Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Six Windows


1 Chance thought it was a Sunday. Swirled a nightful. Erased telephone calls.

2 Will knew because she took a late taxi. Hours after, moon met unsure rainwind.

3 Will wanted to read. Starstorms of Chance's reluctant, moody fiction.

4 Chance went home. Left time hanging on curtains.

5 Bent forests in Will's noodle bowl. But Chance wanted pizza.

6 Sleepless city lay on Anonymity sea. Chance got two film tickets and popcorn. Bleary Will woke from a bad dream that second. Phone screen lit. A text from Chance:

'Want to bet?'

#midnightcrawler #christmasstory #winterdoodle

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Hegel's India: A Reinterpretation, with Texts



In his writings on India, Hegel characterized Indian thought as “fantastic,” “subjective,” “wild,” “dreamy,” “frenzied,” “absurd,” and “repetitive”. 
If Indian art, religion, and philosophy were so inadequate, what explains his life-long fascination with India? This unique volume brings together Hegel’s reflections and argues that Indian thought haunted him, representing a nemesis to his own philosophy. Further, it indicates that the longstanding critical appraisals of Hegel are incommensurate with his detailed explorations of Indian thought. Hegel distinguished his own thought on two grounds. The first was to focus on freedom and to rail perpetually against the caste system. The second was to indicate the necessity for dialectical mediation, and thus to reprove the stasis of Indian thought. But did Hegel ever manage to exorcise the evil twin that beset his work? Shedding new light on Indological and Hegelian studies, this book systematically presents all of Hegel’s writings on and about India for the first time, including translations of his lesser-known essays on the Bhagavad-Gita and the Oriental Spirit, along with a substantive reinterpretation and a bibliography.

Breakout

Announcing my new co-authored book: Hegel's India: A Reinterpretation, with Texts (with Aakash Singh Rathore), on the inimitable philosopher's obsessive affair with India, published by Oxford University Press! Breaks the myth around this continental Godfather (and precursor to Marx, Nietzsche, phenomenology, existentialism, psychoanalysis, semiotics, positivism, analytic philosophy, critical theory, structuralism and all things post).

Žižek, maverick Slovenian pop star, bitterly named 'the most dangerous philosopher in the West' and the 'Elvis of cultural theory', has decided to break in and write a note for it! 


"In our postcolonial times, Hegel’s thoughts on India seem to allow only one reaction: an outright rejection of Hegel’s racist Eurocentrism. Hegel’s India takes the challenge of a detailed reading of Hegel’s texts with a surprising result: behind Hegel’s dismissal of India, there lies not only his profound fascination with India but also an uncanny proximity between India’s ancient wisdom and Hegel’s speculative thought. Beneath Hegel’s India, we can discern the traces of what would have been India’s Hegel. [This book] provides a model of how a dialogue between different cultures should be practiced, beyond the confines of Eurocentrism and historicist relativism." — Slavoj Žižek 




Saturday, December 13, 2014

Carousel

Melancholia and Delight
Didn't go to the fair
They went their ways
As rapacious rainbows
Hid and surfaced
Sulking harmonica
Sent anonymous 
Invitations 
To Jack-in-the-box
Insomniac, imbecile
Rooted restless glue
Jugglers played the flute
Under wild midsummer
Raced the circus tent
Melancholia reached home
But Delight lost her way
Accidentally met the box
Fair came by instead
To complicated cube
Neon whirl

Pickpocket

Can of an ocean haze. 
Rustle of a sand sheet.
Wind truant handkerchief.
Pocket rock surreptitious.

[November 8, 2014]

Clock Tower

Alone rushed
Kindred past
Didn't you know
That hours wait
Stillness stops by
Lazy they'd meet
In cloaked seconds
Fade out and cut
Clockwork love
Time for none

[August 14, 2014]

Somersaults

Somersaults of a wily noon
Tell you the toyest lie
Pieces of a twisted compass
Pointing south, skewed high
Tumble in the current
Where static sticks like magnet
In electric charge twines
Acrobat dream
Whirlwind deadlock

[August 14, 2014]

Perfect Ten

Streetened dust
Cast in bones 
Strange, hidden
Bitter, remains
Where reflections hang 
Upon tungsten shards
Flashes of faraway frolic
A dreamy iris watches 
Behind nose-pressed glass
Like a falling kite trapped
Whiffs appetise, famished, waits
Yellow fire, crimson smoke
Sprinkle salt, spices call
Whipped wounds on the side
Tossed and shaken
In a newspaper packet
Hate and hope
Served mint fresh

[July 27, 2014]

Solstice

Windscreen winding
Roadside rising
Glinting asphalt
Twilight shining
Nets on wayside
Trees, wild, hiding

Stardust memories 
Of long ago
Revolving, forgetting 
That they met before
Whenever you crossed
Driving in rain
Losing and finding
Your bluest vein

[June 21, 2014]

Yellow 12

Yellow 12
Cut square and firm
Mountain pieces from ago
And fractions of a puckish sky
Wound in those stranger pines

[June 7, 2014]

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Tangled


It stood still
When you fell
Held aloft
Silent, seeing
Snip a time-warp
It is pastime

Mending turn
Word alone
Yours or mine
Fighting light
A fraction run
Swapping veins
Steal a wish
Hang it dry

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Ruse


There is that
A dream asleep
Flaming eyes
Crooked whim
Rouse the intrigue
Wrong, then real
Awake yet?

[Oct 6, 2013]

Toolbox


Gash cable. Vein-opener
Skin glider. Paperknife
Stone scissors. Glue lies
Word emulsifier. Deceit brush
Stamped faith. Sealed eyes
Wrangled wedges. Memory dust
And a branded truth tape

[July 19, 2014]

Trial


Shining hour | Routine high
A chair of lies | Holds fort
Indolent chatter | Canopies of pride
The jury confers | Curious ears
As the air fills | With snug delight
Farces huddle | In rugged bonhomie
Ringing lights | Clinking notes
The key witness | Honourable deceit
Under oath | Unwavering
Accused |
Wronged, it waits | Crushing faith
As the hapless clock | Grim, ticks
Verdict then | Drowning din
Truth is tied | In second place.

[Dec 18, 2013]


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Script


Stage these words
They knock unexpected
Cobalt afternoons
To play and run away
A dream ice-cream cone
Caught in glittering eyes
On a rainy day
Out of breath, dripping wet

Stage these words
They hide in green rooms
As the cyclorama shimmers
Light and wind lashing
That golden sheen
On a brazen screen
They never truly show
Cast only a hint
Distant hazy, warm dewy
Shadows of the roles you play

Stage these words
They watch you rehearse
Behind the blinding white
Against limelight
Bared before all
Yet nobody will see
They filch your shoe
Just before curtains rise
Step along the wings
Fiddle with your mirrors
Stuffed suitcases
Rummage, fling, all over
Sword and scarf
Only to find, lay them back
Nimble, softly, one at a time
A lone checkered pocket
  
Stage these words
They spin to the tune
Out of step and frantic
Whistling as they go
In irreverent melody
Like the top swirls red
On the familiar terrace
When a door is left ajar
In the glistening streets
Edgy, drenched
Soon dusty, sunlit
Meet the bicycle bell

Stage these words
They confound actors
Prompt false lines, overwrite
Bioscope wordplay
Tell tales of fire
Still, rage, desire
Distract, deflect, inkblot shapes
Across the rustic fence
A crossroad faraway
Walk through the wild grass
When you turn back
Lock in intractable gaze

Stage these words
They block your way
Bystanders, passersby
Stun striding stilts, wanderers at will
Conjure train sets, break into song
Rough pitch, off-key
Watch a tepid sea dark
Crash more than once
Rocks and breeze
They fuse lyrics, old favourites
Waylay you, by the stairs
Dot, square, deal
Unscript what was to be
Strictly to script

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Rafted


Raft ashore
Stumbles once
A dream rolled
Into a thin paper pipe
A blue bottle
Of liquid memory
In what is unsaid
Alive calls

Route-22


That windscreen 
Blinked as he left
A distant second
Dishevelled, disarrayed
Bleary-eyed, stared
Tinted rain
In roads unseen
Waited, darkly met

Stranger storm
Called to say
This unknown pace
Brought blazing winds
Hoary lightning
Can't only be
Some different way

Milestones walk
With memories
Proud, they watch
Race petrol vapour
Trailing dust
Fading smoke
It’s Route-22
Cast away
Roadblock orange
Won't the highway
Ever slow down
Breathless stop
At the caution board
And wave

This hypnotic dashboard
Sings awhile
When gears and tyres
Confused, unwarned
Roll and gather sheen
And no one tells him
That he's been shadowed
Once before
That a dream cascade
Has been there since time
Under construction

One Hundred


It was to be. A dizzying whiff of words. Mixed in the air. Like a blue vein had cut through pale skin. Remembered. That golden, audacious sight melted every wall. Diffused the ink, brewed cold ash. The acidic cacophony of colour. Left a gash. Wrapped amid rising grass. As a withering yellow rustle trailed behind. Crept, knelt, and breathed low. A touch of a song rose from somewhere. Nebulous, hovering, falling. Drowned everything. Then that haunting ripple. Entered his fearful heart. Pulse pouncing. Impish, smiling, caught in an afternoon getaway.

Like the din of an evening's laugh. Ringing breeze. Hiding in a light-less, crowded corner. In confused rain, familiar banter, and a damning conspiracy. It was to be.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Reading Hegel: Reprise II


Reading Hegel: Reprise



Must you wake? When the ebb is out. 
A cliff watching. Bring a crumpled tale. 
Afloat. Lost happily. And shining.

Just published: South Asia edition of Reading Hegel: The Introductions (Edited and introduced by Aakash Singh and Rimina Mohapatra). New Delhi: Manohar, 2013. 


Saturday, August 07, 2010

Reading Hegel: The Introductions


G.W.F. Hegel 



Edited and introduced by Aakash Singh 
and Rimina Mohapatra


Bringing together for the first time all of G.W.F. Hegel’s major Introductions in one place, this book ambitiously attempts to present readers with Hegel’s systematic thought through his Introductions alone. The Editors articulate to what extent, precisely, Hegel’s Introductions truly reflect his philosophic thought as a whole. Certainly each of Hegel’s Introductions can stand alone, capturing a facet of his overarching idea of truth. But compiled all together, they serve to lay out the intricate tapestry of Hegel’s thought, woven with a dialectic that progresses from one book to another, one philosophical moment to another.

Hegel’s reflections on philosophy, religion, aesthetics, history, and law—all included here—have profoundly influenced many subsequent thinkers, from post-Hegelian idealists or materialists like Karl Marx, to the existentialism of Kierkegaard and Jean-Paul Sartre; from the phenomenological tradition of Edmund Husserl to Martin Heidegger, Jacques Derrida and other post-moderns, to thinkers farther afield, like Japan’s famous Kyoto School or India’s Sri Aurobindo. This book provides the opportunity to discern how the ideas of these later thinkers may have originally germinated in Hegel’s writings, as well as to penetrate Hegel’s worldview in his own words, his grand architecture of the journey of the Spirit.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Duped

On a day it would
Cease to end
Time stopped by
Lazing
On a dreamful frolic

Duped by a blemish
Shining lies
A tiny speck
Flung ashore
Under the watchful guard
Of an idle moon
You wait still
For the tempestuous one
In a stormy quiet
Disarming eyes
Edging ahead
Of that proud time
And all else that is 

Or can be.

Limitless


“…by listening to the D major, I can feel the limits of what humans are capable of - that a certain type of perfection can only be realised through a limitless accumulation of the imperfect.”

Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami

Monday, September 01, 2008

Strange Lies


It must mean
That a bit of the real
The impossible song
An art unborn
Lives in me.

Cast far away
The fable dark
In what is unmasked
A disguise tortuously built
Now intently guards.

And you wait to hear
That truest myth

Of the time nigh
A truth that
Lies alone
Could speak.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Forsaken

Must you wake?
When the ebb is out
And the sand soars
A cliff watching
A swirl of a muse
Bring a crumpled tale
Flung in the stream
On a ring of ripple
Afloat
On a deep dark night
Lost happily
And shining.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Walkway


Raining white
The streets are wet
Lights flash neon
A lone wish treads
Into a promenade

A seething rush
Tinkering tune
Truth of a time
Tangle of a heart

A moon that follows
The red car racing
And the wind drives past
The road listless
Raging wait
And mist shining
It’s stop time.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

The Messenger

Tonight gushes in
A song swirls
Prancing scarlet
Cascading in.

Streaming
It glides
Stealing a glance
Under watchful eyes.

Lure it, dupe it
However may
It won’t tell you
If the vengeful rain
Will come tonight.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Question


Won’t you stow away this wavy ocean
On the sly; in a corner somewhere
When a deep dark sky is alone
When no one’s looking,
Only a dream gleaming,
Hiding?

The Hero


Brooding murky
Of a combat nigh
In brutal ruin
Gasping, weary, rising
From the crippling calm
He is
The hero
Raring to go, surely
It is not far.

Slumped in the field
He hears a clang
Of mirthful laugh
The sword blade glints
The victor
Arrives
Stop he will, certainly
When it is far.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Waited

Do you not hear yet
That a throb of a time
Has been ringing ever since
Gazing at the searing rush in veins
Flooding alive each crevice
From a coast that’s nigh, but runs away often
Gleaming in a wondrous reverie
A battleground mutely waits outspread.

Along that wild black ocean
Stubborn, insolent, wrathful
As waves embark on a lone row
And you hone the burnished dagger once more
While raging flames swell to spew
Lilting, tunes dangle in a queue
Awaiting the rain; to cling to clouds
To twine with one other
Become that known song
But, hush, do not speak
The night is sure to rouse
Certainly still, secretly,
Steering this feverish frenzy
You shall come tonight destined
To meet, ruffled,
An earth ravenous of sky.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Sentinel

Drooping on a canopy
There sleeps a careless wisp of mist
A dark boat brooding, adrift
Silver waves hurtle on madly
Gliding under a quiet sun
Musing of a certain note
Over the gritty crippling stillness
Of the whiteness of the stream
Twinkling across a pale sky
Smoke-filled, rainy, distant
A scarlet lily is watching
In hiding, gleefully.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Taken

Invited to this flamboyant ruse
A clock ticks, time to begin
Guests have flowed into the glimmer
He must now ready to amuse
Cloaked in a robe of deceit
Cheering to this resplendent charade
Await a murky delight

On the anvil
Where listeners watch enthralled
Lies are dancing breathlessly
The trickster is weaving a tale.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Expedition

The rushed clap of the feisty ride
Sweeps the air with tingling jabs
Clucking and lashing into the gust
The carriage slithers into a sudden halt
A chance moment rolls in when
The cobbled lane kindles in fire
The traveller compelled to stop
A ravenous gaze fixed on
The foggy white twilight
Swinging in the golden crescent
Of a deep blue night
Silken in the moon glow
Starving for more

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Advent

This lone dusk is waiting
A sleepy time ambles
But hiding in a languid daze
It is wide awake, busy.
All day long
Quiet, where it lives
It has been warily thinking.
It has strategised
To trick
It has decided
To ambush
It sneaks in
Slowly behind
To strike
To deluge
It is storm.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Guest

Frosty heights of wilful winds
Will connive to stubbornly dance
Raging come in icy spells
Sailed a boat, meek at row

The lighthouse is a distant dream.
Away the ocean ebbs. Sunbeams
Miss the tide once more
The happy stranger was here.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Game

What a burnt night it is
A youthful moon
Like a lark plays unfazed.
Tawny grasslands dark and wild
Sprint with every wind.
A glinting claw
Holds its breath still
Afraid it will echo.
Stars linger in the pearly sky
Nerves taut wait fearfully
While a heart pounds on
This quiet, rasping tonight—
Determined to avenge.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Once

A reverie of a crushing lilt
A rise that is all alone.
Rapt in a slow undoing
A forlorn fall that is alive calls
It is here.

Glimmering there waits a golden air
A dutiful clock is ticking bright
Though time refuses to stir,
Musing stubbornly of an azure noon; when
It was here.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Intrigue

Here to avenge, entered
Swinging, clinging lies
The insolent sneer
Sharpened its arms—
They were already here
Speaking in hushed tones.

Clouding shadows flocked in again
Looking for someone
And not a stranger that was.
In the muted glow of the street light
Perhaps threw once
A searing glance
At the dangling bit of a truth.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Amiss

Woolly clouds snowing light
Warm cuddled a crimson urge.
A wrathful storm was lurking by
Gliding on a frosty trail.

Blazing arose, bewitched,
A violin tune cascaded him
The shutterbug was missing
When words came flying
Humming a little on
A folded newspaper boat.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

In Hiding

Indolent winds look on
A jade ocean retreats
Tiny mirrors sailing—
A million suns glisten
On the ripples float.
You shut your eyes
Wishing they stared.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Tempest

A sinister blizzard looms in.
Waiting to strike.
A quiet day is puzzled.
Under the dark spell
The sky prepares—

The squall turns a song.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

War

Cast his steely eye
The sea on her side
She is the song
Of this frosty spell tonight.

Eyes on the sky
At the lone starry ground
Quiet, on he ambles

Dares a rapacious world.

Afar

There rages a cerulean waft
In the swaying scarlet fields.
On a blade of grass flutters a dream
Frolicking anguished,

Throbbing gleefully.

Brooding by the stream,
An unseen longing watches
That song striding in
Already far.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Skating on Sand

Asleep in a woodhouse afar
He seizes the sun
In his dazzling eyes
A wisp of a day flies in
Swimming in the verdant tarn
The moon razes the roof
A strand seeps somewhere
An indigo slice of sky,
On his dream tonight.

Lonely sandwaves alter ever.
Gusty, joyous, alive.
Flames leap out of the ocean
In hushed embrace
Glinting blades draw nigh
The wilted bough, bemused,
Recalls it will brutally fight

Standing frozen in time awhile
A dark icy night is blunted still.
Thinks of him
Who happily wrestles,
With cloud fluffs tonight.

He unknots them
His feet know no bounds
Shall live
Strung with being.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Dreamer

Burning noon, it is midnight.
The indigo fields lie open all while.
Zest in stone, face the rocky height,
Wild roses springing from sand.

The white ocean is ever so restive,
The night’s just fallen asleep.
And the moon is awake still.
Eclipsed in total radiance,
The dreamer wakes up.
Bleary eyed.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Bridge

Waiting on the high bridge
Out in the evening frost
Winds glisten, sprint past
And dark waters rush
Silvery beneath my feet
It’s a boat sailing in quietude
Rising on the ripples
Towering me, the moon
Behind the lone distant lighthouse
There is a mighty wave waiting
A star strewn sky looks on.
Must learn to wait…

Jigsaw


Solitary


Friday, November 10, 2006

Scarecrow


The Storm


Spellbound

There was a line
Surrounding it, world
The conjured amid the mundane
Flowed in like light
Strings entwining
Colours so restive
The scarlet letterbox
Swung from a wire
It was a stormy afternoon.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Summersault


The azure of the ocean jabs him alight
Lying abreast the rocky shore
The muted ushers in din
The sandy air clangs on yet
Folding the moment into his toy
He watches the moon fall from sky.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Friday, October 20, 2006

Carnival I

The lunatic ambles on the lawns
And a hush seems to fall
Nip the white clouds
They’ll bring the drizzle tonight

The moon merrily glints
Over a quivering stream
Imbue this air in confetti
The Cheshire cat is winking still

Fireworks shower the sky
The juggler whistles a tune
Chrysanthemums at the window ledge
Jack-in-the-box in dream

A polka dotted dress around
Dash to those cheering claps
Sitting to fix a cherry nose
The clown laughs out loud.

Carnival II

Walking tall on those stilts
A spotlight twinkles bright
Swinging on trapeze high
Scarlet is this day

Gifts will soon begin to unwrap
Seize time in its eyes
It clenches in its fist
A pocket of fresh warm hope

The magic hat pops around
Amid din, a mandolin at play
Who’ll dance with me tonight?
-- the rabbit turns to yell.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Combat

Blazing flare leaping high
The burnished rock stubborn stands
The stony grit, clenching fate
That night was her sentinel

Steering might plunging forth
Waves that fight aloft hold
Yield to melt, a war calls out
There is fire in his eyes.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Ashore

Sandy white, an unusual sky
It is a blue day
Horizon looms, the electric posts gaze
Sprinting still, he cries out
The secret cave is miles away

Slashing the tepid, the brackish waters
Leaps into the moist air
Racing on, p
assion astir, gasping
Smiles viciously
At the dark ocean.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Yellow

A breeze drew me.
The yellow flower stood out.
To embrace close
Intoxicate
The tapering leaves
Were a dark hue
Wrapped around
Oozed as nectar
The white sap...
The yellow flower.

26 Aug 2006, Sat

Gossamer Speaks

Jigsaw

The fish-eye hangs
Eluding from the heavens
The ruthless frenzy of the imagine
Draws her in
An arrow strung on the lyre
The canary begins to croon
Aflutter, out of sleep
Brainstorms rage loud
Draw the bow out
The ink waltzes on

Mind placid at once
An epic is born
Lamp aglow

Warm on yellow parchment

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Friday, June 16, 2006

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Brake free

Sundown on the highway
The asphalt vapour lingers on
While the symphony rises
An evening leisurely melts
It is a balmy drive.

The milestones sprint past
Ineluctably, the midnight is caught
Warped; it begins to rain.

Winds lashing against him
Half drenched, in trance awhile
Hair blowing into eyes
The taxi driver breaks into a tune.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Friday, May 12, 2006

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Night Out

Blown in the storm
A paper airplane zips by
Just as the mist sets in
A crimson scarf flutters atop the lamp post
A vagrant strums the guitar


Burning bright, the city lights
A lone skinny dog ambles
Across the pavement, moths flood the neon glow
The warm gust is still a little far off
Upon snug taverns rests

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Rising

The Wanderer

Beauty ablaze
The mountain stands resolute
Yellow sunshine floods the meadows down

Misty valleys caress the distant peaks
Sun and clouds play hide and seek
Hearing the stone speak
Fortified

Wings stretched wide
Fly
Spanning the skies
The mind alight

Capture the dauntless majesty
Of the cliff aloft
Panning the horizon
the splendour of the mountain
Its sheer ferocity

At a window ledge
From the flitting chink
Wandering wild
Drenched in the glimpse of eternity

Autumn

Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Play

The conch shell dazzles
Across the fine grooves
There is an unfailing sheen
As the play begins

At the ocean shores
The cradle begins to rock
A melody rises deep
And we fall asleep
When the dice is played
When the puzzle unveils
When the cards are thrown
And the dart lunges forth

Awash with sheets of crystals
There are leaves on the ground
From the emerald ponds deep
The blue lilies arise

The fine sands slip away
Stars rush from above
Who was looking for us this while?
There is gold dust all over.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

A Tree

A tree beside the sandy
River-beach
Holds up its topmost boughs
Like fingers towards the skies
They cannot reach,
Earth-bound, heaven-amorous.

This is the soul of man.
Body and brain
Hungry for earth
our heavenly flight detain.

Sri Aurobindo

The Tempest


















March 2006

Monday, March 06, 2006

Nāgārjuna: Speech or Silence?

It is in impinging on a severe critique of language that the central upshot of the Mādhyamika method emerges. The rejection of language has its kernel in the idea of Pratītyasamutpāda and śūnyatā together, and witnesses an explicit articulation in the prasanga method of the Mādhyamika. Pratītyasamutpāda or conditioned emergence shows that everything is dependent on numerous contingent factors, modes and reasons, for their relative existence. All events come into being depending on their preceding conditions. So, none of them in isolation have independent essence or being. In characterizing all categories and all existents as finally “empty” or śūnya, what Mādhyamikas mean is that they are empty of “essence” or svabhāva. Śūnyatā is thus, the natural outcome of pratītyasamutpāda because upon the knowledge of the flux of reality, when one begins to unravel the object, one finds it to be empty of inherent existence or self-nature, devoid of any essential being.
In the Milindapañha for instance, Nāgasena poses as to ‘what a chariot is’ and then himself enumerates his proposals — is it the pole, the axle, the wheel, the reins etc? Or a mere conglomeration? And in refusing these unsatisfactory suggestions, King Milinda reaches the baffling conclusion that none of these individually or cumulatively constitutes the chariot, and that when it is unraveled to its core, it no more remains a chariot. The analogy can be extended to simply everything. It turns out that on analyzing reality free of any specific ditthi or perspective, we see that concepts characteristically fail and language distorts. Evidently, this is the harshest possible criticism against language, to deny its very function of even being able to express anything. Further, the method of reductio ad absurdum or prasanga is Nāgārjuna’s methodological core, in demonstrating that all possible perspectives [in language] about reality involve inherent self contradiction. The structure of the prasanga argument is four-fold, namely it is a four-cornered negation of the form of catuśkoti or tetralemma:
I. A is [sad]
II. A is not [asad]
III. A both is and is not [ubhaya]
IV. A neither is nor is not [anubhaya]

This formulation exhausts the limit of all ‘meaningful’ thought or talk. By showing that all four alternatives are equally inconsistent by explicitly drawing out their implications, Nāgārjuna is able to point at the absurdity of language.

In picking from here, in the Vigrahavyāvartanī, the Nyāya school puts forth a number of objections against Nāgārjuna’s emphasis on śūnyatā, since the very espousal of śūnyatā itself presupposes language. Since, śūnyatā is framed in language, either, (a) śūnyatā itself is not śūnya, which would make the proposition that ‘everything is śūnya false’ or (b) if śūnyatā is śūnya, then the proposition is insignificant, meaningless, trivial or worthless, for it is simply empty of substance. Nāgārjuna however resorts to a rather confident defence in denying entirely that he is offering any thesis or ditthi.

Thus, in Vigrahavyāvartāni, Nāgārjuna says:

“If I had any proposition (pratijñā), then this defect (dosa) would be mine.
I have, however, no proposition. Therefore there is no defect that is mine.” [#29]

In the claim of a ‘no-position’ view of self refutation, the role of language seems to be radically inconsistent. To the extent that the claim is that one is not taking any metaphysical position at all, Nāgārjuna’s philosophy is śūnya too. This emptiness, best shown through silence, is realized when assent is withheld from all four logically possible answers to a metaphysical question (yes, no, both, neither). This is suggestive of the primal absurdity of speech and verbalization [prapañca]. The silence that is entailed, can be seen as a deconstruction of language itself, since language, here, is both used and negated in the same stroke. Is there a way then to resolve the inconsistency at a basic level?

In the backdrop of contemporary ordinary language philosophy, there is a visible turn towards stressing on the pragmatism in language. In his classic work How To Do Things With Words (1962), J. L. Austin makes the significant distinction between ‘performatives’ and ‘constatives’ and highlights the role of speech act as lying not in describing anything but in the doing of things. Essentially, speech acts refer to acts performed when words are uttered. Thus in a speech act, one does not seek to describe or report anything. It is about what is done in the saying of something, such as an active function as affirming, reassuring, promising, commanding, threatening or praying. That is, the utterance performs a function. Thus in saying ‘I promise’ in suitable circumstances I make a promise; in saying ‘Hooray!’ I cheer someone.
Extending the idea of speech acts to Nāgārjuna’s method, one may argue that in suggesting the śūnyatā of everything, for instance, Nāgārjuna in the strict sense, is not just 'saying' anything. It looks like Nāgārjuna is rather engaged in doing [rather ‘undoing’] something. He is unravelling philosophical discourse to expose its inherent contradictions. He is also employing the speech act in affecting the hearer, since in claiming radically that everything is śunya, he annoys, puzzles, frustrates, and even disappoints the audience. It is transformative in its affecting the person or community in some way: purifying, healing, reconciling, protecting, informing, and so on. If the seeker of freedom understands the import of the utterances, then in the same act, she is also liberated, for she is moved, convinced, persuaded and then ‘quietened’. Nāgārjuna can thus defend his stance as using language in order to do something, not to describe anything (which is to be rendered true or false). In fact it is in the undoing of the theoretical effects of language that the Mādhyamika’s concern lies. Thus, Nāgārjuna’s use of language is possibly analogous to Derrida’s ‘writing under erasure’. The performative dimension of language then is something that seems fundamental to the Mādhyamika method. And on this interpretation perhaps, the apparent paradox of language and silence is resolved to an extent.