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JESON WOO

ONENESS AND MANYNESS: VACASPATIMI


SRA
AND
RATNAKIRTI ON AN ASPECT OF CAUSALITY1

. avarttika,

In the third chapter of the Praman


Dharmakrti makes a
significant remark: a cause produces many effects.2 It is also found in
3
. avarttikasvavr

the Praman
. tti. This remark is based on the following
positions of momentariness (ks. an. ikatva):

) is the producer of
(1) A momentary thing in a causal set (samagr
effects by its own essence.4
(2) A momentary thing produces its own effect as the main cause
ana)

and at the same time it produces the effects of its


(upad
5

co-operating causes as a co-operating cause (sahakarin).

This view of Dharmakrti has been misunderstood in modern scholarship


since Th. Stcherbatsky (1962) explained the notion of causality in the
Buddhist Praman. a school in Vol. I of his book Buddhist Logic. He
devotes one chapter to the discussion of causality and the gist of his
arguments can be found there as follows:
When the soil, moisture, heat and seed series of moments unite, their last moments
are followed by the first moment of the sprout. Buddhist causality is thus a many-one
relation. It receives the name of a one-result production theory.6

The aim of my article is to reconsider this statement of Stcherbatsky,


which has continued to exert a strong influence up to recent days.7 In
order to demonstrate his misinterpretation, I shall examine the arguments
as to oneness and manyness between Vacaspatimisra and Ratnakrti.

II

First, I would like to deal with Vacaspatimisras criticism on the above


view of Dharmakrti. According to Vacaspatimisra, a cause could
produce many effects in only one of two ways: either by one essence
Journal of Indian Philosophy 28: 225231, 2000.
c 2000 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.

226

JESON WOO

or by many essences. In the first case, the property of being the main
anat
a)
and that of being a co-operating cause (sahakarit
a)

cause (upad
are identical. In the second case, on the other hand, these two properties
are different.8 Vacaspatimisra seeks to prove the impossibility of the
production of many effects in either way. He argues as follows:

When the last seed-moment that is independent of [auxiliary causes (sahakarin)]


produces a sprout, etc., suppose that it also produces soil and so on by the same
essence by which it produces a sprout. Then, the soil and so on would also end up
. a) is identical.9
having the same essence as the sprout because their cause (karan

The Buddhist concept of existence (sattva) is by nature without an

The substitution of one property


underlying single substance (anatman).
(dharma) for another results in the substitution of one entity for another.10
There is no entity beyond its property. Consequently, an entity is equated
with a property. Vacaspatimisra here argues that if being the main
cause and being a co-operating cause, as the properties of a seed,
are one and the same, both a sprout and soil, etc., should end up
being identical because their cause is one and the same. Otherwise, an
unwanted consequence follows in Dharmakrtis position that the variety

would be accidental.11 Vacaspatimsra


of those effects (karyabheda)
argues that we do not actually see the variety of effects produced from
the cause which has the same essence. A valid cognition proves a
seed cannot be the producer of both a sprout and soil, etc., by one
essence.
Vacaspatimisra continues to controvert the plurality of effects. He
now denies that a cause produces many effects by many essences.
If [a seed has] both being the main cause and being a co-operating cause, are [these
properties of the seed] one or diverse? If the two are one, how can [the seed] be the
producer [of a sprout, etc.] by different essences? On the other hand, if the two are
diverse, are the two identical with or different from the seed? If they are different
from [the seed], how can the seed be the producer [of a sprout, etc.]? For a sprout
and so on are produced from nothing but the two. On the other hand, if the two
are identical with [the seed], why isnt the seed diverse? For it is identical to more
than one thing. Otherwise, the two would be one because they are identical to one
thing.12

In the Naiyayikas position, the property (dharma) and the propertypossessor (dharmin) are different.13 The property-possessor is in the
form of a substrate (asraya), and the property resides in it through the
relation of subject and attribute.14 The former is taken as the abiding and
constant, while the latter changes. Vacaspatimisra investigates how two
anatva)

and being a co-operating


properties, being the main cause (upad

cause (sahakaritva), are related to the property-possessor that is here


a seed. We can analyze his objection as follows:

ONENESS AND MANYNESS

1.
1.1.
1.2.
1.2.1.
1.2.2.
2.
2.1.
2.2.1.
2.2.2.

227

Premises
anatva)

and being a co-operating


Being the main cause (upad

belong to a seed as one (eka).


cause (sahakaritva)
The two properties belong to a seed as many (aneka).
The two properties are different from a seed.
The two properties are identical with a seed.
Unwanted consequences
A sprout and soil, etc., would end up being one and the same.
. a) of a sprout, etc.
A seed would not be the cause (karan
From the perspective that the two properties have different
self-identities, the self-same seed would be broken into two
different entities. From the perspective that a seed is one and
the same, on the other hand, the two properties would have to
be identical.

occurs in every possible premise.


An unwanted consequence (prasanga)
This implies that a seed cannot produce both a sprout and soil, etc., by
many essences either.
Vacaspatimisras criticism attempted to show that causation is
impossible in the momentary things. It rests on the Naiyayikas account

of the effect. For the Naiyayikas, the totality


of the producer (karaka)
of all the necessary causes is the producer of the effect.15 Production

from auxiliary causes


comes about as a result of the help (upakara)

In the case of the production of a sprout, a seed as an


(sahakarin).
entity having one and the same essence in its whole duration produces
a sprout when it joins to its auxiliary causes, such as soil and water,
and gets help from them. However, the auxiliary causes always remain
just as auxiliary. Vacaspatimistra holds the position that if a cause is
non-differentiated, there is no way that its effect is differentiated.16 As
a result, he maintains that one cause produces one effect.17

III

In response to Vacaspatimisras argument, Ratnakri explains the essence


of a momentary thing. The point at issue is whether being the main
cause and being a co-operating cause are different on the actual level
or on the conceptual level. Ratnakrti does not consider that the two
properties are different on the actual level. The idea is that when one
speaks of actions and agents, one considers them separately, but that
this is only a conceptually created difference: such differences cannot be
grasped by direct perception.18 Let us see Ratnakrtis own statement:

228

JESON WOO

Although there may be conceptual differentiation of the essences, such as being the
anatva),

main cause (upad


because of the differentiation of each respective exclusion
. tti), [a momentary thing] actually produces many effects only by one and
(tattadvyavr
the same essence.19

Being the main cause and being a co-operating cause are conceptual constructions (vikalpa) based on the exclusion of something else

The two properties are different only on the conceptual


(anyapoha).
20
level. They are predicates for describing a particular property (vises. a)
which belongs to the same seed. It is well-known that an identical thing
can be expressed in various ways. For instance, the same female may
be called both a mother and a daughter: a mother with reference to
her children and a daughter with reference to her own mother. Likewise, although a seed is one and the same, it is called the main cause
with reference to a sprout, while it is called a co-operating cause with
reference to the fresh soil, etc. Consequently, Ratnakrti supports the
idea that a seed is able to produce both a sprout and soil, etc., by one
essence.
Another attempt of Ratnakrti to refute Vacaspatimisras view is to

between being produced from


explain that there is no pervasion (vyapti)
21
. ajanyatva) and oneness of effect (karyaikatva).

one cause (ekakaran


The opponents position is valid only if the domain of the latter per . a) produces
vades that of the former. That is, one cause (ekakaran

However, such a pervasion (vyapti)


is not
only one effect (ekakarya).
observed because there is no incompatibility (virodha) between being
. ajanyatva) and manyness of effect
produced from one cause (ekakaran
22
anekatva).

It is not the case that many effects cannot be pro(kary

) because it is proved
duced from one cause in a causal set (samagr
through perception (pratyaks. a) that many effects are produced from
it.23 It follows from this explanation that a seed takes part in producing
soil, etc., as well as a sprout.
Ratnakrti does not agree with Vacaspatimisra on the above idea
that if the cause is non-differentialted, the effect is non-differentiated.
. a) means the
He argues that since for the Naiyayikas, the cause (karan

itself, the idea actually expresses that there is


causal totality (sakalya)
no heterogeneity of the effect if there is homogeneity of the cause. The
same type of causal totality does not produce a heterogeneous type
of effect.24 In the case of a seed, the causal totality of the seed, etc.,
always produces a sprout, soil and so on, but not any other type of
thing. There are no grounds for this idea for Vacaspatimisra to deny the
plurality of effects. Thus, Ratnakrti establishes that a cause produces
many effects.

ONENESS AND MANYNESS

229

IV

In the previous arguments, Vacaspatimisra and Ratnakrti understand the


structure of causation in different ways. According to Vacaspatimisra,
the producer of the effect is the totality of a cause and its auxiliary
causes. However, the auxiliary causes function only as an assistant

A cause brings about a single effect with the help of its


(upakaraka).
auxiliary causes. So Vacaspatimisras causality is a one-one relation.
According to Ratnakrti, on the other hand, the producer of the effect is
a cause as an individual entity.25 A thing may be expressed in various
ways. A cause in a causal set is expressed to be the main cause with
reference to its own effect while it is expressed to be a co-operating cause
with reference to other causes in the same causal set. So Ratnakrtis
causality is a one-many relation. Therefore, we can conclude that while
a one-effect production is the position of Nyaya-Vaises. ika school,
a many-effect production is the position of the Buddhist Praman. a
school.
NOTES
1

In this article, I do not intend to demonstrate all aspects of causation in the


positions of Vacaspatimisra and Ratnakrti. But rather, I will focus on dealing with
ana)

whether a main cause (upad


produces a single effect or many effects.
2

See PV III.534cd: ekam


sy
ad
api
samagryor
ity uktam
.
. tad anekakr. t.
3
PVSV 45,2: anekakr. d eko pi.
4
. aiva
PVSV 86,56: yad ekasya tajjanakam
. tad anyasya nety anyo pi svarupen
. atattv
A momentary thing is existent only for a moment

janako na pararupen
at.
(ks. an. a). For this reason, it disappears before any relation takes place. There is no

concurrent help between the causes belonging to the same causal set (samagr
). A
thing under the condition of approaching together (upasarpan. a) is the producer as
an individual entity.
5

anasahak

ekasmad
apy
See PVV 168,19: ekasya rupasyop
ad
aribh
avenopayog
ad

anekam
iti.
. karyam
. jayata
6
Stcherbatsky (1962): 129.
7
See Bhartiya (1973): 104 and Gupta (1990): 120 and 125.
8
The switch from oneness to identity and from manyness to difference is
one that Indian authors found perfectly natural. See Tillemans (1983): 305306.
9

KSA 79,2527: antyo


bjaks. an. o napeks. o nkur
adikam
. kurvan yadi yenaiva
. ankuram

apy ankurasv

avy
apattir

rupen
karoti
tenaiva
ks
ity
adikam
,
tad
a
ks
ity
ad
nam
abh
.
.
.
.
. atvad.
See also NK 96,2931, NVTT 841,2426 and KBhA 49,1820:
abhinnakaran

. si janayat kim
api cantyaks
jam anapeks. yankur
avanipavanap
athas
tejam
. an
. apraptam
. b
.
. ankuram

. y api, kim
antaren

yenaiva rupen
. janayati tenaiva taditaran
. va rup
. a. na tavat

apy ankurasv

avy
apatteh

tenaiva, ks. ityad


nam
abh
..
10
Raspatt (1995): 169.
11

at.

NK 97,1 and NVTT 841,25: karyabhedasy


akasmikatvaprasa
ng
12

a va.

KSA 79,3080,3: yady evam


sahak
aritvop
ad
anatve,
kim
ekam
.
. tattvam
. nan
antaren

atve

bhedo bhedo
ekam
tv anayor bjad
. cet, katham
. rup
. a janakam. nan

230

JESON WOO

bhede katham

evankur


utpatteh
va.
jasya janakatvam
am
ad
nam
. b
. tabhy
. . abhede va
atvam
. bhinnatad
atmy

etayor vaikatvam ekatad


atmy

See
katham
jasya na nan
at,
at.
. b
antaren

itares. am

. janakam.
. ks. ityad
also NVTT 842,712: rup
jam ankur
ad
nam
. a b

anam
. tatsarabh

.u
tatha hi bjam ankurasyop
ad
agavikriyay
ankurasyotpatteh
. , ks. ityadis
purve


. yathasvam

an
ani

tu janayitavyes. u sahakari,
tu ks. ityadayah
nam
upad
. ks. ityad

anate

a
tadvikriyaya tadutpattir iti cet, atha sahakaritop
ad
kim ekam
. tattvam
. nan
ekam
antaren

atve

bhedo bhedo va.

va.
tayor bjad
. cet, katham
. rup
. a janakam
. , nan

evankur


utpatteh
bhede katham
jasya janakatvam
am
ad
nam
. b
. tabhy
. . abhede va
atmy

tayor vaikarupatvam

atmy

and
katham
jasya bhinnatad
at.
eva tad
at
. na bhedo b

KBhA 49,2250,6 from NK 97,110: yad aha,


ayam eva hi bhedo bhedahetur va

. , karan
. abhedas ceti. napi
samagr

yad uta viruddhadharmadhy


asah
bhedah. , tasyapy
anyatha sahabhavaniyam

av
at,
rup
antaren

. janakam. tatha hi
ekatvat.
abh
. a taditares. am

anam,

bjam ankuram
tadvikriyaya tadutpatteh. . taditares. u punar asya
. janayad upad

tes. am

an
ani,

tu purvapavan
sahakaripratyayat
a,
adayo
yathasvam
upad
tadvikriyaya
ad
iti cet. nanu sahakaritop

anate

a va.
ekam
tadutpad
ad
kim ekam
. tattvam
. nan
. cet,
antaren

atve

bhedo bhedo va.


bhede katham
katham
tv anayor bjad
. rup
. a janakam. nan
.

evankur


utpatteh
bjasya janakatvam
am
ad
nam
jasya na
. tabhy
. . abhede va katham
. b
atvam
. , bhinnatad
atmy

etayor vaikatvam ekatad


atmy

nan
at.
at.
13
NVTT 843,1819: dharmas ca dharmin. o vastuto bhidhyate.
14
See Halbfass (1992): 258.
15
akalyam

NBhus. 521,3: sahakaris


. hi tasya saktih
..
16
. abhede

NK 96,3197,1 and NVTT 841,25: na khalu karan


bhedavat karyam
.
bhavitum arhati.
17
. aikakaran
See also KBhA 52,14: ekakaran
. aniyama and KBhA 36,37:
at
karan
. at

.,
karyabhedam
trilocanas caryayati . . . na hy ekasvabhav
. pasyamah

at.

visvasyahetukatvaprasa
ng
18
Tillemans (1984): 372n. 24.
19
. ttibhedam asrityopad
anatv

alpanikasvabh

KSA 81,1921: tattadvyavr


adik
avabhede

. anekak

pi paramarthata
ekenaiva svarupen
aryanis
ad.
. padan
20

na tattviko

KBhA 40,3: kalpanika


eva bhedapratibhaso
bhedah. .
21
. ajanyatvaikatvayor vyapteh
. pratihatatvat.

See KSA 81,2526: ekakaran


22
anekotpattir avirodhin
See KBhA 39,1011: ekasmad
.
23

See KSA 81,2728: na punah. samagr


madhyagatenaikenanekam
. karyam
. na

anekotpatteh

kartavyam
ekasmad
. nama,
. pratyaks. asiddhatvat.
24
at
tu karan
. an

amagry

na karyabheda
See KBhA 37,910: ekasvabhav
iti samanas
a

na karyavaij
atyam
ity arthah. .
25

naikam
am
.
See KSA 75,1314: samagr
janika,
. janakam iti sthiravadin
avis. ayah
manorathasyapy
..

BIBLIOGRAPHY AND ABBREVIATIONS

Primary Sources
KBhA
KSA
KSV

adhy

Jnanasrmitra. Ks. an. abhang


aya,
in A. Thakur. (2nd ed.)
sr

Jnana
mitranibandhavalih
. , pp. 1159. Patna: Kashi Prasad Jayaswal
Research Institute, 1987.

in A. Thakur. (2nd ed.)


Ratnakrti. Ks. an. abhangasiddhi-Anvay
atmik
a,

Ratnakrtinibandhavalih
. , pp. 6782. Patna: Kashi Prasad Jayaswal
Research Institute, 1975.

See Thakur (1975):


Ratnakrti. Ks. an. abhangasiddhi-Vyatirek
atmik
a.
8395.

ONENESS AND MANYNESS

NBhus.
NK
NKandal
NVTT

PV
PVV
PVSV

231

. an
Bhasarvajna. Nyayabh
us
anandah. , Varan. as:
. a. Ed. by S. Yogndr
Sad. darsana Prakasana Pratis. t.hanam, 1968.

Ed. by M. Goswami. Varanasi: Tara


Vacaspatimisra. Nyayakan
. ika.
Publications, 1978.
dhara. Nyayakandal

Sr
. Ed. by J. S. Jetly and V. G. Parikh. Vadodara:
Oriental Institute, 1991.
arttikat

. ya,
Vacaspatimisra. Nyayav
atparyat
atsyayanas Bhas
. ka with V

Uddyotakaras Varttika,
and Visvanathas Vr. tti. Ed. by T. NyayaTarkatirtha and A. Tarkatirka. 2nd ed. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal
Publishers Private Limited. 1985.
. avarttika

Dharmakrti. Praman
with Manorathanandins
. avarttikavr

. ty
Praman
ankr
ayana. Patna: Kashi Prasad
. tti. Ed. by R. S
Jayaswal Research Institute, 1953.
. avarttikavr

Manorathanandin. Praman
. tti. See PV.
. avarttikasvavr

Dharmakrti. Praman
. tti. Ed. by R. Gnoli. Roma: Instituto
Italiano per il Medio de Estremo Oriente, 1960.

Secondary Sources
Bhartiya, M.C. (1973). Causation in Indian Philosophy. Ghaziabad: Vimal Prakashan.
Gupta, R. (1990). Essays on Dependent Origination and Momentariness. Calcutta:
Sanskrit Pustak Bhandar.
Halbfass, W. (1992). On Being and What There Is. New York: State University of
New York Press.
Rospatt, A. (1995). The Buddhist Doctrine of Momentariness. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner.
Stcherbatsky, Th. (1962). Buddhist Logic. Vol. I and II. New York: Dover Publications.

and its
Tillemans, T. (1983). The Neither One nor Many Argument for sunyat
a,
Tibetan Interpretations, in E. Steinkellner and H. Tauscher (eds.), Contributions
on Tibetan and Buddhist Religion and Philosophy, Vol. 2, pp. 305320. Wien:
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Tillemans, T. (1984). Two Tibetan Texts on the Neither One nor Many Argument

Journal of Indian Philosophy 12: 357388.


for sunyat
a,

University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Penn.
USA