Nyaya-Vaisheshika categories (Study)

by Diptimani Goswami | 2014 | 61,072 words

This page relates ‘Syncretic School of Nyaya-Vaisheshika’ of the study on the Nyaya-Vaisheshika categories with special reference to the Tarkasangraha by Annambhatta. Both Nyaya and Vaisesika are schools of ancient Indian Philosophy, and accepted in their system various padarthas or objects of valid knowledge. This study investigates how the Tarkasamgraha reflects these categories in the combined Nyayavaisesika school.

The Syncretic School of Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika

Originally, the Nyāya and the Vaiśeṣika were two separate systems of Indian Philosophy. In their early stage, they developed separately. However, there was much similarity regarding their respective views so much so that they were sometimes said to be two different branches of the same system.

Radhakrishnan points out:

“The two systems had been for long treated as parts of one whole. It is sometimes suggested that they branched off as independent streams from the same original source …”[1]

These two systems are called allied system or samānatantra of philosophy as there are so much similarity of view among them.

Potter opines that:

“Although there are two sets of sutras, there is no doubt that each of the two schools accepted a great deal of what the other taught.”[2]

There are many similarities of the both systems.

1 Both the systems believe that the individual self is nitya (eternal), vibhu (pervasive) and ananta (infinite). They also believe in the liberation of the soul.

2 Both systems recognize that ignorance is the main cause of all pains and sufferings.

3 According to both the systems, liberation is to be obtained through a right knowledge of reality.

4 Both admit the existence of God as the creator of the world.

5 The Nyāya and Vaiśeṣika both believe in Realism and Pluralism.

6. But both oppose the materialism and idealism

7. Both admit the plurality of the individual souls

As a result, both systems are mixed together into a single as one.

The Nyāya system and the Vaiśeṣika system of Indian Philosophy are treated as sister schools because of these similarities. Traditionally they are recognized as samānatantra (allied system). However, after 10th century A.D., i.e. after the time of Udayana, these two schools came nearer and became amalgamated to give rise to a new school which is treated as the syncretic school of Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika. Udayana was the last person who represented the earlier phase these systems.

But it was Udayana who really paved the way for syncretism of these systems by treating them as an integral school.

“Udayana considers the Nyāya and Vaiśeṣika not as two distinct schools but as forming one integral school. He has incorporated the ontology of the Vaiśeṣika with the epistemology of Nyāya and attempted to bring about a syncretism between the two.”[3]

Though Udayana’s endeavor paved for the amalgamation of the two systems, it is Saptapadārthī of Śivāditya which is regarded as the first syncretic work, because Śivāditya tries to combine the two systems the Nyāya and the Vaiśeṣika. In the syncretic school the seven categories accepted by the Vaiśeṣikas and the four pramāṇas accepted by the Naiyāyikas are treated together. According to Radhakrishnan, the author Śivāditya was later than Udayana and earlier than Gaṅgeśa. His work “Saptapadārthī presents the Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika principles as part of one whole. It starts as an exposition of the categories and introduces the Nyāya logic under the quality of cognition”.[4]

Varadarāja flourished about 1150A.D. He wrote a commentary called Bodhinī on Udayana’s Nyāyakusumāñjalī. He also wrote an independent work which is called Tārkikarakṣā. There are three chapters in the Tārkikarakṣā. In the first chapter the first fourteen categories accepted in Nyāyasūtra. In the second chapter, there is found the fifteenth category, viz. jāti and in the third chapter, the sixteenth category, i.e. nigrahasthāna. Varadarāja combines the six categories of the Vaiśeṣika Philosophy, viz. dravya, guṇa, karma, sāmānya, viśeṣa and samavāya with the prameya of the Nyāyasūtra. He himself wrote a commentary on this work named Sārasaṃgraha.[5]

Vallabhācārya’s (about 12th century A.D.), Nyāyalīlāvatī is a prakaraṇa or independent work dealing with Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika philosophy. In this work six categories are discussed, viz. dravya, guṇa, karma, sāmānya, viśeṣa and samavāya. Buddhi is the division of guṇa. It is of two types- Vidyā (right knowledge) and avidyā (wrong knowledge). Right knowledge can be attained by pratyakṣa, anumāna, upamāna and śabda. Thus the four pramāṇas of the Nyāya are included in the six categories of the Vaiśeṣika.[6]

The work Tarkabhāṣā is a Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika prakaraṇa written by Keśava Miśra by about 13th century A.D. It explains mainly the sixteen categories of Gautama. This work is divided into two sections, viz. Pūrvabhāga and Uttarabhāga. In the Pūrvabhāga, the author deals with the pramāṇas and in the Uttarabhāga, the prameyas. There are many commentaries on Tarkabhāṣā written by different commentators, such as Vardhamāṇa, Chennubhaṭṭa, Nāgeśabhaṭṭa, Dinakarabhaṭṭa and Gopinātha. Vardhamāṇa is supposed to be the first commentator and his commentary is Tarkabhāṣāprakāśa. This work is very popular and prescribed as textbook in many Universities of India.

Viśvanātha Nyāyapañcānana wrote Bhāṣāpariccheda in 1634 A.D. It belongs to the syncretic school of Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika. It is known as Kārikāvalī also, on which the author himself has written a commentary called Nyāyasiddhāntamuktāvalī. This work of Viśvanātha has been commented upon by many traditional and modern scholars. Among these the most well-known are Dinakarī, written by Dinakarabhaṭṭa, Tarangiṇī by Rāmarudra Bhaṭṭācārya, Muktāvalī-ullāsa by Viśvanātha, Muktāvalisaṃgraha by Pañcānana Śāstri, Nyāyacandrikā by unknown writer, Abhinavaprabhā by Mukundaśarmā and a commentary of Gaṅgārāma Yati.[7]

Laugākṣi Bhāskara was also a Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika philosopher. His father’s name was Mudgala. His date is about 17th century A.D. He lived in Benaras. His Tarkakaumudī is another syncretical work. This work is written following the Praśastapādabhāṣya. In this work seven categories are discussed. He accepts knowledge as a guṇa of the soul. It is of two kinds–anubhava (apprehension) and smṛti (recollection). Anubhava (apprehension) is also divided into two types–pramā (right apprehension) and aprama (wrong apprehension). Laugākṣi Bhāskara accepts only two means of knowledge (pramāṇa) These are: pratyakṣa and anumāna.[8]

We find some undatable writers of Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika system. D.C. Bhaṭṭācārya mentions three writers Jagadguru, Ravīśvara and Nyāyabhāṣyakāra, who flourished before Gaṅgeśa.[9] Viṣṇumiśra is mentioned by Ananta Thākur as a writer of Vaiśeṣika system, but about him nothing is known. Two other authors discovered by Thākur are Vidyādhara Miśra and Śrīkara. All of them are Vaiśeṣikas.[10]

Tarkasaṃgraha of Annaṃbhaṭṭa is also a Nyāya Vaiśeṣika treatise. Detailed discussion of Tarkasaṃgraha will be done in the following pages.

Footnotes and references:


Radhakrishnan, S., Indian Philosophy, Vol.II, p.15


Potter, Karl H., Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophy, Vol. II, p. 12


Amma, Dr. Visweswari, Udayana And His Philosophy, p.192


Radhakrishnan, S., Indian Philosophy, Vol.II, p.180


cf. Vidyabhusana, Satish Chandra, A History of Indian Logic, p. 373


Ibid, p. 386


cf. Goswami, A.K., A Critique on Sabda, p.20


Vidyabhusana, Satish Chandra, A History of Indian Logic, p.395


cf. Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies, Vol. II, p.685


cf. Ibid

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