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Re: Discussion on Substance Attribute Theory

From: Venkat Nagarajan (
Date: Mon Mar 26 2001 - 07:22:18 PST

Dear Sri. Sadananda,

I am writing in response to your questions about the Vis'istAdvaitic Substance Attribute Theory.

Before dealing with specific questions, I wanted to comment on the following statement:  

 " I have to go through this because of the conditioning in this so called scientific groove for umteen years."


There is view among many individuals that a metaphysical conception of reality is not scientific.  This is mainly due to the fact that these individuals are unable to differentiate between idealistic and pragmatic science; and, as a result impose the precondition of empirical verification on rational statements.  This conception of a rational statement, however, is untenable. The application of empirical verification would render most of modern mathematics irrational.  Moreover, since mathematics is the substratum of pragmatic science, the eventual outcome would be rational science being founded on an irrational basis.  Hence the condition of empirical verification is not applicable to idealistic sciences; and, more specifically, it is feasible to have a rational meta-physical conception of reality.

The fundamental axiom of logic is "you have to accept something to establish something." Given this, it follows that there is no such thing as a theory devoid of belief. 

[If you are interested, we can have an offline discussion about nature and structure of streams of thought/ idealistic versus pragmatic science, as it may not be of interest to everyone on the list.] 

Structure and Substance Attribute Theory:

Although not explicit, the Substance Attribute Theory is both structured and comprehensive.   After reading over and contemplating on some of the material for a while, I drafted the following (which was posted about a year or so ago.) The following is just a first attempt to explicate some of the structure; it is not an authoritative product.  I did this mainly to demonstrate the profundity of the Vedic paradigm.  Any credit should go to the author of the book and our great ancestors, any discredit for errors should accrue to me. 

Axiom1. All reals are composed only of substrate and attributes 

The reals (tattvas) have been classified into two broad categories: 
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 recognized 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 in the substratum, which is influenced by an external substance (that is by a substance not within the substance under consideration), is denoted avasthA. 

Axiom 3: Every substrate is subject to avastha. 

Definition 3: Non-substance (adravya) is that which is not substance. 

Axiom 4: A non-substance cannot exist independent of a substance. 
***Combining definition 1 and axiom 4, we can conclude that a catalyst (the real that brings about the change) must also be a substance. 

Response to Your Questions/Statements:

I will follow up with direct responses to your questions/statements shortly.  However, the material presented above, provides answers, in an indirect manner, to some of the questions/statements.

adiyen ramanuja dasan,

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

           - SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH -
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