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Friday, May 11, 2012

vastu on the epistemological and ontological level in Jayanta

vastu is often used in śāstric Sanskrit as a loose term meaning ‘object’ in a not necessarily concrete way. It has nothing of the intrinsic concreteness of a piṇḍa. Unlike artha (about which see this post), it is not linked to a linguistic expression and unlike artha it is necessarily epistemologically sound. Cf., for instance, in Jayanta's Nyāyamañjarī, the following statement by a Buddhist opponent, opposing vastu and artha, with the latter being much vaguer:

Thus, when conceptual cognitions, which lack contact with external entities (vastu), appear, people have the erroneous conception: “I have cognized an external object (artha), and I have taken action towards it, and I have obtained it”. This [erroneous conception] is not, in fact, based on determining [the conceptually cognized] as an [external] object (evaṃ bāhyavastusaṃsparśaśūnyeṣu vikalpeṣu samullasiteṣu ``bāhyo 'rtho mayā pratipannaḥ, tatra cāhaṃ pravṛttaḥ, sa ca mayā prāptaḥ" ity abhimāno bhavati laukikānām (NM 5, section 4.4, Kataoka2009c, p. 460, translation in Watson and Kataoka (in the proceedings of the apoha workshop, about which see this post)).

Or, similarly, at the end of the same section:

But [apohas] are different from [universals] in that the former are not real entities (vastu).
vastu is less vague than viṣaya, which might refer to each knowledge content, be it the content of an actual instance of cognition or also the sphere of application (like gocara) of a future or hypothetical one. In his polemics against the Buddhists on the existence of universals, vastu is used by the Buddhists and Jayanta with the same sense, although with a different referent. In fact, both agree that vastu is the real entity actually known during an act of valid cognition. However, they disagree as for its identification. For the Buddhists, only the ultimate particular, the svalakṣaṇa, is a vastu (i.e., only the svalakṣaṇa is the real object grasped by a valid act of cognition), whereas for Jayanta a vastu can also recur and be either an individual or a universal (see scheme below, section 4.2). Consequently, the vastu is intrinsically simple for the Buddhists, whereas it might be also complex for Jayanta (which on this point is following Kumārila). The following excerpt is from the Buddhist objector, who starts with a sarcastic remark about the multiform vastu upheld by realists such as Kumārila:

The same thing which is universal, is a particular, the same thing which is one, is many, the same thing which is perpetual, is impermanent, the same thing which exists does not exists: these are [just] the remainders of the Jains!
And even while it is being said, it is non-appropriate.
If you (Kumārila) say that there is no contradiction because [universal and particular] have been seen, [we reply that] it is not so, because they are not perceived as such |
In fact, it has been said that the eye-perception (netradhī) does not grasp an artha that recurs ||

Some pages later, Jayanta replies:

As for what has been said, namely that “It is illogical that in a single object (vastu) two contradictory aspects (rūpa) simultaneously occur”, that is also wrong. […]
Like the distinction of colours occurs in regard to a variegated [spot], |
in the same way, one also distinguishes similarities and differences because of the manifoldness of an object (vastu) ||
Hence, since one distinguishes similarities and differences in this non contradictory way, |
objects (vastu) must have a double nature, like in the opinion of the Bhaṭṭa (Kumārila) || 

vāstava is used in NM 5 when Jayanta replies to the Buddhist criticism of the universal (jāti). Whereas the Buddhist considered the universal as an unwarranted conceptualisation, Jayanta answers that it is real (vāstava):

Even at the first connection of the sense faculty [with its object] one understands the sameness [of two or more individuals] |
and [their] manifoldness. Hence, commonness and difference are both real ||

Thus, the universal is real, i.e., it belongs to the thing (vastu) itself. It does not, however, belong to the concrete individual (piṇḍa), in which it is rather present (vṛt-). The vastu is thus the real object, the one which is rightly ascertained through a correct use of our instruments of knowledge. To this vastu belong the aspects of individuality and universality, insofar as they can be ascertained through instruments of knowledge.


Do readers have different opinions about the usage of vastu in other authors?On artha in Jayanta, see this post. On the apoha workshop and Jayanta, see this post. On Jayanta in general, see this post.

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