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Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute


Author(s): Fernando Tola and Carmen Dragonetti
Source: Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Vol. 61, No. 1/4 (1980), pp.
Published by: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute
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Annals of the
Bhandarkar Oriental

Research Institute





One of the most important theories of Indian philosophy, in the Hi

as well as in the Buddhist area, is without any doubt the theory that m
entities, processes, facts, phenomena have not had a temporal beginning.

It seems to us that, although the anãditva theory is referred

frequently by the authors who write about the different subjects of In
philosophy, it has not been properly stressed on the great importance
the anãditva theory has in the philosophical and religious thought of In
not only because of its constant presence in the various systems, in which tha
thought manifests itself, but also because of the primordial function wh
that theory has in the solution of many theoretical difficulties of those syste
Besides that, all the cases, to which this theory is applied, have not
related among themselves.

We indicate in this article some cases to which the anãditva theor

applied and some texts which refer to it. Of course, many other cases a
many other texts could be added; they would only corroborate the imp
tance that this theory possesses.

As it will be seen by the following exposition, not only the Supre

Principle1 is conceived by many philosophical schools of India as a beginn

} Sometimes the Supreme Principle is conceived as an impersonal, neutral, indefi

Absolute, sometimes as a personal Being.

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2 Annals BORI , LA7 ( 1980 )

less entity, but also the empirical reality ( samsãra ) in its totali
of its manifestations. It happens so that the Supreme P
empirical reality are opposed as two entities without temp
which are different fundamentally by the fact that the Suprem
not be abolished, whilst the empirical reality can be abolishe

Brahman and ãtman i

The Upanisads 2 give a definitive form in Indian thought to the thesis

that we can call substantialist as they postulate the existence of two entities,
Brahman and ãtman , who exist in se et per se, without any element in them
of relativity or conditionality, eternal, inalterable, whose essence is being,
consciousness and happiness. Buddhism will oppose to this substantialist
position, a radically relativist and conditionalist position : there are only
dharmas? factors or elements of all what exists, insubstantial, conditioned,
impermanent and painful, but there is not either a soul or a Supreme God.

Among the epithets attributed by the Upanisads to Brahman and ãtman

sometimes we find the adjective anãdi . Cf. Kãthaka III, 15; MaitrîV. 1;
Svetãsvatara IV, 4; Amrtabindu 9. See also Bhagavad-Gitã X, 3; XI, 19,
XIII, 12 and 31, which speaks of the beginninglessness of the supreme and
imperishable ãtman .

More frequent is the use of the epithet aja , which we can consider as
equivalent to anãdi , though with some anthropomorphic shade. Cf. BThad-
ãranyaka IV, 4, 20, 22 and 24; Kãthaka II, 18; Maitrï II, 4, VI, 17, VII, 1 ;
Mundaka II, 1, 2; Úvetãêvatara I, 9, II, 15. See also Bhagavad-Gitã II, 21,
IV, 6, VII, 25, X, 3 and 13 etc.

We do not take into consideration the adjective nitya attributed many

times by the Upanisads to Brahman and ãtman , because it is probable that in
these texts it is employed with the meaning of " constant ", * permanent
that is to say, it refers only to a permanency or eternity in the future, without

2 Gods in Rg. Veda have been born at a determined moment, that means that they
have had a beginning in time. See A. A. Macdonell, The Vedic Mythology , Vara-
nasi 1963 ( Indological Book House ), pp. 11-14. Nevertheless in some hymns ( I, 67,
5-6; I, 164, 6; VIII, 41, 10; X, 82, 6 ) we find the conception of a being who is depri-
ved of birth ( aja ), that is to say without temporal beginning, endowed with an
exalted hierarchical position and creator's functions.
3 See F. Tola and C. Dragonetti, " La doctrina de los dharmas en el Budismo 99 in
Boletín de la Asociación Española de Orientalistas , Año XIII, 1977, pp. 105-132^

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TOLA & DRAGONETTI s Anãditva in Indian Philosophy 3

taking into account the past. Such is the meaning that nitya has in Rgvedic
Sanskrit4 and in Pali.5

The philosophical schools, which come forth in our era, several

centuries after the constitution of the Upanisads in the form in which we have
them now, and which accept the existence of Brahman and ãtman, maintain
for both the characteristic of beginninglessness. They utilize for both, although
not frequently, the adjectives anãdi and aja. Cf. Atmasvarüpa, Prabodhapari-
šodhiní, p. 31 ( anãdi ); Bhartrhari, Vãkyapadíya I, 1 ( anãdi ); Gaudapäda,
Ägama.iästra I, 16, III, 19, 33, 47, IV, 95, 100 and Prakãáãnanda Sarasvatï
Svãmi, Mitãksarã and Šaňkara, Bhãsya ad locum ( aja ); Šaňkara, Viveka-
cüdamani 464 ( anãdi ), 512 ( ãdyantahina ); Šaňkara, Upadešasahasrl II, IO,
1-3 (aja), 7 ( anãdi ); Surešvara, Brhadãranyakopanisadbhãsyavãrtika ,
Sambandhavãrtika 1 ( aja ).
More frequency has, in the commentaries and treatises of these schools,
the adjective nitya in relation to Brahman and ãtman. In these schools the
word nitya has without any doubt the value of ' eternal ', with reference so
much to the past as to the future.8 And it is with this meaning that it is
applied to Brahman and ãtman. Cf. Bãdarãyana, Vedäntasütra II, 3, 17 (16)
and 18 (17) and Annambhatta, Brahmasütravrtti, Mitãksarã, Braja Nãth
Bhatta, Brahmasütravrtti, Marícikã, Nimbãrka, Vedãntapãrijãtasaurabha and
árinivãsa, Vedãntakaustubha, Rãmãnuja, Srí bhãsya, Vedãntasãra and
Vedãntadipa ( only at the second sütra ), Rãmãnanda Sarasvati, Vedãnta-
dar&ana, Šaňkara, Bhãsya, Šaňkarananda, Brãhmasutradí pikã, Vãcaspati
Miára, Bhãmatí ad locum ; Gautama, Nyäyasütra III ( 1 ), 19-27 ( anãdinidha-
naprakarana); Nãrãyana, Mãnameyodaya, p. 197, paragraph 95; Sadãnanda,
Vedãntasãra, p. 29; Sarvajñatma, SamksepaSãríraka I, 173, Šaňkara, Ätma-
bodha 34, Bhãsya of the Vedäntasütra adi, 1, 4, p. 42, ad II, 1, 14, p. 403;
árinivãsadãsa, Yatindramatadipikã, p. 70, cf. p. 83, lines 9-11 ( infinitude of
livara regarding time, space etc. ).
Among these authors, Rãmõnuja, Vedãntadipa, expresses that the
thesis which attributes a birth to ãtman is exposed, among others, to the
following absurd consequences : obtainment by the ãtman of what has not
been done ( akrtãbhyãgama ) by him and partiality ( vaisamya ) and cruelty

4 See H. Grassman, Wörterbuch zum Rig Veda, Wiesbaden 1955 ( Otto Harrasso-
witz ), sub voce.
6 See The Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary , sub voce.
6 This is evident from many of the texts we «.quote in this and the following sections.
See in special form Annambhatta, Brahmasütravrtti, Mitãksarã ad II, 3, 17
( nityatvãn notpattisambhava ityarthah ) ; Dharmarãja Adhvarïndra, Vedãnta-
paribhãsã , p. 85 ( vedo na nityah, utpattimattvãt ) ( ed. 1971, The Adyar Library
and Research Centre ) ; Harivrsabha, Vrtti to I, 23 of Bhartrhari's Vãkyapadíya ,
p. 5 8.

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4 Annals BORI, LXI ( 1980 )

( nairghrnya) of the Creator. The idea expressed by Rãmãnuja is the

one : if ãtman be created in some moment by God, the happin
sufferings, which he would happen to experience in the human con
which he may be born, would not have antecedents or causes, wh
explain and justify them ; they would be gratuitous happinesses and
and, as all the ãtmans thus created would not receive the same an
amount of happinesses and sufferings, but each one would have a
fate, good or bad, this fact would mean an unequal treatment by G
mean an injustice committed by Him; and the sufferings experienc
ãtmans thus created would be a capricious manifestation of cruelt
because those sufferings are not the consequence of actions done
the ãtmans and deserving such a punishment. This same thought
loped not only by Rãmãnuja but also by other authors when they
sütras IT, 1, 34-36 of Bãdarãyana. See the section referring to sam
this same article.

Purusa and prakrti :

The Sãmkhya system is clearly dualistic. It maintains the exist
two autonomous and opposed principles, purusa ( or purusas ) and
Both have absolutely different natures : prakrti is the first cause,
neither cause nor effect; prakrti is active, purusa is inactive; prak
conscious, purusa is conscious; prakrti is in constant mutation,
immutable; prakrti is the object of knowledge, purusa is the jsubect
ledge. Purusa incarnated in an individual, comes into contact
material world through the mind, which is also a product of prak
one produces the material empirical reality through an evolutive
Purusa and prakrti , as well as Brahman and ãtman are beginningle
Cf. Bhagavad-Gítã XUI, 19 and Madhusûdana Sarasvatî, Vyãkh
Rãmãnuja, Bhãsya , ad locum ; Išvarakrsna, Sãmkhyakãrikã 3 and Ga
Bhãsya, Vãcaspati Mišra, Tattvakaumudl , and Yuktidípikã, ad locum
Sãmkhyasutra I, 67 and Aniruddha, Vrtti, and Vijñánabhiksu, Bhã
locum . Besides these texts the fact that association of purusa with p
which we shall refer later on, is also without a beginning, compels
conclusion that both are also beginningless.

Samsãra :

The belief in the reincarnations {samsãra)1 has existed in many

primitive societies or in the first periods of their cultural evolution. In the

* See F. Tola and C. Dragonetti, " Samsara , anaditva and nirvana " which is going
to be published in Boletín de la Asociación Española de Orientalistas Año
XIV, 1979.

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TOLA & DRAGONETTI : Ànadìtva in Indian Philosophy 5

Rg Veda , the most ancient text of India, this belief in reincarnations does not
appear. So we can think that the Indo-Europeans or Aryans who invaded India
about 1500 B.C. did not bring with themselves this belief and that they
borrowed it from the aboriginal peoples of India. Anyhow, we find this
belief firmly established in the Brãhmanas and in the Upanisads and incor-
porated into the moral area. The reincarnations have become the instrument
for moral retribution of the human actions : the man who behaves well, will be
reborn in good conditions, the man who behaves mischievously, in bad ones.

Since then the belief in reincarnations belongs not only to the religious
doctrines, but also to all the philosophical, Buddhist or Hinduist, systems
which begin to appear in India in the Vlth century B.C. - depurated of course
from its more coarse elements and provided with arguments which try to
prove the existence of transmigration. Besides that it is postulated that the
series of reincarnations, through which every man has passed, has had no
temporal beginning, is eternal a parte ante.

The importance of this belief thus conceived is of first order in Indian

thought. The religious, moral or philosophical systems are built on the basis
of this belief, in the same way as, in other cultures, they are built on the
basis of the belief in an immortal soul or in God.

The word ' samsara ', which originally means the reincarnations' series,
designates also, enlarging its meaning, the empirical reality. This new
meaning is perfectly valid, because the empirical reality manifests itself not
under the form of existence, but under the form of re-existences. Therefrom
the samsara'' s anãditva is the basis or condition of the anãditva of the entities

processes etc., to which we shall refer in the next sections, because those
entities, processes etc. are mere manifestations of samsara.

We have said that ãtman is eternal and inalterable, and that his essence
is being, consciousness and happiness, in their utmost degree of purity. But
ãtman , by causes, to which we shall refer afterwards, can appear enchained to
the reincarnations' cycle ( samsara ), condemned to transmigrate, submitted
consequently to error and suffering. It is what can be called the samsãric or
empirical condition of the ãtman .

The series of reincarnations, which ãtman has suffered in the past, has
been eternal, has not had a temporal beginning. And it would be eternal in
the future, if one does not adopt the salvation's methods which Hinduism
offers to its adepts and which are the only able to put an end to it. This possi-
bility attenuates the pessimist vision which Hinduism has of human condition.
About the samsara's anãditva in Hinduisim cf. Aryabhata, Aryabhatiya III,
11 and Bhfiskara, Bhãsya ad locum; Bãdarãyana, Vedäntasütra II¿ 1,34-36

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é Annaìs BORI , LXl ( 1980 )

and Annambhatta, Brahmasütravrtti , Mitãksarã , Braja Nãth Bhatta,

sütravftti, Maricikã, Nimbärka, Vedãntapãrijõtasaurabha , and Š
Vedäntakaustubha , Rãmãnuja, Šrí bhãsya , Vedãntadipa and Vedãn
Šaňkara, Bhãsya , Šankarananda, Brahmasutradlpikã, SUtrãrthãmrt
Vãcaspati Mišra, Bhãmatí, ad locum ; Gautama Nyäyasütra III ( 1
Kapila, Sämkhyasütra II, 46 and Vijñanabhiksu, Bhãsya , locum, III,
Aniruddha, P7W and Vijnãnabhiksu, Bhãsya , ad locum ; Šaňkar
of the Vedäntasütra ad I, 3, 30, pp. 267-270, II, 2, 28, and 30, p
p. 507; Šaňkara, Tattvopadeša 47, Upadesasãhasri I, 1, 12; Šrin
Yatíndramatadípikã , p. 76; Surešvara, Taittíryopanisadbhãsyavãrti
p. 93; Vãcaspati Mišra, Bhãmatí , p. 6, arfl, 3, 30, p. 334.

Bãdarãyana II, 1, 34-36 and the above quoted authors who com
him utilize the principle that samsãra has had no beginning to abs
Creator from all accusation of partiality and cruelty. This accu
based, on one side, in the fact that the world presents, among the b
live in it, so many differences in relation to the happiness and the
which fall to each one's lot, and on the other side, based in the fa
annihilation of all beings in each of the periodical destructions whic
the world according to Indian thought. The Creator cannot be
either of partiality or of cruelty, because, in each of the periodical
which He performs, each being receives the destiny which he
according to the good or bad actions which he carried out in his p
lives - ■ that is to say : which he deserves according to his karman
possible to argue that the beings, that were born in the first crea
not have karman , because, according to Indian thought, there
first creation; there has been an infinite number of creations
been following one another in an eternal process without begin
also because, since samsãra is equally eternal and without beginnin
was never a moment in which any being could find himself without
without actions performed in previous lives with deferred go
consequences to be realized in new existences. Each time that God
or, better to say, re-created the world, he did it according to the k
the beings that were to be reborn in that world in order to receive
or the punishment they deserved. The world thus created once an
was not the best possible world, but the only possible world under t
ble karmic causality. Thus the theory of a samsãra without beginn
the solution to the eternal problem of evil in the world.

Among these authors Šaňkara and Annambhatta ( ad II, 1, 36 )

that there cannot be a body without karman ( because the bod
as 4 deferred effect of the actiQns carried out in a previous life ) and t

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TOLA & DRAtìONETTl : Anãditva in Indian Philosophy Í

is no karman without a body ( because without a body there cannot be actions

which, accoding to their moral nature, require new reincarnations in which
the deserved rewards or punishments will be received ). We should have
the logical defect of itaretarãsraya, if we accept that the samsära has had a
beginning, because if the samsara began with a body, this would suppose a
karman and if it began with a karman , this would suppose a body. But this
defect does not present itself, if we accept that the samsara had no temporal
beginning by application of the norm called " the seed and the sprout "
( bijãnkura ). According to this norm one cannot ask whether the seed or
the sprout was first, because the alternative relation which unites them ( one
is born from the other and vice versa ) has had no temporal beginning. So
the questions about the first cause and about when and how was produced
the first manifestation of the karman or the body are eliminated, because they
are irrelevant questions. Cf. in Šankara, Upadešasahasri II, 1, 3-4, the
description of a similar cyclic mechanism : actions-body-pleasure and pain-
attraction and aversion-actions-merit and demerit-body.

The characterization of purusa according to Sãmkhya , that we have

given previously, offers his essential and authentic nature, but as ãtman can
manifest himself enchained to the empirical reality ( samsara ), in the same
manner, by causes which we shall indicate afterwards, purusa can appear
enchained to prakrti and, consequently, obliged to transmigrate, under the
sway of error and suffering, in the samsãric or empirical sphere.

This condition of purusa has had no beginning. Since a beginningless

eternity purusa has always been enchained to prakfti. Cf. for the beginning-
lessness of this relation between purusa and prakfti Kapila, Sãmkhyasutra
III, 62, VI, 67-69 and Aniruddha, Vrtti and VijSãnabhiksu, Bhãsya , ad
locum; Mallisena, Syãdvãdamanjari , p. 99, lines 17-20; Rãmãnuja, Bhãsya
of the Bhagavad-Gítã XIII, 19; Šaňkara, Bhãsya of the Vedäntasütra aniel ,
1, 5, p. 69.8

Buddhism does not accept, as we have already said, the existence of

an individual soul, the ãtman. For Buddhism man is only an aggregate of
insubstantial and impermanent dharmas , a series of consciousnesses which
follow one another in a constant and swift flowing; it does not exist behind
the dharmas , as a nucleus which agglutinates them, any eternal and inalterable
principle. But nevertheless Buddhism emphatically affirms that the reincar-

8 We understand the word 4 nityanumeya ' employed by Saňkara in the sense of :

" inferable as eternal ", " regarding which it is possible to infer that it is eternal. "

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8 Annals BORI , LXI ( 1980 )

nations exist. Buddhism presents us the paradox of a transmigratio

a transmigrator.9
As Hinduism, Buddhism affirms also that the reincarnations
( samsara ) has had no beginning, but one can put an end to it by
the salvific doctrines and practices which it affords. Cf. rega
anãditva of samsara in Buddhism10 Buddhaghosa, Atthasãlini , p.
( = pp. 10-11 ed. P. T. S. ), p. 177 ( § 471 ) ( = p. 216 ed. P. T. S.
(§515) (= p. 235 ed. P. T. S.)9 p. 192 (§ 519 ) ( = p. 236 ed.
p. 285 (§34) ( = p. 357 ed. P. T. S. ) ; Divyãvadãna , p. 122, line
( = p. 197 ed. Cowell-Neil ) ; Laúkãvatãrasutra II, verse 151 ; Ma
p. 264 ( strophe 45 ), III, p. 34 ( strophe 4 ), p. 396 ( strophe 2 ) an
(strophe 3) ; Samyutta Nikãya II, pp. 178-182, III, pp. 149, 15
in Kathãvatthu , p. 29 ), V, pp. 226, 441 ; áãntideva, Bodhicaryãva
and Prajñakaramati, Panjikã ad IX, 12, 32, 33, 84, 118, 124; Š
éiksãsamuccaya , p. 170, line 2 ; Vasubandhu, Abhidharmakoša III, 1
See also Nãgãrjuna, Mulamadhyamakakãrikãs XI, 1 and 8 and Ca
Prasannapadã ad locum .

The Pratityasamutpãda :
The Prati tyasamutpãda is one of the fundamental theo
Buddhism in the different epochs of its history, but this term has
expressed the same conception.

The word ' pratityasamutpãda 9 signified originally a lineal s

twelve members, each of which is cause or condition of the follo
These twelve members are avidyã , samskãra , vij nana, nämarüpa , sadã
sparša, vedanã, trsnã , upadána, bhava , jãti , jarãmarana . This ser
only to explain how birth, death and suffering are produced.

Afterwards the pratityasamutpãda experiences a profound tran

tion. It is represented as a wheel divided in twelve segments, whi
pond to each of the twelve members mentioned before. The prati
pãda in its new formulation continues explaining, through the ca
tenation of its members, the origin of birth, death and suffering.
the wheel's image, under which the pratityasamutpãda is now rep
Buddhist masters teach now also that the prati tyasamutpãda , as a
turns round, and this turning round is the symbol of the reincarnation
conform human existence, following one another ( samsãra ).

9 Cf. our article " Samsara anaditva and nirvana . "

i° We have been unable to find in the oldest Upanisads references to the samsara*
anaditva. So it is possible to think that the idea of the samsara' s beginningles
ness is of Buddhist origin.

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TOLA & DRAGONETTI : Anãditva in Indian Philosophy 9

According to the Hindu as well as Buddhist belief that the samsara

has had no beginning, they teach also that the pratityasamutpãda^ wheel
has turned round since a beginningless eternity and will go on turning round
as long as it is not stopped through the help of Buddhist teachings. The
pratityasamutpãda has transformed itself from a simple explanation of the
production of birth etc. into a symbol of human existence. Now the pratitya-
samutpãda is also designated by another word which expresses clearly the
new conception : ' bhavacakra ' Pratityasamutpãda and bhavacakra are now
synonyms of samsara. About the beginninglessness of the pratityasamutpãda
and the constant turning round of the bhavacakra cf. Buddhaghosa, Visuddhi -
magga, p. 494 ( § 273 ), p. 495 ( § 280 ), p. 496 ( § 288 ) and p. 498 ( § 298 );
Milindapañha, pp. 50-52; SãlistambasTitra , p. 83 ( anãdikãlapravrtto , tib. . med . pahi dus nas zugspa); Vasubandhu, Abhidharmakosa III,
19, pp. 434-435.


Adhyãsa, ãropa or samãropa :

Adhyãsa ( ãropa , samãropa ), literally : " superimposition is a basic

notion in the philosophical school of the Advaita Vedãnta. It is an erroneous
act of the mind, which grasps an object under a form different from that
which it really is, perceives that object as another one, attributes to it
nature and qualities which it does not possess. The example given by th
treatises of the school is well known : we see in the darkness a rope and w
think it is a serpent. The serpent has been superimposed on the rope. The
mechanism is the same in the methaphysical level : ãtman - consciousness,
supreme happiness, free from time, space and causality, eternally liberated
is grasped under a form which is not his own one, as an empirical entity, as
the physical and psychological ego, dominated by nescience and suffering
limited, enchained to the reincarnations' cycle ; the empirical ego has been
taken for ãtman ; the nature and the qualities of the empirical ego have bee
attributed to ãtman ; the empirical ego has been superimposed on ãtman .
As a consequence of the adhyãsa men think that they are their empirical ego
composed by the body and the mental and emotional life ; they identif
themselves with that ego and perform actions which are inspired by that fals
conception and which, as a consequence, maintain them enchained to th
reincarnations' cycle. The adhyãsa can take place also regarding Brahman ,
who is perceived under a form different from that which he truly is, as a
personal god, as the world; the image of something that Brahman is not has
been superimposed on him. The adhyãsa is a congenital activity of the mind 9

an essential characteristic of man, an inevitable sequel of human condition.

2 [ Ann als , BORI J

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10 Annals BORI , LXI ( 1980 )

The aclhyãsa has had no beginning ; it has existed in al

reincarnations of the past and it will exist in the reincarnatio
till the definitive liberation takes place. Cf. Akhandãnanda
dipana , p. 52; Madhusüdana Sarasvatî, Siddhãntabindu , p. 4
Parlcapãdikã , pp. 159-160; and Ätmasvarüpa, Prabodhaparišo
Prakašatman, Paucapãdikãvivarana pp. 61-62 and Citsukhãcãr
dípikã , p. 61 and Nrsimhašrama, Bhãvaprakãsikã , p. 6
Sarasvatî, Vivaranopanyãsa , p. 11 ; Šankara, Bhasya of the V
p. 18; Vãcaspati Mišra, Bhãmatí, p. 17; Vidyãranya, Vivarana
graha , pp. 43-44.

Each adhyãsa leaves in the individual some latent impres

k ara ), which actualize themselves and provoke new adhyãsa
turn produce new impressions and so on in an alternating pr
had no beginning. Cf. Nrsimhašrama, Bhãvaprakãáikã, p.
Sarasvatî, Vivaranopanyãsa , p. 11, Vidyãranya, Vivaranapra
pp. 43-44. See also Madhusùdana Sarasvatî, Siddhãntabindu ,

Vãcaspati Mišra, p. 17, and Vidyãranya, pp. 43-44, t

order that an adhyãsa be produced, it is necessary that the id
tion {prati ti) of what is to be superimposed exists previous
and that, in order that the idea or representation of what is to b
exist in the mind, it is necessary that an adhyãsa has been previo
If we apply this reasoning to ãtman and the empirical ego, we m
that, in order that the empirical ego be superimposed on ãtman
that the idea or representation of the empirical ego exists
mind; and that, in order that the idea or representation of t
exist in the mind it is necessary that an adhyãsa has been pre
because, if there has not been previously an adhyãsa , we sh
ãtman in his absolute oneness, without anything different fr
idea or representation of the empirical ego could not exist.
and Vidyãranya express that this reasoning cannot be accuse
the logical defect of parasparãiraya , because the process tha
of the empirical ego, which is superimposed, and the adhãsya on
is the^support for that superimposition, has been beginning
in the case of the seed and the sprout, as Vãcaspati Mišra co

Prakašatman, pp. 61-62, expresses that the superimposi

of the condition of enjoyer or experiencer depends on the
of the agent's condition, because the person who does
have [the condition of enjoyer ; that the superimposition o
agent's condition depends on the superimposition on him of
desire and hate, because a person who js free from desire an

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Tola & DRAGONETTI : Anaditva in Indian Philosophy 11

have the agent's condition ; that the union with desire and hate depends on
the enjoyer's condition, because desire and hate cannot appear in relation to
anything which has not been experienced or enjoyed or which cannot be so.
Prakãããtman affirms that we have here a succession of causes ( hetuparam-
parã ) which is beginningless, similar to the case of the seed and the sprout
Cf. Vidyãranya, p. 43.
The adhyãsa is the form under which the avidyã, to which we shall
refer now, manifests itself.11

Avidyã , mithyãjnãna, mãyã, aviveka :

In Šaňkara, avidyã, mithyã jnãna and mãyã can be considered as syno-
nyms.12 From the philosophical point of view, they signify essentially the
same thing : the ignorance of Brahman or ãtman, the erroneous knowledge of
their true being, the act of perceiving them falsely, not as they really are.
As we have already said, the avidyã expresses itself fundamentally through
the adhyãsa, through the mental process which superimposes on them some--
thing that they are not. When the adhyãsa is not produced regarding
Brahman or ãtman, both are perceived as they truly are and, therefore, there
is no avidyã or it comes to its end. The effects of avidyã are many. Among
them it is necessary to mention specially ãtman'' s samsãra. Cf. Šaňkara,
Bhãsya of the Vedãntãsútra I, 1, 1, p. 25, 1, 1, 4, p. 51 and p. 60, I, 2, 11,
p. 162, II, 3, 50, p. 613; Šaňkara, Upadešasuhasrí I, 2, 110; Surešvara,
Brhadãranyakopanisadbhãsyavãrtika, Sambandhavãrtika, 17, p. 13, 1087,
p. 336.
The Vedãnta thinks that the avidyã, which enchains ãtman and does
not allow him to see the true reality, has had no beginning. On this point see
Ätmasvarupa, Prabodhaparišodhiní, p. 27; Gaudapãda, Ãgamaéãstra 1, 16
and Šaňkara, Bhãsya ad locum-, Madhusüdana Sarasvat!, Advaitasiddhi,
p. 544, Siddhãntabinbu, p. 18; Šaňkara, Àtmabodha 14 ( anãdyavidyã );
šaňkara, Svãtmaprakãéikã 33; Surešvara, Taittiriyopanisadbhãsyavãrtika

11 Sometimes it is thought that adhyãsa is caused by avidyã . See Padmapãda,

Pancapãdikã , pp. 29-30 ; Saâkara, Bhãsya of the Vedãntasutra, p. 12 ;
avivekena . . . mithyãjnãnanimittah ... lokavyavahãrah ; Vãcaspati Mis'ra, Bhã -
matt, p. 16 : mithyãjriãnam adhyãsah tannimittah ; Vidyãranya, Vivaranapra -
meyas am gr aha, p. 48. But Saâkara, Bhãsya of the Vedãntasutra, p. 14, expres-
ses that in the pandits * opinion adhyãsa is avidyã . Cf. Saàkara Upadesasãhasrl
12 Some authors, who come after Sankara and belong to his school, establish several
distinctions between avidyã and mãyã , attribute special functions to each other
and are inclined to transform mãyã into an autonomous entity, similar to an evil's
principle , which endangers the non-duality affirmed by the school and whose rela-
tion with Brahman proposes theoretical difficulties.

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1 2 Annals BORI , LXI ( 1980 )

I, 49, p. 76 ; Surešvara, Brhadãranyakopanisadbhãsyavãrtika , Sambandha

1091, p. 337; Vidyãranya, Vivar anaprameyasamgr aha , p. 48.

We have said before that for the Sãmkhya system purusa is unite
enchained to prakrti since a beginningless eternity. The cause, which p
duced this union or enchainment, according to the Sämkhyasütra I, 55
VI, 68 and Vijnãnabhiksu, Sãmkhyapravacanabhãsya ad locum , is avivek
which consists in not differentiating what purusa is from what prakr
This concept is very similar to the avidyã.

Aviveka , as avidyã , has had no temporal beginning. Cf. Kapi

Sämkhyasütra VI, 12, 68 and Aniruddha, Vrt ti and Vijñanabhiksu, Bhä
ad locum.

For Buddhism, avidyã , which, as the first element of the prati ty

samutpäda, produces the eternal turning round of the bhavacakra , is a
beginningless. See Aňguttara Nikãya V, p. 113; Buddhaghosa, Visud
magga, p. 447 (§37); Milindapañha , p.51, lines 32-33; Nettipakaran
pp. 86, 109, 112. Cf. also Ratnakirti, Sthirasiddhidüsana , p. 127, line 25,

If it is asked why, how and when, ãtman, pure etc. fell under
avidya's sway, was pushed into the samsãric condition and was enchaine
the transmigrations' cycle - or why, how and when purusa , pure etc.
subjugated by the aviveka9 united to prakrti and dragged along the reinc
tions - or why, how and when the bhavacakra began to turn round - t
anãditva of avidyã and aviveka allows us to discard these questions as ir
levant. It is absurd to ask why, how and when started a process which
had no beginning, which has always existed, as it would be an absurdit
ask why, how and when was born God or the ãtman or purusa or prak
which did not have a temporal beginning.

The Veda :

Excepting some schools, as those of the materialists and Buddhists,

who deny the supernatural origin and value and the eternity of the Vedic
texts, the philosophical and religious schools of India agree in the fact that
those texts possess a supernatural character because of their origin, because
of their unshakable validity as absolute norm of truth, and because of the
eternity that in some way or other is attributed to them.

For the old Mimãmsã , the Veda is eternal, has always existed, has
had no initial moment and will last for ever. It has not been created by
some being, either god or man ( apauruseya ). It has been transmitted from
£ge to age, from teachers to disciples, in a continuous and not interrupted

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TOLA & DRAGONETTI : Anãditva in Indian Philosophy 13

tradition which comes from an eternity without beginning and will last for an
eternity without end, in a world that has always existed and will exist for
ever. The Veda is inalterable, always the same in its absolute and total per-
fection, without error, confusion, contradiction or fraud. It constitutes the
only and exclusive criterion of truth. In relation to the Veda's eternity in the
Mimãmsã see Apadeva, Mimãmsãnyãyaprakãsa , pp. 7-8 with the commen-
tary of Vasudev Shastri Abhyankar ; Jaimini, Mimämsäsütra 1,1,27-32
and Bhãsya of Šabara ad locum ; Kumãrila, Mímãmsã&lokavãrtika ,
Vãkyãdhikarana , verses 365-369 and Vedanityatãdhikarana ; Laugãksi
Bhãskara, Arthasamgraha, p. 15; Nãrãyana, Mãnameyodaya , p. 107, para-
graph 17; Mãdhava, Sarvadaršanašamgraha , pp. 119-123; Mallisena,
Syãdvãdamarijari , pp. 69-70 ; Pãrthasãrathi Miára, Sãstradipikã ( Tarkapãda)
eighth Adhikarana especially pp. 468-470 ; Šaňkara, Sarvasiddhãnta -
samgraha , pp. 32-33, strophes 15-23. See also the exposition and criticism
of the thesis of the Veda's eternity and the arguments for the opposite
doctrine in Bhãsarvajna, Nyãyasãra, 2nd part, pp. 7-16 and Aparãrkadeva,
Nyãyamuktãvali, pp. 8-16; Jayanta Bhatta, NyãyamafijarU PP- 213-220.

The Advaita Vedãnta agrees with the Mimãmsã in the fact that the
Veda is eternal13 and beginningless and has not been created by any being,
but affirms that the world's creations have followed and will follow one
another in a continuous succession without beginning and without end. At
the first moment of each creation the Veda is remembered by God or by some
god. There is not any difference among the successive manifestations of the
Veda. The Veda remains in a latent and potential state between a creation
and the following one. The Veda is the model or archetype according
to which the creator realizes his demiurgic work, because the Veda indicates
in a more or less explicit form, which are the social structures, the moral
norms, the gods, the rites etc. which must exist in the world to be created.
The Veda at the beginning of each creation is revealed by the Supreme
Principle, God or some god to the first rsis and then is transmitted from
teachers to disciples in an uninterrupted tradition. The relation between the
Veda thus conceived and God presents difficult problems regarding God's
autonomy, independence and omnipotence, to which each school gives differ
rent answers and to which we cannot refer now. In relation to the Veda's

13 Nevertheless Dharmarâja Adhvarïndra, Vedãnta pa ribha sã , pp. 85-88 ( quoted edi-

tion ), though a Vedãntist author, expresses that in his opinion the Veda is not eter-
nal and has had a temporal beginning, because it has been created by God, but he
adds that God creates the Veda , at the beginning of cacli creation, exactly identical
to the Veda of the former creations. According to ÍDharmarãja. the pauruseyatva
consists in having as contents formulations independent from other formulations of
the same nature.

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14 Annals BORI, LXI ( 1980 )

eternity in the Advaita Vedãnta see Ãnandãnubhava, Nyãyaratna

pp. 13-33 ; Padmapãda, Pancapãdikã, p. 315 ; Prakãáãtman, Pafic
vivarana, pp. 677-692 ; Šaňkara, Bhãsya of the Vedäntasütra ad
p. 259, ad I, 3, 29, adii , 1, 11, p. 390; árínivãsadãsa, Yatïndrama
p. 25 ; Vãcaspati Mišra, Bhãmati ad I, 1, 3, p. 99, ad I, 3, 29-30
ranya, Vivaranaprameyasamgraha, pp. 715-733, specially p. 729.

Commenting Vedäntasütra II, 2, 38, Šankara, referring t

schools14 which, in opposition to his own, sustain that the Veda ha
created by an omniscient being, expresses that, for these schoo
omniscience is established by means of the Veda ( because the k
regarding God's nature can only be obtained through the Veda ) and
Veda's authority derives from its author's omniscience, and so they
the logical defect of itaretarãsraya. Cf. Jayanta Bhatta, Nyaya
p. 215 ( the last two verses ) ; Aparãrkadeva, Nyãyamuktãvalf
lines 17-19 ; Vidyãranya, Vivaranaprameyasamgraha, p. 719, lin
Prakãáãtman, Pancapãdikãvivarana, pp. 678-679, lines 22-2.
Vãcaspati Miára, Bhãmati, commenting also Vedäntasütra II, 2
fine, declares that this logical defect does not exist in the Vedãnta
which affirms that both, the Lord and the Veda, are beginningless, a
he observes - the Lord is the origin of the Veda.
The Veda's eternity and, as a consequence of it, its absolu
inalterable identity through the infinite creations, its independence
nomy are the guarantee of the absolute character of the moral laws
their expression in the Veda : good has been always good in itself,
been always bad in itself and not as the product of the decision
omniscient and omnipotent being : the moral law has in itself its fu
and justification. Cf. Jayanta Bhatta, Nyâyamanjarï, p. 188, l
Vãcaspati Mišra, Bhãmati adi, 1, 3, p. 99, ad I, 3, 50 infine, p. 3

The word and its relation with the object it designates :

One of the most discussed themes in the philosophical schools
was the eternity or non-eternity of the word and of the relation be
word and the object it indicates.15 If some of these schools, as the
and Vaišesika, sustain that the word is not eternal, for other ones
Mimãmsã and the Advaita Vedãnta, the word is eternal, has always
and has not been created by any being, and, moreover, the rela

14 Samkara is referring specially to the SUmkhya, ( theist ) Yoga, Šaiva and

schools mentioned in his commentary of the previous sutra. The Nyãya
ted also the existence of an omniscient author for the Veda.
is This point is treated in general together with the word s eternity.

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TOLA & DRAGONETTI : Anãditva in Indian Philosophy 15

unites the word with the object is also eternal, non-conventional, not decided
by any person. The eternity of the word and of its relation with the object
was for these schools the5 fundament of the Vedď s eternity. In fact, it is
impossible to affirm that the Veda, an aggregate of words arranged in a
certain way, is eternal, if we do not admit first that these words are eternal;
and, in order that th fVeda does not become an aggregate of sounds without
meaning or with variable meaning ( which would endanger its archetypal
function and the moral law's immutability ) it is equally necessary that the
word's relation with the object be eternal and immutable. When we consider
these speculations about the word, we must think that they understand that
it represents an universal concept and not an individual object. In this way
these speculations get in Indian philosophy the same hierarchy that has in
Western philosophy the realism and nominalism problem.

About the eternity of the word and of its relation with the object it
designates see Bhartrhari, Vãkyapadíya I, 23 and Harivrsabha, Vrtti ad
locum specially pp. 56 and 58 and III, 29; Ãnandãnubhava, Nyâyaratnadípã-
vali, pp. 13-15, 17-25, and 26-27; Jaimini, Pürvamlmämsäsütra 1,1, 5-23
and Šabarasvamin, Bhãsya ad locum ; Kumãrila, Mimãmsãálokavãrtika ,
Šabdanityatadhikarana ; Mãdhava, Sarvadaršanasamgraha , p. 121, line 20,
p. 123, line 11; Pärthasärathi Mišra, Sãstradípikã , ( Tarkapäda ), pp.
379-430 ; Šankara, Bhãsya of Bàdarayana's VedãntasUtra I, 3, 28 ; Vidyä-
ranya, Vivaranaprameyasamgraha , p. 724. See also, for an exposition and
criticism of the theory of the word's eternity and a fundamentation of the
opposite doctrine, Bhãsatvajna, Nyãyasãra , 2nd Part, pp. 16-32 and
Aparãrkadeva, Nyãyamuktãvalí , pp. 16-32; ; Gautama, Nyäyasütra II, 2,
13-39 and the commentary of Vatsyäyana ; Jayanta Bhatta, Nyäyamanjarl ,
pp. 188-213 and pp. 220-225; Kanada, Vaišesikamtra II, 2, 26-37.

The experience of diversity :

The primitive and Hínayãna Buddhism adopted a naive realistic posi-

tion : dharmas , the factors or elements of existence, are real, although they
are unsubstantial and impermanent ; the world, produced by the union of
these dharmas , is also real and our senses and our reason can give us a true
and exact knowledge of the world. Mahãyãna Buddhism, in general, and
specially its two principal schools, the Mãdhyamika and the Yogãcãra, adop-
ted an idealistic and critical position : the dharmas and the world are unreal,
illusory, mere creations of the human mind, conditioned by the mind's
peculiar form of being, and our senses and our reason cannot give us a valid
knowledge of the world. Besides these common postulates, both schools

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16 Annals BORI , LXl ( 1980 )

present fundamental differences : the Mãdhyamika considers that

ness participates of unreality, of the illusory nature of everythi
the Yogãcãra affirms the real and ultimate existence of conscious
latter school conceives consciousness under two forms, aspects or
its absolute form - pure, limpid, without contents, one and alone
its empirical state - divided into the illusory duality of a knowin
subject and of an illusory world, opposed to him as the knowledg
this world is characterized by the plurality and variety, which of
also illusory.

One of the objections adduced frequently against the Yogãcã

the Hinduist authors, who criticize and contradict them, refers to
and the plurality and variety : consciousness, they affirm, cannot
illusion of a knowing subject and of a plural and diversified world
not had before the experience of the duality of the knowing sub
multiple world, because any one who imagines something illusory
had previously the experience of the illusory thing or of the
that constitute it. Cf. Mãdhava, Sarvadaršanasamgraha , p. 12
Sthiramati, Tîkâ , p. 15, lines 16-17; Vasubandhu ad Vimšatika
authors think that they establish in this way the real and true e
of knowledge, its subject and its object. See the following Hindui
among others, for the indicated criticism : Aniruddha, Vrtti of Sãm
ad I, 42 ; Jayanta Bhatta, Nyãyamaiíjarí II, p. 112, line 28 -p. 114,
cf. p. 106, lines 6-11 ; Kumârila, Mímãmsãslokavãríika, Nirãlambana
vãda , verses 178-201 and Sünyaväda, verses 15-17 and Pãrthasãrathi Mišra,
commentary of the quoted passage of section Sünyavada ; Mãdhava,
Sarvadaršanasamgraha , pp. 14-15; Šaókara, Bhãsya of the Vedäntasütra ad
II, 2, 28, p. 499.

The Yogãcãras answered the objection by means of the vãsanãs ' and
anaditva* s theories. According to the vãsanãs ' theory each act leaves in the
mind a sign, an impression, a mark, which in certain conditions is reactuali-
zed giving birth to a new similar act. The illusion, the imagination of the
subject-object duality and of the multiplicity and variety of the world are due
to the reactualization of the vãsanãs left by previous acts, which consisted in
the perception by the mind of the illusion ( created by the same mind ) of a
subject-object duality and of the multiplicity and variety. And at their turn,
the acts which originated the vãsanãs which are actually reactualized, are due
to the vãsanãs left by other previous acts, and so on successively in an alter-
nating backwards process, experience-vãsúwã-experience-vã.saAíã etc., which
has no temporal beginning. About this process see Ašvaghosa, Ta tcKeng k'i
sin louen (Mahãyãnasraddhotpãda), Taisho XXXII, 1667 > p. 584, c, lines

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TOLA & DRAGONETTI : Anãditva in Indian Philosophy 17

8-9 and p. 586, a, lines 11-14 ( =T. Suzuki, The Awakening of Faith , pp. 56
and 78 ) ; Dignãga, Ãlambanaparlksã 6-8 ; Hiuan Tsang, Tcíťeng wei che
louen ( Vijfíaptimãtratãsiddhi ), Taisho XXXI, 1585, p. 2. a, lines 9-11, p. 6
c, lines 26-29, p. 8, b, line 6 up to p. 8, c, line 3 ( = L. de la Vallee Poussin,
La Siddhi de Hiuan Tsang , p. 16 ( Ãtmagrãhavibhanga ), p. 80, ( Dharmagrã-
havibhaňga ) and pp. 105-107 ( Nanda et Srisena, Dharmapãla ) ; Lankãva-
tärasütra , p. 18, lines 9-10, p. 20, lines 4 and 14-15, pp. 38-39 ; Prajñaka-
ramati, Panjikã ad IX, 32, 33, 84 ; Sthiramati, Tíkã of the Bhãsya of Vasu-
bandhu to the Kãrikãs of Maitreya ad I, 2, p. 10, lines 14-17 ; ad I, 4, p. 15,
lines 15-16 and p. 16, lines 13-14 ; ad I, 7, p. 20, lines 10-12, and ad III, 13,
p. 100, lines 21-29 ; Sthiramati, Bhãsya of the Trimsikã of Vasubandhu
adì, p. 98. See also the exposition of this doctrine in the above quoted
Hinduist authors.


Other cases of anãditva :

Without entering into details, we indicate other cases of anãditva :
Citta and caittas . See Sthiramati, Tíkã of the Bhãsya of Vasubandhu
of the Kãrikãs of Maitreya ad I, 2, p. 1 1 ; Kambala, Navašlokí, 7(11), in
G. Tucci, Minor Buddhist Texts I, p. 217.
Ãlayavijnãna. See Hiuan Tsang, TcKeng wei che louen ( Vijnaptimã -
tratãsiddhi ), Taisho XXXI, 1585, p. 12, b, line 28-p. 12, c, line 15 ( = L. de
la Vallee Poussin, La Siddhi de Hiuan Tsang , pp. 156-157).
The union of the soul with passion. See Vãtsyãyana, Bhãsya of the
Nyäyasütra of Gautama III, 1, 24 (in fine ).
The series of creations and destructions of the world. See áañkara,
Bhãsya of the Vedãntasutra of Bãdarãyana ad II, 1, 36.
The series of masters who have taught the Veda. See Vãcaspati Mišra,
Bhãmatí , p. 99 ; Anandãnubhava, Nyãyaratnadípãvali , p. 32, line 2.
Dosasambandha. See Lankãvatãrasutra II, verse 156.
The series of diverse effects and of their diverse causes, in which each
effect is cause and each cause is effect. See Prajnãkaramati, Panjikã ad
IX, 118.
The series of knowledge's " seed " and knowledge's act, in which each
" seed " has been produced by a previous knowledge's act and each know-
ledge's act by a previous " seed See Dignãga, Ãlambanaparlksã 6-8.
f _ _
Sünyata. _ See
Bijas . See Hiua
de la Vallee Pous
3 [ Annah , BO

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18 Annals BORI , LXI ( 1980 )

Time. See Äryabhata, ^Àryabhatîya III, 11 and Bhãskara,


Išvara ( Acyuîa ).- See Jayãkhyasamhitã , p. 46, verse 73, p. 177, verse

We hope that the quoted texts and the annotations we have done are
sufficient to show the importance of the anãditva theory in Indian thought.
We think that the anãditva is a most necessary postulate in the great majority
of the Indian philosophical systems ; it allows giving a rational answer to
many of the difficulties that present themselves in these systems.
If together with the anãditva theory we think that for Indian thought
the number of universes, scattered in an unlimited space, is infinite, then we
can affirm that one of the most characteristic features of Indian culture is its
desire of infinitude.


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Apadeva, Mímamsanyãyaprakãsa , with the commentary of Va sude v Shastri
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ed., Vol. XXXII, 1667, Tokyo 1960.
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Divyãvadana, Darbhanga 1959, Buddhist Sanskrit Texts.

Harivrsabha, Vrtti, in Bhartrhari, Vãkyapadíya Brahmakanda.
Hiuan Tsang, Tch'eng wei che louen ( Vijnaptimatratãsiddhi ), in Taisho
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