Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




J. G. Arapura


G. P. Grant


The aim of this study was to clearly describe the Sphota theory of language showing both its logical consistency and its psychological basis in experience. In Part One the philosophical task of describing the Sphota theory in a reasonable and logically consistent manner was undertaken. Chapter Two established the ground for this philosophical analysis by presenting a conceptual survey of Indian thought regarding language and revelation, so as to make clear the metaphysical background against and out of which the Sphota theory of language as revelation developed. The Third Chapter carried out the actual philosophical task, namely, a description of the logical consistency of the Sphota theory itself. In Part Two of the study a psychological interpretation was offered showing how, according to traditional Indian Yoga, the Sphota view of language (as logically conceived) is practically possible. The psychological interpretation was developed in two steps. In Chapter Four, attention was focused on the psychological processes that take place within the mind of the speaker showing how the Sphota can cognize itself into the two aspects of uttered sounds and inner meaning. Following through the practical experience of language communication, Chapter Five analyzed the psychological processes that occur within the mind of the hearer in his cognition of the uttered sounds and their correlate revelation of the same meaning-whole or sphota from which the speaker originally began.

The major conclusion reached was that the Sphota theory of language as revelation is both logically consistent and (when interpreted by Yoga) psychologically realizable in practical experience. It was also found that Patañjali's Yoga when taken up to the nirvicāra stage of samprajñāta samādhi (but not beyond since Bhartrhari's sphota, by definition, does not admit of an asamprajñāta samādhi) provides a psychological discipline which seems to fit well with Bhartrhari's unexplained assumption of śabdapūvayoga as a means for purifying vāk and achieving moksa. Śabdapūvayoga effects this purification by the removal of obstructing vāsanās, through the practice of the yogāngas, so as to allow the teleology of citta (given by the grace of Īśvara) to pass naturally into the noumenal state of the attainment of true knowledge. The implications of these findings for the ongoing language debate within Indian philosophy and for future comparative studies, especially in relation to contemporary Western psychology, were discussed.

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