chapter  2
30 Pages

Indian theories of salvation

WithIonut Moise

One important method to describe the fuzzy tenets of a neglected system such as Vaiśeṣika is to ‘reconstruct’ them from external sources, and rival texts, sūtras, or Vaiśeṣika’s views which have been preserved in the polemical writings of competing schools, orthodox (āstika), and non-orthodox (nāstika). Here I am concerned with the inherited relationship, if any, of their respective worldviews. The chapter shows that in some aspects, like ontology, Vaiśeṣika is closer to some systems (Vaibhāṣika, Nyāya, Mīmāṃsā of Prābhākara) in other instances, such as the function of soteriology (epistemology), it is closer to Jaina, Sāṃkhya, and Vedānta. As to the nature of liberation, Vaiśeṣika (and Nyāya) presents us with a rather unique form of liberation, where soul is ‘simplified’ by being depleted of its cognitive faculty and related specific qualities (vaiśeṣikaguṇa); liberation is the eternal (nitya) and non-composite state of ātman which is both extensive and all-pervasive (vibhu), as well ‘individualised’ in various forms (vyavasthā).