This lecture will examine various aspects of dharma as suggested in the Vaisesika system, namely its historical, metaphysical, and moral aspects. The concept of dharma is so central in Vaisesika philosophy that Kanada begins his discourse with an aim of explaining dharma.
The seminar intends to discuss the nature of consciousness as expounded in the early system of Vaisesika, which deals with the problem of consciousness in relation to the process of cognition in general. In other words, knowledge is an adventitious attribute which inheres in the substance called atman (soul) only when it is embodied. During this seminar, the various implications and formulations of this view in Vaisesika sources will be examined.
The seminar examines the nature of sabda in the Vaisesika system which has been discussed there both as a guna of akasha, and as a pramana. The former is expressed in the ancient Vaisesika tradition, from Kanada up to Udayana, whereas the latter is explored in the later tradition, starting from its amalgamation with Nyaya and opposition to Buddhism. This seminar will cover both these aspects, with an emphasis on the role of sabda as a pramana.
This lecture highlights five Sanskrit commentaries on the Vaisesikasutras that have been written and published in the last century. The commentaries are: (i) Vaidikavritih, by Pt. Hariprasada, Nirnayasagar, 1951; (ii) Rasayana, by Sri Uttamur Viraraghavacharya, Madras, 1958; (iii) Brahmamunibhasyam, by Swami Brahmamuni, Baroda, 1962; (iv) Vedabhaskarabhasyam, by Pt. Kashinath Sharma, Himachal, 1972; (v) Sugama, by Desika Tirumalai Tatacharya, Allahabad, 1979.
Dr Shashiprabha Kumar is Professor in Sanskrit Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University and specialises in Nyaya-Vaisesika.