Sāṁkhya Karika with Vācaspati Miṣra Commentaries |Part 2


Prativiṣayādhyavasāyo, dṛṣṭam trividhaṁ anumānam ākhyātam |
ta liṅgalingipūrvakam, āptaśrutir āptavacanam tu |5.|

Dṛṣṭam: perception; Prati - viṣāyādhyavasāyaḥ: is the ascertainment of each respective object (by the senses); anumānam: Inference; trividhaṁ - ākhyātam: is declared to be of three kinds; tat: that (i.e. inference)
liṅga-liṅgi-pūrvakam: is preceded by a knowledge of the mark and of that of which it is the mark; āptavacanam tu: while valid testimony; āpta śrutiḥ: is the statement of trustworthy persons and the Vedas.

Perception is the ascertainment of each respective object by the senses.

Inference is declared to be of three kinds and it is preceded by a knowledge of the middle term (linga) and major term (liṅgi)

while valid testimony is the statement of trustworthy persons and the Veda. |5|

In the sentence Prativiṣayādhyavasāyo Dṛṣṭam, the word Dṛṣṭam (perception) indicates the thing defined (lakṣya) the rest of the sentence is the definition (lakṣaṇa). The word lakṣaṇa means the differentiation (of the thing defined) from things of the same class as well as from those of other class. The literal meaning may be explained as follows: Viṣaya (objects) are those which impinge on the cognition by impressing their own form upon cognition. Earth and other substances and pleasure and other feelings (like pain etc.) are objects to us. But, in their subtle forms (tanmātras) they are not objects to us though they are objects to the Yogins and ascetics. Prattiviṣayam denotes that which impinges upon each particular object, i.e. the sense organ. Vṛtti is contact with the object. Thus it stands for the sense which is in contact with each object; knowledge depending on that is adhyavasāya. It is cognition resulting from the operation of Buddhi. On the modification of the senses apprehending objects, when there takes place the subdual of the tamas of Buddhi, there takes place predominance of sattva - this is variously known as cognition, sense modification, and knowledge (adhyavasāya, Vṛtti and jñāna). This much is pramāṇa. The favour that is rendered unto the sentient faculty (cetanā) is the fruit known as Right Cognition; (Pramā) it is bodha, awareness.

Indeed, the buddhitattva is unintelligent as it is derived from Prakṛti; hence, its cognition (which is a function of the Buddhi) is also unintelligent, like a jar etc. Similarly, (other modifications) of the Buddhi Tattva, such as pleasure etc., also are unintelligent. But the Puruṣa unassociated with pleasure etc. is the Sentient Principle. (Yet) He (i.e. Puruṣa) appears to possess cognition, pleasure etc. by virtue of their shadows falling therein by the reflection of cognition, pleasure etc. which really subsist in the Buddhi Tattva. This is how the intelligent principle (Cetanā) comes to be favoured (by Buddhi). Buddhi and its adhyavasāya, though unintelligent in themselves, appear as though intelligent due to their being reflected in the intelligence (of the Spirit). This will be described in Karika.-20

By using the term adhyavasāya (in the text), doubtful cognition (Saṁśaya) is excluded, as doubt is of the nature of uncertainty and is, therefore, never definite whereas adhyavasāya is a definite cognition. The use of the term Viṣaya (object) obviates perverse cognition (Viparyaya) of things that do not exist. By using the term prati (in the text) the contact of the sense organ with an object is indicated; by this, inference, remembrance, etc. get excluded. Thus, ascertainment of each respective object through the contact of the senses is the complete definition of perception as it excludes all things of the same kind as well as things of other kind. Definitions provided by philosophers belonging to other systems have not been either defended or criticised for fear of prolixity.

The Lokāyatika (materialist) says that Inference is not a means of cognition (Pramāṇa). If it is so, how does one know if the person (he was addressing) was ignorant, or in doubt, or perverse? Certainly, it is not possible to an ordinary person whose perception is gross, to perceive the ignorance, doubt and perversity of another person; nor can it be known by any other means, because the materialist does not accept any other means (except direct perception). Thus, if, without knowing whether the person addressed is ignorant, or in doubt or perverse, the materialist were to go about addressing any and every person at random, certainly, such a person would be ignored as his expression is not fit to be heeded by all intelligent persons, as if he were mad. The ignorance, etc. of another person has to be inferred only from such signs as the difference in his intention or words.
Thus, he has to accept inference as a pramāṇa though he is unwilling.

It is just right that inference should be defined after first defining perception as Inference results from Perception. Also, inasmuch as the general definition must precede special definition, the author provides general definition of Inference by saying: ‘It is preceded by a knowledge of the middle term and the major term. ’ The middle term (linga) indicates the pervaded (vyāpya i.e. less extensive) while the major term (liṅgi) implies pervasiveness (vyāpaka - more extensive). Vyāpya is that whose natural concomittance (with liṅgi) has been duly established after all suspected and assumed (casual) adjuncts have been rejected.

That with which the linga is concomitant is the Vyāpaka (the more extensive, major term). The words middle term and major term though are denotive of objects (of cognition), yet, here they stand for cognition of those objects. (Inference is) preceded by the cognition of smoke etc. as vyāpya (in the inference ‘Hill is fiery because of the presence of smoke’) and fire etc. as the vyāpaka. The term liṅgi has to be repeated and taken in the sense of that in which the linga is present, that is, by this the cognition that the linga (which is smoke here, the middle term) is present in the minor term (pakṣa which is hill in the above inference) arises.

(This is pakṣa-dharmatājñāna). Thus, the general definition of Inference is as follows: ‘Inference is that cognition which is preceded (a) by the cognition of invariable concomitance between the major term and the middle term (i.e. vvaptijñāna between liṅgi and linga) and (b) by the cognition of the presence of the middle term (linga) in the minor term (pakṣadharmatā- jñāna).

The author by saying Inference is declared to be of three kinds, recalls the special forms of Inference described by another philosophical system (Nyāya). Inference which has just been defined in its general form, has three special forms, known as (a) Apriori - pūrvavat; (b) Aposteriori - Śeṣavat; (c) based on general observation - sāmānyatodṛṣṭa.

First of all, inference is of two kinds: Vīta, positive and Avīta, negative. Positively postulating Inference cognised through the method of agreement is the vita while the negative inference got through the method of difference is Avīta.

Of these two, the Avīta inference is called Śeṣavat (aposteriori, i.e. inhering the cause - kāraṇa through the effect, kārya); Śeṣa is that which remains, the residue; hence the inference which has the residue for its subject matter is the Śeṣavat inference. It has thus been described (in the Nyāyabhāṣya 1.1.5); ‘The Śeṣavat inference is that in which, with regard to an object, some of the likely properties being denied and eliminated, and there being no likehood of their belonging to some others, we have the cognition of that which remains (undenied and uneliminated).’ An example of Avīta inference got through the negative method will be cited later on (under Karika - 9).

Vita inference is twofold (a) Apriori - Pūrvavat and (b) Sāmānyatodṛṣṭa - based on general observation. Of these, Pūrvavat has for its object that Universal of which a particular individual has previously been seen; Pūrva (in Pūrvavat) means well known i.e. that universal of which the particular individual has previously been seen; thus, the Inferential Cognition of which such a universal is the object is called Pūrvavat; for example, the presence of the particular universal fire in the mountain is „ inferred from the presence of smoke (in the mountain). Here, the universal fire is one of which a particular individual in the form of a specific fire has previously been seen in the hearth. The second form of vita inference is the Sāmānyatodṛṣṭa, which has for its object universal instances of which some kind have not previously been seen, e.g. the inferential cognition which has senses as its object (i.e. cognition of the sense organ). What is inferred in this case is the instrumentality of an organ bringing about by its action the cognition of colour and such things. (Inference of cause - Karana through the Kārya - effect). Though instrumentality (Karaṇatva the capability of effecting an act) as a genus (sāmānya) is a known thing, because the specific individual is seen in the axe which is an instrument of cutting, that particular instrument (Indriya) which brings about the cognition of colour, etc. is only inferred because the particular individual of that instrument (which brings about the cognition of colour etc.) has never been perceived: That (particular form) of instrument (Karana) is that which is regarded as belonging to the universal sense organ and any specific individual of that universal sense organ (indriyatva - sāmānyasya) is not perceptible to persons of ordinary vision as in the case of the specific individual fire being seen of the universal fire. This is what distinguishes the Pūrvavat inference from the Sāmānyatodṛṣṭa inference, though both are equally Vita inference. In the term Sāmānyatodṛṣṭa the word dṛṣṭa signifies cognition (darśana) of the universal (sāmān- yasya)-, the tasil affix is capable of signifying the sense of all case-endings; thus the term Sāmānyatodṛṣṭa stands for the inferential cognition of that particular universal of which a specific individual has not been perceived. All this has been fully described by us in the Nyāyavārtika-tātparyatīkā and as such is not repeated here for fear of being prolix. 

The disciple, immediately after hearing his teacher utter some words, (such as bring a cow etc.) acts in a certain manner (brings the cow). The person witnessing this infers from the above that the understanding of the sense of words uttered by the teacher is the cause of action by the student. From this he recognises the connection between the words used and their meaning. Further, this recognition of connection between the word and its meaning is the thing that helps a word in expressing its meaning. From this it follows the Verbal Testimony is preceded by inference; consequently, Valid Verbal Testimony is defined after Inference. It is defined as ‘Statements made by trustworthy persons and the Vedas. ’ Here āptavacana indicates the thing to be defined while the rest of the sentence indicates its definition. The word āpta means that which is right; that which is right and also a revelation (Śruti) is āpta śrutiḥ thus, Śruti stands for that cognition of meaning of a sentence which is brought about by that sentence.

Valid Testimony is self-authoritative, i.e. it is always right inasmuch as it is brought about by the words of the Vedas which are not authored by any human being and because it is therefore free from all defects (such as falsehood which render words unreliable). It is for this same reason that the knowledge derived from the Smṛti, Itihāsa and Purāṇa (canonical work, historical narrations and myths) is also regarded as right because they have the Vedas as their source. As regards the Primeval sage Kapila, (the founder of the Sānkhya philosophical system) it is probable that he remembered the Vedic texts that he had studied during the previous Kalpas (time cycles), just as the knowledge of things gained on the previous day is remembered the next day on waking up from sleep. And this is evident from the statement made by the venerable Jaigīṣavya in the text: ‘While I was evolving during ten Kalpas’ etc. where he speaks of his past lives extending over a period of ten kalpas, (time cycles) during a conversation between him and Āvaṭya. By using the word Āpta, (in āptavacana) all such pseudo-revelations as the improper scriptures of the Buddhists, (Sākyabhikṣu), Jains (nirgraṅthaka) and materialists (Saṁsāramocaka) are excluded. All these (above mentioned scriptures) are just not worthy (ayuktatvam) because of (a) inconsistency, (b) being devoid of sound basis, (c) contradictory to reason and (d) as they are accepted only by a few low and beastlike persons such as Mlecchas etc. By the particle tu in the text the author distinguishes Valid Verbal Testimony from Inference. The meaning of a sentence is verily the object cognised (by means of that very sentence); but it does not become its property (dharma) by which it could become its linga (i.e. inferential indication, as smoke is of fire). Nor is there any need to have a prior knowledge of connection (between the sentence and its meaning) in order to express the meaning of that sentence. (This is seen) In the work of a new poet where though the sentence used by the poet was never heard before, yet it expresses a meaning that was never cognised as having been expressed before.

Thus, this (as described above) being the nature of definitions of both the general and special forms of proofs, all other proofs such as Analogy and the rest which have been posited by the opponents (i.e. other philosophical systems) are included in the very proofs defined above.

For instance, the statements As is the cow, so is Gavaya is cited as an example of Analogy. The notion brought about by this means is verily a verbal cognition. Also the notion arising (from the above statement) that the word Gavaya denotes all animal similar to a cow, is only a case of inferential cognition. Here, the inference takes the following form: ‘When a particular word is used by (knowledgeable) elderly persons (with reference to a particular thing) it should be regarded as denoting it when there is no other function (than direct denotation), as found in the example of the word cow denoting its generic attribute cowness as well. In a similar way, the elders use the word Gavaya to denote an animal similar to the cow. Therefore, the word Gavaya must be considered as denotative of that animal. This cognition is thus purely inferential. Further, the notion that the animal Gavaya which is before our eyes is similar to the Cow is purely a perceptional cognition. That is why when the cow is remembered, the cognition of its similarity to Gavaya arises and this is nothing but pure perception. Certainly, the resemblance in the cow is not something different from that in the Gavaya. Again, that is known as resemblance when the aggregate of the component parts of the body of one animal (like tails, hooves etc. found in the genus of cow) is found to a great extent to be similar to that in the body of another animal. This resemblance of aggregates (of certain characteristics in the two animals of that genus) is one only; So, when it has been perceived in the Gavaya it must be so in cow also. Thus, there is nothing left to be the object of a different means of cognition in the form of Analogy. (Because, as proved above, every cognition arising from analogy is found to be either Perceptional or Inferential or Verbal). Thus we affirm that Analogy is not a distinct means of cognition.

Similarly, Presumption (Arthāpatti) also is not a separate pramāṇa. In support of Presumption as a distinct pramāṇa, the ancients have put forward the following example: ‘Chaitra who is alive is not seen in the house.’ Here, the existence of Chaitra somewhere else is cognised by means of presumption though he is not seen in the house (according to ancients). As a matter of fact, this too is a case of inference. With regard to one’s own body, the concomitance is easily recognised as when we know that an existing finite object which is not present in one place is present in another place, and also that when a finite object is present in one place, it is not present in another place. Therefore, with the help of the minor premise that the living Chaitra is not at home we get the understanding (or we infer) that he must be somewhere outside the house. So, this is a clear case of inference. The presence of Chaitra somewhere in the world cannot set aside the fact of his absence in the house; inasmuch as the unestablished absence in the house cannot be a valid reason for his presence outside the house. Nor does Chaitra’s absence in his house negate his very existence. It is only if his existence itself were denied, that it is not possible to establish his existence outside the house.

Doubt: Is Chaitra’s non-existence in the house inconsistent with his existence itself or only with his existence in the house?

Answer: It cannot be the former, because there can be no inconsistency between existence somewhere else and non-existence in the house, because, the two things are quite independent of each other.

Objection: House is also included in space in general. (The contention that there is no inconsistency between non-existence in the house and existence somewhere else as they are two different things is being contradicted). Therefore, (Chaitra’s existence somewhere else) implies his existence in the house also; here, the subject matter being the same, there would be inconsistency between existence somewhere else and non-existence in the house. 

Answer: This is not so. Non-existence in the house which is determined by Pramāṇa (means of right cognition) cannot be negated by doubtful and implied notion of existence in the house (by such dubious arguments as house also is included in space in general.). Though, the definitely determined non-existence in the house sets aside the dubious and implied notion of existence in the house, it cannot deny man’s existence; nor can it remove the doubt (regarding the possibility of existence in the house implied by the opponent). What is negated is only his existence in the house by Chaitra’s non-existence as delimited by the house because of incompatibility (of existence with non-existence)-, his existence in general is not negated because of neutrality (i.e. there is no incompatibility). Therefore, an inference of Man s existence outside is drawn from the ascertained reason (linga or middle term) in the form of his non-existence in the house. The above reason also removes another definition of Presumption as consisting in the removal of contrariness between two valid cognitions by restricting them to distinct subject matters; because in reality there is no inconsistency between what is delimited and what is not delimited (i.e. between non-existence in the house and existence somewhere else). Other examples of presumption ought to be similarly included in inference. By this it is established that Presumption is not a separate pramāṇa distinct from Inference.

Similarly, Non-existence (abhāva) also is only a form of Perception. The non-existence of a jar (at a certain place) is nothing but a particular modification of the place (where the existence of the jar is denied) as characterised by absoluteness. Except the Sentient Principle, all other entities undergo modifications every moment and all these diverse modifications are perceptible to the senses. Hence there can be no object which could be the subject of a distinct means of cognition like abhāva (non-existence).

Saṁbhava (equivalence) which leads to the cognition of lesser weights such as Droṇa, ādhaka, and Prastha, (as included) in (the greater weight) khāri, is also a form of inference only (and not a separate pramāṇa). In fact, the notion that the greater weight of khāri is inclusive of Droṇa etc. leads to the cognition of presence of lesser weight like Droṇa in khāri. (Khāri is a measure equal to 16 Droṇas).

Legend—aitihya is merely a continuity of a vague statement originating from (a dubious) unnamed source, generally appearing in the form, ‘ancients have said so and so.’ An example of this is found in the statement: On this banyan tree there lives a ghost. Now, this cannot be a distinct pramāṇa because the statement is dubious as the source of its origin is undetermined. If the source of its origin is determined to be the statement of Trustworthy persons, then it is simply a case of Verbal Cognition. Thus, it is but fit and proper to say that pramāṇas are of three kinds only.

Thus have been defined the apramāṇas (proofs or means of cognition) in order to establish the existence of the vyakta (manifested), avyakta (unmanifested) and the Jña (Puruṣa - Spirit). Of these, the manifested in the form of earth and the rest, is known by means of direct perception even by a dusty-footed ploughman (i.e. even by an unlettered person). He also knows such things as Fire (in the hill) by means of a priori inference (pūrvavat anumāna) based upon the perception of such indicative marks as smoke etc. Therefore, the scripture would not be rendering any worthwhile help if it were to deal with only such things. The scriptures, therefore, should deal with things that are very difficult to know by ordinary means of knowledge. Accordingly, the author highlights (in the following verse) as to what pramāṇas among those mentioned earlier are capable of bringing about the knowledge of what things:

Sāmānyatas tu dṛṣṭad, atīndriyānām prasiddhir anumānāt |
tasmād api cāsiddham, parokṣam āptāgamāt sādhyam  |6.|

Tu: But; atīṅdriyāṇāṁ pratītiḥ: the knowledge of super-sensible things; sāmānyataḥ dṛṣṭāt anumānāt: (is obtained) through inference based on general observations; Parokṣam: super-sensible things; tasmād api ca asiddham: not established even by it;  āpta- āgamāt siddham: is established by Testimony and Revelation.

But the knowledge of supersensible things is obtained through Inference based on general observation;

and the knowledge of supersensible things not established even by that is established through Testimony and Revelation.|6|

The particle tu (in the text) distinguishes Inference based on general observation from perception and a priori inference (pūrvavat). The knowledge of supersensible things such as Pradhāna (Primordial Matter) and Puruṣa (Spirit) and the rest is obtained through Sāmānyatodṛṣṭa inference, that is to say, this knowledge is obtained due to certain operation of Buddhi in the form of its reflection in the cognitive Spirit. The mention of this particular inference is only illustrative; it should be regarded as inclusive of Śeṣavat (aposteriori) inference also.

Objection: Is it then that cognition of all supersensible things is obtained only through the inference based on general observation? If it were so, then it would mean that things like Heaven, Unseen forces, Divinities, etc. and also the order of evolution of Mahat and other principles, do not exist as in these cases the above inference is not applicable.

Answer: In answer to this, the text says: tasmādapi...etc. The use of the term tasmāt is enough to indicate the intention of their establishment; the additional use of particle ca is meant to include a posteriori inference also.

Objection: Let it be so. Now, the non-perception of such things as skyflower (gagana-kusuma), tortoise hair (kūrma-roma) hare’s horn (śaśa - viṣāṇa) etc. leads to their being considered as non-existent. Similar is the case with regard to Primordial Nature etc. Then, how is it that their existence is established through inference such as sāmānyato dṛṣṭa and others?

The following verse is in answer to this:

Atidūrāt sāmīpyād, indriyaghātān mano’navasthānāt |
saūkṣmyād vyavadhānād abhibhavāt samānābhihārāt ca  |7.|

Atidūrāt: from excessive distance; sāmīpyāt: from proximity; indriyaghātāt: from impairment of the senses;  mano 'nava -  sthānāt: from absent mindedness;  saukṣmyāt: from subtlety; vyava - dhānāt: from intervention; abhibhavāt: from suppression (by others); samānābhihārāt: and from intermixture with other similar objects;  ca: and others.

(Apprehension of even existing things does not arise) through excessive distance, proximity, impairment of senses, absentmindedness, subtlety, intervention, suppression by other objects, intermixture with other similar objects, and other causes. |7|

Anupalabdhiḥ - (non-perception) occurring in the next kārikā should be read retrospectively (with this kārikā) following the maxim of Lion s Glance. 2 A bird soaring very high in the sky (though existing) is not perceived by the eye due to excessive distance. The term ati (in the text) should be read with sāmīpya (proximity) also. The collyrium applied to the eye is not perceived (though it is present) due to close proximity. Impairment of organs indicates blindness, deafness etc. Absent-mindedness is like one not perceiving things even in bright day-light, though they are in contact with the senses, because the mind is overcome by strong passion and other emotions. From subtlety it is the inability to perceive things like atom etc. however much one may concentrate one’s mind on it and though they may be very near one’s faculty. From intervention it is like one not seeing the queen and other persons (though existent) they being obstructed (concealed) by a wall. From suppression it is like one not seeing the planets and stars during the day because they are suppressed by the brighter rays of the sun. From intermixture it is like not perceiving the drops of water released from clouds in a tank (where they mingle). The particle ca (in the Karika) has a collective force and includes even those not mentioned (in the kārikā). By this, even the unmanifested gets included (among the causes for non-perception) like the curd not being perceived as it is unmanifest in the state of milk.

What is meant by all this is that a thing does not become non-existent just because it is not directly perceived; for, there is a danger of the argument being unwarrantably stretched too far. For example, a man, going out of his house, would then conclude that the people in his house are non-existent just because he does not see them. But it is not so. The non-existence is determined of only such things which have the capability of being perceived but are not perceived at the time. Primordial nature, Spirit and the rest do not possess the property of being perceived and it is not proper for intelligent men to infer from this that they are non-existent just because they are not perceived. The question as to which of the above mentioned causes applied to the non-perception of Primordial Nature and others, is answered in the following Kārikā: