[INDOLOGY] [RISA-L LIST] Shruti and non-literalism.

Jonathan Edelmann je374 at msstate.edu
Sun Mar 2 22:54:04 UTC 2014

Dear Edwin,

In the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava tradition there is an allowance to move from the
primary meaning to a secondary (non-literal) meaning when the primary makes
no sense; in this regard they follow Kāvya, especially well known texts
like Mammaṭabhaṭṭa's Kāvyaprakāśa. For discussion, see Jīva Gosvāmin's
auto-commentary on his Tattvasandarbha called the Sarvasaṃvādinī (p.25 ff.
of Hari Dāsa Śāstrī's edition). Viśvanātha Cakravartin goes so far as to
say that the Bhāgavata Purāṇa was composed according to three types of
meaning (e.g. vācya, lakṣya and vyaṅgya, the latter two being
"non-literal") in his Sārārthadarśinī 1.1.1 (p.53 of Kṛṣṇa Śaṅkara Śāstrī's

I've got an article called, "When Stones Float and Mud Speaks," which
examines Jīva's views on śrūti passages that should be understood
non-literally; it will be out in the J of Hindu Studies in a few months.

Re Vallabha: He only alludes to the three types of language, bhāṣā, in the
4th maṅgala of his Bhāgavata Purāṇa commentary (p.65 of Kṛṣṇa Śaṅkara
Śāstrī's edition), promising to show how they appear throughout the text. A
more full examination is in his Tattvāthadīpanibandha, especially verses

Jonathan Edelmann
Mississippi State University

On Sun, Mar 2, 2014 at 2:13 PM, <edbryant at rci.rutgers.edu> wrote:

> 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.
> _______________________________________________
> RISA-L mailing list
> RISA-L at lists.sandiego.edu
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*Jonathan B. Edelmann, Ph.D.* <http://msstate.academia.edu/JonathanEdelmann>
  Assistant Professor of Religion
 Mississippi State University Department of Philosophy and Religion
449 Hardy Road Etheredge Hall
Mississippi State 39762
Work Phone (662) 325-9363
University Website<http://www.philosophyandreligion.msstate.edu/faculty/edelmann.php>
 | Book<http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/academic/pn/neuroscience/9780199641543.do?sortby=pubDateDescend>

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