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Hetubindu of Dharmakirti (A Point on Probans)

Hetubindu of Dharmakirti (A Point on Probans)
Item Code: IHL042
Author: P.P. Gokhale
Publisher: Sri Satguru Publications
Language: Text and English Translation
Edition: 1997
ISBN: 8170305594
Pages: 181
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 8.8 inch X 5.8 inch
From the Jacket

The present book Hetubindu by Dharmakirti is an important work on the basis laws of logic, the nature and types of inferential mark (hetu), his theory of negation etc. in addition, in this text he also gives his argument for the doctrine of momentariness, an important part of his ontology. The two basic pramanas (types of knowledge) central to his epistemology and the concept of Svalaksana which is central to his ontology are also introduced in the Hetubindu.

The Hetubindu like Vadanyaya is divided into two pats. In the first part Dharmakirti presents his own position by explaining an aphorismic verse of his own. In the second part he criticizes a rival position on the same issue. In the Hetubindu the issue is the nature of a sound probans.

The present book contains critical text in Sanskrit, a detailed introduction, an English translation alongwith notes and a Glossary. The book is published in the Bibliotheca Indo-Buddhica Series.

Dr. Pradeep P. Gokhale, the author of Inference and Fallacies Discussed in Ancient Indian Logic, has already translated Vadanayaya of Dharmakirti.


Dharmakirti (c. AD 600-700) was a central figure, not only in the history of Buddhist philosophy, but in the history of Indian philosophy as a whole. His contributions to epistemology, logic and ontology are evident from the works like Nyayabindu, Hetubindu, Pramanavarttika, Vadanyaya and Santanantarasiddhi. The work under consideration here viz. Hetubindu mainly contains his contributions to logic which includes his views on the basic laws of logic, the nature and types of inferential mark (hetu), his theory of negation (negative facts) etc. in addition, in this text we also find his argument for the doctrine of momentariness, an important part of his ontology. The two basic pramanas (types of knowledge) central to his epistemology and the concept of Svalaksana which is central to his ontology, are also introduced in the Hetubindu.

Dharmakirti has written the Hetubindu in lucid prose and not in a brief or aphorismic style like the Nyayabindu. The pattern of this book may be compared with the pattern of his Vadanyaya. Like the Vadanyaya the Hetubindu is basically divided into two parts. In the first part Dharmakirti presents his own position by explaining an aphorismic verse of his own. In the second part he criticizes a rival position on the same issue. In the Vadanyaya the issue is the concept of Nigrahasthana. In the Hetubindu it is the nature of a sound probans. Both of these books discuss their contents through lucid statements, arguments and critical remarks.

Though an important work of Dharmakirti’s, the Hetubindu has not been paid sufficient attention by indologists. This is partly because the original Sanskrit text is not available. However, Tibetan versions of the work are available and we know of two important attempts to restore the work in Sanskrit. One restoration is by Pandit Rahul Sanskrityayan, which was edited and revised by Pandit Sukhlalji Sanghvi and Muni Shri Jinavijayaji and published as Appendix No. VII of the Hetubindutika (G.O. Series No. CXIII). The other one is the reconstruction of Ernest Steinkellner which is a more critical version based on many Tibetan Manuscripts. Moreover, the commentary of the Hetubindu called the Hetubindutika by Arcatabhatta and a Sub-commentary entitled Aloka by Durvekamisra are available. They enable us to peep into the possible original text in more or less clear manner. Thought Prof. Steinkellner has translated the work into German, an English translation of the work is not yet available. Considering the need for an English translation I have tried to bring the contents of the work into English. Though I am not a student of Tibetan, I have dared to make this attempt out of my love for Dharmakirti’s logic. Following Kalidasa who said in Raghuvamsa with regard to Raghu dynasty, (‘Its qualities have approached my ears and stimulated me to do the venture.’) I would like to say the same with respect to the Hetubindu of Dharmakirti.

Although both of the restorations mentioned above are important, sometimes one of them was found to be clearer and closer to the version accepted in the Hetubindutika (Hereafter, HBT) than the other. Sometimes a new version has to be constructed by comparing the two restorations in the light of the HBT. So I have prepared my own version of the Hetubindu with the help of these three sources and have translated into English. I have of course not deviated from the versions given by the Scholars of Tibetan unless I was compelled to do so by a consideration of the clarity and closeness to the HBT version. Secondly, since my main interest in translating the work is to understand the philosophical content of the book and since my interest is not primarily textual or hermeneutical, the reader is requested to look at my version with a broad perspective. Here I do not claim that my version is closer to the original. My only claim is that my version may be found preferable in some places insofar as the consistency and clarity of thought is concerned.

(While presenting my reconstructed version of the Hetubindu I have mentioned in the footnotes, the variant readings accepted by the sources I have followed. There I have taken the version edited by Pt. Sukhlalji Sanghvi and Muni Shri Jina-Vijayaji (Hereafter, SJ) as the basis of my version because it is older and better known to the indological community. I have given the variant readings in the footnotes only where my version has deviated from SJ.)

Though the central theme of the Hetubindu is the nature and classification of a good probans (inferential mark, hetu), it can be better appreciated against the background of Dharmakirti’s general ontology and epistemology. I would like, therefore, to survey some prominent features of his ontology and epistemology first and then discuss his contribution to logic in general and to the theory of inference in particular.


Acknowledgements xi
Bibliography with Abbreviations xiii
Introduction xv
Text ad Translation: 3-94
Part I
The General Definition of a Good Probans
1.1 A brief statement about the nature of classification of probans
1.2 The explanation of the term paksa
1.3 The explanation of the term paksa-dharmah
1.4 The explanation of the term vyaptah
1.5 The means to the knowledge of paksadharmata
1.6 Sense experience is authentic, the mental construction which follows it is not
1.7 The cognition of an object known previously is not authentic
1.8 The ascertainment of positive concomitance 1.8
1.9 The ascertainment of negative concomitance
1.10 The threefold classification of probans
Part II
The Explanation of the Self-nature Kind of Probans
2.1 The self-nature of a thing which unconditionally implies another self-nature of it, is a probans for proving the latter self-nature
2.2 Two basic forms of an argument
2.3 Declaration of the thesis is not a necessary part of an argument
2.4 Application or conclusion need not be stated in an argument
2.5 The order of the premises is immaterial
2.6 The statements of positive and negative concomitance imply each other
2.7 Destruction of things is natural, without any cause
2.8 A thing and its nature are not caused by two different causes
2.9 The final state of causal factors is the (sufficient) cause
2.10 Things act according to their self-nature without a thought or intention
2.11 Different aspects of the effect are due to different causal factors
2.12 Different aspects of a thing constitute a single self-nature
2.13 So different causal factors generate a singular effect having different aspects
2.14 The Cooperation of momentary causal factors I nothing but production of a common effect
2.15 Items in the same series, though similar, have different capacities
2.16 Capacity implies activity
2.17 Facts are not governed by what we see
2.18 The nature of a thing to produce an effect immediately cannot remain idle
2.19 ‘The cause accompanied by other causes’ and ‘The isolated cause’ are not the same
2.20 Co-operation (i.e. production of a common effect) can apply only to momentary causal factors, not to non-momentary ones
2.21 Co-operation in the cause of cause which is a series contrasted with co-operation in the case of momentary causal items
2.22 ‘Series as a cause’ can be analysed into ‘momentary objects as causes’
2.23 Is any special feature produced in a cause by its co-operative causes? No
2.24 Two kinds of effects
2.25 Co-operation of causes cannot be explained for non-momentary causes
2.26 Change of self-nature amounts to change of a thing
2.27 Nothing is born permanent but made impermanent by other factors
2.28 A non-momentary thing has no capacity and hence no existence
Part III
The Explanation of the Effect-Kind of Probans
3.1 Effect is the probans when probandum is different from probans
3.2 Causal laws are governed by the self-natures of causes and effects
3.3 There will be a chaos in absence of the causal laws
Part IV
The Explanation of the Non-apprehension Kind of Probans
4.1 Non-apprehension as the characteristic of the subject and that of the object
4.2 Non-existence is existence of the other: Non-apprehension is apprehension of the other
4.3 Two reasons for not regarding ‘existence of the other’ as the probans for proving ‘absence’
4.4 Is there any relationship between existence of the other and absence?
4.5 The place etc. in which something is called non-existent is the other thing not accompanied by that
4.6 The isolatedness of the place is itself the absence of a pot
4.7 ‘Existence of the other’ and ‘absence’ are not related by the relation of opposition
4.8 If apprehension of a thing does not involve the exclusion of what it is not, then authentic practices will be impossible
4.9 The apprehension of the absence of the other is through the apprehension of something that excludes the other
4.10 Why should a thing be apprehensible in order that its absence is cognized?- A question
4.12 The answer continues
4.13 ‘The existence of the other’ can prove ‘the linguistic of absence’
4.14 Three Kinds of non-apprehension
4.15 Conclusion of the Part IV
Part V
The Refutation of the Opponent’s View that a Sound Probans has Six Distinguishing Characteristics
5.1 The additional three characteristics of the probans alleged by the opponents
5.2 Non-vitiatedness would make the probans redundant
5.3 Is non-vitiatedness non-apprehension of vitiatedness?
5.4 Non-vitiatedness, i.e. absence of vitiatedness is implied by pervasion
5.5 The employment of a good probans excludes the fallacies of Declaration
5.6 That a probans should be one without a rival is ruled out by the same argument
5.7 Difficulties in taking ‘the absence of a rival probans’ to mean ‘impossibility of a rival probans’
5.8 The impossibility of a rival probans cannot be ascertained
5.9 Difficulties in taking ‘the absence of a rival probans’ to mean ‘non-demonstration of a rival probans (by the opponents)’
5.10 The goodness or badness of probans does not depend upon whether one imagines a rival probans or not
5.11 ‘Knownness’ of a probans is not its intrinsic characteristic
5.12 The significance of the word niscita used in the definition of a good probans
5.13 Continued. The observation of coexistence and co-absence without the necessary rule do not give universal pervasion
5.14 Continued
5.15 Knownness need not be mentioned separately. Hence the conclusion
Notes 95-139
Glossary 141-143
Index of Words 145

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