The theology of Vaikuṇṭha: Why should you want to be in heaven?

We all know so many clever jokes about how hell should be preferred “because of the good company” and about how boring should heaven be. Let me take the chance to focus on the Śrīvaiṣṇava heaven, i.e., Vaikuṇṭha, and see Continue reading The theology of Vaikuṇṭha: Why should you want to be in heaven?

Inert and alive substances: Alternative classifications in Veṅkaṭanātha

In the Nyāyasiddhāñjana and the Nyāyapariśuddhi, Veṅkaṭanātha discusses some fundamental ontological topics in order to distinguish his positions from the Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika position. The Nyāyasūtra proposes a fundamental division of realities into dravya ‘substances’, guṇa ‘qualities’, and karman ‘actions’,1 with the Continue reading Inert and alive substances: Alternative classifications in Veṅkaṭanātha

Does the kammatic/nibbanic distinction fit the facts?

How helpful is Melford Spiro’s kammatic/nibbanic distinction in describing Buddhism? It can be tempting to line it up too closely with other dichotomies – to say that kammatic Buddhism is practised by householders and nibbanic Buddhism by monks, for example. Damien Continue reading Does the kammatic/nibbanic distinction fit the facts?

Words are arrows piercing lotus leaves

I recently received a thoughtful email from Satyanarayana Hegde, who is a Civil Attorney by profession and characterizes himself as an autodidact interested in Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, Persian and Urdu languages and literary cultures who ccasionally perpetrates random acts of Continue reading Words are arrows piercing lotus leaves

Learning from Gārgī’s Silence

“Thereupon, Gārgī Vācaknavī fell silent.” (Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad 3.6) I’m currently teaching a class called “Ancient Women Philosophers: India and Greece,” which is interesting for many reasons. I’ll get to some of those reasons in another post. In this post I want Continue reading Learning from Gārgī’s Silence

Could Upaniṣadic sentences be interpreted as prescriptions? A debate within Maṇḍana’s Vidhiviveka

Within the Vidhiviveka, a Prābhākara-inclined Mīmāṃsaka debates with a Vedāntin about the meaning of Upaniṣadic sentences on the self. The Prābhākara insists that all sentences should be injunctive in character, and that Upaniṣadic sentences should also be interpreted in this Continue reading Could Upaniṣadic sentences be interpreted as prescriptions? A debate within Maṇḍana’s Vidhiviveka

The role of convention in signification

In his Seśvaramīmāṃsā ad 1.1.12, Veṅkaṭanātha explains that the example of proper names does not prove that language in general depends on convention. He writes that the case of proper names is not a dahanadṛṣṭānta, possibly ‘an example which sets Continue reading The role of convention in signification