Amrita Darshanam, International Centre for Spiritual Studies, organized a one-day workshop on ‘Philosophy of Language: Reading of the Brahmakāṇḍa of Bhartṛhari’s Vākyapadīya,’ on November 16, 2017, at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Bengaluru Campus. The workshop was attended by 35 research scholars and academicians from across the country including Amritsar, New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Mysore.

The workshop commenced with the time-honoured ceremony of lighting the lamps which was accompanied by Vedic Mantras chanted by ŚrīRācuryācārya and his vaṭu-s and the invocation of Gaṇeśa by Ms. Pratyusha. Ms. Manjushree Hegde, Assistant Professor in Amrita Darshanam (International Centre for Spiritual Studies) in Coimbatore campus, welcomed the participants of the workshop and introduced the dignitaries, Dr. Rakesh S. G., Associate Dean, Amrita School of Engineering, Bengaluru Campus; Prof. K. S. Kannan, Ex-Director, Karnataka Samskrit University and Prof. Ashok Aklujkar, Professor Emeritus, University of British Columbia. 

Prof. K. S. Kannan, Ex-Director, Karnataka Samskrit University, delivered the inaugural lecture. He highlighted the crucial nature of Sanskrit as the core of Indian tradition and drew attention to the urgency of a serious study of Indian knowledge systems. Br. Dhanraj, Director, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham’s Bengaluru Campus, expressed his delight at having Prof. Aklujkar (Professor Emeritus, University of British Columbia,) in the campus.

Prof. Ashok Aklujkar commenced the workshop with an introduction to Bhartṛ-hari, the 5th century Indian grammarian-philosopher. He explained in detail the structure of Bhartṛ-hari’sVākyapadīya, a metaphysical inquiry into the nature and origin of language, or Trikāṇḍī and demonstrated the ideas that formed the undercurrents of his statements. He also showed how these ideas had a close relationship with the ideas that have found expression in modern Western philosophies of language and grammar and in modern analyses of typical problems of philosophy. The sessions were lively, and the participants enthusiastically posed perplexing questions to the Professor, both in English and Sanskrit. 

The afternoon session commenced with a serious textual reading of the ‘Brahmakāṇḍa of Vākyapadīya’. Prof. Ashok Aklujkar drew attention to Bhartṛ-hari’s linguistic approach to philosophical problems of epistemology and ontology, and demonstrated how these problems were ‘dissolvable’ by the employment of such a unique approach. He also showed how Bhartṛ-hari’s was a “perspectivist’s” philosophy and drew attention to the common mistranslations of the kārika-s and also pointed out the irrefutable, interconnected nature of the kārika-s and the vṛtti-s. A profound discussion followed on the nature of śabda, vāk, sphoṭa and of language itself. 

The workshop concluded with vote of thanks by Mr. Arjun Bharadwaj, Assistant Professor in Amrita Darshanam (International Centre for Spiritual Studies) in Bangalore campus.

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