chapter  3
53 Pages

The nature of Vaiśeṣika soteriology

WithIonut Moise

By the ‘Nature of Soteriology’, in this chapter I refer to the final and non-returning state of the liberated state, niḥśreyasa. Here I distinguish between abhyudaya and niḥśreyasa. I analyse different terms that illustrate such a difference, for example concepts like Brahmāloka, Varuṇaloka, with a variety of embodied selves that inhabit these, which all fit into the category of abhyudaya (worldly welfare). The cosmology and eschatology of Vaiśeṣika is highly influenced by that of the Vedas. Though the sūtra 1.1.2 sets liberation (niḥśreyasa) and mundane elevation (abhyudaya) together under dharma, the former however, is something different; it is the state of self depleted of vaiśeṣikaguṇas, that is to say, salvation; I have analysed separately, each one of these nine vaiśeṣikaguṇas, with evidence extracted mainly from the Candrānanda’s Vṛtti (VSc) commentary itself, rather than the secondary literature. Though in VSc we do not have evidence of a doctrine on a ‘subtle body’, this chapter also looks into the extent to which the set of nine vaiśeṣikaguṇas might have represented a ‘psychological self’ or ‘subtle body’. The separate analysis of each one of these vaiśeṣikaguṇas as well as the nature of concepts like jīvana, janma, jantu, and saṃsāra, explain the embodied and the nature of soul in Vaiśeṣika. Since ātman is an eternal and all-pervasive substance, its relation with a ‘subtle body’, and the extirpation of vaiśeṣikaguṇas, explain better the final state of liberation (niḥśreyasa/mokṣa).