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The Vaishesika System Philosophy- The Indian Philosophy

The Vaishesika System Philosophy- The Indian Philosophy

The Vaiseșika or vaisheshika system was founded by the sage Kaņāda also named Uluka. It is allied to the Nyāya system and has the same end in view, namely, the liberation of the individual self. It brings all objects of knowledge. i.e. the whole world, under the seven categories of substance (dravya), quality (guņa), action (karma), generality (sāmānya), particularity (višeşa), the relation of inherence (sāmavāya), and non-existence (abhāva).

A substance is the substratum of qualities and activities, but is different from both. There are nine kinds of substances, viz. earth, water, fire, air, ether (ākāśa), time, space, soul and mind (manas). Of these, the first five are called the physical elements (bhūtas) and have respectively the specific qualities of smell, taste, colour, touch and sound. The first four are composed of (aparatva), fluidity (dravatva), viscidity (sneha), cognition (buddhi), pleasure, pain, desire, aversion, striving (prayatna), heaviness (gurutva), tendency (samskara), merit (dharma) and demerit (adharma).      An action is a movement. Like quality, it belongs only to substances. There are five kinds of action, viz. throwing upward (utksepaņa), throwing downward (avakṣepaņa), contraction (ākuñcana), expansion (prasāraṇa) and going (gamana).

All cows have in them a certain common nature for which they are grouped into one class and excluded from other classes. This is called ‘gotva’ or cowness and is the sāmānya or universal in them. Since cowness is not generated by the birth of any cow nor destroyed by the death of any, it is eternal. A universal is thus the eternal essence common to all the individuals of a class. Particularity (višesa) is the ground of the ultimate differences of things. Ordinarily, we distinguish one thing from another by the peculiarities of its parts and other qualities. But how are we to distinguish the ultimate simple and eternal substances of the world, like two atoms of the earth? There must be some ultimate difference or peculiarity in each of them, otherwise they would not be different, both having all the qualities of the earth. Particularity stands for the peculiarity or individuality of the eternal entities of the world. It is the special treatment of this category of viseșa that explains the name ‘Vaiseșika’ given to this system of philosophy.

Inherence (samavāya) is the permanent or eternal relation by which a whole is in its parts, a quality or an action is in a substance, the universal is in the particulars. The cloth as one whole always exists in the threads, qualities like ‘green,’ ‘sweet’ and ‘fragrant,’ and motions of different kinds abide in some substances. Cowness as a universal is in all cows. This permanent relation between the whole and its parts, between the universal and its individuals, and between qualities or actions and their substances, is known as samavāya or inherence.

Non-existence (abhāva) stands for all negative facts. “There is no snake here,’ that rose is not red,’ there is no smell in pure water are propositions which express respectively the non-existence of the snake, redness and smell in certain things. All such cases of non-existence are brought under the category of abhava. It is of four kinds, namely, pragabhava, dhvamsabhava, atyantabhava (these three being put together under samsara gābhāva or the absence of one thing in another thing), and anyonyābhāva. The first means the non-existence of a thing before (prior to) its production, e.g. the non-existence of pot in clay before it is produced by the potter. The second is the non-existence of a thing after its destruction (dhvamsa), e.g. the non- existence of the pot in its broken parts. The third is the absence of a thing in another thing for all time-past, present and future, e.g. the non-existence of colour in the air. The last kind represents the difference of one thing from another. Then two things (say a jar and a cloth) differ from each other, there is the non-existence of either as the other. The jar is not the cloth, nor is the cloth the jar. This mutual non-existence of two different things is called anyonyabhava.

With regard to God and liberation of the individual soul, the Vaisesika theory is substantially the same as that of the Nyāya.

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