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सर्वे जनाः सुखिनो भवन्तु

सत्यं वद । धर्मं चर


Vaisheshika -Vedic Atomic Theory– The founder of vaishehsika Philosophy is the sage kaanaada, who was also known as ulooka. Therefore, this system is sometimes called aulookya. Kaanaada wrote vaisheshika sootras, and this work is divided into 10 cantos, each canto containing two sections. The significant feature of this system is the introduction of a special category of reality called uniqueness (vishesha) known as vaisheshika. vaisheshika is also allied to the nyaaya system of philosophy. Both systems accept the liberation of the individual self as the end of goal, both view ignorance as the root cause of pain and misery and both believe that liberation is attained only through right knowledge or reality. The 2 major differences between nyaaya and vaisheshika, first nyaaya philosophy accepts 4 independent sources of knowledge – perception, inference, comparison, and testimony but vaisheshika accepts only 2 – perception and inference. Second nyaaya maintains that all of reality is comprehended by 16 categories (padaarthas), whereas vaisheshika recognises only 7 categories of reality. These are: dravya– (substance), guna -(quality), karma (action), saamaanya (generality), vishesha (uniqueness), samavaaya (inherence) and abhaava (nonexistence). Of the above, six exist and last one is nonexistence. vaisheshika’s 7 Categories (padaarthas) of Reality – According to vaisheshika school, all things that exist, can be cognized, and named are padaarthas, the objects of experience which were classed into 6, but later vaisheshikas (shreedhara & udanaya and shivaaditya) added one more category abhaava (non-existence). The first 3 categories are defined as artha (which can be perceived) and they have real objective existence. The latter 3 categories are defined as budhyapekshan (product of intellectual discrimination) and they are logical categorization. dravya, substance, is that in which a quality or an action can exist but which is different from both quality and action. Without substance, there cannot be a quality or an action because substance is the substratum of quality and action, and it is also the material cause of the composite things produced from it. A cloth, for example, is formed by the combination of several threads of certain colors. The threads are the material or constitute causes of the cloth because it is made of the threads that subsist in the cloth.

  1. i) dravya (Substance) – There are 9 dravyas namely 􁮧ुि􁭝व (Earth),अप् (Water),तेजस् (Fire), वायु (Air), आकास ( Space or ether), काल ( Time), 􁳰दक् ( Direction), आ􁭜म (Self or Soul), मनस् ( Mind).

The first 5 of these are called भूता(physical elements) the substances having specific qualities so that they could be perceived by one or other external senses. For example, smell is the particular property’ of the earth and it is apprehended by the nostrils. paramaanu – The smallest particle of matter – earth, water, fire, and air- called paramaanu or atom in visheshika refers to the most minute indivisible state of matter, which cannot be produced or destroyed as they are eternal. This should not be confused with the modern scientific term atom because an atom as described in nuclear physics is itself composed of many parts. Therefore, that indivisible and minute part in vaisheshika is called the atom.

akaasha – ether. There are 4 kinds of atoms – atoms of earth, atoms of water, atoms of fire and atoms of air – each having own peculiar qualities. aakaasha, the 5thsubstance is the substratum of the quality of sound, it is not made up of atoms. aakaasha is translated as space. Sound can be perceived, but aakaasha cannot be perceived because it lacks 2 conditions necessary for the perception of an object– perceptible dimension and manifest color. aakaasha is unlimited (Does not have dimension) and formless (colorless). aakaasha is one and eternal because it is not made up of parts and does not depend on any other substance for its existence. It is all pervading in the sense that it has an unlimited dimension and that its quality (sound) is perceived everywhere.

Direction and time – Direction and time are also imperceptible substances, and they are single, eternal and all pervading. Direction is inferred on the basis such as here, there, near, far etc. and time is inferred from the concepts now, today tomorrow, past, present, etc When all pervading, indivisible space is limited by the walls of a jar, that space is known as the space of the jar (ghataakaasha). In the same way, direction and time are also thought of as multiple because of the notions of variety and specificity expressed as east, west, one hour, two hours and so on. Soul – The 8th kind of substance, the soul or aatmaa, is also considered to eternal and all-pervading and is the substratum of the phenomenon of consciousness. According to vaisheshika philosophy, there are 2 kinds of souls: individual and Supreme. Individual souls are known as jeevaatmaa, and the Supreme soul is known as paramaatmaa or Iswara. The Supreme soul is inferred to be the creator of the world.

Mind – Mind is considered as the 9th kind of substance. It is eternal in the sense faculty of the individual soul and the soul’s qualities such as pleasure and pain. Like the soul, mind is atomic and indivisible – there is one in each body. The existence of the Mind is not perceived but is inferred. Mind is a part less, atomic and internal sense faculty of perception.


  1. ii) guna (Quality) –The vaisheshika sootras mention 17 Gunas (Qualities) to which prasaatapaada added another 7. gunas cannot exist while a substance is capable of existing independently by itself. The 24 Gunas are:

􁱨प (Colour)                      रस (Taste)                             ग􁭠ध (Smell)                           􁭭पस􁭅 (Touch)                          सइ􁭎य (Number)                    प􁳯रमाण (Size)                       􁮧थ􁭍􁭜व (Individuality)               संयौग (Conjunction

िवभाग (Disjunction)             पर􁭜व (Priority)                        अपर􁭜व (Posterity)   बुि􁳍 (Knowledge)

सुख (Pleasure)                      दुःख (Pain)                             इ􁭒छ (Desire)                          􁳇ेष (Aversion)


To these prasaastapaada added                                   

गु􁱧􁭜व(Heaviness)                    􁮤व􁭜व (Liquidity)                       􁳩ेह (Viscosity)                      धम􁭅 (Merit)            

अधम􁭅 (Demerit)                 श􁭣द (Sound)                           सं􁭭कार (Faculty)


iii) karma – Activity– karmas (activities) like gunas (Qualities) have no separate existences. While quality is a permanent feature of a substance, an activity of a transient one. aakaasha (Ether), kaala (Time), dik (Space) and aatmaa (Self) though substances, are devoid of karma (activity).


  1. iv) saamaanya – Generality – Since there are plurality of substances, there will be a relation among them. When a property is found common to many substances, it is called saamaanya.


  1. v) vishesha – Particularity – By means of vishesha, one can perceive substances as different from another. As the ultimate atoms are innumerable, so are the visheshas.


  1. vi) samavaaya – Inherence – kaanaada defined saamaanya as the relations between the cause and effect. praasatapada defined it as the relationship existing between the substance that are inseparable, standing to one another in the relation to the container and the contained. The relation of samavaaya is not perceivable but only inferable from the inseparable connection of the substance.


vii) abhaava – Non-Existence- abhaava, the 7th and last category of reality is negative in contrast to the first 6 categories., which are positive. According to vaisheshika philosophy, non-existance exists, just as space and direction do. Therefore, non-existance also exists. There are 2 kinds of non-existance: absence of something in something else (samsaraagabhaava). For example, when a jar is broken into pieces then there is non-existance of that jar. The non-existance of the jar begins with its destruction, but this non-existance cannot be ended in any way, because the same jar can be brought back into existence, while mutual non-existence (anyonyabhaava) is the difference of one thing from another. When one thing is different from another, they mutually exclude each other and there is the non-existance of as the other. For example, a pen is different from a book, so there is nonexistence of the book in the pen and of the pen in the book.