In the Part-1 we discussed about different Indian philosophies and how nyaaya and vaisheshika formed the base of logical scientific thinking. We also discussed how vaisheshika proposed different matters and categorized them as nitya and anitya, as examples saw how Anu was conceptualized and the idea of biological reactions for producing micro and macro organisms were proposed. Continuing that, we will explore on what more vaisheshika proposes. Let’s have a closer look at Anu, the vaisheshika not only infers about it but also goes on to give details. So, in what form Anu exists?
नित्यंपरिमण्डलं(VD – 7-1-20)
suggests the shape of Anu as parimandala, which means it has the shape which is symmetrical in all directions. No need to say that it is sphere which has this property in 3D or a circle in 2D, now check the Figure -1 what Dalton-Bohr proposed in their atomic model during 19th century.
Let’s be clear, since vaisheshika proposes atom as the smallest form in which matter can exist. The question of existence of the subatomic particles does not arise at all. Another property it proposes that atoms don’t have any roopa (color) and of course can’t be visualized अरुपिष्वचाक्षुणि (VD – 4-1- 12). Don’t you think it is very much similar to what was proposed after 2 millennia? So far, we have discussed in detail about Anu. Now, let’s go back to dravys and see what more we can explore.
In पृथिव्यापस्तेजो वायुराकाशं कालो दिगात्मा मन इति द्रव्याणि। (VD – 1-1-5) we have discussed, mostly, about four anitya dravyas (matter). Now we will look at the nitya dravyas viz. aakaash (space), kaal (time), dik (dimension, direction), man and aatmaa. The concept of space, dimension and time is proposed here. What is space (aakaash)? – परिशेषात् लिंगमाकाशस्य (VD – 2-1-27) meaning what is not and in between the four of the pancha mahaabhoota is defined as aakaash. Separation is possible only between the anitya dravyas (matter) and what fills this separation is space a nitya dravya having property of त्वम् भावेन् (VD – 2-1-29). This means the space is one inseparable, homogeneous entity. This space, though cannot be separated, can be recognized by another attribute which is direction or dimension.
आदित्यसंयोगाद् भूतपूर्वाद् भविष्यतो भूताच्च प्राची | तथा दक्षिणा प्रतीचि उदीची च (VD – 2-2-14,15)
suggests that the matter in different forms exist but where? The above sootra define space and time for that. This explains the four directions in which poorva (east) is where sun rises. What is more interesting in the above sootra is, it connects the space with time to the position/movement of the sun. So, the sun rises from poorva (east, a direction in space) and moves in different directions. The time also moves with sun from bhootapoorva (past) to bhavishya (future). This space and time is fundamental because mind perceives all matter through it and identified by the attributes. In the absence of space and time nothing can be perceived. The Nasadiya Sookta (Rigveda 10-129) explains similar concept. With this the vaisheshika proposes a space time matrix where existence is perceived or inferred. For more detail on this refer . The vaisheshika explains how understanding of padarthas will lead to self realization.
धर्मविशेषप्रसूताद्द्रवयगुणकर्म सामान्यविशेषसमवायानां पदार्थानां साधर्म्यवैधर्म्यभ्यां तत्वज्ञानान्नि: श्रेयसम्। (VD – 1-1-4)
So far have discussed about dravyas and their gunas. Now we shall explore about the karma. It is defined as action or motion of the dravyas. Vaisheshika explains different kinds motions – utkshepana (ejection), avakshepana (attraction, falling), akunchana (contraction), prasarana (expansion), gamana (composite movement). Why, at all, the dravays will get involved in karma, it is because of karan (forces, cause) applied. The vaisheshika categorizes forces into – drishya and adrishya (the difference here is similar, what can be perceived or inferred).
आत्मजन्या भवेद्विच्छा इच्छाजन्या भवेत्कृति। कृतिजन्या भवेच्चेष्टा तज्जन्यैव क्रिया भवेत्॥ आत्मसंयोगप्रयत्नाभ्यां हस्ते कर्म (VD – 5-1-1)
It is clear from the above that drishya forces are caused by self (aatmasamyog, aatmajanya). It is about the forces that are applied manually to produce motion or karma in dravyas. But then there are external forces as well which starts governing the dravyas when the self is detached. This has both physical as well as spiritual meaning, however, we will concentrate only physical meaning. Let’s first see the drishya forces
नोदनोविशेषाभावात् न उर्ध्वम् न तिर्यकगमनम्। प्रयत्नविशेषात् नोदनविशेष:। नोदनविशेषात् उदसनविशेष: (VD – 5-1-8, 9, 10)
What is nodan? It is propulsion (prakshepan, utkshepan) when the thrust (pranod) is applied. So if there is no thrust there will be no propulsion or ejection (prakshepan, utkshepan). After propulsion or ejection the self (aatmasamyog) gets detached so the dravya feels another external force (adrishya) that causes attraction or falling.
संयोगाभावे गुरुत्वात् पतनम्(VD – 5-1-7)
Did we see the apple fell almost 2000 years back? Exactly, it is due to gravity, the adrishya force, which causes attraction and fall of the dravya.
अपां संयोगाभावे गुरुत्वात् पतनम्। द्रव्यात् स्यंदनम् (VD – 5-2-3,4) Same external force also causes the water to fall down and flow downward. But wait, there are some forces which cause the water to flow upward. नाड्यो वायुसंयोगाद् आरोहणम्। नोदनापीडनात् संयुक्तसंयोगात् च (VD – 5-2-5,6) Due to heating caused by the sun the water moves upward with the help of vaayu (evaporation). The water vapor get compressed due to pressure and then fall down as rain, basically explains the water cycle. मणिगमनम् सूच्यभिसर्पणम् इति अदृष्टकारणम् (VD – 5-1-15) This hints at the force (invisible) as being responsible for the movement of the needle, so vaisheshika is talking about magnetism? We don’t know as the details of the force (invisible) that moves the suchi (indicator) is not given. With this discussion it becomes clear that the concepts that have been proposed in vaisheshika in the form of philosophy were scientifically proven millennium later. The details of not only about the constitution of existence is given but also about what keeps it moving. These can either be perceived or they can be inferred (e.g. the properties of atoms or adrishya forces). It has also been suggested that without karma (motion or effect of forces) how the existence become observable. These karmas are because of two effects – self and external and understanding which leads to realization (VD – 1-1-4). Disclaimer: No such claims have been made that all the ancient scriptures contain science or can be explained scientifically. The scriptures are not simply meant for that. However, they certainly contain thoughts that can be explored and explained. One needs to examine and discuss carefully on case to case basis.
1. Vaisheshik Darshan in Samskrita-Hindi
2. The Vaisheshika Darshana – Translation and Commentary by John Wells
3. Works of Roopa H. Narayan
4. Works of Dr. Subhash Kak
Disclaimer: No such claims have been made that all the ancient scriptures contain science or can be explained scientifically. The scriptures are not simply meant for that. However, they certainly contain thoughts that can be explored and explained. One needs to examine and discuss carefully on case to case basis.