Navigation – Plan du site

Scholasticism and Philosophy: on the Relationship between Reason and Revelation in India

Isabelle Ratié

Résumés

La scolastique médiévale européenne s'est beaucoup préoccupée d'accorder raison et révélation, notamment en cherchant à définir le rapport de subordination de la première à la seconde. De cette tension entre le poids de l’autorité scripturaire et l’aspiration à l’indépendance de l’enquête rationnelle a finalement émergé en Europe un champ philosophique autonome, libéré de toute allégeance à une parole révélée – ou du moins se présentant comme tel – et fustigeant la « méthode scolastique ». En Inde, rien de tel : le champ philosophique est demeuré essentiellement scolastique au sens notamment où la plupart des systèmes philosophiques indiens n’ont pas cessé d’admettre les Écritures (āgama) au rang des moyens de connaissance valide, et bien souvent, d’affirmer leur suprématie sur la raison et l’expérience. Pourtant, de même que la scolastique européenne ne se limite pas à l’image qui s’est imposée d’elle depuis Descartes, le rapport entre autorité scripturaire et enquête rationnelle en Inde est bien plus complexe qu’il n’y paraît au premier abord. C’est avant tout pour défendre la validité de leurs Écritures que différents courants religieux indiens se sont affrontés sur le terrain philosophique ; mais paradoxalement, cette intention apologétique a conduit les champions de ces divers courants à mettre de côté l’autorité de leurs propres Écritures. L’article, qui met en évidence cet étrange processus d’émancipation philosophique né de considérations apologétiques et nourri par celles-ci, compare deux définitions en apparence diamétralement opposées de la relation entre raison et révélation – celle du bouddhiste Dharmakīrti et celle du śivaïte non dualiste Utpaladeva – afin de montrer que si le champ philosophique indien n’a jamais acquis l’autonomie vis-à-vis de tout discours révélé qui a caractérisé la philosophie occidentale à partir du xviie siècle, il s’est développé dans une constante tension créatrice entre acceptation et rejet de l’autorité scripturaire.

Haut de page

Texte intégral

  • 1 See e.g. Jolivet [1972, p. 775] on this “aspect capital de la scolastique”.
  • 2 The Sanskrit term does not necessarily designate a written text, and rather brings to mind the mere (...)
  • 3 To give but one example of a major divergence, according to some of these movements, scriptural aut (...)
  • 4 Thus according to Nyāyabhāṣya: 3 (on Nyāyasūtra), inference “rests on perception and scripture” (pr (...)

1Striving to make reason and revelation agree is certainly one of the defining features of scholasticism. Thus the history of European scholastic literature is that of a constant effort to define the relationship between reason and faith, as well as the manner in which the first should be subordinated to the second1. From this enduring tension between the weight of scriptural authority and an aspiration to the independence of rational inquiry eventually emerged in Europe an autonomous philosophical field – one that was free from any allegiance to any revealed speech, or rather one that presented itself as such, and castigated, in Descartes’ fashion, the old “scholastic method”. Classical Indian thought has not undergone any revolution of this sort, or so it seems: in India, the philosophical field has remained essentially scholastic, notably in the sense that most Indian philosophical systems never ceased considering scripture (āgama)2 as a proper means of valid knowledge (pramāṇa). And despite great differences of opinion as to the way in which scriptural authority should be defined3, these movements have most often asserted the supremacy of revealed speech over reason and experience – including those, such as the Nyāya, that were concerned with logic and epistemology rather than with scriptural exegesis4.

  • 5 On this tension in the Nyāya, see Preisendanz [2000].

2Nevertheless, just as European scholasticism does not boil down to the unflattering cliché of it that has prevailed since Descartes (if only because scholastic debates have shaped and to a certain extent made possible the Cartesian adventure of reason’s claimed autonomy), in the same way, the issue of the relationship between scriptural authority and rational inquiry in Indian scholasticism is far more complex than might appear at first sight. For Indian philosophy is first and foremost the result of an intense religious competition: it is primarily so as to defend the validity of their scriptures that different Indian religious movements have fought each other on philosophical ground. And this apologetic intention has paradoxically led the champions of these currents to set aside the authority of their own scriptures, since in order to confront their rivals in a genuine debate they had to refrain from appealing to an authority that was not acknowledged by all participants. In this curious process of philosophical emancipation born of apologetic concerns and nourished by them, Indian thinkers had to elaborate various strategies so as to meet two partly contradictory requirements: to defend the authority of their own scriptures (while undermining that of rival āgamas) and to justify the use of a rational discourse independent of that authority5.

  • 6 There are, however, a number of studies devoted to the definition of scriptural authority in this o (...)

3Providing a full picture of these different strategies is an immense task that, to my knowledge, no historian of Indian philosophy has yet ventured to tackle6. Such an endeavour is of course far beyond the scope of the present contribution: my only ambition here is to briefly outline the seemingly antagonistic positions adopted in this respect by two Indian currents. The first of these movements, Buddhist, has ostensibly turned upside down the traditional conception of the relationship between reason and revelation, in what might be seen as a revolutionary attempt to establish the legitimacy of an autonomous philosophical field. The second, Śaiva, proclaims the absolute superiority of scriptural authority and apparently grants inference a purely ancillary role. I would like to try and point out, however, the gaping chasm that sometimes exists between the proclaimed relationship of these movements with scriptural authority and the ways in which they relate to it in fact, by showing that what might be considered as the Buddhist epistemologists’ philosophical revolution only makes sense in light of its apologetic motivations, and that the nondualist Śaivas have attempted to produce definitions of revelation and rational inquiry that were meant to discreetly subvert their loudly declared relationship of subordination. I hope that this short sketch can contribute to show how the Indian philosophical field has developed scholastically, i.e. in a constant and creative tension between the acceptance and rejection of scriptural authority.

The example of the Buddhist thinker Dharmakīrti: philosophical revolution or apologetic strategy?

  • 7 See in particular Tillemans [1986], Yaita [1987], Seyfort Ruegg [1994], Tillemans [1999], Kellner [ (...)

4The issue of scriptural authority in the works of Dignāga (5th of 6th century CE?) and Dharmakīrti (6th or 7th century CE?) has attracted scholarly attention in the last decades, and despite a number of interpretive divergences, several recent studies have unanimously pointed out that these two authors have profoundly transformed the Buddhist understanding of the relationship between reason and revelation.7

  • 8 See e.g. Cox [1992, p. 146-147]: “Those who understand Buddhism as an essentialistic unfolding of a (...)
  • 9 See ibid., p. 147: “The early scholastic period, concomitant with the increasing closure of the can (...)
  • 10 See above, fn. 3.
  • 11 On the role allotted to yukti and āgama and on the notion of āptāgama in abhidharmic literature, se (...)

5In order to assess the meaning and scope of this transformation, however, we should be wary of the tenacious cliché that presents Buddhism as an originally purely philosophical and mystical quest, one that would have been at first entirely free of scriptural concerns and later distorted by a scholastic tradition (the Abhidharma literature) absorbed in defending and interpreting a scriptural canon. As shown by Collett Cox, the history of Buddhism rather appears as that of a religion concerned from the start with interpreting its scriptures8, and abhidharmic scholasticism should be seen as a natural development of the Buddhist tradition rather than as a betrayal of its original spirit9. Now, reason or reasoned argumentation (yukti) does play an important and complex role in abhidharmic literature and early Yogācāra; but in this corpus, it is most often employed in conjunction with āgama, the latter being understood as a proper means of valid knowledge deriving its authority from the āpta status10 of its source, the Buddha, whose truthfulness is guaranteed by his omniscience and compassion11.

  • 12 However, the Madhyamaka tradition still admits āgama among pramāṇas (see Eltschinger [2014, p. 199, (...)
  • 13 Pramāṇavārttika 1.215: pratyakṣeṇānumānena dvividhenāpy abādhanam | dṛṣṭādṛṣṭārthayor asyāvisaṃvāda (...)
  • 14 Svavṛtti: 108: pratyakṣeṇābādhanaṃ pratyakṣābhimatānām arthānāṃ tathābhāvaḥ... atathābhimatānāṃ cāp (...)
  • 15 Svavṛtti: 108: tathānāgamāpekṣānumānaviṣayābhimatānāṃ tathābhāvaḥ. yathā caturṇām āryasatyānām. ana (...)
  • 16 Svavṛtti: 108: āgamāpekṣānumāne’pi yathā rāgādirūpaṃ tatprabhavaṃ cādharmam abhyupagamya tatprahāṇā (...)

6With Dignāga and most of all with Dharmakīrti, the relationship between reason and revelation undergoes a profound metamorphosis. The role of reason is no longer to justify or complement revelation, for āgama is no longer seen as constituting by itself a means of valid knowledge (only perception and inference still enjoy this status)12; and having recourse to the teachings of revelation can be beneficial in some circumstances, but only if these have successfully undergone a prior rational examination. Thus according to Dharmakīrti, a scripture can be deemed reliable only if it withstands a critical examination (parīkṣā) bearing on three essential conditions of validity:13 the āgama can be contradicted neither by perception (so that what it presents as perceptible or imperceptible must indeed be so)14 nor by inference (so that what it presents as inferable or not must indeed be so)15, and it must be devoid of any internal contradiction16. In other words, scripture can be authoritative only if it is not contradicted by reason.

  • 17 That is to say, what escapes the sensory range of ordinary individuals by nature and is not due to (...)
  • 18 Svavṛtti: 108; see Tillemans [2000, p. 78-82], Eltschinger [2007, p. 71] and Krasser [2012, p. 85].
  • 19 Svavṛtti: 108 : nāyaṃ puruṣo’nāśrityāgamaprāmāṇyam āsituṃ samarthaḥ... “The individual [who wishes (...)
  • 20 Svavṛtti: 108: anāntarīyakatvād artheṣu śabdānām.
  • 21 See Pramāṇavārttika 1.213: nāntarīyakatābhāvāc chabdānāṃ vastubhiḥ saha | nārthasiddhis tatas te hi (...)
  • 22 The case of his predecessor Dignāga is more complex, and it is particularly difficult to determine (...)
  • 23 This is why according to Dharmakīrti, Dignāga’s assertion that the Buddha is pramāṇabhūta (a compou (...)

7Admittedly, the Buddhist epistemologists grant āgama a domain of its own, since scripture, contrary to perception and inference, bears on what remains radically inaccessible to the senses (atyantaparokṣa)17, notably the effects of present actions that are beyond the senses (atyakṣaphala)18 insofar as these effects will not occur in this life. This is the reason why, according to Dharmakīrti, whoever wishes to act cannot avoid having recourse to some kind of scriptural authority19. However, not to mention that this amounts to granting reasoning an autonomous power in all empirical matters, Dharmakīrti himself highlights the inevitable gap between this human need to know some truths that cannot be perceived or inferred and the fact that scriptural knowledge is never infallible (anapāya), “because words do not have any necessary connection with [real] things”20 and only provide reliable information on the speaker’s intention21. Elsewhere Dharmakīrti22 explains that for the same reason, scriptural authority cannot be grounded on the speaker’s being an āpta23, and āgama, which is not a means of valid knowledge since it can provide no certainty, is only a stop-gap that we must sometimes adopt for want of a better option:

  • 24 Svavṛtti:167-168: nanu kaścil lokasanniveśādir ayuktiviṣayo’pi sambhāvanīyapuruṣavacanād arthaḥ pra (...)

[– Objection:] But one knows a particular object such as the structure of the universe, although [this object] does not belong to the realm of reasoned argumentation (yukti), thanks to the speech of an authoritative person (sambhāvanīyapuruṣa). – Reply:] No, because [such a person can]not be trusted. For it is not [the case] that [just] because [this person] is not wrong with respect to one [particular thing], everything [(s)he says] must be so; because [we] see that [such persons] are not infallible (vyabhicāra) and because one cannot establish any invariable concomitance (vyāpti) between the [verbal] activity of this [person] and his/her reliability (avisaṃvāda). And [we only] accept the definition of āgama [given above] for want of [another] way (agati), [but] no certainty [can arise] from it. This is also why [we] have said that āgama is not a means of valid knowledge.24

  • 25 This example is given by Dharmakīrti to illustrate the incorrectness of the śeṣavat type of inferen (...)

8One cannot legitimately infer, from the fact that one has tasted a few rice grains in a cooking pot, that all the rice grains in the pot are cooked25, and similarly, although one may check in some circumstances the truthfulness of a person, this does not guarantee in any way that each of his or her statements must be valid.

9There is something fascinating about the radicality of this Dharmakīrtian stance, since, as pointed out by Helmut Krasser, some of his contemporaries – including Buddhist ones – must have deemed it hostile to Buddhism:

  • 26 This is an allusion to the virulent critique of the notion of āpta by the Mīmāṃsaka Kumārila (on th (...)
  • 27 Krasser [2012, p. 84 and 118].

There can be no certainty based on scripture – quite a remarkable position for a Buddhist monk! [...] Dharmakīrti [...] does not proclaim it very loudly – for again, it entails that even the buddhavacana cannot be regarded as a pramāṇa – probably not only because it contradicts the definition of scripture given by Dignāga, but also because it was at odds with the attitude of the Buddhist community. Such a view certainly would not have been favoured by the spiritual authorities [...]. While Dharmakīrti’s courageous reform of Dignāga’s theory of scripture [...] turned out to be quite successful within the framework of his own system, it could very well have pleased Kumārila and other non-Buddhists to see their worst critic giving up the validity of the buddhavacana. [...] And it might well be the case that Bhāviveka was not the only one to accuse Dharmakīrti of not being a good (bhadra) Buddhist by being taken in by Kumārila’s arguments against scripture [...]26. There might have been other Buddhists as well who thought he had thrown the baby out with the bathwater.27

10Why would Dharmakīrti end up defending such a position, if not by virtue of a philosophical aspiration to build his own system independently of any scriptural authority? One might wonder if his attitude is not in some ways comparable to the philosophical revolution that upset the intellectual and religious landscape of Europe from the 17th century onwards: didn’t Dharmakīrti call into question the very foundation of the Buddhist religion, namely the Buddha’s words (buddhavacana), in the name of reason’s autonomy?

  • 28 See for instance the oft-quoted formulation of this idea in Stcherbatsky [1930-32, vol. II, p. 2], (...)
  • 29 See Steinkellner [1982], Krasser [2004] and Eltschinger [2014].
  • 30 See Eltschinger, Krasser & Taber [2012].
  • 31 One could also mention the defense of the Buddhist nairātmya (on the latter see Eltschinger & Ratié (...)
  • 32 On the rational defense of the four Noble Truths in Pramāṇavārttika 2.145-279, see Vetter [1990, p. (...)
  • 33 See Eltschinger [2014].

11As tempting as such a viewpoint might be, it rests on the doubtful (yet long undoubted) presupposition that the Dharmakīrtian tradition, exclusively concerned with logic and epistemology, developed independently of any religious consideration, and that the Buddhist faith of its representatives is but a bizarre accident of history28. Several recent studies have shown, however, that Buddhism was not a purely contingent and extrinsic aspect of the logic and epistemology elaborated by the Dharmakīrtian tradition29. On the contrary, the subordination of scripture to reason by Dharmakīrti can only be fully understood as the expression of a will to ruin the authority of non-Buddhist scriptures (first of all that of the Veda, which the Buddhist philosopher subjects to a scathing critique by relying on the threefold method described above)30 and to defend through reasoned argumentation the doctrinal core of Buddhist scriptures (starting with the four Noble Truths)31 by demonstrating its validity through inference32. Thus, as shown by Vincent Eltschinger33, Buddhist logico-epistemological literature was first and foremost designed as an extraordinarily refined apologetic tool, as a conceptual arsenal meant both to undermine the authority of rival scriptures and to provide Buddhist dogmas with a rational foundation. Seen from this perspective, the spectacular reversal of values performed by Dharmakīrti no longer appears as an attempt to produce a system free of any religious concern, but rather, as the systematic exploitation of reasoned argumentation so as to defend the Buddhist religion.

The case of the Śaivas Utpaladeva and Abhinavagupta: submission of reason or subversion of scriptural authority?

  • 34 Utpaladeva’s Īśvarapratyabhijñākārikā (hereafter ĪPK).
  • 35 That is to say, two commentaries on the ĪPK by Utpaladeva himself (the Vṛtti, a brief explanation, (...)
  • 36 On the nondualist Śaivas’ understanding of āgama see Hanneder [1998], Ratié [2013] and Torella [201 (...)
  • 37 pratyakṣāder api jīvitakalpaḥ (ĪPV, vol. II: 80; cf. ĪPVV, vol. III: 84: pratyakṣāder api jīvitakal (...)
  • 38 See e.g. ĪPVV, vol. III: 95-96: sarvathā tarko’pratiṣṭha eva. tathaiva hi parameśvareṇa sa sṛṣṭaḥ [(...)
  • 39 Readers who might find this idea strikingly opposed to a “Cartesian” approach could be reminded tha (...)

12Among the various positions adopted by Indian thinkers regarding the relationship between reasoned argumentation and scriptural authority, the one defended by Utpaladeva (c. 925-975) and Abhinavagupta (c. 975-1025) in the Pratyabhijñā treatise34 and its commentaries35 is at first sight diametrically opposed to Dharmakīrti’s36. Thus the nondualist Śaivas present āgama as the essence or “as it were the [very] life of perception and [inference]”37 : according to them, pratyakṣa and anumāna are only valid provided that they somehow partake in āgama. This is in keeping with their metaphysical principles, according to which the whole universe is a mere manifestation of Śiva (understood as a single, omnipotent, omniscient and all-encompassing consciousness) to himself. Anything manifest to the senses is therefore nothing but the result of the universal consciousness’ will to manifest itself in that particular form, and even the logical and ontological necessity (niyama, niyati) that is inherent in relations of causality, identity, etc., and that seemingly governs the universe, is nothing but an effect of Śiva’s free will (icchā) or freedom (svātantrya): if Śiva wished fires to occur without smoke, the invariable concomitance (vyāpti) enabling us to infer the existence of a fire from our perception of smoke would immediately be reduced to naught38. So what appears to us as a logical necessity is nothing but an expression of God’s free (and therefore contingent) will39, and Abhinavagupta, while explaining this idea, mocks the arrogance of logicians who claim to understand the universe without relying on the divine revelation, thereby depriving their own thought of any firm ground:

  • 40 ĪPVV, vol. III: 96: tad ayam alabdhagādha eva tarkaḥ śobhate, atra tu svabuddhigarveṇa pratiṣṭhāṃ p (...)

So this reasoning indeed looks good (śobhate), whereas it is entirely deprived of any firm foundation! Rather, he who, out of vanity with respect to his own intellect, sees a foundation (pratiṣṭhā) in this [reasoning], just as [someone who] imagines that the [only] firm ground on the entire globe of the Earth is the courtyard of his house, is either deluded or strikingly resembling an idiot – so enough with this: inference cannot be trusted at all; rather, only āgama [can].40

  • 41 ĪPV, vol. II: 84: tena pratyakṣāgamau bādhakāv anumānasyeti tatrabhavadbhartṛharinyāyabhāṣyakṛtprab (...)
  • 42 Brahmasūtra 2.1.11.

13This attitude is common in Brahmanical circles: Abhinavagupta himself highlights the Śaivas’ solidarity with them by specifying that this conviction is shared with Vātsyāyana/Pakṣilasvāmin and Bhartṛhari,41 but of course, the idea – recurrent in Abhinavagupta’s commentaries – that reasoning (tarka) is by itself devoid of foundation (apratiṣṭha), is also reminiscent of the famous vedāntic theme formulated in the Brahmasūtra as the “lack of foundation of reasoning” (tarkāpratiṣṭhāna)42.

14So at first sight, with respect to scriptural authority the Śaivas adopt an attitude in total opposition to the Buddhists’, and they openly side with the Brahmanical movements according to which āgama is not only a proper means of valid knowledge, but even the pramāṇa par excellence, the genuine foundation on which any other means must rely in order to possess some validity.

15Yet, in this case as well, things are not as simple as they might appear at first; for although Utpaladeva and Abhinavagupta ostensibly proclaim the supremacy of scripture, the approach that they really adopt in their works betrays a very different understanding of the pramāṇas’ respective scopes.

  • 43 ĪPK 4.16; cf. Vṛtti ad loc.: 80 (abhinavo mārgaḥ).
  • 44 One should note, however, that Utpaladeva had at least two important precursors in this respect. On (...)
  • 45 See for instance ĪPV, vol. I: 18: sphuṭatarabhāsamānanīlasukhādipramānveṣaṇādvāreṇaiva pāramārthika (...)

16Thus in his treatise on the “Recognition of the Lord” (īśvarapratyabhijñā), Utpaladeva claims to give each individual an opportunity to recognize him - or herself as Śiva, and this self-recognition is nothing but the ultimate goal of most Indian soteriologies, namely the liberation (mukti, mokṣa) from the cycle of rebirths and existential pain. The method offered by Utpaladeva to reach this end constitutes in his own words a “new path” (mārgo navaḥ)43 – a feature all the more striking since Indian authors are usually little inclined to highlight the novelty of their own works. Utpaladeva’s method is new first and foremost in the sense that contrary to the scriptural and hermeneutic works thus far dominating Śaiva literature44, his treatise claims to offer a means of liberation that does not require any recourse to scripture. Thus according to Utpaladeva and his commentator, the liberating recognition can be triggered merely by inciting the individual to pay attention to his most ordinary experiences,45 and by critically examining all the rival systems (whether Buddhist or Brahmanical) that claim to explain these experiences. Abhinavagupta thus insists on the fundamentally polemical and dialectical dimension of the path mapped out by Utpaladeva:

  • 46 Cf. Bhāskarī, vol. I: 82: iha – asmiñ śāstramārge.
  • 47 ĪPV, vol. I: 51: iha yat paramārtharūpaṃ tad āśaṅkyamānapratipakṣapratikṣepeṇa nirūpayiṣyamāṇaṃ suṣ (...)

In the [soteriological path constituted by this treatise]46, it is the refutation (pratikṣepa) of the rival doctrines [first] considered as possible objections that highlights in the best way the ultimate reality, which is to be expounded [only after this refutation].47

  • 48 See Torella, [2002, xxx] and Torella [2008, p. 517].
  • 49 That is to say, the existence of a permanent conscious substance (ātman) within each individual, bu (...)
  • 50 ĪPK 1.1.2 (on this verse and its commentaries see Torella [2002, p. 85-86] and Ratié [2011, p. 23-2 (...)
  • 51 ĪPK 1.1.3 (see Torella [2002, p. 86-87] and Ratié [2011, p. 28-31]).
  • 52 ĪPV, vol. II: 127 (see Ratié [2013, p. 426, fn. 111]).

17Admittedly, one of the sections of the treatise is entitled “Section on scripture” (āgamādhikāra), but as emphasized by Raffaele Torella48, the aim of the first two sections of the treatise (by far the lengthiest) is to demonstrate all the elements required for triggering recognition49 before the section on āgamas, which only shows a posteriori that the results of reasoned argumentation are not incompatible with the dogmas asserted in the Śaiva scriptures. Utpaladeva also specifies that inference does not have the power to demonstrate the existence or nature of the universal consciousness, since everybody, insofar as (s)he is a conscious individual, is always already experiencing it in the most immediate way50; yet, since any transmigrating individual is distracted from his or her experience to the point that (s)he forgets what (s)he must somehow keep knowing – namely, that (s)he is Śiva himself –, inferences can make him or her pay attention to this own experience51. The treatise (śāstra), which amounts to a vast “inference for others” (parārthānumāna)52, therefore has the power to trigger the liberating insight:

  • 53 ĪPVV, vol. III: 181: so’nenecchādiśaktiprabhāvaprakhyāpakena pūrṇaparārthānumānarūpeṇa vyavahārasād (...)

The [transmigrating subject] is awakened (avabodhyate) thanks to the treatise entitled Pratyabhijñā; [this treatise] makes obvious [the subject’s] sovereignty – [i.e.] his/her powers of will, [knowledge and action] –; it consists in a complete inference for others, [and] it establishes that the use [of the word “Lord” with respect to the transmigrating subject is legitimate].53

  • 54 Admittedly, this power remains conditioned by the will of Śiva, since liberation is seen by the non (...)

18Utpaladeva therefore grants rational inquiry a particularly important status, since according to him it has the power to prompt liberation itself54. But isn’t this “new path” incompatible with the conservative position that Utpaladeva adopts as regards scriptural authority?

19It seems that the nondualist Śaivas did not remain blind to this problem, and that their complex definition of scriptural authority is the outcome of an effort to solve it.

  • 55 On Bhartṛhari’s use of the word “Veda” to designate either a single, subtle form, or the discourses (...)
  • 56 ĪPV, vol. II: 80.
  • 57 On vimarśa and its complex relationship with language in the Pratyabhijñā, see e.g. Torella [2002, (...)
  • 58 ĪPVV, vol. III: 84.
  • 59 ĪPV, vol. II: 80.

20Thus, probably inspired by Bhartṛhari’s twofold use of the word “Veda”55, the Śaivas explain that the term āgama is to be understood in different ways: according to them, in its primary (mukhya) sense, it denotes a “particularly intense insight” (draḍhīyastamavimarśa)56 more immediate than any ordinary discursive thought57, whereas it is only figuratively (upacāreṇa)58 that it can come to designate a speech – literally, a “bunch of words” (śabdarāśi)59 – that more or less adequately expresses this intense, pre-discursive intuition. This distinction matters, because a speech claiming to be revealed is a genuine āgama (i.e. an āgama in the primary sense of the term) only under specific conditions:

  • 60 ĪPV, vol. II: 81-82 : tena hi yac chabdanam utpāditaṃ jyotiṣṭomakāry ahaṃ svargaṃ ganteti dīkṣito’h (...)

For in the speech arising from this [intense insight], such as “I, who am performing [the Brahmanical sacrifice of] the jyotiṣṭoma, will go to heaven”, “I, who am initiated [in the Śaivasiddhānta tradition], will not be born again”, “I, who am compassionate [in accordance with the Buddhist prescriptions], will attain the state of a buddha”, [or] “I, who am bearing intense pains [in accordance with the jaina prescriptions], will attain the state of an arhat” – in [such a speech] no error can arise, because only someone who has faith in it (tadāśvasta) may successfully put into practice [that which is prescribed] in this [scripture], whereas for [anybody] else, because this speech does not consist in an intense understanding, it is not at all a means of valid knowledge [since it] does not have as its essence the kind of insight [just described as what constitutes āgama in the primary sense of the term].60

21Whichever religious tradition a scripture may belong to, it is soteriologically efficacious for whoever believes in its efficacy, but it is only authoritative for those who have faith in it (tadāśvasta), since those who do not acknowledge its scriptural status do not experience upon hearing it the intense realisation or insight that it is supposed to express and that endows a mere “bunch of words” with the status of a means of valid knowledge. And not only does a scripture constitute an āgama in the strong sense of the term only for those who believe in its authority – it also enjoys this status only as long as this belief lasts:

  • 61 ĪPVV, vol. III: 97: yatra tv anyāgamasaṃvalanayā pramātuḥ pūrvam evāham ayuktakāry abhavam iti prat (...)

But when a knowing subject, upon encountering another āgama, starts thinking: “so far I wasn’t acting properly”, [the scripture in which he had faith so far] is no āgama at all.61

  • 62 On this “inclusivistic” device in Indian philosophico-religious literature, and on the fact that th (...)
  • 63 See ĪPV, vol. II: 271: abhinavaḥ – sarvarahasyaśāstrāntargataḥ saṃnigūḍhatvād aprasiddhaḥ. “This ne (...)
  • 64 See e.g. ĪPV, vol. I: 43-44, which sums up the treatise’s main inference in the following way: tad (...)

22The nondualist Śaivas therefore admit both that any scripture can be a means of valid knowledge, and that one may deny any authority to a scripture in which one previously had faith if one realizes the superiority of another scriptural tradition. This double principle helps them justify the assertion that the various scriptures, as more or less adequate expressions of the intense insight that constitutes the essence of āgama, all belong to a complex hierarchical order that culminates in the Śaiva revelation62. But it also enables them to present rational inquiry as an extraordinarily powerful soteriological tool. Admittedly, Utpaladeva’s inferential path merely makes clear what was already contained in the Śaiva scriptures; but for this reason, it is capable of enabling its readers to experience by themselves the very insight (vimarśa) that these revealed texts only formulate in an obscure way63 – namely, that each individual is in fact the Lord (īśvara) described in the Śaiva scriptures and the Purāṇas’ mythological stories64. In other words, rational inquiry has the power to trigger the intense insight on which the authority of any scripture is grounded, and Abhinavagupta specifies that no scriptural knowledge at all is required for the divine recognition to occur:

  • 65 On prasiddhi (a word that can simply mean “common knowledge” but may also designate an insight pres (...)
  • 66 ĪPVV, vol. I: 32: purāṇādisiddhe’pīśvare’naṅgīkriyamāṇe gṛhagrāmamaṇḍaleśvaraprasiddhau tadviṣayāpr (...)

Although the Lord is known through the Purāṇas and so on, even if [someone] does not acknowledge [His existence], since [this person] has [at least] the fundamental knowledge (prasiddhi)65 of the “lord” who is the master of the house, village or kingdom, [(s)he knows that] unlimited [powers of] knowledge and action with respect to these objects constitute the very characteristic of [someone] being a lord; and as regards the nature of the knowing subject, these [powers] are absolutely unlimited with respect to every object.66

23Even the definition of the Lord with whom each individual must identify does not necessarily come from scriptural sources, so that rational inquiry can set free without having recourse to revelation in any way. Furthermore, if the recognition triggered by this rational inquiry is nothing but the insight obscurely expressed in the Śaiva scriptures, this means – although to my knowledge, Utpaladeva and Abhinavagupta carefully avoid to explicitly state this last consequence – that in an inconspicuous yet radical reversal of the subordination between reason and revelation trumpeted by the two Śaiva authors, in the Pratyabhijñā treatise, it is reason that has the power of endowing scripture with authority, since reasoned argumentation can lead by itself to the intense insight that constitutes the very essence of āgama and the arising of which metamorphoses a mere bunch of words into a full-fledged revelation. By distinguishing two senses of the word āgama, the Śaivas thus manage to hold both that āgama (as an insight) is the most powerful means of valid knowledge, and that reasoning can trigger this intuition, so that it can confer on the Śaiva scriptures expressing this intuition the status of pramāṇas.

Conclusion

24The previous pages have briefly described what appears at first sight as two perfectly opposed ways of understanding the relationship between reason and revelation : that of the Buddhist Dharmakīrti, according to whom only perception and inference are means of valid knowledge whereas scripture must be subjected to a critical examination; and that of the Śaivas Utpaladeva and Abhinavagupta, who contend that perception and inference are pramāṇas only insofar as they are grounded in the means of valid knowledge par excellence, namely āgama. It would be a mistake, however, to consider that the Buddhists rejected their own scriptures and enjoyed a philosophical activity free of any religious concern, or that the Śaivas were theologians who only cared about interpreting their scriptures. In fact their respective attitudes have much in common: both sides share a strong will to defend their own scriptures, as well as a firm determination to grant rational inquiry unprecedented power and scope. Indeed, as was noted in the case of Dharmakīrti, thus elevating reasoned argumentation to the rank of an independent soteriological path can still be understood as an apologetic strategy. This is also true of the Śaiva endeavour: by surreptitiously subverting the traditional subordination of reason to revelation, Utpaladeva enables his religious movement – somewhat marginal and isolated in the Kashmir of his time – to compete on the philosophical ground with distinguished traditions such as that of the Buddhist epistemologists. The Pratyabhijñā’s “new path” can therefore be seen as a way of enabling nondual Śaivism to appropriate a part of the immense intellectual prestige of Utpaladeva’s illustrious targets. So it is very unlikely that either Dharmakīrti or Utpaladeva ever intended to open a philosophical field perfectly unconnected with religious considerations. Nonetheless, precisely because of their respective religious agendas (rather than in spite of them), Dharmakīrti and Utpaladeva both ended up justifying the recourse to independent rational inquiry and inventing new philosophical paths. Thus it seems that Medieval India (just as Medieval Europe) did not content itself with elaborating philosophical discourses despite a constant conflict between the necessity of respecting scriptural authority and the aspiration to produce independent rational systems. If scholasticism can be described as a set of discourses primarily aimed at conciliating the weight of tradition (particularly scriptural) with the recourse to rationally autonomous methods, it appears that scholasticism, in India as in Europe, was not only characterized by a conflicting relationship between scriptural authority and reasoned argumentation, but also, and more importantly, by an acute awareness of this conflict, and by a remarkable creativity in the various conceptual attempts to appease this tension.

Haut de page

Bibliographie

Sanskrit texts

[Bhāskarī] Īśvarapratyabhijñāvimarśinī of Abhinavagupta, Doctrine of Divine Recognition, vol. I & II: Sanskrit text with the commentary Bhāskarī, K.A.S. Iyer & K.C. Pandey eds. [Allahabad: [1938], Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1986.

Brahmasūtra, Śaṅkarabhāṣya, with the commentaries Bhāmatī, Kalpataru and Parimala, K.L. Joshi ed. 2 vols., Delhi: Parimal Publications (third ed.), 1996.

[ĪPK = Īśvarapratyabhijñākārikā] See Torella 2002.

[ĪPV] Īśvarapratyabhijñāvimarśinī, M.R. Shāstrī/M.K. Shāstrī eds. 2 vols., Srinagar: Nirnaya Sagar Press, Kashmir Series of Texts and Studies 22 & 33, 1918-1921.

[ĪPVV] Īśvarapratyabhijñāvivṛtivimarśinī by Abhinavagupta, M.K. Shāstrī ed. 3 vols., Bombay: Nirnaya Sagar Press, Kashmir Series of Texts and Studies 60, 62 and 65, 1938-1943.

[Nyāyabhāṣya] Gautamīyanyāyadarśana with Bhāṣya of Vātsyāyana, A. Thakur ed. New Delhi: Indian Council of Philosophical Research, Nyāyacaturgranthikā 1, 1997.

[Nyāyasūtra] See Nyāyabhāṣya.

[Pramāṇavārttika 1] The Pramāṇavārttikam of Dharmakīrti. The First Chapter with the Autocommentary, R. Gnoli ed. Rome: Istituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente, Serie Orientale Roma 23, 1960.

[Pramāṇavārttika 2, in] “Pramāṇavārttika-kārikā (Sanskrit and Tibetan)”, Y. Miyasaka ed. Acta Indologica 2, p. 1-206, 1971-1972.

[Svavṛtti] See Pramāṇavārttika 1.

[Vṛtti = Īśvarapratyabhijñāvṛtti] See Torella [2002].

Studies and translations

Ashok Aklujkar, “Bhartṛhari’s Concept of the Veda”, in J. Bronkhorst & M. M. Deshpande (eds.), Panels of the VIIth World Sanskrit Conference, Vols. IV and V, Leiden, Brill, 1991, p. 1-18.

Ashok Aklujkar, “Veda revelation according to Bhartṛhari”, in M. Chaturvedi (ed.), Bhartṛhari. Language, Thought and Reality (Proceedings of the International Seminar, Delhi, December 12-14, 2003), New Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass, 2009, p. 1-97.

Johannes Bronkhorst, “The Peacock’s Egg: Bhartṛhari on Language and Reality”, Philosophy East and West 51, 4 (2001), p. 474-491.

George Chemparathy, L’Autorité du Veda selon les Nyāya-Vaiśeṣikas, Louvain-la-Neuve, Centre d’Histoire des Religions, 1983.

Collett Cox, “The Unbroken Treatise: Scripture and Argument in Early Buddhist Scholasticism”, in M.A. Williams, C. Cox & M. Jaffe (eds.), Innovation in Religious Traditions. Essays in the interpretation of religious change, Berlin, Mouton de Gruyter, 1992, p. 143-189.

Collett Cox, Disputed Dharmas: Early Buddhist Theories of Existence. An Annotated Translation of the Section on Factors Dissociated from Thought from Saṅghabhadra’s Nyāyānusāra, Tokyo, The International Institute for Buddhist Studies, 1995.

René Descartes, Œuvres philosophiques (1618-50), F. Alquié (ed.), 2 vols., Paris, Garnier Frères, 1963.

K.L. Dhammajoti, “Logic in the Abhidharma-mahāvibhāṣā”, Journal of Buddhist Studies (Columbo) 2 (2004), p. 1-11.

Francis X. D’Sa, Śabdaprāmāṇyam in Śabara and Kumārila. Towards a Study of the Mīmāṃsā Experience of Language, Vienna, De Nobili Research Library, 1980.

Paul Dundas, History, Scripture and Controversy in a Medieval Jain Sect, London/New-York, Routledge, 2007.

Vincent Eltschinger, Penser l’autorité des Écritures. La polémique de Dharmakīrti contre la notion brahmanique orthodoxe d’un Veda sans auteur, Vienna, Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2007.

Vincent Eltschinger, Buddhist Epistemology as Apologetics. Studies on the History, Self-understanding and Dogmatic Foundations of Late Indian Buddhist Philosophy, Vienna, Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2014.

Vincent Eltschinger & Helmut Krasser, Scriptural Authority, Reason and Action. Pro­cee­dings of a Panel at the 14th World Sanskrit Conference (Kyoto, Sep­tember 1st-5th 2009), Vienna, Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2013.

Vincent Eltschinger, Helmut Krasser & John Taber, Can the Veda Speak? Dharmakīrti against Mīmāṃsā exegetics and Vedic authority, Vienna, Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2012.

Vincent Eltschinger & Isabelle Ratié, Self, No-Self, and Salvation. Dharmakīrti’s Critique of the Notions of Self and Person, Vienna, Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2013.

Paul Hacker, “Religiöse Toleranz und Intoleranz im Hinduismus”, Saeculum 8 (1957), 167-179. Repr. in L. Schmithausen (ed.), Paul Hacker. Kleine Schriften, Wiesbaden, Franz Steiner, p. 376-388.

Wilhelm Halbfass, India and Europe. An Essay in Understanding, Albany, SUNY Press, 1998.

Jürgen Hanneder, Abhinavagupta’s Philosophy of Revelation. Mālinīślokavārttika I, 1-399, Groningen, Egbert Forsten, 1998.

Jan E.M. Houben, “Bhartṛhari’s Perspectivism (1): The Vṛtti and Bhartṛhari’s Perspectivism in the First kāṇḍa of the Vākyapadīya”, Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities 59 (1997), p. 317-358.

Jean Jolivet, “Scolastique”, in Encyclopædia Universalis, vol. XIV, Paris, Encyclopædia Universalis France, 1972, p. 774-775.

Birgit Kellner, “First logic, then the Buddha? The controversy about the chapter sequence of Dharmakīrti’s Pramāṇavārttika and the soteriological relevance of inference”, Hōrin 11 (2004), p. 147-167.

Helmut Krasser, “On Dharmakīrti’s Understanding of pramāṇabhūta and His Definition of pramāṇa”, Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde Südasiens 45 (2001), p. 173-199.

Helmut Krasser, “Are Buddhist Pramāṇavādins non-Buddhistic? Dignāga and Dharmakīrti on the Impact of Logic and Epistemology on Emancipation”, Hōrin 11 (2004), p. 129-146.

Helmut Krasser, “Logic in a Religious Context: Dharmakīrti in Defence of āgama”, in Eltschinger, Krasser & Taber 2012, p. 83-118.

Shinya Moriyama, “On the Role of abhyupagama in Dharmakīrti’s Scripturally Based Inference”, in Eltschinger & Krasser 2013 (eds.), p. 183-207.

Karin Preisendanz, “Debate and Independent Reasoning vs. Tradition: on the Precarious Position of Early Nyāya”, in R. Tsuchida & A. Wezler (eds.), Harānandalaharī. Volume in Honour of Professor Minoru Hara on his Seventieth Birthday, Reinbek, 2000, p. 221-251.

Isabelle Ratié, Le Soi et l’Autre. Identité, différence et altérité dans la philosophie de la Pratyabhijñā, Leiden/Boston, Brill, 2011.

Isabelle Ratié, “On Reason and Scripture in the Pratyabhijñā”, in Eltschinger & Krasser 2013 (eds.), p. 375-454.

Isabelle Ratié, “Utpaladeva’s Proof of God: on the Purpose of the Īśvarasiddhi”, in B. Bäumer & R. Torella (eds.), Utpaladeva, Philosopher of Recognition, Delhi, DK Printworld, 2015, p. 254-337.

David Seyfort Ruegg, “Pramāṇabhūta, *pramāṇa(bhūta)-puruṣa, pratyakṣadharman and sākṣātkṛta­dharman as Epithets of the ṛṣi, ācārya and tathāgata in Grammatical, Epistemological and Madhyamaka Texts”, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 57 (1994), p. 303-320.

Theodore I. Stcherbatsky, Buddhist Logic (1930-1932), 2 vols., New Delhi, Munshiram Manoharlal, 1986.

Ernst Steinkellner, “The Spiritual Place of the Epistemological Tradition in Buddhism”, Nanto Bukkyo 49 (1982), p. 1-15.

Tom Tillemans, “Dharmakīrti, Āryadeva and Dharmapāla on Scriptural Authority”, Tetsugaku 38 (1986), p. 31-47.

Tom Tillemans, “How Much of a Proof is Scripturally Based Inference (āgamāśritānumāna)?”, in S. Katsura (ed.), Dharmakīrti’s Thought and Its Impact on Indian and Tibetan Philosophy, Vienna, Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1999, p. 395-404.

Tom Tillemans, Dharmakīrti’s Pramāṇavārttika. An annotated translation of the fourth chapter (parārthānumāna). Volume 1 (k. 1-148), Vienna, Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2000.

Raffaele Torella, Īśvarapratyabhijñākārikā of Utpaladeva with the Author’s Vṛtti, critical edition and annotated translation (1994), Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass, 2002.

Raffaele Torella, “From an Adversary to the Main Ally: the Place of Bhartṛhari in the Kashmirian Shaiva Advaita”, in M. Kaul & A. Aklujkar (eds.), The Grammatical Traditions of Kashmir: Essays in Memory of Pandit Dinanath Yaksh, Delhi, DK Printworld, 2008, p. 508-524.

Raffaele Torella, Inherited cognitions: prasiddhi, āgama, pratibhā, śabdana – Bhartṛhari, Utpaladeva, Abhinavagupta, Kumārila and Dharmakīrti in dialogue”, in Eltschinger & Krasser 2013 (eds.), p. 455-480.

Vittorio A. van Bijlert, Epistemology and Spiritual Authority. The Development of Epistemology and Logic in the Old Nyāya and the Buddhist School of Epistemology, with an Annotated Translation of Dharmakīrti’s Pramāṇavārttika II (Pramāṇasiddhi) vv. 1-7, Vienna, Arbeitskreis für tibetische und buddhistische Studien Universität Wien, 1989.

Tilmann Vetter, Der Buddha und seine Lehre in Dharmakīrti’s Pramāṇavārttika. Der Abschnitt über die vier edlen Wahrheiten im Pramāṇasiddhi-Kapitel, Vienna, Arbeitskreis für tibetische und buddhistische Studien Universität Wien, 1990.

Albrecht Wezler, “Zur Proklamation religiös-weltanschaulicher Toleranz bei dem indischen Philosophen Jayantabhaṭṭa”, Saeculum 27 (1976), p. 329-347.

Hideomi Yaita, “Dharmakīrti on the Authority of Buddhist Scriptures (āgama) – an Annotated Translation of the Pramāṇavārttikasvavṛtti”, Nanto Bukkyo 58 (1987), p. 1-17.

Haut de page

Notes

1 See e.g. Jolivet [1972, p. 775] on this “aspect capital de la scolastique”.

2 The Sanskrit term does not necessarily designate a written text, and rather brings to mind the mere notion of a discourse that has « come down » to us (āgata) through tradition, hence translations such as “traditional knowledge” [Houben 1997, p. 322] or “tradition” [Bronkhorst 2001, p. 484]. Nonetheless, given that the texts mentioned below use the word in the narrower sense of a speech that is authoritative on principle insofar as it belongs to a form of revelation, it seems to me that translations such as “scripture” and “revealed speech”, however unsatisfactory, are to be preferred in this context.

3 To give but one example of a major divergence, according to some of these movements, scriptural authority comes from the fact that a discourse was uttered in the first place by an authoritative person (āpta) whose word cannot be doubted due to his/her divine status or eminent wisdom (the notion is found in Buddhism but also in various Brahmanical and pseudo-Brahmanical currents such as Nyāya, Vaiśeṣika or Sāṅkhya). In contrast, however, the Mīmāṃsakas’ orthodox Brahmanical movement or the tradition of the grammarian-philosopher Bhartṛhari consider that the authority of the Veda rather comes from its authorlessness, the Vedic speech being conceived of as eternal and uncreated.

4 Thus according to Nyāyabhāṣya: 3 (on Nyāyasūtra), inference “rests on perception and scripture” (pratyakṣāgamāśrita) and an inference “contradicted by perception or scripture” is only a pseudo-reasoning (nyāyābhāsa): rational inquiry must agree with scriptural statements in order to be valid.

5 On this tension in the Nyāya, see Preisendanz [2000].

6 There are, however, a number of studies devoted to the definition of scriptural authority in this or that Indian current of thought. Apart from the works on scriptural authority in Buddhism and Śaivism that are mentioned below (fn. 7 and36), mention should be made in particular of D’Sa [1980], Chemparathy [1983], van Bijlert [1989], Aklujkar [1991] and [2009], Dundas [2007], and Eltschinger & Krasser (eds.) [2013].

7 See in particular Tillemans [1986], Yaita [1987], Seyfort Ruegg [1994], Tillemans [1999], Kellner [2004], Eltschinger [2007], Krasser [2012] and Eltschinger [2014].

8 See e.g. Cox [1992, p. 146-147]: “Those who understand Buddhism as an essentialistic unfolding of a universalistic ethic or philosophical realization also would assume or even attempt to reconstruct an “original Buddhism” prior to its constitution as a scriptural tradition [...]. The elaboration of Buddhism in ever more complex scriptures would then be seen to be [...], at worst, a deformation of the essence of the religion by scholastic professionals [...]. A corrective to this essentialistic view [...] is provided by a view that focuses on Buddhism as a scriptural tradition in a continual historical process of transforming self-interpretation.”

9 See ibid., p. 147: “The early scholastic period, concomitant with the increasing closure of the canon and the emergence of self-conscious techniques of exegesis and argumentation, is often singled out in the essentialistic view as the period of greatest deformation. And yet, this early scholastic period can better be understood not as a rupture, but as a progression consistent with the intrinsic pattern of Indian scriptural development. This scholastic period in Buddhism begins in the first centuries B.C.E. with the appearance of the Abhidharma, or independent exegetical treatises on the teaching of the Buddha. It continues with the proliferation of differing doctrinal viewpoints and the emergence of sectarian self-consciousness, and concludes with the culmination of this scholastic Abhidharma endeavor in the 5th century C.E.”

10 See above, fn. 3.

11 On the role allotted to yukti and āgama and on the notion of āptāgama in abhidharmic literature, see Cox [1992, p. 160 et 170-173; 1995, p. 14-15], Dhammajoti [2004] and Eltschinger [2014, p. 196-201].

12 However, the Madhyamaka tradition still admits āgama among pramāṇas (see Eltschinger [2014, p. 199, fn. 25]).

13 Pramāṇavārttika 1.215: pratyakṣeṇānumānena dvividhenāpy abādhanam | dṛṣṭādṛṣṭārthayor asyāvisaṃvādas tadarthayoḥ || “The reliability of this [treatise claiming scriptural authority] with respect to perceptible as well as imperceptible objects consists in the fact that neither direct perception nor the two kinds of inference invalidate these objects [as they are described in the treatise].” On this verse and Dharmakīrti’s own explanation of it in Svavṛtti: 108, see Yaita [1987, p. 7-8, Eltschinger [2007, p. 221-223], Moriyama [2013] and Eltschinger [2014, p. 211-213]. The translations of Svavṛtti: 108-109 given here are borrowed from, or at least greatly indebted to, Eltschinger [2007; 2014].

14 Svavṛtti: 108: pratyakṣeṇābādhanaṃ pratyakṣābhimatānām arthānāṃ tathābhāvaḥ... atathābhimatānāṃ cāpratyakṣatā. “[The treatise under examination] is not invalidated by perception if the objects that [it] considers as perceptible [turn out to] be so [...] and if the [objects] that [it] does not consider as being so [turn out to] be imperceptible.”

15 Svavṛtti: 108: tathānāgamāpekṣānumānaviṣayābhimatānāṃ tathābhāvaḥ. yathā caturṇām āryasatyānām. ananumeyānāṃ tathābhāvaḥ. yathātmādīnām. “In the same way, [the treatise under examination is not invalidated by inference] if the [objects] that [it] considers as pertaining to the realm of the [kind of] inference that does not depend on an āgama [turn out] to be so – for example the four Noble Truths – and if [the objects that it presents as] impossible to infer [turn out] to be so – for example the Self (ātman) and other [entities that cannot be proved to exist through inference].” On the type of inference that depends on āgama see next fn.

16 Svavṛtti: 108: āgamāpekṣānumāne’pi yathā rāgādirūpaṃ tatprabhavaṃ cādharmam abhyupagamya tatprahāṇāya snānāgnihotrāder anupadeśaḥ. “The same [goes] for an inference that depends on āgama (āgamāpekṣānumāna) [and consists in spotting internal contradictions in a treatise]; for instance, if [a treatise] admits that demerit (adharma) consists in e.g. concupiscence and [the acts] resulting from it, [it can]not teach that ablutions, an oblation to fire, etc. can succeed in eliminating this [demerit, since neither ablutions nor oblations to fire can eliminate concupiscence and the acts resulting from it].” The āgamāpekṣānumāna rests on āgama insofar as it deals with objects that are not accessible through perception or ordinary inference. Nonetheless, contrary to what the literal meaning of the compound might lead to believe, it seems that its purpose is not to demonstrate the existence of these objects by relying on scriptural authority: it rather relies on various scriptural statements to detect contradictions in them (its function therefore appears to consist in establishing the invalidity of a scripture). On this inference (which has been interpreted in very different ways), see Tillemans [1999], Eltschinger [2007, p. 105-109], Krasser [2012, p. 111-113] and Moriyama [2013].

17 That is to say, what escapes the sensory range of ordinary individuals by nature and is not due to some particular circumstance, since inference has the power to establish the existence of realities that are only contingently beyond senses (parokṣa). See e.g. Tillemans [2000, p. 78-79].

18 Svavṛtti: 108; see Tillemans [2000, p. 78-82], Eltschinger [2007, p. 71] and Krasser [2012, p. 85].

19 Svavṛtti: 108 : nāyaṃ puruṣo’nāśrityāgamaprāmāṇyam āsituṃ samarthaḥ... “The individual [who wishes to act] cannot live without having recourse to the authority of a scripture.”

20 Svavṛtti: 108: anāntarīyakatvād artheṣu śabdānām.

21 See Pramāṇavārttika 1.213: nāntarīyakatābhāvāc chabdānāṃ vastubhiḥ saha | nārthasiddhis tatas te hi vaktrabhiprāyasūcakāḥ || “Since words do not have any necessary connection with [real] things, no [external] object can be established through them, for [words only] indicate the speaker’s intention.”

22 The case of his predecessor Dignāga is more complex, and it is particularly difficult to determine the exact meaning in Dignāga’s work of the statement according to which āgama is a kind of inference (Pramāṇasamuccaya 2.5ab): see Eltschinger [2007, p. 69-70].

23 This is why according to Dharmakīrti, Dignāga’s assertion that the Buddha is pramāṇabhūta (a compound that one might at first sight read as meaning “that consists in/has become a means of valid knowledge”) should be understood as a mere metaphor. On the meaning of pramāṇabhūta according to Dharmakīrti and his commentators see e.g. Seyfort Ruegg [1994], Krasser [2001] and [2012, p. 105].

24 Svavṛtti:167-168: nanu kaścil lokasanniveśādir ayuktiviṣayo’pi sambhāvanīyapuruṣavacanād arthaḥ pratipadyate. na, apratyayāt. na hi kvacid askhalita iti sarvaṃ tathā, vyabhicāradarśanāt, tatpravṛtter avisaṃvādena vyāptyasiddheś ca. agatyā cedam āgamalakṣaṇam iṣṭam. nāto niścayaḥ. tan na pramāṇam āgama ity apy uktam. On this famous passage see e.g. Tillemans [1999, p. 400], Eltschinger [2007, p. 75] and Krasser [2012, p. 104].

25 This example is given by Dharmakīrti to illustrate the incorrectness of the śeṣavat type of inference defended in particular in the Nyāya (see Svavṛtti on Pramāṇavārttika 1.331: 173 and Eltschinger, Krasser & Taber [2012, p. 63]).

26 This is an allusion to the virulent critique of the notion of āpta by the Mīmāṃsaka Kumārila (on this critique see e.g. Eltschinger [2014, p. 208-210]).

27 Krasser [2012, p. 84 and 118].

28 See for instance the oft-quoted formulation of this idea in Stcherbatsky [1930-32, vol. II, p. 2], with respect to Buddhist logic: in the intention of its promoters the system had apparently no special connection with Buddhism as a religion, i.e., as the teaching of a path towards Salvation.”

29 See Steinkellner [1982], Krasser [2004] and Eltschinger [2014].

30 See Eltschinger, Krasser & Taber [2012].

31 One could also mention the defense of the Buddhist nairātmya (on the latter see Eltschinger & Ratié [2013]).

32 On the rational defense of the four Noble Truths in Pramāṇavārttika 2.145-279, see Vetter [1990, p. 52-168]. Cf. above, fn. 15, for Dharmakīrti’s statement that the four Noble Truths belong to the realm of inference.

33 See Eltschinger [2014].

34 Utpaladeva’s Īśvarapratyabhijñākārikā (hereafter ĪPK).

35 That is to say, two commentaries on the ĪPK by Utpaladeva himself (the Vṛtti, a brief explanation, and the longer Vivṛti, of which only fragments are known to date) and two commentaries by Abhinavagupta (the Īśvarapratyabhijñāvimarśinī, hereafter ĪPV, and the monumental Īśvarapraty­abhi­jñā­vivṛti­vimarśinī, hereafter ĪPVV).

36 On the nondualist Śaivas’ understanding of āgama see Hanneder [1998], Ratié [2013] and Torella [2013].

37 pratyakṣāder api jīvitakalpaḥ (ĪPV, vol. II: 80; cf. ĪPVV, vol. III: 84: pratyakṣāder api jīvitakalpaṃ).

38 See e.g. ĪPVV, vol. III: 95-96: sarvathā tarko’pratiṣṭha eva. tathaiva hi parameśvareṇa sa sṛṣṭaḥ [...] apratiṣṭhatve’pi tu tarkasya nāsmaddarśanasya khaṇḍanā kācit. ābhāsamānavastuvāde hi parameśvarecchayāyam ābhāsaniyamaḥ. “Reasoning (tarka) is entirely devoid of foundation (apratiṣṭha); for it is created by the Highest Lord exactly as [the rest of the universe] [...]. But although [we consider that] reasoning is devoid of foundation, this implies no contradiction for our system; for in [our] doctrine according to which reality is [what] is manifest, the necessity (niyama) [that links the various] phenomena is due to the [free] will of the Highest Lord.” For an analysis and translation of the entire passage see Ratié [2013, p. 393-400].

39 Readers who might find this idea strikingly opposed to a “Cartesian” approach could be reminded that Descartes actually defended a rather similar thesis, that of the “création des vérités mathématiques”, according to which God establishes the mathematical truths that seem necessary to us as a result of his free will, “as a king establishes laws in his kingdom” (“ainsi qu’un roi établit des lois en son royaume” [Lettre au père Mersenne, 15/04/1630, in Descartes 1618-50, vol. I, p. 259-260]), so that from God’s point of view, even mathematical necessity remains contingent.

40 ĪPVV, vol. III: 96: tad ayam alabdhagādha eva tarkaḥ śobhate, atra tu svabuddhigarveṇa pratiṣṭhāṃ paśyan svagṛhaprāṅgaṇamadhyakalpitaniḥśeṣabhūgolakamadhyadhruvakasthānavan mūḍho vā ḍimbaviḍambako vety āstām. sarvathānumāne nāśvasitavyam api tv āgama eva.

41 ĪPV, vol. II: 84: tena pratyakṣāgamau bādhakāv anumānasyeti tatrabhavadbhartṛharinyāyabhāṣyakṛtprabhṛtayaḥ. “This is why the master Bhartṛhari, the author of the Nyāyabhāṣya and [others assert] that perception and āgama [have the power to] invalidate inference.” On the influence on the Śaivas of passages in Bhartṛhari’s Vākyapadīya stating the superiority of āgama on inference, see Ratié [2013, p. 402-405]. For other Śaiva borrowings from Bhartṛhari regarding the definition of āgama, see Torella, [2013], and on Utpaladeva’s overall debt towards the grammarian-philosopher, see Torella [2008].

42 Brahmasūtra 2.1.11.

43 ĪPK 4.16; cf. Vṛtti ad loc.: 80 (abhinavo mārgaḥ).

44 One should note, however, that Utpaladeva had at least two important precursors in this respect. One of them, Sadyojyotis (c. 675-725?), was the first Śaiva author to compose independent treatises that have come down to us (rather than āgamas or commentaries thereon), and his influence on Utpaladeva was profound (see Ratié [2015]) even though Utpaladeva avoids highlighting this debt (probably because Sadyojyotis belonged to the rival dualist current of the Śaivasiddhānta). The other, Somānanda, has authored the Śivadṛṣṭi, of which the Pratyabhijñā treatise is supposedly a mere “reflection” (pratibimbaka, ĪPV, vol. I: 7); however, as emphasized by R. Torella, Utpaladeva’s work differs quite strikingly, in its method as well as in the choice of its opponents, from Somānanda’s (see Torella [2002, p. xxii-xxxvi] and Torella [2008]).

45 See for instance ĪPV, vol. I: 18: sphuṭatarabhāsamānanīlasukhādipramānveṣaṇādvāreṇaiva pāramārthikapramātṛlābha ihopadiśyate. “What is taught in this [treatise] is [how] to attain the ultimately real subject merely through an examination (anveṣaṇā) of the knowledges [resulting from cognitive acts], such as ‘blue’, ‘pleasure’, etc., which are manifest in the most obvious way [in each of us].”

46 Cf. Bhāskarī, vol. I: 82: iha – asmiñ śāstramārge.

47 ĪPV, vol. I: 51: iha yat paramārtharūpaṃ tad āśaṅkyamānapratipakṣapratikṣepeṇa nirūpayiṣyamāṇaṃ suṣṭhutamāṃ spaṣṭīkṛtaṃ bhavati.

48 See Torella, [2002, xxx] and Torella [2008, p. 517].

49 That is to say, the existence of a permanent conscious substance (ātman) within each individual, but also the fact that this ātman is possessed of infinite powers of knowledge and action.

50 ĪPK 1.1.2 (on this verse and its commentaries see Torella [2002, p. 85-86] and Ratié [2011, p. 23-28]).

51 ĪPK 1.1.3 (see Torella [2002, p. 86-87] and Ratié [2011, p. 28-31]).

52 ĪPV, vol. II: 127 (see Ratié [2013, p. 426, fn. 111]).

53 ĪPVV, vol. III: 181: so’nenecchādiśaktiprabhāvaprakhyāpakena pūrṇaparārthānumānarūpeṇa vyavahārasādhanena pratyabhijñākhyena śāstreṇāvabodhyate. On the soteriological power of inferential discourse and on the svabhāvahetu type of inference in which the treatise consists according to Utpaladeva, see Ratié [2011, p. 726-739] and Ratié [2013, p. 425-438].

54 Admittedly, this power remains conditioned by the will of Śiva, since liberation is seen by the nondualist Śaivas as a divine grace (anugraha). Nonetheless, the grace in question is not that of a God distinct from the individual, but the free will of the individual himself who chooses to ignore his divine identity or to acknowledge it (see Ratié [2011, p. 565-570 and p. 738-739]).

55 On Bhartṛhari’s use of the word “Veda” to designate either a single, subtle form, or the discourses expressing this form, see Aklujkar [1991, p. 5 and 14, fn. 33], and Aklujkar [2009, p. 54-55].

56 ĪPV, vol. II: 80.

57 On vimarśa and its complex relationship with language in the Pratyabhijñā, see e.g. Torella [2002, xxiv-xxv] and Ratié [2011, p. 158-167 and 495-525].

58 ĪPVV, vol. III: 84.

59 ĪPV, vol. II: 80.

60 ĪPV, vol. II: 81-82 : tena hi yac chabdanam utpāditaṃ jyotiṣṭomakāry ahaṃ svargaṃ ganteti dīkṣito’ham apunarāvṛttibhāgīti, kāruṇiko’haṃ buddhapadaṃ ganteti, gāḍhakleśasahiṣṇur aham arhatpadaṃ prapatteti, tatra na viparyaya udeti, tadāśvastasyaiva tatrānuṣṭhānayogyatvāt, anyasya tu dṛḍhapratipattirūpatvābhāvād apramāṇam eva tathāvimarśānātmakaṃ* śabdanam. [*tathāvimarśānātmakaṃ conj.: tathāvimarśanātmakaṃ ĪPV.]

61 ĪPVV, vol. III: 97: yatra tv anyāgamasaṃvalanayā pramātuḥ pūrvam evāham ayuktakāry abhavam iti pratyayo jāyate, tatra nāgamatvam eva.

62 On this “inclusivistic” device in Indian philosophico-religious literature, and on the fact that the “tolerance” professed in such cases usually goes together with an effort to annex and subordinate rival religious movements, see Hacker [1957], Wezler [1976] and Halbfass [1988, p. 403-418]. On such maneuvers in Śaiva literature and the scriptural hierarchy envisioned by the nondualist Śaivas, see Hanneder [1998, chapter 1] and Ratié [2013, p. 415-419].

63 See ĪPV, vol. II: 271: abhinavaḥ – sarvarahasyaśāstrāntargataḥ saṃnigūḍhatvād aprasiddhaḥ. “This new [path, i.e. this path] that was [already] contained in all the [Śaiva] esoteric treatises (rahasyaśāstra) but was not well known (aprasiddha), because [so far] it was hidden [in them]...” As already noted in Ratié, [2013, 436, fn. 132], Utpaladeva himself seems to have developed this idea in his lost Vivṛti, as shown by the fragmentary quote in ĪPVV, vol. III: 401: aspaṣṭatvād iti..., “because it was not obvious...”, and Abhinavagupta’s commentary, in particular the following: yad api rahasyāgameṣu nirūpitaṃ tathā vispaṣṭatvena noktaṃ garbhīkṛtya tu nirūpitam... “This too, which had been explained in the esoteric scriptures (rahasyāgama) – [i.e.] which had not been expounded thus in an explicit way, but the explanation of which was contained in embryonic form [in these esoteric scriptures]...”

64 See e.g. ĪPV, vol. I: 43-44, which sums up the treatise’s main inference in the following way: tad ayaṃ pramātā jñānakriyāśaktiyogād īśvara iti vyavahartavyaḥ purāṇāgamādiprasiddheśvaravat. “So one must use [the word] ‘Lord’ with respect to the knowing subject, because [this knowing subject] possesses the powers of knowledge and action, just as the Lord who is well known through the Purāṇas, āgamas and so on.”

65 On prasiddhi (a word that can simply mean “common knowledge” but may also designate an insight present in perception and inference and constituting the core of āgama as a pramāṇa) see Torella [2013].

66 ĪPVV, vol. I: 32: purāṇādisiddhe’pīśvare’naṅgīkriyamāṇe gṛhagrāmamaṇḍaleśvaraprasiddhau tadviṣayāpratihatajñānakaraṇa evaiśvaryasya lakṣaṇam, te ca pramātṛtattve sarvaviṣaye’pratihata eveti.

Haut de page

Pour citer cet article

Référence électronique

Isabelle Ratié, « Scholasticism and Philosophy: on the Relationship between Reason and Revelation in India », ThéoRèmes [En ligne], 11 | 2017, mis en ligne le 25 septembre 2017, consulté le 20 octobre 2017. URL : http://theoremes.revues.org/1166

Haut de page

Auteur

Isabelle Ratié

Sorbonne Nouvelle University, Paris 3

Haut de page

Droits d’auteur

Licence Creative Commons
ThéoRèmes – Enjeux des approches empiriques des religions est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

Haut de page