288 Pages

Signless Signification in Ancient India and Beyond

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An innovative study bringing fresh significance to the concept of Pāṇini’s zero in traditional Indian grammar by exploring the relationships between different meaning systems. 

The collected essays in this book are the result of a series of workshops held at the University of Cagliari in Italy. In this work, the authors aim at reconstructing the evolution of a key concept of traditional Indian grammar: Pāṇini’s zero. The book investigates how certain patterns of description account for exceptions in the currently presupposed one-to-one symmetry between the semantic and the phono-morphological level of language. This work also deals with some powerful mechanisms of rule extension, which are valuable for different contexts of rule arrangement, such as the ritual model. The interpretative model laid down in the introduction proves strong and suggestive enough to allow subsequent articles in the book to make incursions into other traditions and cultures. The potentialities of aniconic expression in the artistic field are explored, together with the outcomes of this theory.

Preface – Giuliano Boccali; PART I:  TECHNICAL AND SPECULATIVE REFLECTIONS ON SIGNLESS SIGNIFICATION: 1. Much Ado about Nothing: Unsystematic Notes on “śūnya” – Alberto Pelissero; 2. When One Thing Applies More than Once: “tantra” and “prasaṅga” in Śrautasūtra, Mīmāṃsā and Grammar – Elisa Freschi, Tiziana Pontillo; 3. The Earlier Pāṇinian Tradition on the Imperceptible Sign – Maria Piera Candotti, Tiziana Pontillo; 4. The Infinite Possibilities of Life: Interpretations of the “śūnyatā” in the Thinking of Daisaku Ikeda – Paolo Corda; PART II: REFLECTIONS ON SIGNLESS SIGNIFICATION IN LITERATURE AND ARTS: 5. Presences and Absences in Indian Visual Arts: Ideologies and Events – Cinzia Pieruccini; 6. Rethinking the Question of Images (Aniconism vs. Iconism) in the Indian History of Art – Mimma Congedo, Paola M. Rossi; 7. Denotation “in absentia” in Literary Language: The Case of Aristophanic Comedy – Patrizia Mureddu; 8. The Birth of the Buddha in the Early Buddhist Art Schools – Ruben Fais; 9. Untranslatable Denotations: Notes on Music Meaning Through Cultures – Prema Bhat, Paolo Bravi, Ignazio Macchiarella; Summary of Papers 



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Published 01 April 2013
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Cultural, Historical and Textual Studies of South Asian Religions
The volumes featured in theAnthem Cultural, Historical and Textual Studies of South Asian Religionsseries are the expression of an international community of scholars committed to the reshaping of the field of textual and historical studies of religions. Titles in this series examine practice, ritual, and other textual religious products, crossing different area studies and time frames. Featuring a vast range of interpretive perspectives, this innovative series aims to enhance the way we look at religious traditions.
Series Editor
Federico Squarcini, University of Venice, Italy
Editorial Board
Piero Capelli, University of Venice, Italy Vincent Eltschinger, ICIHA, University of Vienna, Austria Christoph Emmrich, University of Toronto, Canada Jonardon Ganeri, University of Sussex, UK Barbara A. Holdrege, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA Sheldon Pollock, Columbia University, USA Karin Preisendanz, University of Vienna, Austria Alessandro Saggioro, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy Cristina Scherrer-Schaub, University of Lausanne and EPHE, France Romila Thapar, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India Ananya Vajpeyi, University of Massachusetts Boston, USA Marco Ventura, University of Siena, Italy Vincenzo Vergiani, University of Cambridge, UK
Edited by Tiziana Pontillo and Maria Piera Candotti EditedbyStevenE.Lindquist With a Preface by Giuliano Boccali
Anthem Press An imprint of Wimbledon Publishing Company www.anthempress.com
This edition first published in UK and USA 2013 by ANTHEM PRESS 75-76 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8HA, UK or PO Box 9779, London SW19 7ZG, UK and 244 Madison Ave. #116, New York, NY 10016, USA
© 2013 Maria Piera Candotti and Tiziana Pontillo editorial matter and selection; individual chapters © individual contributors The moral right of the authors has been asserted. Layout and design © Marianna Ferrara
Cover photograph courtesy of Gabriele Iannàccaro
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
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Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data A catalog record for this book has been requested.
ISBN-13: 978 0 85728 315 3 (Hbk) ISBN-10: 0 85728 315 4 (Hbk)
This title is also available as an eBook.
Prefacebyg Biuliano occ ali
P i a R t t S R e c h n i c a l a n d P e c u l a t i v e e f l e c t i o n S  S S o n i g n l e S S i g n i f i c a t i o n
a P lBeRto eliSSeRo Much Ado about Nothing: Unsystematic Notes onśūnya
e f,t P liSa ReSchi iziana ontillo When One Thing Applies More than Once:tantraandprasaṅga in Śrautasūtra, Mīmāṃsā and Grammar
M P c , t P aRia ieRa andotti iziana ontillo The Earlier Pāṇinian Tradition on the Imperceptible Sign
PaolocoRda The Infinite Possibilities of Life: Interpretations of theśūnyatā in the Thinking of Daisaku Ikeda
Pa R t i i R S S e f l e c t i o n S o n i g n l e S S i g n i f i c a t i o n  l a i n i t e R a t u R e a n d R t S
c P inzia ieRuccini Presences and Absences in Indian Visual Arts: Ideologies and Events 177
MiMcongedo, PaolaM. RoS Ma Si Rethinking the Question of Images (Aniconism vs. Iconism) in the Indian History of Art
P M atRizia uReddu Denotationin absentiain Literary Language: The Case of Aristophanic Comedy
R f uBen aiS The Birth of the Buddha in the Early Buddhist Art Schools
PReMaBhat,PaoloBRavi, ignazioM acchiaRella Untranslatable Denotations: Notes on Music Meaning Through Cultures
Summary of Papers
Università degli Studi di Cagliari
Publication of the Dipartimento di Filologia Classica, Glottologia e Scienze Storiche dell’Antichità e del Medioevo, financially supported by the University of Cagliari, “Fondo per il sostegno della ricerca di base e per lo start-up dei giovani ricercatori”.
The present volume of Proceedings of the Workshop “Il se-gno e il vuoto” (April 8-9, 2011) hosted by the Dipartimento di Filologia Classica, Glottologia e Scienze Storiche dell’Antichità e del Medioevo” of the University of Cagliari, follows a common thread, which is robust and identifiable, even though it is not explicitly stated. It is a survey, albeit by far incomplete, of the debates, difficulties and provisional answers raised in classical Indian culture with some excursions outside by the awareness of the existence of some asymmetries or dissonances within the otherwise well established casual pattern found in phenomenal, linguistic or aesthetic reality. Its boldest expression coincides with the well knownmādhyamikaBuddhist refusal of thesvabhāva of any phenomenon, i.e. with the metaphysic cancellation of the intrinsic nature of each appearance, which as a consequence re-lies on its absolute ‘depending upon other nature’ (parabhāva) or on the ‘dependent origination’ (pratītyasamutpāda). Precise-ly by means of a reflection on the conceptual dependence be-tween the three linguistically considered factors e.g. of move-ment, i.e. action, agent and object of going, Nāgarjuna shows that cause and effect cannot be endowed with an intrinsic na-ture (svabhāva). Otherwise the movement itself should be sup-pressed. The relevant background is of course the idea of the world which results as “becoming” instead of as “being”. In linguistic terms, such speculation focused on the non-homogeneous relationship occurring between the phono-mor-phological level of the communication (a sign, in Saussurian terms) and the conveyed meanings (or the signified), and has long been developed and discussed, through the advancement
of solutions quite distant from each other. From this point of view and also from the ritual one the starting point gives the impression of being diametrically opposite to the already men-tionedmādhyamikapremise:śabda/word andartha/meaning are connected to each other by means of a strong ontological rela-tion and this strict correspondence is extended to the sub-units ofpadas/ inflected words themselves. Yet there are numerous linguistic examples where this relation is, so to say, blurred, cases where a word seems to convey more than one meaning (like in homonyms) or where a meaning is understood in the absence of an otherwise expected sign, as it happens in cases managed by Pāṇini through zero-replacement of a morph or even of an entire inflected word. This last kind of substitution is only taught by one Pāṇini rule (Aṣṭādhyāyī 5.3.82), but widened to a great extent by Kātyāyana and by Patañjali, for instance in order to explain the compulsory integrations required by the analysis of bahuvrīhi-compounds. Substitution with zero contribute in shap-ing an interpretation of language as a positional sequence of information bits, where position itself is significant also in ab-sence of any other specific information, something akin to the positional value of zero (and other signs) in mathematics. On a late commentary on Patañjali’sYogasūtrawe read:
Yogasūtrabhāṣya3.13:yathaikā rekhā śatasthāne śataṃ daśasthāne daśaikaṃ caikasthāne yathā caikatve ’pi strī mātā cocyate duhitā ca svasā ceti, “Just as one (same) stroke is one hundred in the place of the hundreds, in the place of the tens is ten and one in the place of units, in the same way a women, despite being one is called a mother, and a daughter and a sister.”
This grammatical device perfectly matches with an analogous ritual pattern, which probably constituted its technical anteced-ent, applied every time that anarthabe obtained also can in absentiaof its recognizable (pratyakṣa) cause. In the description of the ritual praxis, the supporting structures of the linguistic mechanism are better distinguishable: the effect of a cause, i.e. the signification conveyed by a sign can be extended from an X place which is eccentric with respect to the Y context, where that specific effect occurs or where that specific signification is required. There are two available distinct schemas. The first (tantra) provides for a radial extension, which expands around only one element, perceptible in the middle of a series of sev-eral different contexts where it is absent, albeit unquestionably required, as has been proven on the basis of an implicit compari-son with analogous cases. The second pattern (prasaṅga) works via contiguity, from a place which is extraneous to the context where that signification is required, to this context itself, which