c. 6th century
|Known for||Indian philosopher|
|Hermeneutics; Vedic Exegesis|
|Honors||Founder of Gurumata or Pr?bh?kara System|
|Hermeneutics; Vedic Exegesis|
Hariswamin's commentary on Shatapatha Brahmana which dates to 638 CE discusses the doctrine of Prabh?kara's followers. Prabh?kara in his book B?hati quotes only Bhart?hari (4-5 CE) and Bharavi (5-6 CE). Thus his probable time can be assigned to the latter half of the 6th century.
His views on ?abara's Bhya, a commentary on Jaimini's P?rvam?m?ms? S?tras led to rise of Pr?bh?kara school within M?ms? and further developed as competent philosophical system along with the rival school of Kum?rila Bhaa.
Kum?rila said: For in practice the Mimamsa has been for the most part converted into a Lokayata system; But I have made this effort to bring it into a theistic path.
Here Kum?rila refers to Bhartriprapancha, held by somebody as the forerunner of the Pr?bh?kara system. It is generally believed that the M?m?msakas and specially the Pr?bh?karas are atheists. But the source books of the Pr?bh?kara School state in unequivocal terms that the inferential existence of God which is propounded by Naiyayikas and the like is denied by the denied by the Pr?bh?karas and that God is not denied: "var? par?ktmanum?na? nirastam, nvar? nirasta?"
One of the views of the Pr?bh?karas is that words do not directly designate meaning; any meaning that arises is because it is connected with other words (anvit?bhidh?na, anvita = connected; abhidh?na = denotation). We know or learn the meaning of a word only by considering the sentential context which it appears; we learn such word meanings together with their possible semantic connections with other words. Sentence meanings are grasped directly, from perceptual and contextual cues, skipping the stage of grasping singly the individual word meanings (Matilal 1990:108).
The Pr?bh?karakas were opposed by the Bhas, who argued for a compositional view of semantics (called abhihit?nvaya). In this view, the meaning of a sentence was understood only after understanding first the meanings of individual words. Words were independent, complete objects, a view that is close to the Fodorian view of language.
Of the two principal schools of the P?rvam?m?ms? the Bhatta school has all along attracted greater attention than the Prabhakara school. The study of the works of the Prabhakara school has been neglected for a long time past. All the knowledge that our old Sanskrit scholars had of the tenets of this school was derived solely from the stray references found in the works of the other systems. At the wake of 20th century, Dr. Ganganath Jha has written a very learned thesis in which he has presented in a lucid form the main principles of the Prabhakara school as they have been dealt with in the Prakara?apancika of likan?tha. He has also given for the first time, much valuable information regarding the B?hat? of Prabh?kara which is a commentary on ?abara's Bhya.
Tradition makes Prabh?kara a pupil of Kum?rila who nicknamed him as Guru on account of his great intellectual powers. But some scholars like Dr. Ganganatha Jha believe that the Pr?bh?kara School is older and seems to be nearer to the spirit of the original M?m?ms?. Dr. Keith (Karmamimamsa, 1921), who likewise rejects the current view in regard to the synchronism of the two authors and their mutual relation, assigns Prabh?kara to 600-650 A.D. (Gopinath Kaviraj in Jha's Tantravarttika, 1924) According to the view of Dr. Ganganath Jha, the Prabh?kara is more faithful to the Bhya of ?abara than Kum?rila. Also, according to Professor M. Hiriyanna, the original teaching of the M?m?msa is better preserved in the writings of Prabh?kara than in those of Kum?rila. As rightly observed by Dr. G. P. Bhatt, Prabh?kara, however, was a more original thinker than Kum?rila and he will always be remembered as the author of a peculiar theory of knowledge known as Theory of Triple perception Triput?pratyak?av?da) and a theory of error called the Akhy?tiv?da[circular reference] or the Vivek?khy?tiv?da. In order to understand the system of M?m?msa fully and precisely, one must go through the works of the Prabhakara system. Pt. S. Subrahmanya S?stri maintains the view that though many theories of this system are criticized in other systems particularly in the Nyaya the Pr?bh?kara school commands respect from and is actually made use of by reputed scholars. The Vi?idvaita School of philosophy follows the Pr?bh?kara School in matters regarding the categories of the world. It may be said that the study of the Pr?bh?kara M?m?msa is necessary for acquiring a clear knowledge of the Dharma stras and the S?ya?abhya of the Vedas as well.
There is an old dispute about the "?yena sacrifice", a sacrifice in the Vedas meant to kill one's enemies. How can this be reconciled with the rule not to harm any living being? As Agata Ciabattoni says: "For a Hindu, the Vedas are absolutely correct, so there cannot be any contradiction". Prabh?kara resolved this problem by applying several rules from the Vedas in a logically rather complicated way. Various scholars did not believe that his reasoning was correct, and this dispute has been going on for centuries. Agata Ciabattoni and her team closely collaborated with Sanskritists to translate the M?ms? rules and the Vedic laws into mathematical formulae - and they could prove that Prabh?kara had been right all along. Given the prescriptions of the Vedas, Prabh?kara's logic was flawless, thus settling an old philosophical dispute with Mathematical logic.