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The Metaphysics and Epistemology of The Early Vaisesikas (A Rare Book)

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The Metaphysics and Epistemology of The Early Vaisesikas (A Rare Book)
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Item Code: NAI066
Author: Keiichi Miyamoto
Publisher: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Insitute, Pune
Language: English
Edition: 1996
Pages: 318
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 9 inch X 5.5 inch
weight of the book: 443 gms

It is a matter of great pleasure to write a few words about this work of Prof. Keiichi Miyamoto of Kakugakuin University, Tokyo, Japan.

Both in content and language the Vaisesikasutras seem to be earlier than the Nyayasutras. Although we have fairly good idea of the history of the tradition of the Nyayasutras preserved through the commentary on the sutras and the commentaries thereon called Nyaya-caturgranthika, the picture of the development of the tradition of the Vaisesikasutras is not clear. The history of the development between the Vaisesikasutras and the Prasastapadabhasya is very dark, since we are not left with materials which can throw light on this period.

The work of Prof. Miyamoto is a very positive and sincere approach to bridge this graph. Fortunately, a Chinese translation of the Dasapadarthi was available. Prof. Miyamoto has reconstructed the Sanskrit text from this Chinese translation. The Chinese translation is so literal that Prof. Miyamoto could present the reconstructed Sanskrit text. While restoring, he has made me of the language of the Prasastapadabhasya and other materials available on the Vaisesika tradition. Since I have gone through the entire reconstructed text of the Dasapadarthi, I can say, for certain, that the reconstruction is faithful and in keeping with the idiom of the Vaisesika tradition. There are sufficient grounds to believe that Candramati's Dasapadarthi is a Pre-Prasastapada text.

Prof. Miyamoto deserves our appreciation. I am confident that scholars of early Vaisesika and Nyaya philosophy will receive this work with joy.

I wish that Prof. Miyamoto takes up other Sanskrit treatises which are available only in Chinese or Tibetan translations and presents to us their reconstructed Sanskrit versions.

The present volume is a valuable contribution to the study of the early Vaisesika philosophy and logic.


In the several centuries before and after the Christian Era there appeared six Brahmanical systems of Indian philosophy. The Vaisesika system of philosophy was one of the oldest among them.

Though the origin of this system has been discussed by many scholars, it is still obscure. However, its thoroughly realistic and analytic system of categories must have influenced the Vaiyakaranas, especially Patanjali, the author of the Mahabhasya, and the medical sciences where the representative work is the Carakasamhita. It is also likely that the Vaisesika system (including atomism) influenced the Buddhists, who established the Sarvastivada system. Besides, it is well known that the Naiyayika system was established on the basis of the Vaisesika system. These facts strongly indicate that the Vaisesikas played the most important role in the development of the philosopy of those days.

In the course of time, while the Sankhya system with its dualism, and the Vedantic system with its monism, became more and more popular, the Vaisesika system itself became less popular and was absorbed by the Naiyayikas. It is natural, therefore, that there were only a few modern scholars of Indian classical philosophy who specialized in the study of the early Vaisesika system. But, there are now many scholars who have become very much interested in this system. Their motivations are various, but they Seem to agree that the Vaisesika system was the most important during the formative times of the main Indian systems of philosophy.

The present treatise, I believe, will contribute something to the study of the early Vaisesika system of philosophy.

I used the term 'early' to refer to the period which covers the three available Vaisesika texts-the Vaisesikasutra, the Dasa padarthi and the Prasastapadabhasya (Padarthadharmasangraha).

The Vaisesikasutra is difficult to understand in full. This is mainly because it was compiled over a long time, during which the various systems of philosophy were developing, or already established systems were becoming more and more sophisticated. The compiler of the Vaisesikasutra, confronted with criticism by other various systems, inserted many new sutras into the text, neglecting the original sutra order which had maintained thematic continuity. This resulted in the original sequence of the sutras being broken in many places. Confusion about the sequence of the sutras led to confusion about their content. As a result, there appeared enormous variations in sutrapathas and in their interpretations. I have used the sutrapathas mainly presented by Candrananda's Vrtti, and showed other variations when they were necessary. This is because the Vrtti is evidently the oldest commentary available now, and its sutrapathas and interpretation are comparatively the most consistent and reasonable. Nevertheless, it is still difficult to understand the original intentions behind many of the sutras.

In many cases the Prasastapadabhasya is very useful for studying the Vaisesikasutra. It is certain that the Prasastapadabhasya is not a commentary in the ordinary sense, because it introduces a great deal of terminologies not found anywhere in the Vaisesikasutra. But, if we are willing to read the Prasastapadabhasya carefully, we can become aware of its astonishing faithfullness to the Vaisesikasutra. This must be the reason why it has been called ' Bhasya ' traditionally.

Its explanations which coincide with the content of the sutras can be used as 'the oldest commentary' now available. But, it is also true that the Prasastapadabhasya contains many explanations which do not originate (at least directly) in the Vaisesikasutra.The Dasapadarthi provides us with a bridge between the Vaisesikasutra and the Prasastapadabhasya. I infer from many reasons that the Dasapadarthi (now available in the Chinese version only) was written far before the Prasastapadabhasya. I will present the reasons in my forthcoming papers.

In Part I, I investigate the metaphysical features of soul. With regard to the early Vaisesikas' idea of soul, the efforts of modem scholars have focussed on the problem of how the Vaise.- sikas demonstrate its existence. This problem itself is important enough. But the Vaisesikas, in their earliest stage, must have had far more interest in what the soul was or in its fundamental features. I have chosen to discuss three issues related to these questions. They are the question of its number, its dimension (or its size) and its actions. I investigate them in Chapters I, 2 and 3 respectively. In fact these issues are deeply connected with each other, and tell us the logical structure of the Vaisesika system very well. As is well known, the soul theory of the Vaisesikas suffered dramatic changes in the course of time. I traced them taking the controversies between the Vaisesikas and other philosophers into consideration. I conclude that the fundamental logical structure of the Vaisesika system did not change at all inspite of the dramatic changes in the soul theory.

In Part II, I deal with some problems pertaining to cognition. However, what I investigate is not necessarily the epistemology itself but the metaphysical structure on which the epistemology is based. I believe that ' pure' epistemology is independent of metaphysics (Ontology). But, in reality, most epistemologies which have appeared in the world are entangled by metaphysics. The epistemology of the Vaisesikas is not an exception. As a result, my investigation focussed on the problem of the qualifier (visesana), the qualificand (visesya), the qualified (visista) and the direct cognition (pratyaksajnana). On this point, the Prasastapadabhasya is very faithful to the Vaisesikasutra. I stress the importance of Sankhya-nirupana of the Prasastapadabhasya. For, despite the fact that the causality of cognition is argued in the most detail here, most scholars have not paid attention to this nirupana whose main theme is nothing but the structure of (direct) cognition. Without investigating this nirupana, none will succeed in understanding Pratyaksa nirupana and the several satras which expound the theory of direct cognition.


Foreword: by Prof. Dr. V.N. Jhaiii
Part IOn Soul (Atman)
Chapter 1Unity and Plurality of Soul3
Chapter 2Dimension of Soul19
Chapter 3Action of Soul34
Part IIOn Cognition
Chapter 1On number (sankhya)59
Chapter 2Apeksabuddhi: A Special cognition78
Chapter 3Svarupa and visesana-Prasastapada and the Vaiseskasutra on direct cognition (pratyaksa)85
Part IIIOn Causality
Chapter 1A note on arambhavada105
Chapter 2Potentiality (sakti) of cause in asatkaryavada115
Chapter 3The theory of pakajopatti136
Chapter 4On body152
AppendixThe Dasapadarthi of Candramati161
A translation with a Reconstructed Sanskrit Text and Notes165
The Chinese Version of the Dasapadarthi- A Critical Edition253
Index to the Dasapadarthi279
ErrataI to V
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