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Abhidha – One Of Three Powers Of Word – Primary Meaning

In Hinduism, Abhidha is primary meaning and one of the three powers of a word, the other two being lakshana (secondary meaning) and vyanjana (suggesting meaning). The meaning of a word is inherent in it just as a shape is in a perceptible object. But a meaningful word has the power of expressing three meanings – one primary and two auxiliary, depending upon the relation of the particular word with other words in the sentence and the intention of the user to communicate.

For example, take the word ‘stone’. Its literal or prevalent primary meaning is a piece of rock. Secondly, it may also be used to indicate hardness. Thirdly, to denote absence of emotion in a person, one says – ‘the stone did not melt’. Thus the same word expresses three different meanings – a piece of rock, something that is dry and hard and en emotionless person. Here the first meaning is the example of abhidha, the second of lakshana and the third of vyanjana.

Abhidha gives expression to the simple and straightforward meaning; it comes directly. This type of meaning does not ensue directly as the other two types do. The menaing of the word expressed by abhidha is its prevalent meaning, which may be derived grammatically or prevail conventionally, and is given in the dictionaries.

Abhidha connotes three types of words – conventional (rudha), compound or derivative (yaugika) and compound conventional (yogarudha). Conventional words are those which are not derivatives of any roots or other words and a particular meaning has become prevalent for each of them by convention, for example – the word cow, a river or blue, etc. Compound words are composed of more than one meaningful word or root, for example – rainbow. A compound conventional word is a compound word in which there is more than one meaning on the basis of its constituents prevalent to denote that word. For example, quadruped means four-footed but is used conventionally for animals only, although a cot, a table, or a chair also have four feet.

Some words have more than one meaning. In that case, the acceptable meaning in a particular context is determined by the inter-relation of that word with other words of the sentence.