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Personalities of Prachina Nyaya

 

mahopadeshaka Dr. shrI rAjnAth Joshi, an avid reader of our blog and our guide on matters related to nyAya shAstra, expressed his displeasure on not having dealt with the exponents of prAchInA nyAya before moving over to the personalities of navya nyAya. We would like to clarify to shrI joshi kaka that it is our personal inclination towards personalities such as raghunAtha shiromaNi or jagadIsha tarkAlankAra and even more so, gadAdhara, that made us start with the personalities of navya nyAya. There was also an assumption made that the personalities of prAchIna nyAya were quite well-known. However, for the sake of completion, here is a quick list of prAchIna naiyAyikas.

Sage Gautama

maharShi gautama is the author of the nyAya sUtras. He is also known as akShapAda, akShacharaNa, Adi gautama etc. Some identify the author of nyAyasUtra with medhAtithi gautama. Bhimacharya Bhalkikar is of the opinion that these sUtras belong to a post-brahmasUtra period. While some scholars think that the sUtras of ShaD darshanas were all composed at the same time, chandrakAnta tarkAla~NkAra lists the sAMkhya sUtras as the first among the six, followed by sUtras of kaNAda, gautama, bAdarAyaNa and jaimini. Gautama has organized his sUtras into five adhyAyas. There seems to be no consensus of the number of sUtras though. Some count the number as 537 whereas some others list the samkhyA as 528. vAchaspati mishra in his nyAyasUchI nibandha lists the number of sUtras as 528, adhyAyas as 5, Ahnikas as 10 and prakaraNas as 84.

mahAmahopAdhyAya haraprasAda shAstrI traces these sUtras to the period of mahAyAna Buddhism, which would be around 2 century AD. mahAmahopAdhyAya satIshachandra vidyabhUShaNa concludes the time of gautama as 150 AD. He however thinks that the first chapter of the nyAyasUtra is not the work of gautama. A fascinating comparative study between the gautama sUtras, the la~NkAvatAra sUtra and the mAdhyamikakArikA sUtra of nAgArjuna has been conducted by a navya naiyAyika in the last decade. Some western scholars place the period of nyAyasUtra between that of shUnyavAda and vij~nAnavAda (140 BC.)

vAtsyAyana

vAtsyAyana is probably the earliest commentator on the nyAyasUtras. The author of the TIkA on kAmandakIya nItisAra (upAdhyAyanirapekShA) seems to think that the authors of kauTilIya arthashAstra and nyAya bhAShya are the same. But the periods of kauTilya and vAtsyAyana estimated by historians are wide apart in time, negating this possibility. It is however of interest to note that many others, including hemchandra and the author of nyAyachandrikA see kauTilya and vAtsyAyana as the same person. A similar assumption is seen even in the shrIdharI TIkA on viShNu bhAgatava upa purANa. Some scholars also identify the author of nyAya bhAShya with the author of kAmasUtra, which is again negated by historians.

udyotakarAchArya

udyotakarAchArya is the author of a vartika on nyAya bhAShya of vAtsyAyana. He is also known by the name bhAradvAja, probably indicative of his gotra.

yadakShapAdapratimo bhAShyaM vAtsyAyano jagau |
chakAri mahatastasya bhAradvAjena vArtikam ||

subandhu names udyotakara in his gadya kAvya vAsavadattA and bANa mentions vAsavadattA in his harShacharitasAra. This places udyotakara somewhere around 5th or 6th century AD. Dr. Satishchandra Vidyabhushan is of the opinion that he was probably a samakAlIna of dharmakIrti. Some scholars are of the opinion, to this day, that the nyAyasUtras were composed with the primary objective of khaNDana of nAjArjuna and vasubandhu. Udyotakara has expressed his disagreement on this view thus:

yadakShapAdaH pravaro munInAM shamAya shAstraM jagato jagAda |
kutArkikAj~nAnanivR^ittihetuH kariShyate tasya mayA nibandhaH ||

While he sees lokopakAra as the sole objective of akShapAda, he takes on himself the responsibility of khaNDana of kutArtikas which he accomplishes through his nibandha. By kutArkika-s, he clearly means nAgarjuna, di~NnAga etc. Thus, the nyAya vArtika is aimed at khaNDana of nAgArjuna etc. and not the nyAyasUtras themselves. Udyotakara is known to have been a resident of sthAneshvara.

vAchaspati mishra

vAchaspati mishra is well-known as the ShaD-darshana TIkAkAra. To counter the attack of dharmakIrti, he authored a TIkA on udyotakara’s vArtika named nyAyavArtika tAtparya:

icChAmi kimapi puNyaM dustarakunibandhapa~NkamagnAnAm |
udyotakaragavInAmatijaratInAM samuddharaNAt || [nyAvavArtika tAtparya 1-1-1]

He is also the author of two independent works named nyAyakaNikA and parishiShTa. It may not be irrelevant to mention here his commentary on the sAMkhyakArikA of IshvarakR^iShNa, named sAMkhya tattvakaumudI and bhAmatI on shA~Nkara bhAShya. While we are tempted to recollect his romance with his wife here, we shall restrain ourselves to avoid another stern mail from shrI joshi kaka.

Jayanta bhaTTa

Jayanta bhaTTA, popularly known as jarannaiyAyika, is the author of nyAyamanjarI. His father is named as Chandra paNDita and son is the well-known abhinanda paNDita, the author of kAdambarI kathAsAra. Mahendra kumara nyAyAcharya, in his introduction to prameyakamalamArtANDa, states that jayanta was probably a samakAlIna of vAchaspati mishra as a respectful mention of nyAyamanjarIkAra can be seen in nyAyakaNikA:

aj~nAnatimirashamanIM paradamanIM nyAyama~njarIM ruchirAm |
prasavitre prabhavitre vidyAtarave namo gurave ||

The view of the nyAyAchArya is also endorsed by mahAmahopAdhyAya shrI gopInatha kavirAja in his brilliant work, History and Bibliography of nyAya-vaisheShika Literature.

udayanAchArya

udayana, a resident of mithilA, has written a vyAkhyA named parashuddhi on vAchaspati mishra’s tAtparya-TIkA. The chief objective of this work is the refutation of objections raised by the Buddhist tArkikas on mishra’s views. He says:

mAtaH sarasvati punaH punareva natvA
baddhA~njaliH kimapi vij~napayAbhyavehi |
vAkchetasormama tathA bhava sAvadhAnA
vAchaspatervachasi na skhalato yathaite ||

A very well-known AchArya of nyAya and vaisheShika systems, udayana is the author of several other works such as kusumA~njali, Atmatattva viveka, nyAya parishiShTa, kiraNAvaLI (vyAkhyA on prashastapAda bhAShya) etc. His debates with bauddha and jaina tArkikas are well documented. shrIharSha examines the tarka of udayana in his khaNDanakhaNDakhAdya. Udayana states his period in his own work lakShaNAvaLI as 984 A.D.

maharShi kaNAda

This post would be incomplete without discussing some of the prominent vaisheShikas. According to tradition, maharShi kaNAda, also known as kaNa-bhakSha or kaNa-bhuk (kaNAnattIti kaNAdaH), belonged to kAshyapa gotra and lived in mithilA. Through the practice of yoga, he attained the grace of mahAdeva and propounded the vaisheShika theory as a result. His vaiSheshika darshana consists of ten chapters. Each chapter is composed of two Ahnikas. The number of sUtras is 370. It is believed that mahAdeva, in the form of an owl, taught the theory of ShaT padArthas to kaNAda, which he codified in the form of vaiSheshika sUtras. This is the reason why the author of sarvadarshanasaMgraha has chosen the term aullUkya darshana to represent the school of vaiSheshikas. Many scholars are of the opinion that kaNAda pre-dates mahAbhArata as this epic refers to him as ulUka.

Some scholars are of the opinion that the vaisheShika darshana originated even before the sAMkhya darshana. They point us in this regard to the sAMkhya sUtra:

na vayaM ShaTpadArthavAdino vaisheShikAdivat |

A similar conclusion is made regarding the brahmasUtra based on the following sUtra:

mahaddIrghavadvA hrasvaparimANdalAbhyAm |

The theory of utpatti and vinAsha of shabda undoubtedly comes from kaNAda, thus making it older than nyAya darshana. Moreover, jaimini refutes this darshana. This probably makes it the oldest darshana. rAvaNa is known to have commented on the vaisheShika sUtras (as stated in ratnaprabhA) but this commentary is currently unavailable. There is some disagreement on whether this rAvaNa is the same as the character seen in the itihAsa rAmAyaNa. murArimishra however states clearly in anargharAghava that rAvaNa, the king of lankA was a vettA of vaisheShika darshana.

There is a brief description of anumAna in vaisheShika darshana and only three kinds of hetvAbhAsa are dealt with in the vaisheShika sUtras. Based on this, some scholars opine that the pattern of thought that originated from kaNAda was later developed by akShapAda. Because nyAya bhAShyakAra accepts the concept of the indriyatva of manas, which is typical of the vaisheShika darshana, it can be assumed that nyAya is the newer of the two darshanas.

There is however lack of complete agreement in this regard. The author of nyAyakosha disgrees with the identification of maharShi ulUka of bhArata with sUtrakAra kaNAda. He also states that the vedAnta sUtra mahaddIrghavadvA etc. does not refute vaisheShika sUtras specifically but rather refutes the ancient concepts of vaisheShika and jaiminIya siddhAnta that are found in the upaniShads. He also points out that that the nyAya darshana lists five kinds of hetvAbhAsa of which kaNAda accepts three, making nyAya the older of the two darshanas. He lists the chronological order of the sUtras thus: brahmasUtra, jaiminisUtra, vaisheShika sUtra, sAMkhyasUtra and yogasUtra.

A reference to kaNAda can be seen in the padma purANa:

kaNAdena tu saMproktaM shAstraM vaisheShikaM mahat |
gautamena tathA nyAyaM sA~NkhyaM tu kapilena vai ||

prashastapAda

AchArya prashastapAda had commented on the sUtras of kaNAda. Though this work gets passed off as a bhAShya, it does not confirm to the lakShaNas of a bhAShya. Prashastadeva and prashastacharaNa are other names of prashastapAda. Like Gautama and vAtsyAyana, he is also referred to as maharShi. Like kapila pa~nchashikhAchArya, the term AchArya has also been used to address him.

In the pravarAdhyAya of baudhAyana sUtra, within the A~NgIrasagaNa (shAradvata gaNa), a seer named prashasta is mentioned and some scholars identify him as the vaisheShika bhAshya kartA. In the padArtha dharma sa~Ngraha of prashastapAda, description of nidarshanAbhAsa illustrates the influence of di~NgAga on prashasta. There are various commentaries on padArtha dharma sa~Ngraha such as vyomavatI of vyomashivAchArya, nyAya-kandalI of shrIdhara, kiraNAvalI of udayana etc.

vyomashivAchArya

The vyomavatI TIkA of vyomashivAcharya is the oldest among the commentaries on padArtha dharma sa~Ngraha. vyomashivAchArya was a dAkshiNAtya and lived around 645 A.D.

shrIdharAchArya

In his TIkA named nyAya-kandalI, shrIdhara has presented various new concepts of vaisheShika darshana, not found in the earlier kaNAda sUtras. shrIdhara is known to have lived in a village named bhUrisR^iShTi in Bengal. His other written works include advaitasiddhi, tattvaprabodha, tattvasaMvAdinI, sa~NgrahaTIkA etc. His nyAya kandalI is the most studied commentary on prashastapAda bhAShya.

vallabhAchArya

vallabhAchArya’s nyAya-lIlAvatI is a valuable treatise on vaisheShika darshana. He probably lived around twelfth century A.D. vAdIndra, chitsukha and other authors of thirteenth century refer to him respectfully. The period post vallabhAcharya marks the beginning of navya nyAya.