This paper was presented at
Psychology: The Indian Contribution
National Conference on
Indian Psychology, Yoga and Consciousness
organised by the Indian Council of Philosophical Research
at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education
Pondicherry, India, 10-13 December 2004

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The aesthetic dimensions of Sphota and Dhvani

S. Murali — Pondicherry University, Pondicherry.

After the welter of poststructuralist and postmodernist theorizing there apparently remains little need to seek theoretical corroborations for the view that different theoretical positions are formulated under different cultural and historical situations and they need to be thus read differently to create less misunderstanding! In a vast country like India where differences whether political, geographical, social, as well as cultural, have been in existence over a long period of time, and historical interpellations have been made from time to time by entirely separate cultural groups, be it Persian, Greek, Islamic, Dutch, or English, such differences were not so easily homogenized, but on the other hand continued to exist cordially with their distinctions, identities and differences in a collective. My contention is that Sanskrit holds great possibilities in the direction of comparative aesthetics. What remains for us is to extend these concepts in to the present with a clear historical understanding of their roots. My rereading of the significance of Sphota and Dhvani theories in their aesthetic dimension is an attempt to seek out their renewed possibilities. With the full recognition that such theories were formulated with specific intentions in specific cultural and historical situations, intended at a specific order of understanding, we could still find some scope for newer understanding(s) from our own complex present positions, especially in the context of the present conference that attempts to understand the Indian contribution to psychology. My attempt would be to extend the scope and meaning of these concepts from linguistics (Bhartrhari) and aesthetics (Anandavardhana and Abhinavagupta) towards an application of their significance in the psychology of artistic production, reception and appreciation.

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