Language and Reality: a Wittgensteinian Reading of Bhartrhari

Kali Charan Pandey


This paper is an attempt to deconstruct Bhartrhari’s thoughts on language and
reality in a Wittgensteinian framework. The issues which have been raised are:
(1) One to one relationship between language and reality, (2) Use, context, and
language-games, and (3) The Inexpressible and privacy of language. The analysis
of the first issue shows that Bhartrhari’s thought, in which language can be
explained as an enlightened lamp, is almost like picture theory. Next, like
Wittgenstein, Bhartrhari also talks about ‘usage’ and ‘context’ of an expression
as determinant factors of meaning. Finally, it has been shown as to how like the
realm of ‘showable’, Bhartrhari’s transcendental reality (Shabdadvaita) is
beyond any expression and how Bhartrhari supports Wittgenstein in his rejection
of private language even though Wittgenstein denies any role of ‘a flash of
insight’ in determination of meaning of an expression.


philosophy; 20th century philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; language game; Ltikartavyata; Pratibha; Pashyanti; Madhyama; Vaikhari; primary meaning; secondary meaning

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