyasankar, S. Lindquist, D.
Lusthaus and B. Kellner. 

        Silk asks an important question:
>Do you mean to suggest that aagama appears, for eaxmple, in a Sa.mkhya
text, it might refer to Buddhist Aagamas?  Is there any evidence for this? 
It seems to me l highly unlikely, if for no other reason than that for
non-Buddhists Buddhist texts should *not* be any type of aagama.  Is it not
correct that generally (and perhaps there are exceptions) for Vedic /
Brahmanical / Hindu writers, Buddhist texts -- rejecting as they do the
authority of the Veda -- cannot themselves be any sort of authority?<

        Silk's second question  is implicit in Vidyasankar's following
>...  on "Agama-SAstra" - I interpreted Prof. Aklujkar's comments in 
a general sense. Thus, the "canonical" set of works of the Brahminical 
tradition would collectively be called Agama, of which the GK intends to
give the purport. Of course, the Brahmin schools would have excluded any
Buddhist texts from this canon. As far as the Buddhist traditions are 
concerned, by the time of the GK, the various sUtras and/or the Pali
works had already attained the status of "canon", and could be labelled 
Agama with some justification. The Brahmins's canon is "Agama" for the 
Brahmin, and the Buddhist's canon is "Agama" for the Buddhist. I didnt
think a cross-application of the two was intended in Prof. Aklujkar's

        The short answer to Silk's question is that "there are exceptions."

        To expand: 
         1. The word aagama in itself has a range of meanings as I have
incidentally and briefly pointed out in an article in Indo-Iranian Journal
13.3 (1971):169-70. A study of the context is necessary in most cases to
determine the meaning likely to have been intended by an author. 
        2. A puurva-pak.sin (in an uttara-pak.sin's statement of his views
as is invariably the situation in Skt texts)  referring to his
authoritative sources as aagma and an uttara-pak.sin doing the same with
respect to his authoritative sources are not at issue here. This is what we
would expect them to do as Vidyasankar's remarks suggest.  All we have to
do is to remember that even these uses would not be immune to the
consideration pointed out in (1). 
        3. The real issue then is: Did we have thinkers in India whose
notion of what constituted an aagama for them was composite or could
conceivably be composite? Were there philosophers, in particular, who
crossed or came close to crossing the Brahmanical and Buddhist divide of
authoritative sources? The remarks by Silk and Vidyasankar assume that
there were no such thinkers. The prevailing assumption in Indology is the
same. What I have been pointing out during the last six years or so in my
lectures and paper presentations is that this assumption is not justified.
Things are not as rigid and unqualified as they have been taken to be.
While I cannot point to a Brahmanical thinker who explicitly says that
Buddhist or Jaina aagamas are acceptable as authorities to him, I can point
to Brahmanical thinkers who came close to crossing the Brahmanical and
Buddhist divide and indicated that they were doing so. 

        (A justified reconstruction of India's past, it seems to me, is one
in which a spectrum of thinkers with differing degrees of inclusivism and
exclusivism is admitted. The present paradigm or model does not do justice
either to the totality of historical evidence that is available nor to the
nature of (what we would call) religious life as it was lived in India.
However, to argue this point, I would need several dozen pages, which this
forum cannot, rightly, make available. Hence I will draw attention only to
some of my writings in which I have already begun to offer the necessary
evidence, albeit in the context of some other larger issues: In  press:
"The Early History of Sanskrit as Supreme Language" which is to appear in
the Proceedings of the Status and Ideology of Sanskrit volume being edited
by Dr. Jan E.M. Houben. Shortly to be sent for publication (I hope):  "The
semantic history of 'Vedaanta' and the paradigm for the study of Indian
philosophy.   and *Sociolinguistic History of Ancient and Early Medieval
India: Need for a Paradigm Change,* which is a monograph-length critique
primarily of the views of my learned friend Professor Madhav M. Deshpande.)

        For example, there were Brahmanical authors who thought of Buddhist
aagama(s) as ultimately having their origin in the Vedas, especially in the
artha-vaadas of the Vedas. See Aklujkar 1991 = "Bhart.r-hari s concept of
the Veda." In Panels of the VIIth World Sanskrit   Conference. Vol. IV-V.
Ed. Bronkhorst, Johannes. Pp. 1-18. Leiden: E.J. Brill. Pp. :1-2 and the
notes going with them are especially relevant.  
        From the preceding it does not follow that the aagamas of the
Buddhists (and the Jainas) carried the same authority for Brahmanical
authors as the 'regular' Vedic aagamas or even that the non-Vedic aagamas
had to have authority. One could still introduce a slip between the cup of
authority and the lip of the heretic. All one had to do was to say that
while the source was impeccable the reception or the recepient of the
source was not impeccable.  Some thinkers, like Kumaarila, were highly
sectarian who accused the Buddhists of forgetting their origin. Some, like
Jayanta, were willing to accept the Buddhist teachings (and hence the
Buddhist aagamas) at least in those areas in which the conduct prescribed
was ethically better than the conduct recommended by the ;Saaktas etc.
Some, like Bhart.r-hari and (very probably) Gau.da-paada, transcended the
aagma distinction by taking a 'tair aya.m na virudhyate' position -- by
achieving a philosophical ascent (although Bhart.r-hari's manner of
achieving this ascent was not the same as Gau.da-paada's). 

        (The preceding observation clearly has relevance for such
discussions as the ones prompted by questions like 'Was Bhart.r-hari a
Buddhist?  and 'Did Gau.da-paada borrow his philosophy from the Buddhists?'
In my writings under preparation, I am attempting to answer these
questions. Suffice it to observe here that the discussions of these issues
which are so far available in print are either informed (or misguided) by
the same paradigm as the one I am challenging  or they are methodologically
rather naive.)

D. Lusthaus and B. Kellner have made a valuable contribution by drawing
attention to texts which contain "-kaarikaa" in their titles. It is evident
that a kaarikaa text need not always be a commentary (in the bhaa.sya,
.tiikaa etc. format) on some root text. However, this negative or
absence-based observation does not imply that the term "kaarikaa" must have
some special meaning beyond 'mnemonic/summary verses.' The evidence for
such a special meaning, if any, must still be gathered by studying the
early contexts in which the term occurs. 

It seems unlikely to me that, in the early  period, the term "-kaarikaa"
could have, as suggested by Vidyasankar, the sense 'one which brings about
/ fashions (the systematic development of a school).' The later usage does
not show any vestiges of such a connotation. Secondly, the perspective
('systematic : unsystematic,' 'beginning : development') which is implicit
in Vidyasankar's suggestion does not seem to be present in early Indian
thinking, especially in the thinking revealed in nomenclature. 

Lindquist adds thus to his earlier postings: "... there seems to me
something more at work in terming a text a kArikA, rather than just the
fact that it just consists of kArikAs ...  it
DOES appear to make a difference of whether it is plural or singular (not
grammatically, of course, but as a more 'technically used' term).  I do not
know about the Sam.khya kArikA, but the Gaud.padIya kArikA is not referred
to as a text in the plural-perhaps the singular is used to denote genre
(with the understanding that it means verses in the plural) whereas the
plural (and dual, obviously) are to refer to groups of passages, but not
the text as a whole.  All plural references I find with the Gaud.padIya
kArikA as 'kArikA's are referring to limited groups of verses and not the
text as a whole. < 

What I have observed two paragraphs ago indicates why one must not insist
that the term "kaarikaa" has a special meaning along a 'text : text-unit'
trajectory and why the observation made by Professor Cardona probably
constitutes an adequate answer. Furthemore, unless it is established that
those who referred to the Gau.dapaadiiya kaarika(s) in the plural were
making a distinction between a group of verses and the whole text *even
when they did not give us the beginning and the end of a verse group,* we
cannot be certain that they did not have the text as a whole in mind.

It is possible that Lindquist's difficulty in accepting absence of the
specified distinction arises because he is unconsciously under the
influence of titles such as bhaa.sya, .tiika, v.rtti, pa;ncikaa, vyaakhyaa,
viv.rti/vivara.na etc. and titles such as diipikaa, candrikaa, kaumudii,
sudhaakara etc. Assuming I am justified in this guess, I would like to
point out that while the former group of title words did convey genre
distinctions (especially in the early period, although we cannot be
entirely clear about what those distinctions were), the second group of
'poetic' titles belongs to a later period of Indian literature. The earlier
titles are prosaic and functional. Suutra, kaarikaa, bhaa.sya, v.rtti,
vivara.na etc. refer only to formal features.  While referring to a genre,
they do not seem to refer to distinctions such as 'part : whole,'
'influential : non-influential,' or 'major :  nonmajor.' 

If I still have your attention, I would like to make one more point: It is
important to remember in the present context that a usage like
Gau.da-paada-kaarikaa is a short form for Gau.da-paada-k.rta-kaarikaa,
Gau.da-paada-pra.niita-kaarikaa etc. It is unlikely to occur in good
Sanskrit unless a distinction from some other kaarikaa text is intended.
For example, one does not say Kaali-daasa-raama-kathaayaam in good Skt
unless one has at the back of one's mind an awareness of the Raama story as
narrated by someone else like Vaalmiiki or Bhava-bhuuti and unless one's
intention is to refer specifically to  Kaali-daasa's Raama story. While the
first members of tat-puru.sa compounds routinely qualify/delimit the
meaning of the following members, there is a difference in the connotation
(naturalness and frequency) of expressions like
Gau.da-paada-k.rta-kaarikaa, on the one hand, and expressions like
Gau.da-paada-kaarikaa, on the other.  This consideration would suggest that
the Gau.da-paada's kaarikaas are unlikely to receive the designation
Gau.da-paada-kaarikaa unless the kaarikaa texts of others were already
generally known. A similar consideration would apply to the title
ashok aklujkar
Professor, Dept. of Asian Studies, University of British Columbia,
Vancouver, B.C., Canada V6T 1Z2

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