KaalaH. time

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vidya at CCO.CALTECH.EDU
Thu Jul 3 20:05:05 CDT 1997

> The vision of time varies according to whether time is regarded as power,
> the Self or a divinity. In a state of ignorance, time is the first thing
> to manifest itself, but in the state of wisdom it disappears.
> This is apparently the english translation of Bhartr^hari's Vakyapadiiya,
> II, 233. Would some knowledgeable List member who has access to the
> original sanskrit statement be kind enough to either post it on the List
> or send it to me by private e-mail. I would be much obliged.

In this connection, you might want to contact Prof. Ashok Aklujkar at the
University of British Columbia. His email is <aklujkar at unixg.ubc.ca>, and
he is the best contemporary authority on Bhartrhari's Vakyapadiya.

The quotation seems to be either from III. 61-62 or from Helaraja's
commentary to Bhartrhari's trikANDI. Vakyapadiya II, 233 does not seem to
relate directly to this issue, at least in the summary presented in
Aklujkar's work. In Book III, Bhartrhari has devoted an entire section to
time, called kALasamuddeSa. Here, he disagrees with the vaiSeshika
notion of time as an eternal substance. He says that time is that
principle which makes the viSva appear as if it had sequence, although the
viSva is without any sequence. In III. 61-62, he says that whether time is
a power, or a divinity or the self, it is in any case the first form of
ignorance (avidyA) to arise. In true understanding, time is not known.

Helaraja explains that according to Bhartrhari, time is a creative power
of Brahman. Time is compared to the sUtradhAra (thread-holder) of a puppet
show, who holds the strings and makes the puppets move according to his
wish. All divisions of time are artificial and are based on actions that
are brought about by time. Helaraja also makes the important point that
the grammarians talk of time purely as a matter of practicality, to
explain the tenses, and not because they attach an absolute philosophical
value to temporal sequence. All differentiation, temporal or spatial, is
due to avidyA. Brahman is true knowledge without any sequence, although
under the influence of time, it is presented as if it had sequence. The
function of time, therefore, is to present phenomena in a temporal


ps. Bhartrhari is the author of the vAkyapadIya (also known as trikANDI),
a commentary on patanjali's mahAbhAshya, which is itself a commentary on
pANinI's ashTAdhyAyI, the premier work of the grammatical tradition.
Bhartrhari also wrote an auto-commentary (vrtti) to the first two books.
In his hands, grammar changes from a mere functional analysis of language
to a full-fledged philosophy (darSana), known as vaiyAkaraNa SAstra.
helArAja wrote a commentary called prakIrNaka-vivaraNa on the trikANDI.
abhinavagupta, the great Kashmiri Saiva scholar, was a student of
helArAja. maNDana miSra, the author of brahmasiddhi, further systematized
Bhartrhari's philosophical thought in his sphoTa-siddhi. Many grammarians,
such as bhaTTojI dIkshita, kauNDa bhaTTa and others, also wrote works on
advaita vedAnta.

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