Prashastapada was an ancient Indian philosopher. He wrote the Padārthadharma-sanghra (Collection of Properties of Matter) and a commentary, titled Prashastapāda Bhāshya , on the Vaisheshika Sutras of Kanada (Circa 6th Century BCE), both texts are comprehensive books in physics covering a range from general physics to quantum physics. In these texts Prashastapada discusses the properties of motion.[1] Ganganath Jha had translated Prashastapāda Bhāshya which translation was published in 1916.[2] Prashasta or Praśasta (Sanskrit: प्रशस्त) means praised or praiseworthy, lauded or laudable, commended or commendable or eulogized.[3]

Dayananda Saraswati writes that the Sutras of Kanāda and Padarthadharmasanghra of Prashastapāda do not show much influence of the Nyaya System.[4] Prashastapāda Bhāshya is actually not a commentary but an independent compendium of the tenets of the Vaisheshika School. [5] Udayanacharya of the Navya-Nyāya School, the author of Lakshanavali which gives the definitions of Vaisheshika terms, and Nyaya Kusumanjali which is a systematic account of Nyaya Theism, who also belonged to Mithila, had written Kiranavali which is a commentary on Prashastapāda Bhāshya .[6]

Prashtapāda lived in the 4th century AD. The Vaisheshika philosophy recognizes twenty-four gunas or qualities that are inherent in substances; these include seventeen gunas listed by Kanada and seven gunas – gurutva (heaviness), dravatva (fluidity), sneha (viscidity), dharma (merit), adharma (demerit), shabda (sound) and samskara (faculty) - added by Prashtapāda. Vyomavati of Vyomashekhara, Nyayakandali of Shridhara, Kiranavali of Udayana and Lilavati of Shrivatsa are well known commentaries on his works.[7]

Prashastapāda refers to a type of perception that is the simple intuition ( alochana ) of the proper form ( svarupa ) of an entity, which is the apprehension of an undifferentiated ( avibhktam ) whole arising from cognition of its specific universals. This is the preliminary stage. He differs from Dignāga for whom the determinates of cognitions are subjective constructs imposed upon the given, and constructive cognition is not a perception; Prashastapāda, who was a realist, avers that the determinates are objective constituents of reality and their conceptual co-relates are not inter-subjective fictions.[8] Prashastapāda by redefining substance as per se a possessor of attributes opened new turf by separating the cosmological from the logical dimensions of concepts. His commentary overshadowed the Vaisheshika Sutras and became the main vehicle for later commentaries.[9] Prashastapāda describes the dissolution of the earth, water, air and fire in terms of their atomic constituents but excludes space because space is non-atomic. With regard to the conjoining and disjoining of atoms he includes a higher will or order as the guiding principle of universal dissolution which over-rides the natural karma of atoms.[10]

Kanāda does not directly refer to Ishvara (God) but Prashastapada sees Ishvara as the cause of the universe[11] but does not explain how God creates.[12]


  1. Premendra Priyadarshi. Modern Physics in Ancient India. p. 7.
  2. Hetukar Jha. Ganganath Jha. Sahitya Akademi. p. 48.
  3. V.S.Apte. The Practical Sanskrit-English Dictionary. The digital Dictionaries of South Asia.
  4. Satya Prakash. Dayananda’s Outline of Vedic Philosophy. Dayanand Sansthan. p. 43.
  5. Encyclopaedia of Oriental philosophy and Religion. Global Vision Publication House. p. 386.
  6. Vishnulok Bihari Srivastva. Dictionary of Indology. V&S Publishers. p. 323.
  7. Roshen Dalal. Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. Penguin Books India. pp. 151, 314.
  8. Encyclopaedia of Asian Philosophy. Routledgpage=419.
  9. Randall Collins. The Socialogy of Philosophies. Harvard University Press. p. 234.
  10. Roopa Hulikal Narayan. Nayaya-Vaisheshika : The Indian Tradition of Physics (PDF).
  11. Roshen Dalal. The Religions of India. Penguin books India. p. 380.
  12. Bulletin of the Ramakrishana Mission Institute of Culture Vol.54. p. 163.
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