- (c. fourth or fifth century)grammarian and philosopherBhartrihari was a philosopher of language whose work was seminal in the development of the Indian theories of language and of MANTRA. There are several extant accounts of his life, but none seem to have a historical basis. He was primarily known as a grammarian, but his works had great philosophical impact as well.Bhartrihari developed a philosophy that came to be known as “word ADVAITA,” or non-dual-ism, based on the notion that the word (shabda) is the transcendent reality. His idea of “Shabda BRAHMAN,” or Ultimate Reality, as the basis of all language, broke the barrier between grammar and philosophy. He is best known for his work Vakyapadiya (Treatise on words and sentences), which formulates the sphota theory of linguistic utterance, much debated in successive times. Bhartrihari maintained that the study of Sanskrit grammar alone could cause one to attain libera-tion from birth and rebirth.Further reading: Sebastian Alackpally, Being and Mean-ing: Reality and Language in Bhartrihari and Heidegger (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2002); Harold Coward, Bhartrihari (Boston: Twayne, 1976); Gayatri Rath, Linguistic Philosophy in Vakyapadiya (Delhi: Bharatiya Vidya Prakashan, 2000).
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.