Query: Did classical Indian philosophers revise their works?

Birgit Kellner birgit.kellner at UNIVIE.AC.AT
Tue Dec 18 15:52:54 UTC 2001

Are there cases where one can demonstrate that classical Indian
philosophers significantly revised their own earlier works in the light of
what they themselves wrote later in their career?

By "significant revisions", I mean cases where actual formulations were
demonstrably changed: e.g. when technical terms coined later would have
made their way into revisions of earlier works, or when definitions of key
concepts developed and sharpened only later would have been inserted into
earlier works.

Based on my own limited experience in reading Indian philosophical
treatises, I cannot come up with any such cases, and would - for several
reasons - actually doubt that they exist; but then again one can never be
sure, and perhaps my reasons are based on false assumptions.

In DharmakIrti's works, for instance, one finds statements like "... iti
vakSyAmaH" that anticipate passages in later chapters of the same work,
which might be later insertions (though this need not be the case) - but
these I would not consider as "significant revisions"; in fact, if these
are insertions, the fact that a philosopher inserted statements that
certain problems will be addressed at a later point indicates a certain
caution so as *not* to alter the textual form of what has already been
written. Such insertions might therefore be seen as indicating a distinctly
"preservationist" attitude towards one's own compositions on the part of

I would appreciate any information on this matter; in addition to - if
extant - case-studies, I would particularly appreicate references to
literature which might discuss such subjects in relation to attested (?)
sociocultural practices of textual composition, handling of manuscripts,
and manuscript transmission.

Birgit Kellner
Institute for South Asian, Tibetan and Buddhist Studies
Vienna University

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