3

As I discuss in this question, by far the most popular school of Hindu philosophy is the Vedanta school. But there are five other Astika or orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy: Purva Mimamsa, Samkhya, Yoga, Vaisheshika, and Nyaya. My question is about the Vaisheshika school, according to which atoms are the cause of the Universe. As I discuss here, the second oldest work of the Vaisheshika school is Prashastapada's Padartha Dharma Sangraha. Now in this excerpt from Sridhara's Nyaya Kandali, a commentary on Prashastapada's work, Sridhara discusses the nature of Shakti or potency. For instance, fire has the potency to burn things. Sridhara argues that potency is a perceptible quality of an object, not some imperceptible entity.

We now proceed to consider - what is 'Potency,' Shakti? Some good people have declared that it is something supersensuous, imperceptible by the senses. But that is not right; as there can be no evidence for the existence of any such supersensuous Potency.

Objection: "We find fire under certain conditions producing the effect of burning; and at another time we find that the same fire under the same conditions does not produce any such effect, when brought into close touch with certain incantations or medicinal herbs; and if the visible form of fire were the cause of the burning, then as the visible form of fire remains the same in the latter case also, there could not be an absence of burning. As a matter of fact however we do find this absent; and this clearly shows that there is some sort of incapacity in the invisible form of the fire; and thereby proves the fact of potency itself being something quite imperceptible; a potency the suppression of destruction whereof is brought about by the incantation etc. In cases where counter-remedies are found to revive the potency there has been a mere suppression, whereas when there is an absolute absence of the necessary effect, there is destruction of the potency." ...

To the above we make the following reply:- The absence of the proper effects (of fire), in the presence of incantations etc., does not indicate any invisible form. Because just, just as of burning we regard fire to be the cause, - inasmuch as it has its power of burning fully known by positive as well as by negative concomitance, - so in the same manner is also the prior non-existence of obstacles in the shape of incantation etc. accepted as the cause (of burning); and when this 'non-existence' would be set aside by the reciting of the incantation, it is only natural that there should be no burning for the simple reason that the necessary accessory circumstances in the shape of the non-existence of obstacles would not be presence, - and the absence of burning thus would also not be due to the absence of due 'potency' in the fire.

My question is about the part in bold. It's understandable that there might be mantras (in the Atharvana Veda for instance) which stop a fire from burning things, and other mantras which restore the burning power of fire. But my question is, what herbs, "when brought into close touch" with a fire, can stop the fire from burning things?

Are there any scriptures that describe such an herb?

You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .