Jayanta Bhatta

From Bharatpedia, an open encyclopedia

Jayanta Bhatta
Bornc. 820 CE[1]
Diedc. 900 CE[1]
Home townSrinagar
PhilosophyNyaya school of Hindu philosophy

Jayanta Bhatta (c. 820 CE - c. 900 CE[1]) was a Kashmiri poet, teacher, logician, adviser to King Sankaravarman, and a philosopher of the Nyaya school of Hindu philosophy.[2][3] An influential but not particularly prolific writer, he is known to have authored three works on Nyāya philosophy, one of which is not currently known to exist, an allegorical drama, and a commentary on Pāṇinian grammar, which is also not currently known to exist.[1]


Life span

There has been some debate regarding Jayanta's birth year, his lifespan, as well as when his works were written. In his philosophical work Nyāyamañjarī as well as his drama Āgamaḍambara, Jayanta refers to King Sankaravarman (883 - 902 CE) as his contemporary.

Kādambarikathāsāra, a work written by Jayanta's son Abhinanda, mentions that Jayanta's great grandfather was a minister of king Lalitaditya Muktapida who was a ruler of the Karkota dynasty in the second quarter of the 8th century CE.[4] There have been several attempts to place his life span based on references to his work by other authors, as well as references to contemporary events and individuals in his own works, ranging from the middle of the 8th century CE to the start of the 10th century CE. However, most reliable estimates place him around the 9th century CE.[1]


Kādambarikathāsāra provides some information about Jayanta's lineage. It says his ancestor Shakti was a Brahmin and a direct patriline descendant, or gotra, of Bharadwaja from the Gauda region, who lived in Darvabhisara, a hilly region at the border of Kashmir. His son was named Mitra, and his grandson was Saktisvämin(Shaktisvamin).

Saktisvämin, the great grandfather of Jayanta, was a minister of the king of Kashmir Lalitaditya Muktapida of the Karkota dynasty (c. 724 – 761 CE). Jayanta mentions in Nyayamanjari that his grandfather obtained a village named Gauramulaka, believed to have been located north of the modern town of Rajouri, from king Muktapida. Saktisvämin had a son named Chandra, Jayanta's father.[5]


Jayanta was born into a wealthy and respected orthodox Brahmin family.[3] He soon turned out to be a child prodigy, at a young age composing a commentary to Panini’s Ashtadhyayi and earned the name Nava-Vrittikara, or new commentator.[5] Later in life, he mastered various shastra and agama, distinguished himself in scholarly debates, and passed on his knowledge to a circle of students.

Political career

The Agamadambara provides valuable details about Jayanta Bhatta's political career. He was an adviser to the Kashmiri king Sankaravarman. In his position, he played a role in banishing the Nilambara (Black-Blankets) sect from Kashmir. Commenting on Tantra literature, he argued that the Nilambara sect promoted "immoral teachings". Jayanta claimed the Nilambara "wear simply one blue garment, and then as a group engages in unconstrained public sex". He argued that this practice was "unnecessary" and threatened the fundamental values of society.[6]


Major philosophical works

Jayanta wrote three known treatises on Nyaya philosophy, of which only two are extant. His first, and what is considered to be his magnum opus, the Nyayamanjari (A Cluster of Flowers of the Nyaya tree) is a commentary on Nyaya-aphorisms but also serves as a critique of the theories of rival philosophical systems like the Mīmānsādarśana.

His second, the Nyayakalika (A Bud of the Nyaya tree) is an overview of the basic tenets of the Nyāya Sūtras, a foundational text of the Nyaya school of philosophy. His third work, Pallava (probably Nyayapallava, A Twig of the Nyaya tree) though quoted in Syadvadaratnakara, is not currently known to exist.[1][5]

Jayanta mentions in Nyayamanjari that he wrote this treatise during his confinement in a forest by the king. This treatise is unique because this is an independent work, not a commentary of an earlier work, which was the common practice at the time.

Secondly, according to Jayanta, the purpose of Nyaya is to protect the authority of the Vedas, the oldest scriptures of Hinduism, whereas earlier Nyaya scholars considered Nyaya to be an Anvikshiki (scientific study) providing true knowledge about the real nature of the objects of cognition.

Major literary works

His major literary work is Āgamaḍambara, a Sanskrit play in four acts. The hero of his quasi-philosophical drama is a young graduate of the Mimansa school, who wants to defeat all opponents of Vedas through reasoning.[5]

Philosophical position

The existence of God

The discussion of God's Existence is found in part 1 of Nyaya Manjuri. Jayanta adheres to a realist viewpoint of God and the world and defends the possibility of reasoned arguments favoring God as a realistic and adequate cause of the world.[7]

Criticism of Lokayats

He criticized the Lokayata school of philosophy for not developing a Lokayata culture. Thus he said,

"The Lokayata is not an Agama. viz. not a guide to cultural living, not a system of do's and don’ts; hence it is nothing but irresponsible wrangling."[8]

English translations

The Clay Sanskrit Library has published a translation of Āgamaḍambara by Csaba Dezső under the title of Much Ado about Religion.

See Also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Hegde, R. D. (1983). “BHAṬṬA JAYANTA.” Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, vol. 64, no. 1/4. pp. 1–15.
  2. Francis Clooney (2010). Hindu God, Christian God: How Reason Helps Break Down the Boundaries Between Religions. Oxford University Press. pp. 39–40. ISBN 978-0-19-973872-4.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Bhatta Jayanta; Csaba Dezsö (2005). Much Ado about Religion. New York University Press. pp. 15–17. ISBN 978-0-8147-1979-4.
  4. Burgess, James (1872). The Indian Antiquary, A Journal of Oriental Research in Archæology, History, Literature, Languages, Folklore, &c., &c (PDF). p. 106.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Csaba Dezso. "Introduction to Agamadambara".
  6. Flood, Gavin D. (2006). The Tantric Body, The Secret Tradition of Hindu Religion. I.B Taurus. pp. 48–49. ISBN 978-1-84511-011-6.
  7. Clooney, Francis Xavier (2010). Hindu God, Christian God: How Reason Helps Break Down the Boundaries Between Religions. Oxford University Press. pp. 39–45.
  8. Narain, Harsh (1990). Myths of Composite Culture and Equality of Religions. pp. 33–34.