VEDIC, BUDDHIST AND JAIN TRADITIONS
best of holy cities - this city of Pune, is well-known in the world.
Offering my prostrations to the learned people well-versed in various ¿¡stras
and assembled here, I would like to express my thoughts before them for
their consideration on the chosen subject.
¡paÅ, tejaÅ, v¡yuÅ
and ¡k¡¿aÅ are five mah¡bh£tas
that constitute this universe. In the creation, continuation and
destruction of this universe - the
above five mah¡bh£tas play a
major role. These five bh£tas
transform themselves into prapaµca
by the desire of Ì¿vara and by
that very same desire of God they continue to exist up to a particular
period; by the very same sa´kalpa
of God these bh£tas disappear.
In this process the main cause is the desire of God. To give them the
experience destined for them, according to the various deeds
(karmas) of all the jiv¡tm¡s (souls), God creates this universe.
created, it stands for some time and again disappears. This process of
creation, existence and dissolution is described in the ¿¡stras
as the sport of Lord God. That is why this universe is called L¢l¡
from this universe, there is another part, which is not transformed like
this universe. There is no change of any kind here. And this part is
called Nitya Vibh£ti and stands
all the time without any change. To attain this place is what is called mokÀa
or Brahm¡nanda anubhava attainable by only those who have overvcome
their pu¸ya and p¡pa. This fact is vouchsafed in the Vedas, UpaniÀads, Bhagavad-G¢t¡,
ViÀ¸u Pur¡¸a etc. This is the philosophical position of vi¿iÀt¡dvaita
of Bhagav¡n R¡m¡nuja. The followers of dvaita
and advaita systems also
explain this very same philosophy with little variations here and there.
Though the advaita borders on
the philosophy of Buddhism it is not vedab¡Åya,
out of Vedic-fold, nor is it n¡stika.
MaharÀi Y¡jµavalkya -
body made up of these five mah¡bh£tas
due to karma, when disintegrated
into the five bh£tas, where is
the need for sorrow?.
the mah¡bh£tas become
instrumental in the formulation of this universe is described in detail in
the Vedas. M£la Prak¤ti in its subtle state is called tamas; it transforms itself into mahat, aha´k¡ra etc.
There are three states of M£la Prak¤ti
called tamas, akÀara and avyakta all of
which are very subtle. Even the other transformations following these four
states, namely mahat, aha´k¡ra
and tanm¡tras are also subtle
and when they attain the state of vik¡sa
they get the name bh£tas. As
the seeds kept in a storage do not sprout, but when combined with water
and mud, gradually sprout, in the same manner the non-transformed state of
the seeds represents M£la Prak¤ti,
because, when it attains vik¡sa
it represents the sprout. This is how the universe takes shape. All the
created things dissolve into their origin, the cause, and this can be seen
in our daily experience.
who follow the tenets of the Buddhism or Jainism do not accept this
process. They accept only the four visible mah¡bh£tas. They do not accept ¡k¡¿a
which is not experienced by any sense-perception. Nor do they accept the
principles like k¡la (Time), dik
(Direction) and "¡tm¡
(Soul), because all these things are not experienced by the
sense-perceptions, whereas in the case of other four bh£tas
namely bh£mi, jala, v¡yu
and agni, there is no dispute, as experience
cannot be denied. Thus, in the n¡stika system of philosophy the only disputable point is about ¡k¡¿a.
the non-existence of ¡k¡¿a is
established by arguments and syllogism, on the same analogy the other
unseen tattvas like k¡la (Time) etc. can also be denied.
a well-known and erudite Buddhist scholar, in his work called Pram¡¸a
V¡rtika discussed this aspect. It has also been dealt with in an
exhaustive manner in the commentaries on that work. Let us consider some
of those points :
above arguments of Dharmak¢rti are again discussed in detail in his other
work called Ny¡ya Bindu. There
are several annotations for Pram¡¸a
V¡rtika, among which is the one called v¡rtik¡la´k¡ra
by Prajµ¡kara Gupta. In this vy¡khy¡
the author recounts the arguments of those who accept ¡k¡¿a and gives counter-arguments very effectively.
there is a wall in front, then the movement of objects is obstructed.
These objects are not in a position to overcome the obstruction and go
forward. But if there are no such obstructions then both living and
non-living things move ahead. This is seen in experience. Therefore, the
acceptance of ¡k¡¿a is
supported by the reason of non-obstruction. All objects remain in the
space provided by ¡k¡¿a and ¡k¡¿a does not obstruct their movements.
argument is countered below. What is meant by the phrase 'providing
spaces'? The answer is £nobstruction of existence". What is this
existence? Is it being supported by something else or is it a
non-hindrance? If it is meant as getting support from another source, then
it is wrong. Because things like pots etc., are not supported by "¡k¡¿a
but by the earth. If the answer is non-hindrance, that is also wrong,
because it is due to the absence of an obstructing agency. Therefore, the
statement that ¡k¡¿a does not obstruct the existence of other things is null and
void. Therefore, ¡k¡¿a means the absence of the other four mah¡bh£tas such as p¤thiv¢,
and there is no fifth matter called ¡k¡¿a.
absence of obstructing agencies like walls makes movement possible, if
there is an obstruction then it becomes impossible. Thus the wall is an
obstructing agent of movement. This is called pratibandhaka. The absence of pratibandhaka
is a general cause for all created things. This is accepted by all the
philosophers. Therefore, construing an element as ¡k¡¿a and positing it
as the giver of space has no basis. A person with eyes cannot see a thing
which is obstructed by a wall or if the object
is at a long distance, or if it is very small in size. If the
obstruction is removed, if the distance is decreased or if the size of the
object is big enough, one can see it. In the perception of this object the
cause is only the eye and nothing else. The wall and other things are
obstructing agencies for perception. Therefore, the absence of the
obstructing agency becomes a cause for all creations. No other cause may
be construed in this regard. Therefore, acceptance of the fifth bh£ta,
¡k¡¿a on the basis of the
argument that it provides space for all other things is untenable.
¡k¡¿a is providing space then where do the other mah¡bh£tas
like v¡yu stand, and where
does ¡k¡¿a itself exist? If there is no need for a sixth mah¡bh£ta and ¡k¡¿a
is capable of providing space both for itself and for other bh£tas,
then v¡yu also can be construed
as of that quality.
For the question, "What is ¡k¡¿a" the answer given by Prajµ¡kara Gupta is this :
means an opening or hole and this is made possible by the absence of some
matter occupying space. If it is the absence of a matter which occupies
space, then, where was ¡k¡¿a?
One cannot say that it tore
away through the sides. In both cases of existence and non-existence of ¡k¡¿a, where the ¡k¡¿a
did go cannot be answered. If it is said that ¡k¡¿a was destroyed, then well done of its
eternality! if it is said that all the time ¡k¡¿a
itself was there, then absence of space and existence of ¡k¡¿a
cannot go hand in hand. The existence and non-existence of a thing cannot
¡tm¡, ¡k¡¿a, dik, k¡la
etc., are not existing things, because they do not create
or contribute in the creation of another thing visible, that is,
absence of artha kriy¡. This is
another reasoning. Earth causes burning, cooking etc., there is artha kriy¡. Kriy¡ means
coming into existence of a new object. Non-happenings of these movements
or non-agreement of same is called the absence of artha kriy¡. Wherever there is existence, one can see the coming
into being of another object or transformation.
the existing of a particular thing or its absence, if some knowledge is
obtained by its absence, then that is called svalakÀa¸a.
That is how Dharmak¢rti defines svalakÀa¸a
in his Ny¡ya Bindu and by
the absence of this so-called svalakÀa¸a
he establishes the absence of ¡k¡¿a.
There he cites the example of the horns of a hare: whether the hare's
horns exist or not, there is no change in the knowledge. This is called tuccha. Non-existence, in the same manner, such as, whether ¡k¡¿a
exists or not, indicates that no change occurs in the perception.
Therefore, ¡k¡¿a does not
exist. We experience differences in taste when there is more sugar or
less, or salt or chillies in our food. This is what is called difference
in perception. Known to all and sundry, this is also called svalakÀa¸a.
If such definitions of svalakÀa¸a
are known, only then the existence of an object can be accepted by all and
without any controversy. In the case of the horns of a hare or ¡k¡¿a there is no such svalakÀa¸a
and, therefore, there is no ¡k¡¿a.
existence of a thing can be accepted only when there is artha
kriy¡ and this is a correct proposition. Likewise, the existence of svalakÀa¸a
also confirms the existence of a thing.
Ëk¡¿a does not possess
either of the above two qualities as stated by the Buddhist. Only here the
vaidikas differ. They say that
both qualities do exist in ¡k¡¿a.
Therefore, ¡k¡¿a is to be
accepted as real and existing. But the difference is in the perception of
laymen and thinkers. It cannot be convincingly proved to exist to the
experience of laymen. Whereas for an analytical thinker, it can be proved.
A thing that is obtained after climbing the hill cannot be called
invisible before climbing. Both sides give all the possible reasonings,
but the Buddhists use many false illustrations and syllogisms to attract
Bha¶¶a says this - the followers of Buddha all the time preach dharma
but never without reasoning. According to the philosophy of the Bauddhas,
all the things in their creation need definite causes but in their
destruction they do not need any cause, because destruction is natural;
not the creation. To teach this tenet to ordinary people they always use
several examples. For example:
a pebble from the ground they say that the pebble does not go up in the
space by itself. If thrown up by us, up it goes. Therefore, the pebble's
going up is dependent on some causes. In the same manner, the creations of
all things depend on causes. But, once thrown up, the pebble does not
stand in the space itself; it immediately comes down. What is the cause
for this? There is nothing visible. Likewise, all created things without
another agency, get destroyed naturally and by themselves.
the example cited above, one can analyse how much reasoning is involved in
it. Citing the example of a pebble's going up caused by an agency does not
properly fit in for proving that all created things need an agency for
their coming into being. Gullible people are led to believe anything by
this sort of exposition. In the case of ¡k¡¿a
also these logicians have adopted a similar method. The Vai¿e. S£tra - (2-1-71) tells us that in those cases where
knowledge cannot be gained through pratyakÀa
or anum¡na such subtle matters
are to be known only by the authority of the Vedas:
ÎÀi Ka¸¡da, who was content with only two pram¡¸as
- pratyakÀa and anum¡na,
takes recourse to Vedas in
respect of all subtle matters as a source of knowledge. If that is the
case with him, then what to say of people like us. This ÎÀi Ka¸¡da,
after dislodging all the arguments of the opponents, establishes the
existence of the fifth bh£ta,
that is ¡k¡¿aÅ, with the hetu, ¿abda
gu¸a in a long drawn discourse.
quality which is grasped by the ears is called ¿abda.
This ¿abda cannot be
inherent in v¢¸¡ or in
bamboo. Therefore, there must be a substratum for this ¿abda
and the substratum is
what is called ¡k¡¿a. By
several resonings, he has discarded the other matters as the ¡¿raya
(substratum) for the quality ¿abda.
If sound resides in the v¢¸¡
itself, then people sitting at a distance cannot hear this sound, because v¢¸¡
does not travel from its place. Whereas if it is accepted that sound
through the medium of v¢¸¡ was generated in ¡k¡¿a,
which in turn generated a series of sound waves till it reached the
ear-drum of the people sitting in various directions, it is quite logical.
Therefore, in the existence of ¡k¡¿a,
¿abda is the deciding factor.
Getting out and entering in are other factors to prove that ¡k¡¿a is the cause for space.
needs space and this is given by ¡k¡¿a.
This is how the S¡Ækhyas
argue. ÎÀi Ka¸¡da has effectively countered their arguments on this
point. Even Bauddhas reject this argument "giving space" as the
deciding factor for proving the existence of ¡k¡¿a.
Wherever there is a quality in a thing created, it is seen that quality
comes into being from the corresponding causes already existing, namely
the colour of the cloth is derived from the colour of the thread used for
weaving the cloth. In the same manner if ¿abda
is a gu¸a inherent in v¢¸¡ then that gu¸a
should be shown to exist in the causal elements of the v¢¸¡ or its parts. It cannot be proved in this way. Therefore, ¿abda
is not a gu¸a of p¤thiv¢ etc.,
but it must have its own substratum which is the fifth mah¡bh£ta the ¡k¡¿a.
was another argument by the Bauddhas - the absence of an obstructing
agency, and that was called ¡k¡¿a
and not a separate bh£ta. Here,
we can only say that Bauddhas are simply guided by their fanaticism and
not by reasoning. Ordinary people can understand the absence of an
obstruction like the wall. Simply with that much reasoning, they stop
contented but accept or reject a substance like ¡k¡¿a
which is very subtle and beyond the sense-perception; it is not
sufficient. It needs sharp intellect and argumentative power but the
ordinary people are not endowed with this quality and Bauddhas exploited
this situation to their
the sixth chapter of the Ch¡ndogya UpaniÀad there is a dialogue between ávetaketu and Udd¡laka : "Bring the fruit of the p¢pal
tree. Here, it is. Breaking the seeds, what
you see? Very small seeds. Break one of these small seeds. Again it
is broken. What you see in it? I do not see anything. Dear son, that which
you are not able to see in this small space, from that very space this
great p¢pal tree standing
before you has arisen. Therefore, have belief that this ¡tm¡
also is so subtle that it cannot be seen or experienced but all the
created things are having their ¡tm¡
as their soul and this is the truth, and you are that".
ávetaketu says that he is not
able to see anything within that small seed when broken up and from that
very same thing Udd¡laka says that the great p¢pal tree has arisen,
he wants his son to believe that. Bauddhas also would like their ¿iÀyas/followers
to stop arguing and believe their statements. But that is not the end of
the Y¡jµavalkya Sm¤ti, Yati
Dharma Prakara¸a, the formation of a child within the womb is
described, where it is said that the child gets parts of all the five bh£tas
and gets its body formed. By accepting or rejecting this theory nobody is
going to gain anything or lose anything. It is just the state of affairs,
as it exists. Because the blind man is not able to see it and gets dashed
against it, it is not the fault of the post (pillar) that it exists there.
the bh£ta ¡k¡¿a
the child gets the quality of lightness,
subtleness, ¿abda, gu¸a, ¿rotra indriya and
bala. Once the body of the child
is formed all these qualities exist in its body. This has been explained
by MaharÀi Y¡jµavalkya and he goes on explaining the formation of the
other qualities, too, in the body from the other bh£tas.
Is it just to mislead the people?
patient suffering from a disease gets medicine from the Doctor as per his
diagnosis; the Doctor prescribes certain restrictions in regard to the
intake of food etc. The transformation of different kinds of food within
the body and how they are to be tackled are known to the Doctor and not to
the patient. Does that mean that the patient should disbelieve the Doctor.
goes to prove the existence of a thing; this was one of the reasonings but
even though artha kriy¡ might be there in a body, it may be invisible. It does
not mean that it is not there. This can be seen in the case of the
patient. After consuming the medicine he becomes hale and hearty. These
are things which are
ascertained by proper reasoning. An obstructing object like a wall or its
absence as ¡k¡¿a as
propounded by the Bauddhas does not stand to reasoning. When you negate a
thing, the use of a negative word is common. This negative word does not
denote the absence of a covering agent. In that case people should say,
"there is no covering agent here". In this sentence they will
use the word here as the basis
for the experience. And that difference is the proof for the existence of ¡k¡¿a.
That is the ¡k¡¿a intended by
us and is denoted by the word here.
"Here the Bird flies". In this sentence the ¡dh¡ra
for the Bird to fly is ¡k¡¿a.
It is a positive denotation and cannot be explained by the use of a
us consider another point. What are the meanings of these two words ¡k¡¿a
and ¿abda? People dispute about
this but they do accept that these two words have come to denote
something. They are matters according to the M¢m¡Æsakas.
It is only a quality and not a matter according to Naiy¡yikas. It is eternal according to the M¢m¡Æsakas but it is momentary
according to the t¡rkikas. In
the first Chapter, first Pada,
Sixth Adhikara¸a of the P£rvam¢m¡Æs¡ the quality
of eternality of ¿abda is
established. The qualities of sound, how they are transmitted and how they
are received are all well-known to modern science today. All these are
discussed in this chapter. It is further discussed there, whether the
parts of the body like the gullet,
palate etc., produce the sound or
just help in making it audible. In this argument it was established
that Air, which is still, at one point gets disturbed by the movement of
the parts of the body, gets dislodged, and goes on generating waves
travelling in all Directions. Because Air is not visible, we are not able
to see their conjoint or disjoint functions.
the YakÀa Pra¿na of Mah¡bh¡rata
there is a question - of the two things born simultaneously one is
experienced first and the other later. Which are these two? The answer is
lightning and the roaring of the clouds; from this one can understand that
¿abda is a matter which travels
according to the M¢m¡Æs¡; it
is eternal, all-pervading and a matter. We use the word ¿abda for those dhvani
which make the ¿abda known by
our ears. Dhvani gets
transmitted in all directions because of the impact of v¡yu.
And thus, ¿abda is experienced
by us. Therefore, subtleness
is one cause for our not being able to prove or disprove a thing.
Therefore, we cannot simply deny the existence of a thing by its mere
non-experience. Therefore, in things known not directly, we cannot deny
anything just like that. Therefore, ¡k¡¿a
the fifth bh£ta and its two
prior evolutes like aha´k¡ra
and mahat are Indisputable. Non-visibility by ordinary people is not sufficient to
deny their existence.
©1995 Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi