Beginning with the great eleventh-century defender of theism,
Udayana,(34) any number of Hindu writers have attempted to argue that Buddhism, with its
worship of an omniscient tathaagata, actually is crypto-theism. The word
"theism" undoubtedly can be twisted in such a way that certain aspects of
Mahaayaana theory and practice fall under the term, but it is equally clear that theism in
the sense in which I am using it as the assertion of an omniscient, permanent,
independent, unique cause of the cosmos is rejected throughout the length and breadth of
the Indian Buddhist tradition. Dharmakiirti's antitheistic arguments may have taken the
Buddhist critique to a new level of sophistication, but he had behind him a millennium of
refutations, with many of which he undoubtedly was familiar, and which ought to be borne
in mind when we consider his discussion.
The Paali Nikaayas contain a number of explicit rejections of theism,
and some important implicit ones, as well. In the Brahmajaalasutta, one of the sixty-two
views discussed by the Buddha is the claim that Brahmaa is the creator of the cosmos; this
claim is rejected on the grounds that it is based on a mistaken inference: at the
beginning of a world cycle, Brahmaa' is the first being to arise. Lonely, he wishes for
other beings as companions, and they appear. He concludes that he has created them, but is
mistaken, for by the Buddhist explanation the beings simply are arising due to their own
karman, rather than the will of a deity, being the true creative force in the cosmos.(35)
A second explicit rejection, made on the grounds of theodicy, or the
"problem of evil," occurs at a number of places in the Nikaayas,(36) where it is
claimed that the postulation of a God as creator of the cosmos and the regulator of karman
undermines human moral responsibility, while at the same time vitiating claims that the
God can be benevolent, since evils are his creation, too. Other explicit critiques include
mockery of the "omniscient" Brahmaa for his ignorance regarding the sphere
wherein all elements cease,(37) and skepticism regarding the claims of some Brahmins to
have seen Brahmaa face-to-face.(38) For the later Buddhist philosophical tradition,
however, the most important early arguments are perhaps the implicit ones: those many
passages in the Nikaayas where the concept of a permanent attaa or aatman is
rejected, principally on the grounds that no permanent entity is or can
be encountered in experience or justified by reason. It really is Buddhism's emphasis on
universal impermanence that is at the root of its aversion to the concept of God, as
became evident in the sorts of refutations offered in the post-nikaaya period (when the
attributes of the creator, identified by the Buddhists as ii svara, perhaps had
become more clearly defined).
Poussin remarks that Buddhist refutations of ii svara "ont
le tort de se repeter."(39) It is true that certain points are stressed again and
again, but the arguments do vary; indeed, their uniformity is more in style than
substance: virtually all are couched in the form of logical dilemmas, in which the
predication of this or that attribute of ii svara is shown to lead to unacceptable
conclusions, no matter how it is qualified. Post-nikaaya, pre-Dharmakiirti arguments are
thus broadly "logical," without being specifically inferential.
One of the earliest post-nikaaya rejections of ii svara is found
in the Buddhacaarita of A svagho.sa (first-second century A.D.), where at one place
the rhetorical question is posed: If ii svara is the creator, then what point is
there in human effort?(40) In a second passage, the Buddha is quoted as pointing out that
if ii svara, the cause, is perfect and unchanging, then the cosmos that is his
effect must be perfect and unchanging, which it manifestly is not. Further, if it be
argued that ii svara creates with a purpose in mind, then he has not achieved all
purposes, and his perfection is limited; whereas if he creates without a purpose, then he
must be regarded as no more sensible than a madman or a child.(41)
A number of works attributed to Naagaarjuna generally believed to
belong to the same period as A svaghosa reject the concept of ii svara. The
Suh.rllekha mentions in passing that ii svara is nor to be accepted as the cause of
the aggregates.(42) The Catu.hstava argues that ii svara must either originate from
another entity, in which case his uncreatedness is violated, or be self-originated, which
is impossible, since an entity cannot at the same time be both the agent and object of an
action.(43) The Bodhicittavivara.na notes that (a) if ii svara is alleged to be
permanent, then he cannot create, either simultaneously or gradually (since results are
impermanent, and so cannot have a permanent cause); (b) if he is said to be efficient,
then he must create the universe unaided all at once (since efficiency requires the
immediate generation of a result); (c) if he requires assistance in creation, then he is
not truly eternal or efficient; and (d) if he is alleged to be an entity (bhaava), then he
cannot be permanent, since entities are observed to be impermanent.(44) Finally, the
Vi.s.norekakart.rtvaniraakara.nam, (45) which is entirely devoted to a refutation of ii
svara, argues that (a) he cannot create the existent, since it already exists, nor
the nonexistent, since it cannot come to be; and (b) he cannot be self-originated, as that
is a contradictory concept; or other-originated, for that would entail an infinite regress
of creators, even one of whom exist before ii svara, thereby vitiating his status as
Arguments against the concept of ii svara also are found in the
AAbhidharmika literature of succeeding centuries. The great compendium of Sarvaastivaadin
thought, the Mahaavibhaa.sa, notes that (a) if ii svara is the cause of everything,
then he must create everything at once (since efficiency implies immediate causation); (b)
if he requires help, then he is not the sole cause; (c) if he is undifferentiated and
eternal, so must his effects be (since effect must resemble cause); and (d) since effects
are known to be impermanent, their alleged permanent cause, ii svara, has no more
"existence" than space.(47)
Vasubandhu's Abhidharmako sa and Abhidharmako sabhaa.sya
reject ii svara at a number of places, most extensively in the Bha.sya to II,, 64d,
which asserts that the various dharmas do not arise from a unique cause like ii
svara, because dharmas are successive and ii svara is not. Among the points
made by Vasubandhu in his dialogue with a theist are that (a) if ii svara is said to
will the successive generation of dharmas, then he must have multiple desires; if he is
single, he must have a single desire, hence create dharmas all at once; (b) if ii
svara requires assistance, then he is not the unique cause, and his assistant causes
would require further assistant causes, in infinite regress; (c) if ii svara wills
the creation of some dharmas in the present and some later, then he must be incapable of
creating the later dharmas now, and if he cannot create them now, he cannot in the future,
since his nature does not change; and (d) if the observed causes of various effects are
said to be auxiliaries to ii svara's causation, then it must be asked whether ii
svara can prevent the effects from arising he cannot, and therefore is both impotent
and irrelevant, for the observed impermanent causes are perfectly adequate explanations
for effects.(48) Vasubandhu also argues that since karmic results are multiple, their
cause cannot be single,(49) and that, similarly, suffering cannot be originated by a cause
that is single, non-successive, or guided by intelligence.(50) Among Mahaayaana
AAbhidharmika texts that include refutations of ii svara, we will mention only the
Yogaacaarabhuumi of Asa.nga, which argues that (a) if ii svara has a reason for
creation, then that reason is the real cause, whereas if he has none, then he cannot be
motivated to become a cause; (b) if ii svara is immanent in the cosmos, then he
cannot stand outside as its creator, whereas if he is not immanent in it, then he has no
relation to it, and so cannot create it; (c) if ii svara creates intending some
purpose, then it must be admitted that there is a purpose he has not yet fulfilled; and
(d) if creation depends on ii svara's will alone, then everything must arise
simultaneously, while if it depends on an ii svara who is assisted, then he is not
the unique cause.(51)
One final pre-Dharmakiirti text worthy of brief mention is the
Tarkajvaalaa of Bhaavaviveka, or Bhavya (sixth century) , whose discussion of ii
svara(52) shows at least a rudimentary awareness of attempts to prove ii svara
inferentially and of the pitfalls entailed by those attempts. Bhaavaviveka recites a
number of the standard refutations, noting that the multiple events we observe in the
world cannot be asserted to arise from a unique cause, but rather must be explained as
proceeding from a multiplicity of karmic conditions, and that ii svara cannot be
held to be any more real than a sky-flower or a barren woman's son. He does note that one
possible argument for ii svara is the syllogism, "The eye and so forth exist as
accompanied (that is, caused) by a maker, because they are arranged like a pot." To
this Bhaavaviveka's response is that the syllogism is invalid because it proves what is
already proven for the Buddhist, namely, that events have causes for the Buddhist,
however, the causes are multiple (karman, the elements, parents, and so forth), not a
single arranger. A second syllogism, namely, "II svara is the maker of the eye
and so forth because he is permanent, unique and unproduced, " is rejected as
unproved (asiddha) because of the absence of any corroborative example of such an entity.
Finally, the syllogism, "(The eye and so forth have) ii svara (as a maker
preceding them) because (they are shaped), just as a pot has a potter as its maker,"
is rejected on the grounds that a potter is (a) embodied and (b) impermanent, neither of
which is applicable to ii svara.(53)
IV. DHARMAKIIRTI'S CRITIQUE OF THEISM:
As noted in the introduction, Dharmakiirti's refutation of theism is
found in the Pramaa.nasiddhi chapter of his Pramaa.navaarttika. The Pramaa.navaarttika is
loosely constructed as a commentary on Dignaaga's Pramaa.nasamuccaya, and the
Pramaa.nasiddhi chapter regarded as the first by modern editors and the second by the
Tibetan tradition(54) is itself an elaborate gloss on just one verse of the
Pramaa.nasamuccaya, the first, wherein Dignaaga salutes the Buddha as One Who Has Become
Authoritative (pramaa.nabhuuta), One Who Desires to Benefit the World (jagaddhitai.sin),
the Teacher (saast.r), the Sugata, and the Savior (taayin). The basic purpose of the
Pramaa.nasiddhi chapter is to demonstrate the Buddha's authoritativeness for those who
desire spiritual liberation, through demonstrating that it is reasonable to regard him as
the Benevolent One, the Teacher, the Sugata, and the Savior.(55)
These, in turn, are proven through a series of extended philosophical
arguments, the most important of which revolve around (a) defining authoritativeness and
giving negative and positive examples of beings who embody it, (b) proving that positive
mental qualities such as benevolence can be developed infinitely, through demonstrating
that the mind-body relation is an integrationist dualism that permits the existence of
past and future lives, and (c) showing that the Four Noble Truths taught by the Buddha are
in fact true, and, especially, that acceptance or rejection of a self (aatman) is the key
to sa.msaara and nirvaa.na. As the nineteenth-century Tibetan commentator Mi pham notes,
the proof of past and future lives paves the way for proving that the Buddha has the
causes for being regarded as authoritative, while the proof that the Four Noble Truths are
true shows us the reason why he is authoritative.(56)
It is in the first general division of the chapter, that which defines
and exemplifies authoritativeness, that the rejection of ii svara is to be found.
After defining pramaa.na (authoritativeness) in the first six verses(57) as
uncontradicted, fresh cognition, Dharmakiirti asserts in verse 7 that the Buddha fulfills
this definition. Before demonstrating generally (as he will in verses 29-33) that the
Buddha is authoritative because he knows what is to be rejected and what accepted
(heyopadeya) by those intent on liberation, Dharmakiirti provides a "non-accordant
example" for his definition of authoritativeness. This, of course, is ii svara,
whose authoritativeness, creatorship, and existence are rejected in verses 8-28. The
argument can be broken down into three general sections: (1) verses 8-9 reject ii
svara's authoritativeness; (2) verses 10-20 are a refutation of a theistic syllogism
purporting to prove that worldly effects must have a conscious cause, and that cause is ii
svara; and (3) verses 21-28 question the possibility that ii svara could be a
causal agent, through a comparison between the characteristics attributed to ii
svara and the reality of the causal process. We will consider each of these
arguments in turn, relying primarily upon Dharmakiirti's own words. Where necessary, we
will turn for interpretive help to one of the greatest of Tibetan Pramaa.navaarttika
commentators, rGyal tshab dar ma rin chen (1364-1432), (58) and, on occasion, to
Dharmakiirti's own disciple, Devendrabuddhi (or mati).(59)
V. DHARMAKIIRTI'S REJECTION OF I
Dharmakiirti already has established (in verses 3b-4b) that
authoritativeness is cognitive (dhii), an act of consciousness. Can one then posit the
authoritativeness of a being whose nature is permanent (nitya)?
(8-9a:) There is no permanent authoritative (being),
Because authoritativeness cognizes (functioning) entities;
Because, since objects of knowledge are impermanent,
That (which cognizes them) is unstable;
Because that which is generated consecutively
Cannot be accepted as generated from a permanent (cause);
(And because) it is unsuitable that (a permanent cause) depend on
Note that the explicit object of refutation here is simply a permanent
authoritative cognition, which could define not only ii svara, but such other
non-Buddhist concepts as aatman, puru.sa, and so forth. In fact, the term ii svara
does not appear until verse 28. Still, ii svara is probably the primary object of
refutation throughout this discussion, for (a) ii svara is the only "permanent
authority" mentioned anywhere in the verses, (b) ii svara is clearly indicated
as the object of refutation by Dharmakiirti's commentators, and (c) ii svara had
been singled out by pre-Dharmakiirti Nyaaya-Vai se.sikas as a permanent being who
was the creator of all effects, hence, by definition, authoritative regarding all effects
Taking ii svara as the permanent authoritative being who is being
rejected, then, we see that Dharmakiirti's argument is as follows. That which any
authoritative cognition cognizes are the functioning entities (vastu) that are what is
"real" in the world. Functioning entities are known to be impermanent, that is,
to exist only momentarily. Any entity, therefore, actually is a succession of momentary
events, each following the other with inconceivable rapidity, and constituting a
"thing" only insofar as there is a certain similarity from one moment to the
next. Since it is objects that (conventionally, at least) generate cognitions, a cognition
of an object only can arise where an object exists. If an object exists only for a moment,
its cognition must be similarly momentary, generated successively. Indeed, a permanent
authority said to cognize all entities only could cognize them simultaneously, for it does
not change from one moment to the next. This would mean that all objects in fact exist
simultaneously, which manifestly is not so. If it is maintained that ii svara
himself remains permanent, but that his cognitions are impermanent in accordance with the
succession of objects, then at least two consequences ensue: (a) ii svara is being
qualified with contradictory properties (permanence and impermanence) and (b) he is being
accepted as dependent on conditions (the succession of objects), which a permanent being
It ought to be noted, before we continue, that Dhamakiirti's argument
here presupposes the validity of the Buddhist doctrine of momentariness, whereby
"existence" only is predicated of efficient (arthakriya) entities, and
efficiency only can be predicated of momentary entities since an entity that is not
inherently and instantly destructible cannot be destroyed, hence is immutable, and what is
immutable cannot interact with what is successive, as entities manifestly are. Buddhist
arguments for momentariness were highly controversial,(62) being open to criticism for (a)
vitiating causality by denying continuity and (b) begging the question by defining
existence in such a way (as a particular type of efficacity) that only momentary entities
could fulfill the definition. It is not my intention to enter into these fundamental
arguments here, but simply to point out that the debate between Dharmakiirti and his
opponents is not necessarily self-contained, but constantly opens out onto the broader
metaphysical issues dividing them (and these issues, in turn, are inextricably intertwined
with questions of the religious psychologies of different traditions(63) ).
To continue, having shown that a permanent authoritative cognizer is a
contradictory concept, Dharmakiirti goes on to reject the notion that ii svara could
be regarded as impermanent:
(9b:) Because (a permanent cognizer) has not been helped in any way,
There cannot be an impermanent authoritative (being).(64)
According to Rgyal tshab, who follows Praj~naakaragupta here, (65)
"Because (a permanent cognizer) has not been helped in any way" is intended as a
proof that ii svara cannot be impermanent (hence a cognizer, since cognizers must be
impermanent), for ii svara is said to be self-sufficient and eternally liberated,
while what is impermanent may or may not exist, may suffer or be liberated, in accordance
with helping or hindering conditions. Thus, even if ii svara is defined as
impermanent, other characteristics attributed to him vitiate that definition.(66) As Rgyal
tshab rightly notes, Devendrabuddhi takes the line in question as further proof that a
permanent authoritative cognition is impossible; indeed, he takes it as the reason why a
permanent cognizer cannot depend on conditions, that is, because he cannot be helped in
any way (being, by definition, permanent and self-sufficient).(67) If ii svara's not
being helped is taken in this way, as further proof that he cannot be a permanent
cognizer, then the line, "There cannot be an impermanent authoritative (being),"
stands alone, as a simple assertion that a being defined as permanent simply cannot be
impermanent although impermanence is the nature of objects, and so of cognitions, too.
VI. DHARMAKIIRTI'S REFUTATION OF A
Dharmakiirti next addresses himself to a specific formal inference that
is alleged to prove the existence of a creator. First, he sets out the syllogism:
(10a:)(Because of) intermittence, particular shape,
Efficiency, etc., (a creator exists).(68)
The unnamed opponent here may be the Nyaaya-Vai se.sika, for, to
our knowledge, of all the Hindu theistic schools, only the Nyaaya-Vai se.sika had,
by Dharmakiirti's time, sought to justify the creatorship of ii svara through formal
inference. Furthermore, the syllogism here phrased in rather skeletal form by Dharmakiirti
bears a close similarity to the arguments proffered by Uddyotakara, who insisted that
worldly results required a conscious motivator, like a hatchet, whose fashioning and use
both point to the intervention of a conscious agent.(69) The syllogism also recalls
Bhaavaviveka's unnamed opponent, who argued that all results require a creator because
they have a specific arrangement, like a pot, whose arrangement informs us of the
existence of a potter.(70)
Commentarial glosses on Dharmakiirti's presentation of the theistic
syllogism make it clear that, in fact, three different reasons are being offered as
probative of a creator. Rgyal tshab, thus, restates the syllogism more fully as follows:
"Worldly environs, bodies and enjoyments are preceded by the mind
of a maker, (a) because they act intermittently, like a hatchet, (b) because they have a
particular shape, like a pot and (c) because they are efficient (in fulfilling beings'
aims), like a battle-axe." From these and other such statements, it is proven that
(abodes, bodies and possessions) have a maker whose mind has preceded them, and also that
that (maker) is ii svara.(71)
The argument from intermittence makes the claim that because entities
sometimes function and sometimes do not, their existence must be due to action by a
conscious agent. The argument from particular shape makes the claim that, quite simply,
design implies a designer, and there is a design to entities, so there must be a designer.
The argument from efficiency makes the claim that the observed efficiency of entities
requires that they be preceded by an efficient maker who foresaw the purposes they could
fulfill. Dharmakiirti does not turn to the arguments from intermittence and efficiency
until later in his discussion, where he will reject them as part of his refutation of the
causal agency attributed to ii svara. He will address himself first and in most
detail to the argument from particular shape.
Dharmakiirti's first move in refuting the syllogism, however, is to
state generally the problems it entails:
(10b:) (Here,) either (a) the assertion is already proven, or (b) the
example is uncertain, or (c) the statement issues in doubt.(72)
According to Rgyal tshab, (a) the assertion is already proven because
the syllogism simply states that "environs, bodies and enjoyments are preceded by the
mind of a maker," and this general concomitance will be accepted by the Buddhist,
too, since, according to the Buddhist, environs, bodies, and enjoyments are preceded by
mental karman, hence by "the mind of a maker." One of the requisites for posing
a formal inference is that it seek to prove something not proven before, so the theistic
syllogism is, in its general form, redundant. Furthermore, if ii svara in particular
is posited as the conscious creator, then (b) the example is uncertain, because all three
examples the hatchet, the pot, and the battle-axe are impermanent entities, which must,
therefore, be made or employed by impermanent beings, whereas the entity to whose
existence they are supposed to point, ii svara, is permanent. The examples, thus,
may be probative of impermanent causes, but not of a permanent one.
Finally, (c) the statement issues in doubt, because even if environs,
bodies, and enjoyments are preceded by a maker, there is no guarantee that that maker is
ii svara, for ii svara is simply one possible explanation for the way things
are and not a very promising one, given that, for example, the entities whose explanation
is sought are impermanent and intermittent, while ii svara is permanent, and so
cannot be intermittent.(73)
Dharmakiirti now turns to an analysis of the argument from particular
shape, that is, that environs, bodies, and enjoyments have preceding them the mind of a
maker(ii svara), because they have particular shape, like a pot, or a mansion:
(11:) (If) shape, etc., are proved such as to be
Positively and negatively related to a designer,
An inference from that (shape to that designer)
Much of the force of this statement is derived by implication.
According to Rgyal tshab, the main point is this: if, and only if, environs, bodies, and
enjoyments are shaped just as a pot is, can we infer that they are preceded by a single
conscious designer, as a pot is. "Shaped as a pot is" can have two different
meanings here: the arrangement of the material of the pot, and the process whereby that
arrangement was achieved. By either interpretation, "particular shape is found to be
a reason that is unproven in the subject ("environs, bodies, and enjoyments") .
First of all, it is perfectly self-evident that environs, bodies, and enjoyments do not
have the same shape as a pot (or a mansion), and so we cannot necessarily infer that they
have a maker in the same way that a pot does, for it is entirely possible that different
particular types of shapes may have different particular types of causes generating them.
Indeed, a Buddhist will argue that such things as environs, bodies, and enjoyments
actually have preceding them a multiplicity of mental karmans, not a single
creator-designer. Secondly, the mere fact that a particular shape, a pot, arises from a
single conscious designer does not mean that different shapes or different types of shapes
need necessarily arise in the same way; again, the Buddhist will posit mental karmans as
the cause and will claim that, although consciousness may be involved in producing karmic
effects, conscious design is not. Thus, unless the theist wants to claim, absurdly, that
all entities are shaped just as a pot is, he cannot make inferences about them that are
based on the particular circumstances of the pot.(75)
Dharmakiirti turns now from an examination of "particular
shape" to "shape in general," to see whether it may be probative:
(12:) (A quality) is proven in an entity by a particular (reason),
(But that) a term similar (to the reason is probative) because of its
(alleged) nondifference (from the reason)
Cannot reasonably be inferred;
(That would be) like (inferring) fire from a grey substance.(76)
Here, the theist's problem is that if he tries to claim the term
"shape" in general (rather than the particular shape of, for example, a pot) as
probative, he has provided a reason that is too general, and thus unproven in the subject.
Granted, we legitimately apply the term "shaped" to environs, bodies, and
enjoyments, but whereas we are able to infer that a pot or a mansion has preceding it the
mind of some person, because we have observed positive and negative concomitance between
these objects and a maker, we have not observed such concomitance in the case of, for
example, the particular realms into which we are born, the bodies we have, and the
environment that we share, with its mountains, seas, and forests. Thus, a particular
designer is proven in the cases of some particular shapes, but one cannot generalize from
this that any object to which the word "shaped" applies necessarily must have a
similar designer, for the sources of the shapes of differing shaped objects may very well
differ. Thus, just as the term "grey substance" (of which smoke is only one
type) is too general to be the basis of a legitimate inference of the presence of fire in
a particular place, so the term "shape" alone is too general to be the basis of
a legitimate inference that all shaped objects must arise in the same way that some shaped
Dharmakiirti draws out the extreme consequences entailed by the
probative value of "shape" by pointing out that:
(13:) If that is not the case, then a potter
May be proven to have made an ant-hill,
Because it has some (similarity) to the shape
Of clay in a pot, etc.(78)
The example is an interesting one, because it can be read as refuting
the probative value of either a particular shape or the general term "shape,"
the particular aspects of shape analyzed in the two preceding verses. First, an anthill at
least of the Indian variety has the same shape as a pot. We ought, therefore, to conclude
on the basis of this similarity that it was made by a potter, whereas we know quite well
that it was made by ants. Thus, a similarity in shape does not imply a necessary
similarity in origin. Second, even if an anthill were nor shaped like a pot, the general
fact that it is "shaped" has no probative value for the theistic syllogism.
Indeed, if anything, the anthill is a counter-example to the pot, since it is an instance
of a shaped object, yet it is one that we know by observation to be positively and
negatively concomitant with causes that are (a) multiple rather than single and (b) very
possibly unconscious rather than conscious.(79) In short, then, the term "shape"
cannot be probative, because specific inquiries into its meaning and relevance show that a
particular shape (for example, a pot) cannot be probative because not all objects have
that particular shape, while shape in general cannot be probative because different shapes
may arise under different circumstances, as an anthill arises in a different manner from a
In the next six verses (numbers 14 -20) Dharmakiirti digresses in a
direction that is more of logical than theological interest, and I will pass over this
discussion relatively quickly. Against an opponent's suggestion that the analysis to which
he has subjected the reason in the theistic syllogism is an instance of kaaryasama, an
overly specific refutation that can rebound upon or have "equal results" for the
refuter, Dharmakiirti points out that kaaryasama occurs only when a legitimate general
reason is illegitimately undermined by an overly specific analysis of its details,(80) as
when the generally valid inference "A conch-sound is a result, because it arises from
effort" is undermined by posing a sophistic dilemma whereby a sound cannot arise
before the effort or as a result of a new, unprecedented effort.(81) The refutation of the
theistic reason, on the other hand, has rested on the principle that a reason may be
probative of a predicate for a particular class of objects, but that a term lexically
similar but semantically different from that reason cannot thus be probative; one cannot,
for instance, maintain that words have horns simply because there exists a term, gotva,
that denotes both "cowness" and "wordness"(82) any more than one can
maintain that environs, bodies, and enjoyments are preceded by the mind of a creator, ii
svara, simply because they have "shape."(83) Dharmakiirti drives home the
consequences of the theistic syllogism by pointing out that if words alone were probative,
then simply by uttering a word one ought to attain its object, and all goals would be
achieved, and all syllogisms proved, simply through the manipulation of words which, in
fact, arise not from the existence of their referents, but simply from a speaker's or
writer's desire to express them.(84)
This same type of refutation, Dharmakiirti adds, can be applied to the
syllogisms of other schools. For instance, the Saa.mkhya assertion, "Buddhi is
non-sentient, because it is impermanent," is refuted on the grounds that the
Saa.mkhya is using a reason, impermanence, that he himself cannot really accept, since
impermanence only is admitted of momentary entities, which buddhi and the other evolutes
of prak.rti are not. The Jaina assertion, "A tree is sentient, because it dies when
its bark is stripped," is refuted on the grounds that the definition of death being
applied by the Jaina is too broad to be admissible by his opponents, and thus cannot be
adduced.(85) In both cases, words ("impermanence," "death") are used
improperly, and so the syllogism is vitiated.
In the next three verses (and a supplemental verse found in Tibetan but
not Sanskrit), Dharmakiirti goes on to draw from these considerations some general
conclusions about logical reasons. In the first place, the validity of a reason depends on
whether it is generally relevant to the subject and positively and negatively concomitant
with the predicate. If the reason is generally correct, then it cannot be undermined by
overly specific critiques, as, for instance, the fact that "sound is impermanent
because it is a product" cannot be refuted by attempting to show that sound's
relationship to space is unaccounted for.(86) Further, even if a particular term is
unproven, if the meaning of the term is proven then the syllogism is valid, as, for
instance, the Buddhist syllogism "Atoms are impermanent because they have aspects
(muurti)" will be accepted for discussion by a Vai se.sika, who does not admit
the wording of the reason "have aspects," but can supply from his own system a
term with equivalent meaning, "is tangible."(87) Conversely, even if a word is
unmistaken, if the meaning is inappropriate, then the term cannot be probative, for
entities are proven from other entities, not from Words.(88) The Tibetan version here adds
an example illustrating this last point: one cannot argue that either (a) "A colored
cow is a cow because it is a goer (jagat)," or (b) "A baby elephant
is an elephant because it is an `hand-possessor' (hastin)'," for in each instance the
reason is merely an expression used colloquially to refer to the predicate, a cow or an
elephant; in fact, there are "goers" that are not cows and
"hand-possessors" that are not elephants.(89)
By the same token, there are shapes that presuppose a single, conscious
shaper, but there are shapes that may not. Hence, the theistic syllogism is invalid.
VII. DHARMAKIIRTI'S REJECTION OF II
SVARA AS CAUSAL AGENT
In the final eight verses of his discussion, Dharmakiirti directly
attacks the idea that ii svara can be considered a causal entity, exposing the
logical difficulties involved in the theistic belief in a permanent creator-God. In the
course of his analysis, he refutes the two other reasons that formed part of the theistic
syllogism, that is, the argument from intermittence and the argument from efficiency. He
does not refute them in as much detail as he did the argument from specific shape, but
they are central to his concerns. We will signal those passages in which they are
addressed, since the refutation of the arguments from intermittence and
efficiency will complete the refutation of the theistic syllogism posed
in verse 10. Dharmakiirti first attempts to show that the argument from intermittence
entails a logical contradiction:
(21:) How, if an entity is a cause,
(But is said) sometimes to be
A non-cause, can one assert in any way
That a cause is a non-cause? One cannot so assert.(90)
The argument from intermittence states that the fact that entities
sometimes arise and sometimes do not, that is, are occasional or intermittent in nature,
requires the postulation of a conscious being that serves as their cause at those times
when they arise, and that that being is ii svara. Dharmakiirti points out, however,
that a being that serves as the cause of intermittent entities must, by definition, be a
non-cause, too, since (a) an intermittent entity has times of non-production, when its
eventual cause is actually its non-cause, and (b) at the time when the cause is generating
the intermittent entity, there still are other intermittent entities that it is not
generating, so it serves as the non-cause of some entities at the same
time as it serves as the cause of others. (a) Successive causality and non-causality poses
a problem because the causal entity posited by the theist, ii svara, is permanent.
He cannot, therefore, change from moment to moment, and if he is asserted to be causal,
then he must always be causal, and can never become non-causal, for that would entail a
change in nature, an impossibility for a permanent entity. (b) Simultaneous causality and
non-causality poses a problem, because ii svara is a single entity, yet is being
furnished with contradictory qualities at one and the same time. Contradictory properties
cannot be predicated of a single, partless entity at one and the same time, and if these
properties are reaffirmed, then ii svara cannot be single, but must be multiple.(91)
II svara cannot, thus, be a creator of intermittent entities.(92)
Dharmakiirti next turns to a series of problems that revolve around the
theistic contention that ii svara is the actual empowering cause that gives to the
causes we observe the ability or efficiency whereby they yield their results. The first
dilemma entailed by this is that:
(22:) (If ii svara is an unseen cause, then) when Caitra is
By connection with a weapon or medicine,
Why could not an unconnected post,
Although not cognized, be the cause (of healing)?(93)
Dharmakiirti's attack here is directed at the postulation of an extra
causal entity in situations
where we already can provide an adequate account of the causal process.
For instance, it is to Dharmakiirti a well-attested fact that a knife wound can be healed
by medicine or by the knife itself, the latter being an instance of what Nagatomi calls
"homeopathic magic."(94) If we are to posit a further unseen cause behind the
observed causes, then why not claim that an unseen, irrelevant post be involved in the
process?(95) One invisible entity, Dharmakiirti implies, is really no more absurd than
another, and the postulation of any such entity tends to make a
mockery of our attempts to understand causality, for the implication is
that anything may be posited as the cause of any result.
Dharmakiirti presses the attack, pointing out further problems in the
concept of ii svara:
(23:) One whose nature does not vary
Is unsuitable as a creator;
Since a permanent (entity) never is absent,
Even if it has the ability (to be a cause), it is difficult to see.(96)
The first half of the verse is, in a sense, a reiteration of a
fundamental and recurring argument, namely, that a permanent entity cannot be posited as
the cause of impermanent entities, since (a) the entity is asserted sometimes to be a
non-cause, and its nature cannot change, so it cannot become a cause;(97)(b) causality is
a process that involves intermittence, and a permanent entity cannot be intermittent,
since intermittence involves a change in nature; and (c) if a permanent cause is posited,
then causality cannot be an intermittent process, but must occur all at once, since a
permanent cause could not alter so as to produce entities in a second moment. The second
half of the verse raises still another basic objection, namely, that if ii svara is
the unseen cause of every result, then he must be ubiquitous and can never be absent. A
cause, however, is defined as that in the absence of which a result does not arise, so an
entity that never is absent cannot meaningfully be described as a cause. Indeed, whether
ii svara is only intermittently present (as argued earlier) or ubiquitous (as his
nature would seem to dictate) seems to have little actual bearing on our analyses of
causality, which, in fact, turn on the presence or absence of certain observable factors.
One may, if one wishes, posit an extra entity such as ii svara as the cause behind
observable causes, but positive and negative concomitance can only be observed with regard
to the observed causes. Since observed positive and negative concomitance is an adequate
basis for the explication of any causal situation, the extra "behind-the-scenes"
cause (whether principal or assistant) must be either redundant or impotent.(98)
There is a further consequence of the postulation of an invisible
(24:) When some (cause) exists, some (result) comes to be;
If some cause other than that
Is supposed, then there will be no end
To the causes of any result.(99)
Rgyal tshab sums up this point succinctly by remarking that:
There would follow an infinite regress of causes for every result,
because then it would be acceptable to think that when some cause assists a result, the
cause of the result is something else, which we do not see as being able to generate some
Once again, then, the postulation of an unseen cause destabilizes our
notion of causality, for the admission of unseen and unseeable causes opens the door to an
infinity of such causes, which is tantamount to causal chaos. Here, it ought perhaps to be
added in all fairness that the Buddhist notion of karman can be subjected to the same
general critique as ii svara. Karman is certainly neither permanent nor ubiquitous
in the way that ii svara is, but it is an unseen causal factor that is operative in
virtually every situation in which sentient beings are involved. In those instances where
other causes can be adduced, karman is superfluous, unless we insist that there be a moral
explanation for everything; while in those instances where we do not have adequate
explanations, karman serves somewhat the way the "God of the gaps" does in
Western theology, that is, as a stop-gap explanation where observable concomitances have
not yet been established. Karman, like ii svara, explains so much that it threatens
to explain nothing at all. In the final four verses of the section, Dharmakiirti responds
to some possible objections to his arguments, thereby clarifying his notion of the causal
process and ii svara's unsuitability for participation in it. The first objection,
as supplied by Rgyal tshab, claims that, "... according to you, when soil, etc., do
not generate a sprout, they cannot change their nature, so there will be no generation of
a sprout." (101) In other words, if entities cannot change their nature from that of
non cause to cause, then soil, moisture, sunlight, and the seed itself, which are not at
this moment generating a sprout, will never be able to. Dharmakiirti's response is that:
(25:) In the generation of a sprout, the soil and other (conditions)
Do change their nature
And become causes, for when we see that (cultivation)
Is done well, (the harvest) is excellent.(102)
The implicit point here is that it is only a permanent entity, such as
ii svara, that cannot become a cause once it has been a non cause; such causal
conditions as soil, moisture, sunlight, and the seed are all impermanent, momentary
entities, so there is no contradiction in asserting that at one moment they are non-causes
and at another moment they are causes. Indeed, such must be the case, for we observe that
soil and the other conditions do serve as noncauses at one time (early in the season) and
as causes at another, later time (harvest).(103) Conversely, it might be added, the fact
that it clearly is the case that entities can change from noncauses into causes is a
further demonstration of their necessary impermanence, since a permanent entity could not
Dharmakiirti next entertains and answers a related objection:
(26:) If you say, "Just as object and organ,
Meeting without alteration, cause cognition,
So, too, (ii svara is a cause without alteration,)" it is
Because there is alteration (of organ and object) from when (they have
The objector here evidently is a Nyaaya-Vai se.sika, for the
account of cognition being offered derives from the Nyaavasuutra,(105) where it is said
that cognition results from the contact between an organ and an object. The claim is made
that just as organ and object do not perceptibly change from one moment to the next, and
yet in the first moment there is no cognition while in the second there is, so ii
svara, although he does not change, can be a non-cause one moment and our
non-perception notwithstanding a cause the next. The Buddhist has two possible responses,
one doctrinal, the other logical. The doctrinal is that the NyaayaVai se.sika
account of the cognitive process is incorrect, and that there is a third factor that
determines a cognition, namely, a previous cognition, whose presence or absence and
particular qualities must be posited to explain the evident fact that even if organ and
object are admitted not to vary cognitions do vary.(106) Alternatively, if the opponent be
taken as accepting the Buddhist postulation of three conditions for cognition, then the
logical objection can be made that, at the very least, the organ must vary, for otherwise
we could not explain the relative clarity or dullness of cognitions.(107)
A further logical objection, of course, is simply that the postulation
of an entity's non-causality at
one time and causality at another requires that there be an alteration,
because between a cause and a non-cause there is a difference, a difference that can only
be explained by positing an alteration in nature. Thus, Dharmakiirti adds:
(27:) (Factors) that are individually powerless (as causes),
If they do not change their nature,
Will be powerless even when they meet.
Thus, alteration is proved.(108)
In the instance of the organ, object, and cognition, the three factors
are considered individually unable but collectively able to generate a cognition.
Dharmakiirti's point, however, is that regardless of whether they are functioning
individually or collectively, the three factors cannot be causally potent if it is not
admitted that their nature changes for the simple reason that previously they have been a
non-cause, and in order to be efficacious, they must change in nature so as to become a
cause. Thus, according to Rgyal tshab:
...it is proven that the three conditions have different natures when
they have met and when they have not met, because we see the difference that they generate
or do not generate sense-cognition when they have met or have not met.
(109) Dharmakiirti concludes his refutation with a final observation of
the incompatibility between the concept of cause and the concept of ii svara here
named for the first time as the object of refutation:
(28:) Thus, those (factors) that are individually powerless
(But bring about) the existence of the quality (of the result) when
they have met
Are causes; ii svara, etc.,
Are not (causes), because they do not alter.(110)
Causality, then, is a process entailing not only the presence or
absence of certain factors (whereby, as we saw, ii svara could not be considered a
cause), but also the alteration of those factors in such a way that they change from being
non-causes to being causes. Thus, the generation of a sprout requires (a) the presence of
certain factors that might not be present, that is, the seeds, soil, moisture, sunlight,
and so forth, and(b) the alteration of the nature of each of these so that their
individual causal non-efficacity becomes their collective efficacity. Similarly, a
sense-cognition requires (a) the object, organ, and preceding cognition and (b) an
alteration of each of these such that individual non-efficacity can
become collective efficacity. Now, this alteration is not some superadded process beyond
the meeting of the conditions, but it must be specified as part of the causal process, for
without such specification, one might overlook the ontological difference that is entailed
Difference, in turn, requires impermanence, for entities are known
sometimes to be causes and sometimes to be non-causes of particular events, but it is
contradictory that they be both at the same time, while a permanent entity, like ii
svara, cannot alter its nature, and so it must always be a non-cause or always a
cause. If it is always a non-cause, then the discussion is academic; if it is always a
cause, then it must be ubiquitous, and it cannot be accepted as a cause, because its
presence or absence cannot be observed to make a difference in the generation of a result.
Before leaving Dharmakiirti, we ought to note that he adduces one
additional argument against ii svara, later in the Pramaa.nasiddhi chapter, when he
insists (following the line of reasoning of such predecessors as Vasubandhu(111) ) that
the cause of the various sufferings experienced by beings cannot be a unique cause,
because the variety among results permits us only to infer a variety of causes, and
because, as has been demonstrated, a permanent cause cannot be proven to exist.(112) Rgyal
tshab, finally, adds his own version of the argument from evil, at the end of his
discussion of the vital and trivial characteristics of omniscience that may be attributed
to "authoritative" beings: "If someone who can make anything because of his
knowledge of the sciences is omniscient, then he also has made the sufferings of the lower
realms...." With this in mind, Rgyal tshab concludes, we should turn not to such a
being, but to "someone who, having accomplished the elimination of every last fetter,
is omniscient regarding how all objects really exist."(113) The latter sort of being
is one who truly is authoritative for those intent on liberation, and is, of course,
exemplified by the Buddha, who has not made the world, but knows it, and knows the way out
VIII. THE THEIST-ATHEIST DEBATE AFTER
Dharmakiirti's attack on theism was a stinging one, but it did not end
the debate between theists and atheists any more than did Hume's critique in the West.
Indeed, as noted earlier, Dharmakiirti's discussions had the salutary effect of raising
the discussion to a new level of sophistication, and in the centuries following him the
issue was joined not only by Nyaaya-Vai se.sikas responding to his attacks, but by
still other Buddhists, as well as by Miimaa.msakas and Jainas. These debates have been
covered well elsewhere,(114) and we have neither the need nor the space to outline them in
detail. We will, however, survey them briefly.
The NyaayaVai se.sika response to Dharmakiirti's critique was far
from immediate. Indeed, it was nearly three centuries after Dharmakiirti, in the
Nyaayama~njarii of Jayanta Bha.t.ta, that a counterattack finally was mounted. In the
meantime, further critiques of theism had been forthcoming, not only from Buddhists, but
from Miimaa.msakas and Jainas, as well. The first important post-Dharmakiirti Buddhist
attack on theism is that of saantideva (eighth century) , who criticizes a number of
non-Buddhist views of causality in the ninth chapter of his Bodhicaryaavataara. Among
these is the Naiyaayika claim that ii svara, a divine, pure, permanent, single
creator, is the source of everything. But, notes saantideva, if ii svara is
identified with the elements that are accepted as the material causes of material things,
there is a contradiction, because these elements are neither pure nor permanent nor
single. On the other hand, if he is said to be the creator of the permanent padaarthas
that constitute the world according to Nyaaya-Vai se.sika, then there is a problem,
because permanent entities cannot have an origin, while if worldly phenomena are granted
impermanence, then they cannot be accounted for by a permanent, single entity.(115) The
remainder of saantideva's argument recapitulates earlier Buddhist analyses of the
problems entailed by ii svara's permanence, his need for assistants, and his
creation with or without a desire to do so.(l16)
A century later, in the Tattvasa.mgraha, saantarak.sita
criticized creation theories centering on both ii svara and puru.sa(117) though the
characteristics of puru.sa are not those of the Saa.mkhya puru.sa, but of the Vedaantin
brahman. Together with Kamala siila's Pa~njikaa, the Tattvasa.mgraha probably is the
most detailed extant Buddhist critique of theism. Much of the section on ii svara
recapitulates and expands upon Dharmakiirti's refutation of the theistic syllogism,
although saantarak.sita does add points of his own. For example, to Aviddhakara.na's
claim that the simultaneous functioning of two senses must be explained by recourse to a
conjunctive substratum and that, by analogy, so must the combinations of the world be
explained by the concept of ii svara, he replies that it is unproven either that
there can be two simultaneously functioning senses, or that the category of
"conjunction" (sa.myoga) is admissible.(118) saantarak.sita also points
out that ii svara cannot be the source of a verbal revelation, for the simple reason
that he has no body, hence no mouth, and verbal communication is dependent on the
existence of a mouth.(119) The critique of puru.sa centers on the dilemma posed by
puru.sa's (a) motives (if he is motivated by another, he is not self-sufficient; if he is
motivated by compassion, he must create a perfect world, while if he cannot create a
perfect world, he is not powerful; and if he is motivated by "amusement," then
he is both cruel and dependent on the instrument of amusement, namely, the cosmos)(120)
and (b) potency (if he is able to create all things, he must do so immediately, for
potency entails immediate
generation).(121) Attacks on theism also were launched by the two great
theoreticians of Miimaa.msa, Prabhaakara and Kumaarila (seventh-eighth centuries).
Motivated in part by their idiosyncratic concern to show that the Vedas are without an
author (which ii svara sometimes was said to be) , the Miinaa.msakas adduced some
refutations that overlapped those of the Buddhists, and others that were unique. Of note
among the latter were arguments that raised questions of whether ii svara can be
said to have a body or not: we know that creative agency within the world requires a body.
If ii svara is to be proved by analogy to worldly creativity, he must have a body,
yet he is claimed by Nyaaya-Vai se.sika tradition to be bodiless although we know
that will alone cannot generate results: some physical agency is required. If ii
svara is admitted to have a body, then various consequences ensue: for instance, if
ii svara has a body, whence has that body come? If it is from another creator, then
that creator's body must have a creator, and so on, in infinite regress; if from himself,
then he must have had a body with which to create that body, which must have had a
preceding body again, there is an infinite regress.
Further, of what could ii svara's body be made? It cannot be made
of material elements, because they have not been created yet, while it cannot be
immaterial, because the immaterial cannot be the cause of the material.(122) Jaina
critiques of theism, as in the eighth-century. Sa.ddar sanasamuccaya of Haribhadra,
the thirteenth-century Syaadvaadama~njarii of Mallisena and the fifteenth-century
Tarkarahasyadiipikaa of Gu.naratna, are easily as sophisticated as those of the Buddhists
and Miimaa.msakas, and open some interesting areas of discussion, but cannot detain us
As noted above, the first concerted Nyaaya-Vai se.sika
counterattack is contained in the tenth-century Nyaavama~njarii of Jayanta Bha.t.ta, who
states the theistic syllogism in the following form: ii svara exists because he
produces a result (the cosmos) of a type that presupposes a maker who knows the process
and motive of production, like a potter. Jayanta considers at least twelve different
arguments against the existence of ii svara, most of them familiar, such as the
inadequacy of the potter analogy, the problems entailed by ii svava's embodiment or
bodilessness, questions of motive, and the superiority of "impersonal"
explanations, such as karman. Jayanta sets out to demonstrate that his various opponents'
disproofs are themselves riddled with logical flaws. The assertion, for instance, that
natural objects do not necessarily have a conscious designer is itself uncertain, and thus
cannot be adduced as a good logical reason refuting the theistic reason, while the
theistic argument by analogy is valid because in those instances where we have observed an
object's source of design, that source has been a conscious designer. Thus, all effects
can be deduced to arise from a conscious designer, including the world itself. Jayanta
reasserts ii svara's non-corporeality, maintaining that his will can activate
physical results in the same way that the human will can activate the body; in either
case, an immaterial agency does have material effects. II svara's compassion is
justified by explaining that he creates, for example, hell only as a sort of
"holding-cell" for beings until their karman permits their salvation. Finally,
the view, for example, that "collective" karman rather than a single designer is
the cause of the natural environment is rejected on the grounds that human responses to
the environment are too varied (some people love the mountains, others do not) to enable
us to posit such karmic "cooperation."(124)
Other Nyaaya-Vai se.sika defenses of theism included those of
Vyoma siva's tenth-century Vyomavatii, which reiterates the point that an effect
presupposes an intelligent designer, and reaffirms that the cosmos presupposes a powerful
and omniscient designer,(125) and Vaacaspatimi sra's tenth-century
Nyaayavaarttikataatparya.tiikaa, where it is argued that the law of parsimony (laaghava)
requires that the creation of the various entities of nature be attributed to one, rather
than a multiplicity of, divinities, and that such a divinity must be inconceivably
powerful and knowledgeable to be able to effect such a creation.(126)
The Buddhist position was reaffirmed in the eleventh century by J~naana
sriimitra, whose II svaravaada is in part an expanded commentary on some of
Dharmakiirti's discussion, and by J~naana srii's disciple, Ratnakiirti, in his II
svarasaadhanaduu.sa.na. (127) It was in response to J~naana sriimitra's
attack, described by Chemopathy(128) as the most thorough since Dharmakiirti, that the
last great NyaayaVai se.sika defense of theism, Udayana's Nyaayakusu-maa~njali, was
composed. Udayana's work is complex and sophisticated enough to have been the subject of a
number of scholarly monographs,(129) and I will not discuss it here, pausing only to note
that it includes detailed attempts to refute other schools' attacks on ii svara, and
sets out two series of positive proofs, the first (consisting of nine proofs)
demonstrating ii svara's existence, and the second (also nine proofs) demonstrating
his authorship of the Vedas. The first series of arguments, though a brilliant synthesis,
does not add a great deal to earlier NyaayaVai se.sika discussions; the second
series is quite original, but is directed primarily at the Miimaa.msakas, and would be
considered irrelevant by a naastika such as a Buddhist or Jaina. The Nyaayakusumaa~njali
itself stimulated counterattacks, from the Vedaanta school of Raamaanuja and, eventually,
in the last great classical work of the theist-atheist debate, Gu.naratna's
IX. CONCLUDING REMARKS
By way of conclusion, I want to address myself briefly to two somewhat
broader questions that naturally emerge from our considerations of the theological
disputes engaged in by Dharmakiirti and other Indian philosophers. The first question is:
To what degree are the arguments of Dharmakiirti (or, for that matter, any of his
supporters or antagonists) philosophically conclusive within an Indian frame of reference?
The second question is: To what degree can these Indian theological discussions be
transposed onto the atheist-antitheist debate as it has unfolded in the West?
In principle, the various Indian philosophers who argued back and forth
about the existence of ii svara accepted a common set of rules for their
discussions, and so deciding who was right and who was wrong ought to be a simple matter
of seeing who begs the fewest questions and who constructs syllogisms with the most care.
Such decisions only can be simple, however, if (a) the rational structures devised for
discussion are themselves foolproof and (b) the disputants do not import any idiosyncratic
doctrinal notions into intersystemic discussions. In point of fact, however, (a) the
reliability of formal inference either in principle or, at least, for deciding
metaphysical questions was attacked even from within the Indian tradition, by such
thinkers as Naagaarjuna, sa.nkara, Jayaraa si and Purandara, who claimed
either that the positing and structuring of pramaa.nas could not themselves be supported
by any pramaa.na without begging the question, or that inference, even if accepted as
provisionally valid, could not inform us on matters forever beyond perceptual ken.
Further, (b) very real differences in the ways in which different schools approached
philosophical problems tended invariably to color even the most carefully
"depersonalized" of arguments. Indeed, I think that discussions of the existence
or nonexistence of ii svara serve as a good example of the inevitability of such
If we strip away the almost bewildering variety of arguments we have
reviewed, we find at bottom two basic issues on which to take our two main antagonists the
Nyaaya -Vai se.sikas and Buddhists have disagreed: (1) the existence of a permanent
entity and its relation to the impermanent and (2) the requirement that causal action
entail a conscious agent. Many complex philosophical discussions turn on these two issues,
yet it might be argued that the attitudes toward each entertained by each of the schools
is, in fact, prephilosophical, and thus not essentially amenable to revision on the basis
of rational considerations.
(1) The permanence-impermanence issue is one that goes very far back
and very deep in the Indian tradition. Much of the religious and philosophical search that
produced both the Upani.sads and Buddhism was geared toward the discovery of an immutable
state that was free from the vicissitudes of sa.msaara, yet in searching for and
explicating this state, Hindu and Buddhist schools arrived at very different conclusions.
Hindu schools, of which Nyaaya-Vai se.sika is one, concluded on the basis of
religious experience and logic that the impermanent entities we see around us must in some
way be subsumed or limited by an eternal substance that provides their continuity, the
continuity that we know to be the basis of order in the cosmos. Buddhists, on the other
hand, concluded on the basis of their empirical and logical explorations that there is
not, nor could there possibly be, a permanent substance, for such a substance can neither
change itself nor interact with the impermanent.
Thus, the Nyaaya-Vai se.sika (or Vedaantin) insistence on the
necessity of permanence to explain continuity, and the Buddhist insistence on the
necessity of impermanence to explain change are deep-seated and seemingly irreconcilable
positions, and, much like a Kantian antinomy, each seems logically to exclude the other
and yet, when taken alone, to lead to insuperable difficulties. To the degree that the
dispute over permanence and impermanence is one of the core issues in discussions of ii
svara, those discussions may be impossible to resolve.
(2) The question whether cause-and-effect requires a conscious agent
also seems rooted in prephilosophical decisions that commit the Nyaaya-Vai se.sikas
and Buddhists to irreconcilable positions. Here, I think the problem may be the source for
the model of causality that each school constructs. Buddhist meditation and Buddhist logic
tend to be radically depersonalized, that is, to deconstruct personal notions into
impersonal processes much like those we observe among non-sentient entities. Thus,
causality is not even a "personal" process on the level of the sentient
individual, who actually is a nexus of impersonal forces, some material and some mental;
and, needless to say, non-sentient entities do not require a personal agent, either. The
Nyaaya-Vai se.sikas, on the other hand their "atomism" notwithstanding
tend to draw their model of causality from human activities: movement of the body is
preceded (usually) by a conscious intention, a pot by a potter, a house by an architect
and builders. By analogy, then, we conclude that other objects in nature whose sources we
do not know must also arise through personal agency, and so, by extension, must the
overall arrangement of the world; an agent responsible for the overall arrangement of the
world must be a vastly powerful and knowledgeable being, such as ii svara. Once
again, the antagonists seem to have arrived at completely antithetical positions by
beginning from different places, and it is difficult to see where a common ground could be
Thus, Indian arguments over the existence or nonexistence of ii
svara have their inherent fascinations, and yet we must remain aware that they may
not be finally soluble, for the simple reason that, despite their agreement on the
meanings of many terms, the disputants have vastly different approaches to some basic
problems, and this disparity of approaches threatens to render the arguments on which they
are based forever inconclusive.
Let us turn, then, to the second general question with which we began
this section, that of the applicability of the Indian discussion to the Western debate
over the existence of God. One must, needless to say, be very cautious in entertaining
such comparisons, for concepts that seem identical in two different cultural-philosophical
traditions more often than not are revealed on closer examination to be quite different,
both in denotation and connotation. Certainly, the frequent translation of ii svara
as "God" seems at first blush to be legitimate, for are not the basic
characteristics of ii svara permanence, omniscience, independence, creatorship,
compassion very much like the attributes of the Christian God? A closer examination,
however, reveals that there are considerable differences between the Christian God and
most of the Indian models. The brahman of most Vedaantin schools, for instance, transforms
itself into the world, is the world's material cause, whereas the Christian God does not
become the world, but, rather, creates it ex nihilo, and remains forever transcendent to
it. The paramapuru.sa that is ii svara in the Yoga system does not create the world,
or arrange it, or relate to it in any way, whereas the Christian God does all three. The
ii svara of Nyaaya-Vai se.sika does not create the eternal padaarthas that
constitute the world, although he does arrange them into the cosmos that we know, whereas
the Christian God creates both the "raw material" and the arrangement of the
These considerations, in turn, must be weighed when we decide whether
or not to describe the Nyaaya- Vai se.sika syllogism rejected by Dharmakiirti as
simply an Indian version of the "argument from design" (or teleological
argument) for God's existence.(131) The Nyaaya-Vai se.sikas, after all, were talking
about one type of "God," while the God asserted by, for example, Aquinas and
Newton and rejected by, for example, Hume are, in fact, very different; furthermore, the
arguments arise in different contexts and are conducted in different philosophical
All these points are well taken, but they do not totally undermine the
comparison. To begin with, the "languages" of Indian and Western philosophy are
different, but that does not mean that there is not a fair degree of translatability
across traditions: the inductive and deductive processes generally accepted to be the
basis of sound reasoning are found in both, as are many of the same notions of the types
of flaws that may vitiate arguments. Secondly, even if there are differences between ii
svara and God, they are not so great as to obviate all comparison between their
roles and the arguments for their existence. The argument from design, after all, simply
attempts to show generally that the order we perceive in the cosmos presupposes a single
conscious designer and/or sustainer of that order. It really is a secondary matter (pace
Kant) whether the being responsible for the cosmic order creates ex nihilo or arranges
preexistent raw material; in either case, it is not mode of ordering that is at issue, but
the existence of a single eternal being who is the conscious agent of that ordering.
Thus, I think it is fair to call the Nyaaya-Vai se.sika syllogism
rejected by Dharmakiirti an Indian argument from design, " just as I think it is
relarively fair to call ii svara "God." Therefore, think that the sorts of
arguments proffered by Dharmakiirti and his opponents can be of interest to Western
theologians. The precise ways in which the Indian arguments overlap or deviate from the
Western ones must be the topic of another study, as must detailed considerations of
whether the Indian tradition has arguments that could serve either theists or antitheists
in the West.(132) Hume, Kant, and others have given fairly thorough treatment to the
problem of conscious agency, and it is my suspicion that it is on the
permanence-impermanence issue that the Indian tradition may have the most to contribute.
The Buddhist critique of a God believed to be immutable seems to me an acute one, and the
price of accepting God's mutability a high one, that is, his susceptibility to conditions,
hence loss of omnipotence. There are: of course, currents in modern Christianity,
represented by, for example, Hartshorne, or Kazantzakis (in his The Saviors of God), that
do not require the omnipotence of God, and admit his dependence on his creatures for the
fulfillment of his ends. These would escape the objections raised against a permanent,
independent God, though whether they could evade criticisms aimed at the concept of divine
teleology (especially those regarding the admissibility of extraneous causes), I am not so
certain. It also is my suspicion, alas, that cross-cultural debates may in the end be no
more conclusive than intra-cultural ones have been, and that the arguments, if examined
carefully enough, will be seen to rest on prephilosophical choices and assumptions that
cannot really be questioned, and yet which vitiate the certainty to which philosophers
This final note of uncertainty can, if we permit it, grow into a more
general uncertainty about the "order" we perceive and discover in the cosmos, an
order, incidentally, that was assumed by both theists and atheists in India, their only
disagreement being over how to account for it. Is it not, in fact, possible that this
order simply is not there, that it actually is conceived and invented rather than
perceived and discovered? This is the possibility entertained in a modern masterwork from
Bologna, Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose. At the end, the monk-detective protagonist,
William of Baskerville, bemoans to the book's young narrator, Adso, that his
"solution" of a series of crimes has been purely accidental, and implies thereby
a sort of "argument from no-design":
"I arrived at (the killer) pursuing the plan of a perverse and
rational mind, and there was no plan, or, rather, there began a sequence of causes, and
concauses, and causes contradicting one another, which proceeded on their own, creating
relations that did not stem from any plan. Where is all my wisdom, then? I behaved
stubbornly, pursuing a semblance of order, when I should have known well that there is no
order in the universe."
"But in imagining an erroneous order you still found
"What you say is very fine, Adso, and I thank you. The order that
our mind imagines is like a net, or like a ladder, built to attain something. But
afterward you must throw the ladder away, because you discover that, even if it was
useful, it was meaningless...."
"You have no reason to reproach yourself: you did your best."
"A human best, which is very little. It's hard to accept the idea
that there cannot be an order in the universe because it would offend the free will of God
and His omnipotence. So the freedom of God is our condemnation, or at least the
condemnation of our pride."
I dared, for the first and last time in my life, to express a
theological conclusion: "But how can a necessary being exist totally polluted with
the possible? What difference is there, then, between God and primogenial chaos? Isn't
affirming God's absolute omnipotence and His absolute freedom with regard to His own
choices tantamount to demonstrating that God does not exist?"
William looked at me without betraying any feeling in his features, and
he said, "How could a learned man go on communicating his learning if he answered yes
to your question?"(133)
1. Lin Yutang, ed., The Wisdom of China and India (New York:
Modern Library, 1942), p. 11.
2. Compare such "skeptical" Vedic passages as. Rg (.Rgveda)
II, 12, 5; IV, 18, 12; and VIII, 100, 3; and their discussion in Depibrasad
Chattopadhyaya, Indian Atheism (Calcutta: Manisha, 1969), pp. 32-43. Chattopadhyaya's
book, while occasionally straining for evidence that one or another ambiguous passage is
atheistic, presents overall a compelling picture of the pervasiveness of atheism in Indian
philosophical (if not religious)
3. Compare Chattopadhyaya, Indian Atheism, chaps. 9 and 16.
4. Compare, for example, ibid., chap. 14; and Narendranath
Bhattacharyya, Jain Philosophy: Historical Outline (New Delhi: Munshiram
Manoharlal, 1976), pp. 93-108.
5. Compare, for example, Nagin J. Shah, Akala.nka's Criticism of
Dharmakiirti's Philosophy: A Study, L. D. Series no. 11 (Ahmedabad: L. D. Institute of
Indology, 1967); and D. N. Shastri, Critique of Indian Realism: A Study of the Conflict
Between the Nyaya-Vaisesika and the Buddhist Dignaga School (Agra: Agra University,
6. The Tibetans attribute seven works to him: Pramaa.navaarttika
(hereafter cited as PV) ,
Pramaa.navini scaya, Nyaayabindu, Hetubindu,
Sambandhapariiki.saa, Samtaanaantarasiddhi and Vadanyaaya. Only the PV and Nyaayabindu are
completely extant in Sanskrit; the others exist in Tibetan translation. For a list of
editions and translations, compare A. K. Warder, Indian Buddhism, 2d ed. (Delhi:
Motilal Banarsidass, 1980), pp. 539-540.
7. Complete editions include: Dwarikas Shastri, ed., Pramaa.navaarttika
of Acharya Dharmakiirti, with the Commentary "Vritti" of Acharya
Manorathaanandin (Varanasi: Bauddha Bharati, 1968) ; and Y. Miyasaka, ed.,
Pramaa.navaarttika-Kaarikaa (Sanskrit and Tibetan) , in Acta Indologica 2 (1971-1972), 3
(1973-1975), and 4 (1977). Various parts of the Svaarthaanumaana chapter have been
translated; compare Warder, Indian Buddhism, and Leonard Zwilling, Dharmakiirti
on Apoha (Unpublished diss., University of Wisconsin, 1976) . The Pramaa.nasiddhi
chapter (PS) was translated by Masatoshi Nagatomi in A Study of Dharmakiirti's
Pramaa.navaarttika: An English Translation and Annotation of the Pramaa.navaarttika, Book
I (Unpublished diss., Harvard University, 1957). I translated Rgyal tshab dar ma rin
chen's tibetan commentary on the PS chapter as part II of my dissertation, Is
Enlightenment Possible? An Analysis of Some Arguments in the Buddhist Philosophical
Tradition, With Special Attention to the Pramaa.nasiddhi Chapter of Dharmakiirti's
Pramaa.navaarttika (Unpublished diss., University
of Wisconsin, 1983). This annotated translation, revised, will be
issued in 1986 as Mind, Body, Selflessness, Freedom: Dharmakiirti's Defense of the
Buddhist World-View as Expounded in Rgyal tshab's "Elucidating the Path to
Enlightenment According to the `Pramaa.navaarttika' " (London: Wisdom Publications).
8. George Chemparathy, An Indian Rational Theology: An Introduction
to Udayana's Nyaayakusumaa~njali, Publications of the DeNobili Research Library, vol.
1 (Vienna, 1972), p. 28.
9. Gopimohan Bhattacharyya, Studies in Nyaaya-Vai se.sika
Theism, Calcutta Sanskrit College Research Series, no. 14 (Calcutta: Sanskrit College,
1961), p. 44.
10. .Rgveda, X, 82, trans., for example, by Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
and Charles A. Moore, in Radhakrishnan and Moore, eds., A Source Book in Indian
Philosophy (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1957), p. 18.
11. .Rgveda, X, 90, in Source Book, p. 19.
12. .Rgveda, X, 121, in Source Book, pp. 24-25.
13. .Rgveda, X, 129, in Source Book, pp. 23-24.
14. Atharvaveda VII, 102, 1 and XIX, 6, 4. Compare Margaret and
James Stutley, Harper's Dictionary of Hinduism (San Francisco, California:
Harper & Row, 1977), p. 120; and M. D. Sastri, "History of the Word II
svara and Its Idea," All India Oriental Conference VII (Baroda), pp. 492 ff:
15. Cf. David Kalupahana, Causality: The Central Philosophy of Buddhism (Honolulu, Hawaii:
University Press of Hawaii, 1975), pp. 17-18. Kalupahana's summary of pre-Buddhist
causation theories is a good one.
16. Compare, for example, B.rhadaaraa.nyaka II, 1, 2-13, and 20; III,
6, in Source Book, pp. 79, 85-86.
17. Compare, svetaa svatara III, 7-10; TV, 1, 1, and so
forth, in Source Book, pp. 90-91.
18. svetaa svatara I, 2, in Source Book, p. 89.
19.Bhagavadgiitaa X, 21; XI, 9-35, in Source Book, p. 136, 138-141.
20.Ibid., p. 506; Surendranath Dasgupta, A History of Indian
Philosophy (Reprint, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1975), vol. 1, p. 418. Dasgupta notes
(pp. 420-421) that most of the early commentators on the Brahmasuutras were quasidualistic
Vai.s.navas. Compare also Hajime Nakamura, A History of Early Vedaanta Philosophy,
trans. Trevor Leggett and others, Religions of Asia Series, no. 1 (Delhi: Motilal
Banarsidass, 1983), section IV.
21.Brahmasuutras (hereafter cited as BS) I, i, 2, in Source Book, p.
22.BS I, iv, 3, in Source Book, p. 515. sa.nkara's comments here,
and at II, i, 6 (ibid., p. 522) indicate that this may be a variant of the cosmological
argument, with the existence of the cosmos as a whole pointing to the existence of a cause
on which it is contingent.
23.BS I, iv, 23, in Source Book, p. 521.
24.Commentary to BS I, iv, 23, in Source Book.
25.Cf., e.g., Ninian Smart, Doctrine and Argument in Indian
Philosophy (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1964), pp. 156-158.
26.Yogasuutra (hereafter cited as YS) 23-28, in Source Book, pp.
27.YS 25 and Bhaa.sya, in Source Book, p. 458; Smart(p. 157) argues
that this is a modified form of the ontological argument.
28.Nyaayasuutra (hereafter cited as NS) IV, 1, 19-21, trans., eg., by
Mrinalkanti Gangopadhyaya, Nyaaya Philosophy (Calcutta: Indian Studies Past and
Present, 1973), IV, pp. 21-26.
29.Compare, for example, Chattopadhyaya, chap. 16; and Karl H. Potter,
ed., Encyclopedia of
Indian Philosophies: Indian Metaphysics and Epistemology: The
Tradition of Nyaaya-Vai se.sika up to Ga.nge sa (Princeton, New jersey:
Princeton University Press, 1977), p. 100.
30.Compare Potter, Encyclopedia, p. 239.
31.Compare Gangopadhyaya, Nyaava Philosophy, and Potter, Encyclopedia,
32.Padaarthadharmasa.mgraha 40; compare Potter, Encyclopedia, p. 285.
33.Nyaayavaarttika IV, 1, 19-21,summarized by Potter, Encyclopedia, pp.
34.Nyaayakusumaa~njali, I, 3; compare, for example, Chattopadhyaya,
Indian Atheism p. 21; Potter, Encyclopedia, p. 558.
35.Diighanikaaya (hereafter cited as D) I, 17; compare, for example,
Kalupahana, Causality, pp. 20-21; and Helmuth von Glasenapp, Buddhism A
Non-Theistic Religion, trans. Irmgard Schloegl (New York: George Braziller, 1966), pp.
36.For example, Majjhimanikaaya II, 222; A.nguttara I, 173; Jaataka V,
238, and so forth; compare, for example, Kalupahana, Causality, p. 22; Glasenapp,
Buddhism, pp. 39-40.
37.D II, 11, 81-83; compare Glasenapp, Buddhism, p.146.
38.D II, 13, 14-20; compare Glasenapp, Buddhism, pp.146-148. On
Nikaaya discussions of God, compare also Gunapala Dharmasiri, A Buddhist Critique of
the Christian Concept of God (Colombo: Lake House Investments, 1974), passim.
39.Louis de la Vallee Poussin, Vij~naptimaatrataasiddhi: La Siddhi de
(Paris: Paul Geuthner, 1928), I, p. 30.
40.Buddhacarita IX, 63; compare E. H. Johnston, The Buddhacarita or
Acts of the Buddha (Reprint, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1972), II, p. 136.
41.Buddhacarita XVI, 18 ff.; compare, for example, Chattopadhyaya, Indian
Atheism, p. 103.
42.Suh.rillekha 50; compare, for example, Geshe Lobsang Tharchin and
Artemus B. Engle, Nagarjuna's Letter (Dharamasala: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives,
1979), pp. 84-86.
43.Catu.hstava II, 33-34; compare Chr. Lindtner, Nagarjuniana, Indiske
Studier 4 (Copenhagen: Akademisk Forlag, 1982), pp. 150-151.
44.Bodhicittavivara.na 7-9; compare Lindtner, pp. 186-189.
45.Lindtner, in Nagarjuniana (p. 16), maintains that its attribution to
Naagaarjuna is "most probably" false.
46.Compare George Chemparathy, "Two Early Buddhist Refutations of
II svara as the Creator of the Universe, " Wiener Zeitschrift fur Kunst und
Orientalische Studien, 22-23, pp. 89-94, 97-99; and Th. Stcherbatsky, Papers of Th.
Stcherbatsky, trans. H. C. Gupta, ed. Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya, Soviet Indology
Series no. 2 (Calcutta: Indian Studies Past and Present, 1969), pp. 1-16.
47.Mahaavibhaa.sa, TTXXVII, 993b, summarized in Nakamura, History, pp.
48.Abhidharmako sa (hereafter cited as AK ) and bhaasya II, 64d;
compare Louis de la Vallee Poussin, L'Abhidharmako sa de Vasubandhu (hereafter cited
as AV ) (Paris: Paul Geuthner, 1923-1931), I, pp. 313-315.
49. AK IV, 1.
50.AK VII, 13a; AV VII, pp. 38-39. These characteristics are the last
three of the four
aspects of the truth of origination, namely, samudaya, prabhava and
pratyaya. 51.Yogaacaarabhuumi, pp. 144-5; compare Chemparathy, "Two Early Buddhist
Refutations," pp. 86-89,94-96.
52.Bhavya, Madhyamaka-h.rdaya-v.ritti-tarkajvala, III, 9, in Daisetz T.
Suzuki, ed., The Tibetan Tripi.taka, Peking Edition (hereafter cited as PTT) (Tokyo,
Kyoto: Tibetan Tripitaka Research Institute, 1957) , no. 5256, vol. 96, pp.
53.Ibid., pp. 49/5/2-7.
54.For a discussion of this much mooted point, compare Th.
Stcherbatsky, Buddhist Logic (Reprint, New York: Dover, 1962) , 1, pp. 38-39; and
Masatoshi Nagatomi, "The Framework of the Pramanavarttika, Book I," Journal of
the American Oriental Society 79 (1959): 263, note 1.
55.For a discussion of the way in which these epithets structure the
chapter, compare Nagatomi, "The Framework, " and compare also Ernst
Steinkellner, "The spiritual Place of the Epistemological Tradition in Buddhism,
" Nanto Bukkyo 49 (1982): 1-18.
56.Mi pham, Tshad ma rnam `grel gyi gzhung gsal por bshad pa legs bshad
snang ba'i gter (Blockprint, Dehradun: Nyingma Monastery, n.d.), p. 257.
57.I am following Miyasaka's numbering here. Shastri numbers two
introductory verses that
Miyasaka does not, so the Shastri number is found by adding 2 to the
Miyasaka number. Compare previous note 7, for references.
58. Rgyal tshab rje, Rnam-Agrel-Thar-Lam-Gsal-Byed (hereafter cited as
GT) (Sarnath: Tibetan Monastery, 1974), vol. i, pp. 238-248. The section on ii svara
is, according to rGyal tshab (p. 239), part of Dharmakiirti's attempt to show the meaning
of the word "became" (bhuuta) authoritative: a permanent entity like ii
svara always has been authoritative, and so cannot "become" so.
59. The PV pa~njikaa, or -v.rtti (hereafter cited as PVV) is extant
only in Tibetan: PTT no. 5717(b), vol. 130; and sDe dge no. 4217. found at, for example,
The Nyingma Edition of the Sde-dge bka '- 'gyur and bsTan-'gyur (Oakland, California:
Dharma Press, 1981), vol. 94, fols. 732-746, pp. 184-188. The section on ii svara is
at the end of chapter 11 and the beginning of chap. 12.
60.nitya.m pramaa.na.m naivaasti pramaa.nyaad vastusa.ngate.h /
j~neyaanityatayaa tasyaa adhrauvyat kramajanmana.h // nityaad utpattivi sle.saad
apek.saya ayogata.h / (tshad ma rtag pa nyid yod min / dngos yod rtogs pa tshad phyiir
dang / shes bya mi rtag pa nyid kyis / de ni mi brtan nyid phyir ro / rim bzhin skye ba
can dag ni // rtag las skye ba mi `thad phyir / ltos pa mi rung pa yi phyir /).
61.GT, pp. 239-240; Jackson, Is Enlightenment Possible? pp.
62. Compare, for example, Shah, chap. 2; and D. N. Shastri, passim.
63.Compare the concluding section for remarks on this issue.
64.katha~ncin nopakaaryatvaad anitye'py apramaa.nata- // (rnam 'gas
phan gdags bya min
phyir / mi rtag na yang tshad med nyid //).
65. Praj~naakaragupta, Pramaa.navaarttika-bhaa.sya or
Vaarttikaala.nkaara of Praj~naakaragupta, ed. Rahula Sankrityayana (Patna: Kashi Prasad
Jayaswal Research Institute, 1953), p. 34.
66. GT, p. 240; Jackson, Enlightenment, p. 566.
67. PVV, Nyingma sDe-dGe, vol. 94, fols. 733-734, p.185.
68. sthitvaa prav.rttisa.msthaanavi se.saarthakriyaadisu / sdod
'jug dbyibs kyi khyad par dang / don byed pa la sogs pa dag /). Cf Tattvasa.mgraha (TS) 46
(for full references, compare note 117 following).
69. Preceding, p. 6. Prof. Karl Potter has disagreed with me that the
syllogism being refuted is Nyaaya-Vai se.sika, noting (a) that no such exact
syllogism is found in Nyaaya-Vai se.sika works and (b) that no later Nyaaya-Vai
se.sika works specifically defended the tradition against Dharmakiirti's attacks.
Prof. Potter has suggested that Dharmakiirti's opponent may, in fact, be a lost Saa.mkhya
work. This may well be, but it must be argued from silence, and it seems to me that (a)
while the syllogism refuted by Dharmakiirti is not precisely like those found in
Nyaaya-Vai se.sika works, there is a significant overlap and (b) later Nyaaya-Vai
se.sika works may not have specifically addressed Dharmakiirti's objections because
by the time they were written, Dharmakiirti's arguments perhaps had been overshadowed by
those of Saantarak.sita, Kamala siila and J~naama srii. Prof. Potter also has
pointed out--and in this I quite agree with Him that Dharmakiirti's opponent may be
unidentifiable for the simple reason that Dharmakiirti has distorted the theistic position
in recasting it for discussion. Thus, the Nyaaya-Vai se.sikas may have been the
intended target, but not recognized for their own position as restated by Dharmakiirti.
Alternatively, Dharmakiirti may be combining the ideas of more than one theistic school
into the syllogism.
70.Preceding, p. 10.
71.GT, p. 241; Jackson, Enlightenment, p. 567. This does not
depart substantially from the interpretation of Devendrabuddhi, who differs only in
describing that which must be created as bodies, environs, and products, and cites as an
example of "particular shape" not a pot, but a mansion, PVV, fol. 734, p. 185.
72.i.s.tasiddhir asiddhir vaa d.r.s.taante sa.m sayo 'thavaa //
('dod pa grub pa 'am dpe ma grub / yang na the tshom za ba yin //).
73.GT, p. 241; Jackson, Enlightenment, pp. 567-568.
74.siddha.m yaad.rg adhi.s.thaat.rbhaavaabhaavaanuv.rttimat/ sa.mnive
saadi tad yukta.m tasmaad yad anumiiyate // (byin rlabs yod med rjes 'jug can /
dbyibs sogs ci 'dra rab grub pa / de las rjes su dpog gang yin / de ni rigs pa nyid yin no
75.GT, pp. 241-242; Jackson, Enlightenment, p. 569; compare TS
76.vastubhede prasiddhasya sabdasaamaanyaad abhedina.h/ no
yuktaanumiti.h paa.n.dudravya~divad dhutaa sane // (tha dad ngos la rab grub pa /
sgra mtshungs tha dad med pa'i phyir / rjes dpog rigs pa ma yin te / skye bo'i rdzas las
me bzhin no //).
77. GT, p. 242; Jackson, Enlightenment, p. 570.
78. anyathaa kumbhakaare.na m.rdvikaarasya kasyacit / gha.taade.h
kara.naat sidhyed valmiikasyapi tatk.rti.h // (de lta min na rdza mkhan gyis / bum pa la
sogs 'jim pa yi / rnam 'gyur 'ga' zhig byed pa'i phyir / grog mkhar yang des byas grub
79. GT, p. 242; Jackson, Enlightenment, p. 570; compare TS 65.
80. "When a general result is probative / Because it is
concomitant with the predicate, /(Then,) when one (over)differentiates the relator, / That
differentiation is asserted to be the flaw called kaaryasama." saadhyenaanugamaat
kaarye saamaanyenaapi saadhane/sambandhi bhedaad bhedoktido.sa.h kaaryasamo mata.h //
(bsgrub bya'i rjes 'gro phyir 'bras bu / spyis kyang sgrub par byed pa la / 'bral ba can
nyid the dad phyir / tha dad skyon brjod 'bras mtshungs 'dod //) (verse 14).
81. GT, pp. 242-243; Jackson, Enlightenment, pp. 570-573.
82. "(Although) one proves (a thesis) in regard to a particular
class, / It is not reasonable to prove
(a similar thesis) just from seeing / That there is a general term
(that is similar to the reason); as if / Words could be horned because (there is a term, )
gotva." jaatyantare prasiddhasya sabdasaamaanyadar sanaat/ na yukta.m
saadhana.m gotvaac ccha saadiinaa.m vi.saa.nivat// (rigs kyi khyad par la grub pa /
sgra yi spyi ni mthong pa las / sgrub byed mi rigs ngag la sogs / go nyid phyir na rva can
bzhin //) (verse 15).
83. GT, p. 244; Jackson, Enlightenment, p. 573.
84. "Because(words) are controlled by a desire to express, / There
is nothing for which there is not a word; / If one attained (objects) through the
existence (or words for them), / All people
should attain all objects." Vivak.saaparatantratvaan na
sabdaa.h santi kutra vaa / tadbhaavaad arthasiddhau tu sarva.m sarvasya sidhyati //
(brjod par 'dod pa'i gzhan dbang phyir / sgra rnams gang la 'ang med ma min / de yod pas
ni don grub na / thams cad kyis ni thams cad grub //) (verse 16). See GT, p. 244; Jackson,
Enlightenment, pp. 573-574.
85. "Through this (approach) one can also investigate (and refute)
such Saa.mkhya (and Jaina syllogisms as, respectively,) / `Buddhi is non-sentient, because
it is impermanent,' / And '(A tree) is sentient, because it dies/ When its bark is
stripped."' etena kaapilaadiinaam acaitenyaadi cintita.m / anityaade s ca
caitanya.m mara.naat tvagapohata.h // ('dis ni ser skya la sogs kyi / mi rtag sogs phyir
yang sems med / sogs dang shung pa bshus na ni / 'chi phyir sems ldan dpyad pa yin //)
(verse 17). GT, p. 244; Jackson, Enlightenment, p. 574.
86. "If a general entitative (reason) is unproven, (then the
syllogism is invalid,) / Whereas if the (general reason) is proven, then even if
particular (details) / Are unproven, (the syllogism) is not invalidated, / As (whether or
not) sound "depends on space" (does not affect the permanence or impermanence of
sound). "vastusvaruupe 'siddhe 'yam nyaaya.h siddhe vi se.sa.na.m /abaadhakam
asiddhaav apy aakaa saa srayavad dhvane.h // dngos po 'i ngo bo ma grub na /
tshul 'di grub na ma grub kyang / khyad par gnod byed ma yin te / sgra yi nam kha' la
brten bzhin //) (verse 18). GT, pp. 244-245; Jackson, Enlightenment, pp. 574-575.
87. "Even if a word is unproven, if the entity/ Is proven, then
(the reason) will be proven, as /
The Buddhists explain to the Aulukyas / "(Atoms are impermanent,
because) they are physical."
asiddhaav api sabdasya siddhe vastuni sidhyati / auluukyasya
yathaa bauddhenokta.m muurtyaadisaadhana.m // (sgra ma grub kyang dngos po ni / grub na
grub par 'gyur te dper / 'ug pa da la sangs rgy as pas / lus sogs sgrub byed bshad pa
bzhin //) (verse 19). GT, pp. 245-247;
Jackson, Enlightenment, pp. 575-577.
88. "if the (entity) is mistaken, / Then even if the word is
unmistaken, / The proof must be known as flawed, / Because an entity is (only) proven from
an entity." tasyaiva vyabhicaaraadau sabde'py avyabhicaari.ni / do.savat
saadhana.m j~neya.m vastuno vastusiddhita.h // (de nyid 'krul la sogs yin na / sgra ni
'khrul pa med na yang / sgrub byed skyon Idan shes bya ste / dngos las dngos po grub phyir
ro // (verse 20). GT, p. 247; Jackson, Enlightenment, p. 577. Note the strong element
of"realism" here: though the connection between words and entities may be
tenuous, it still is assumed by Dharmakiirti that there is a definite and discernible
nature to entities, which may serve as the foundation for valid reasoning.
89. "'Because it is a "goer"' and 'because it is
"hand-possessing"' /(As reasons) proving (a colored cow) is a cow and (an
elephant calf) is an elephant / Are not (validly) asserted, for these are verbal
expressions / That are merely common (sayings)." "'gro ba 'i phyir dang lag Idan
phyir / rva can glang po zhes sgrub byed / 'di yi sgra yi brjod bya ni / grags pa yin gyis
brjod 'dod min // (verse 20a). G T, p. 247; Jackson, Enlightenment, pp. 577-578.
90. yathaa tat kaara.na.m vastu tathaiva tadakaara.na.m / yadaa tat
kaara.na.m kena mata.m ne.s.tam akaara.nam // (ji ltar dngos de rhyu yin pa / de lta de
nyid gang gi tshe / rgyu min gang gis de ni rgyur / 'dod la rgyu ma yin mi 'dod //).
91. GT, p. 247; Jackson, Enlightenment, pp. 578-579.
92. Compare preceding, p. 16, alternative (c).
93. saastrau.sadhaabhisa.mbandhaac caitrasya vra.naroha.ne /
asa.mbaddhasya ki.m sthaano.h kaara.natva.m na kalpyate // (mtshon dang sman sogs 'brel ba
las / nag pa 'i rma dang 'drubs yin na / 'brel med sdong dum ci yi phyir / rgyu nyid du ni
rtog mi byed //).
94. Nagatomi, A Study of Dharmakiirti's Pramaa.navaarttika, p.
95. GT, p. 247; Jackson, Enlightenment, p. 579. Rgyal tshab
probably was unfamiliar with the instance of"homeopathic magic" cited by
Dharmakiirti, and glosses the verse as having the weapon inflict the wound and the
medicine heal it. Devendrabuddhi (fol. 742, lines 6-7) supports the reading we have given.
Incidentally, an instance of homeopathic magic is cited in Dante's Inferno (XXXI, 4-6),
where the poet recalls the lance of Achilles and his father, which could both wound and
96. svabhaavabhedana vinaa vyaapaaro 'pi na yujyate /
nityasyaavyatirekitvaat saamarthyan ca duranvoya.m//(rang bzhin khyad par med par ni/byed
par yang ni mi rung ngo/rtag la ldog pa med pa'i phyir/ nus pa nyid kyang rtog par dka'
97. GT, p. 247; Jackson, Enlightenment, p. 579.
99. ye.su satsu bhavaty eva yat tebhyo 'nyasya kalpane / taddhetutvena
sarvatra hetuunaam anavasthiti.h // (gang dag yod no gang 'gyur nyid / de dag las gzhan de
yi rgyu / rtog pa yin na thams cad la / rgyu rnams thug pa med par 'gyur //).
100.GT, pp. 247-248; Jackson, Enlightenment, pp. 579-580.
101.GT, p. 248; Jackson, Enlightenment, p. 580.
102. svabhaavapari.naamena hetur a.nkurajanmani / bhuumyaadis tasya
sa.mskaare tadvi se.sasya dar sanaat // (myu gu skyed la sa la sogs / rang
bzhin yongs su gyur nas ni / rgyu yin de legs byas pa na / de yi khyad par mthong phyir ro
103. GT, p. 248; Jackson, Enlightenment, p. 580.
104.yathaa vi se.sena vinaa vi.sayendriyasa.mhati.h /buddher
hetus tatheda.m cen na tatraapi vi se.sata.h (gal te ji ltar yul dbang po /tshogs pa
khyad med b1o rgyu yin/ de ltar 'di yin zhe na min/ de las khyad par yod phyir ro//).
105. NS, I, 1,4.
106. This is the import of Devendrabuddhi's reading at PVV, fol. 745,
line 2, p. 188.
107. GT, p. 248; Jackson, Enlightenment, p. 580.
108. p.rtak p.rtag a saktaanaa.m svabhaavaati saye'sati /
sa.mhataav apy asaamarthya.m syaat siddho 'ti sayas tata.h // (so so so sor nus med
rnams / rang bzhin khyad par med pas na / tshogs kyang nus pa med 'gyur bas / de phyir
khyad par grub pa yin //).
109. GT, p. 248; Jackson, Enlightenment, pp. 580-581. Emphasis
110. tasmaat p.rtag a sakte.su ye.su sa.mbhaavyate gu.na.h /
sa.mhatau hetutaa tesaa.m ne svaraader abhedata.h // (de phyir so sor gang nus med /
tshogs na yon tan srid 'gyur ba / de dag rgyu yin dbang phyug sogs / ma yin khyad par med
phyir ro //).
111. Compare preceding, p. 9.
112. Verse 183; GT, p. 219; Jackson, Enlightenment, pp. 713-714.
The verse is found in the discussion of the aspect of origination (samudaya) of the truth
113. GT, p. 251, Jackson, Enlightenment, p. 586.
114. Compare, for example, the writings of Chattopadhyaya, N.
Bhattacharyya, and Potter
mentioned in this article (preceding, notes 2, 4, and 29).
115. Bodhicaryaavataara IX, 118-123. It ought to be noted that
saantideva is misrepresenting the Nyaaya-Vai se.sika view, whereby II
svara is not the creator of the padaarthas, but their
116. Ibid., IX, 124-125.
117. II svara is rejected at TS 46-93, puru.sa at TS153-170.
Compare Ganganatha Jha, trans., The Tattvasamgraha of saantarak.sita with the
Commentary of Kamala siila (Baroda: Oriental Institute, 1937), vol. 1, pp. 68-101,
118. TS 47-48 and 56-60; Jha, Tattvasamgraha, pp. 69-71 and 75-79.
119. TS 85; Jha, Tattvasamgraha, p. 92
120. TS 155-161, Jha, Tattvasamgraha, pp. 133-135.
121.TS 162-167; Jha, Tattvasamgraha, pp. 135-137.
122. Compare Chattopadhyaya, Indian Atheism, chap. 15, for a
good summary of Miimaa.msaka arguments.
123. For references, compare preceding, note 4.
124. Nyaayama~njarii 125-133; summarized in Potter, pp. 371-373.
125. Vyomavatii 40; summarized in Potter, Encyclopedia, pp.
126. Nyaayavaarttikataatparya.tiikaa IV, 1, 21; summarized in Potter, Encyclopedia,
127. The works of both J~naana sriimitra and Ratnakiirti have
been edited by Anantalal Thakur in the Tibetan Sanskrit Works Series (Patna: Kashi Prasad
Jayaswal Research Institute, 1959 and 1957, respectively).
128. Chemparathy, An Indian Rational Theology, p. 28. I have not
as yet studied J~naana sriimitra's or Ratnakiirti's arguments.
129. Compare preceding, notes 8 and 9.
130. Compare preceding, note 4.
131. Indeed, there is not even agreement on whether the syllogism
corresponds to the argument from design: G. Bhattacharyya (p. 44) calls it the
"cosmological argument," while Potter (p. 102) considers it
"cosmoteleological." In fact, the syllogism refuted by Dharmakiirti which seeks
to prove that entities are preceded by a conscious designer because of intermittence,
particular shape, and efficiency seems most like the argument from design, while the later
syllogism proposed by Jayanta in which the existence of ii svara follows from the
world's being an effect seems a bit more "cosmological" although the focus there
still is on the analogical appeal to design.
132. The most concerted attack on Western theism by a Buddhist is that
of Dharmasiri (preceding, note 38), who does not, however, often directly relate Buddhist
arguments to Western ones, but, rather, criticizes modern Western arguments directly,
interspersing his discussion with passages from and reflections upon the Theravaadin
tradition. Theravaada does not develop a rational a theology to anywhere near the degree
that the Sanskritic "Pramaa.na" tradition does.
133.Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose, trans. William Weaver
(New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1983), pp. 492-493.