II-2 Śrī Bhāshya | Rāmānuja | 3

Topic 3 - Refutation of the atomic theory of the Vaiśeṣikas

Having answered the objection against the Vedāntic view, the author of the Sutras now proceeds to refute the Vaiśeṣika philosophy.

 Sutra 2,2.12

उभयथापि न कर्मातस्तदभावः ॥ १२ ॥

ubhayathāpi na karmātastadabhāvaḥ || 12 ||

ubhayathāpi—In either case; na—is not; karma—activity; ataḥ—therefore; tat-abhāvaḥ—negation of that.

12. In either case (i.e. the Adriṣṭa, the unseen principle, inhering either in the atoms or in the soul) the activity (of the atoms) is not (possible); therefore the negation of that (i.e. of creation through the combination of atoms).

The atomic theory teaches that the world is produced by the successive formation of compounds, binary, ternary, and so on, due to the aggregation of atoms--such aggregation resulting from the motion of the atoms. The primary motion of the atoms--which are the cause of the origination of the entire world--is assumed to be brought about by the unseen principle (Adriṣṭa), 'The upward flickering of fire, the sideway motion of air, the primary motion on the part of atoms and of the manas are caused by the unseen principle.'--Is then, we ask, this primary motion of the atoms caused by an Adriṣṭa residing in them, or by an Adriṣṭa residing in the souls? Neither alternative is possible. For the unseen principle which is originated by the good and evil deeds of the individual souls cannot possibly reside in the atoms; and if it could, the consequence would be that the atoms would constantly produce the world. Nor again can the Adriṣṭa residing in the souls be the cause of motion originating in the atoms.--Let it then be assumed that motion originates in the atoms, owing to their being in contact with the souls in which the Adriṣṭa abides!--If this were so, we reply, it would follow that the world would be permanently created, for the Adriṣṭa, of the souls forms an eternal stream.-But the Adriṣṭa requires to be matured in order to produce results. The Adriṣṭas of some souls come to maturity in the same state of existence in which the deeds were performed; others become mature in a subsequent state of existence only; and others again do not become mature before a new Kalpa has begun. It is owing to this dependence on the maturation of the Adriṣṭas that the origination of the world does not take place at all times.--But this reasoning also we cannot admit. For there is nothing whatever to establish the conclusion that all the different Adriṣṭas which spring from the manifold actions performed at different times, without any previous agreement, by the infinite multitude of individual Selves should reach a state of uniform maturation at one and the same moment of time (so as to give rise to a new creation). Nor does this view of yours account for the fact of the entire world being destroyed at the same time, and remaining in a state of non-maturation for the period of a dviparārdha.-- Nor can you say that the motion of the atoms is due to their conjunction with (souls whose) Adriṣṭa possesses certain specific qualities imparted to them by the will of the Lord; for by mere inference the existence of a Lord cannot be proved, as we have shown under I, 1. The origin of the world cannot, therefore, be due to any action on the part of the atoms.

 Sutra 2,2.13

समवायाभ्युपगमाच्च साम्याद् अनवस्थितेः ॥ १३ ॥

samavāyābhyupagamācca sāmyād anavasthiteḥ || 13 ||

samavāya-abhyupagamat—Samavāya being admitted; ca—also; sāmyāt—equality of reasoning; anavasthiteḥ—‘regressus in infinitum’ would result.

13. (the Vaiśeṣika theory is untenable) also (because if involves) a regressus in infinitum on similar reasoning, since it accepts Samavāya.

The Vaiśeṣikā doctrine is further untenable on account of the acknowledgment of samavāya.--Why so?--Because the samavāya also, like part, quality, and generic characteristics, requires something else to establish it, and that something else again requires some further thing to establish it--from which there arises an infinite regress. To explain. The Vaiśeṣikās assume the so-called samavāya relation, defining it as 'that connexion which is the cause of the idea "this is here," in the case of things permanently and inseparably connected, and standing to each other in the relation of abode and thing abiding in the abode.' Now, if such a samavāya relation is assumed in order to account for the fact that things observed to be inseparably connected--as, e.g., class characteristics are inseparably connected with the individuals to which they belong--are such, i.e. inseparably connected, a reason has also to be searched for why the samavāya, which is of the same nature as those things (in so far, namely, as it is also inseparably connected with the things connected by it), is such; and for that reason, again, a further reason has to be postulated, and so on, in infinitum. Nor can it be said that inseparable connexion must be assumed to constitute the essential nature of samavāya (so that no further reason need be demanded for its inseparable connexion); for on this reasoning you would have to assume the same essential nature for class characteristics, qualities, and so on (which would render the assumption of a samavāya needless for them also). Nor is it a legitimate proceeding to postulate an unseen entity such as the samavāya is, and then to assume for it such and such an essential nature.--These objections apply to the samavāya whether it be viewed as eternal or non-eternal. The next Sūtra urges a further objection against it if viewed as eternal.

Sutra 2,2.14

नित्यमेव च भावात् ॥ १४ ॥

nityameva ca bhāvāt || 14 ||

nityam-eva—Permanently; ca—and; bhāvāt—because existing.

14. And because of the permanent existence (of the tendency to act or otherwise of the atoms, the atomic theory is inadmissible).

The samavāya is a relation, and if that relation is eternal that to which the relation belongs must also be eternal, so that we would arrive at the unacceptable conclusion that the world is eternal.

Sutra 2,2.15

रूपादिमत्त्वाच्च विपर्ययो, दर्शनात् ॥ १५ ॥

rūpādimattvācca viparyayo, darśanāt || 15 ||

rūpādimattvāt—On account of possessing colour etc. ca—and; viparyayaḥ—the opposite; darśanāt—because it is seen.

15. And on account of (the atoms) possessing colour etc., the opposite (of what the Vaiśeṣikas hold would be true), because it is seen.

From the view that the atoms of four kinds--viz. of earth or water or fire or air--possess colour, taste, smell, and touch, it would follow that the atoms are non-eternal, gross, and made up of parts--and this is the reverse of what the Vaiśeṣikās actually teach as to their atoms, viz. that they are eternal, subtle, and not made up of parts. For things possessing colour, e.g. jars, are non-eternal, because it is observed that they are produced from other causes of the same, i.e. non-eternal nature, and so on. To a non-perceived thing which is assumed in accordance with what is actually perceived, we may not ascribe any attributes that would be convenient to us; and it is in accordance with actual experience that you Vaiśeṣikās assume the atoms to possess colour and other qualities. Hence your theory is untenable.--Let it then, in order to avoid this difficulty, be assumed that the atoms do not possess colour and other sensible qualities. To this alternative the next Sūtra refers.

Sutra 2,2.16

उभयथा च दोषात् ॥ १६ ॥

ubhayathā ca doṣāt || 16 ||

ubhayathā—In either case; ca—and; doṣāt—because of.

16. And because of defects in either case (the atomic theory is untenable).

A difficulty arises not only on the view of the atoms having colour and other sensible qualities, but also on the view of their being destitute of those qualities. For as the qualities of effected things depend on the qualities of their causes, earth, water, and so on, would in that case be destitute of qualities. And if to avoid this difficulty, it be held that the atoms do possess qualities, we are again met by the difficulty stated in the preceding Sūtra. Objections thus arising in both cases, the theory of the atoms is untenable.

Sutra 2,2.17

अपरिग्रहाच्चात्यन्तमनपेक्षा ॥ १७ ॥

aparigrahāccātyantamanapekṣā || 17 ||

aparigrahāt—Because it is not accepted; ca—and; atyantam—completely; anapekṣā—to be rejected.

17. And because (the atomic theory) is not accepted (by any authoritative persons like Manu and others) it is to be completely rejected.

Kapila's doctrine, although to be rejected on account of it's being in conflict with Scripture and sound reasoning, yet recommends itself to the adherents of the Veda on some accounts--as e.g. its view of the existence of the effect in the cause. Kaṇāda’s theory, on the other hand, of which no part can be accepted and which is totally destitute of proof, cannot but be absolutely disregarded by all those who aim at the highest end of man.--Here terminates the Adhikaraṇa of 'the big and long'.