Sabdapurvayoga
Language, Thought and Reality

1. Brahman, which is without a beginning and an end, the essence of language, the imperishable syllable (aum), from which the world-process‘appears to unfold’ through a transformation into objects. 

2. Which, celebrated as neither more nor less than One, becomes fragmented because of recourse to (its denotating) potentiality. Although undifferentiated it behaves as if differentiated because of its (denotative) potentials. 

3. Dependent on the power of time, which has small divisions superimposed on it, are the six kinds of verbal activity, beginning with production (i.e. production, existence, transformation, growth, decay, and destruction), [these are] the origins of the divisions in Being. 

4. The One, the seed of all, to whom this multiplicity belongs, remains in the form of the enjoyer, that which is enjoyed, and the
 enjoyment. 

(Vakyapadiya of Bhartrhari, 1; 1-4) 


“This (grammar) is the wonderful ultimate abode of the threefold speech which is divided into the various levels vaikhari, madhyama and paßyanti.”
(VP, 1; 134) 

The first level, which is called pasyanti, is undifferentiated in any way and word and meaning remain with neither sequence nor form. This is the unmanifested Sabdabrahman. 

As ßabda moves into the next level, Madhyama, temporal differentiation, albeit only subtly present, allows for the potential formation of a sequence which is associated with buddhi. Although still unspoken, the concept is realised at this level as pre-speech in the mind of the speaker, or as post-speech in the mind of the hearer. It is an internal discourse which takes the form of thought. It is speech in its latent form. This level can only exist courtesy of the individual, ‘I’. Without this primary thought no differentiation can take place. This thought is always the first to arise and the last to subside. 

Vaikhari is situated within the physical domain of phonetics and phonology. At this level we can use scientific instrumentation to measure language. Although prana is only subtly present in the previous level here it plays a predominant part. It is the physical function of breath along with all the associated restrictions imposed by physics and the articulatory process that ties speech to the linear order. 


While disguised in the form of words, through ignorance, one does not reach the Heart-Lotus, but when such ignorance is rent asunder one discovers that identity alone. (Amrtabindu Upanishad)



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