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Anubandha Catushtayam – Introduction In Ancient Hindu Scientific And Philosophical Texts

Anubandha Catushtayam in ancient scientific and philosophical texts are the fourfold elements devices of textual assumption and composition. It was the precursor to the preface – introduction in modern contemporary texts. The content of Anubandha Catushtayam are generally discussed today in the preface or introduction to the text.

In Sanskrit scientific and philosophical texts the practice is to state at the beginning

  1. Vishaya (the subject matter of the composition)
  2. Sambandha (the nature of the relationship between theme and mode of its exposition
  3. Prayojana (the purpose of composition of the text)
  4. Adhikarin (readership, the person qualified or fit to study the subject)

Sayanacharya, the commentator of Vedas, in the Foreword to his commentary on Yajurveda, has addressed questions like – What is Veda? What are its characteristics? What is its purpose? What makes one an eligible reader of Vedas? (ke va tasya Vishaya-sambandha-prayojana-adhikarinah). These four questions explicate the domain, method of exposition, readership and purpose and distinctness of composition of a text.

Vishaya governs the title of the text. It denotes the scope and nature of the domain of enquiry. For example, Madhavacharya’s Sarvadarshanasangraha which is a compendium of the sixteen schools of Hindu philosophy ranging from Charvak to Advaita Vedanta.

Sambandha between the theme and its expositional shastra text may be pratipadya-pratipadaka bhava or bodhya bodhaka bhava. In case of Sarvadarshanasangrah, (Hindu) philosophy is pratipadya with particular reference to Advaita Vedanta and the text itself is pratipadaka which is expositional in nature.

Prayojana of Sarvadarshanasangraha is to foreground the issues of inter and intra debate of the Hindu philosophical systems, and to establish Advaita Vedanta as the culmination of Hindu philosophical debates. Similarly, there were many commentaries and translations of the Bhagavad Gita before Lokmanya Tilak wrote his Gita Rahasya. He stated in his Introduction to the volume that the theme of Gita was neither jnana (knowledge-oriented) nor bhakti (devotion-oriented) as explained by the earlier writers, but it is primarily and specifically a karma (action) oriented text. He translated and explained the text of the Bhagavad Gita to suit his interpretation and convinced the students at large that his view point was logical and correct.

Adhikari or readership is determined on various parameters. There are pedagogical texts – primers, intermediate and advanced – in all disciplines. For example, Laghusiddhantakaumudi, Madhyasiddhantakaumudi and Siddhantakaumudi in grammar; Tarkasangraha, Vedantasara and Pratyabhijnahridayam in Nyaya-Vaisheshika, Advaita Vedanta and Kashmir Shaiva philosophy; and Sarvadarshanasangaraha for the readers of general Hindu philosophy. The eligibility to study Vedas comes from the complete mastery of Vedangas (auxiliary disciplines of Vedas) – phonetics and phonology, grammar, etymology, prosody, rituals and astronomy.