Veṅkaṭanātha follows the standard śāstric style when it comes to the
general way of asking questions, discussing answers, and of providing
rationales for each claim.
To that, he adds his command, evident in his non-śāstric works, of figurative language, so that the dry style of śāstric reasoning gets populated by powerful metaphors, like that of scholars clinging to a Rahu or to a Kabandha kind of Veda only.1 Other metaphors are even more difficult to decipher (e.g., “butt by the horns of the Prābhākaras’ head” (SM 1971, end of p. 86)), since we lack their original context and perhaps also the pragmatic context of an actual debate.
Similarly, Veṅkaṭanātha’s style, though often similar to Rāmānuja’s one, is terser. There are more compounds, often built of more members, possibly because Veṅkaṭanātha presupposes some familiarity with basic tenets of Rāmānuja and other authors, and summarises them in a handy compound, like a contemporary scholar would do by just referring to, e.g., “Hume’s view on religion” or “the liar paradox”. Finally, Veṅkaṭanātha’s poetical inclination makes him at times choose to use uncommon words (e.g., dārḍhya, present both in the SM and in the ŚD 3) in what seems like a conscious choice to be expressive and to have his readers pause and consider what he is saying.
Veṅkaṭanātha comes back to the same topics in several of his śāstric works and at times repeats the same metaphors (e.g., comparing in SM and ŚD 3 the unitary teaching of Pūrva and Uttara Mīmāṃsā to a building done by more than one person, but still unitary). Nonetheless, in most cases the focus of the argument varies, possibly in accordance with the target readership and the general agenda of the work. Metaphors can therefore become less cryptic by looking at cross-references in Veṅkaṭanātha’s works. Arguments, however, are neither verbatim repeated, nor conceptually reproduced, but rather adapted to a new context and
reshaped in it. Consequently, the parallel passages from other works by Veṅkaṭanātha are interesting, but not really significant to reconstruct the actual reading of a given passage in the SM.
Any comment on 14th c. philosophical Sanskrit is welcome!
- Rahu is a demon who has only a head without a body, whereas Kabandha is a demon consisting of only a body, without a head. Thus, a Rahu-like Mīmāṃsā is a Mīmāṃsā focusing only on the “head” of the Vedas, i.e., the Upaniṣads, whereas a Kabandha-like Mīmāṃsā is a Mīmāṃsā focusing only on the “body” of the Vedas, i.e., the Brāhmaṇas. Neither can be complete and Veṅkaṭanātha suggests, by contrast, an