The Concept of Sharira as Prameya

by Elizabeth T. Jones | 2019 | 42,971 words

This page relates ‘Buddhist Philosophy’ of the study on the concept of Sharira as Prameya Based on Nyaya (shastra), which represents one of the six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy. Nyaya philosophy basically represents the “science of reasoning” and primarily deals with epistemology and logic. Sharira (“body”) refers to one of the twelve Prameyas (“objects of valid knowledge”), as defined in the Nyayashastra literature.

The Buddhist Philosophy

Almost all the Indian philosophies grew based on certain Pramāṇas or Means of knowledge[1]. In this way, Bauddhas seem to accept two Pramāṇas which are Pratyakṣa (Perception) and Anumāna (Inference)8. Like Cārvākas, Bauddhas are not ready to proceed with Pratyakṣa alone. Definitely they knew that something is beyond what we see or experience. When Vedāntins find this extreme limit of knowledge as Brahman, Bauddhas want to call it a mere emptiness. They find everything as changing. According to them, everything is momentary. They find the world as mere sorrow. Unlike Naiyāyikas, they do not accept the property called Jāti. Each one has its own form (swalakṣaṇa). To make it clearer Bauddha finds a pot different from all other things in the world except that pot-tat bhinna bheda. This notable view of Bauddhas is known as Apohavāda[2] . They find everything as a collection of atoms. In their opinion, ghaṭa (pot) paṭa (cloth) etc, are nothing but a bunch of atoms. According to Naiyāyikas, when pieces of matters combine together, a new being comes in to existence. That they name as avayavi formed from avayavās. Bauddhas, on the other hand, believe that nothing is born new from the combination of anything. Only pieces of matters in the form of atoms are there. They do not accept avayavi.

The question is raised in this context to Bauddhas to answer. If there are no real beings or Ātma, how can the result of an action affect that person after a long time? Bauddhas, in reply, say that there is a long chain of thoughts which does not go away from the form of that person. According to Bauddhas, Ātma or soul is also changing. Only the wisdom that follows. Since they give much importance to intellect or Buddhi they came to be called Bauddhas.

At a time, when the science has not developed much, many thoughts of Bauddhas succeeded in bringing out several truths of nature. For instance, Bauddhas believe that everything undergoes a change by every moment. So when a pot is seen before eyes, it undergoes a change at the next moment when the knowledge of pot is acquired by the mind. The mind also has undergone a change from the former moment. Then how the knowledge of pot is obtained. Bauddhas reply to the question shows a high similarity with the findings of modern science. Now the science has proved that when a perceptive knowledge is obtained, the light rays pervading the object take its form to the retina, a curtain behind our eyes. The two rays thus formed from our eyes merge together in retina. The figure thus formed is not a straight one. The bones which connect the retina with the brain take the form as a straight one. So the view of Bauddha that the thing which is perceived is not the same one, has become true. In this way, this philosophy has tried to find out many shocking truths behind the nature which Modern Science has proved true using scientific devices.

Scholars are of opinion that this Buddhist thought prevailed in this country even in the Vedic age. Even in Vedas some reflections of this thought can be noted. In Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, Rāma is seen cursing Bauddhas by comparing them with thieves Siddhārtha, the son of Śuddhodana, a king of Kapilavastu, can be reasonably doubted as a predecessor of the Bauddha race. Like Tīrthankaras of Jaina race, it is assumed that there were several Bauddhas including Siddhārtha who come under the Buddhist race. The thoughts of Bauddhas have a great value even in the modern world.

Footnotes and references:


Every system of Philosophy is based on epistemology or theory of knowledge. Indian Philosophy, vol. 1, p. 2558 A Critical Survey of Indian Philosophy, p. 130


A word can be described only negatively it can express its meaning only by reecting the opposite meaning. A Critical Survey of Indian Philosophy, p. 136

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