Eli Franco has recently suggested to distinguish the two main periods in
the history of Indian philosophy, i.e. the older ontological and the new epistemological.
In the Vākyapadīya, however, ontology and epistemology are evidently
intertwined and interrelated. In this paper ontological and epistemological features
of the concepts of paśyantī, pratibhā, sphoţa and jāti are analyzed in order to
demonstrate that all these concepts, while being ontologically different, are engaged
in similar epistemological processes, i.e. the cognition of a verbal utterance. Thus
the identification of sphoţa and jāti as well as of paśyantī and pratibhā met with in
some passages of VP and the commentaries implies not the absolute identity of
these concepts, but only their overlapping in the sphere of epistemology. Considering
concepts of different origin in one epistemological perspective enables to
escape controversies in interpretation and provides a kind of consistency in a bit but
amorphous work of Bhartṛhari.