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The Darsanās are the great schools of philosophy in Hinduism. These are also called the Astika (orthodox) philosophical traditions and are those that accept the Vedas as authoritative, important source of knowledge. Nyāya and Vaisheshikā are two of the most important philosophies among these 6 darśanas.
Let’s know some more.
Darshana or darsanā literally translates to and also ,means ,seeing or making oneself seen. Figuratively, it means what has been seen, understood or known as the established truth. In Hindu tradition devotees visit religious places and temples to have a darshan of the deity. In the past kings in India would give an audience to the people and the officials who came to see them to give them an opportunity to interact with them or place their requests and appeals. It was part of the darshana tradition only.
In continuation of the tradition, even today people in India would eagerly wait for hours for the darshana of spiritual gurus and prominent public personalities. The darshana of a deity or a spiritual master is considered auspicious and purifying. Hence, people frequently visit them to declare their faith or allegiance. Thus, in a generally sense darshana means having a direct vision of a rare object, a holy person, or a person of great significance.
It is also used to mean a book or a scripture. For example, Tattva darshana means a book or a treatise on philosophy. The same holds true for Yoga Darshana, or Jnana Darshana. Darshana also means a perspective, view point, or a way of seeing eternal and philosophical truths. In the religions of Indian origin, a darshana refers to a body, system, or school of philosophy. In Hinduism there are six such darshanas or schools of philosophy, namely Sāṅkhya, Yoga, Nyāya, Vaiśeṣika, Mīmāṃsā and Vedanta. Each has a long history, believers, literary sources, and several sub schools. They variously speculate upon the nature of existence, God, soul, matter, Nature, reality, creation, truth, means to liberation, cause and effect, and so on according to their foundational beliefs.
So,the Nyāya School of Philosophy. This school comes primarily from the Nyāyakusumanjali by Udayana, written to prove the existence of God in 9 valid arguments.
Nyāya means rule, law, justice or right judgment. The Nyaya school deals with “logical realism” of the world as an independent realty that is separate from the thinking and cognitive minds. In other words, the world exists not because you think so but because it has an independent existence of its own which is verifiable through logical inquiry and parameters (pramānas) of truth. Thus, clearly the school is dualistic and attempts to establish the truths concerning the world and its numerous aspects by logical and rational means.
In that approach Nyāya follows the Vaisheshika school, which strongly emphasizes the importance of right knowledge or valid knowledge, and the right means (pramanas) to perceive reality and establish truth. Right knowledge is the knowledge that corresponds to the nature of the object, without the distortions of the mind and the senses. Since it is an independent reality, it remains unaltered by our knowing or not knowing. It can be known only through pure perception, aided by right knowledge that is acquired through right methods of knowing and reasoning.
Nyāya goes to great lengths and suggests several techniques of reasoning to prove the existence of things and ascertain their valid knowledge. Suffering is the result of ignorance, or wrong knowledge, which causes delusion, whereby one develops wrong notions about the realities of existence. Liberation is gained by overcoming ignorance and delusion, and by gaining right knowledge. The Nyāya Sutras, composed by Akshapada Gautama, is the foundational work of the school, which expounds its essential philosophy and the methods of arriving at truth. Vatsayana (A.D. 400) wrote a commentary upon it.
The school recognizes the existence of individual souls and their bondage to the realities of Nature. However, like the other two previous schools, it does recognize God and acknowledge him as the first and the highest among the individual souls (Purushas). The souls are numerous, eternal and exist as solid realities among other realities. They remain bound to the cycle of births and deaths until they gain right knowledge through right means of reasoning and validation of truths.
Now for the Vaisheshikā School of Philosophy.
Our knowledge of Vaisheshikā philosophy primarily comes to us from the Vaisheshika Sutra of Kanāda. The Nyāya school has a close affinity with the Vaisheshikā, which is described by scholars as the “atomic pluralism.” The school relies heavily upon logical and realistic analysis of object and strict adherence to observable and verifiable facts.
Vaisheshikā derives its name from the word vishesha, meaning particularity or specialty. As the name suggests it focuses upon the particularities or distinguishing properties of the objects or substances that are found in existence and how to ascertain truths regarding them. In this it relies heavily upon logical analysis and rational methods, very similar in approach to the methods used in today’s scientific world to validate truths or test assumptions.
The Vaisheshikās believe that everything found in the existence is a substance, including the souls. What other schools view as concepts or intangible phenomena such as actions (karma), space (akāsa), gunas (modes), etc., are also substantial realities. Based on the same logic and adherence to scientific realism they accept only two methods (pramanas) to arrive at truth, namely direct observation (pratyaksha) and inference or hypothesis (anumana).
Another distinguishing feature of the school is its the atomic theory, according to which all substances are made up of minute parts or atoms (paramanus) of different kinds which are indivisible and indestructible. Exceptions are those substances that are eternal and infinite such as souls and space. Atoms coalesce in different combinations to form a diversity of compounds and substances.
Vaisheshikā identifies seven categories of (padarthas) of materiality found in Nature which make up the stuff of the universe. The substances possess one or more of the 24 qualities (gunas) the school identifies. It also upholds the idea that nonexistence is a material fact with four states such as nonexistence before the beginning of existence, nonexistence after the end of existence, existence and ultimate reality.