chapter  10
15 Pages

The Vais´es.ika Dars´ana

The Vais´es.ika is a very ancient system, most probably pre-Buddhist, whose earliest systematization was made by Kan. a¯da in the Vais´es. ika Su¯tras which antedates most of the extant su¯tras.1 This is the first systematic work of this school. Not much is known about Kan. a¯da. It is difficult to ascertain with certainty when exactly the compilation of Vais´es. ika su¯tras took place. The date of the Vais´es. ika su¯tras is said to range from somewhere between 200 BCE to the beginning of the CE, though it is very likely that some of the Vais´es.ika doctrines were formulated much earlier. Other important works of this school are: Udayana’s Kiran. a¯valı¯ and Laks.an. a¯valı¯ and Vallabha¯cha¯rya¯’s Nya¯ya Lı¯la¯vatı¯. Pras´astapa¯da’s Pada¯rthadharmasan.graha provides an excellent exposition of the Vais´es.ika philosophy. The system embodies a naturalism which, since the beginnings of Indian thought, has opposed the mainstream non-naturalistic component of Indian thought. Again, the Vais´es.ika, like the Sa¯m

. khya, does not amount to materialism,2 although in many regards it comes close to Sa¯m. khya. The school owes its name to recognizing the category of vis´es.a (particularity) as a necessary feature to account for the particulars of the world, e.g., atoms and souls, which are eternal. It accounts for and preserves this particularity despite recognizing many individuals. The objects that we experience in our everyday lives, on the other hand, are made up of parts, and so non-eternal.