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Nyaya systems trace their beginnings back to the disputations of Vedic scholars. At the time of the Upanishads, debate was cultivated as an art, following prescribed rules in which the elements of logical proof were contained. The school of Nyaya attempts to define a system of logic as a way to truth and liberation. It is a discipline aimed at reversing the folly and mistaken notions that bind the soul.The Navya-Nyaya (New School of Logic) developed from the twelfth century and specialised in epistemology. It acknowledges four legitimate means of obtaining knowledge:

  1. pratyaksha – sense perception
  2. anumana – inference or deduction
  3. upamana – analogy
  4. shabda – literally “sound,” referring to scriptural authority

These four are all considered valid, but without shabda the others are considered unreliable and potentially misleading. This rationale forms much of the foundation for the epistemological authority granted to Vedic writings.

Nyaya has also developed a sophisticated syllogism that has five stages as opposed to the three of Aristotle. Unique to Indian philosophy, and found in Nyaya texts, are arguments for the existence of Ishvara (God). Many of the currently popular theistic schools draw significantly from Nyaya. Of all the Hindu systems, Nyaya enjoys the greatest respect from Western philosophers, who are beginning to realise the subtleties and intricacies of Indian logic.

Related Values and Issues

  • Stating our case/opinion reasonably
  • Faith and reason

Nyaya Darshana

Nyāya (Sanskrit ni-āyá, literally “recursion”, used in the sense of “syllogism, inference”) is the name given to one of the six orthodox or astika schools of Hindu philosophy—specifically the school of logic. The Nyaya school of philosophical speculation is based on texts known as the Nyaya Sutras, which were written by Aksapada Gautama from around the 2nd century CE.

The most important contribution made by the Nyaya school to modern Hindu thought is its methodology. This methodology is based on a system of logic that, subsequently, has been adopted by the majority of the other Indian schools, orthodox or not. This is comparable to how Western science and philosophy can be said to be largely based on Aristotelian logic.

However, Nyaya differs from Aristotelian logic in that it is more than logic in its own right. Its followers believed that obtaining valid knowledge was the only way to obtain release from suffering. They therefore took great pains to identify valid sources of knowledge and to distinguish these from mere false opinions. Nyaya is thus a form of epistemology in addition to logic.

According to the Nyaya school, there are exactly four sources of knowledge (pramanas): perception, inference, comparison, and testimony. Knowledge obtained through each of these can, of course, still be either valid or invalid. As a result, Nyaya scholars again went to great pains to identify, in each case, what it took to make knowledge valid, in the process creating a number of explanatory schemes. In this sense, Nyaya is probably the closest Indian equivalent to contemporary analytic philosophy.
[edit] Sixteen padarthas or categories

The Nyaya metaphysics recognizes sixteen padarthas or categories and includes all six (or seven) categories of the Vaisheshika in the second one of them, called prameya. These sixteen categories are pramāṇa (valid means of knowledge), prameya (objects of valid knowledge), saṁśaya (doubt), prayojana (aim), dṛṣṭānta (example), siddhānta (conclusion), avayava (members of syllogism), tarka (hypothetical reasoning), nirṇaya (settlement), vāda (discussion), jalpa (wrangling), vitaṇḍā (cavilling), hetvābhāsa (fallacy), chala (quibbling), jāti (sophisticated refutation) and nigrahasthāna (point of defeat).

The Nyaya epistemology considers knowledge (jñāna) or cognition (buddhi) as apprehension (upalabdhi) or consciousness (anubhava). Knowledge may be valid or invalid. The Naiyayikas (the Nyaya scholars) accepted four valid means (pramaṇa) of obtaining valid knowledge (prama) – perception (pratyakṣa), inference (anumāna), comparison (upamāna) and verbal testimony (śabda). Invalid knowledge includes memory (smṛti), doubt (saṁśaya), error (viparyaya) and hypothetical reasoning (tarka).

Pratyakṣa (perception) occupies the foremost position in the Nyaya epistemology. Perception is defined by Akṣapāda Gautama in his Nyaya Sutra (I,i.4) as a ‘non-erroneous cognition which is produced by the intercourse of sense-organs with the objects, which is not associated with a name and well-defined’. Perception can be of two types, laukika (ordinary) and alaukika (extraordinary).

Ordinary perception
Ordinary (Laukika or Sadharana) perception is of six types – visual-by eyes, olfactory-by nose, auditory-by ears, tactile-by skin, gustatory-by tongue and mental-by mind.

Extra-ordinary perception
Extraordinary (Alaukika or Asadharana) perception is of three types, viz., Samanyalakshana (perceiving generality from a particular object), Jñanalakshana (when one sense organ can also perceive qualities not attributable to it, as when seeing a chili, one knows that it would be bitter or hot), and Yogaja (when certain human beings, from the power of Yoga, can perceive past, present and future and have supernatural abilities, either complete or some).
[edit] Determinate and indeterminate perception

The Naiyayika maintains two modes or stages in perception. The first is called nirvikalpa (indeterminate), when one just perceives an object without being able to know its features, and the second savikalpa (determinate), when one is able to clearly know an object. All laukika and alaukika pratyakshas are savikalpa, but it is necessarily preceded by an earlier stage when it is indeterminate. Vātsāyana says that if an object is perceived with its name we have determinate perception but if it is perceived without a name, we have indeterminate perception. Jayanta Bhatta says that indeterminate perception apprehends substance, qualities and actions and universals as separate and indistinct something and also it does not have any association with name, while determinate perception aprrehends all these together with a name.[4] There is yet another stage called Pratyabhijñā, when one is able to re-recognise something on the basis of memory.

Anumāna (inference) is one of the most important contributions of the Nyaya. It can be of two types: inference for oneself (Svarthanumana, where one does not need any formal procedure, and at the most the last three of their 5 steps), and inference for others (Parathanumana, which requires a systematic methodology of 5 steps). Inference can also be classified into 3 types: Purvavat (inferring an unperceived effect from a perceived cause), Sheshavat (inferring an unperceived cause from a perceived effect) and Samanyatodrishta (when inference is not based on causation but on uniformity of co-existence). A detailed anaysis of error is also given, explaining when anumana could be false.

Upamāna, which can be roughly translated as comparison is the knowledge of the relationship between a word and the object denoted by the word. It is produced by the knowledge of resemblance or similarity, given some pre-description of the new object beforehand.

Verbal testimony
Śabda or verbal testimony is defined as the statement of a trustworthy person (āptavākya), and consists in understanding its meaning. It can be of two types, Vaidika (Vedic), which are the words of the four sacred Vedas, and are described as the Word of God, having been composed by God, and Laukika, or words and writings of trustworthy human beings. while Vaidika testimony is perfect because the Vedas are spoken by God, Laukika testimony are is not infallible.

Theory of inference
The methodology of inference involves a combination of induction and deduction by moving from particular to particular via generality. It has five steps, as in the example shown:

  • There is fire on the hill (called Pratijñā, required to be proved)
  • Because there is smoke there (called Hetu, reason)
  • Wherever there is smoke, there is fire, e.g. in a kitchen (called Udāhārana, example of vyāpti)
  • The hill has smoke that is pervaded by fire (called Upanaya, reaffirmation or application)
  • Therefore there is fire on the hill (called Nigamana, conclusion)

In Nyāya terminology for this example, the hill would be called as paksha (minor term), the fire is called as sādhya (major term), the smoke is called as hetu, and the relationship between the smoke and the fire is called as vyāpti(middle term). Hetu further has five characteristics: (1) It must be present in the Paksha, (2) It must be present in all positive instances, (3) It must be absent in all negative instances, (4) It must not incompatible with the minor term or Paksha and (5) All other contradictions by other means of knowledge should be absent.

The fallacies in Anumana (hetvābhasa) may occur due to the following:

  1. Asiddha: It is the unproved hetu that results in this fallacy. [Paksadharmata]
  • Ashrayasiddha: If Paksha [minor term] itself is unreal, then there cannot be locus of the hetu. e.g. The sky-lotus is fragrant, because it is a lotus like any other lotus.
  • Svarupasiddha: Hetu cannot exist in paksa at all. E.g. Sound is a quality, because it is visible.
  • Vyapyatvasiddha: Conditional hetu. `Wherever there is fire, there is smoke’. The presence of smoke is due to wet fuel.
  1. Savyabhichara: This is the fallacy of irregular hetu.
  • Sadharana: The hetu is too wide. It is present in both sapaksa and vipaksa. `The hill has fire because it is knowable’.
  • Asadharana: The hetu is too narrow. It is only present in the Paksha, it is not present in the Sapaksa and in the Vipaksha. `Sound is eternal because it is audible’.
  • Anupasamhari: Here the hetu is non-exclusive. The hetu is all-inclusive and leaves nothing by way of sapaksha or vipaksha. e.g. ‘All things are non-ternal, because they are knowable’.
  1. Satpratipaksa: Here the hetu is contradicted by another hetu. If both have equal force, then nothing follows. ‘Sound is eternal, because it is audible’, and ‘Sound is non-eternal, because it is produced’. Here ‘audible’ is counter-balanced by ‘produced’ and both are of equal force.
  2. Badhita: When another proof (as by perception) definitely contradicts and disproves the middle term (hetu). ‘Fire is cold because it is a substance’.
  3. Viruddha: Instead of proving something it is proving the opposite. ‘Sound is eternal because it is produced’.

The Nyaya theory of causation
A cause is defined as an unconditional and invariable antecedent of an effect and an effect as an unconditional and invariable consequent of a cause. The same cause produces the same effect; and the same effect is produced by the same cause. The cause is not present in any hidden form whatsoever in its effect.

The following conditions should be met:

  1. The cause must be antencedent [Purvavrtti]
  2. Invariability [Niyatapurvavrtti]
  3. Unconditionality [Ananyathasiddha]

Nyaya recognizes five kinds of accidental antecedents [Anyathasiddha]

  1. Mere accidental antecedent. E.g., The colour of the potter’s cloth.
  2. Remote cause is not a cause because it is not unconditional. E.g., The father of the potter.
  3. The co-effects of a cause are not causally related.
  4. Eternal substances, or eternal conditions are not unconditional antecedents. e.g. space.
  5. Unnecessary things, e.g. the donkey of the potter.

Nyaya recognizes three kinds of cause:

  1. Samavayi, material cause. E.g. Thread of a cloth.
  2. Asamavayi, colour of the thread which gives the colour of the cloth.
  3. Nimitta’, efficient cause, e.g. the weaver of the cloth.

Anyathakyativada of Nyaya
The Nyaya theory of error is similar to that of Kumarila’s Viparita-khyati (see Mimamsa). The Naiyayikas also believe like Kumarila that error is due to a wrong synthesis of the presented and the represented objects. The represented object is confused with the presented one. The word ‘anyatha’ means ‘elsewise’ and ‘elsewhere’ and both these meanings are brought out in error. The presented object is perceived elsewise and the represented object exists elsewhere. They further maintain that knowledge is not intrinsically valid but becomes so on account of extraneous conditions (paratah pramana during both validity and invalidity).t

Nyaya argument for the existence of God
Early Naiyayikas wrote very little about God, i.e., Ishvara (literally, the Supreme Lord). However, later Buddhists in India had become from agnostic to strictly atheistic. As a reaction, the later Naiyayikas entered into disputes with the Buddhists and tried to prove the existence of God through logic. They made this question a challenge to their own existence. They gave the following nine proofs for the existence of God, enlisted in Udayana’s Nyaya Kusumanjali:

  • Kāryāt (lit. “from effect”): An effect is produced by a cause, and similarly, the universe must also have a cause. Causes (according to Naiyayikas) are of three kinds: Samavayi (in case of the universe, the atoms), Asamavayi (the association of atoms) and Nimitta (which is Ishvara). The active cause of the world must have an absolute knowledge of all the material of creation, and hence it must be God. Hence from the creation, the existence of the Creator is proved.
  • Āyojanāt (lit., from combination): Atoms are inactive and properties are unphysical. So it must be God who creates the world with his will by causing the atoms to join. Self-combination of inanimate and lifeless things is not possible, otherwise atoms would only combine at random, creating chaos. There is to be seen the hand of a wise organizer behind the systematic grouping of the ultimate atoms into dyads and molecules. That final organizer is God.
  • Dhŗité(lit., from support): Just as a material thing falls off without a support, similarly, God is the supporter and bearer of this world, without which the world would not have remained integrated. This universe is hence superintended within God, which proves his existence.
  • Padāt (lit., from word): Every word has the capability to represent a certain object. It is the will of God that a thing should be represented by a certain word. Similarly, no knowledge can come to us of the different things here unless there is a source of this knowledge. The origin of all knowledge should be omniscient and, consequently, omnipotent. Such a being is not to be seen in this universe, and so it must be outside it. This being is God.
  • Pratyatah (lit, from faith): the Hindu holy scriptures, the Vedas, are regarded as the source of eternal knowledge. Their knowledge is free from fallacies and are widely believed as a source of proof. Their authors cannot be human beings because human knowledge is limited. They cannot obtain knowledge of past, present, and future, and in depth knowledge of mind. Hence, only God can be the creator of the Vedas. Hence, his existence is proved from his being the author of the Vedas, which he revealed to various sages over a period of time.
  • Shrutéh (lit., from scriptures): The Shrutis, e.g., the Vedas extol God and talk about his existence. “He is the lord of all subjects, omniscient, and knower of one’s internal feelings; He is the creator, cause and destroyer of the world”, say the Shrutis. The Shrutis are regarded as a source of proofs by Naiyanikas. Hence, the existence of God is proved.
  • Vākyāt (lit., from precepts): Again, the Veda must have been produced by a person because it has the nature of “sentences,” i.e., the sentences of the Veda were produced by a person because they have the nature of sentences, just as the sentences of beings like ourselves. That person must have been God.
  • Samkhyāvişheshāt (lit., from the specialty of numbers): The size of a dyad or a molecule depends on the number of the atoms that constitute it. This requisite number of the atoms that form a particular compound could not have been originally the object of the perception of any human being; so its contemplator must be God.
  • Adŗişhţāt (lit., from the unforeseen): It is seen that some people in this world are happy, some are in misery. Some are rich, and some are poor. The Naiyanikas explain this by the concept of Karma and reincarnation. The fruit of an individual’s actions does not always lie within the reach of the individual who is the agent. There ought to be, therefore, a dispenser of the fruits of actions, and this supreme dispenser is God.

Nyaya arguments for monotheism
Not only have the Naiyanikas given proofs for the existence of God, but they have also given an argument that such a God can only be one. In the Nyaya Kusumanjali, this is discussed against the proposition of the Mimamsa school—that let us assume there were many demigods (Devas) and sages (rishis) in the beginning, who wrote the Vedas and created the world. Nyaya says that:

[if they assume such] omniscient beings, those endowed with the various superhuman faculties of assuming infinitesimal size, and so on, and capable of creating everything, then we reply that the law of parsimony bids us assume only one such, namely Him, the adorable Lord. There can be no confidence in a non-eternal and non omniscient being, and hence it follows that according to the system which rejects God, the tradition of the Veda is simultaneously overthrown; there is no other way open.

In other words, Nyaya says that the polytheist would have to give elaborate proofs for the existence and origin of his several celestial spirits, none of which would be logical. So it is much more logical to assume only One, eternal and omniscient God.

Literature of Nyaya
The earliest text of the Nyaya School is the Nyāya Sūtra of Akṣapāda Gautama. The text is divided into five books, each having two sections. Vātsāyana’s Nyāya Bhāṣya is a classic commentary on the Nyāya Sūtra. Udyotakara’s Nyāya Vārttika (6th century CE) is written to defend Vātsāyana against the attacks made by Dignāga. Vācaspati Miśra’s Nyāyavārttikatātparyaṭīkā (9th century CE) is the next major exposition of this school. Two other texts, Nyāyaṣūcinibandha and Nyāyasūtraddhāra are also attributed to him. Udayana’s (984 CE) Nyāyatātparyapariśuddhi is an important commentary on Vācaspati’s treatise. His Nyāyakusumāñjali is the first systematic account of theistic Nyāya. His other works include Ātmatattvaviveka, Kiraṇāvali and Nyāyapariśiṣṭa. Jayanta Bhatta’s Nyāyamañjari (10th century CE) is basically an independent work. Bhāsavarajña’s Nyāyasāra (10th century CE) is a survey of Nyāya philosophy).

The later works on Nyāya accepted the Vaiśeṣika categories and Varadarāja’s Tārkikarakṣā (12th century CE) is a notable treatise of this syncretist school. Keśava Miśra’s Tārkabhaṣā (13th century CE) is another important work of this school.

Gangeśa Upādhyāya’s Tattvacintāmaṇi (12th century CE) is the first major treatise of the new school of Navya Nyāya. His son, Vardhamāna Upādhyāya’s Nyāyanibandhaprakāśa (1225 CE), though a commentary on Udayana’s Nyāyatātparyapariśuddhi, incorporated his father’s views. Jayadeva wrote a commentary on Tattvacintāmaṇi known as Āloka (13th century CE). Vāsudeva Sārvabhauma’s Tattvacintāmaṇivyākhyā (16th century CE) is first great work of Navadvipa school of Navya Nyāya. Raghunātha Śiromaṇi’s Tattvacintāmaṇidīdhiti and Padārthakhaṇḍana are the next important works of this school. Viśvanatha’s Nyāyasūtravṛtti (17th century CE) is also a notable work[7]. The Commentaries on Tattvacintāmaṇidīdhiti by Jagadish Tarkalankar (17th century CE) and Gadadhar Bhattacharya (17th century CE) are the last two notable works of this school.

Ānnaṁbhatta (17th century CE) tried to develop a consistent system by combining the ancient and the new schools, Prācina nyāya and Navya nyāya and Vaiśeṣika to develop the nyāya-vaiśeṣika school. His Tarkasaṁgraha and Dīpikā are the popular manuals of this school.

Nyaya System

It was founded by Gautam who was also the founder of ancient Indian logic. So, Nyaya is also called the science of reasoning and critical study. According to it, objects of knowledge exist independently of the knower, knowledge or mind while ideas and feelings depend upon the mind. Valid knowledge is definite and unerring and non-reproductive experience

of an object. Knowledge is true if it corresponds to facts otherwise it is false. It accepts four

ways of knowing – Perception, Inference, Verbal testimony and Comparison.

Perception – It is immediate cognition which is produced by sense-object contact. For instance, if one sees a table, this is a contact of one’s senses with the table and one is sure that the object is a table. It may be ordinary or extraordinary.

  • Ordinary perception – In this, there is a sense-object contact. It is of 6 types – visual, auditory, tactual, gustatory (taste), olfactory (smell) and mental.
  • Extraordinary perception – In thisthere is no sense-object contact. It is of three kinds:
    • Perception of classes – The sense by which we see an object also gives us knowledge of the class of that object.
    • Perception by Complication – For instance, ice looks cold and the stone looks hard. Modern psychologicsts like Wundt and Ward have accepted perception by complication.
    • Intuitive perception of the Yogis – Perfect yogis intuitively perceive all objects and even past objects.

According to another perspective, there are two modes of perception. They are:

  • Indeterminate and indefinite perception – It is a kind of bare sensation. Something is sensed but one fails to say anything definitely, it is indeterminate perception.
  • Determinate perception – In this, the character of an object of perception is cognized. Indeterminate perception precedes determinate perception.

Inference – It defined as a process of knowing something through the instrumentality or medium of a mark (Linga) that is invariably related to it. There are two types of inference:

  • Inference for oneself – It does not need any formal statement of inference
    • Inference for others– It must be stated in the form of five propositions which are as follows;

    Verbal Testimony – It is testimony of a trustworthy person – one who knows the truth and communicates it correctly. The communicator or the speaker must be both competent and honest. According to Nyaya, the Vedas are the valid source of supra sensible knowledge because their author is the all-knowing God.

    Comparison – It is generally about the connection between a name and a thing.

    Remember the earlier example of wild cow.

    Definition – What does Nyaya mean?

    Nyaya is Sanskrit word that means “method,” “rules” or “judgment.” It is one of the six darshans, or ways of viewing the world, according to Hindu philosophy. The other five darshans are yoga, samkhyavaisheshikamimamsa and vedanta.

    The Nyaya school of thought developed a system of logic that most of the other Hindu schools of philosophy adopted. Metaphysically, it is most similar to the Vaisheshika school – so much so that the two schools of thought are often studied together as the Nyaya-Vaisheshika school.

    Yogapedia explains Nyaya

    The ultimate concern of Nyaya is ending human suffering, which this school of philosophy postulates is the result of ignorance of reality. Liberation from suffering – a key component of yoga dashana – comes through right knowledge, according to Nyaya scholars.

    The Nyaya school made significant contributions to epistemology, the branch of philosophy concerning knowledge, belief, nature and origin. Nyaya followers believe in four pramanas, or sources of knowledge:

    • Pratyaksha (perception)
    • Anumana (inference)
    • Upamana (comparison)
    • Shabda (testimony)

    Nyaya scholars have argued for the existence of God and for monotheism.

    Founder – Kanada Kashyapa
    Source – Vaisesika Sutra
    In its early stages, the Vaiśeṣika was an independent philosophy with its own metaphysics, epistemology, logic, ethics, and soteriology.
    Over time, the Vaiśeṣika system became similar in its philosophical procedures, ethical conclusions and soteriology to the Nyāya school of Hinduism, but retained its difference in epistemology and metaphysics.
    The epistemology of Vaiśeṣika school of Hinduism, like Buddhism, accepted only two reliable means to knowledge:
    Perception, and
    Vaisheshika school is known for its insights in naturalism. It is a form of atomism in natural philosophy.
    It postulated that all objects in the physical universe are reducible to paramāṇu (atoms), and one’s experiences are derived from the interplay of substance (a function of atoms, their number and their spatial arrangements), quality, activity, commonness, particularity and inherence.
    Everything was composed of atoms, qualities emerged from aggregates of atoms, but the aggregation and nature of these atoms was predetermined by cosmic forces.
    Ajivika metaphysics included a theory of atoms which was later adapted in Vaiśeṣika school.
    According to Vaiśeṣika school, knowledge and liberation were achievable by a complete understanding of the world of experience.
    Vaisheshika espouses a form of atomism, that the reality is composed of five substances (examples are earth, water, air, fire, and space).
    Each of these five are of two types, paramāṇu and composite.
    A paramāṇu is that which is indestructible, indivisible, and has a special kind of dimension, called “small” (aṇu).
    Parama means “most distant, remotest, extreme, last” and aṇu means “atom, very small particle”, hence paramāṇu is essentially “the most distant or last small (i.e. smallest) particle”.
    A composite is that which is divisible into paramāṇu.
    According to Vaishesika School, All things that exist, that can be recongnized are named as padarthas – and these can be categorised in to 6 categories –
    Dravya (substance)
    Guna (Quality)
    Karma (Activity)
    Samanya (Generality)
    Visesa (Particularity)
    Samavaya (inherence)
    The first three categories are defined as artha (which can perceived) and they have real objective existence.
    The last three categories are defined as budhyapekṣam (product of intellectual discrimination) and they are logical categories.
    Later Vaiśeṣikas added one more category abhava (non-existence)
    Views on God
    Even though they advocate for scientific thought, they believe in god and see him as the driving principle.
    Inactive and motionless in themselves, the atoms are put into motion by God’s will, through the unseen forces of moral merit and demerit.
    All physical things are a combination of the atoms of earth, water, fire, and air.
    God determines the merits and demerits of our conduct, and man is sent to either heaven or hell as a result.
    They also believe that the principles of karma govern this Universe, implying that everything is determined by human deeds.
    They believed in redemption as well, but it was in tandem with the cyclic process of the Universe’s creation and destruction, which was determined by God’s intentions.

    Vaisheshika – Six Different Type of Objects of Experience

    The Vaisheshika system is one of the six Hindu schools of philosophy from ancient India. Acharya Kanada in around 6th to 2nd Century BCE presented his detailed atomic theory in Vaisheshika-Sutra. Basically, Vaisheshika is a pluralistic realism. Acharya Kanada is also known as Kashyap.The concept of Atoms was actually formulated by Acharya Kanada Est. 2500 years before John Dalton

    “Vaisheshika” is a Sanskrit word meaning “referring to the distinctions.” It emphasized the separateness of individual selves and objects. Moreover, it developed an atomic theory of the universe.

    All material objects of the universe are composed of parts that are divisible into smaller parts. Those smaller parts are further divisible into even smaller parts. The minutest particle of matter which cannot be further divided is eternal and partless. This particle is called paramanu (atom) and these are said to be spherical or globular in shape. Creation is the combination of atoms in different proportions, and destruction is the dissolution of such combinations. These combinations do not pre-exist in atoms nor form their essential nature.

    The Categories or Padartha

    Acharya Kanada, the founder of the Vaishesika school, cited atoms as the material cause of the universe; God as an efficient cause. The Vaisesika is primarily a metaphysics system of thought which classifies all beings (All objects of experience) into six categories and postulates that all objects in the physical universe are reducible to a finite number of atoms.

    1. Dravya (substance)

    It is defined as the substratum where actions and qualities inhere. It exists independently of all other categories. There are nine substances, five of which are physical substances (bhutas).

    1. Prithvi (earth)
    2. Ap (water)
    3. Tejas (fire)
    4. Vayu (air)
    5. Akasa (ether/sky)
    6. Kaala (time)
    7. Dim (space)
    8. Atman (self or soul)
    9. Manas (mind)

    The first five, are called elements – Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Ether

    The first four, earth, water, fire and air, signify the ultimate, indivisible atoms which make up the physical universe. Ether is not atomic, but is infinite and eternal and forms the medium in which the atomic elements combine with each other.

    Each of these five elements (earth, water, fire, air, and ether) possess a unique quality, smell, taste, color, touch, and sound, respectively, which corresponds to one of the five physical senses, and each element is said to constitute that sense. All the compound substances (avayavidravya), which arise from these simple substances are necessarily transient, impermanent and subject to production and destruction.

    The other four substances (time, space, soul/self, and mind) are imperceptible, eternal, intact substances, partless and indivisible, but in ordinary discourse are spoken of as having parts and divisions.

    Time is the cause of our perception of past, present, and future, and also of the concepts of “older” and “younger.” Space is the cause of our perceptions of the relative location of things, such as “east” and “west,” “near” and “far,” “here” and “there.” Souls are innumerable and each is an independent, all-pervading, eternal spiritual substance. Mind (manas) is the internal sense (antarindriya) and is considered atomic, but it does not give rise to compound objects. The mind is also many, rather than a single substance, and each is eternal and imperceptible.

    2. Guna (quality or characteristics)

    Guna is inherent in a substance and depends for its existence on that substance. It cannot exist independently and possesses no quality or action itself. Guna is considered an independent reality because it can be conceived of, thought of, and named independently of the substance where it inheres. Kanada identified seventeen qualities; another seven were added by Prashastapaada. They include spiritual as well as material qualities.

    The Vaisesika recognizes the following twenty-four qualities (including both mental and material properties)

    1. Rupa (Color)
    2. Rasa (taste)
    3. Gandha (smell)
    4. Sparsa (touch)
    5. Samkhya (number)
    6. Parimana (size)
    7. Prithaktva (individuality)
    8. Samyoga (conjunction)
    9. Vibhaga (disjunction)
    10. Paratva (priority)
    11. Aparatva (posterity)
    12. Buddhi (knowledge),
    13. Sukha (pleasure)
    14. Dukha (pain)
    15. Iccha (desire)
    16. Dvesha (aversion)
    17. Prayatna (effort)
    18. Gurutva (heaviness)
    19. Dravatva (fluidity)
    20. Sneha (viscidity)
    21. Dharma (merit)
    22. Adharma (demerit)
    23. Sabda (sound)
    24. Samskara (faculty).

    Guna is a static and permanent feature of a substance

    3. Karma (activity or action)

    Karma also belongs to a substance and cannot exist separately from it. While guna is static and permanent, karma is dynamic and transient. Karma is the cause of conjunction and disjunction. There are five kinds of karma:

    1. Utksepana (upward movement)
    2. Avaksepana (downward movement)
    3. Akunchana (contraction)
    4. Prasārana (expansion)
    5. Gamana (locomotion).

    4. Samanya (universality or 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 samanya. The samanya reside in substances, qualities and actions. They are of two kinds, higher and lower, with the higher samanya referring to “being” (satta), which includes everything and is not included in anything. All other generalities are “lower” because they cover only a limited number of things. Only one universal inheres in all members of a class. A quality or action that pertains to only one individual is not considered a universal.

    5. Vishesha (Vishesa)

    Vishesa allows us to perceive things as different from one another. Every individual is a particular, single, unique and different from all others. Vaisesika does not use this category to refer to the individuality of compound objects, which can be distinguished by the differences in their parts. The category of Vishesha is applied to the most basic, simple, ultimate substances, which would otherwise be perceived as alike. Each partless, ultimate substance, including atoms, souls, space, time, and mind, has an original peculiarity of its own, an underived uniqueness.

    6. Samavaya (inherence)

    Samavāya is one and eternal relationship between two things inseparably connected. It is defined by Kanada as “the relationship between cause and effect,” and by Prashastapaada as “the relationship subsisting among things that are inseparable, standing to one another in the relation of the container and the contained, and being the basis of the idea this is in that. It is imperceptible and inferred from the relation of two things which are inseparably connected: The part and the whole; the quality and the substance; the action and the substance; the particular and the universal; the particularity and the eternal substance.

    Later, the seventh category was added to this theory

    Abhava (non-existence or absent)

    Abhava theory came after Kanada. The Vaisesika believes that knowledge, though it necessarily points to an object, is different from the object known, and that object exists independently. Similarly, knowledge of negation points to an object which is negated and is different from that object. There are four kinds of abhava: Antecedent non-existence, the non-existence of a thing before its production; subsequent non-existence, the non-existence of a thing after its destruction; mutual non-existence, the non-existence of a thing as another thing which is different from it; and absolute non-existence, the complete and eternal absence of a relation between two things that by their very nature cannot co-exist, for example, a barren woman and her child.