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substance and attribute

From: Kasturi Varadarajan (
Date: Mon Mar 19 2001 - 06:51:32 PST

Dear Sri Sadananda,

  Chapter 1 of the book 'Fundamentals of Visistadvaita' has a detailed
discussion on he topic of substance and attribute.  "Based on valid
pramanas and in particular our common experience, the visistadvaitin
accepts the concept of substance and attribute. The two, according to
him, are distinct but integrally related. whenever we perceive an
object we comprehend it as qualified by an attribute. Thus, for instance,
when we perceive a blue lotus, we see the flower along with its colour.
That which is substrate or basis for the colour is regarded as 
substance; the colour that cannot exist by itself but oly in relation to
the substance is the attribute."

  In language we accept the notions of substance and attribute. For
example, in the sentence "the rose is red, pretty, and bright" we
predicate of the substance rose the attributes of redness, prettiness,
and brightness. In like manner, in the sentence "satyam jnanam anantam
brahma" we predicate of the substance brahman the attributes of truth,
consciousness and infinitude. (I am giving this example to point
out the relevence of substance-attribute concept to visistadvaita.
There is more discussion of this sentence in the book in the context
of it being a definition of brahman.)

  The book continues "The very distinction made between substance and
attribute is questioned by the critics. The existence of substance other 
than the attributes is not accepted by some buddhists. Similarly, the
real existence of attributes other than the substance is denied by
the advaitins. ......."

  The book is based on vedantadesika's tattva-muktA-kalApa.

best wishes

           - SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH -
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