Classical Indian Philosophy: School: Vaisesika: Introduction and the Concept of “Padartha”

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Introduction

  • Vaisesika is an orthodox school of Indian philosophy.
  • The word Vaisesika is derived from word, vishesha which means particularity or distinguishing feature or distinction.
  • So, Vaisesika is a philosophy of pluralistic realism which emphasizes on the concept of plurality of being or soul in the universe.
  • The name of the founder of this school is Kanada.
  • Some of the other names he is known by are Kanabhauk, Uluka, Kashyapa, etc.
  • It is hence also known as Alukya school.
  • The major branch of philosophy propounded by this school is metaphysics.

The Concept of “Padartha”

  • Category is called a padartha.
  • According to the school, the universe has seven padartha.
  • Padartha means meaning of the word or object signified by the word.
  • In other words, it means, all objects can be thought (jneya) and can be named (abhidheya)

The seven padartha are divided under two heads:

  • Being or bhava
  • Non-being or Abhava

The first six padartha fall under the head of bhava or being or real.

They are:

  • Substance or dravya
  • Quality or Guna
  • Action or karma
  • Generality or Samanya
  • Particularity or vishesha
  • Inherence or Samavaya: The last or the seventh padartha belongs to the Abhava or non-being category.
  • Non-existence or Abhava

In short, according to Vaisesika, all that is real comes under the object of knowledge and is called a padartha or a category.

The Concept of “Padartha”

The Concept of Substance or Dravya

  • Substance signifies the self-subsistence, the absolute and the independent nature of things.
  • As a result, it is defined as the substratum where actions and qualities (Gunas and karma) inhere.
  • It is the co-existent material cause of the composite things produced from it.
  • So, substance is the basis or the premise of qualities and actions, actual or potential, present or future.
  • In short, substance cannot be defined apart from qualities and actions.

According to Vaisesika, there are two kinds of substances:

  • Ultimate substance
  • Compound substance

Ultimate substances are eternal and independent in nature. They are individual and infinite or infinitesimal. They are material causes of compound substances and are not subjected to production and destruction.

On the other hand, compound substances are made up of parts and arise out of simple ultimate substances. They are transient, impermanent, and subjected to production and destruction.

There is a total of nine dravya. They are all objective realities.

They are:

  • Earth or prithvi
  • Water or ap
  • Fire or Tejas
  • Air or vayu
  • Ether or akasha
  • Time or kala
  • Space or dik
  • Spirit or atman
  • mind or manas (internal organ)

The Nature of Nine Dravya: Important Points

  • Earth, water, fire, air and manas are atomic and eternal in nature
  • Earth, water, fire, and air produce composite dravya
  • Earth, water, fire, air, and ether are the panca-bhutas.
  • Earth, water, fire, air, ether, and mind are physical in nature.
  • Soul on the other hand is spiritual in nature.
  • Time and space are objective realities.
  • Ether, space, time, and soul are all pervading and eternal
  • Earth, water, fire, air, mind, and soul are infinite in number.
  • On the other hand, ether, space, and time are one each.

Questions

1. ________ dravya is spiritual in nature

A. Soul

B. Mind

C. Ether

D. Time

Answer: A

Explanation: Earth, water, fire, air, ether, and mind are physical in nature. Soul on the other hand is spiritual in nature.

2. ________ dravya are eternal and atomic in nature

A. Earth

B. Water

C. Fire

D. All of the above

Answer: D

Explanation: Earth, water, fire, air and manas are atomic and eternal in nature.

3. ________ padartha fall under the head of Bhava

A. Five

B. Six

C. Seven

D. Four

Answer: B

Explanation: The first six padartha fall under the head of bhava or being or real. They are: Substance or dravya, Quality or Guna, Action or karma, Generality or Samanya, Particularity or vishesha and Inherence or Samavaya

4. ________ is also known as Alukya school

A. Vaisesika

B. Nyaya

C. Mimamsa

D. Yogacara

Answer: A

Explanation: Some of the other names of Kanada are Kanabhauk, Uluka, Kashyapa, etc. The school of Vaisesika is hence also known as Alukya school.

#Vaisesika

#Dravya

#Padartha

#Metaphysics

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