Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 4 : 12 December 2004

Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Associate Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.


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Copyright © 2004
M. S. Thirumalai

Anirban Dash, Ph.D.


The word apoddhaara is derived from the root dhr by adding the prefixes (apa + ud). It means taking something away. The Dictionary of Technical Terms by Abhyankara & Shukla records following meanings for the term:

  1. Disintegration
  2. Analysis
  3. Separation
  4. Division
  5. Detachment

The first occurrence of the term apoddhaara is found in Padaartha samgraha (A VaisheSika text from 4th century). There it denotes a cause of an act as, taking away from. In grammatical parlance, it denotes the separation of the stem and suffix. Sometimes it also denotes a separated morpheme that is either stem or suffix.[i]

While commenting upon the Bk. 24, Bhartrhari says "apoddhaaraH vibhaagaH," 'apoddhaara means separation.'[ii]

In philosophical context, the word apoddhaara is used in the sense of analysis. Whenever what is united in reality is divided merely for practical purposes, it is called apoddhaara.

For example, when a word conveys meaning in the form of a denoted object, it is called graahaka, but when it conveys it's own form it is known as graahya.

Thus the very single word plays two different roles, that of graahya (named) and graahaka (name). In other words, when a word plays a role of graahaka it acts as a name (samj˝aa), whereas when it plays the role of graahya it acts as a named (samj˝in), though the word basically is one. It is looked upon as two things by means of apoddhaara.


The doctrine of the grammarian is that, both the sentence and the sentence meaning are indivisible units, which are used for the purpose of communication.

It is a very common experience that our thought can not be dissected into various parts. It is a partless whole. When we think of an incident like "Lord Raama killed demon RaavaNa",(This incident took place in the great epic RaamaayaNa), we think of the entire incident which took place in hoary antiquity. Both the speaker and the listener of the above-mentioned sentence take it as a single indivisible idea. It can not be dissected into three independent parts, namely, Raama, RaavaNa, and the act of killing. Thus, both the fact and its ideational thought-construction, which figures as the direct meaning-content of the sentence, are indivisible units of reference, the one direct and the other indirect. From the above discussion we can conclude that the meaning of a sentence is always indivisible.

As we communicate our ideas or thoughts through sentence, the study of language should begin with sentence and sentential meaning. In any discourse, only sentences are uttered and not unrelated words. Words having no bearing upon sentences cannot be imagined. A word is and was never found except in a sentence. The linguistic reality belongs to sentence and not to words. Similarly the reality of meaning belongs to the sentential meaning and not to the word- meaning. What we call the constituent parts of a sentence and its meaning did never reside as independent units.

One can not imagine a time in the history of mankind, when individual and independent words that were afloat assembled together to constitute sensible sentences. On the contrary, the indivisible sentence is rendered into some divisible and apparently independent meaning units. This breaking through of the sentence and its meaning is done by logical analysis called apoddhaara.

The fact is that a sentence is not made of several meaningful independent words. And the sentential meaning is not a sum total of the meanings denoted by different words in a sentence. The linguist-philosophers have undoubtedly established the theory of AkhaNDapakSa headed by Vaakyavaadins, refuting SakhaNDapakSa headed by Padavaadins.


The upholders of this doctrine have established that the words alone are real. And they alone express the meaning. This is generally said to be the opinion of the BhaaTTa MImaamsakas. According to their theory, the sentence and its meaning are the result of grouping together of different words and their meanings. The words are the source of a sentence. They have quoted following the aphorism (PadaprakrtiH samhitaa) from the Rk praatisaakhya 2.1 to support this doctrine.

The aphorism 'PadaprakrtiH samhitaa' means the connected text samhitaa of the Vedas has the words as its source. According to this doctrine, the words of Vedas have been revealed to different RSis and the samhitaa in the form of different sentences is an artificial structure made by men. This type of interpretation is possible in the case of bahuvrihI compound.

The following statement in Nirukta also supports the Padavaadin.

Now what are the four classes of words? They are namely: nouns, verbs, preposition and particle, with reference to this, they prescribe the definition of noun and verb: the verb has becoming as its fundamental notion, nouns has being as their fundamental notion.[iii]

Yaaska's division of words (parts of speech) into four categories and his assignment of meanings to verb and nouns clearly indicates that words have real existence and their division is not artificial.


The upholders of this doctrine want to establish that sentence and its meaning are indivisible. It is only through logical analysis that one can render an indivisible sentence into many parts which are thought to be the constituent elements of the sentence. And these constituent elements are also thought to be meaningful entities through the operation of the same logical analysis, which has been as styled apoddhaara by the upholders of this doctrine.

There are innumerable words. It is very difficult to learn each and every word, because it consumes a lot of time. In Paspashaahnika, it has been stated by Pata˝jali that Brhaspati had taught Indra orally each and every word for thousand years and still the learning had not come to an end. [iv]

The above statement from the MahaabhaaSya indicates the indivisibility of the sentence and its meaning. Division of the sentence into different words on the basis of artificially divided sentence meaning is also artificial and not real. This artificial division is made as means to explain easily and conveniently the indivisible sentence and its meaning. For this doctrine also the same aphorisms of the praatisaakSya, (PadaprakrtiHsamhitaa) 2.1 is the authority. This type of interpretations is possible in the case of tatpuruSa compound. In this case the samhitaa becomes the source of different individual words. It means the samhitaa of Veda has been revealed to RSis and therefore, it is eternal and real one. The upholder of this doctrine is called akhaNDapakSavaadin. According to this doctrine sentence and its meaning is indivisible in reality. Their division is artificial and is for the sake of convenience and grammatical purpose. Bhartrharisupports this doctrine. The statement of AudumbaraayaNa quoted by Yaaska in his Nir. also supports it.[v]

According to AudumbaraayaNa, speech is permanent in the organs only. In that case, the fourfold division of words will not hold good, nor the grammatical connection, nor the mutual reference of sounds which are not produced simultaneously. Words are used to designate objects with regard to everyday affairs in the world, on account of their comprehensiveness and minuteness.

This shows the eternality of sentence. In this context, Bhartrhari presents two kaarikaas as follow:

Therefore, the word does not exist as more than its phonemes, nor is there is a sentence existing as more than the phonemes and the words. [vi]
There are no phonemes in the word nor are there parts in the phonemes. There is no absolute difference of the words from the sentence.[vii] (See K. A. S. Iyer, English translation of VP., 1965, pp.75-77


By refuting the PadavaadIn's standpoint, the grammarian concedes that even though the individual word and its meaning are not of much use for vyavahaara (communication), they have other uses. But not like padavaadIn's standpoint. The other uses are

  1. They (words) are the means for the understanding of the sentence as well as it's meaning.
  2. In order to accommodate others like the MImaamsakas, who believe in reality of individual word and its meaning and to analyze sentence into words and their meanings.

Though the grammarians accept indivisibility of sentence they do not reject the individual words and its meanings. According to them, however, the individual words are unreal, as they are only means to an end. For a hearer, it is very difficult to understand the indivisible sentence and its meaning instantly. In that case sentence is analyzed. This artificial analysis is called shaktibheda.


Finally, the grammarians climb down to analyze the indivisible sentence for practical purpose. The basic question is by which method and 'how one can analyze the sentence?' The answer can be found in Vt. of Kaatyaayana and the MahaabhaaSya. of Pata˝jali. The word used for analysis is apoddhaara.

Bhartrhari has not done the analysis himself. He explains certain ideas already found openly expressed in the Vt. of Kaatyaayana and MahaabhaaSya of Pata˝jali.

In BK 24-26[viii], Bhartrhariintroduces eight main topics of the science of grammar. One of them is apoddhaarapadaaratha. The analyzed meaning is apoddhaarapadaartha and on the other hand unanalyzed meaning is sthitalakSaNa i.e. static in character. No analysis is possible in the case of sthitalakSaNa, where the meaning of the sentence is indivisible. Before the analysis takes place, the word meaning is well fitted into the sentence meaning. It is artificially analysed out of sentence by a kind of reasoning, says the vrtti.[ix]

The principle of intellectual abstraction (apoddhaara) is applicable to any given language, though we have taken up Sanskrit to suit our purpose. In the light of the theory of AkhaNDavaakya, all the grammatical categories like noun, pronoun, adjective, verb, adverb, conjunction, interjection, different case relations and other grammatical usage are unreal, the indivisible sentence being the only 'Reality'.


Now let us apply the process of intellectual abstraction to bring out separate words along with their meanings from indivisible sentence. The grammatical analysis of the word (apoddhaara) consists in dividing the sentence-meaning into and ascribing each of them to one of the divisions of the audible part of the sentence. The recognized method of doing this is that of agreement and difference (anvaya and vyatireka.). Kaatyaayana had already referred to this method [x]. Whether it be the analysis of sentence into word and word meanings or the analysis of the word into root and suffix or stem and suffix and their meaning, the method is to assign recurrent parts of the meaning to recurrent parts of the speech and certain meanings, is anvaya and the disappearance of certain audible element and their meanings is vyatireka.

To explain it further, take any sentence and you will find that words in the sentence are syntactically related to each other. To abstract away a word from a sentence means not only to bring out a particular word from a particular sentence but also to ascertain its meaning when it is not syntactically related to any other word.

To make it clear, if we logically analyze the constituents of a sentence, we shall find that there is no word denoting only 'cow' what we get is only a nominative singular 'gauh' or an accusative singular 'gaam' or an instrumental singular gavaa etc, from which some common formal and semantic element i.e. 'go' (cow) is to be abstracted. Thus, from any given language, various words and verbal roots may be logically abstracted. We, however, should stick to any particular language like Sanskrit for uniformity.

In language, we always come across verbal forms like 'pacati' (he cooks), 'pacanti' (they cook), 'apacat' (he cooked) etc. but we never get a word that simply denotes the sense of cooking or time of cooking. So it is evident that the verbal root 'pac' (to cook) is abstracted from various utterances like 'DevadattaHpacati' 'te pacanti' etc. Thus, we come to discover the common element 'pac' a verbal root, and 'go' a nominal stem which permeate pacati, apacat, pakvavaan, etc. and gauh, gavi, etc. form respectively.

By applying this logical abstraction it becomes possible for us to discern the verbal suffixes like ti, anti, syati, etc. on one hand and 'su' 'bhyam' 'anam' 'esu' etc. on the other.

Some points should be noted while analyzing of the meaning of a sentence. When we take a sentence like 'DevadattaHsthaalyaam odanam pacati' (Devadatta cooks rice in a metal pot.) and analyze its meaning, we find that it includes many notions.

First of all, the idea of cooking is conveyed by the verb 'pacati' then there is a notion of particular person Devadatta, who does the cooking and is, therefore, agent. He does it in a metal pot which thus become the adhikaraNa. The result of the cooking is the cooked rice (odana), the object of action (karma).

In addition to these notions one understands, from the meaning of the words in the sentence, the notions of singular number, and present time. Thus, from the analysis of this sentence emerge the notions of action, agent, object of action. These notions are called the formation of words, that is, anvaakhyaana. In fact, they are analysed out of the sentence for that very purpose.

According to Bhartrhari, this type of analysis is only meant for popular convenience.[xi]

Bhartrhari has devoted the entire third kaaNDa, the PrakirNakaaNDa of VaakyapadIya containing more than thirteen hundred kaarikaas, to deal with different philosophical aspects of artificial division of sentence on the basis of the artificial division of the sentence-meaning (apoddhaara).

According to VaiyaakaraNa, division can be possible on the basis of the meaning and its feature. Introducing the artificial division of sentence into words, that is, different part of the speech, Bhartrhari states:

dvidhaa kaishcitpadam bhinnam caturdhaa pa˝cadhaapi vaa |
apodhrtyaiva vaakyebhyaHprakrtipratyayaadivat || Pk 1.1 ||

It means: Just as stems, suffixes, etc., are artificially divided from words, in the same way, having artificially been divided from sentences, indeed, by some scholars, the word has been declared to be two-fold or three-fold or four-fold even five-fold. Meaning is the substratum of their division. Sentence is an indivisible unit, words and phonemes are extracted from that, and therefore they are illusory.


Whenever what is united in reality is divided merely for practical purposes, it is called apoddhaara. The grammarians strongly advocate the sentence as the absolute indivisible entity; they accept the reality of individual words for practical purpose by using the word apoddhaara. According to Bhartrhari, this type of analysis is only meant for popular convenience. Finally, the grammarians climb down to analyze the indivisible sentence for practical purpose.


[i] Abhyankara Limaye, p.372.

[ii] See vrtti on BK 23.

[iii] Nir. 1.1

[iv] brhaspatirindraaya divyam varSasahasram pratipadoktaanaam
shabdaanaam shabdapaaraayaNam provaaca naantam jagaam
|| MahaabhaaSya. Vol- 1, p.5 ||

[v] indriyanityam vacanamaudumbaraayaNaH | tatra catuSďvam nopapadyate | ayugadutpannanaam vaa shabdaanaamitaretaropadeshaH | shaastrakrto yogashca | vyaaptimatvaattu shabdasyaaNIyatvaacca shabdena samj˝aakaraNam vyavahaaraartham loke ||Nir.1.1 ||

[vi] padavede'pi varNaanaamekatvam na nivartate |
vaakyeSu padamekam ca bhinneSvapyupalabhyate || Bk. 72 ||
[vii] na varNavyatirekeNa padamnyacca vidyate |
vaakyam varNapadaabhyaam ca vyatiriktam na ki˝cana || Bk. 73 ||

8. see the Bk. text

[ix] K.A.S. Iyer , VP. kaaNda 1 , p. 65.

[x] siddham tvanvayavyatirekaabhyaam | Vt. 9 on P. 1.2.45 ||

[xi] shaastre padaarthaaHkaaryaartham laukikaHpravibhajyate || Pk. 3.88 ||



Anirban Dash, Ph.D.

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