A History of Indian Philosophy Volume 2

by Surendranath Dasgupta | 1932 | 241,887 words | ISBN-13: 9788120804081

This page describes the philosophy of dialectical criticisms of shantarakshita and kamalashila (a.d. 760): a concept having historical value dating from ancient India. This is the twentieth part in the series called the “the shankara school of vedanta (continued)”, originally composed by Surendranath Dasgupta in the early 20th century.

Part 20 - Dialectical criticisms of Śāntarakṣita and Kamalaśīla (a.d. 760)

(as forerunners of Vedānta Dialectics)

(a) Criticisms of the Sāṃkhya Pariṇāma Doctrine.

In tracing the history of the dialectical ways of thinking in the Vedānta it has been pointed out in the previous sections that the influence of Nāgārjuna and Candrakīrti on Śaṅkara and some of his followers, such as Śrīharṣa, Citsukha and others, was very great. It has also been pointed out that not only Nāgārjuna and Candrakīrti, but many other Buddhist writers, had taken to critical and dialectical ways of discussion. The criticism of the different schools of Indian thought, as contained in Śāntarakṣita’s Tattva-saṃgraha with Kamalaśīla’s commentary Pañjikā, is a remarkable instance of this. Śāntarakṣita lived in the first half of the eighth century A.D., and Kamalaśīla was probably his junior contemporary.

They refuted the views of

  • Kambalāśvatara, a follower of the Lokāyata school,
  • the Buddhist Vasumitra (a.d. 100),
  • Dharmatrāta (a.d. 100),
  • Ghoṣaka (a.d. 150),
  • Buddhadeva (a.d. 200),
  • the Naiyāyika Vātsyāyana (a.d. 300),
  • the Mīmāmsist Śabarasv?min (a.d. 300),
  • the Sāṃkhyist Vindhyasvāmin (a.d. 300),
  • the Buddhist Saṅghabhadra (a.d. 350),
  • Vasubandhu (a.d. 350),
  • the Sāṃkhyist īśvarakṛṣṇa (a.d. 390),
  • the Buddhist Diṅnāga (a.d. 400),
  • the Jaina Ācāryasūri (a.d. 478),
  • the Sāṃkhyist Māthara Ācārya (a.d. 500),
  • the Naiyāyika Uddyotakara (a.d. 600),
  • the rhetorician Bhāmaha (a.d. 640),
  • the Buddhist Dharmakīrti (a.d. 650),
  • the grammarian-philosopher Bhartrhari (a.d. 650),
  • the Mīmāmsist Kumārila bhaṭṭa (a.d. 680),
  • the Jaina Śubhagupta (a.d. 700),
  • the Buddhist Yugasena (a.d. 700),
  • the Naiyāyika Āviddhakarṇa (a.d. 700),
  • Śaṅkarasvāmin (A.D. 700),
  • Praśastamati (a.d. 700),
  • Bhāvivikta (a.d. 700),
  • the Jaina Pātrasvāmin (a.d. 700),
  • Āhrika (a.d. 700),
  • Sumati (a.d. 700),
  • and the Mīmāmsist Uveyaka (a.d. 700)[1].

It is not possible here, of course, to enter into a complete analysis of all the criticisms of the different philosophers by Śāntarakṣita and Kamalaśīla; yet some of the important points of these criticisms may be noted in order to show the nature and importance of this work, which also reveals the nature of the critical thinking that prevailed among the Buddhists before Śaṅkara and by which Śaṅkara and his followers, like Śrīharṣa, Citsukha or Ānandajñāna, were in all probability greatly influenced.

In criticizing the Sāṃkhya views they say that, if the effects, the evolutes, be identical with the cause, the pradhāna, why should they be produced from the pradhāna ? If they are identical, then the evolutes themselves might be regarded as cause or the pradhāna as effect. The ordinary way of determining causality is invariable antecedence, and that is avowedly not available here. The idea of pariṇāma, which means identity in diversity, the causal scheme of the Sāṃkhya, is also inadmissible; for, if it is urged that any entity changes into diverse forms, it may be asked whether the nature of the causal entity also changes or does not change. If it does not change, then the causal and the effect states should abide together in the later product, which is impossible; if it changes, then there is nothing that remains as a permanent cause; for this would only mean that a previous state is arrested and a new state is produced.

If it is urged that causal transformation means the assumption of new qualities, it may be asked whether such qualities are different from the causal substance or not; if they are, then the occurrence of new qualities cannot entitle one to hold the view that the causal substance is undergoing transformations (pariṇāma). If the changing qualities and the causal substance are identical, then the first part of the argument would reappear. Again, the very arguments that are given in favour of the sat-kārya-vāda (existence of the effect in the cause) could be turned against it. Thus, if curds, etc. already exist in the nature of the milk, then what is the meaning of their being produced from it? If there is no idea of production, there is no idea of causality.

If it is urged that the effects are potentially existent in the cause, and causal operations only actualize them, then it is admitted that the effects are actually non-existent in the cause, and we have to admit in the cause some specific characteristic, brought about by the causal operation, on account of the absence of which the effects remained in the potential state in the cause, and that the causal operations which actualize the effects produce some specific determinations in the cause, in consequence of which the effect, which was non-existent before, is actualized; this would mean that what was non-existent could be produced, which would be against the sat-kārya-vāda theory. In the light of the above criticisms, since according to the sat-kārya-vāda theory causal productions are impossible, the arguments of Sāṃkhya in favour of sat-kārya-vāda , that only particular kinds of effects are produced from particular kinds of causes, are also inadmissible.

Again, according to Sāṃkhya, nothing ought to be capable of being definitely asserted, since according to the sat-kārya-vāda theory doubts and errors are always existent as a modification of either buddhi , manas or caitanya. Again, the application of all Sāṃkhya arguments might be regarded as futile, since all arguments are intended to arrive at decisive conclusions; but decisive conclusions, being effects, are already existent. If, however, it is contended that decisive conclusions were not existent before, but were produced by the application of arguments, then there is production of what was non-existent, and thus the sat-kārya-vāda theory fails.

If it is urged that, though the decisive conclusion (niścaya) is already existent before the application of the argumentative premises, yet it may be regarded as being manifested by the application of those premises, the Sāṃkhyist may be asked to define what he means by such manifestation (abhivyakti). This manifestation may mean either some new characteristic or some knowledge or the withdrawal of some obscuration to the comprehension. In the first alternative, it may again be asked whether this new character (svabhāvātiśaya) that is generated by the application of the premises is different from the decisive conclusion itself or identical with it.

If it is identical, there is no meaning in its introduction; if it is different, no relation is admissible between these two, since any attempt to introduce a relation between two unrelated entities would launch us into a vicious infinite (anavasthā). It cannot mean the rise of the knowledge about that particular object for the manifestation of which the premises are applied; for, according to the sat-kārya-vāda theory, that knowledge is already there. Again, it cannot mean the removal of the obscuration of knowledge; for, if there is obscuration, that also must be ever-existent. As a matter of fact, the whole of the teachings of Sāṃkhya philosophy directed to the rise of true knowledge ought to be false, for true knowledge is ever-existent, and therefore there ought to be no bondage, and therefore all persons should always remain emancipated. Again, if there is any false knowledge, it could not be destroyed, and therefore there could be no emancipation.

Śāntarakṣita and Kamalaśīla then urge that, though the above refutation of the sat-kārya-vāda ought naturally to prove the a-sat-kārya-vāda (the production of that which did not exist before) doctrine, yet a few words maybe said in reply to the Sāṃkhya refutation of a-sat-kārya-vāda. Thus the argument that that which is nonexistent has no form (nairūpya) and therefore cannot be produced is false; for the operation of production represents itself the character of the thing that is being produced.

As the Satkāryavādins think that out of the same three guṇas different kinds of effects may be produced according to causal collocations, so here also, according to the law of different kinds of causal forces (karaṇa-śakti-pratiniyamāt), different kinds of non-existing effects come into being. It is meaningless to hold that the limitation of causal forces is to be found in the pre-existence of effects; for, in reality, it is on account of the varying capacities of the causal forces that the various effects of the causes are produced. The production of various effects is thus solely due to the diverse nature of the causal forces that produce them. The law of causal forces is thus ultimately fundamental. The name a-sat-kārya-vāda, however, is a misnomer; for certainly there is no such non-existent entity which comes into being[2].

Production in reality means nothing more than the characteristic of the moment only, divested from all associations of a previous and a succeeding point of time[3]. The meaning of a-sat-kārya-vāda is that an entity called the effect is seen immediately after a particular causal operation; and it certainly did not exist before this second moment, since, if it did exist at the first moment of the causal operation, it would have been perceived; it is therefore said that the effect did not exist before; but this should not be interpreted to mean that the Buddhists believed in the non-existing existence of the effect, which suddenly came into being after the causal operation.

Refuting the other Sāṃkhya doctrines, Śāntarakṣita and Kamalaśīla point out that, if an effect (e.g. curd) is said to exist in the cause (e.g. milk), it cannot do so in the actual form of the effect, since then milk would have tasted as curd. If it is said to exist in the form of a special capacity or potency (śakti), then the existence of the effect in the cause is naturally denied; for it is the potency of the effect that exists in the cause and not the effect itself. Again, the Sāṃkhyists believe that all sensible things are of the nature of pleasure and pain; this, however, is obviously impossible, since only conscious states can be regarded as pleasurable or painful. There is no sense at all in describing material things as of the nature of pleasure or pain. Again, if objective material things were themselves pleasurable or painful, then the fact that the same objects may appear pleasurable to some and painful to others would be unexplainable.

If, however, it is held that even pleasurable objects may appear painful to someone, on account of his particular state of mind or bad destiny, then the objects themselves cannot be pleasurable or painful. Again, if objects are regarded as being made up of three guṇas , there is no reason for admitting one eternal prakrti as the source of them all. If causes are similar to effects, then from the fact that the world of objects is many and limited and non-eternal one ought to suppose that the cause of the objects also should be many, limited and noneternal. It is sometimes held that, as all earthen things are produced from one earth, so all objects are produced from one prakṛti; but this also is a fallacious argument, since all earthen things are produced not out of one lump of earth, but from different lumps. Thus, though it may be inferred that the world of effects must have its causes, this cannot lead us to infer that there is one such cause as the prakṛti of the Sāṃkhyists.

(b) Criticism of Īśvara.

One of the chief arguments of the Naiyāyika theists in favour of the existence of God is based on the fact that the specific forms and shapes of the different objects in the world cannot be explained except on the supposition of an intelligent organizer or shaper. To this Śāntarakṣita and Kamalaśīla reply that we perceive only the different kinds of visual and tactile sensibles and that there are no further shaped wholes or so-called objects, which men fancy themselves to be perceiving. It is meaningless to think that the visual sensibles and tactile sensibles go together to form one whole object. When people say that it is the same coloured object, seen in the day, that we touched in the night when we did not see it, they are wrong; for colour sensibles or sense-data are entirely different kinds of entities from tactile sense-data, and it is meaningless to say that it is the same object or whole which has both the colour and tactile characteristics. If two colour sensibles, say yellow and blue, are different, then still more different are the colour sensibles and the tactile ones. What exist therefore are not wholes having colour and tactile characters, but only discrete elements of colour and tactile sense-data; the combining of them into wholes is due only to false imagination.

There are no objects which can be perceived by the two senses; there is no proof that it is one identical object that is perceived by the eye as well as touched. There exist therefore only loose and discrete sense-data. There being thus no shaped wholes, the supposition of the existence of God as shaper and organizer is inadmissible. The mere fact that there are the effects cannot lead to the inference that there is one intelligent creator and organizer, since a causal inference cannot be made from mere similarity of any description; there must be a law of unconditional and invariable connection (pratibandha). The argument that, since jugs, etc. are made by an intelligent potter, so trees, etc. must also have been made by an intelligent creator, is faulty; for trees, etc., are so different in nature from jugs, etc., that it is wrong to make any assertion from the former to the latter.

The general Buddhist arguments against the existence of any eternal entity will also apply against the existence of any eternal God. The argument that, since a state of arrest breaks up into a state of motion or production in all natural phenomena, there must be an intelligent creator, is wrong; for there is no state of arrest in nature; all things in the world are momentary. Again, if things are happening in succession, at intervals, through the operation of a causal agent, then God also must be operating at intervals and, by the arguments of the opponents themselves, He must have another being to guide His operations, and that another, and that another, and there would thus be a vicious infinite. If God had been the creator, then everything would have sprung into being all at once. He ought not to depend on accessory assistance; for, He being the creator of all such accessory circumstances, they could not render Him any assistance in His creation.

Again, if it is urged that the above argument does not hold, because God only creates when He wishes, then it may be replied that, since God’s will is regarded as eternal and one, the old objection of simultaneous production holds good. Moreover, since God is eternal and since His will depends only on Him and Him alone, His will cannot be transitory. Now, if He and His will be always present, and yet at the moment of the production of any particular phenomenon all other phenomena are not produced, then those phenomena cannot be regarded as being caused by God or by His will. Again, even if for argument’s sake it may be granted that all natural objects, such as trees, hills, etc., presuppose intelligent creators, there is no argument for supposing that one intelligent creator is the cause of all diverse natural objects and phenomena. Therefore there is no argument in favour of the existence of one omniscient creator.

The arguments urged in refutation of prakṛti and īśvara would also apply against the Pātañjala-Sāṃkhya, which admits the joint causality of īśvara and prakṛti ; for here also, prakṛti and īśvara being eternal causes, one would expect to have simultaneous production of all effects. If it is urged that the three guṇas behave as accessory causes with reference to God’s operation, then also it may be asked whether at the time of productive activity (sarga) the activity of dissolution or of maintenance (sthiti) may also be expected to be operated, or whether at the time of dissolution, there might be productive operation as well.

If it is urged that, though all kinds of forces are existent in prakṛti , yet it is only those that become operative that take effect, it may be objected that some other kind of cause has to be admitted for making some powers of prakṛti operative, while others are inoperative, and this would introduce a third factor; thus the joint causality of puruṣa and prakṛti is also easily refuted. Again, the view that God produces the world through kindness is also false; for, had it been so, the world would not have been so full of misery. Again, there being before creation no beings, God could not feel kindness to nonexistent beings. He would not have destroyed the world had He been so kind; if He created and destroyed the world in accordance with the good or bad deeds, then He would not be independent. Had He been independent, He wouldnothave allowed Himself to be influenced by the consequences of bad deeds in producing misery in the world.

If He created the world out of mere playful instincts, then these playful instincts would be superior to Him. If He derived much enjoyment from His productive and destructive play, then, if He were able, He would have created and destroyed the world simultaneously. If He is not capable of creating and destroying the world simultaneously, then there is no reason to suppose that He would be able to do it at intervals. If it is urged that the world was produced naturally by His own existence, then there would be simultaneous production. If it is objected that, just as spiders, though they naturally go on producing webs, yet do not produce them all at once, so God also may be producing the world gradually and not all at once, it may then be pointed out that the analogy of spider’s webs is false, since the spider does not naturally produce webs, but only through greed for eating insects, and its activities are determined by such motives.

God, however, is One who can have only one uniform motive. If it is urged that creation flows from God unconsciously, as it were, it may readily be objected that a being who creates such a great universe without any intelligent purpose would indeed be very unintelligent.

(c) Refutation of the Soul Theory.

The Nyāya view of the soul, that our thoughts must have a knower and that our desires and feelings must have some entity in which they may inhere and that this entity is soul and that it is the existence of this one soul that explains the fact of the unity of all our conscious states as the experience of one individual, is objected to by Śāntarakṣita and Kamalaśīla. They hold that no thought or knowledge requires any further knower for its illumination; if it had been so, there would be a vicious infinite. Again, desires, feelings, etc., are not like material objects, which would require a receptacle in which they might be placed. The so-called unity of consciousness is due to a false unifying imagination of the momentary ones as one. It is also well known that different entities may be regarded as combined on account of their fulfilling the same kinds of functions.

It is knowledge in its aspect of ego that is often described as the self, though there is no objective entity corresponding to it. It is sometimes argued that the existence of the soul is proved by the fact that a man is living only so long as his vital currents are connected with the soul, and that he dies when they are disconnected from it; but this is false, since, unless the existence of soul be proved, the supposition of its connection with vital currents as determining life is untenable. Some, however, say that the self is directly perceived in experience; if it had not been, there would not have been such diversity of opinion about its existence.

The sense of ego cannot be said to refer to the self; for the sense of ego is not eternal, as it is supposed to be. On the other hand, it refers sometimes to our body (as when I say, “I am white”), sometimes to the senses (as when I say, “I am deaf”), and sometimes to intellectual states. It cannot be said that its reference to body or to senses is only indirect; for no other permanent and direct realization of its nature is found in experience. Feelings, desires, etc., also often arise in succession and cannot therefore be regarded as inhering in a permanent self. The conclusion is that, as all material objects are soulless, so also are human beings. The supposed eternal soul is so different from the body that it cannot be conceived how one can help the other or even be related to it. Thus there is hardly any argument in favour of the soul theory of the Nyāya and Vaiśeṣika.

(d) Refutation of the Mīmāṃsā Theory of the Self.

Kumārila believed that, though the nature of the self as pure consciousness was eternal and unchangeable, yet it passed through various changing phases of other feeling and volitional states. That the self was of the nature of pure consciousness was proved by the fact that it perceives itself to be knower in the past and in the present. So the existence of the self is proved by the fact of self-consciousness. To this Śāntarakṣita and Kamalaśīla reply that, if the self is regarded as one eternal consciousness, then knowledge or the knowing faculty (buddhi) ought also to be regarded as similarly one and eternal; but seemingly Kumārila does not consider buddhi to be such.

If the knowing faculty be regarded as eternal and one, how are the varying states of cognition, such as colour-cognition, taste-cognition, etc., to be explained? If it is urged that, though the knowing faculty is one, yet (just as a fire, though it has always a capacity of burning, yet bums only when combustible substances are put in it) it only passes through various kinds of perception according as various kinds of objects are presented to it; or, just as a mirror, though it has always the power of reflecting, yet only reflects when the objects are presented to it, so the selves are eternally conscious and yet operate only in connection with their specific bodies and grasp the various kinds of sense-data, and all cognitions are forged from them(selves).

If the change of cognitions is due to the changing operations of the senses and the sense-objects, then such a cognizing faculty cannot be regarded as eternal and one. If the knowing faculty is to be regarded as eternal owing to an experience of continuity of consciousness, then how can one explain the variety of cognitions? If it is urged that the variety of cognitions is due to the assumption by the cognizing faculty of various forms of objects, then how can one explain the experience of the variety of cognitions in hallucinations, when there are no objects? Moreover the Mīmāmsist does not think that the cognizing faculty assumes the forms of the objects cognized, but believes that cognition reveals the objects in the objective world and the cognizing faculty has itself no forms (nirākārā buddhiḥ).

The fact that there may be cognitions without a corresponding real objective presentation proves that our cognitions are subjective and self-revealed and that they do not reveal objective entities. If it is urged that the knowing faculty has always the power of revealing all things, then sound-cognition would be the same as colour-cognition. The analogy of fire is also false, since there is not one fire that is constant; the analogy of the reflecting mirror is also false, since there is really no reflection in the mirror itself; one can see a reflection in a mirror at a particular angle, the mirror therefore is only an apparatus for producing an illusory cognition. Again, the buddhi cannot be compared to a mirror as an apparatus for producing illusory images; for then some other buddhi would be necessary for perceiving illusory images. Again, if the self is regarded as one and eternal, then it cannot pass through the varying feeling and volitional states.

If these states are not entirely different from the self, then their changes would imply the change of the self; and again, if they are entirely different from the self, how should their change affect the self? Again, if these states all belong to the self and it is urged that it is when the pleasurable state is submerged in the nature of the common self, that the painful state may arise, it may be pointed out in objection that, if the pleasurable states could be submerged in the nature of the self in identity with itself, then they would be identical with the nature of the self. It is also wrong to suppose that the sense of self-consciousness refers to a really existing entity corresponding to it. It has in reality no specific object to refer to as the self. It may therefore be safely asserted that the existence of the self is not proved by the evidence of self-consciousness.

(e) Refutation of the Sāṃkhya View of the Self.

Against the Sāṃkhya view of the self it is pointed out that the Sāṃkhya regards the self as pure consciousness, one and eternal, and that, as such, it ought not to be able to enjoy diverse kinds of experiences. If it is held that enjoyment, etc., all belong to buddhi and the puruṣa only enjoys the reflections in the buddhi , it may well be objected that if the reflections in the buddhi are identical with puruṣa , then with their change the puruṣa also undergoes a change; and if they are different, the puruṣa cannot be considered to be their enjoyer. Again, if the prakṛti concentrates all its activities for the enjoyment of the puruṣa , how can it be regarded as unconscious? Again, if all actions and deeds belong to buddhi , and if buddhi be different from puruṣa , why should the puruṣa suffer for what is done by the buddhi?. If, again, the nature of puruṣa cannot be affected by the varying states of pleasure and pain, then it cannot be regarded as an enjoyer; and, if it could be affected, it would itself be changeable.

(f) The Refutation of the Upaniṣad View of the Self.

The Upaniṣadic thinkers hold that it is one eternal consciousness that illusorily appears as all objects, and that there is in reality no perceiver and perceived, but only one eternal consciousness. Against this view it is urged by Śāntarakṣita and Kamalaśīla that, apart from the individual cognitions of colour, taste, etc., no eternal, unchangeable consciousness is experienced. If one eternal consciousness is the one reality, then there cannot be a distinction of false knowledge and right knowledge, bondage and emancipation. There being only one reality, there is no right knowledge which need be attained.

(g) Refutation of the Theory of the Persistence of Existing Entities.

Śāntarakṣita and Kamalaśīla point out that the Naiyāyikas divide existing entities into two classes, as produced (kṛtaka) and unproduced (a-kṛtaka), and they hold that those which are produced are destructible. The Vātsīputrīyas also similarly divide existing entities into momentary (e.g. ideas, sound, flame, etc.) and non-momentary (e.g. earth, sky, etc.). On this point Śāntarakṣita and Kamalaśīla urge that whatever is produced is momentary, since the destructibility of momentary things does not depend on any cause excepting the fact that they are produced; for, had the destructibility of such entities depended on conditions or causes other than the fact of their being produced, then the premise that whatever is produced is necessarily destructible would be false.

The Naiyāyika view, therefore, that produced entities depend for their destruction on other conditions, is false. If produced entities do not depend for their destruction on any other condition or cause than the fact of their being produced, then they must be destroyed the moment they are produced, or in other words they are momentary. Moreover, destruction, being negation, is not a positive entity and is absolutely contentless, and only positive entities depend on other conditions or causes for their production. Destruction, being negation, is not produced by any conditions or causes like a positive entity. Destruction therefore is not generated by any separate causal apparatus, but the very causes that lead to the production of an entity lead also to its destruction the next moment. Destructibility being a necessary characteristic of productibility, destruction cannot need the interference of any causes. It has also been stated above that destruction is pure negation and has therefore no characteristics which have to be generated by any positive set of causes or conditions[4].

Kamalaśīla and Śāntarakṣita urge that existence (sattva) can be affirmed only of those entities which are capable of serving a purpose (artha-kriyā-samarthā). They urge that entities can only serve a purpose, if they are momentary. Entities that persist cannot serve any purpose and therefore cannot have any existence. In order to prove their thesis they enter into the following argument. If anv purpose is to be served, then that can be either in succession or simultaneously, and no middle alternative is possible. If an existing entity persists in time, then all its effects ought to come about simultaneously; for, the complete cause being there, the effects must also be there, and there is no reason why the effects should happen in succession; but it is well known in experience that effects happen only in succession and not simultaneously.

If, however, it is objected that even a persisting entity can perform actions in succession owing to its association with successive accessories (kramiṇaḥ sahakāriṇaḥ), then one may well enquire as to the nature of the assistance given by the successive accessories to the persisting entity in the production of the effect; is it by producing a special modification (atiśayādhāna) of the persisting cause or by independent working in consonance with the productive action of the persisting entity? In the first alternative, the special modification may be either identical with or different from the nature of the persisting entity, and both these alternatives are impossible; for, if it is identical, then, since the effect follows in consequence of the special modification of the accessories, it is the element of this special modification that is to be regarded as the cause of the effect, and not the persisting entity.

If it is again urged that the effect is due to the association of the special modification with the persisting entity, then it would be impossible to define the nature of such association; for an association may be either of identity or of productivity (tādātmya and tad-utpatti), and neither of them is possible in the present case, since the special modification is recognized as being different from the persisting entity and is acknowledged by assumption to be produced by the accessories. Again, such association cannot be regarded as being of the nature of samavāya ; for this special modification, being of the nature of an additional assistance (upakāra), cannot be regarded as being of the nature of inseparable inherence (samavāya).

If this special modification be regarded as being neither of the nature of an additional assistance (upakāra) nor of the nature of an essence identical with the persisting entity, and if it is still regarded as being associated with the persisting entity in a relation of samavāya , then anything in the world could be regarded as being in the samavāya relation with anything else. In the other alternative, in which it is maintained that the persisting entity awaits only the independent working of the accessories, it may well be asked whether the causal nature of the persisting entity is the same together with the totality of the accessories as it is without them? In the former case, the accessories would also be persistent. In the latter case, the persisting entity can no longer be regarded as persisting.

Regarding the objection of Bhadanta Yogasena, that the same difficulties would arise in the assumption of entities as momentary, Śāntarakṣita and Kamalaśīla reply that in their view the accessories behave in two ways, firstly, as independent co-operation (ekārtha - kriyā-kāritā) and, secondly, as mutual help (parasparopakāritā). Thus in the first moment the different accessory-units are only independently co-operant, since, in one moment, their mutual actions cannot help one another; but in the second moment, the effects may be regarded as being of a joint nature, and therefore mutually determining one another, in the production of the effect of the third moment. In this view', though each entity operates independently, yet none of their operations are irrelevant. They are all being produced and determined by the respective causes and conditions in a beginningless series.

The objection against the momentariness of all things on the ground that things are perceived and recognized to be the same, and as persisting, is not a valid one. For the fact of persistence cannot be perceived by the senses and must be regarded as due to false imagination. All recognition is due to the operation of memory, which is almost universally recognized as invalid for purposes of right knowledge. On this point it may be argued that in recognition, if the entity now perceived be the same as the entity perceived at a previous time, then how can a cognition in the past comprehend an entity of the present time? If they are held to be different, then it is acknowledged that the entities perceived as the same in recognition are not really the same. The objector’s argument that, since things pass by the same name, they must be persistent is invalid; for it is well known that even in ordinary perception, where a flame is known to be destroyed every moment, and produced anew, it is still said in common verbal usage to be the same flame. Thus all existing things must be regarded as momentary.

(h) Refutation of Criticisms of the Non-permanency of Entities.

It is objected by the Naiyāyikas and others that, if things are momentary, then the theory of karma would fail; for how can it be understood that the deeds be performed by one, and the fruits reaped by another ? How, again, can it be understood that a momentary cause which does not abide till the rise of the effect should produce the same? Again, if objects are momentary, how can they be perceived by the eye? The phenomena of recognition would also be inexplicable, as there would be no permanent perceiver who would identify the present and the past as being one. How, again, would the phenomenon of bondage and of emancipation apply to a non-permanent being? In reply to this Śāntarakṣita and Kamalaśīla say that, just as a seed by means of its invariable power produces the shoots, without being superintended by any conscious agent, so the inner states of a man may generate other states, without being superintended by any permanent conscious agent; the formula (dharma-saṃketa) for all production is, “this happening, that happens”; “this being produced, that is produced.” It is through ignorance that a man cannot discern that all subsequent states are determined by the natural forces of the preceding ones and thinks of himself as performing this or that action or as striving for emancipation.

The true nature of things cannot be determined by the illusory experience of ignorant people. It is sometimes objected that the parts of a seed attain a due constitution by assimilating nutritive elements at the second stage, and then again at the third stage attain a new constitution by further accretion of new nutritive elements, and that therefore it cannot be held that the parts of the seed are entirely destroyed at the second stage. To this the reply of Śāntarakṣita is that in the second moment the effect is produced in dependence on the undestroyed causal efficiency of the first causal moment; so that the effect is produced by the causal efficiency of the first moment, when the cause is not destroyed. The cause however perishes in the second moment; for, once the cause has produced the effect, it cannot be producing it again and again; if it did, there would be a vicious infinite. It must therefore be admitted that the causal efficiency of the cause ceases immediately after production[5].

The view that the effect is produced simultaneously with the cause (saha-bhūtaṃ kāryam) is unreasonable, since the cause cannot produce the effect before it is itself produced; again, it cannot produce after it is itself produced; for then the effect also has to be acknowledged to be of the same nature as the cause; but at the same moment it can have no scope for its efficiency. Thus the cause and effect cannot be produced simultaneously. There is no necessity also for admitting a causal operation (vyāpāra), as separate and distinct from the cause. Invariable antecedence is the only qualification of cause[6]. If a causal operation has to be admitted for connecting the cause with the effect, then that would require another operation, and that another, and there would be a vicious infinite. If the causal operation is admitted to be able to generate the effect independently by itself, so can the cause be also admitted to be able to produce the effect.

The objection that, if antecedence be admitted to be alone the determinant of causality, then the fact, that a thing is smelled after it is seen may also lead one to infer that colour is the cause of smell, is invalid, for the Buddhists have no objection to regarding colour as an accessory cause of smell. It must also be remembered that the Buddhists do not regard mere antecedence as the definition of cause, but invariable and necessary antecedence[7]. Again, no difficulty need be experienced in perception, if the objects are admitted to be momentary; for ideas may be considered to have forms akin to the objects, or to be formless, but revealing the objects. In either case the ideas are produced by their causes, and the momentariness or permanence of objects has nothing to do with their determination[8]. There are in reality no agent and no enjoyer, but only the series of passing mental phenomena. Causality consists in the determination of the succeeding states by the previous ones.

The objection of Uddyotakara, that, if the mind is momentary, it cannot be modified (vāsanā) by deeds (karma), is invalid; for, in the Buddhist view, this modification (vāsanā) means nothing more than the production of a new mental state of a modified nature. There is again no permanent perceiver who remembers and recognizes; it is only when in a particular series of conscious states, on account of the strength of a particular perception, such particularly modified mental states are generated as may be said to contain seeds of memory, that memory is possible. The Buddhists also do not consider that there is one person who suffers bondage and is liberated; they think that bondage means nothing more than the production of painful states due to ignorance (avidyā) and other mental causes, and that liberation also means nothing more than purity of the mental states due to cessation of ignorance through right knowledge.

(i) Refutation of the Nyāya Vaiśeṣika Categories.

Śāntarakṣita and Kamalaśīla attempt to refute the categories of substance (dravya) with its subdivisions, quality (guṇa), action (karma), generality, or class concepts (sāmānya), specific peculiarities (viśeṣa), relation of inherence (samavāya), and the connotation and denotation of words (śabdārtha). This refutation may briefly be set out here.

Speaking against the eternity of atoms, they hold that, since no special excellence can be produced in eternal entities, no conditions or collocations of any kind can produce any change in the nature of the atoms; thus, the atoms being always the same in nature, all objects should be produced from them either at once, or not at all. The mere fact that no cause of atoms is known is no ground for thinking that they are causeless. Again, substance, as different from characters and qualities, is never perceived. The refutation of wholes (avayavī), which has already been effected, also goes against the acceptance of substantive wholes, and so the four substances earth, water, air and fire, which are ordinarily regarded as substantive—wholes made up of atoms also stand refuted. Again, it is not easy to prove the existence of separate and independent time and space entities; for spatial and temporal determinations may well be explained as mental modifications due, like other facts of experience, to their specific causes. The Buddhists of course accept the existence of manas as an instrument separate from the sense-organs, but they do not admit its existence as an eternal and single entity.

The refutation of substances implies the refutation of guṇas, which are supposed to be dependent on substances. If the substances do not exist, there can also be no relation of inherence, in which relation the guṇas are supposed to exist in substances. There is, again, no meaning in acknowledging colours, etc., as different from the atoms in which they are supposed to exist. The perception of numbers also ought to be regarded as due to mental modifications associated with particular cognitions. There is no reason for holding that numbers should stand as separate qualities. In a similar manner Śāntarakṣita and Kamalaśīla proceed with the refutation of the other Nyāya qualities.

Proceeding with the refutation of action (karma), they hold that, if all things are admitted to be momentary, then action cannot be attributed to them; for action, involving as it does successive separation of parts and association of contact-points, implies many moments for its execution. If things are admitted to be persistent or eternal, then also movement cannot be explained. If things are admitted to be always moving, then they will be in motion while they are perceived to be at rest, which is impossible. If things are at rest by nature, there cannot be any vibratory movement in them. The main principle involved in the refutation of guṇas and karmas consists in the fact that the guṇas and karmas are regarded by the Buddhists as being identical with the particular sense-data cognized. It is wrong, in their view, to analyse the sense-data as substances having qualities and motion as different categories inhering in them. Whatever may be the substance, that is also the quality which is supposed to be inhering in it, as also the motion which it is supposed to execute.

Regarding the refutation of class-concepts the main drift of Buddhist argument is that, though the perception of class-natures may be supposed to be due to some cause, yet it is wrong to assume the existence of eternal class-nature existing constantly in all the changing and diverse individual members of a class. For, howsoever we may try to explain it, it is difficult to see how one thing can remain constantly the same, though all the individual members in which it is supposed to exist are constantly changing. If class-natures are said to inhere owing to specific qualities, e.g. cooking in the cook, then also it may be objected that, since the operation of cooking is different in each case, there is no one character “cooking” by virtue of which the class-nature of cook is admissible. Moreover, a cook is called a cook even when he is not cooking. Considerations like these should lead any thinking person to deny the existence of eternal class-natures.

Regarding the refutation of specific qualities (viśeṣa) it is held that, if yogins can perceive the ultimate specific qualities as different from one another, they might equally perceive the atoms to be different from one another; if the atoms cannot be perceived as different except through some other properties, then the same may be required of the specific properties themselves.

Regarding the refutation of samavāya, or relation of inherence, the Buddhist objects mainly to the admission of a permanent samavāya relation, though all the individuals in which this relation may be supposed to exist should be changing or perishing. It is a false supposition that the relation of inherence, such as that of the cloth in the thread, is ever felt to be, as if the one (e.g. the cloth) was existing in the other (threads), as the Naiyāyikas suppose.

Footnotes and references:


These dates are collected from Dr B. Bhaṭṭacharya’s foreword to the Tattva-saṃgraha. The present author, though he thinks that many of these dates are generally approximately correct, yet, since he cannot spare the room for proper discussions, does not take responsibility for them.


na hy asan-nāma kiñcid asti yad utpattim āviśet, kintu kālpaniko ’yaṃ vyavahāro yad asad utpadyata iti yāvat.
p. 33.


vastūnāṃ pūrvāpara-koṭi-śūnya-kṣaṇa-mātrāvasthāyī svabhāva eva utpādaḥ ity ucyate.


The word kṣaṇika, which is translated as “momentary,” is, according to Śāntarakṣita, a technical term. The character in an entity of dying immediately after production, is technically called kṣaṇa, and whatever has this quality is called kṣaṇika (utpādānāntara-vināśi-svabhāvo vastunaḥ kṣaṇa ucyate, sa yasyāsti sa kṣaṇika iti. Tattva-saṃgraha, p. 142); kṣaṇa therefore does not mean time-moment. It means the character of dying immediately after being produced. The objection of Uddyotakara that what only stays for a moment of time (kṣaṇa) cannot be called kṣaṇika , because at the expiry of the moment nothing remains which can be characterized as momentary, is therefore inadmissible. There is, however, no entity separate from the momentary character, and the use of the term kṣaṇika, which grammatically distinguishes the possessor of the momentary character from the momentary character itself, is due only to verbal license.


The Vaibhāsikas are spoken of by Śāntarakṣita as holding the view that the effect is produced at the third moment. In this view the effect is produced by the destroyed cause.


idam eva hi kāryasya kāraṇāpekṣā yat tad-anantara-bhāvitvam.
p. 177.


na hi vayam ānantarya-mātraṃ kārya-kāraṇa-bhāvādhigati-nibandhanaṃ .. .yasyaivānantaraṃ yad bhavati tat tasya kāraṇam iṣyate.
p. 180.


Śāntarakṣita and Kamalaśīla are Buddhists who style themselves nirākāra-vijñāna-vādin.

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