Philosophy of Language in Javanese Saivism: A Brief Account

The problem of language has been a serious concern amongst philosophers both in Western and Indian traditions since old times. Javanese-Śaivism of ancient Java is not an exception in this regard. In conformity with Brahmanical traditions, Javanese-Śaivism views language has a divine origin. It is not merely means of communication as adopted by naturalists. The very nature of the Ultimate Reality called Śiva is sound (sabda) in the form of cosmic sound (nada). There is identity of sound and reality. Everything comes out from nada and finally everything that exists in the world disappears gradually in nada in niskala. This implies that language and thought are closely related since the very nature of thought is Śiva and its operation is possible only due to the existence and role of divine power (sakti). This sakti causes meaning (artha) of language (word) is possible. Thus, Javanese-Śaivism holds correspondence theory of meaning and word, and also truth.

Key words: Javanese-saivism, nature of language, nada, meaning, correspondence.


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