[INDOLOGY] Shruti and non-literalism.

elisa freschi elisa.freschi at gmail.com
Mon Mar 3 09:48:23 UTC 2014

Dear Edwin,

concerning Mīmāṃsā, the locus classicus is the devatādhikaraṇa (PMS 9.1.9). There is an excellent article by F.X. Clooney about it (1988) and some thoughts on it can be read also here: https://www.academia.edu/6263852/Between_Theism_and_Atheism_a_journey_through_Visistadvaita_Vedanta_and_Mimamsa

A further interesting reading is Robert Goldman's "How Fast Do Monkeys Fly? How Long Do Demons Sleep?" (discussing literality in the interpretation of Rāmāyaṇa's stories) in *Rivista di Studi Sudasiatici* 2006. You can download the file here: http://www.fupress.net/index.php/rss/issue/view/231

best wishes,


Dr. Elisa Freschi
Institute for the Cultural and Intellectual History of Asia
Austrian Academy of Sciences
Apostelgasse 23
1030 Vienna
Phone +43 1 51581 6433
Fax +43 1 51581 6410

On 02/mar/2014, at 21:13, 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.
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