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Re: Post 3d) Classification of relas

From: Venkat Nagarajan (
Date: Wed Jun 16 1999 - 13:14:35 PDT

Dear bhagavatas,

In the next post adiyen will continue the discussion 
on the classification of reals.  In order to refresh the 
memory of bhagavatas adiyen will commence with 
a summary of the previous posts.  Adiyen is trying 
to be thorough and technical in presenting the 
material in order to explicate: thorough and rational this most perfect 
explaination of the nature of reality Vis'istAdvaita is
2. the absurdity of equating Vis'istAdvaita with 
dogma based theology or irrational idealistic or 
atheistic philosophies. 
3.Vedanta Desika is a nitya suri who had 
an extraordinary extraneous set of knowledge 
(or mundane knowledge) and was blessed with an 
extremely sound body and
mind (by Isvara.) Using his extremely sound body
and mind, he firmly established Vis'istAdvaita 
Vedanta and caused irreparable damage to the 
nihilistic and sudo-nihilistic philosophies. 

Summary of Earlier Posts:

Some Preliminaries:

Distinction Between Definition and Axiom:

The difference between definitions and axioms is 
important to note.  I am not sure if the original Sanskrit 
texts explicate this distinction, but it is definitely implicit
in the English commentaries.  

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! 

In post 1, a real was defined as that which is not 
negated by any of the three valid means of acquiring 

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.


1. Clay is a substance (name clay refers to the substratum)
that is subject to change [relates to definition 1.] When it is 
shaped as a pot or a vase, we see a clay pot or a clay vase; 
substratum as qualified by the attribute within.
[relates to definition 2 and the axioms.]

2.  A monitor Screen is a substance (dravya.)  
-Just like clay, the monitor screen is subject to change; 
these changes are perceived by our sense of sight.  
[I am making use of definition 1 here to classify a real 
as a substance.]
-When we see the screen, we always see it as either a 
off-screen, or a screen-saver screen and so on.  
Thus, we cognise the substratum (remember the 
name screen applies to the substratum) as qualified 
by an attribute (the state the screen is in; off, screen-saver
, and so on.) 
[Axioms like 2a) and 2b), draw support from pratyaksa 
PramAna (Perception as a valid means of acquiring knowledge)]  

3.  A Light bulb is a substance (dravya.)  Just like the monitor 
screen, the light bulb is also subject to change; the 
change is inseparably related to the light bulb and is
initiated by the power button (the power button is a real 
not within the light bulb.) [I am making use of the refined 
statement of definition 1 to classify a real as a substance.]

4. [ An example where a real undergoes a modification, but 
the modification is not considered an attribute, since it 
is not inseparably related to the real.]

A pencil is a real.  Treat it as an unclassified item, for now.  
Placing the pencil on a sheet of paper initiates a change, 
but this modification is not an attribute of the pencil, as it is not
inseparably related to it.

Summary Ends

Note: The source for following is *Fundamentals of Vis*istAdvaita
VedAnata: A study based on Vedanta Des*ika*s:
Tattva-MuktA-KalApa*, by Sri. S.M.S. Chari.  The material 
above is not verbatim, but is in accordance with the material 
presented in the book.  Copies are available, please 
e-mail if interested.  It is our duty to each buy a copy, 
for Sri. S.M.S.Chari produced this excellent work, out 
of great compassion.  (He is sharing his tremendous 
knowledge with us, the less fortunate, who do not have 
the capacity to read and understand the original Sanskrit
texts. )