[Advaita-l] 'nyAya' and 'tarka'

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Fri Jul 8 05:07:00 CDT 2011

I thank Shyam and especially Shiva Senani for the fine piece in response to
this thread.

While I recognize that 'tarka', as the 'Tarka Sangraha' does, is more on the
'padArtha's, yet in shastraic parlance the two terms 'tarka' and 'nyaya' are
synonymously used and generally nowhere their distinction is sought to be
made.  Here is just one instance:

In the Gaudapada kArika there is a verse 2.3:

*अभावश्च* *रथादीनां* श्रूयते *न्यायपूर्वकम्* ।
वैतथ्यं तेन वै प्राप्तं स्वप्न आहुः प्रकाशितम् ॥ 3
// Scripture, on *rational grounds*, declares the non-existence of the
chariots etc. perceived in dreams. Therefore the wise say that the unreality
*established by reason *is proclaimed by scripture. //

Shankaracharya's commentary on the above is:

इतश्च स्वप्नदृश्या भावा वितथाः, यतः अभावश्च *रथादीनां* स्वप्नदृश्यानां
श्रूयते, *न्यायपूर्वकं युक्तितः* श्रुतौ ‘न तत्र रथाः‘ इत्यत्र। तेन
अन्तस्थानसंवृतत्वादिहेतुना प्राप्तं वैतथ्यं तदनुवादिन्या श्रुत्या स्वप्ने...

//For this reason too, non-existence of chariots etc. is heard of in the
Upanishad, in the text 'There are no chariots....' from the *standpoint of
logic*.  They, the knowers of Brahman say that the unreality arrived at
through such reasons as existence inside the body, smallness of the space,
etc. is revealed by the Upanishad....//

For the word 'nyAya...' Shankara comments: 'yuktitaH'.  Now in the next
chapter, Advaita prakaraNam (3.1), while introducing the chapter Shankara
recalls what was primarily achieved in the previous, second, chapter:

तत्र द्वैताभावस्तु वैतथ्यप्रकरणेन

Note here that Shankara is dealing with the 'same' topic: the establishment
of the unreality/non-existence of duality with the help of logic/reasoning.
In the second chapter the word 'nyAya' was used to convey this and in the
third the word 'tarka' is used to convey the same thing. There is absolutely
no difference between the meanings these two terms carry in these two

There are several instances where the term 'tarka' is used by Shankara.  One
is in the sutra bhashya (tattu samanvayaat): ...(न हि....) एकः
कूटस्थनित्यः पुरुषो विधिकाण्डे *तर्कसमये* वा केनचिदधिगतः...such a Self is
not known as the Self of all by anyone in the section of the Vedas dealing
with virtuous deeds, or in the *scriptures of the logicians*. [This could
refer to all the schools that base their system primarily on tarka - logic.]

In the Kathopanishad 1.2.9 there is the mantra:

नैषा तर्केण मतिरापनेया...where for this occurrence Shankara writes:
स्वबुद्ध्यभ्यूहमात्रेण..by a mere argumentation (not vAda with an opponent)
called up merely by one's own intellect. (this means the operation of the
intellect without the essential backing of the shruti).  Later Shankara
remarks: *तार्किको* हि अनात्मज्ञः स्वबुद्धिपरिकल्पितं यत्किञ्चिदेव कथयति ।
[For, a *logician* who is not versed in the Vedas, talks of all sorts of
things that can be called up by his own intellect.]

One can see that the term 'tArkikaH' is translated as  'a logician'.

In this same bhashya Shankara refers to a VedAntic AchArya too as a
'tArkika'.  For someone versed in the vedAnta can deliver the teaching
effectively only if it is aided by the necessary tarka, reasoning.

In this quote from vAchaspati mishra's

न्यायवार्त्तिकतात्पर्यटीका,  '*नैयायिकः* सांख्यं दूषयति' ['the logician
criticizes the sAnkhya'] we can easily see that the term naiyAyikaH is not
at all distinguished from a tArkika.

Thus, a tArkika is not different from a naiyAyika.  A student of
nyAyashAstra is a student of tarkashAstra as well. A 'tarka-chUDAmaNi' is
the same as a 'a nyAya-shiromaNi'.  The two terms are synonymously used.

In the brahmasutra bhashya 2.1.11 तर्काप्रतिष्ठानात्....Shankara quotes a
manu smrti: ...वेदशास्त्रेण अव्रिरोधिना तर्केण.[with the help of reasoning
that does not run counter to vedic literature..] .and says: अयमेव तर्कस्य
अलंकारो यदप्रतिष्टितत्वं नाम । एवं हि सावद्यतर्कपरित्यागेन निरवद्यस्तर्कः
पतिपत्तव्यो भवति । [This in fact constitutes a 'recommendation'  for
reasoning, tarka, that it is thought to be inconclusive, for it is thus that
one has to discard faulty reasoning and resort to the faultless one]
...प्रधानवादी तर्कविदामुत्तमः.[The follower of the theory of Pradhana
(saankhya) is not accepted by all logicians as the best among adepts in
reasoning) ...सर्वैस्तार्किकैः..[by *all *the logicians]

We can see that the term 'taarkika' is used here by Shankara to refer to all
those who base their system on logic rather than the Shruti (aided by
logic).  In this case even the saankhya comes under the banner of a
taarkika. In any case the purport of the foregoing is that the terms 'tarka'
and 'nyAya' are interchangeably used by the shAstrakAra-s.

Having said this, I shall address a few observations of Rajaram who says:

1. The whole discussion was using loose terms, which one of the members
admitted to in a private exchange. But loose terms can only give general
understanding and not particular understanding. I was trying to control
loose terms and realize I might have hurt people - apologies.

VS:  I am not the one who admitted so :)

We have seen in the foregoing that the usage of terms 'tarka' and 'nyAya'
are in no way 'loose' (if this adjective is meant to say: indiscriminate).
It is only because the two terms have no unique meaning attached to them
that Shankara uses them interchangeably.  And it seldom has lead to any
compromise in understanding what He wanted to put across.

  2. There was a ridicule of nyaya system with the elephant example to say
that nyaya complicates simple things. I do not know the context of the joke
  or the intent of the speaker of the joke.

VS: It is definitely a joke just to caricature the penchant of the tArkika
to engage in tough/terse arguments. In fact the Brahmasutra itself is said
to be 'nyAyaprasthAnam' where the purport of the various passages of the
shruti is determined by a detailed analysis.  One can see that several
sutras themselves having the structure of an anumAna with the pratijnA, hetu
and dRShTAnata.

  3. The member  said that nyaya is minimally used and mainly in polemic.
I disagreed with that because our acharyas interpret texts according to
valid system of logic.

VS:  What I hinted at was only this: the use of tarka is so conspicuous in
the Madhva system, for instance, that it has earned them an 'epithet':
प्रच्छन्नतार्किकाः (’tArkika-s in disguise') or sophists (= One skilled in
elaborate and devious argumentation.)  Dr.BNK Sharma has written in defense
of this 'allegation'. One of श्रीव्यासतीर्थ's works is '*तर्क*ताण्डवः’ apart
from the popular *न्यायामृ*तम्.

It is only recently that I had posted a short series of quotes from
Shankara's use of the method of the nyAya consisting of the anumAnaprayoga
(pancha avayava vAkya).

Terms like उपपत्तिः, युक्तिः, अनुमानम्, are some of the others used in
connection with tarka/nyAya, sometimes even as synonyms. युक्तिकोविदः,
अनुमानकुशलः are two names to denote one who is well versed in logic.  For
instance 'mananam' is said to be involving reasoning.  This is expressed as:
मन्तव्यश्च उपपत्तिभिः, तर्कतश्च मननम्.

Also, in Shankara's bhashyas we find even the bauddha to be included in the
category of 'tArkika-s'.  Often He has taken up the naiyAyika and the
bauddha for a common mode of refutation.  Thus, the term 'tArkika' can
include the naiyAyika, the sAnkhya and the bauddha for all of them are
तर्कप्रधान in their doctrines.

There is at least one mention in the Br.sutra bhashya (3.4.22):

तथाच *न्यायविदां* स्मरणम्  -

कुर्यात्क्रियेत कर्तव्यं भवेतस्यादिति पञ्चमम्  ।

एतत्स्यात्सर्ववेदेषु नियतं विधिलक्षणम् ॥

इति लिङ्गाद्यर्थो विधिरिति मन्यमानास्त एवं स्मरन्ति ।

[Thus also runs a Smriti text of *those who are adepts in reasoning*: 'In
all the Vedas these (verbal moods) are the invariable signs of injunction,
viz 'should do, should be done, must be done, may become, should be.']

It appears that the Acharya is referring to the pUrvamimamsaka  here.  In
any case the terms 'tarka' and 'nyaya' are used interchangeably to convey
the same meaning: reasoning/reason.

When we say 'Madhusudana understood Vyasatirtha's 'nyAya', it does not make
any different sense than the expression: 'Madhusudana responded effectively
to Vyasatirtha's 'tarka'.

> Regards,
> subrahmanian.v

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