[Advaita-l] Visheshana and Lakshana

Anand Hudli anandhudli at hotmail.com
Sat Dec 16 11:24:14 EST 2017

The nyAyakosha lists several definitions for lakShaNa.
uddiShTasya-atattva-vyavacchedako dharmaH, that property which excludes
anything other than the thing being defined, as stated by vAtsyAyana. He
gives an example - indriyArthasaMnikarShotpannaM jnAnaM pratyakSham, the
knowledge resulting from contact of sense organ and the sense object is
perception. A definition must be free from what logicians call
dUShaNatraya, the three defects - ativyApti, avyApti, and asaMbhava.
ativyApti (too wide) is explained as lakShyavRttitve sati
alakShyavRttitvam, being present not only in the lakShya (thing that is
being defined) but also in a thing not being defined. Example- defining
"cow" as "having horns" (shRngitvam) makes it too wide, since other animals
such as deer, buffalos, etc. too have horns. avyApti (too narrow) is
explained as lakShya-ekadeshavRttitvam, being partially present in the
thing being defined. Example- defining "cow" as "being of black color"
makes it too narrow, since there are cows that are not black but brown,
white, etc. asaMbhava is explained as lakShya-avRttitvam, not being present
in the thing being defined. Example- defining "cow" as "having one
(unsplit) hoof" makes it plain wrong and impossible, since cows have split
(cloven) hooves.

As the nyAyakosha mentions, vedAntinastu yo dharmo lakShye vyAptyA vartate
na vartate chAnyatra sa dharmaH, that property which pervades the thing
being defined and does not exist elsewhere. Pervasion is in the sense of
pervasion of smoke by fire, as in "where there is smoke there is fire."
Where the thing being defined is found there the lakShaNa is also found.
yathA gotvaM sAsnAdimatvam, "cowness" is defined as "having a dewlap".
Although, in modern zoology a dewlap is admitted in  many vertebrates, such
as dogs and rabbits, the "sAsnA" (dewlap) was admitted only for cows in the
ancient Indian context.


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