Bhashya (Sanskrit: भाष्य; bhāṣya) is a "commentary" or "exposition" of any primary or secondary text in ancient or medieval Indian literature.[1] Common in Sanskrit literature, Bhashya is also found in other Indian languages. Bhashya are found in various fields, ranging from the Upanishads to the Sutras of Hindu schools of philosophy, from ancient medicine to music.[2][3][4]

The Indian tradition typically followed certain guidelines in preparing a Bhashya. These commentaries give meaning of words, particularly when they are about condensed aphoristic Sutras, supplementing the interpreted meaning with additional information on the subjects.[2] A traditional Bhasya would, like modern scholarship, name the earlier texts (cite) and often include quotes from previous authors.[5] The author of the Bhasya would also provide verification, acceptance or rejection of the text as interpreted, with reasons, and usually include a conclusion.[2] The title of a commentary work sometimes has the title of the text commented on, with the suffix "-Bhashya".[6]

Among the earliest known Bhashya are included the Maha-bhashya of Patanjali from the 2nd century BCE,[7] and Sabara Bhashya of the Mimamsa school of Hinduism, dated to have been likely composed between 100 BCE to 200 CE, but no later than the 5th century.[8] An example of Buddhist literature Bhashya is Vasubandhu's Abhidharmakośa-Bhāṣya.[9]

The term bhashya literally means "speaking, talking, any work in the current, vernacular speech".[1] The term also refers to, states Monier-Williams, any "explanatory work, exposition, explanation, commentary" that brings to light something else.[1] A bhashyakrit is the author, and these words are related to the root bhash which means "speak about, describe, declare, tell".[1] (Cf. the productive ending -ology in English, which derives from the Greek verb λεγῶ (legō), meaning "speak".)

A typical Bhashya would be an interpretation of a Sutra or other classical work word by word.[10] It can also consist of word by word translations and the individual viewpoint of the commentator or Bhashyakara.

There are numerous Bhashyas available on various Sanskrit and non-Sanskrit works. A few examples are Brahma Sutra Bhashya by Sri Madhvacharya[11] and Sri Adi Shankara,[12] Gita Bhashya and Sri Bhashya[13] by Sri Ramanuja and Mahabhashya by Patañjali[14]