On the Notion of Linguistic Convention (saṁketa) in the Yogasūtrabhāṣya

Journal of Indian Philosophy 45 (1):1-19 (2017)
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The aim of this study is to clarify the meaning of the term saṁketa, which is usually translated as ‘ convention’, in the Yogasūtrabhāṣya, the first and the most authoritative commentary to the Yogasūtras. This paper is a contribution to the reconstruction of the classical Yoga view on the relation between word and its meaning, for saṁketa is a key term used by this darśana in discussing this relation. The textual analysis of the Yogasūtrabhāṣya has led me to the conclusion that its author’s understanding of the linguistic convention is different from the notion of the linguistic convention of the Vaiśeṣikas and Naiyāyikas and similar to the notion of the linguistic convention of the Grammarians. These are interpretations of the term saṁketa which reflect Yogasūtrabhāṣya’s understanding of the linguistic convention: the tradition of the usage of words, established usage of words. Saṁketa of the Yogasūtrabhāṣya, unlike saṁketa/samaya of the Vaiśeṣikas and Naiyāyikas, is not an agreement established by anyone, but an agreement in the sense of tradition, established practice, or established custom. Unlike the saṁketa/samaya of these philosophers, the saṁketa of the Yogasūtrabhāṣya, having neither beginning nor end, is not re-created, but only made known at the beginning of each cycle of existence of the world.



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