You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : August 1999

Classification of Reals Cont'd

From: Venkat Nagarajan (
Date: Tue Aug 03 1999 - 14:59:38 PDT

Dear Bhagavatas,
NamO nArAyaNA.

This post is an element of a continuing series of posts on 
classification of reals.  The material to be presented is based 
on Sri. S.M.S. Chari's,  Fundamentals of Vis'istAdvaita.  
Please note what follows is not verbatim, but is in accordance 
with the material presented in the book.  

Please note the following:
1. The required background material from previous posts 
has been attached at the bottom of the post.  
2. This material cannot be digested properly by cursory  
reading; it must be studied in a thorough manner.
3.   Any errors are mine alone.  

"SrimAn VenkatanAthArya: kavithArkika kEsarI!
VedAnthAchArya varyO mE sannidhatthAM sadhA hrudhi"!!
In previous posts, the concept of attributes was discussed, but
only at a level of detail that was required to define and outline 
the axioms related to substance and non substance.  This post 
deals exclusively with attributes; for, without a thorough 
understanding of the concept of attributes it is not possible to, 
grasp, fully, the immutable character of the jiva. 

An attribute can be thought of as a property or quality associated 
with a real.  The key thing to note is that under this definition 
an attribute can be either substance or non substance.

Attributes have been classified into two broad categories; 
mainly essential attributes and secondary attributes.

Definition 5.  Essential Attributes (svarUpa-nirUpaka-dharma):
Attributes that are integrally related to a real and as a result 
form the basis for differentiation (of that real from other classes 
of reals) are denoted as essential attributes.
Definition 6.  Secondary Attributes (nirUpita-svarUpa-Vis'esana):
Externally related attributes, which only become manifest after 
the essential attributes are fully understood, are denoted 
secondary attributes. 

Classifying Attributes- An Illustration:  

1. Both Jiva and Brahman are self luminous.    Since self 
luminosity differentiates jiva and Brahman from  substances
that are not sentient, it is an essential attribute.

2.  Jiva is Anu or infinitesimal (another essential attribute of jiva. )
Note, both jiva and Brahman fall in the class of  sentient substance, but 
while jiva is Anu, Brahman is vibhu.  In this case the essential attribute 
serves as a basis of differentiation within a class of substances.

Several illustrations of both types of attributes to follow in the next post.

The Concept of Substance Existing Within Another Substance 
As An Attribute:

Using  Agama as a PramAna we obtain the following.
1.Jiva is a sentient real
2.Knowledge is a non-sentient real that inheres the jiva, as an 
essential attribute
3. Knowledge is subject to avastha (a special type of modification, 
refer to background definitions) due to the influence of an 
external real, karma.

Based on the 3 rd point, the Vis'istAdvaitan concludes that  
attributive knowledge (dharma-bhuta-jnana, knowledge relating to 
reals other than jiva) is substance.  

Moreover, since dharma-bhuta-jnana exists within the jiva as an 
essential attribute, it follows that change in dharma-bhuta-jnana, 
(contraction/expansion) is inseparably related to jiva.  Thus, jiva is 
also substance (please refer to definition of substance in background 
section if unable to follow the reasoning.)

Since both jiva and dharma-bhuta-jnana, are beyond the 
realm of perception, the following illustrative example, which is 
within the realm of perception, may be helpful.


Ocean is a real which is recognized by perception.
A wave is also a real recognized by perception.
The wave is integrally related to the ocean and
is a basis of differentiation (i.e., based on
the attribute of waves, the ocean can be 
differentiated from other reals such as pond, 
lake and so on.)

A wave is subject to change in height; this change 
is inseparably related to the wave and is brought about 
by the influence of external factors (one factor being 
the lunar cycle.)

Thus, the wave is substance.

However, the wave exists within the ocean as an essential
Attribute; thus, it follows that the change in the
Wave (height) is inseparably related to the ocean.  

Hence, ocean is also a substance.

The ocean is a substratum for the wave and the 
wave a substratum for the wave height.  

The concept of substrate is abstract (i.e., 
the substratum cannot be seen.) Even though 
substrate and attribute are distinct, we only 
perceive substance (substrate as qualified 
by attribute.)  The concept of a substrate 
is much like that of number.  A number 
cannot be seen, but it can be processed 
by the mind. 

In the next post, there will be several illustrations of 
both types of attributes.  The post will also discuss
the immutable character of the jiva.

KavitArkika simhAya kalyAna guna s'aline|
S'rimate VenkatesAya VedAnta Gurave' Namaha|

adiyEn ramanuja dasan,


Summary of Required Background Material
Definition: A real is that which is not negated by any of the three 
valid means of acquiring knowledge. 

Axiom1. All reals are composed only of substrate and 

The reals (tattvas) have been classified into two broad 

1. Substance (dravya)
2. Non-Substance (adravya)

Definition 1: A real that under the influence of an external 
real is subject to a change which is inseparably related to
the real (avastha), as recognised by the valid means of acquiring
knowledge, is denoted a substance.

Axiom 2 a) A substance is composed of a substratum
(foundational layer to which the name refers) and 
attribute (s). The attribute (attributes) is within (are within)
the substratum. Although distinct from the substratum, 
an attribute is inseparably related to it (an attribute can 
only exist within some substratum.)

Axiom 2 b) A substance is always cognized as a substratum 
qualified by an attribute.

Definition 2: A modification (avasthA) in the substratum, 
which is influenced by an external substance 
(that is by a substance not within the substance under 
consideration), is an attribute of the substance. 

Axiom 3: Every substrate is subject to avastha. 

Definition 3: Non-substance (adravya) is that which is not 
Axiom 4: A non-substance cannot exist independent of a 

***Combining definition 1 and axiom 4, we can conclude
that a catalyst (the real that brings about the change)
must also be a substance.

Special cases:

1. A substance can be within another substance as an 
attribute. For example, Jnana (Knowledge) is a substance, 
but it is within another substance Jiva (roughly individual 
soul) as an attribute.

2. A modification (avastha) is an attribute, but an attribute 
may not be a modification. For instance, cowness 
(the consolidated attribute) is an attribute that is inseparable 
from cow, but this attribute is not effected by external 
substances; thus, it is not a modification.


Definition, Axiom, Dogma and Premise:

A definition outlines certain properties and specifies 
a label to be assigned to the reals (substances and 
non substances) that satisfy these properties.

An axiom is a declaration of a statement of fact that 
must be accepted as such without proof. The 
statement of fact is based on support from one or 
more of the sources of valid information outlined 
earlier. If an axiom is based solely on perception, 
it cannot be disputed without a valid counter example!