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Tarka Treatises
(HinduDharma: Nyaya)

Gautama Maharsi who composed the Nyaya-sutra is called "Aksapada". He was always so wrapped up in thought that he was often oblivious of the outside world. We call scientists, professors and such people "absent-minded" and retail jokes about them. Gautama too was absent-minded. One day as he was walking along, brooding over some philosophical problem, he fell into a well. Isvara then rescued him and fixed eyes to his feet. Thus, as he walked, he would be guided by the pair of new eyes. That is how he came to be called "Aksapada", one with eyes on his feet. So goes the story.

Vatsyayana wrote a bhasya for the Nyaya-sutra and Uddyotakara a vartika. Vacaspatimisra, who was a great non-dualist, wrote a gloss called Nyaya-vartika-tatparya-tika. Udayanacarya write a gloss on this gloss: it is known as Tatparya-tika-parisuddhi. He also wrote the Nyaya-kusumanjali. To recall what I said before, he was foremost among responsible for the decline of Buddhism in India. Jayanta wrote a commentary on the Nyaya-sutra called Nyaya-manjari. Annambhatta wrote the Tarka-samgraha and himself wrote a commentary on it called Dipika. Usually students of Nyaya start with the last-mentioned two works.

It is believed that the Ravana-bhasya, a commentary on Kanadas Vaisesika-sutra, is no longer available. However, a bhasya-like work called Padartha-dharma-samgraha by Prasastapada is still extant. Udayana has commented on it. Recently, Uttamur Sri Viraraghavacariyar wrote a book called Vaisesika-rasayana.

Vaisesika came to be called "Aulukya-darsana". "Uluka" means an owl-the English word "owl" is from "ulu". What belongs to, or what is concerned with, the owl is "aulukya". Kanada himself was called "Uluka". If Gautama, always lost in thought, fell one day into the well, Kanada was so absorbed in his philosophical investigations by day that he had to go begging for his food at night. He got the nickname of "Uluka" from this fact, that is he was not seen during day time and went about at night. (Bhagavan says in the Gita. that the night of the ignorant man is the day of the wise and enlightened man, jnanin. So all jnanins are owls in this sense).

Vaisesika is also called "Kanada-sastra" after the name of its founder, Kanada. Not the Tamil "kanada". A scholar has said jocularly that Kanada founded his system after having seen (kandu). Grammar and Vaisesika are believed to be of great help in the study of all subjects. So the saying:

Kanadam Paniniyam ca sarvasastropakarakam.

Like grammar (which originated in Nataraja's damaru), Nyaya and Vaisesika are also connected with Siva. In the Vaisesika treatises obeisance is paid to Mahesvara who is regarded as the Paramatman. The Saiva schools hold the view that Isvara is the "nimitta" or cause of the universe.

"Hindu Dharma" is a book which contains English translation of certain invaluable and engrossing speeches of Sri Sri Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi MahaSwamiji (at various times during the years 1907 to 1994).
For a general background, please see here