On the Notion of Linguistic Convention (saṁketa) in the Yogasūtrabhāṣya

Abstract

The aim of this study is to clarify the meaning of the term saṁketa, which is usually translated as ‘(linguistic) convention’, in the Yogasūtrabhāṣya, the first and the most authoritative commentary to the Yogasūtras. This paper is a contribution to the reconstruction of the classical Yoga view on the relation between word and its meaning, for saṁketa is a key term used by this darśana in discussing this relation. The textual analysis of the Yogasūtrabhāṣya has led me to the conclusion that its author’s understanding of the linguistic convention (saṁketa) is different from the notion of the linguistic convention (saṁketa/samaya) of the Vaiśeṣikas and Naiyāyikas and similar to the notion of the linguistic convention (samaya/saṁketa) of the Grammarians (as presented in Houben’s article “Bhartṛhari’s samaya/Helārāja’s saṁketa. A contribution to the reconstruction of the Grammarian’s discussion with the Vaiśeṣikas on the relation between śabda and artha”, published in the “Journal of Indian Philosophy”). These are interpretations of the term saṁketa which reflect Yogasūtrabhāṣya’s understanding of the linguistic convention: the tradition of the usage of words, established (practice/custom of the) usage of words. Saṁketa of the Yogasūtrabhāṣya, unlike saṁketa/samaya of the Vaiśeṣikas and Naiyāyikas, is not an agreement established by anyone, but an agreement in the sense of tradition, established practice, or established custom. Unlike the saṁketa/samaya of these philosophers, the saṁketa of the Yogasūtrabhāṣya, having neither beginning nor end, is not re-created (re-established), but only made known (revealed) at the beginning of each cycle of existence of the world.

References and Abbreviations

Yoga Sanskrit Texts and Abbreviations

  1. Pātañjalayogaśāstravivaraṇa. (1) Pātañjala-yogasūtra-bhāṣya-vivaraṇam of Śaṅkara Bhagavatpāda (1952). Critically edited with introduction by Polakam Sri Rama Sastri and S. R. Krishnamurthi Sastri. Madras: Government Oriental Manuscripts Library. (Madras Government Oriental Series. No. 94.); (2) Yogasūtrabhāṣyavivaraṇa of Śaṅkara. Vivaraṇa text with English translation and critical notes along with text and English translation of Patañjali’s Yogasūtras and Vyāsabhāṣya (2010). By Trichur Subramaniam Rukmani. In 2 vol. Vol. I, II. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd. (I edition 2001.); (3) see Harimoto, Kengo (2014); (4) Appendix I: Rekonstruktion der im YVi kommentierten Fassung des PYŚ. In Philipp André Maas (Ed.), Samādhipāda. Das erste Kapitel des Pātañjalayogaśāstra zum ersten Mal kritisch ediert. The first chapter of the Pātañjalayogaśāstra for the first time critically edited (pp. 127–164). Aachen: Shaker Verlag. (Indologica Halensis. Geisteskultur Indiens. Texte und Studien. Band 9).

  2. Rājamārtaṇḍa. The Yoga aphorisms of Patañjali with the commentary of Bhoja Rāja (1883). Edited and translated by Rājendralāla Mitra. Calcutta: The Asiatic Society of Bengal. (Bibliotheca Indica. New Series. Nos. 462, 478, 482, and 491–492).

  3. Tattvavaiśāradī—see Yogasūtras.

  4. Yogasūtras (YS) and Yogasūtrabhāṣya (YBh). (1) Samādhipāda. Das erste Kapitel des Pātañjalayogaśāstra zum ersten Mal kritisch ediert. The first chapter of the Pātañjalayogaśāstra for the first time critically edited (2006). By Philipp André Maas. Aachen: Shaker Verlag. (Indologica Halensis. Geisteskultur Indiens. Texte und Studien. Band 9.); (2) = Yogasūtras, Yogasūtrabhāṣya, and Tattvavaiśāradī (1); (3) = Yogasūtras, Yogasūtrabhāṣya, and Tattvavaiśāradī (2).

  5. Yogasūtras (YS), Yogasūtrabhāṣya (YBh), and Tattvavaiśāradī. (1) Pātañjala-yoga-darśanam, Vācaspatimiśra-viracita-Tattvavaiśāradī-Vijñānabhikṣu-kṛta-Yogavārttika-vibhūṣita-Vyāsabhāṣya-sametam (1971). Edited by Nārāyaṇa Miśra. Varanasi: Bhāratīya Vidyā Prakāśana; (2) Patañjalasūtrāṇi with the scholium of Vyāsa and the commentary of Vāchaspati (1892). Edited by Rājārām Shāstrī Bodas. Bombay: Government Central Book Depôt. (Bombay Sanskrit Series. No. XLVI).

  6. Yogavārttika. (1) = Yogasūtras, Yogasūtrabhāṣya, and Tattvavaiśāradī (1); (2) Yogavārttika of Vijñānabhikṣu (1981, 1983, 1987, 1989). Text with English translation and critical notes along with the text and English translation of the Pātañjala Yogasūtras and Vyāsabhāṣya. By T. S. Rukmani. In 4 vol. Vol. I, II, III, IV. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd.

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Łucyszyna, O. On the Notion of Linguistic Convention (saṁketa) in the Yogasūtrabhāṣya . J Indian Philos 45, 1–19 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10781-016-9296-9

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Keywords

  • ClassicalYoga
  • Yogasūtra
  • Yogasūtrabhāṣya
  • Linguistic convention (saṁketa)
  • Word (śabda)
  • Meaning (artha)