[Advaita-l] upAdAna kAraNam.h

Anand Hudli anandhudli at hotmail.com
Sun Apr 15 13:41:50 CDT 2007

Karthik wrote:
>I'm having a bit of a problem with the "standard translation":  upAdAna 
>kAraNam.h = Material Cause
>IMHO, a better translation would be:

>upAdAna kAraNam.h = Constituent Cause

Translating from Sanskrit to English is indeed tricky. The usage of upAdAna 
as material cause probably arose from such examples as the clay and the pot 
where the clay (material) produces the pot. In VedAnta, the term upAdAna is 
used in the sense of "substratum" (locus). For example, the 
vedAntaparibhAShA says:

yadvA nikhilajagadupAdAnatvaM brahmaNo lakShaNam.h, upAdAnatvaM cha 
jagadadhyAsa-adhiShThAnatvam.h, jagadAkAreNa pariNamamAnamAyAdhiShThAnatvaM 
vA |

Or, the definition (characteristic) of Brahman is "being the material cause 
of the entire world." And material causality is "being the susbtratum of the 
superimposition of the world" or "being the substratum of mAyA which 
transforms itself in the form of the world."

In the nyAya system, however, upAdAna is often called samavAyikAraNa, or the 
inherent cause, as the example of the threads and the cloth where the 
threads are said to be the inherent cause of the cloth. But the nyAya 
definition agrees with the Vedantic one only in the case of components that 
produce a composite entity. In other cases, for example, where a susbtance 
gives rise to a quality, the naiyAyikas do not admit the upAdAna kAraNa, 
since the cause and effect belong to different categories.


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