Politics of Interpretation: Two Instances from Vācaspatimiśra’s Commentaries on Sāṅkhya and Nyāya Texts

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Pradeep P. Gokhale


The rivalry among the philosophical schools in India was not purely intellectual, but had far-reaching social implications. The rivalry between vedic and non-vedic schools had a socio-political dimension. This paper claims that commentaries of the source texts of schools on both sides played an important role in development of inter-darśana politics.

This paper deals with some of the interpretative moves made by Vācaspatimiśra in his two famous commentaries: (1) Sāṅkhyatattvakaumudī, the commentary on Sāṅkhyakārikā of Īśvarakṛṣṇa, and (2) Nyāyavārtikatātparyaṭīkā, the commentary on Nyāyavārtika of Udyotakara. The paper argues that some of Vācaspatimiśra’s interpretative moves in these commentaries can be called “political moves.” The paper shows how these interpretative moves deviate from the natural or unforced meanings of the texts. It argues that these deviations aim at strengthening the orthodox (“āstika”) front of Indian philosophy.

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How to Cite
Gokhale, P. P. (2020). Politics of Interpretation: Two Instances from Vācaspatimiśra’s Commentaries on Sāṅkhya and Nyāya Texts. Journal of World Philosophies, 5(2), 61–72. Retrieved from https://scholarworks.iu.edu/iupjournals/index.php/jwp/article/view/4046
Author Biography

Pradeep P. Gokhale, Savitribai Phule Pune University

Pradeep P. Gokhale retired as professor of philosophy from Savitribai Phule Pune University, Pune (India) after 31 years of post-graduate teaching experience. Subsequently, he worked as Research Professor in the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, Sarnath (Varanasi). Presently he is an Honorary Adjunct Professor in the Departments of Pali in Savitribai Phule Pune University. His research areas include classical Indian philosophy, moral and social philosophy, and modern Buddhism. His recent publications are: The Yogasūtra of Pata.jali: A New Introduction to the Buddhist Roots of the Yoga System (Routledge, 2020) and edited Classical Buddhism, Neo-Buddhism and the Question of Caste (Routledge, 2020).