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Shabda


Śábda is the Sanskrit word for "speech sound". In Sanskrit grammar, the term refers to an utterance in the sense of linguistic performance.

In classical Indian philosophy of language, the grammarian Katyayana stated that shabda ("speech") is eternal (nitya), as is artha "meaning", and that they share a mutual co-relation. According to Patanjali, the permanent aspect of shabda is sphoṭa ("meaning"), while dhvani ("sound, acoustics") is ephemeral to shabda.

Om, or Aum, a sacred syllable of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, is considered to be the first resonating vibrational sound within an individual being. It also denotes the non-dualistic universe as a whole. In Buddhism, Om corresponds to the crown chakra and white light.

Bhartrihari, on the other hand, held a shabda-advaita position, identifying shabda as indivisible, and unifying the notions of cognition and linguistic performance, which is ultimately identical to Brahman. Bhartrhari recognised two entities, both of which may be referred to as "shabda". One entity is the underlying cause of the articulated sounds, while the other entity is the functionality that is used to express meaning. Bhartrhari thus rejected the difference posited between the ontological and the linguistic by logicians. His concept of shabda-brahman which identified linguistic performance and creation itself ran parallel to the Greek concept of logos.



  • Patnaik, Tandra, Śabda : a study of Bhartrhari’s philosophy of language, New Delhi : DK Printworld, 1994, .
  • Singh, Kirpal (1949). A Great Saint, Baba Jaimal Singh. Ruhani Satsang Books, p. 7-9.
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