In this book very clear and exhaustive account of the idea of' Matter' according to Nyaya- Vaisesika Philosophy has been given. Various systems of doctrines are interpreted very carefully, keeping in mind the angle of vision which two systems- Nyaya and Vaisesika represent in the realm of Indian system.
Every system of thought- Hindu, Buddhist, Jaina and Carvaka-are discussed in detail, Vasana and Karmans, etc. All the Vaisnava philosophies, the Tautrists, Saivas, Saktas, the Advaitins, have also found place in the book. The nature of pure matter according to Christian theology, Vaisnava Acaryan explained in a very lucid manner. By and large, this books countains a vast knowledge of Indian Philosophy.
Paradoxical as it may seem, the author of the book is its worst enemy. He has named it 'Conception of Matter'. This name implies the idea that the work confines itself to the material aspect of things. On looking into it, however, one finds that it deals, not only with the material, but with all conceivable aspects of things. Unless, therefore, 'matter' is understood in its widest connotation-standing for 'things' or 'beings ',-it is misleading. The reader will find that the writer has taken great pains over the work; he does not seem to leave unnoticed any work that is available on the subject. One would wish he had been less 'generous' in the choice of his authorities. Everything that has been written is not necessarily 'authoritative'. The Writer has himself found this to his own cost in several places, where he would have saved himself much bewilderment if he had been more discriminating in the use of the materials at hand. He would have achieved this end if he had concentrated upon the akaragranthas and omitted the manuals,- especially the later ones,- but perhaps the work would have been less 'full and complete' than it is. It is hoped that serious investigators in the same field will have reason to thank him for having made their work lighter.
There are one or two points, which deserve some attention- (I) We are told on page 50, that while Naiyayikas are worshippers of Siva, Vaisesikas are worshippers of Mahesvara and Pasupati, and this is mentioned as indicating the difference in the 'religion' of the two systems. This point needs further elucidation. The ordinary reader cannot find any difference between (Siva and Mahesvara, or even any difference in the 'religion' of persons worshipping God under one or the other name. It should be the business of the philosopher to find unity even where there is disunity -not to find disunity where there is none.
(2) The treatment of the Law of Karman-which forms the keystone Of Indian Philosophy- should have been more illuminating. On p. 233, we read "For each and every action, there is responsibility"; and this is immediately followed by the statement- "almost all of them are Pre-determined". One fails to understand how there can be 'responsibility' along with "Determinism". The point needed to be clarified.
(3) Lastly, there is the fashionable statement that 'Atman' is 'jada', - I confess that I have never understood this assertion, which, to my mind, appears to confuse' Cetana' with 'Caitanya '. However, this has become so fashionable and received acceptance in such high quarters that it must stand. It is with some trepidation that I have expressed my disagreement. Our lexicons have declared ' dOsajna' - 'one who detects defects'- to be synonymous with 'Pundits' - the 'wise or learned man'. It is as a 'dosajna' therefore that 1 have noted the above three points. Now as a 'wise' man, I proceed to commend the book to all serious students of Indian Philosophy. We have lately had a number of excellent accounts of' Indian Philosophy'; but to the best of my knowledge, we have not as yet, had any such full and complete account of anyone system as the one that we find in the present work. As already pointed the writer has exhausted all the material available-not only in print, but also in manuscripts. No student of the system, therefore, can do without this excellent work. We wish we had similar handbooks on the other philosophical systems also-as fully documented as Dr. Umesha Mishra's work is. It is hoped that the work will find readers to profit by it, and to emulate the example set by it.
I began my higher studies in 1922 in Indian Philosophy, especially in Nyaya and Vaisesika as these are some of those systems which do not generally attract the attention of modern scholars on account of their stiffness and intricacies. I continued, however, my studies under the careful guidance of my father the late Mahamahopadhyaya Pandita Jayadeva Mishra and some of the best scholars of Nyaya- Vaisesika of Benares, such as, the late Mahamahopadhyayas Panditas Vamacarana Bhattacarya and Ambadasa Shastri and Mahamahopadhyaya Pandita Phanibhnsana Tarkavagisha, With the help of these big veterans I proceeded with my studies on sound orthodox lines. I was -at the same time fortunate enough to get the assistance of Mahamahopadhyaya Pandita Gopinatha Kaviraja, Principal, Government Sanskrit College, Benares, with whom I have had the good fortune of reading several philosophical works on modern critical lines. In fact, I owe every bit of my critical knowledge to Kavirajaji; and I have no hesitation in saying that without his guidance perhaps it would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible, for me to place before the scholarly world this humble present.
Under the sound and continued supervision of Kavirajaji, I continued my studies even when I joined the University of Allahabad as a lecturer in Sanskrit Department to teach Indian Philosophy. With his advice I then selected the subject for my special study- 'Conception of Matter in Nyaya- Vaisesika Philosophy'.
After a continuous work for over twelve years the result of my specialized study is presented to the scholarly world for the first time in print. Originally, the thesis contained only ten chapters including the chapter on 'Conclusion', but later on, it was realized that the exhaustive treatment of 'Matter' would remain incomplete until and unless it is supplemented with the treatment of 'Not-Matter', that is, 'Spirit' or 'Atman'. Hence a very brief treatment of it also has been added to the book in a separate chapter. This addition has not only added to the better understanding of the idea of 'Matter', but also has made the book complete in a way; so that the book now would give a complete survey of the substances (dravy;iQi) recognised in this joint system.
My aim in writing this book is to give a clear and exhaustive account of the idea of 'Matter' according to Nyaya-Vaisesika Philosophy. Hence, not only almost all the works, both in print and in manuscript, dealing with the subject have been utilised for the purpose, but, as is clear from the bibliography given at the end of the book, standard works of other systems also have been often made use of. References of Nyaya- Vaisesika doctrines found in works of other systems have helped me sometimes to elucidate them more clearly and also to meet the criticisms advanced against them by rival schools.
In interpreting the various doctrines of the systems I have ever been careful to keep in mind the angle of vision which these two systems represent in the realm of Indian Philosophy. And it is needless to say that efforts have been made to represent the problems in a clear and dispassionate manner so as to enable every student of Indian Philosophy to understand them more easily, but as the treatment of philosophical systems, especially that of Nyaya- Vaisesika, is so intricate and sometimes obscure that I am afraid I may not have achieved my end in every case. Besides, I am fully aware of my other shortcomings which may have found their place in the book also for which I only crave pardon of my impartial and generous readers.
I have expressed in these pages the viewpoint of Nyaya and Vaisesika without having any preconceived idea in my mind. I have tried to represent the problems on rational basis and on more or less original lines. Every care has been taken to find out authoritative statements from the original texts to support each interpretation. As it is purely a representation of the Nyaya- Vaisesika point of view I have not tried to give any comparative idea either from the rival schools of Indian Philosophy or from the Western thoughts.
I am much indebted to Dr. A. Berriedale Keith of Edinburgh and Mahamahopadhyaya Pandita S. Kuppusvami Shastri, I.E.S. (Retd.), Madras, who were good enough to go through the Ms. and favour me with their valuable suggestions, My thanks are also due to Pandita Amaranatha Jha, M.A., Professor of English, the University of Allahabad, for reading portions of the Ms. and giving me his friendly advice for its improvement. I am also obliged to all those friends of mine who have constantly encouraged me in preparing this book. I must thank the Manager, Allahabad Law Journal Press, who has taken every care to see the book through the Press.
The study of Indian Philosophy has emerged, with the slow publication of hitherto obscure texts and with the gradual widening of interest in original researches, from its general and rudimentary stage of the previous century into a critical and systematised form today. The following pages represent a brilliant attempt of this kind and the writer is to be heartily congratulated on the manner in which he has made his learning bear on the subject.
The subject chosen for a special study is the Conception of Matter in Indian Philosophy. It is an interesting theme and as it covers a wide field the writer has done well to restrict himself to a single system only, viz., that of Nyaya- Vaisesika, though he has taken the liberty of going afield on occasions for purposes of comparison and illustration. It may be hoped that other writers will, in due course, supplement the work, bringing together in a systematised way all that other thinkers have got to say on the problem of Matter.
The Conception of Matter is elastic as a study of the history of Western Philosophy will show. And even in science the conception has gone through a series of rapid developments into its recognised meaning of the present day physics. Before going further into the question it would be proper to take into account the meaning the writer himself attaches to the term in dealing with the subject. It seems that in his opinion the entire world is divisible into Self or Atman and things other than Self or Acetana. What he understands by Matter is really the entire Not-Self, with all that it implies. The implications of the Not-Self of course differ according to the difference in the system of thought.
Every school of thought has had to tackle this question in its own way. The Prakrti of Sankhya, the Maya of Sankara- Vedanta, the Bindu of Southern Saivaism and the Acit of Ramanuja- Vedanta are only the diverse views on this very question. Everywhere except in the extreme views of Monistic Materialism and Monistic Spiritualism there is a sort of dualism between Spirit and Matter. The Carvakas who admit nothing but matter in its densest form are monists in the sense that to them everything else, including conscious and other psychic Phenomena-indeed the whole paraphernalia of the so called spiritual Iife,-is a function of matter. Being advocates of the Doctrine of Chance and opponents of Causality they find no room for a transcendent principle in their outlook on Reality. What is believed to be immaterial has either no existence at all or is, in fact, reducible to a function of matter. The Spiritual Monism, on the other hand, entertains a different opinion, viz. that matter is only a passing semblance and that pure consciousness alone is real. The Buddhist Idealists, the Advaitaism of Sankara's school, the monistic thinkers of the Kashmira Saivagama-though widely divergent in their general outlook-agree in this that nothing but Caitanya is real in the true sense, whether it is conceived as Vijnana which is momentary or as Brahman or as (Siva-$akti (Prakasa- VimarSa) which is eternal. There is therefore no true parallelism of Matter and Non-matter here. But even in these systems the Conception of Matter is not everywhere the same. To the Yogacara the material is only a byproduct of Vijnana appearing spontaneously through its internal potency under the stress of Vasana. To Sankara Matter in its primordial form is nothing but a synonym of the Original Nescience which erroneously but mysteriously attributes itself to the Supreme Intelligence or Pure Spirit. To the Trika Matter is nothing but the Veiling Power of the Spirit through which the Pure Self conceals itself and projects forth the universe as an objective reality. It is the Power in the Subject by means of which it is able to objectify itself.
In the dualistic systems however the material principle has an independent existence as distinct from spirit, so that in whatever manner it is conceived its eternal character is vouchsafed. If, for instance, in Sankhya Purusa is eternal, Prakrti is no less so. Similarly in Sri- Vaisnavaism Acit is as real as Cit and Isvara, and in Southern Saivaism Bindu is co-eternal with Siva and Sakti The other schools including Nyaya- Vaisesika are similar. Consequently, even when the Self is freed from the limitations incidental to its mundane existence and becomes restored to its pristine purity the material principle-Prakrti, Acit or Bindu-persists as before. Only the association between the two which caused all the trouble disappears.
It is clear that in every system of thought Hindu, Buddhist or Jaina, except Carvaka, the material principle is recognised as evil. Conceived as a power or potency only or even as an entity it is the source of all misery and tribulation. Every school advocates therefore that the Self to be released from the bondage of the world must be freed in every way from its association with matter. Moksa is impossible so long as Matter sways the Spirit through its functions. Every code of ethico-spiritual discipline is so designed as to ensure gradual purification of the Self from the dominating effects of accumulated matter in the form of error, doubt, vasana, karmans etc. and guarding the purified Self against further inroads of the latter.
It is very difficult to define Matter in its widest sense and to differentiate it from the Self. In the Sankhya system spirit is all consciousness and matter is the universal background, eternally existing in a state of stable equilibrium as a potentiality of multiple phenomena and sometimes also as a light medium for the expression as it were of the Conscious Principle endowed with the properties of motion and resistance. If it veils, it also unveils, and both the functions are effected through motion. The Ramanuja--in fact all the panacaratrites -conceive of matter as pure and impure; and they hold impure matter (that is, Prakrti) to be responsible for the conscious souls' limitations, but pure matter or suddha Sattva is compatible with the pure spirit (Cit and lsvara), so that it is believed to persist on the spiritual plane-which plane itself is made of pure matter. This form of matter does not obstruct knowledge and bliss and attaches to the Self for ever. The necessity of assuming such matter is that of extension-as without this there could be no space or objective existence. All the Vaisnava philosophies have had to admit this. The Tantrists also-Saivas, Saktas etc.-admit this. The Southern Saivaism believes in Bindu which as pure is Mahamaya and as impure is Maya. Mahamaya is pure matter-the constitutive substance of the pure planes. The Advaitins-Aupanisada, Sakta, Saiva, or Buddhist- conceive of Matter as an obscuring or limiting power of Reality which has therefore to be transcended.
It is hard to say that lack of consciousness is characteristic of matter, for in that case the Pure Self would have to be described as material. The Vaisesikas are usually subjected to a bitter criticism on account of their view that the Self in its pure condition or Mukti is without consciousness and hence it is tauntingly likened to a log of wood or a block of stone and nothing more. To the Nyaya- Vaisesika consciousness etc. are indeed qualities of the Self, but they are not essential; they are produced in the Self on account of its special contact with the mental principle in motion and the presence of certain preliminary conditions. If these conditions happen to be absent, as these do in Mukti, no consciousness as a quality can possibly arise. As with consciousness so with the other attributes of the Self. That consciousness etc. have been described as bearing an intimate relation to the Self in which, whenever they are generated, they are said to inhere (samavaya) does not mean that they are essential to the Self, for in that case they would never disappear in Mukti when the Self is in its purest condition. They differentiate the Self from the Not-Self or material principles during Sansara only. It has still to be admitted that the Self is unique by virtue of the svarupayog yata regarding its visesagunas) In other words, consciousness etc. characterise the Self, sometimes by their presence (as in Sansara) and sometimes by their Potentiality (svarupyog yata) as in Mukti, and these attributes are never associated with Not-Self or Matter. This being the case, the criticism of the Vaisesika position as mentioned above loses its sting. On the contrary, the Sankhya and Vedanta views too, if analysed from this stand point, would be reduced to a like position. For in these consciousness etc. as attributes never pertain to the Self-neither in sansara nor in Moksa; they belong to the mind (Manas) and are ascribed wrongly to the Self through the error consisting in the identification of the Self with the mind. Consequently, when the false identification disappears the ascription also ceases; and as a matter of fact at this stage these phenomena are unable to emerge into being and the mind itself ceases to function and to exist. To say that the Self, in Sankhya and Vedanta, is conceived as Self-luminous and that even though consciousness etc. do not pertain to it retains its unique character in Mukti which differentiates it from the Not-Self or Matter is simply to take an evasive turn. The statement is true, but to the empirical consciousness the Self-luminousness of the Self spoken of above has no meaning. It is as good for it as absence of consciousness etc. familiar to it. * Hence, in the last analysis the Vaisesika position and the Sankhya- Vedanta positions do not substantially differ except in the mode of presentation. And it may be observed that we actually find a similar fling cast at these systems also, much like the aspersions of these on the Vaisesikas, by the Tantrists, who make no secret of their attitude. The term Santabrahmvada is not a laudatory one. Bhartrhari plainly says that Brahms without Sakti is as good as Matter. That is, the self-luminous character assumed in Brahman (or Purusa) means that Sakti is associated with it, without which it would be devoid of all consciousness and power. t But even in the Agamas there is a hint at the existence of a transcendent condition when the Vimarsa is withdrawn into Prakasa (antariinavimar.sa) or more properly the two are merged in Unity which is entirely ineffable and unpredicable in terms of discursive thought. To this Pure Self-so it is called-consciousness etc. as attributes cannot be ascribed. Thus the criticism of the Vaisesika by its opponents proves to be suicidal in the long run.
It has been said that matter defiles. But pure matter too is recognised in certain systems. The names of Vaisnava Agama or Panacaratra (including all the later Vaisnava schools), of Saiva Agama (dualistic, monistic etc.) and Sakta Agama have been referred to already in a general manner. The Buddhists too recognise pure matter. The lowest of the three planes of being, viz. Kamadhatu, represents matter in the impure state, but the two higher planes of Rupa and Arupa with all their graded subdivisions stand for pure matter though of a more and more attenuated character. It is the state of Nirvana only which affords emancipation from the entanglements of matter altogether.
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