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Brahma Sutras
by Swami Sivananda


Section 2: Mahaddirghadhikaranam: Topic 2 (Sutra 11)

Refutation of the Vaiseshika view.

Mahaddirghavadva hrasvaparimandalabhyam II.2.11 (182)

(The world may originate from Brahman) as the great and the long originate from the short and the atomic.

Mahat dirghavat: like the great and the long; Va: or; Hrasvaparimandalabhyam: from the short and the atomic.

The atomic theory of the Vaiseshikas that formless, indivisible atoms enter into the composition of the world is now refuted.

The sage Kanada is the founder of the Vaiseshika philosophy. He holds all objects which have any shape or form as perishable and they are all made of minute, indivisible, formless and immutable particles known as atoms (Anu). These atoms are considered to be the cause of the world. The atoms are of four kinds, viz., the atoms of earth, the atoms of water, the atoms of fire and the atoms of air. These atoms exist distinct from one another without any shape or form. At the beginning of creation, one atom (a monad) unites with another and forms a dyad, an aggregate of two atoms. The dyad (dvyanu) unites with another atom and forms a triad, an aggregate of three atoms, and so on. Thus a visible universe is formed.

The Vaiseshikas argue thus: The qualities which inhere in the substance which constitutes the cause produces qualities of the same kind in the substance which forms the effect. White cloth is produced from a cloth of a different colour. Consequently, when the intelligent Brahman is taken as the cause of the universe, we should find intelligence inherent in the effect also, viz., the universe. But this is not so. Hence, the intelligent Brahman cannot be the cause of the universe.

The Sutrakara or the author of the Sutras shows that this reasoning is fallacious on the ground of the system of Vaiseshikas themselves.

The Sankhya philosophy has been refuted in Sutras 1-10. Now the Vaiseshika system is taken up in Sutras 11-17 and refuted. The inconsistency in the origination of an aggregate of the three and of four atoms from the union of monads and of dyads of the Vaiseshika is like the inconsistency in the origination of the world from the insentient Pradhana of Sankhya. If the atom has any parts of an appreciable magnitude, then it cannot be an atom. Then it can be further divisible. If they are without parts of any appreciable magnitude, as they are so described in Vaiseshika philosophy, it is not possible for such two partless atoms to produce by their union a substance having any magnitude. The same is the case with three atoms and so on. Hence, compound substances can never be formed by the combination of atoms. Therefore, the Vaiseshika theory of origination of the world upon indivisible atoms is untenable.

According to the Vaiseshika philosophy, two ultimate atoms (Parimandalas or Paramanus) become a double atom (Dvyanuka or Hrasva) on account of Adrishta, etc. But the atomic nature of the ultimate atom is not found in the Dvyanuka which is small. Two Dvyanukas form a Chaturanuka (quadruple atom) which has not the characteristics of smallness but becomes longer and bigger. If the ultimate atom can create something which is contrary to the atom, what is the inappropriateness in Brahman which is Knowledge and Bliss creating the insentient and non-intelligent world full of misery? Just as the atomic nature of the ultimate atom is not found in the later combinations which have other traits, so also the Chaitanya or intelligence of Brahman is not found in the world.

The ultimate condition of the world is atomic, according to the Vaiseshika system. The atoms are eternal. They are the ultimate cause of the universe. The universe exists in the atomic state in the state of Pralaya or dissolution. An atom is infinitesimal. A dyad is minute and short. Chaturanuka or quadruple atom is great, and long.

If two atoms which are spherical can produce a dyad which is minute and short but which has not got the spherical nature of the atom, if the dyads which are short and minute can produce a Chaturanuka which is great and long but which has not got the minuteness and shortness of the dyad, it is quite obvious that all the qualities of the cause are not found in the effect. So it is quite possible that the intelligent, blissful Brahman can be the cause of a world which is non-intelligent and full of suffering.