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The Concept of a Category in Vaisesika Philosophy

Shivdasani Conference 2009
Somerville College
Dr Shashiprabha Kumar
Sunday, 11 October 2009 - 2:30pm

The present paper proposes to put forth a general outline of categories (=padarthas) as available in the Vaisesika system of Indian philosophy. Vaisesika is usually held to be a pluralistic realism in the sense that it propounds six categories as divisions of reality and claims that all the existent, knowable and nameable entities can be covered under these six padarthas: dravya (substance), guna (quality), karma (action or motion), samanya (universal), visesa (ultimate particularity) and samavaya (inherence). Kanada, the founder of Vaisesika system, has himself declared in the beginning of his discourse that a proper knowledge of the six padarthas through twin methods of sadharmya (similarities) and vaidharmya (dissimilarities) among them, will enable one to accomplish the final goal. Accordingly, several sets of similarities among different groups of padarthas have been elucidated which definitely help in a better and clearer understanding of the Vaisesika categories. In brief, the Vaisesika concept of categories is very comprehensive since it presents an exhaustive enumeration of reals.

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