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Re: substance and attribute

From: K. Sadananda (
Date: Wed Mar 21 2001 - 04:59:51 PST

Thanks Kastuuri - for your kind  response.  Shree Krishna Kalale 
referred me the book and some of these questions in fact arose while 
I am studying these concepts.  I am going to raise the issues to get 
little more clarification of my understanding.  I want to be clear in 
my understanding and all my questions are towards that end. I am 
assuming these questions are  not beyond the scope of this list.

>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.

Yes I understand the paragraphs and also followed through Indian 
logicians arguments in terms of substance and attributes.  I know 
that in VishishhTaadviata and even dwaita accept that substance is 
different from attributes and there is relation between the two - the 
rule of inherence - associated with these.  - 'Based on valid 
pramaaNa and in particular our common experience" - Here I am 
questioning validity of these pramaaNa and experience - The 
attributes are recognized by the senses and that is the pratyaksha 
pramaaNa - I have no problem there - blue lotus or green lotus - the 
blue ness one can see and the form of the lotus one can - that is all 
eyes can see - the color and form -But form and color are not the 
substance.  Form includes all its paraphernalia - curvatures, length, 
height, etc, etc.  Eyes cannot see anything other than these 
attributes. Ears can hear , touch can provide softness texture etc 
all are attributes - input from different senses.  Now where is the 
-substance - recognized by the senses.  Sense can only recognize the 
attribtues.  But attributes are not the substance.  Substance has the 
attributes.  Anubhava or experience is - based on conditioning of the 
mind to the association of the attributes  with a locus of attributes 

I am asking here -  there is a substance out there which is locus for 
the attributes - is it an inferential statement of the mind based on 
the conclusion that there must be a substance for the attributes to 
have a locus.  What I am asking is - that the substance exists is a 
inferential conclusion or factual statement. How can we tell this 

Or is it an axiomatic statement that there is substance out there 
since I am seeing attributes?  - This is what I am trying to resolve 
- axioms verses statement of facts based on validity of pramaaNa.

Inference, I am sure you are aware, is anumaana pramaaNa (separate 
from anubhava), it requires again vyaapti j~naanam or concomitant 
relation and that is again  should relay either on pratyaksha if it 
is loukika anumaana or shabda if it is shaasriiya anumaana - or 
scriptural declarations. Pratyaksha does not help since I am back to 
just attributes and not substance. If it is shabda then - where 
exactly it is said and how is it interpreted comes into question.

Anubhava or experience is not considered as pramaaNa since it is 
subjective - it may confirm the knowledge but not considered as an 
independent pramaaNa or means of knowledge.  Even if everyone has the 
same anubhava does not validate still as pramaaNa.  I am aware that 
Bhagavaan Madhvachaarya considers an experience as knowledge. 
Everyone experiences the sun rise and sun set, yet sun does not rise 
or set is a real knowledge.

I do not know if you can sympathize my labor pains - I have to go 
through this because of the conditioning in this so called scientific 
groove for umteen years.

>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.)

Yes you are right - that is exactly I will be driving towards 
ultimately to resolve in my own mind - I know Bhagavaan Ramanuja 
emphasizes that - That is the reason I was asking the question about 
jiiva in moksha too - what are attributes of jiiva and what swaruupa 
lakshaNa-s  in contrast to tatastha lakshhaNa-s - is there an 
hierarchy of jiiva and on what basis  - is it based on attributes or 
intrinsic nature and how is that intrinsic nature is recognized or is 

>   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. ......."

At this stage of the game - If you excuse me for saying so - I am 
trying to find the truth - not in particular what  buddhists say or 
advaitins say, ultimately I have to resolve in my own mind.   See I 
am a student of Science and Vedanta and trying to understand the 
nature of the reality.  Please do not misunderstand me - I am not 
trying to reinvent the wheel only trying to understand the wheel  or 
wheels.  I am trying to understand  the fact with my limited 
intellect and taking the help as much as possible from the great 
source of knowledge of the achaarya-s.  Trying to understand the 
beauty of this creation and that infinite intelligence behind this 
creation - That is where I am finding my bhakti.

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

Yes - at the advise of Shree Krishana Kalale I am getting many 
vishishhTadvaita books and also through these lists and listening to 
great achaaryas and corresponding with them I am trying to clarify my 
understanding. It is difficult to study these texts without a 
teacher, hence I am posing these questions to the lists to gain 
knowledge from those who have already gone through these pains - in 
that sense these list serve is a blessing indeed for those who want 
to learn.

Hari Om!

>best wishes
>            - SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH -
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K. Sadananda
Code 6323
Naval Research Laboratory
Washington D.C. 20375
Voice (202)767-2117

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           - SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH -
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