Vadanyaya of Dharmakirti - The Logic of Debate

Vadanyaya of Dharmakirti - The Logic of Debate

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Item Code: NAC682
Author: Pradeep P. Gokhale
Publisher: Sri Satguru Publications
Language: (Sanskrit Text with English Translation)
Edition: 1993
ISBN: 817030380X
Pages: 213
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.8 Inch X 5.8 Inch
Weight 340 gm
From the Jacket

Vadanyaya is an important work by Dharmakirti on the theory of debate. The work is devoted to the rules of victory and defeat in debate. Dharmakirti has used the Nyaya account of debate, not only as a purvapaka, a position to be refuted, but also, at least partly, as a raw material for reconstruction. His criticism of Nyaya is not purely destructive but it has a constructive aspect also. He gives his own classification of nigrahasthanas along with their definitions, in the first half of his work. In the second half he devotes his work to the criticism of Nyaya classification of nigrahasthanas.

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

Dr. Pradeep P. Gokhale, the author of Inference and Fallacies Discussed in Ancient Indian Logic, has translated the work along with its critical text.


I am happy to present a translation of Dharmakirti’s Vadanyaya before the students and readers of Indology and Indian philosophy. When I read the text for the purpose of translation, I found that the text is still in need of critical edition because it contains some corrupt readings. So I have edited the text in the light of the editions of Rahul Sankrityayan and of Dvarikadas Shastri and also in the light of Santaraksita’s commentary Vi1bañcitaflhã.

In my translation of the text I have tried to be neither too literal nor too liberal. The former, because I wanted to make Dharmakirti’s Va4anyäya intelligible to those English readers who do not understand Sanskrit, And the latter, because I wanted to be useful to those who would like to read the text with the help of a translation. I have also included explanatory notes at the end of this work in order to facilitate a clearer understanding of the text and the translation.

The central theme of Vadanyaya is the nature and classification of nigrahasthanas. I had written on this topic in the context of Nyaya and Buddhist theories of inference and fallacies, as a small part of my Ph.D. dissertation. Around the same time my colleague Dr. Mangala Chinchore had taken up the theme as the central topic of her Ph. D. dissertation. (Co-indicidently both the dissertations have been published in the Bibliotheca Indo-Buddhica series of Indian Books Centre). Dr. Chinchore has discussed the theme with a great length and depth in her work. But while reading her work I found that my approach to Vadanyaya is basically different from her approach. In my Introduction to this work, therefore, I took an opportunity to express my approach as clearly as possible and also to discuss one of the crucial points made by Dr. Chinchore in her book. Thanks to Dr. Chinchore’s writing which provoked me to do so.

I am grateful to Shri Sunil Gupta who asked me to translate Vadanyaya for Indian Books Centre and encouraged me from time to time. I am also grateful to my parents, wife, colleagues and friends who gave me encouragement and moral support when it was needed.


Vadanyaya is an important work by Dharmakirti, the Buddhist philosopher and logician of seventh century AD.. The work is devoted to the rules of victory and defeat in debate. Tue term ‘Vadanyaya’ means the logic of debate in the broad sense of the term ‘logic’. ‘Logic’ in its restricted sense means a formal discipline which systematises the rules governing validity of valid arguments or logical truth of the logically true propositions. But logic in its broad sense could mean a discipline which deals with the questions of rightness and wrongness from a rational point of view (that is, where ‘right’ stands for rational or reasonable and ‘wrong’ stands for irrational or unreasonable) in the context of any given enquiry. When, for instance, a debate takes place between two persons it is a legitimate question as to whose stand in the debate is rational and whose irrational. Winning and losing in a debate would be governed by the consideration of rightness or wrongness in this sense, if one has to look at ‘debate’ as a rational enterprise. Naturally the discipline which deals with the rules governing rationality of winning or losing a debate could be called the logic of debate. Vadanyaya is a work in the logic of debate in this broad sense.

The concept of nigrahasthana

Dharmakirti’s construction of the logic of debate can he better understood on the background of Nyaya discussion of debate. Dharmakirti has used the Nyaya account of debate, not only as a purvapaksa, a position to be refuted, but also, at least partly, as a raw material for reconstruction. I-us criticism of Nyaya is not purely destructive but it has a constructive aspect also. Gautama in his Nyayasatra (hereafter, NS) states the rules regarding winning and losing a debate in terms of the notion of nigrahasthana. Gautama presents the notion of nigrahasthana (‘the point of defeat’) in his work in two places. First he gives the general concept of nigrahasthana as vipratipatti and aprahpatti (Misapprehension and non-apprehension) in NS1.2.19 and in the latter part of the work he gives an elaborate classification of nigrahasthanas. Dharmakirti seems to develop over the general concept of nigrahasthana given in NS. His line of approach could be spelt out as follows:

Dharmakirti suggested that nigrahasthanas of the disputant (Vidin) and those of the opponent (prativadin) are not the same. The job of the disputant (as disputant) is to present a good argument for proving his position and to justify it, whereas the job of the opponent as opponent is to point out the faults in the argument. They would be failing in their jobs it they suffer from non-apprehension or false apprehension relevant to their respective jobs. The non- apprehension that the disputant has consists in his failure to present or just’ a sound argument and the false apprehension he has consists in his presentation of fallacious arguments or irrelevant or redundant statements. All these types seem to be clubbed by Dharmakirti into one term - ‘asadhanangavacana’. Similarly the non-apprehension that the opponent has consists in his inability to find out the genuine fault in the faulty argument advanced by the disputant. The false apprehension he has consists in his pointing out a non-fault as fault. Both these types seem to be clubbed by Dharmakirti in one term - ‘ adosodbhavana’ , In this way it is possible to argue that Dharmakirti’s account of nigrahasthana is not radically opposed to the Nyaya definition of nigrahasthana but it is a development over it. That is why, it seems, Dharmakirti does not criticise the general definition of nigrahasthana though he criticises other aspects of the Nyaya account of nigrahasthana. Two such aspects come to the foreground-

(I) The Nyaya conception of debate in the context of which the question of nigrahasthanas becomes relevant.
(2) The elaborate classification of nigrahasthana given in NS.

Dharmakirti cm t lie Nyaya-concept of debate

Dharmakirti’s account of the nature of debate differs significantly from the Nyaya account. The first point of difference is that of terminology. What Naiyayikas call Vada is not the same as what Dharmakirti calls Vada. Naiyayikas classify katha (discussion) into three kinds: vada, jalpa and vitanda. ‘Vada’ roughly stands for a friendly discussion between a teacher and his disciple or between two co disciples where the question of victory or defeat does not arise. ‘Jalpa’ stands for a debate between two parties where both the parties try to justify their own positions against each other. In jalpa the question of victory and defeat is most relevant. ‘Vitanda’ stands for a debate similar to jalpa the difference being that in Vitanda one of the parties does not present any position of its own, but it only attempts to refute the position of the other party.

What Naiyayikas call vada resembles what Dharmakirti calls prapancakatha or vistarakatha (see, for instance, sections 70, 72, 73). Prapancakatha a diffuse discussion which is not governed by any rules concerning defeat or victory. But unlike vada it is not restricted to the discussion between teacher and his disciple or between two co-disciples. It can take place between any two persons interested in a subject.


Abbreviations xi
Introduction xiii
Part I – Nigrahasthanlakshnam
(Definition of Occasion of Defeat)
The definition and classification of nigrahasthna; the first type of ‘asadhanangavacana 1
The justification of a constituent of proof in the case of self-nature as reason 2-7
The justification of a constituent of proof in the case of effect as reason. 8
Justification of a constituent of proof in the case of non-apprehension as reason. (continued upto section 29) 9
What kind of non-apprehension proves the practice of non-existence? 10-12
Do all cognitions and verbal usages (and identities and differences amongst them) prove existence of objects (and identities and differences amongst them)?13-18
Does pragmatic function prove existence? Do identities and differences amongst pragmatic functions prove identities and differences amongst the objects? 19
The nature of non-apprehension as reason 20
Refutation of the Sankhya view that nothing can be said to be non-existent. 21-26
Refutation of Satkaryavada of Sankhya. 27-28
Conclusion of the discussion on non-apprehension. 29
Second type of asadhanangavacana. 30
Third type of asadhanangavacana. In what way are Declaration etc. non-constituents of proof? 31
Fourth type of asadhanangavacana. In what way are Declaration etc. non-constituents of proof? 32
Fourth type of asadhanangavacana. 32
Fifth type of asadhanangavacana. 33-35
he first type of adosodbhavana 36
Condemnation of cheating practices (qubbling etc.) in the course of debate. 37
Second type of adosodbhavana 38
Part II – Nyayamatkhandnam
(Refutation of the Nyaya-View)
Criticism of Pratijnahani as nigrahasthana. 39-41
Criticism of Pratijnantara 42-45
Criticism of Pratijnavirodha 46-58
Criticism of Pratijnasamnyasa 59
Criticism of Hetvantara 60
On Arthantara61
Criticism of Nirarthaka 62
Criticism of Avijnatartha 63
Criticism of Aparthaka 64
Criticism of Apraptakala. Do incorrect words make sense via the recollection of correct words? 65-68
Criticism of Nyuna 69
On Adhika. 70
On Punarukta 71-74
Criticism of Ananubhasana 75-78
Criticism of Ajnana 79-80
On Aprtibha 81
Criticism of Viksepa 82-84
Criticism of Matanujna 85
Criticism of Niranuyojyanuyoga 86-87
Criticism of Apasiddhanta 89-91
On Hetvabhasa as nigrahasthana 92
Epilogue 93
Notes 151-181
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