Nyaya-Vaisheshika categories (Study)

by Diptimani Goswami | 2014 | 61,072 words

This page relates ‘Different Types of Quality (Introduction)’ 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.

Different Types of Quality (Introduction)

The twenty-four guṇas are divided into:

  1. sāmānya guṇas and
  2. viśeṣa guṇas.

Sāmānya guṇas (general qualities) are those which abide in two or more substances. Viśeṣa guṇas (special qualities) are those which abide in one dravya only and not in two or more substances.

Annaṃbhaṭṭa defines viśeṣa guṇa and sāmānya guṇa in his Dīpikā as:

dravyavibhājakopādhidvayasamānādhikaraṇāvṛtti-dravyakarmāvṛtti-jātimatvaṃ viśeṣaguṇatvam.[1]

Hence, viśeṣa guṇa is that which possesses a jāti (generality) that does not co-exist with the two limiting adjuncts for distinguishing substances. In simple language it means a quality which does not reside in two or more substances conjointly.

Viśvanātha enumerate the vaiśeṣikaguṇas or viśeṣaguṇas in his Bhāṣāpariccheda.

These are:

  1. colour,
  2. taste,
  3. smell,
  4. touch,
  5. viscidity,
  6. natural fluidity,
  7. cognition,
  8. pleasure,
  9. pain,
  10. desire,
  11. aversion,
  12. volition,
  13. merit,
  14. demerit,
  15. tendency and
  16. sound.

The general qualities are:

  1. number,
  2. magnitude,
  3. distinctness,
  4. conjunction,
  5. disjunction,
  6. remoteness,
  7. nearness,
  8. artificial fluidity,
  9. gravity and velocity.[2]

Praśastapāda also mentions about these in his Bhāṣya.[3]

Guṇas are again divided into:

  1. nitya (eternal) and
  2. anitya (non-eternal).

The qualities of eternal substances are known as eternal qualities and the qualities of noneternal substances are known as non-eternal qualities. Eternal substances are the atoms of earth etc., ether, time, space, self and mind.

Guṇas are also divided into:

  1. mūrtaguṇa,
  2. amūrtaguṇa and
  3. mūrtāmūrtaguṇa.

These divisions are found in the Praśastapādabhāṣya and also in the Bhāṣāpariccheda. The quality which remains in a mūrtadravya is called mūrtaguṇa. A mūrtadravya is that which possesses limited measure. Colour, taste, odour, touch, remoteness, nearness, gravity, fluidity, viscidity and velocity are mūrtaguṇas as these are the qualities of limited things. Cognition, pleasure, pain, desire, aversion, merit, demerit and sound are amūrtaguṇas i.e., these guṇas abide in unlimited things. Number, magnitude, distinctness, conjunction and disjunction are mūrtāmūrtaguṇas.[4] There are also some guṇas which are anekāśritaguṇa and others are ekadravyavṛṭṭi. Anekāśritaguṇas are those which abide in many substances, such as conjunction, disjunction, duality and other numbers, distinctness between two or more substances. Ekadravyavṛtti guṇas reside in one substance. There are colour, taste, smell, touch, sound, oneness, distinctness, remoteness, nearness, cognition, pleasure, pain, desire, aversion, gravity fluidity, viscidity, faculty, merit and demit.[5]

Other divisions of guṇas are:

  1. ekendriyagrāhyaguṇa,
  2. dvīndrīyagrāhyaguṇa and
  3. atīndriyaguṇa.

Those guṇas are called to be ekendriyagrāhya which are perceptible by one external sense organ only e.g., sound, touch, colour, taste and odour. Those guṇas are known as dvindriyagrāhyaguṇas which are apprehended by two sense organs, i.e., eye and touch. These are number, magnitude, distinctness, conjunction, disjunction, remoteness, nearness, fluidity, viscidity and velocity. Those guṇas which are not perceptible by external sense-organs are known as atīndriyaguṇas. These are gravity, merit, demerit and faculty.[6]

Another division of guṇa is found in the form of:

  1. vyāpyavṛttiguṇa (pervasive quality) and
  2. avyāpyavṛttiguṇa (non-pervasive quality).

A thing which exists in its substratum together with its absolute non-existence is called non-pervasive. A quality abides in a substance. Hence, that quality which remains pervading the whole unit to the substance so that there cannot be the absence of it is called a pervasive quality. Colour, taste etc. are pervasive qualities. That quality which may be both present and not present in a composite unit is called-pervasive quality.[7] The special qualities of ether and self are non-pervasive. Similarly conjunction etc. is also non-pervading qualities. Ether, the special quality of sound is non-pervading, since when it is produced within the limits of a particular part, it is absent within the limits of other parts. Similarly knowledge etc. is produced in the omnipresent self within the limits of the body etc. and are absent within the limits of a jar etc. Conjunction is also a non-pervading quality as there is conjunction with a particular part while there is absence of it in other parts of a substance.[8] All these types of quality are discussed with the help of Bhāṣāpariccheda by Viśvanātha Nyāyapañcanana, as Annaṃbhaṭṭa has not discussed them elaborately. In the following the twenty-four qualities will be discussed briefly.

Footnotes and references:


Dīpikā on Tarkasaṃgraha, p. 60


Bhāṣāpariccheda, p.180


Vaiśeṣikadarśanam with Praśastapādabhāṣya, p.61


Vaiśeṣikadarśanam with Praśastapādabhāṣya, p.60; Bhāṣāpariccheda, p.178


Vaiśeṣikadarśanam with Praśastapādabhāṣya, p.60; Bhāṣāpariccheda, pp. 179-180


Vaiśeṣikadarśanam with Praśastapādabhāṣya, pp. 61-62


Tarkasaṃgraha, p.152

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