Grammar. Philosophy and Epistemology

Sanjay Kumar sanjay.kumar at MAIL.MCGILL.CA
Mon Oct 16 03:49:09 UTC 2006

Dear all:

Harsha Dehejia's comment that "pazya means to see and drz is vision or insight. Seeing does not automatically lead to vision, it requires contemplation" triggered a debate concerning semantics of "dRz" and "pazya. Before discussing the usages of "pazya" that involve contemplative seeing, I propose the following points for consideration:

1.      Sanskrit grammarians understood that the meanings of verbs could be fluid (anekArthA hi dhAtavaH). The meaning of a verb or any other word depends on the speaker's intention. They have primary meanings, however, to which secondary meanings (should) relate. 

2.      The relationship between verbs and their meanings (as shown in PANini's DhAtupATha) could be employed to discover the wider implications of verbs. Thus, the DhAtupATha lists "prekSaNa" (derived from pra+IkS+lyuT) for the meaning of "dRz;" and "darzana" (derived from dRz+lyuT) for the meaning of "IkS."  This mutual relationship between "dRz" and "IkS" shows that both the verbs are semantically well matched. The usage of the verb "IkS" therefore, could be crucial in determining the original meaning of "dRz." 

3.      Both the Gita and the KaThopaniSad use "pazya" and "IkS" interchangeably: parAñci khAni vyatRNat svayambhUs tasmAt parAn" "pazyati" nAntarAtman. kazcid dhIraH pratyag-AtmAnam "aikSad" AvRtta-cakSur amRtatvam icchan (K.U. 4.1); IkSate yoha-yuktAtma sarvatra-sama-darzanaH. yo mAM pazyati sarvatra sarvaM ca mayi pazyati (Gita 6.29-30).

4.      PANini's list of verbs does not include "paz" or "pazya;" according to him, "pazya" is merely a suppletive form of "dRz." While attributing distinct meanings to both forms, we need to consider other verbs also that take suppletive forms, i.e. pA (piba), sthA (tiSTha), and ghrA (jighra) etc. Do the meanings of these verbs and their suppletive forms also differ? 

5.      Prof. Madhav cited an example of suppletive employment of "pazya" (uta tvaH pazyan na...) that clearly demonstrates that the meanings of "dRz" and "pazya" do not differ; if "zRNvan" and "zRNoti" forms of "zru" are semantically identical to each other, "pazyan" and "dadarza" must also have identical meaning. 

6.      The DhAtupATha lists several verbs (lokR, locR, lakSa etc.) that denote "darzana." I believe that while verbs implying "darzana" could indicate specific aspects of seeing, "dRz" is a verb that could be used to indicate any and all aspects of seeing. ASTAdhyAyI also corroborates this interpretation (pazyArthaiz cAnAlocane [8.1.25]). 

7.      I am not sure if the connotations of "dRz" and "pazya" could be differentiated on account of whether the initiative of seeing or being seen rests with the agent or with the object. It is true about the present, present participle, imperative, imperfect, and optative forms of "dRz," because, in these forms, "pazya" replaces "dRz" in the active voice. But, the active voice conjugations (LRT, LiT etc.) and agentive derivatives (draSTR) of "dRz" that do not take "pazya" form indicate that the initiative is presupposed to rest with the agent, not with the object.

8.      Studying the tadbhava and the tatsama words can be extremely valuable in detrmining the original connotations of verbs or words. This, however, can also be misleading because words and their meanings are constantly contextualized by the speaker. Thus, vipassanA and dassana could very well be loaded with Buddhist ideology, and may not be helpful at all in our enquiry. The two principles of interpretation - sarva-tantra-siddhAnta and prati-tantra-siddhAnta - must guide hermeneutical enquiries.

9.      Prof. Aklujkar, could paspazA, paspaze, spaza, spazTa, and aspazTa be forms of the following two verbs: spaza bAdhana-sparzanayoH (bhvAdi), and spaza grahaNa-saMzleSaNayoH (curAdi)? Although I have not checked Mayrhofer"s work yet, I am not sure why these words cannot be derived from "spaza" roots. In fact, Sanskrit grammarians (KAzikA on PANini 7.2.27, and MAdhavIyAdhAtuvRtti on "spaza") recognize "spaza" verbs as the sources of all these words.


Does "pazya" mean to merely "see" an object? Or it includes contemplative seeing also?

The UpaniSads often use conjugational or participial forms of "pazya" to indicate both outward and inward (contemplative) acts of seeing: yadA "pazyaH" "pazyate" rukma-varNam (MuNDaka 3.1.3); antaH zarIre jyotirmayo hi zubhro yaM "pazyanti" yatayH kSINadoSAH (MuNDaka 3.1.4); sa etam eva puruSaM brahma tatam "apazyad" idam "adarzam" iti (Aitareya 2.3.13); tatra ko mohaH kaH zoka ekatvam "anupazyataH" (Iza 7).

In his commentary on Patañjali"s YogasUtras, VyAsa also uses "pazya" in both senses: buddhitaH paraM puruSam AkArazIlam vidyA"dibhir vibhaktam "apazyan" kuryAt tatrAtma-buddhiM mohena (2.6); pratyayaM bauddham "anupazyati" (2.20); na ca puruSa-pratyayena buddhi-sattvAtmanA puruSo "dRzyate," puruSa eva taM pratyayaM svAtmAvalambanaM "pazyati" (3.35). 

Examples from the Gita: divyaM dadAmi te cakSuH pazya me rUpam aizvaram (11.8); sA nizA pazyato muneH (2.69); prakRtyaiv ca karmANi kriyamANAni sarvazaH. yaH pazyati tathAtmAnam akartAraM sa pazyati (13.29); tatraivaM sati kartAram AtmAnaM kevalaM tu yaH. pazyatyakRtabuddhitvAn na sa pazyati durmatiH (18.16).

These few examples demonstrate that limiting the meaning of "pazya" to outward seeing alone is unwarranted, and that there is no semantic or etymological difference between these two forms of the same verb. 

Sanjay Kumar

McGill University


From: Indology on behalf of Deshpande, Madhav
Sent: Sun 15/10/2006 9:22 PM
Subject: Re: Grammar. Philosophy and Epistemology

Thanks, Ashok, for further stimulating discussion.  There may indeed be points of convergence with what you are saying. However, having written a rather long article that I referred to in my previous email, I am sure the complexities of the issue are beyond being discussed in emails.  There is a rather a long history of discussions of suppletion that I have discussed in my article, as well as some elucidation of the verbal semantics in terms of modern theories of aspectual distinctions by linguists like Dowty and others. That extensive discussion cannot be summarized in emails. I am looking forward to reading your article in the Motilal Banarsidass volume on Bhartrhari which is long overdue.  I also have an article in the same volume, and I hope the volume appears soon.


-----Original Message-----
From: Indology on behalf of Ashok Aklujkar
Sent: Sun 10/15/2006 10:20 AM
Subject: Re: Grammar. Philosophy and Epistemology

Thanks, Madhav.

As point no. 8 in my last post clarifies, I was not arguing for the
acceptance of a specific semantic distinction, only for the position that
there must be a distinction. I am open to specifications of distinction
different from the ones I have come up with.

If you think that the nouns vipassanA/vipazyanA  and dassana/darzana
contain, respectively, the element 'an on-going process without a necessary
conclusive moment of culmination' and the element 'a sense of achievement
culminating a conclusive moment,' why should we not associate the elements
respectively with the roots in the nouns, namely with pa;s/pa;sya and d.r;s?
Certainly the mutually differing elements cannot be associated with the
suffix anaa/ana. The association of elements with the roots would be just
another way of saying that their connotations differ -- that they have a
semantic distinction.

If one root has only imperfective semantics and the other only perfective
semantics, should there not be something in their meanings that is conducive
to the emergence of neat alliances, respectively, with verbal suffixes
signifying "on-going processes without a necessary conclusive moment of
culmination" and with verbal suffixes signifying "a sense of achievement
culminating a conclusive moment"?

Also, are the alliances really neat? How do we account for the perfective
element in the form paspa;se quoted by Mayrfofer or in the past participle

(Alternatively, could we be reading 'an on-going process' element in
vipassanA/vipazyanA and 'a sense of achievement' element in dassana/darzana
because we associated imperfective semantics with the finite verbs derived
from pa;s and perfective semantics with the finite verbs derived from d.r;s
or because we know that vipassanaa, being associated primarily with
Theravaada Buddhism, should have no conclusion/implication of achievement?
Actually, both vipassanaa and dar;sana, being action nouns, should not lose
the 'on-going process' element.)

You write:
> for mantradRz being different from any relation to pazya, note many
> Brahmana/Upanishad passages describing how a certain sage produced a certain
> verse:  tad etat pazyan RSir uvAca, or mantreSu karmANi kavayo yAny apazyan.
> There does not seem to be as contrastive a semantic distinction between pazya
> and dRz in these texts.

I am not sure I follow your point here. Is the last sentence incomplete or
is it supposed to be "There does not seem to be a semantic distinction ..."?
In mantreSu karmANi kavayo yAny apazyan, the object of the action signified
by pa;s is karmANi, not mantrAn. So, there is no scope for the mantrad.r;s
notion anyway. In the first sentence, is it contextually clear that the
verses produced are always mantra? Even if they all turn out to be mantras,
as long as the introductory sentences are not something like tad etat pazyan
RSir (mantram) dadar;sa/apa;syat (in the place of verbs like uvaaca), how
would we get a truly relevant example?

A study of the larger context may bring to light a distinction even in the
case of the passages you cite, namely, in "darzam hi vizvadarzatam darzam
ratham adhi kSami", "ko dadarza pratha[ma?]m jAyamAnam", "apazyam gopAm
anipadyamAnam", "apazyam grAmam vahamAnam", "apazyam tvA manasA cekitAnam"
etc. *For example,* could the choice of the root not be dictated, at least
to some extent, by the kind of object that was seen or the suggestion that
the expected/unexpected happened? I have not had the time to study the
larger contexts, but what you cite makes me wonder if we really have the
minimal pairs we would need to be sure that the root choice is dictated by
no element other than the (contextually required, I suppose) verbal ending.

Finally, if the 'pa;s : d.r;s' distinction were to be seen as rooted in an
'on-going process .. : sense of achievement ...' distinction (I am not
attributing this position to you), it would not be irreconcilable with my
(b) and (c) distinctions.

Anyway, I have enjoyed this opportunity to go deeper into an issue I
mentioned incidentally in my paper "Veda revelation according to
Bhart.r-hari" that is expected to be published in the proceedings of the
international seminar on BH organized by Motilal Banarsidass about two years


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