Criticism in the field of Indian philosophy dwells mainly on the controversies relating to the six systems. Quite often it is oriented towards defending or advocating a definite stand on the basis of religious faith. An interest in the non-metaphysical trend in Indian philosophy should lift new thinking out of traditional contexts. It should then be in a position to communicate with the developing processes in the field of western philosophy as with the field of science. One way to effect a change of attitude is to re-examine the primary commentators in relation to the founding sutras in each system. The time-lag between the two stages is more than likely to have resulted in a shift in the presuppositions governing their thinking, as is evident in the case of Kanada and Prasastapada. An examination of the sets of presuppositions in the case of each of the branches, metaphysical and non-metaphysical, in Indian philosophy, should now set the standard for criticism. Western philosophical thinking need not be considered to be a model. But it certaintly holds an important place in formulating new standards, because of its affinities with modern science
I have chosen to study Kanada, for I happened to approach the problem through Tarka-Samgraha of Annambhatta, a primer on Vaisesika thinking, belonging to the last stage of NyayaVagesika philosophy. This work impinges on the thought of both Kanada and Gautama. But it is seen to make no effort to draw a line of demarcation between the concept of the Padartha and Pramana. The tradition of Indian philosophy could be said to be concerned more with silencing what it construes as the heretical voice of Kanada, rather than welcome and follow up Kandda's method of presenting concepts in the form of clear definitions. Tradition has managed to divert Vaisesika philosophy from two concepts crucial to Kanada's thinking, viz.: (i) the concept of the Visesa and (ii) his stand on the reality of the atomistic order of the physical. I am aware that the chapter on Atomism has extended inordinately. But I could see no way of shortening it without omitting relevant material.
I have touched only on the fringe of the extensive tradition. Raghunatha's the founder of the Navya-Nyaya school—objections to Kanada's concept of the Padartha are worth exploring. But it has to be an independent work. I've set myself a limited purpose, and that is to show how the Nyaya-Vaisesika tradition fails Kanada. It is for the scholars deeply versed in the field of Indian philosophy to judge to what extent I have succeeded in letting Kanata speak for himself.
I have followed the practice of writing Sanskrit expressions in their transliteration by marking the constituent terms apart. This should help readers not knowing the language to match concepts and follow the sense of the statements. Similarly, the renderings in English are not meant to be literal translations always. They are intended to show the concepts in their functioning according to the context and to fit naturally in the sentence construction in English.
The first chapter of this work is a modified version of my article 'the Vaisesika Categories: A Logical Perspective', published in the Indian Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. VIII, No. 1, Oct (1980). An abstract of that article is indexed in Vol. 15, No. 2 (Summer 1981) Quarterly Issue, as well as in the 1981 Cumulative Edition of the Philosopher's Index. Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio 43403, U.S.A.
The difficulty is enhanced by the fact that the formulation of diverse, independent approaches to the problems of the universe, such as are spelt out in the sutras of the Six Systems, by their respective authors is looked upon in the Indian tradition as an achievement, a task fulfilled, rather than as a movement. Post-sutra philosophising, seems to confine itself to exposition and interpretation, in spite of a capability for discerning thinking, evident in a long line of commert-tators for each of the systems. In fact, the six systems have come to be identified with the names of its founder commentators, rather than with the names of their authors. Advaita affords the best example of this trend. It stands associated with the name of Sankara, rather than with that of Badarayana, the author of the Vedanta sutras. It is the founder commentators who have built up the formulation of the systems in the sutras into a set of doctrines. And it is these doctrines that form the platform for the Indian tradition. New movements of thought are hence forth confined within the boundaries of these doctrinaire frameworks In the process, the six different approaches are reduced to three sets of doctrines, viz. (i) the Samkhya-Yoga, (ii) the Nyaya-Vaige$ika (iii) the Mimansa-Vedanta, with Advaita Vedanta of Sankara towering above them all. Protest movements, such as the Neo-Nyaya and the Visista Advaita in its varied forms down to Arbindo at the turn of the century, are focussed around specific problems that touch on the positions taken in the alternate systems. Neo-Nyaya thinking centres on the problem of negation or rather, 'the negative' under the influence of the Mimansa doctrine of the 'self-based certainty' of knowledge (svatah-pramanya). The Visista-Advaita of Ramanuja reflects the duality of Purusa-Prakriti, whereas the Madhva-Vallabha variations in Advaita turn on the demands of Nyaya logic as crystallised in Udayana. Considering the number of works published , the Nyaya-Vaisesika is seen to be a vibrant tradition. But it remains a tradition and does not become a movement. Nyaya-Vaisesika is generally described as a syncretist system. The syncretism seems to work, for it is based on the commentaries of Vatsyayana and Prasastapada, rather than on the sutras of Gautama and Kanada. And it is oriented distinctly towards the Nyaya doctrines. One reason for the continuous influence of the Nyaya approach is the fact that the Gautama sutras find in Vatsyayana a discerning commentator, who explicates the statements of Gautama one by one and elaborates on them. Vatsyayana brings out the Buddhist background which the sutras contend with and he reinforces the framework of the Lew stand-point advocated by Gautama. He seems to be well aware of the differences of approach in Kanada and Gautama, as is evident in his comment on Ny. S. 1.1.9. Gautama here lists a number of topics determined to be objects of knowledge (prameya) for further investigation, on the basis of the four standard methods (pramanas) of Pratyaksha (Perceptual apprehension), anumana (inference), upamana (Analogical method of type-determination) and Sabda (testimony). Gautama lays store by Sabda as the word of truth (cipta-apadesah) as affirmed by the man of perception and penance i.e. 'the seers' (rishi-vakya). Vatsyayana here excludes (aparisamkhyeyam) the six categories (of dravya-guna-karma-samanya-vis'ex-samavaya asti anyat api) as not being equal to the fulfilment of a state of complete knowledge (apavargah). It would be interesting to examine Vatsyayana's comments on Gautama to fix the references to Kanada-sutras in it.
The dates of Prasastapada, the advocate of Kanada's point of view are not known with certainty. But, he is generally placed in the 5th c , i.e. about a hundred years later than Vatsyayana. His work on Kanada, entitled, `Padartha-Dharma-Samgraha', as the title itself indicates, aims only at presenting Kanada's doctrines in the form of an exposition, in a situation in which the system of Gautama is already established. If Prasastapada were to attempt an explication of the sutras of Kanada in the manner of Vatsyayana for Gautama, the Nyaya and the Vaisesika would in all probability have developed as complementary, but alternate approaches. The distinct feature of the Kanada-Gautama approach, viz. their non-metaphysical (not anti-metaphysical) stand in respect of knowledge and existence, is hardly allowed to be formulated expressly, by the tradition that begins in the combined influence of Vatsyayana and Prasastapada. The fact that the two sutra-authors, i e Kanada and Gautama stand for protest-movements seems hardly to get a mention even, in the two founder commentators. The lengthy time-gap of almost three centuries, intervening between the two orders of thinkers, could not be considered to be the main reason why the new approaches of Kanada-Gautam get presented as established systems in Prasastap-ada-Vatsyayana. It is as likely that the Jain-Buddhist logic has worked itself out to exhaustion in this intervening period and was not felt as a challenge any more. This kind of a situation, if it were so, seems to have counted against an emphasis on the specific signi-ficance of the Kanada-Gautama approach. The two sutra-authors present an answer to the Jain-Buddhist challenge. They belong indubitably, within the inherently rationalist scheme of the Vedic-Upanisadic tradition. Each of them formulates for the problem of knowledge and existence, a logical approach. This approach is meant to bring in line the predominantly metaphysical view of upanisadic thinking and the anti-metaphysical and life-mind-oriented thinking presented by the Jain-Buddhist challeng ?
Kanada-Gautama take their stand on the fact that the objects that make the world of existence and experience constitute a field of knowledge. And they maintain that such knowledge is capable of a certainty that is not to be rated as of a lower order than the certainty that the upanisads aver in respect of the concepts and the reality of the Atman and the Brahman. Kanada and Gautama speak for the objects in the world of existence and experience. But they do not take what could be called an empiricist stand, even in a remote sense. They examine the possibilities of the sense-organs (indriyas), the mind (manas) and the understanding (buddhi) for their capabili-ties to formulate a knowledge of objects. and they are concerned to determine the limitations too, of these sources of knowledge. Hence, their thinking is oriented as much, or perhaps mainly, to a definition of concepts as a preliminary step to the affirmations about objects. It is the former aspect of the Kanada-Gautama approaches that gets clouded over in the presentation of their doctrines at the hands of the commentators. This is the case particularly with Kanada.
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