Archive for the ‘Shad Darshan – Nyaya and Vaisheshika’ Category

Darshan (Philosophy) II

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Shad Darshan – Nyaya and Vaisheshika:


The other two philosophical systems of Hinduism, namely, Nyay (Nyaya) and Vaisheshik (Vaisheshika) are more or less scientific systems developed to understand God and His Creation simply because we cannot fully test or reproduce both of them in our laboratory systems. To understand all that we see, observe, feel, think, and experience with our five senses and four antahkarans (mind) the Vedic Hindu thinkers or philosophers had developed theses two alternative systems in ancient times. Nyay is a system of logic or rules whereas Vaisheshik is system of cosmology or particles (Kan or Kana), though the evolution of universe from Prakruti is elaborately discussed in Sankhya Shashtras. Historians of science have shown unawareness about the contribution of Hindu scriptures in the fields of logic, physics, mathematics, philosophy, language, sociology, psychology, cosmology, etc. or in science in general.


Nyaya or the system of logic was developed by rishi Gautam. According to Nyaya, obtaining the valid knowledge through logic helps to attain liberation. Nyaya philosophy describes 16 systems or points of understanding, called “Padārtha,” to extract “basic meanings” of any entity. These are: 1. Pramāna (evidences), 2. Prameya (theorem or analysis), 3. Samshaya (doubt or questioning), 4. Prayojana (aim, goal, or purpose), 5. Drashtānta (examples), 6. Siddhānta (conclusion or abstract), 7. Avayava (subdivisions, part, or sections), 8. Tarka (logic or hypothetical reasoning), 9. Nirnaya (descision, final verdict, or settlement), 10. Vāda (doctrine, principle, or arguments), 11. Jalpa (debate, hot discussion), 12. Vitanda (quibble or caviling), 13. Hetavābhāsa (gross purpose), 14. Chhala (fallacy or tricking), 15. Jāti (kind or descent), and 16. Nigrahasthāna (point of defeat). All 16 padarthas are further explored. For example, Nyaya school describes four types of reasoning or evidences (pramāna): A. Evidences in favor of validity of the knowledge are: direct perception (pratyaksh pramana), inference or guess work (anumāna pramana), comparative evidence (upamāna pramana), and verbal or testimonial evidence (shabda pramana). B. Evidences in favor of invalidity of the knowledge are: memory (smruti), doubt (samshaya), errors, variability, or vicissitudes (viparyāya), and hypothetical reasoning (tarka). All kinds of the evidences are further explored. For example: direct perception. It can also be of two kinds: laukika or sādhārana (ordinary or sensory), and alaukika or asādhārana (extra ordinary or extra sensory). Both are further explored. For example, ordinary perceptions can be divided into six categories, namely, auditory, tactile, visual, gustatory, olfactory, and mental. Extra ordinary perceptions are further divided into three varieties: sāmanya-lakshana (common sense or intuition), gnān-lakshana (calculated or knowledge based from the previous experience), and yogaja (ESP). Perceptions are also divided into: savikalpa (relative) and nirvikalpa (absolute).

This is just to have its idea. Voluminous information can be found from the Nyaya texts.


Vaisheshik system was developed by rishi Kanād, from whose name the particles got the name “Kan” or “Kana.” His teaching was that liberation can only be achieved or attained by thoroughly understanding the nature and our existence. Vaisheshika accepts the cosmology or the evolution of the Nature or Universe. Prakruti is considered to be the cause of cosmic evolution. Prakruti has three constituent qualities (guna), namely, sattva, rajas, and tamas in equilibrium. That is why it is also known as “trigunātmikā.” According to Vaisheshika, all objects in nature (Prakruti) are made of tiniest, indivisible, invisible, indestructible, and eternal particles that are neither created nor destroyed (meaning they were there at the beginning of the creation and they will be there at the end of dissolution) and are called “paramānu.” They are like elementary particles of modern physics. Paramanus make anu. Two paramanu make one dvyanuka. Two, three, four, and more dvyanuka make one tryanuka, chaturanuka, and so on. These anu possess continuous vibratory motion which can be regarded as the spin or wave function. These paramanus are distinct from the soul. Each atomic substances has individual (vishesha) characteristics which distinguishes them from other non-atomic substances (dravyas), such as time (kāl), three dimensional space (dig, dishā) (directions or dimensions), soul (ātmā or ātman), and mind (manas). Vaisheshika has definitions for, ākāsh, time, and space. They have no lower constituents, meaning they are elementary. (Vaisheshika Sutra: 2.1.27-31) The qualities of akash are: sound, number, dimension, distinctness (individuality or separateness), conjunction, and disjunction. (Vaisheshika Sutra: 7.1.22) Time marks past, present, and future; succession, lateness and earliness. (Vaisheshika Sutra: 2.2.6) Time marks beginning, persistence, and end. (Vaisheshika Sutra: 2.2.9) Space is the cause of directions and dimensions between two objects. Vaisheshika clearly defines and describes the principle of cause (kāran) and effect (kārya).

Time can flow at different rates for different observers. Time and space are not absolute. Space and time are relative. There exist countless universes with their own Brahmā, Vishnu, and Mahesh. The universal is taken to be timeless and ubiquitous. Whatever can be defines with respect to space and time cannot be a universal. The processes that mark the passage of time on an object would thus be relative. It is only the universals which are true for all time and space are absolute or transcendental. The only such universals are Brahm and Parabrahm. These ideas are elaborated in the Purans, Agama Shashtras, and in the books such as Yoga-Vashishtha.

Substances can be grouped according to their actions or activities, common characteristics, specific characteristics, and their relationships with the cause and effect. According to Vaisheshika, there are six basic categories (padārtha) associated with reality: dravya (substance), guna (quality or characteristic), karma (motion or actions), sāmānya (common or general), vishesha (specific), and samavāya (inherent or comparative).

Dravyas include 9 basic realities, namely, Pruthwi (earth or solid), Jal (water or liquid), Tej (light or fire), Vayu (air or gas), Akash (ether or void), Desh or Dishā (place or the three dimensional space), Kal (time), Mana (mind), and Atma (soul or spirit).

Seventeen kinds of gunas (qualities or characteristics) of objects are originally described. They are: Rupa (appearance or form), Rasa (taste), Gandh (smell), Sparsh (feel or touch), Sankyā (number), Parimāna (dimensions, size, or quantity), Pruthakatva (individuality, separateness, or isolation), Samyoga or sanjog (conjugation), Vibhāga (parts, divisions, or disjunctions), Paratva (remoteness, farness or superiority), Aparatva (nearness or inferiority), Buddhi (intelligence or judgment), Sukha (happiness or pleasure), Dukha (unhappiness or pain), Ichchhā (desire), Dvesha (aversion or animosity), Prayatna (effort –  easy or hard).

Karma means action, activity, motion, or work done. It has four features: Akash (in space or in vacuum), Kāl (time), Dik or Dishā (direction), and Atman (inherent – size, magnitude, etc).