On Being and What There Is: Classical Vaiaseosika and the History of Indian Ontology

By Wilhelm Halbfass | Go to book overview

9
The Vaiśeṣika Concept of Time

1. Bhartrhari opens the chapter on time (Kālasamuddeśa) in his Vākyapadīya with the following statement: "Some consider time to be one single, eternal, all-pervading substance, apart from activities and processes (i.e., the topic of the preceding chapter, Kriyāsamuddeśa), the measure of entities involved in action" (vyāpāravyatirekeńa kālam eke pracakśate | nityam ekam vibhudravyaṃ parimāṇaṃ kriyāvatām). 1

He also mentions the view that this one time-substance is, by virtue of self-differentiation (vibhaktena-ātmanā), the cause of the "origin, duration and destruction" (utpatti, sthiti, vināśa) of temporal beings; and he cites the idea that it is the "wire-puller of this world-machine" (asya lokayantrasya sūtradhāraḥ), differentiating and regulating the universe through its powers of "prevention" (pratibandha) and "permission" (abhyanujn̅ā), or withholding and releasing. Thus it produces "priority and posteriority" (paurvāparya) or temporal sequence (kramarūpatā). 2 It regulates the production and manifestation (janmābhivyakti) of different entities, by releasing them into actual existence or preventing them from emerging. It does so by activating or actualizing those powers and potentialities (śakti) that constitute the condition of the possibility of all

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