Vaisheshik philosophy

Vaiśeshika is one of the six Hindu schools of philosophy (Vedic systems) of India. Historically, it has been closely associated with the Hindu school of logic, Nyaya. Originally proposed by the sage Kanāda (or Kana-bhuk, literally, atom-eater) around the 2nd century BC.[1], this system is believed to be as old as Jainism and Buddhism. Kanada presented his detailed atomic theory in Vaisheshika-Sutra. Although the Vaisheshika system developed independently from the Nyaya, the two eventually merged because of their closely related metaphysical theories. It explains the nature of the world with seven categories:

Dravya (substance), guna (quality), karma(action), samanya(universal), vishesha (particular), samavaya (inherence) and abhava (non-existence). Basically, Vaisheshika is a pluralistic realism.
Vaisheshika contends that every effect is a fresh creation or a new beginning. Thus this system refutes the theory of pre-existence of the effect in the cause.
Vaisheshika espouses a form of atomism and postulates that all objects in the physical universe are reducible to a finite number of atoms. The eternal atoms are the material cause of the world. Vaisheshika recognizes nine ultimate substances :
Five material and four non-material substances. The five material substances are: earth, water, fire, air and akasha. The four non-material substances are: space, time, soul and mind.
Earth, water, fire and air are atomic but akasha is non-atomic and infinite. Space and time are infinite and eternal. The concept of soul is comparable to that of the self or atman.
This system considers consciousnessas an accidental property. In other words, when the soul associates itself to the body, only then it ‘acquires’ consciousness. The consciousness is not considered an essential quality of the soul.

The mind (manas) is accepted as atomic but indivisible and eternal substance.
The mind helps to establish the contact of the self to the external world objects. The soul develops attachment to the body owing to ignorance. The soul identifies itself with the body and mind.
The soul is trapped in the bondage of karma as a consequence of actions resulted from countless desires and passions.
Soul can be free from the bondage only if it becomes free from actions. Liberation follows the cessation of the actions.
Kanada does not discuss much on God. Although not among Kanada’s original philosophies,[2] later Vaishesika atomism also differs from the atomic theory of modern science by claiming the functioning of atoms (or their characterization because of which they function in their way) was guided or directed by the will of the Supreme Being or Supreme Concept.But the later commentators refer to God as the Supreme Soul, perfect and eternal. This system accepts that God (Ishvara ) is the efficient cause of the world.
An alternative view would qualify the above in that the holism evident in the ancient texts mandate the identification of six separate traditional environments of philosophy, consisting of three sets of two pairs.
In its classical form, however, the Vaishesika school differed from the Nyaya in one crucial respect: where Nyaya accepted four sources of valid knowledge, the Vaishesika accepted only perception and inference. Vaisheshik ontology
According to the Vaisheshika school, all things which exist, which can be cognised, and which can be named are padārthas (literal meaning: the meaning of a word), the objects of experience. All objects of experience can be classified into six categories, dravya (substance), guna (quality), karma (activity), sāmānya (generality), viśesha (particularity) and samavāya (inherence). Later Vaiśeshikas (Śrīdhara and Udayana and Śivāditya) added one more category abhava (non-existence). The first three categories are defined as artha (which can perceived) and they have real objective existence. The last three categories are defined as budhyapekshyam (product of intellectual discrimination) and they are logical categories.[4]
1. Dravya (substance): The substances are conceived as 9 in number. They are, prithvī (earth), ap (water), tejas (fire), vāyu (air), ākaśa (ether), kāla (time), dik (space), ātman (self) and manas (mind). The first five are called bhūtas, the substances having some specific qualities so that they could be perceived by one or the other external senses.[5]

2. Guna (quality): The Vaiśeshika Sūtra mentions 17 gunas (qualities), to which Praśastapāda added another 7. While a substance is capable of existing independently by itself, a guna (quality) cannot exist so.
The original 17 gunas (qualities) are, rūpa (colour), rasa (taste), gandha (smell), sparśa (touch), sankhyā (number), parimāna (size/dimension/quantity), prithaktva (individuality), sanyoga (conjunction/accompaniments), vibhāga (disjunction), paratva (priority), aparatva (posteriority), buddhi (knowledge), sukha (pleasure), dukkha (pain), icchā (desire), dvesha (aversion) and prayatna (effort). To these Praśastapāda added gurutva (heaviness), dravatva (fluidity), sneha (viscosity), dharma (merit), adharma (demerit), śabda (sound) and samkāsra (faculty).[6]
3. Karma (activity): The karmas (activities) like gunas (qualities) have no separate existence, they belong to the substances. But while a quality is a permanent feature of a substance, an activity is a transient one. Ākāśa (ether), kāla (time), dik (space) and ātman (self), though substances, are devoid of karma (activity).[7]
4. Sāmānya (generality): Since there are plurality of substances, there will be relations among them. When a property is found common to many substances, it is called sāmānya.[8]
5.Viśesha (particularity): By means of viśesha, we are able to perceive substances as different from one another. As the ultimate atoms are innumerable so are the viśeshas.[9]
6. Samavāya (inherence): Kanāda defined samavāya as the relation between the cause and the effect. Praśastapāda defined it as the relationship existing between the substances that are inseparable, standing to one another in the relation of the container and the contained. The relation of samavāya is not perceivable but only inferable from the inseparable connection of the substances.[10]. Vaisheshik epistemology
The early Vaiśeshika epistemology considered only pratyaksha (perception) and anumāna (inference) as the pramānas (means of valid knowledge). The other two means of valid knowledge accepted by the Nyāya school, upamāna (comparison) and śabda (verbal testimony) were considered as included in anumāna.[11]
The syllogism of the Vaiśeshika school was similar to that of the Nyāya, but the names given by Praśastapāda to the 5 members of syllogism are different.[12] Vaisheshik atomism
The early Vaiśeshika texts presented the following syllogism to prove that all objects i.e. the four bhūtas, prithvī (earth), ap (water), tejas (fire) and vāyu (air) are made of indivisible paramānus (atoms): Assume that the matter is not made of indivisible atoms, and that it is continuous. Take a stone. One can divide this up into infinitely many pieces (since matter is continuous). Now, the Himalayan mountain range also has infinitely many pieces, so one may build another Himalayan mountain range with the infinite number of pieces that one has. One begins with a stone and ends up with the Himalayas, which is a paradox – so the original assumption that matter is continuous must be wrong, and so all objects must be made up of a finite number of paramānus (atoms).
According to the Vaiśeshika school, the trasarenu (dust particles visible in the sunbeam coming through a small window hole) are the smallest mahat (perceivable) particles and defined as tryanukas (triads). These are made of three parts, each of which are defined as dvyanuka (dyad). The dvyanukas are conceived as made of two parts, each of which are defined as paramānu (atom). The paramānus (atoms) are indivisible and eternal, they can neither be created nor destroyed.[13] Each paramānu (atom) possesses its own distinct viśesha (individuality).[14]
The measure of the partless atoms is known as parimaṇḍala parimāna. It is eternal and it cannot generate the measure of any other substance. Its measure is its own absolutely.[15]
Over the centuries, the school merged with the Nyaya school of Indian philosophy to form the combined school of nyāya-vaiśeshika. The school suffered a natural decline in India after the 15th century.
The Vaisheshikas say that the visible universe is created from an original stock of atoms (janim asataḥ). As Kanāda’s Vaiśeshika Sūtra (7.1.26) states, nityaṃ parimaṇḍalam (that which is of the smallest size, the atom, is eternal), he and his followers also postulate eternality for other, nonatomic entities, including the souls who become embodied, and even a Supreme Soul. But in Vaiśeshika cosmology the souls and the Supersoul play only token roles in the atomic production of the universe. The Brahma Sutra (2.2.12) says ubhayathāpi na karmatas tad-abhavaḥ. According to this sūtra, one cannot claim that, at the time of creation, atoms first combine together because they are impelled by some karmic impulse adhering in the atoms themselves, since atoms by themselves, in their primeval state before combining into complex objects, have no ethical responsibility that might lead them to acquire pious and sinful reactions. Nor can the initial combination of atoms be explained as a result of the residual karma of the living entities who lie dormant prior to creation, since these reactions are each jiva’s own and cannot be transferred from them even to other jīvas, what to speak of inert atoms. References
1. Oliver Leaman, Key Concepts in Eastern Philosophy. Routledge, 1999, page 269. 2.‬ Kevin Burns: “Eastern Philosophy”, Enchanted Lion Books, 2006
‪3.‬ Radhakrishnan, S. (2006), Indian Philosophy, Vol. II, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, ISBN 0-19-563820-4., pp. 180–81
‪4.‬ Radhakrishnan, S. (2006), Indian Philosophy, Vol. II, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, ISBN 0-19-563820-4. pp. 183–86
‪5.‬ Chattopadhyaya, D. (1986), Indian Philosophy: A Popular Introduction, People’s Publishing House, New Delhi, ISBN 81-7007-023-6., p. 169
‪6.‬ Radhakrishnan, S. (2006), Indian Philosophy, Vol. II, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, ISBN 0-19-563820-4., p. 204
‪7.‬ Rad Radhakrishnan, S. (2006), Indian Philosophy, Vol. II, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, ISBN 0-19-563820-4.hakrishnan 2006, pp. 208–09.
8.‬ Radhakrishnan, S. (2006), Indian Philosophy, Vol. II, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, ISBN 0-19-563820-4., p. 209
‪9.‬ Radhakrishnan, S. (2006), Indian Philosophy, Vol. II, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, ISBN 0-19-563820-4., p. 215
‪10.‬ Radhakrishnan, S. (2006), Indian Philosophy, Vol. II, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, ISBN 0-19-563820-4.pp. 216–19
‪11.‬ Chattopadhyaya, D. (1986), Indian Philosophy: A Popular Introduction, People’s Publishing House, New Delhi, ISBN 81-7007-023-6., p. 170.
‪12.‬ Radhakrishnan, S. (2006), Indian Philosophy, Vol. II, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, ISBN 0-19-563820-4., p. 75ff.
‪13.‬ Chattopadhyaya, D. (1986), Indian Philosophy: A Popular Introduction, People’s Publishing House, New Delhi, ISBN 81-7007-023-6., pp. 169–70.
14.‬ Radhakrishnan, S. (2006), Indian Philosophy, Vol. II, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, ISBN 0-19-563820-4., p. 202

15.‬ Dasgupta, Surendranath (1975), A History of Indian Philosophy, Vol. I, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, ISBN 81-208-0412-8., p. 314

Advertisements

Tags:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: