[INDOLOGY] Shruti and non-literalism.

edbryant at rci.rutgers.edu edbryant at rci.rutgers.edu
Sun Mar 2 20:13:37 UTC 2014

Greetings friends,

Forgive any cross-listing, but I am looking for any references in
pre-modern (i.e. pre-colonial) commentarial (or primary) sources pointing
to acceptable non-literal ways of reading Sanskrit texts (Sruti and
Smriti).  I include the following possibilities, which are the only ones
of which I am presently aware in this mode, to give some sense of that
which I seek.  If anyone can provide the exact references for these, or of
any other similar expressions of non-literal hermeneutics, I would be very
much obliged:

1) The later Mimamsas speak of the devas as being dative case holders,
rather than actual entities.  Anyone have a textual reference for where
this is stated?

2) Madhva (who already in the 12c presaged the need for a criticial
edition of the MhBh), speaks of 3 ways of reading itihasa, if I am not
mistaken: as itihasa, from the perspective of siddhanta and.....if I
recall correctly, as kavya. Does anyone have a reference for this?

3) Vallabha also speaks of 3 types of language in the Bhagavata: samadhi
bhasa, laukika bhasa, and matantara bhass. Elsewhere he speaks of
adhyatmika (spiritual), adhidaivika (emotional) and adhibautika (material)
modes of reading the Bhagavata.  Can anyone provide references here?

These are just the references I have some recollection encountering,
correctly or incorrectly, but I am hoping there will be other expressions
of non-literal modes of exegesis.  Any readings that bypass a focus on
literal historicism, especially of Purana and itihasa (e.g. placing more
stress on rasa or some such thing as the primary purpose of Purana and
itihasa)  - that the learned shastris on this list might know and be
willing to share, would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks.  Edwin Bryant.

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