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Time and Some Temporal Notions: A Vaiśeşika Analysis

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Abstract

Vaiśeşikas are realist philosophers of classical India. They admit time (kāla) as a ubiquitous real substance. In this paper, our aim is to discuss such a determination of time following sixth century Vaiśeşika scholar Praśastapāda and a few of his interpreters, Vyomaśivācārya and Udayanācārya. This paper is an effort to state realist philosophers’ understanding of time and also to highlight how in classical Indian tradition, interpretations paved the way for proving the reality of time. The application of logical methods by the Vaiśeşika interpreters is also worth studying. These methods show the internal development occurring in the system of Vaiśeşika. Praśastapāda stated different notions like priority etc. (paratvādi) as the linga or hetu of kāla. Vyomaśiva and Udayana have established this statement of Praśastapāda as the lakşaņa of kāla by virtue of different forms of inference.

Vaiśeşikas admit a ubiquitous substance, kāla (time). To explain certain notions like paratva (priority) etc. they have admitted time. In our everyday discourse, we often use notions like paratva (priority), aparatva (posteriority), yaugapadya (simultaneity), ayaugapadya (succession) etc. These notions require some explanation. Vaiśeşika scholar Praśastapāda in his Padārthadharmasamgraha tried to provide an explanation of these notions by admitting kāla as one and ubiquitous substance. In this paper, our aim is to discuss the statement of Praśastapāda in which he proves the existence of time. Apart from that I would also like to discuss the interpretations of Vyomaśiva and Udayana who have regarded the statement as a lakşņa of it.

The Vaiśeṣikācārya PraśastapādaFootnote 1 in Padārthadharmasamgraha states that from the notions of priority (paratva) and posteriority (aparatva), simultaneity (yugapattā), non-simultaneity (a yugapattā), long duration (cira) and short duration (kşpra) Kāla (time) is inferred.Footnote 2Thus, the notions of priority (paratva) etc. are taken to be the anumāpaka hetu of Kāla (time).This statement of Praśastapāda has attracted the attention of the later Vaiśeṣika scholars because it provides the proof for the existence of Kāla (time). From this statement it is clear that Kāla (time) cannot be perceived. It is known by virtue of inference.

In Vyomavatī, Vyomaśivacārya for the first time interprets Praśastapāda’s statement as the lakṣaņa of kāla. Here he constructs an itarabhedaka anumāna in which he takes Praśastapāda’s statement regarding time as the hetu or probans. An itarabhedaka anumiti is that inference in which an entity is taken to be the pakṣa (the subject of the inference) and its difference from all other entities is taken to be the sādhya (probandum). In other words, the difference from all other entities of a particular entity is to be proved in the entity under consideration. In Nyāya as well as Vaiśeṣika systems a lakṣaņa dharma of an entity is used as a hetu of an itarabhedaka anumāna (in which the entity gets differentiated from all other entities). In allegiance to this principle, Vyomaśiva used Praśastapāda’s statement regarding kāla which expresses the dharma or the special characteristic of it as the hetu of the itarabhedaka anumāna of kāla. This is a clear sign that this statement regarding time has been taken to be the lakṣaņa of time by him.

According to Vyomaśiva, kāla (time) is different from all other entities, because the notions of a specific type of priority and posteriority, simultaneity, non-simultaneity, being slow and being quick are linga or hetu of kāla.Footnote 3 By virtue of the property (dharma), the notions of a specific type of priority and posteriority, simultaneity, non-simultaneity, being slow and being quick being the hetu of kāla, Vyomaśiva constructs the itarabhedaka anumāna of time. The construction of the above inference is an effort on the part of Vyomaśiva to show that the statement of Praśastapāda about kāla (time) which is taken to prove the existence of kāla (time) is also the lakṣaņa (definition) of it. We know that in classical Indian tradition lakṣaņa helps to establish the existence of an entity. Here also, the characterization of the statement of Praśastapāda regarding kāla as the lakṣaņa of it will enable Vaiśeṣika scholars to establish the existence of time.

That the above itarabhedaka anumāna is a valid one can only be established if the putative hetu of the anumāna (inference) is a correct one. A hetu is admitted to be a correct one only if it satisfies all the criteria of the correctness of the hetu. In different classical Indian philosophical systems, we come across an important principle which is regarded as a condition of a correct hetu, namely an entity can be treated as the correct probans or hetu of an inference, if it is present in the subject (pakṣa) of it. Thus, in the above itarabhedaka anumāna the alleged hetu, namely being the ground (linga) of time, the notions of a specific type of priority and posteriority, simultaneity, non-simultaneity, being slow and being quick, can only be taken to be faultless if this alleged hetu is present in the subject of the inference, i.e., kāla itself. The correctness of the putative hetu will make the so called itarabhedaka anumāna a valid inference which in turn establishes the statement made by Praśastapāda a lakṣaņa of kāla.

The fact that Udayanācārya also admits the statement of Praśastapāda regarding time as the lakṣaņa (definition) of it becomes clear from his discourse on time (kāla) in Kiraņāvali. In Kiraņāvali, Udayanācārya also starts the discourse on time by characterizing this statement of Praśastapāda as the lakṣaņa of it.

Thus, it is important on part of the interpreters of Praśastapādabhāṣya to prove that in kāla, the pakşa of the itarabhedaka anumāna, being the ground, the notions of a specific type of priority and posteriority, simultaneity, non-simultaneity, being slow and being quick (the alleged hetu dharma) should be present.

Udayana in Kiraņāvalī seeks to prove the causality of kāla with respect to the notions of the property of priority etc. This endeavor by Udayana is considered to be a seminal contribution in interpreting Praśastapāda’s statement. From the above-mentioned texts—Vyomavatī as well as Kiraņāvalī, it seems that classical Indian interpretations of texts not only clarify the meaning of the texts but also make developments on the original one. In other words, one of the prime requisites of interpretation is to understand the meaning of the original more clearly but along with this, classical Indian philosophers often evoke something new through interpretation. All such developments might not have been completely new, but the subtle connections among statements of texts are achieved through interpretations which deserve distinction.

Udayanācārya, by making a causal analysis of the geneses of properties like priority etc. determines the causality of time with respect to the notions of priority etc. Such an analysis also helps him to determine the role of time as a cause of the notions of these properties. In the next section we would like to find out how Udayana establishes the causality of time with respect to the geneses of qualities, namely priority, posteriority etc.

II

Udayana explained with logical rigor, kāla as an auxiliary to one of the causes with respect to the geneses of properties like priority etc. In stating the process of the geneses of the qualities like priority etc., Udayana shows that qualities like posteriority and priority are generated in the young and the old persons, respectively.

In Kiraņāvalī, in order to analyze the geneses of priority etc., Udayana offers the following inference: Priority, that is to be generated in the old person who witnessed many solar movements (sūryaparispanda) after his birth in comparison to a young one, has a non-inhering cause (asamavāyī kāraņa), because it is an effect.Footnote 4 It is worth mentioning here that classical Naiyāyikas consider priority etc. as qualities of objects which are contingent entities. In Nyāya as well as in Vaiśeṣika systems there is a general rule that any positive effect (bhāvakārya or contingent entities) must have three kinds of causes. One is inhering cause (samavāyī kāraņa), i.e., a cause out of which the effect is created. Then, there is non-inhering cause (asamavāyī kāraņa). It helps the effect to be created from its inhering cause but it is different from inhering cause of the effect. Lastly, there is an efficient cause (nimitta kāraņa) which is different both from inhering as well as non-inhering cause but it is also useful for the production of the effect. In the above inference of Udayana, since priority is a positive effect, it also has all the three types of causes mentioned above.

In the above inference ‘priority’ is the subject (pakṣa) of the inference. ‘Having a non-inhering cause’ is the sādhya, the existence of which has to be proved in the subject. ‘Being an effect’ is the ground (hetu) of such inference.

As it is proved by the above-mentioned inference that priority has a non-inhering cause, the next pertinent question will be about identifying this non-inhering cause. Here Udayana has employed his method of elimination to identify that entity which is taken to be the non-inhering cause of the genesis of priority. Other qualities like color cannot be the non-inhering cause of priority because even without the presence of one of these qualities, priority can be present. In other words, qualities like priority can be generated in some substances which do not have color. Since in the absence of qualities like color, priority is generated, the former (color) can never be the cause of priority. Some may suggest another non-inhering cause of priority. Since solar movement is found to be responsible for the genesis of priority in some substance, so some may suggest it as the possible non-inhering cause of priority. However, a general rule is that cause and effect have to share the same locus. In the present case solar movement is taken to be the alleged non-inhering cause and priority is taken to be the alleged effect. Thus, both of these have to share the same locus in order to be cause and effect. However, since solar movement and priority have different loci, the former cannot be the cause of the latter. But, since for the genesis of priority in a substance the solar movement is responsible, the locus of priority should be related to sun which is the locus of solar movement. Therefore, by the method of elimination, it gets proved that the conjunction between the locus of solar movement, namely sun and the substance which is the locus of priority is the non-inhering cause of priority.Footnote 5

In Kiraṇāvaliprakāśa, a commentary on Kiraņāvali, Vardhamanopādhyay discusses in detail how the non-inhering causality of the above-mentioned conjunction with respect to priority has been determined. According to Vardhamāna the non-inhering cause of priority is to be taken as the quality of that substance which is conjoined with the locus of priority (piņda) on the one hand and the sun on the other.Footnote 6Such substance in which the conjunction inheres as a quality cannot be a non-ubiquitous substance.

At this point one may ask why the locus of the conjunction (which is taken to be the non-inhering cause of priority) cannot be a non-ubiquitous substance. In order to answer this question, Udayana has provided another inference of the following form:

In this situation, the conjunction with a non-ubiquitous substance cannot be taken as the non-inhering cause of priority because such a claim would involve the following problem.

Priority can be generated anywhere but a non-ubiquitous substance cannot be everywhere. In the absence of a non-ubiquitous substance, conjunction with the non-ubiquitous substance cannot occur but in the absence of the conjunction with a non-ubiquitous substance also there can be priority. In such a situation the conjunction of a non-ubiquitous substance with the locus of priority on the one hand and the sun on the other cannot be the non-inhering cause of priority. Thus, that substance, the conjunction of which is the non-inhering cause of priority has to be a ubiquitous substance.Footnote 7

Though it is proved that the conjunction with a ubiquitous substance is the non-inhering cause of priority, one still has to determine that ubiquitous substance, the conjunction with which is the desired non-inhering cause of priority. In order to determine the desired ubiquitous substance, the conjunction with which can be the non-inhering cause of priority, Udayana offers another inference of the following form:

Neither self (ātmā) nor ākāśa can be the desired ubiquitous substance, the conjunction of which can be the non-inhering cause of priority because they have special qualities of their own, as, for example, earth etc.Footnote 8

As the conjunction of earth etc. cannot be taken to be the non-inhering cause of priority etc., because earth etc. possess their own special qualities, the conjunction of self or ākāśa also cannot be the non-inhering cause of priority etc., because these also have their respective special qualities. Then, the question is why the possession of special qualities make substances like ākāśa or ātmā fail to perform as a conjunct of the conjunction responsible for the genesis of qualities like priority etc. Ākāśa and ātmā are to be admitted because the qualities like sound, cognition, etc. need a locus. Thus, to explain the existence of qualities like sound on the one hand and cognition etc. on the other Vaiśeṣikas admit substances like ākāśa and ātmā, respectively. Thus, ākāśa is to be admitted as the locus of sound and ātmā, i.e., self, is to be admitted as the locus of qualities like cognition etc. Sound is regarded as the special quality of ākāśa; and cognition, etc. are regarded as special qualities of ātmā. As sound, on the one hand, and cognition etc. on the other, being special qualities of ākāśa and ātmā prove the latters’ existence, respectively, neither ākāśa nor ātmā requires to possess a conjunction which holds between ākāśa or ātmā on the one hand and the sun on the other in order to prove their respective existence. Here, Udayana mentioned some Ācārya who has been interpreted later on by Vardhamāna in his Prakāśa as Vyomaśivācārya (1983–84).Footnote 9

Next, Udayana sets out to analyze the genesis of the notions of priority etc. and also determines the causality of time with respect to these. The notions of priority etc. are generated from the notion of ‘being apart from’ (viprakarṣa). This is a crucial juncture at which Udayana shifts his attention to the causal analysis of the notions of priority from the analysis of the quality of priority. We have found that Praśastapāda in his original statement while describing Kāla, determined it by virtue of the notions like priority etc. which are taken to be the linga or hetu of kāla. Udayana in order to justify this statement of Praśastapāda, tries to determine the notions like priority as hetu of kāla to establish time. In classical Indian philosophical tradition, it is generally accepted that if something is taken to be the linga or hetu of another thing, then that thing is the cause of the former one. In accordance with this principle, Udayana sought to establish the causality of time with respect to the notions of priority and so on to establish these notions as the correct linga of kāla. He has determined a remote causality of time with respect to the genesis of the notions like priority etc. Notion of priority and the like are regarded as notions of being apart from. Since such notions involve qualities like priority, perhaps Udayana has discussed the geneses of such qualities before discussing the geneses of notions of being apart from.

The notion of ‘being apart from’ (viprakarṣa) refers to the property of being generated from more solar movements in comparison with less solar movements.Footnote 10Udayana sets out to determine the meaning of this notion of ‘being apart from.’ This indicates Udayana’s conceptual analysis. That the motion of the sun is responsible for the genesis of the notion of ‘being apart from’ in an aged person, is evident from the following analysis of Udayana. According to Udayana the notion of ‘being apart from’ does not refer to the nature of the body of the aged person, because in the body of the aged person there would be the absence of the relation of the motion inhering in the sun.Footnote 11 Therefore, though there would be no direct relation between the body of the aged person and the motion of the sun, yet a relation has to be postulated in order to explain the genesis of the notion of ‘being apart from.’ A substance that would transmit the motion of the sun to the body of the aged person by the relation of conjoined inherence has to be admitted.Footnote 12 Earth etc. cannot be the abovementioned substance, because in the absence of earth etc. also there is the transmission of the motion of the sun to the aged body because even in the absence of earth etc. one can use the notion of ‘being apart from.’ Thus, the desired substance would transmit the solar motion to the aged body by being conjoined with all formed (mūrta) objects. Though Self and ākāśa are conjoined with all formed objects, yet they cannot transmit the solar motion to the aged body because they have special qualities of their own just like earth etc.Footnote 13as has been discussed above.

Previously it has been said that the substance which is said to transmit solar motion to the aged body, actually transmits the relation of conjoined inherence to the aged body and to the solar motion. If ākāśa is said to transmit the abovementioned relation between the aged body and the solar motion, then it has to be admitted that ākāśa must also be capable of transmitting the sound which is produced in it after the beating of a drum to all the other drums, as the conjunction of the solar movements is transmitted from the sun to the remote bodies.Footnote 14 Since the sound cannot be transmitted from one drum to the other in the form of the specified relation by means of ākāśa, it is proved that ākāśa does not have the capacity to transmit the same relation to the aged body and to the solar motion.

In order to relate a property residing in an object with another object which is separated from the property, the self requires a distinct relation other than its own pratyāsatti (relation). If a distinct relation other than the self itself is not required, then the mere presence of the ubiquitous self can relate a blue color at Benaras through the crystal at Patna. Then there is a possibility that by the blue color of Benaras a crystal at Patna would be colored.Footnote 15 As this is an absurd possibility, the position that self by its mere presence, without any other relation, can relate a quality of an object with another object, cannot be an accepted one. Thus, self, though ubiquitous, cannot relate the solar motions to something other than the sun by its mere presence.

Kāla (time) being ubiquitous, has the capacity to relate the motion in a distant substance to some other object. Thus, time is to be proved as a substance that makes the relation between solar motion and some other substance possible. As found earlier, time then is that ubiquitous substance which being related to sun and its movement on the one hand and the substance taken to be prior on the other, on a regular basis, is the desired cause which brings about the genesis of the notion of priority. In this way, the notions of prior etc. are produced through the causal efficacy of time. Thus, Udayana proved that as time is proved to be the cause of the notions of priority etc., the property of being the ground of notions like priority etc. should be present in time. So, in the above-mentioned inference of Vyomaśiva, as the property of being the ground of notions like priority etc. is present in time (pakşa), the property is proved to be a correct hetu for which it qualifies as the lakşaņa dharma of kāla. Thus, the statement of Praśastapāda that the notions of priority and the like are the linga or hetu of kāla is established as the laksana of time.

Vyomaśiva and Udayana’s analyses of Praśastapāda’s treatment of time, is a philosophical development. This is a characteristic feature of all the classical Indian philosophical systems which gradually developed through their aphorisms and interpretations.

Notes

  1. Frauwallner gave Praśastapāda’s date as the first half of the sixth century, because according to him Praśastapāda lived after Dingnāga. But others admit the pre-Dingnāga date of Praśastapāda.

  2. Kālahparāparavyātikarayaugapadyāyaugapadyacirakṣaprapratyaya lingam. (Praśastapādabhāṣya 1984, 42).

  3. …Kālah, itarasmādvidyate, parāparavyātikarayougapadyāyaugapadyacirakṣprapratyayalingatvāt,…Vyomavatī, p. 120.

  4. Bahutaratapanaparispandāntaritajanmani hi sthavireYuvānāmavadhimkŗtvaparatvamutpadyamānāsamavāyīkāraņavatkāryatvād…, Ibid.

  5. rupādināmcavyābhicāretapanaparispandānāmcavaiādhikaraṇyetadavacchinnadravyasamyogosamavāyīkāraņamiti …, ibid.

  6. Pindasamyuktve sati suryasamyuktamyaddravyamtadguṇosamavāyikāraņam, Kiraņāvaliprakāśa, p. 349.

  7. Na cavibhūnodravyasyasamjogatathābhavitumarhativyābhicarāditi tat dravyamvibhūsyāt. Kiraņāvalī, p. 349–350.

  8. Na cātmākāśautathābhavitumarhatah, vśeşaguņavatvātprithivyādivadityācāryah. ibid.

  9. ĀcāryahVyomaśivācāryah, Kiraṇāvalīprakāśa, p.350.

  10. Alpatarasurasancarādiapekṣayābahutaratapanaparispandāntaritatvancaviprakarṣah, Kiraṇāvali, p. 351.

  11. Na caeṣasthavirasarirasyasvarupatahsidhyatititapanasamavetenakarmaṇasyasambandhatvabhāvāt, ibid.

  12. Yaddvarenasamjuktasamjuktasamavāyalakṣaṇayapratyāsattyādityagatihsthavirapindāmupavartatetaddravyamasti, ibid.

  13. Na cātmākāśautathābhavitumarhataviśeṣaguṇavattvātprithivyādivaditiācārya, ibid.

  14. Tathātvevāekatarabheryāmabhihatāyāmsarvabheriṣuśabdotpattiprasamgātsuryakriyāvadbherisamyogasyapisamjuktasamjuktasamavāyaviśeṣāt, Kiraņāvalī, p. 352.

  15. Ātmāneopidravyāntarasthiteṣudharmeṣudravyāntaravyāvacchedayapratyāsatyātiriktasannikarṣapekṣatvāt.anyathāVārānasisthenanīlenaPātaliputrasthasyasphatikamaṇeruparanjanaprasangāt, ibid.

References

  • Kiraņāvalī by Udayana. With the commentary (Prakāśa of Vardhamāna Upādhyaya and Kiraņāvalīprakāśa-vivŗti of Rucidatta.) vol. 2, With Vādindra’s commentary on the Dravya section. In: N.C. Vedantatirtha (eds) 1956. Reprinted-2002, The Asiatic Society, Kolkata

  • Praśastapādabhāşya (1984) With Nyāyakandalī by Śridhara. (ed), Vindhesvari Prasad Dvivedin, 2nd edition, Sri Satguru Publication, New Delhi

  • Vyomavati by Vyomaśivācārya. Shastri, Gaurinath (eds), Vol. 2, Sampurnanada Sanskrit University, Varanasi, 1983–84

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Datta, M. Time and Some Temporal Notions: A Vaiśeşika Analysis. J. Indian Counc. Philos. Res. 39, 25–32 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40961-021-00266-2

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Keywords

  • Kāla
  • Paratva
  • Aparatva
  • Itarabhedaka anumiti
  • Asamavāyī kāraņa
  • Solar movement