Swami Advayananda, addressed the gathering of learned professors of Nyaya, Sanskrit and Philosophy during the Summer School 2015 programme on the “Word and the World” and shared the Advaita thoughts of Aparoksha Gyana or Direct Perception on oneness of Jiva (individual self) and Brahma (the Supreme Self) presented in Lakshmidhara Kavi’s Aparokshanubhuti.
इदमन्धं तमः कृत्स्नं जायेत भुवनत्रयम् ।
यदि शब्दाह्वयं ज्योतिरासंसारं न दीप्यते ॥ - काव्यादर्शः
idam andhaṃ tamaḥ kṛtsnaṃ jāyeta bhuvanatrayam,
yadi śabdāhvayaṃ jyotir āsaṃsāraṃ na dīpyate. (Daṇḍin, Kāvyādarśa)
"All the three worlds would become blinding darkness if the light called 'word' were not to shine forth to the limits of creation."
It is generally admitted that, until the 16th/17th century A.D., the flow of knowledge and things that were in some way special (devices, machines, etc.) was from the East to the West and that things changed rapidly in the other direction with the Industrial Revolution that took place in the West. China and India are commonly viewed as constituting the East in this context, with China credited principally for the export of technology and India principally for the export of abstract ideas, theories, etc. that constitute science.
This historical reconstruction will, no doubt, continue to be modified and refined as the relevant scholarship gathers mass. However, one area in which India's contribution to world culture is based on unshakeable and extensive evidence is the area of linguistic or philological sciences. Right from the period reflected in the earliest available Vedic texts -- a period that cannot be later than 1900 B.C. and is more likely to be closer to 4000 B.C. according to recent scholarship, we see the Indian mind's engagement with language (vāc) or word in the broadest sense of the term. Highly sophisticated knowledge of phonetics (Śikṣā) developed in the following centuries. Much attention was given to prosody (Chandas) and context-sensitive grammar-based semantics (Nirukta). Grammars (Vyākaraṇa), like Pāṇini's, that still have not been surpassed in their descriptive technique soon appeared on the scene and gave rise to a robust scholarly tradition of metalanguage interpretation.
On such a background and the Indian culture's continuous recognition of mantra potential in language, it was only to be expected that an awareness of the close relationship between the word and world developed very early in Indian cultural history. Philosophy's acquisition of a 'linguistic turn' may be a twentieth-century phenomenon in the Western world, but, as Professor Karl H. Potter observes in his "Introduction to the Philosophy of Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika (pp. 2-3) in vol. 2 of the Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies, the linguistic turn "took place many centuries ago in India".
The main purpose of the 2015 Summer School will be to explore the many ways in which the word and the world have been brought to bear upon each other by the Sanskritic philosophers of ancient and early medieval India. To use the title of a modern Western philosophical classic written by the late Harvard University professor Willard van Orman Quine, the School will unravel the various strands of the 'word and object' relationship that appeared in the Indian intellectual tradition. Enrolling students will be introduced to the grammarian Bhartṛhari, for whom the word was the world, as well as to the Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika philosophers, who took a more down-to-earth view of the word, and the Kāṣhmīr Śaiva philosophers for whom the word was one of God's very basic powers.
Atheist philosophies of the Jains and Buddhists will also be accorded space in the discussions to the extent they relate to the central theme of the course. The same will be the case of the other major tradition within Indian philosophy, namely Sāṅkhya, Yoga, Mīmāṃsā and Vedānta. In other words, the Summer School will be an attempt to introduce and overview Indian philosophy in a novel way.
The course will take place in a complementary linguistic and cultural environment. Introductions to Sanskrit and Yoga will be offered in the morning and evening outside the course meeting hours (9:30-1:00 and 2:30-6:00, with short breaks in between). For those enrolling in the course, there will be no additional fee for participation in the language and Yoga sessions.
Knowledge of Sanskrit will be an asset in enrolling for the Summer School but it will not be a requirement.
The course meetings will primarily consist of lectures by its academic directors and invited specialists, but, as is appropriate in the case of philosophy courses, questions and comments will be encouraged and time will be provided for their discussion.
Would-be participants should also note that Manipal University (MU) has a Dvaita Philosophy Resource Centre (DPRC) whereas Chinmaya International Foundation (CIF) focuses on Advaita. The coming together of these two modern institutions, rooted in traditions, is very significant and upholds the spirit of Indian philosophy. Details of these organisations can be found in the case of DPRC at http://manipal.edu/des/about-des.html and in the case of CIF at www.chinfo.org.
Venue: CIF is housed in Adi Sankara Nilayam, the birth home of the great philosopher Śrī Ādi Śaṅkara, in Veliyanad, Kerala, which stands amidst sun-blessed greenery, temple shrines and lotus ponds and offers an ambience of peace and solitude for study, research and contemplation to aspirants from the world over. Many ancient temples like Guruvayur and other sightseeing places like Alleppey and Fort Kochi fall in a radius of about 60 km from CIF.
Further, CIF has a library housing more than 15,000 books on Sanskrit and Indology. It has a heritage hall for the Summer School with comfortable seating capacity, twin sharing accommodation (both AC and non-AC), a well-equipped kitchen that serves excellent simple vegetarian food, and an office that provides facilities for Internet, faxing, printing and scanning.
Transportation to and from airport/railway station/Kochi city can be arranged on request.
A packet of readings, as well as a schedule of topics to be discussed, will be made available upon arrival. Further supportive materials will be made available on a 'reserved' basis in or near the library. A working list of topics can be seen at http://mu-cif.chinfo.org/img/course outline.pdf
Institutional credit: The course, when satisfactorily completed, should count for six credits at any mainstream college or university, since its faculty will be professors who have taught for a long time at universities and since its content will be richer than that of most six-credit college and university courses. However, it would naturally be up to individual institutions of higher learning to decide whether credit should be granted and what it should be. Enrollees in need of credit are advised to present the above course description to the appropriate authorities, preferably with copies of the course schedule, reading list (both to be distributed at the beginning of the course), and curriculum vitae of the instructors (available at http://www.asia.ubc.ca/people1/ashok-aklujkar/ and http://www.ksu.ac.in/en/faculty/facutly-of-shastras/dean/). If possible, they should apprise their advisers at home institutions of their intention before they join the course.
For information about the admission procedure, visa requirement (if applicable), health insurance and travel directions, please refer to the appropriate websites, including that of the CIF.
The two-week International Summer School of six European and North American credits is open to college and university students, researchers and faculty members from across disciplines.
The course "The Word & The World" will primarily explore the various contexts, levels and ways in which language plays a part in issues of epistemology and ontology. It will frequently touch upon philosophy of language and, to a lesser extent, philosophy of grammar. However, while doing so, it will take "philosophy" in the sense of 'theory' or 'fundamental principles' as in usages such as "philosophy of science," "philosophy of law," etc. Assuming, for much of its duration, that philosophy of language and philosophy of grammar are the means and philosophy proper consists in epistemology and ontology, the course, will introduce the participants to how all these three obtain in the Indian intellectual tradition. Instead of focusing on a historical overview of the Indian philosophical tradition or a school within it or studying the philological or interpretational problems of specific texts, the instructors will try to generate a general (but not superficial) understanding of the Indian scholarly disciplines or darśanas through a single approach or prism.
The necessary historical information will be provided at various junctures mainly through handouts. Brief references will be made to where the available textbooks and studies need correctives. Relevant texts in their Sanskrit originals (rarely in the Sanskrit recasts of Pali and Prakrit originals) will be read to demonstrate how the ideas explained in English in lectures or the prescribed readings find expression in their native environment. Questions such as what should be taken as the nature of language, consciousness or mind or what should be understood as the mission of philosophy will be dealt with as they naturally rise.
The course will cover more than what six-credit courses normally cover in American and European universities. Participants should note its intensive nature and should plan to be continuously in Veliyanad at least from 12 July night to 26 July morning. Any trips they wish to make to nearby sightseeing attractions should be planned for days preceding or following the Summer School days.
Every effort will be made to provide copies of the Sanskrit texts in Roman/Latin script as well as the Nāgarī or Deva-nāgarī script.
A modest charge may be made to recover the cost of providing photocopies of the course reading materials.
Those who wish to take the course for credit should explicitly note their wish on the application form. They will be expected to write short examinations and/or 5-10 page essays.