Because Time is not Self : On Ānandajñāna’s refutation of Kāla, A guest post by Satyan Sharma

Submitted to the blog by Satyan Sharma, Research scholar at the department of Sanskrit, Panjab University, (

Because Time is not Self : On Ānandajñāna’s refutation of Kāla


The conversation between Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika (NV) and Advaita Vedānta (AV) philosophers attract intellects because it is somehow the ancient version of the realist versus idealist debate which is currently prevalent and relevant. Gauḍapāda in his Māṇḍūkyakārikā attempts to refute the very basis of realism, i.e., time and the law of causation[1]. Śaṅkara in his commentary on Brahmasūtras attempts to refute other philosophies including Vaiśeṣika (V)[2]. The method of refutation is Vitaṇḍā (Vi), where one doesn’t put forward one’s own views, but only points out logical faults in those of the opponent. Using this method, Śrīharṣa composed his Khaṇḍanakhaṇḍakhādya and Citsukha his Tattvapradīpikā, where both of them attempt to refute NV philosophies. A similar text, thought to be later than both, Tarkasaṅgraha (TS) was composed by Ānandajñāna or Ānandagiri, in 13th century CE[3], where he attempts to refute the complete V philosophy in detail. Instead of just refuting the major categories like Dravya alone, he took up the task to refute definitions of each and every Dravya. The concept of Kāla (K) being fundamental to NV, any refutation of it is bound to affect the whole system of it. A reply to his refutation has been given by Śeṣaśārṅgadhara around 15th to 16th centuries CE[4], in his commentary titled Nyāyamuktāvalī (NM) on Udayana’s Lakṣaṇāvalī (LA). The source of TS is the book ‘Tarkasaṅgraha of Ānandajñāna’, published under Gaekwad’s Oriental Series in the year 1917, edited by T. M. Tripathi. The source for NM is the book the ‘Lakṣaṇāvalī of Udayanācārya’, edited by Surendralāla Gosvāmin, published in 1900.

On Vitaṇḍā

It is defined in the Nyāyasūtras (NS) as a style of debate where one doesn’t establish one’s own thesis[5]. Vātsyāyana in his commentary on the NS adds that a Vaitaṇḍika or practiser of Vi only refutes the opponent’s thesis[6]. Hence, in Vi, the debater has to only refute the thesis of his opponent without declaring or establishing his own. However easy it may sound, Vi requires a debater to be thoroughly acquainted with the opponent’s thesis. For example, if Ānandajñāna has to refute V philosophy, he must first gain adequate acquaintance with the V philosophy. In this manner, although done for other purposes, the background preparation of Vi ensures the preservation of a certain philosophy or śāstra which may be completely refuted in the future and lose all authority. Texts like Nyāyalīlāvatī (NL) of Vallabha and Khaṇḍanoddhāra of Vācaspatimiśra II show that after being refuted, the philosophers of NV philosophies made attempts to improve their thesis in order to protect it from further refutations. In this way, the conversation between NV and AV philosophers indirectly contributed in the gradual improvement of both philosophies.

On the Vaiśeṣika concept of Kāla

In his Vaiśeṣikasūtras (VS), Kaṇāda categorises K as a Dravya[7], which is inferable from the notions of priority with regards to posteriority, of simultaneity, of delay and of quickness[8]. Praśastapāda says in his Padārthadharmasaṅgraha (PS) that K is inferable from the cognitions of the aforesaid types[9]. Vallabha in his Nyāyalīlāvatī (NL) defines K as that padārtha which is the auxiliary of the relation of differences of solar movements and objects[10].

Ānandajñāna’s (Ā) refutation of Kāla and analysis

His refutation can be divided into different stages. Stage 1 is based on the cognitions of priority and posteriority etc., stage 2 is based on the cognitions of simultaneity and non-simultaneity etc., stage 3 is based on the inferability of K from such cognitions, stage 4 is based on the solar movements, stage 5 is based on inferability from specified farness etc., stage 6 is about upādhi, and stage 7 is based on some conception of prakṛti and puruṣa.

Ā begins with a very simple definition of K and keeps adding components and attempts to show the faults. The process is as follows –

Stage 1

  • Nimitta of cognitions of nearness etc. > Applies to Dik (D) also.
  • Nimitta of cognitions different from those of D > Applies to Dharma etc., because they’ve been accepted as nimitta causes[11].
  • ‘Dravya’ as a specification of the nimitta > Applies to Īśvara (Ātman), which is a potent dravya.
  • ‘Uniqueness’ as a specification > Opposes the accepted idea of K being nimitta of the origination of all those which are born or utpattimat[12]. The word ‘all’ implies that everything which is an effect, has for its origin D and K as nimitta causes. This way both become a shared nimitta cause of all effects. It would imply that both would become nimitta causes of the cognitions of nearness etc. which are different from those of D. So being a shared cause, K couldn’t be called a unique cause for the production of such cognitions.

Stage 2

  • K as one out of many nimittas of cognitions of simultaneity, non-simultaneity, quickness and delay > Applies to Adṛṣṭa also, because it is one of many nimittas in every activity. The expression ‘one of many’ confirms that there are other nimittas also. And uniqueness not being compatible with the aforesaid V idea of D and K being shared nimittas for all effects, calling K as the unique nimitta for such cognitions would be impossible.
  • Q. Do those cognitions have one and the same object as basis (K)? If yes, it would lead to impossibility of difference between various definitions of kṣaṇa, lava, nimeṣa etc., and words like simultaneity would become synonymous. Kṣaṇa, lava, nimeṣa etc., all mean K, or point to K and not something different from K. So they’re not fundamentally different from K, and hence there own differences wouldn’t be fundamental in nature. If upādhis create differences, it has been dealt with in stage 4 refutation.
  • Q. Are those cognitions based on more than one entity or an entity different from K? Aforementioned definitions wouldn’t apply.

Stage 3

  • K is inferable from such cognitions.
  • Q. As a samavāyin cause? Not possible because K is not Ātman, and as cognition or buddhi is a guṇa of Ātman, so it has Ātman as its samavāyin cause[13].
  • Q. As an asamavāyin cause? Not possible because K is taken to be a Dravya and something which is an asamavāyin cause cannot be a Dravya.
  • Q. As a nimitta cause? Q. As a viṣaya or non-viṣaya of our senses? K is nityānumeya or eternally inferable or that which cannot be directly perceived and hence always inferred. So it cannot be a viṣaya of our senses. Being a non-viṣaya, a K different from Adṛṣṭa etc. is unestablished. Because if it is a non-viṣaya, we cannot directly perceive it as being different from the other existing or inferred entities, specifically when it is neither a samavāyin cause or an asamavāyin cause. For example, we can directly perceive a pot as being different from a cloth. One could say that there are many entities like Īśvara which are eternally inferable, and so this fault is not reasonable. Īśvara and Adṛṣṭa being both eternally inferable are still being thought about as being two separate entities with two separate functions. But in the case being discussed, the V K has not been able to prove itself as any different from Adṛṣṭa etc. which are nimitta causes, and so if it too is the same, according to the parsimony principle or lāghava, we could simply explain the said cognitions by Adṛṣṭa etc. without invoking a separate entity, the separateness and uniqueness of which is not being able to be proved through the existing definitions and arguments.
  • If the specific cognition of simultaneity is being called the cause of specific cognition of ‘pots are simultaneously arising’, Ā says that this cognition of simultaneity is K alone, and although such cognition could cause such other cognition, it cannot cause the production of pots. If a cognition, which is internal or mental, could cause something external, it would lead to idealism, which is opposed to the realists of V philosophy.

Stage 4

  • K produced from the superiority and inferiority of solar movements, as it conforms to it, like a pot to its potter.
  • Solar movement itself has a unique cause, because it is an effect, like a pot.
  • Solar movement is a action, and V action does not have any attribute or quality[14], while here superiority and inferiority (which are qualities) of solar movement are being talked about. So it goes against the V idea of attributelessness of action.
  • If they are defined as different from K, K being yet to be established, the definition has the fault of mutual dependence between the definer and the definable.
  • The idea of conformity does not apply to the example itself, where a pot and a potter can exist independently of each other after the creation of the pot.
  • There is no natural connection between the solar movements and old-young bodies.
  • No delimitorness (avacchedakatva) is present which is independent of such a connection, because it needs some connection as a prerequisite.

Stage 5

  • K being inferable from specified farness, etc.
  • Q. What is specified farness? If it is ‘not being a product of Deśa’[15], it opposes the idea of D and K both being nimitta causes of the production of all that is born. This common attribute opposes the specification, and so both could be held responsible for cognitions of both D and K, also because cognitions are produced.
  • If it is ‘being a product of K’, it incurs the fault of mutual dependence as K itself is yet to be established.
  • K isn’t a unique cause of such cognitions, as has been said earlier.
  • Being only a connector of variations of solar movements with the bodies, K does not create cognitions of temporal farness etc.
  • Such a connection can be equally explained by the omnipresent Cetana, due to which the whole sequence of the effect (cognitions) can be explained, and so imagining another dravya named K, is unnecessary. Although Cetana (Ātman) possesses viśeṣa guṇa, it is omnipresent and because of being conscious it is different from dravyas ranging from pṛthivī to ākāśa and this difference could make it a unique cause of such cognitions.
  • K is also not the basis of the divisions of K from kṣaṇa to mahāpralaya, because the terms kṣaṇa etc. mean K, and hence there is the fault of self-dependence. If they mean something else, then the usage of them could not denote K.

Stage 6

  • The difference of past, present and future placed in K[16].
  • Q. Why not take that difference as the cause of cognition of K?
  • Both NV and AV agree on the different movements of the sun, which could create upādhis from which usage of K could be explained, so imagining a separate K would go against the parsimony principle. Taking an already accepted existing entity to explain an existing phenomenon, is more economic than to imagine a separate entity for the same purpose.[17]

Stage 7

  • K as a conjunction of Puruṣa and Prakṛti[18].
  • Being a conjunction it cannot be a Dravya because conjunction is a quality.
  • If it is identical with either Puruṣa or Prakṛti, it can’t be conjunction.
  • If it is identical with Prakṛti, being of the form of illusory māyā, V K can’t be established.
  • If it is identical with Puruṣa, V K can’t be established as an independent entity. It could simply be either called Puruṣa or a quality or function of Puruṣa.
  • If another Prakṛti is accepted, same fault.

Refutation of Ā’s refutation by Śeṣaśārṅgadhara (Ś)

Stage 1

  • Against the vyabhicāra in Adṛṣṭa etc., he opines that K is the nimitta of not paratva and aparatva etc., but of ‘niyata’ paratva and aparatva etc.[19]
  • This is due to K being a unique cause of those, and this uniqueness is that K connects (bodies with) the originator of such cognitions, which is solar movement[20].
  • Against Ātman or Ākāśa being such a cause, he seems to repeat the words of Līlāvatīkāra Vallabha, that both would cause an attribute of one thing to be applied on another such thing which is far far away, just because Ātman and Ākāśa are omnipresent[21].
  • Ā has already dealt with the point that even when one specifies the temporal farness etc. as different from directional farness etc., and if K is defined as a nimitta of the cognition of the former, there is still vyabhicāra in dharma etc. Ś instead picks up on the fourth point of Ā where he refutes uniqueness of K as a cause towards those cognitions. So according to Ā, even calling K as the nimitta of cognitions of ‘niyata’ paratva and aparatva doesn’t separate K from all other categories. Also, such cognitions too are utpattimat or produced, and so both D and K would become their common nimitta causes, which would lead to the superfluity of the addition of the word ‘niyata’.
  • It has been well recognised by the likes of Udayana and Vallabha that there is no direct relation between the variations of solar movements and the bodies on earth. The minimum requirement for a viśiṣṭa usage is the perception of a delimitor and a delimited, which can only happen if there is a relation between two entities[22]. In stage 4, Ā deals with the issue of solar movements, and points out that the hetu of one[23] of the anumānaprayogas is itself sādhya and so is causing the fault of sādhyāviśiṣṭatva, and that in the other[24] prayoga, the hetu doesn’t apply to the dṛṣṭānta causing the fault of sādhanavikalatva. It is worth noting that Ś doesn’t quote and refute this passage of TS.
  • With regards to saying that Ātman cannot do what K can, both Udayana and Vallabha, and also Ś do not seem to consider that although Ākāśa and Ātman are both vibhu or omnipresent dravyas, Ātman unlike any other dravya is conscious. Being conscious, and having ‘cognitions’ as an attribute given to it by the V philosophers themselves, it can produce the aforementioned cognitions by direct relation. In this way the principle of parsimony or lāghava too shall be adhered to.

Stage 2

Ś takes the same point of uniqueness to prove that there is no vyabhicāra in Adṛṣṭa etc. To Ā’s argument that if the cognitions are same as K, there individual different definitions wouldn’t apply, Ś says that in vikalpas, anekārthatva or ‘having many objects as basis’ is accepted[25], but does not explain why it is accepted. In case of K, the various divisions are imagined upon a singular K of the V philosophy. Hence, it may be a workable solution to think of those divisions as having their origins in something slightly different from the singular K. Then Ś takes to the Ā’s point that if those cognitions are different from K, their definitions again wouldn’t apply. To this Ś says that even in that case, the senior V philosophers accept such definitions[26], but doesn’t explain as to why. To Ā’s point that those cognitions are the same as K, Ś responds that a single K has been accepted which according to different upādhis is taken to be different[27]. The point of upādhis is connected with the solar movements.

Stage 3

On the point of inferability of K through the cognitions of nearness etc., Ś’s response can be judged from the anumānaprayoga[28] he gives; ‘nearness etc. are effects of non-inherent cause, because of being bhāva-effects, like pot’. Here the hetu ‘because of being bhāva-effects’ or ‘bhāvakāryatvāt’ could be applied to everything other than ‘nimittakāraṇamātrajanya’ or ‘that which is produced only by an instrumental cause’, because abhāva-effects have been said to have only nimittakāraṇa[29]. So one could also say, ‘nearness etc. are produced by water, because of being bhāva-effects, like pot’[30]. Although the prayoga adheres to the correct format, but does not prove anything. If it does prove, then the prayoga of Ś and the latter should both be correct. The further discussion by Ś being based on this prayoga, doesn’t seem to stand on a valid ground. Also, calling K an asamavāyin cause goes against the V definitions of K calling it a nimitta cause.

Ś refutes stage 1 of Ā by refuting one of Ā’s refutations on the basis of an idea which has been refuted by Ā in stage 4. The stage 4 refutation has not been responded to by Ś. Ā’s stage 2 refutation has been refuted by Ś not by arguments but by showing what is accepted by the senior V philosophers. Ā’s stage 3 refutation has been refuted by Ś through an anumānaprayoga which seems to be faulty.

Additional remarks

The stage 4 refutation of Ā seems to be based on the concept of K and the arguments in its favour advanced by Udayana in his Kiraṇāvalī (Ki)[31]. The stage 3 refutation seems to be based on a possible refutation mentioned by Udayana in Ki[32], which has probably been elaborated by Ā[33]. The Ā’s version of that refutation is mentioned by Vallabha in his Nyāyalīlāvatī (NL)[34]. It cannot be said for sure who came up with that idea first. But it is interesting to note that while the major portion of Citsukha’s refutation of K in his Tattvapradīpikā (TP) is based on the ideas mentioned in NL[35], Ā’s refutation of K is majorly based on Ki. In his commentary on Udayana’s LA titled NM, Ś mentions both Citsukha[36] and Ā, which somehow shows their impact on the V system even way later than their times, that is, around 15th to 16th centuries CE. Although Ā doesn’t directly mention Udayana in his refutation in TS, he has mentioned his name in his text Tattvāloka[37] (TL) which he had composed during his pre-saṃnyāsa life as Janārdana. In TL, the refutation of K is very small keeping in view the definitions of K. But in TS it is very detailed. Even then, the question arises, why did not Ā mention LA’s definition of K[38] in TS? It could also be that LA came later than TS and specifically as a result of improving the NV definitions and hence protecting them from further refutations. If Udayana had already come up with the improved definition of K before TS, or simply during his authoring of Ki, he could’ve mentioned it in Ki. Like Śaṅkaramiśra mentions his definitions while commenting upon the sūtras of Kaṇāda, so could’ve been done by Udayana also. If that is true, Ā and Udayana[39] (10th to 11th centuries CE) would be contemporaries, unlike the latter being earlier than the former. Or else, the Udayana of LA and that of Ki are two different persons.

[1] 4.21

[2] refutation of V ideas in sūtras – 16

[3] Surendranath Dasgupta in ‘A History of Indian Philosophy’ (ed. 2018), Vol. 1, p. 545, S. A. Upadhyaya in introduction of his ‘Vedānta Tattvāloka of Janārdana’ state his time to be later half of 13th century.

[4] The Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies (ed. 1993), Vol. 6, p. 382

[5] sa pratipakṣasthāpanāhīno vitaṇḍā (1.2.3)

[6] parapratiṣedhenaiva pravarttate

[7] 1.1.5

[8] aparasmin paraṃ yugapad ayugapac ciraṃ kṣipram iti kālaliṅgāni (2.2.6)

[9] kālaḥ parāparavyatikarayaugapadyāyaugapadyacirakṣiprapratyayaliṅgam

[10] tapanaparispandabhedapiṇḍasaṃsargopanāyakaḥ

[11] buddhisukhaduḥkhecchādveṣaprayatnadharmādharmabhāvanānāṃ nimittakāraṇatvam (praśastapādabhāṣya, guṇasādharmya)

[12] dikkālayoḥ pañcaguṇatvaṃ sarvotpattimatāṃ nimittakāraṇatvam (praśastapādabhāṣya, dravyasādharmya)

[13] tasya guṇāḥ buddhisukhaduḥkhecchādveṣaprayatnadharmādharmasaṃskārasaṅkhyāparimāṇapṛthaktvasaṃyogavibhāgāḥ – Praśastapādabhāṣya, ātmaprakaraṇam

[14] guṇādīnāṃ pañcānāmapi nirguṇatvaniṣkriyatve – ibid, sādharmyavaidharmyaprakaraṇam

[15] The book has dehikṛtatva which does not seem to make sense. Just after this its opposite kālakṛtatva is mentioned. So it could either be deśakṛtatva or dikkṛtatva.

[16] This seems to match with the Viayākaraṇa view of K as mentioned in Harivṛtti on Vākyapadīya 1.3; tasya kramavadbhiḥ kartṛśaktiḥ pravibhajyamānā vikāramātrāgataṃ bhedarūpaṃ tatrādhyāropayati

[17] This view matches with a Sāṅkhya view of K as mentioned by Vācaspatimiśra in his Sāṅkhyatattvakaumudi; kālaśca vaiśeṣikābhimata eko na anāgatādivyavahārabhedaṃ pravartayitumarhati, tasmādayaṃ yairupādhibhedairanāgatādibhedaṃ pratipadyate, santu ta evopādhayaḥ, ye’nāgatādivyavahārahetavaḥ, kṛtamatrāntargaḍunā kāleneti sāṅkhyācāryāḥ (kārikā 33)

[18] At a first glance this seems to be a Sāṅkhya view of K as it is not accepting K as a separate entity.

[19] niyataparatvāparatvapratyayāsādhāraṇanimittatvasya kālalakṣaṇatvāt

[20] asādhāraṇyenaiva nirāsāt … asādhāraṇyaṃ ca tajjanakataraṇiparispandopanāyakatvam

[21] na cāvyāpakatvamupādhiḥ … tadahetutvenaiva siddheḥ

[22] sati sambandhe’vacchedyāvacchedakadṛśyatayaiva viśiṣṭavyavahāradarśanāt – NL (kāla)

[23] vimataṃ tapanaparispandaprakarṣādidhījanyaṃ tadanuvidhāyitvāt, yathā kulālānuvidhāyī ghaṭaḥ tena janyate

[24] svabhāvato’pratyāsannatve sati, tadavacchedakatvāt, paṭāvacchedakamahārajanarāgavat

[25] vikalpeṣu cānekārthatvābhyupagamāt

[26] vṛddhairabhyupagamāt

[27] sopādhisamayālambanatvasvīkārāt

[28] paratvādayo’samavāyikāraṇajanyā, bhāvakāryatvād, ghaṭavat

[29] tadetad bhāvānāmeva trividhaṃ kāraṇam, abhāvasya tu nimittamātraṃ tasya kvacidapyasamavāyāt – Tarkabhāṣā of Keśavamiśra

[30] paratvādayo jalajanyā bhāvakāryatvād ghaṭavat

[31] Example; ‘sā ca pratyāsattir dravyakṛtā prakārāntarāsambhave sati pratyāsattitvādeva paṭe mahārajanapratyāsattivat’ in Ki, ‘sā ca dravyakṛtā prakārāntarāsambhave sati pratyāsattitvāt paṭādau mahārajanapratyāsattivat’ in TS

[32] nanu pratyayāḥ kāraṇatayā viṣayatayā vā kālaṃ vyavasthāpayeyuḥ. na prathamaḥ ātmendriyādīnāṃ tatkāraṇatvāt. na dvitīyaḥ tasyātīndriyatayā aindriyakapratyayaviṣayatvavirodhāt…

[33] kimete samavāyitvena asamavāyitvena nimittatvena vā kālaṃ anumāpayeyuḥ – TS, p. 48

[34] parāparādiṣaṭkaṃ liṅgamiti cet, na, parāparatve tatsamavāyitayā vā liṅgaṃ tadasamavāyitayā tannimittatayā vā …

[35] Citsukha directly mentions Līlāvatīkāra after quoting NL’s passage about solar movements. TP’s K-refutation also begins like the discussion on K in NL; ‘na tāvatkāle pratyakṣaṃ pramāṇam…’ in TP, ‘nanu kālasattve kiṃ pramāṇam pratyakṣamanumānaṃ vā…’ in NL.

[36] Example ; yadapi tattvapradīpikākārair…, etc.

[37] yaccāparamudayano’cūcudat jñānakāraṇamātrādhīnaṃ cet prāmāṇyamapramāpi syāt…

[38] aniyatapratvāsamavāyisamavāyitvarahitaparatvāsamavāyisamavāyimūrtatvarahitaḥ kālaḥ

[39] The Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies, (ed. 1977), Vol. 2, p. 523.

About Matthew Dasti

Matthew R. Dasti is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Bridgewater State University.

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