The Buddhist Philosophy of Universal Flux

by Satkari Mookerjee | 1935 | 152,014 words | ISBN-10: 8120807375

A systematic and clear presentation of the philosophy of critical Realism as expounded by Dignaga and his school. The work is divided into two parts arranged into 26 chapters. Part I discusses the Nature of Existence, Logical Difficulties, Theory of Causation, Universals, Doctrine of Apoha, Theory of Soul and Problem of After-life. Part II deals wi...

Chapter I - The Nature of Existence

The whole universe of reals has been classified by the Naiyāyikas under two exclusive heads, viz., kṛtakas (products or perishable) and akṛtakas (non-products or imperishable). The Vātsīputrīyas, an independent school of Buddhists, however, have grouped all realities under two classes, viz., kṣaṇika (momentary) and akṣaṇika (non-momentary). Whatever principle of classification be adopted, the conclusion is inevitable that non-eternal entities must be momentary, as they are perishable by their very nature and constitution. Now, if a thing is perishable by its very nature and constitution, it will perish in the very next moment of its birth independently of the service of an external agent. If, however, it is not constitutionally perishable, it must be imperishable and no amount of external force, that may be brought to bear upon it, can make it cease to exist, as a thing cannot forfeit its own nature and assume that of another and yet continue to remain the same entity as before. And there is no medium between momentary and non-momentary, the two classes embracing the whole universe of thought and reality. To suppose, therefore, that a thing may be perishable by its nature and constitution and yet must be dependent upon an external agent to bring about its destruction, involves a necessary absurdity.

It has been urged that as a thing is seen to perish in a determinate place and time, its destruction must be contingent upon an extraneous cause and so long as this destructive agent does not appear, it will naturally continue to exist. The hypothesis of spontaneous destruction is opposed to experience and hence unacceptable. There is no absurdity in supposing that a thing may be perishable by nature and yet may be dependent on an external cause for its destruction, quite as much as a seed, which, though possessed of a natural aptitude for producing a sprout, is seen to effectuate a sprout subject to its association with water, air, soil, and the like and not independently. Experience also shows that hard metals like copper and the like are liquefied, when impinged upon by the flames of fire, but revert to their pristine condition of hardness when the heat communicated by fire is withdrawn. A jug continues to exist until it is crushed by the stroke of a club. So the dialectic of natural constitution—that if a thing is perishable by its nature it will perish by itself—should be accepted with a qualification, in the light of experience, viz., as subject to action by a destructive agent.

The whole argument of the opponent, however, is vitiated by a misreading of facts. The analogy of the seed is pointless as the seed per se is not the cause of the sprout, but the particular seed-entity, vested with sprout-producing efficiency, that emerges in the final stage immediately before the sprout is produced. The hard copper is no firm and obdurate entity but is in continual flux; and when associated with the subsidiary causes, fire and the like, it gives rise to another distinct entity liquid in nature and, when other circumstances supervene, the liquid moments disappear and hard moments manifest themselves. The theory of an external, destructive agent, on the other hand, gives rise to logical complications. The destructive agent, requisitioned for the destruction of an entity, can be posited if it has any effect on the thing to be destroyed; but this effect will transpire to be illusory on examination. Well, what can be the nature of this effect? Is it the production of another entity or non-existence of the previous entity? On the former alternative, a destructive agent has no useful function, as a thing is brought into existence by its own proper cause, which is the immediate, antecedent entity. And to say that the cause of a succeeding event is the cause of the destruction of the previous entity is to say that destruction is self-caused and spontaneous, which is our position. The second alternative that the destructive agent causes non-existence of the previous entity is equally untenable, as only an entity can be produced and non-existence being produced will be an entity—which is absurd. And if this supposed non-existence is identical with the thing that is produced, the cause of destruction as distinct from the previous entity need not be postulated. Moreover, the destructive agent must be supposed to produce an effect on the thing to be destroyed. And is this effect something distinct from the thing on which it is produced or not distinct? If distinct, it will not destroy the thing, as there is no relation between the two. On the latter alternative, it is useless as nothing new is produced. Aviddhakarṇa, an old Naiyāyika, whose opinions are frequently quoted in the Tattvasaṃgraha, but who has been entirely forgotten by the later Brāhminical writers, has taken strong exception to the Buddhist position that destruction is spontaneous. He argues, destruction is neither contemporaneous with, nor antecedent to, an entity, but a subsequent event occurring in the next moment, as the Buddhist too would have it. And so being an event occurring at a determinate point of time it must have a cause and cannot be spontaneous.

Uddyotakara, again, has attacked the Buddhist position in the following arguments: if destruction is uncaused, it will be either non-existent like a barren woman’s son or an eternal entity like ether (ākāśa), as no medium is possible between the two. If it is non-existent, all entities will be eternal, as they will not be subject to destruction and consequently the conception of perishability of all composite bodies will be an unfounded myth. If it is eternal, it will co-exist with all entities—an absurd position, as existence and non-existence, which is the connotation of destruction, are mutually contradictory. If co-existence is denied, there will be no birth, as eternal destruction will preclude all production.

All the objections, the Buddhist rejoins, proceed from a confusion of the meaning of the word ‘destruction!’ Now, this word, ‘destruction’ can have two possible meanings: in the first place, it may mean the fluxional nature of all entities; in the second place, it may connote absolute cessation of existence (bhāvasvarūpa-nivṛtti). Destruction in the first sense does not connote any negative idea; it only implies that things are in a state of continual flux, that an entity endures only for a moment, yielding place to another entity emerging into being. So if destruction means the fluxional nature of an entity, it does not militate against our position, as we also admit it to have a cause, but as the cause is inherent in its own constitution and nothing foreign to its nature, we style it uncaused. But this fluxional character is nothing distinct from the entity itself and as such cannot be regarded as a subsequent event in regard to its own self, although there is nothing to prevent it from being conceived as a subsequent event in regard to the immediately preceding entity. Destruction in this sense exists and accordingly the conception of the perishability of composite bodies (saṃskṛta) is not an unfounded illusion.

Destruction, in the sense of absolute cessation of existence, is, however, an unreal fiction. Pure negation is an abstract idea and has no existence and so cannot be an event, which means the coming into existence of an entity which was previously non-existent. It is as unreal as a sky-lotus and to affirm existence, previous or subsequent, of it is an absurdity. When we say that there is a cessation of existence, we only mean that a thing passes out of existence and not that non-being exists or occurs. It is a meaningless expression. What we seek to establish is that cessation of existence in the sense of pure non-being cannot be an objective category. So the contention of Uddyotakara that the negation of non-being will entail eternal existence of all entities falls to the ground, because all real beings, fluxional in nature, will pass out of existence in the second moment without any gratuitous help from an external entity. The whole contention of Uddyotakara proceeds on the assumption that negation is an objective category, but, as we have seen, it is only an ideal fiction and not a concrete fact, as the Nyāyavaiśeṣika school postulates.

The whole allegation of Uddyotakara, that all uncaused entities are either eternal verities or non-entities and negation being an uncaused fact will be eternal, has no force against the Sautrāntika philosopher. The Sautrāntika does not admit any eternal, uncaused category.

The Vaibhāṣikas, however, allege that there are three eternal verities, viz.,

  1. ākāśa (space)
  2. pratisaṅkhyānirodha (dissociation of the mind from impurities effected by transcendental knowledge)
  3. and apratisaṅkhyānirodha (non-emergence due to absence of causes).[1]

But these Vaibhāṣikas are not regarded by us as the true followers of the Buddha. They are grouped along with the other heretical schools of thought, viz., the Naiyāyikas and the like. The Sautrāntikas, who maintain the doctrine of universal flux, have no place in their scheme of realities for an uncaused category. These so-called eternal verities are ideal fictions (sāṃvṛtas), pure and simple. Uddyotakara in fathering this doctrine upon the Sautrāntikas only betrays his ignorance of the Buddhist position.[2]

As regards the so-called non-perishable entities such as space, time, God and the like, they are mere fictions of imagination and do not exist as objective realities, as the connotation of reality is causal efficiency (artha-kriyākāritva) and no causal efficiency is predicable of them. And if these be real entities, as you claim, they must be momentary existents, as causal efficiency is predicable only of things that are momentary. No other definition of reality except causal efficiency can be logically sound. Let us examine the definitions of reality as proposed by the Naiyāyikas. Sattāsambandha or sattāsamavāya (participation or co-inherence in universal existence) is not a tenable definition, as samavāya is a form of relation and all relations are unreal. And even if it is allowed, universality (sāmānya), particularity (viśeṣa) and co-inhesion (samavāya), which do not participate in the universal, will have no existence. Nor is the attribution of a sui generis existence to each of them a clever hypothesis, as this means too many different types of existence. Moreover, these tentative definitions are confuted by the following dilemma: Is this sui generis existence (svarūpasattā) something different from existence as such or not different? In the former alternative, it will be non-existence and the categories concerned will be unreal. In the latter, the sui generis existence will be unmeaning, as there is nothing to differentiate it from existence as such and the categories will be lumped into one. So also with regard to the other categories, viz., substance, attribute and action. If they are identical with existence as such, there is no excuse of their being regarded as separate categories and if they are different, they will have no existence of their own. So we see that the very categories of the Naiyāyika are reduced to unreal fictions by his own definition.[3] The poor Naiyāyika finds himself in the predicament of defining existence as one that is ‘existence,’ which amounts to a confession of failure.[4]

But what does demarcate such unreal fictions as a rabbit’s horn and the like from things which are real? Well, it is causal efficiency alone and as these fictions cannot possess any causal efficiency, they must be set down as unreal. An objection has been raised that reality cannot be supposed to consist in causal efficiency, as causal efficiency exists even in such unreal fictions as a sky-lotus and the like. These fictions certainly generate an impression in the mind and thus have causal efficiency in that respect, but they cannot be accepted as real on that account. Moreover, in dreams and illusions, unreal things are seen to have practical efficiency. The false snake in the rope is as much a cause of trepidation as the real one, and sometimes a man is seen to develop all the symptoms of poisoning and on some occasions to die, because he was falsely persuaded that he was bitten by a snake. And a dream-elephant is seen to be as powerful as a real elephant of our wakeful experience. If you make causal efficiency the sole test of reality, you will be painfully obliged to accord reality to those fictions.

The Buddhist replies that predication of causal efficiency relates to an objective reality and does not include subjective fictions. In dreams and illusions the objects that are experienced, are not real, objective facts, but are evolved from the imagination. The contents of these experiences are but the objectified memory-impressions and have no existence, outside the experiencing mind. It will be a sheer perversion of facts to apply to these mental fictions the standard of reality, which belongs to objective facts. Such unreal fictions, as sky-lotus and the like, are purely subjective facts without any objective foundation and as causal efficiency has been postulated as the test of an objective reality, it cannot have any application to these fictitious representations of the imagination. When we deny causal efficiency to these ideal fictions, we deny it in the sense of their being objective realities. All these objections could be enforced if we held with Kumārila and the Naiyāyikas that illusions and dreams were conversant about realities.[5] But according to our theory these experiences are purely subjective and are absolutely devoid of any objective reference. Causal efficiency therefore stands unrefuted as the test and definition of reality, as reality connotes real, substantive facts and not subjective fictions.[6]

And causal efficiency is exercisable either in succession or simultaneity and as simultaneity and succession are incompatible with the supposed permanent entity, causal efficiency is restricted to the momentary, fluxional entity alone. One may legitimately enquire: Why is it that practical efficiency cannot be predicated of a non-fluxional, permanent entity? Because it is redargued by the following dilemma: Has your “permanent” power of past and future practical efficiency during its exertion of present practical efficiency or no? If it has such power, it cannot fail to execute the past and future actions exactly as it does its present action, because the execution of an action is the inevitable consequence of such efficiency, which it is conceded to possess. And there is no reason why there should be any delay in the effectuation of such actions as the causal efficiency is present intact. The point at issue can be brought home by the following argument.

That, which has causal efficiency in respect of anything, does execute that thing without fail, as for instance the full assemblage of causes. And this entity has past and future causal efficiency (and should therefore execute the past and future actions without fail). On the second alternative (if the permanent has no such efficiency of past and future agency), it will never do those actions, as exertion of practical efficiency results from power alone. The privation of past and future efficiency in the permanant can be specifically driven home by the following syllogism: What at any time does not do anything, that at that time is incapable of doing it, as for instance, a gravel is unable to produce a sprout. And this “permanent” does not execute its past and future actions during its execution of present action (and consequently does not possess the power for the same).

It is proved beyond doubt that this supposed “permanent” has present practical efficiency, but it does not of a surety possess its past and future efficiency. And as co-existence of efficiency and non-efficiency, two contradictory qualities, is not possible in a single entity, the conclusion is irresistible that the present entity is distinct from the past and the future entity and is thus fluxional. It may be urged that causal efficiency may exist in a thing without the effect being produced and this is confirmed by the fact that the seed in the granary is regarded as the cause of the sprout, though the sprout is not immediately produced. But this objection is based upon a misconception. In ordinary parlance, a remote, possible cause is said to possess causal efficiency. But this is a loose, popular conception and cannot be made the basis of a philosophical enquiry. In reality, however, the cause of the sprout is the peculiar seed-entity that immediately and invariably produces the sprout. The seed in the granary is regarded as the cause of the sprout only in view of a remote possibility. So there is no room for confusion between a real cause, which is immediately and invariably attended with an effect, and a remote possible cause, which can be regarded as a cause only by courtesy.

But the Naiyāyikas and other realists demur to accept the position of the Buddhist set forth above. They urge that fluxional cause could be accepted if the invariable concomitance of causal efficiency with momentariness was established. But this is impossible. It is quite plausible that a permanent entity, though it is the sole and sufficient cause, can exercise its causal efficiency only in conjunction with subsidiaries and as these subsidiaries occur in succession, successive execution of past and future actions is not incompetent to a permanent cause. The cause does not independently produce the effect as it develops its causal efficiency only in association with its subsidiaries. The production of the effect is contingent upon the co-presence of the subsidiaries and so does not take place when the set of subsidiaries is absent. The presence and absence of the subsidiaries, however, do not at all affect the real nature of the cause, as the cause is entirely distinct from them.

The co-presence of subsidiaries, the Buddhist observes, is an idle hypothesis. If the permanent develops its causal efficiency on its own account and is not at all assisted by the subsidiaries, the latter become absolutely useless. And if the peculiar effect-producing efficiency, that manifests itself in the last moment, is identical with its past nature, nothing can prevent the production of the effect.[7] If this nature is a different one, you cannot claim the previous entity as the cause. And if you suppose that the cause has not undergone any mutation, production becomes impossible, as its previous inefficiency will persist. But it may be contended that the permanent entity is one of the causes, and not the sole and sufficient cause. It is the entire collocation of causes (sāmagrī) that produces the effect and not the cause alone, however powerful it might be. The relation between cause and effect is not one of mutual necessary implication (anyayoga-vyavaccheda), but non-separation with one term lying independent (ayogavyavaccheda) as in invariable concomitance (vyāpti). Thus, as in vyāpti, the probandum can exist without the probans, though the probans cannot, so also a cause can exist independently of the effect, though not the effect. And in this conception of causal relation the popular view and philosophers’ estimate do coincide.[8]

Well, we Buddhists, have no quarrel with you on the point that several factors combine to produce a self-same effect. What we contend for is that a permanent cause cannot ex hypothesi stand in need of any auxiliary factors. If the invariable efficient or inefficient nature of the permanent continues, there will be either production or non-production of the effect for all times. So there is no.logic in the position of the upholders of the permanent entity that it is the full collocation of causes and not a single cause, that is productive of the effect. We have it from experience that several causal factors combine to produce a self-identical effect and. we do not challenge this position. But the point at issue is whether the “permanent” undergoes any mutation or not. If there is no mutation, either production or non-production will be inevitable, as indicated above. If, however, the permanent mutates, it ceases to be permanent. And this dilemma is unavoidable. No reliance again can be placed on recognition (pratyabhijña), on the strength of whose testimony the unchanged identity of the cause could be established. Recognition is an unsafe guide, as we see there is recognition even in the case of growing hair and nails and the like. Apparently therefore the relation of cause and effect is one of mutual necessary implication and not non-separation with one term lying independent, as the Naiyāyika affirms. The analogy of vyāpti is inapplicable, as vyāpti is a relation between two concepts and not entities and as concepts are remotely related to reals, the relation is found to congrue with facts. But the cause, you posit, has a real existence as distinct from conceptual existence.[9] An objection is sometimes raised in this connection that as there is no permanent entity, according to the Buddhist, he cannot have any experience of such, much less can he make it the term of a syllogistic argument. And if he has direct or indirect experience of such permanent entity, he cannot consistently deny his own experience. When he asserts that the “permanent” cannot have causal efficiency, he admits the existence of the permanent and cannot deny it without contradicting himself. The objection is a frivolous one, but will be dwelt on at length in a separate section, because the Naiyāyikas have made capital out of this.[10] Suffice it to say here that the permanent in our syllogism is a hypothetical entity and not an experiential fact. What we mean by the “permanent” is this: if the nature of causal efficiency, that is evinced in the subsequent entity, be the same with the nature of the previous entity, or if the inefficient nature of the previous entity be identical with the efficient nature of the subsequent entity, there will be either production or non-production of the effect always. So we do not go beyond our experiential data, as the efficient and the non-efficient momentary entities are real objective facts. What we seek to prove is that there can be no identity between the two entities on pain of either of the undesirable issues, viz., constant production or non-production.

It has been sufficiently proved that a self-sufficient permanent cause can have no need of auxiliaries, which can have no function. If, however, these auxiliaries are supposed really to assist the main cause, they can have a legitimate function and can become necessary. But if they assist, they will produce some supplementation (atiśaya) in the causal entity and the question naturally arises as to the nature of its relation to the causal entity. Is this supplementation something distinct or non-distinct from the thing on which it is produced? If it is distinct from the causal entity, then this adventitious supplementation will be the cause and not the non-fluxional entity; for the effect will follow, by concomitance and non-concomitance, the adventitious supplemetation.[11] In this case, causal efficiency will be possible only in the momentary, fluxional entity and not the permanent, which the opponent has sought to prove. If the supplementation is considered to be non-distinct, that is to say, identical with the permanent causal entity, we ask whether the previous inefficient nature continues or ceases to exist. On the former alternative, there will be no production, as the previous inefficiency will operate as a bar. On the second alternative, the previous inefficient entity has ceased and a new entity identical with supplementation, designated in Buddhist technology as Kurvadrūpa (effect-producing object), comes into being and so the cause becomes fluxional.

The hypothesis of the permanent cause as discharging successive functions in association with successive subsidiaries, has transpired to be illusory. But there may be another alternative, viz., that a permanent entity exerts its several causal efficiencies all at once and not in succession. But this will not stand the following dilemma. This “permanent,” endued with the power of producing all its effects simultaneously, either continues to exist or does not continue after production of its effects. On the first alternative there will be production of all its effects just as much at one time as at another. On the second, the expectation of its permanency is as reasonable as expecting a seed, eaten by a mouse, to germinate.[12]

The Naiyāyika will perhaps seek shelter under his precious theory of samavāya (co-inherence)—a relation, which, they claim, has the miraculous efficiency of harmonising identity with difference. Certainly the subsidiaries produce some supplementation in the permanent causal entity, but the supplementation, though a distinct entity, coinheres in the causal entity and thus becomes a part and parcel of its being. But the question naturally arises that if the supplementation in question is something distinct, how can it have a relation with the basic entity without producing another supplementation. And this second supplementation, too, being a distinct entity, will hang loose and can be connected with the help of another supplementation and so on ad infinitum. The co-inherence theory thus transpires to be a dodge to take in the credulous, unenquiring fellows. But the never-ending series of supplementations is not the only difficulty in the theory of successive subsidiaries. There are many-sided regressions in infinitum. There will he infinite.regressions of all the factors involved in production. Thus, the seed, the subsidiaries, and supplementation are the three necessary conditions of production..We have seen that there will be a never-ending series of supplementations and these supplementations can be produced with the help of subsidiaries. And these subsidiaries can be of help if they produce supplementation in the supplementations themselves—otherwise they will not be required. Thus, there will be an infinite chain of supplementations afforded by the subsidiaries. So with regard to the basal cause and so with regard to the subsidiaries in their mutual relations. It is plain, therefore, that nothing can be explained by relations, as these relations will for ever fall apart and infinite regressions in each and every case will be inevitable. But the theory of flux is wonderfully immune from these difficulties—as it does not posit any relation at all. The factors being momentary units stand self-contained and self-sufficient.

Relations are requisitioned to harmonise permanence with change, but we have seen how. they fail. Permanence and change, being mutually contradictory, cannot be made to constitute a harmonious whole even by virtue of these relations, which have been exposed to be hollow devices.

Trilocana,[13] the teacher of Vācaspati Miśra, contends that the whole controversy of the Buddhist turns upon a false basis. The permanent cause is absolutely independent of the subsidiaries and is not at all assisted or benefited by them. It is the effect which is so benefited being dependent upon the subsidiaries as it cannot come into being if the set of subsidiaries be absent. For, causal power (sāmarthya) is of two kinds: natural and adventitious, the latter consisting in the presence of subsidiaries. There is no logical difficulty, therefore, that the cause does not produce the effect always, as the requisite power constituted by the subsidiaries is lacking. But this is mere shifting of the ground. How can the effect, which is not yet born, have any necessity for the subsidiaries? We could accept this view, however, if the effect could independently come into being. But then the subsidiaries and all that they connote become unavailing. If the effect is independent, how can the seed be the cause? And if the seed is the cause, why should it fail to produce the effect? Nor is it supposable that the effects are perverse and sometimes do not come info being inspite of the causes, as in that case they will not be the effects of those causes. But it may be contended that a particular entity is regarded as the effect of a cause, not because it happens when the cause is there, but because it disappears when the cause disappears. But this interpretation of causal relation is indefensible. Logically we can set down the absence of the effect to the absence of the cause, only if the presence of the effect is dependent upon the presence of the cause. Otherwise the effect will be independent of the cause and the disappearance of the cause will not entail the disappearance of the effect. So the presence of the cause must be invariably followed by the presence of the effect, just as much as the absence of it is followed by the absence of the other. Otherwise the so-called cause will cease to be the cause at all.[14] Nyāyabhūṣaṇa[15] however, contends that the argument, that a cause should discharge all its.future functions even while it discharges its present function, because, the future causal efficiency is present in it at the time, is a case of plain self-contradiction just like the statement—‘My mother is barren.’ How can the future causal efficiency function in the present? If it did, it would cease to be future efficiency. Certainly causal efficiency for blue cannot result in the production of yellow.

The contention of Nyāyabhūsana, Ratnakīrti observes, is but a mere jugglery with words. If the permanent cause possesses permanent causal efficiency, why should it function at some future time and not in the immediate present, on the basis of which future efficiency is postulated? The opponent may answer, ‘because, we see it actually functioning in the future.’ Yes, but as this is incompatible with its permanency, you should regard it as momentary. You cannot suppose that it is the nature of the permanent to function in the future, because such a supposition is logically absurd. A thing is supposed to have a particular nature only when there is logical necessity for such a supposition; and no hypothesis, however convenient, can be accepted if it violates the canons of logic.[16] The Buddhist therefore concludes that as the theory of permanent cause fails to explain facts and on the contrary introduces logical complications, which are insurmountable, the theory of flux should be adopted as it is the happiest possible explanation of the world of reality.



  1. T. S., śls. 350-546.
  2. SBNT., pp. 20-53.

Footnotes and references:


The import and nature of these three eternal categories of the Vaibhāṣikas will be elucidated in the chapter on Nirvāṇa.


‘Yaccoktam akāraṇam bhavato dvidhā nityam asacceti, tat parasiddhāntānabhijñatayā, yato nyāyavādināṃ bauddbānām akāraṇam asadeva......... ye ca Vaibhāṣikā ākāśādivastu sattvena kalpayanti, te yuṣmatpakṣa eva nikṣiptā na śākyaputrīyā iti na tanmatopanyāso nyāyāt’
      —Kamalaśīla Pañjikā, p. 140, Tattvasaṃgraha.


The universal (sāmānya) cannot participate in any other universal, as this will lead to infinite regression. The universal too cannot be attached to particularity, as in that case the particular will cease to be particular, if it becomes universal in any form. Co-inherence is regarded as one, invisible, eternal relation obtaining between the universal and the particular, substance and attribute, part and whole. There can be no universal relating to this entity, as the idea of the universal presupposes a number of concrete individuals sharing in it and as samavāya is one, the question of its being a universal cannot arise.

See Kiraṇāvali:

vyakter abhedas tulyatvaṃ saṅkaro’ thā’ navasthitiḥ |
rūpahānir asambandho jātibādbakasaṃgrahaḥ ||


Compare in this connexion the observations of Prof. Mctaggart in his ‘Nature of Existence,’ Ch. I, Sec. 5.


Kumārila holds that even memory and dream experiences contain an objective reference like perception. The contents of these experiences are real, objective facts, though in dreams and illusions these facts are presented under a wrong spatio-temporal relation. Nothing but an existing fact can become an object of experience and so the objects of dreams and illusions even are real facts though the spatial and temporal relations are perverted.

cf. “svapnādipratyaye bāhyaṃ sarvathā nahi neṣyate |
sarva trālambanaṃ bāhyam deśakālānyathātmakam ||”
      Śloka-vārttika, p. 242.


Vide Tattvasaṃgraha, verses 425-427.


Vide SBNT., p. 27, 11, 6-9.


Tasmād vyāptivat kāryakāraṇabhāvo’py ekatra anyayogavyavacchedena, anyatra ayoga-vyabacchedenā’ va boddhavyaḥ, tathaiva laukika-parīkṣakāṇāṃ sampratipatteḥ
      (op. cit., p. 37).

Vyāpti is the invariable concomitance of the probans (middle term) with the probandum and this is the very ground and conditio sine qua non of all inference. This relation is stated in the major premiss of Aristotelian syllogism, in which the middle term is invariably distributed, though not necessarily the major term, which may be taken in its entire or partial extension according to circumstances.

Accordingly vyāpti has been spoken of as of two distinct types, to wit

  1. samavyāpti in which the two terms are co-extensive
  2. and asamavyāpti, in which the probandum is of wider extension than the probans.

The contention is whether the relation of causality is of necessity one of co-extensive concomitance or may be a relation of unequal extension with one term wider than, and hence independent of, the other. The Buddhist maintains the former view and the Naiyāyika affirms the latter possibility with emphasis.


tasmāt sākṣāt kārya-kāraṇa-bhāvāpekṣayā ubbayatrāpy anyayogavyavacchedaḥ. vyāptau tu sākṣāt paramparayā kāraṇamātrāpekṣayā kāraṇe vyāpake ayogavyavacchedaḥ kārye vyāpye anyayogāvyavacchedaḥ...... vikalpārūḍharūpāpekṣayā vyāptau dvividbam avadhāraṇam. SBNT., pp. 38-39.


Cf. ‘The Nature of Existence:’ “It has been objected to this that, e.g., the fourth angle of a triangle must be real, if we can predicate anything of it with truth. And thus any predication of unreality would contradict itself. But this seems to me to be mistaken. In order to make any predication about anything, I must have an idea of that thing, and the idea—the psychical event in my mind—must be real. But a real idea of such an angle does not involve the reality of the angle.” P. 1, fn. 2.


“tasmin sati hi kāryāṇām utpādas tadabhāvataḥ |
anutpādāt sa evaivaṃ hetutvena vyavasthitaḥ ||”
      T. S. Kār, p. 400.


dvitīye sthāyitvavṛttyāśā mūṣikabhakṣitabījādāv aṅkurādijananaprārthanām anuharet. SDS., p. 24.


From frequent references to, and quotations of opinions of, Trilocana made by Ratnakīrti in his treatises on ‘Apoha’ and ‘Kṣaṇabhaṅgasiddhi’ it can be legitimately inferred that Trilocana was an author of repute and ho must have written either a commentary or an independent standard work on Nyāya philosophy. It is certainly a pity that all his works are lost. That Trilocana profoundly influenced Vācaspati Miśra is not open to doubt, as the latter has recorded his debt to the former in unmistakable language.

(Cf. Trilocana-gurūnnītamārgānugamanonmukhaiḥ |
yathāmānaṃ yathāvastu vyākhyātam idam īdṛśam ||
      Tāt. Ṭ., p. 133.)


“tadbhāve’pi na bhāvaśced abhāve’ bhāvitā kutaḥ |
tadabhāvaprayuktaśca so’bhāva iti tat kutaḥ ||”
      SBNT., p. 41.


Nyāyabhūṣaṇa is the name of a very old commentary on the Nyāyasāra of Bbāsarvajña and it exercised a very pronounced influence on the later development of Nyāya thought and perhaps created a sub-section of thinkers, who were called Bhūṣaṇīyās. See Bibliography of Nyāya Philosophy by Principal Gopīnāth Kavirāj and the introduction to Nyāyasāra by Dr. S. C. Vidyābhūṣaṇa.


SBNT., pp. 41-42.

It may be interesting to observe in this connection that Mr. Bertrand Russell arrives at the same conclusion that there is no persistence in the world, each entity being momentary and the idea of persistence is only an illusion due to continuity in the series. He takes his cue from the cinematograph and avers that not only the cinema-man, but

“The real man too, I believe, however the police may swear to his identity, is really a series of momentary men, each different one from the other, and bound together, not by a numerical identity, but by continuity and certain intrinsic laws. And what applies to men applies equally to tables and chairs, the sun, moon and stars. Each of these is to be regarded, not as one single persistent entity, but as a series of entities, succeeding each other in time, and lasting only for a brief period, though probably not for a mere mathematical inslant.” (P. 129.)

The Buddhist philosophers long ago anticipated Mr. Bertrand Russell and I am tempted to believe they are more logical and consistent than Mr. Russell. Mr. Russell seems to suffer from a confusion in this respect. His abhorrence for the “infinitesimal,” which he borrows from modern mathematical speculations, is responsible for this aberration. Now, moments cannot be finite divisions of time, as this means that there are no moments at all. If a span of time consisting of many smaller divisions be regarded as the unit, the smaller divisions will have no meaning. The mathematical instant, of which he speaks, is not an empirical fact but a logical presupposition. Nor does the introduction of the “infinitesimal” re-open the gates of the puzzles of Zeno. The Buddhist philosopher does not admit the reality of motion. Motion is only a “logical construction” or a “symbolic fiction” to quote Mr. Russell’s own words. There being no permanence anywhere in the world, no single thing can be in two places. The things are different and distinct. That the “arrow in its flight is truly at rest” (p. 81) is also the finding of the Buddhist philosopher, but only subject to a proviso, viz., that the arrow is not one but many arrows successively appearing in the horizon, which give rise to the illusion of a persistent identity owing to continuity of similar entities. The Buddhist emphasises the aspect of similarity as the cause of the illusion of permanence, which Mr. Russell omits to emphasize. Continuity alone cannot be credited with this capacity for producing illusion, as continuity of dissimilar things does not have this effect. The syllables of a word are quickly uttered, but the quickness of succession does not stand in the way of their being perceived as discrete and distinct entities. So by continuity we must understand uninterrupted succession of similar entities, which should be emphasised for the sake of clarity and precision. The “intrinsic laws” of which Mr. Russell speaks, are regarded by the Buddhists as the law of causality, in the language of the Buddhist, as the law of relative origination (pratītyasamutpāda). The superstitions of ages which have clustered round the concept of cause have been smashed into smithereens by the sledgehammer blows of the Buddhist dialectic and it has been formulated in a manner which can be accepted without prejudice to facts. Mr. Russell seems to play into the hands of sceptics, when he declares the causal relation, to be a mere case of probability. The failure of prophecy, by which he sets so much store, does not go against the law of causality. It is due to imperfect knowledge. The nature of the causal relation will be explained in the third chapter of the present book and to ask for a logical à priori explanation will lead to scepticism or idealism, as will be shown in Chapter IV.

Vide Mysticism and Logic.

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