One of the six orthodox systems, or darshans, of Indian philosophy. Founded circa 2nd–3rd century AD, it fused with Nyaya in the 11th century, forming the Nyaya-Vaisheshika school. Vaisheshika attempts to identify, inventory, and classify the entities that present themselves to human perception. It lists seven categories of being. It holds that the universe's smallest, indivisible, indestructible unit is the atom, which is made active through God's will, and that all physical things are a combination of the atoms of earth, water, fire, and air.
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Vaisesika espouses a form of atomism and postulates that all objects in the physical universe are reducible to a finite number of atoms. Originally proposed by the sage (or Kana-bhuk, literally, atom-eater) from the c. 6th century BC.
An alternative view would qualify the above in that the holism evident in the ancient texts mandate the identification of six separate traditional environments of philosophy, consisting of three sets of two pairs.
1.Dravya (substance): The substances are conceived as 9 in number. They are, (earth), ap (water), tejas (fire), (air), , (time), dik (space), (self) and manas (mind). The first five are called s, the substances having some specific qualities so that they could be perceived by one or the other external senses.
2. (quality): The mentions 17 s (qualities), to which added another 7. While a substance is capable of existing independently by itself, a (quality) cannot exist so. The original 17 s (qualities) are, (colour), rasa (taste), gandha (smell), (touch), (number), (size), (inidividuality), (conjunction), (disjunction), paratva (priority), aparatva (posteriority), buddhi (knowledge), sukha (pleasure), (pain), (desire), (aversion) and prayatna (effort). To these added gurutva (heaviness), dravatva (fluidity), sneha (viscosity), dharma (merit), adharma (demerit), (sound) and (faculty).
3.Karma (activity): The karmas (activities) like s (qualities) have no separate existence, they belong to the substances. But while a quality is a permanent feature of a substance, an activity is a transient one. , (time), dik (space) and (self), though substances, are devoid of karma (activity).
4. (generality): Since there are plurality of substances, there will be relations among them. When a property is found common to many substances, it is called .
5. (particularity): By means of , we are able to perceive substances as different from one another. As the ultimate atoms are innumerable so are the s.
6. (inherence): defined as the relation between the cause and the effect. defined it as the relationship existing between the substances that are inseparable, standing to one another in the relation of the container and the contained. The relation of is not perceivable but only inferable from the inseparable connection of the substances.
According to the school, the (dust particles visible in the sunbeam coming through a small window hole) are the smallest mahat (perceivable) particles and defined as s (triads). These are made of three parts, each of which are defined as (dyad). The s are conceived as made of two parts, each of which are defined as (atom). The s (atoms) are indivisible and eternal, it can neither be created nor destroyed. Each (atom) possesses its own distinct (individuality).