Bhartṛhari’s linguistic philosophy: Śabda Brahman and the question from Ineffability
Ritoo Kartari Antil and Vikas Singh Gautam
Bhartṛhari mainly focuses on correct interpretation of Vedic literature through grammar and creates the notion of verbal holism, which describes the ultimate reality as a universal language (śabda) without any components. According to his philosophy, śabda is absolute reality, and the universe expresses itself in the shape of language; that is, objective reality is nothing more than the linguistic explanation of any kind of experience. We can only know something if we are able to cognise it verbally, whether in mind or orally. There is, nevertheless, a sense of ineffability, and there are experiences that do not fit within the realm of linguistic cognition and can only be described in terms of raw sensations. As a result, Bhartṛhari's philosophical argument that absolute reality only exists in a word form, i.e. Śabda Brahman, is called into doubt. The paper briefly discusses the scope of ineffability in verbal holism, as well as some alternative remedies from other philosophical traditions, in order to keep the notion of effability alive in Bhartṛhari's Śabda Brahman theory.