Two Truths Theory: What is vyavahāra? Language as a Pointer to the Truth



Mādhyamikas argue that ultimate reality, which is without any delimitation and hence cannot be verbalized in itself (anakṣara), can be expressed in words on the basis of the attribution or superimposition (samāropa) of the basis for the application of the word (pravṛttinimitta). The denotation theory of ultimate reality Bhartṛhari advances in the Dravyasamuddeśa of his Vākyapadīya convincingly explains that, insofar as ultimate reality is spoken of, we must say that it is denoted by the word; ultimate reality is said to be ineffable only in the sense that it is far from what is conveyed as something by the word; language is a pointer to the ultimate reality. The point that the application of a word to ultimate reality depends on the attribution of the basis for the application of the word to it naturally leads to an idea that one should not hypostatize the basis, although without resorting to it any word cannot be used to convey the ultimate reality; otherwise, it would have to be said that the ultimate reality to which the word is applied has in essence the property which serves as the basis. Such a property is precisely what the Mādhyamikas consider to be the svabhāva ‘intrinsic nature’. What they understand by the term śūnyatā is precisely that everything has no real basis for the application of the word to it.


Mādhyamika (Mādhyamaka) Bhartṛhari Ineffability Verbalization Superimposition 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Indian Philosophy, Graduate School of LettersHiroshima UniversityHigashi-HiroshimaJapan

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