Vaisesika – Indian Psychology

Meaning of Vaisesika

It is a school of thought asserting the existence of a universe formed by a god out of atoms of earth, air, fire, and water, as well as out of space, time, ether, mind, and soul, all conceived as substances coexisting eternally with the god.

Where does Vaisesika derived from?

  • Vaisheshika is derived from the Sanskrit, vishesa, meaning “distinction” or “distinguishing feature.”
  • It is one of the six darshans, or ways of viewing the world, according to Hindu philosophy.
  • The other five darshans of Hindu philosophy are yoga, samkhyanyayamimamsa and vedanta.

What distinguishes Vaisheshika from the other Hindu schools of philosophy is its emphasis on metaphysics and naturalism. It is most similar to the Nyaya (logic) school – so much so that the two schools of thought are often studied together as the Nyaya-Vaisheshika school.

Vaisheshika classifies life into seven padarthas (categories of being) and contends that all physical objects are made up of atoms, which this school of thought postulates are the smallest entity in the physical world. The seven padarthas are:

  • Dravya – substance, of which there are nine: earth, water, fire, air, ether, time, space, spirit and mind
  • Guna – quality
  • Karma – action
  • Samanya – genus
  • Vishesa – specific difference
  • Samavaya – things inseparably connected
  • Abhava – nonexistence or absence

Theory of consciousness

what is consciouness ?

  • it is an awareness found in animate beings, it has no independent existence of its own. It inheres in something else it may be of five elements and their atoms
  • The five types of atom have their own attributes. Ether has sound. Air has sound and touch. Fire has sound and touch and form, and so on. But none of these possess consciousness as an additional quality.
  • There is no manifestation of consciousness in the operations of space (dik) or time (kala).
  • Consciousness again necessitates two things – subject and object. it must be reside in subject, the perceiver and not in the object. It must be reside in the subject, the perceiver and not in the object

vaisesika argues that the senses are not independent perceivers they depend upon something else – the mind and soul.

consciousness is the mother of all types of perception.

consciousness enters into the soul as like the sound enters into the sky. this is to say that consiousness is not essential to soul, just as sound is not essential to sky. sky can exist without sound, but sound cant exist without sky., similrly consciousness cant exist without atman but atman can exist without the manifestation of consciousness.

vaisesika thus agrees with nyaya in postulating the consciousness appears only when atman is in special relationship with something.

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