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NYAYA-VAISHESHIKA. Vaisheshika “The Particularist School” vishesha : difference, particularity, specialness, the quality of individuality. Vaisheshika Sutra Kanada , “atom eater” Circa 1 st century BCE systematized by Prashashtapada , 6 th century CE

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Vaisheshika “The Particularist School”

vishesha: difference, particularity, specialness, the quality of individuality.

Vaisheshika Sutra

  • Kanada, “atom eater”
  • Circa 1st century BCE
  • systematized by Prashashtapada, 6th century CE
  • by whose time God has been introduced as the regulator of karma.

Nyaya “The Method” “Logic”

“The School of Reasoning”

Nyaya Sutra

  • Gautama, aka Akshapada, “eye on his foot”
  • 2nd to 4th century CE
  • Systematized by Vatsyayana, 5th century.

Vaisheshika and Nyaya merge into one system in the later Medieval period.

Vaisheshika is the ontology for Nyaya epistemology and logic.


Two views of the origins of Vaisheshika

Pure Natural Philosophy

Defense of Vedic orthodoxy

Nyaya as correct methods of proof originates in the ancient Indian tradition

of debate and argument: Vada

As manuals of debate defining the rules for fair argument.


We shall now consider the nature of dharma.

It is from dharma that the highest and supreme good is achieved.

The Veda has its authority because of its concern with dharma.

Vaisheshika Sutra 1-3


16 Categories

of Nyaya

  • Means of valid knowing
  • Objects of knowing
  • Doubt
  • Purpose
  • Familiar Example
  • Established Tenet
  • Syllogism
  • Confutation
  • Certainty
  • Discussion
  • Wrangling
  • Cavil
  • Fallacy
  • Quibble
  • Futility
  • Defeat

Vaisesika Metaphysics

Vaisheshika Metaphysics


Metaphysics explains the fundamental nature of being and the world and answer two questions:

"What is there?” and "What is it?”

The word is from the Greek words μετά ("beyond" or "after") and φυσικά ( "physical"), "physical.”

A central part is ontology, the investigation into the types of things there are in the world, their relations, existence, property, space, time, and causality.

Before the development of modern science, scientific questions were known as “Natural Philosophy."

vaisesika has only two pramanas or valid means of knowing perception pratyaksa inference anumana
Vaisesika has only two pramanas

or valid means of knowing:

Perception pratyaksa

Inference anumana


The physical world is natural and atomic.

Creation and destruction is a natural process.

The world of particular things arises by the combination of elemental atoms.

Atoms (paramanu) are eternal,

their combinations as not.

Atoms are invisible and so inferred.

Atoms combine into binaries dyads and triads.



Atoms combine into binaries (dyads) and triads.

Three binaries form a three-dimensional triad or molecule—the size of a particle of dust in a sunbeam.

The character of things result different proportions of the elemental atoms.

Adrishta is the law-like impersonal causative power inherent in atoms in their combinations of qualities.


Vaisheshika thus is not a pure materialist physics like Carvaka.

In addition to atomism, it accepts the existence of immaterial eternal substances including souls.


The elements have a dual psycho-physical nature. Sensory qualities inhere in things,

more precisely, in their atoms.

Earth or solidity possesses smell, taste, color, touch.

Water or liquidity taste, color, touch.

Fire or light possesses color, touch.

Air or gas possesses touch.

Akasa or ether possesses no perceivable qualities.

Vaisheshika Sutra II.1.1-5

atomism criticized
Atomism Criticized

1. Problem of inferring the existence of atoms, which cannot be perceived.

2. The contradiction of atoms: atoms are partless, spaceless points, yet have sides that contact other atoms, which would seem to require magnitude and extension.


PADARTHA Sk. pada-artha= word-thing

Referent of words, the kinds of objects knowable.

Commonsense view of how and what we know.

Realist view of the relation between word and thing.

Gau = = Cowness

theory of causality
Theory of Causality

Adrishta: the “unseen” invisible power of karmic causality.

Explains all motion and change as due to the physical, atomic nature and organization of entities from the movement of atoms to human bodies and behavior.


“The movement of the jewel toward a thief and the turn of a needle toward a lodestone have adrishta as their cause.”

Vaisheshika Sutra V.1.15


Only later does the more moralistic notion of adrishta as the potency connecting good and bad human actions to their future results come to predominate.

Vaisheshika is commonsense realism about the physical world to which a theistic cosmology and the later notion of karma seem awkwardly added on as some think.

Prashashtapada 6th century CE

Compendium of the Nature of Fundamental Categories.



The view that the effect does not pre-exist in its cause;

effects are new entities and differ from their causes;

Things are separate.

New combination of atoms are new things separate from their cause in line with a pluralist realist world view of many permanent things non-reducible to other things or categories.



Things emerge by the transformation of more fundamental substances.

1. Results pre-exist in their cause. The prakritiof Sankhya.

2. Or only the cause exists. The Brahman of Vedanta. Effects aremaya(illusory appearance).

Atman is never really separate from Brahman.


The Soul

Vaisheshika’s thing-like conception of the self much criticized later.

The atman ends up as an unconscious rock-like thing devoid of all qualities of thought, feeling, life, and activity.

What is the point of existence if it ends in a state so null and void?



Logic and Epistemology


16 Nyaya Categories

1. Means of Valid Knowing pramana

2. Objects of knowledge prameya

3. Doubt

4. Purpose. Attaining desirable or avoid

undesirable objects.

5. Familiar Example

6. View accepted as valid

7. Logical argument the five part syllogism

8. Confutation tarka

9. Certain knowledge attained by removing doubt.


Three Types of Debate

10. Discussion. Valid argument aiming at the

truth. Vada

11. Arguing to win, not to get at the truth. Jalpa

12. Disproving your opponent’s view without

proving your own. Vitandareductio ad absurdum

13. Fallacies.

14. Tricks and misrepresentation of the opponent’s


15. False analogies.

16. Clinching the argument, grounds of defeat in


theory of knowledge

Prama: Sure Knowledge always of some real external objects as by means of the 4 pramanas.

  • As the light of a lamp reveals things in a room,
  • The mind is not illuminating things internal to itself.
  • Aprama: Invalid Knowledge
  • memory doubt
  • error hypothetical arguments

Theory Of Knowledge


Nyaya accepts 4 Pramanas.


1. Ordinary (laukika)

a. External: visual auditory, tactile, taste, smell,

b. Internal: internal awareness(manas)

2. Extraordinary (alaukika)

a. Intuitionof universals

b. Yogic perception


12 Objects of Knowing

Self atma



Sense objects artha



Acts of body, speech, and mind pravritti

Mental defects dosha

(desire, hatred, delusion)


Fruits of action phala




Two Modes of Perception

Indeterminate-pure awareness of things

Determinate-perception with concepts and language.


Verbal testimony of a “reliable person”





Inference is knowledge of an object, not by direct observation, but by means of a sign and its universal connection with the inferred object.

Nyayalogic has a tendency to the inductive, empirically verifiable, pragmatic, and non-formal.

Retains the form of a debate.


In a deductive argument the conclusion

necessarily follows from the premises.

All men are mortal.

Socrates is a man.

Socrates is mortal.

All men are from Mars.

Deven is a man.

Deven is from Mars.


Induction allows for the possibility that the conclusion is false even where all of the premises are true, but aims at theconstant and invariable.

All of the ice we have examined so far is cold.

Therefore, all ice is cold.


Three Kinds of Inference

From a perceived cause to an unperceived effect

From perceived effect to an unperceived cause

From the empirical to the non-empirical

or general correlation established by experience


Argument from perceived cause to unperceived effect.

It will rain.

Because theclouds are dark and heavy.

The clouds are now dark and heavy, which invariably in experience precedesa rain.

Therefore, itwill rain.


Five Part Inference

From perceived effect to unperceived cause.

What is to inferred: There is fire on the hill.

Reason (hetu): Because there is smoke (linga).

Example:As in a kitchen, where there is smoke, there is fire (vyapti).

Application: There is smoke, which is associated with fire, on the hill.

Conclusion: There is fire on the hill.


Linga: the sign or markinvariablylinked with

something else that can therefore be inferred from.

Smoke is the linga of fire.

Vyapti “pervasion” is the universal concomitance


the major term (fire)

and the minor term (hill)

by means of --

the middle term (smoke)


Argument from the empirical to the non-empirical

A Cosmological/Teleological Argument for God (Ishvara)

The world was created by Ishvara.

Because the world has been made out of atoms.

3. Whatever has been created has an intelligent maker,

like a pot made from clay and a potter.

4. The world has a formal order, which is always

associated with an intelligent creator.

5. Therefore, Ishvara created the world


The Self is a real unique substance, to which thoughts feelings, and actions (karma) belong as attributes.

Desire, hate, will, pleasure, pain, cognition are all temporary,karmically determined qualities (gunas) ofthe self when the self comes into contact with the internal sense (manas) and the manaswith the senses.

The self is itself indestructible and eternal.

Apavarga is total freedom from all qualities,

in particular, pain (duhkha).


Classical Nyaya accepted the idea of liberation (moksha) as the purpose for acquiring correct knowledge.

It did not concerned with the Vedas.

Nyaya was always mainly interested in correct argument and logic, but became the great champion of the existence of Godagainst the Buddhists.

For Nyaya, God is the efficient cause or regulator of the action of souls and atoms.

He is not the material cause, as in Vedanta