This project is precisely concerned with the exposition of philosophical-linguistic themes occurring in the Pātañjalayogadarśana. Among these themes, a specific analysis and treatment will be devoted to the formulation of the concept of sphoṭa following its historical development. The sphoṭa is the word or sentence considered as a single meaningful symbol. It has been developed and formulated as a semantical theory by Sanskrit Grammarians to explain how meaning is conveyed and distinguished from those linguistic elements (varṇa, dhvani) structuring it and that help to manifest it.

The term sphoṭa makes its appearance in the Pātañjalayogadarśana beginning with the Pātañjalayogaśāstravivaraṇa (VIII? CE) where it is identified with pada, the word, and it will be discussed up to Nāgeśa Bhaṭṭa’s Vṛtti (second half XVIIth - first half of XVIIIth CE). Initially, beginning with Patañjali’s Mahābhāṣya (IIth BCE), its formulation is mainly elaborated under an ontological perspective (is sphoṭa the vācaka element?), followed by Bhartṛhari’s Vākyapadīya (Vth-VIth CE) while, from the time of Bhaṭṭoji Dīkṣita onwards (XVIIth CE), its semantic aspect (is sphoṭa the vācya element?) is developed.

This development will be contextualized both in the domain of Indian philosophy of language (Vyākaraṇa, Mīmāṃsā, Nyāya, Buddhism), and of contemporary theories of semantics, where the Context Principle (only in the context of a sentence does a word have meaning) and the Composition Principle (the meaning of a sentence is a function of the meanings of the words of which it is composed) will be employed as interpretive schemes.

Rocco Cestola's study will be based on the following textual sources: primarily Pātañjalayogaśāstra III.17 as well as I.7, 9, 27, 42-43. The key term in the present study is sphoṭa. It will be explored how the sphoṭavāda is introduced and elaborated in the Pātañjalayogaśāstra, its basic relation with Patañjali’s Mahābhāṣya, and its collocation throughout the history of the intellectual debate on sphoṭa. The discussion about the sphoṭa in the PYŚ is not the only one of linguistic relevance. In fact, the PYŚ discusses several other linguistic topics and an accurate reconstruction of its theory of sphoṭa will need to see it in this wider context. A non-comprehensive list of the linguistic topics discussed in the PYŚ covers the following ones: theory of meaning (artha), primary meaningful symbol (sphoṭa), primary signifying-unit (pada/vākya), phonology (vāgvarṇa), signifier/signified (vācaka/vācya), syntax (kāraka/sādhana). These subject areas will be contextualized within the history of South-Asian classical and pre-modern intellectual debate and referred in relation to the similarity and/or dissimilarity in respect to other systems of thought (Vyākaraṇa, Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika, Mīmāṃsā, Buddhism).

Considering the relevance of the sphoṭa theory among the Pātañjalayogadarśana philosophy of language sketched so far the present project will examine: 

a) Original Aspects of the Sphoṭavāda in the Yogadarśana.

b) The Relations between the Yogaśāstra philosophy of language and Vyākaraṇa.