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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 Samkhya and the Vaisheshika schools. The Samkhya school believed that the Universe was made of Prakriti or matter/energy, whereas the Vaisheshika school believed that the Universe was made of atoms.

Now the Yukti Dipika, an ancient Samkhya work of unknown origin, argues that the atoms postulated by the Vaisheshika school cannot possible be the ultimate cause of the Universe, because these atoms would themselves have a cause. The Yukti Dupika gives numerous reasons for why atoms must have a more fundamental cause, but here is one of them:

[Moreover,] because of their perceptibility. Here whatever is perceptible is observed to be caused just as the pot. The atoms are perceptible to Yogis. They are caused.... If it is argued that [this argument] will give rise to the undesirable contingency (of being caused) in case of [Prakriti], etc., we reply no, because it is not admitted by us. According to our [Samkhya] Scripture [Prakriti and Purusha] are not perceptible even to a Brahmin like Kapila. Therefore the argument has no force.

The Yukti Dipika is arguing that anything that can be known through Pratyaksha or perception has a cause, and since atoms can be perceived through Yogipratyaksha or divine vision, they too must have cause. Whereas the Samkhya school believes Purusha and Prakriti cannot be perceived even through Yogipratyaksha, so they're not vulnerable to the same objection. But my question is, is the Yukti Dipika right that the Vaisheshika school believes that atoms can be perceived through Yogipratyaksha?

Are there any Vaisheshika works that discuss this?

  • If they could why did Hindus have been invaded and conquered by foreign nations so much to the point it is where it is now today? It is my firm belief that ancient yogis knew what atom was, but that’s it. Probably less importance was given to those things as spiritual advancement was emphasized. – Laxxxmi Oct 16 '17 at 1:46
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    First, you have confused mixing of the sensual perception of seeing and yogic perception - which is extrasensual and is not interchangable in any sense with sensual seeing. Second, although the other schools are astika, they are not Hindu in the modern sense of the term. ALL modern day Hindus are followers of Vyasa and are Vedantists. You are stretching the term Hindu and your question is not about Hindu philosophy. – Swami Vishwananda Oct 16 '17 at 4:24
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    @SwamiVishwananda First of all, it is not me, but the author of the Yuktidipika who is connecting ordinary Pratyaksha and Yogipratyaksha. Second of all, it's certainly true that the vast majority of Hindus living today belong to the Vedanta school. But it is still the Astika/Nastika distinction, and not the Vedanta/non-Vedanta distinction, that defines what a Hindu is. And even today we have various sects of Hinduism some or all of whose members reject the Vedanta school: the Shaiva Siddhanta sect, the Lingayata sect, the Kashmiri Shaivite sect, the Sri Vidya sect, etc. – Keshav Srinivasan Oct 16 '17 at 4:43
  • @Laxxxmi What does Yogis seeing atoms have anything to do with foreigners invading India? – Ikshvaku Dec 17 '18 at 21:50
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Did Vaisheshika school believes that atoms can be perceived through Yogipratyaksha?

Yes the Vaisheshika school believes so. This is described in Vaisheshika Sutras - Adhyaya 9 – Aahnika 1 – Sutras 12-15 .

It’s said in those sutras that , there are two type of yogis 1 ) Yujjaana Yogies 2) Yukta Yogies. Yujjana yogis can see the actual Atma (soul) in the meditation by concentrating their mind on soul. And other type of Yujjana yogis can see the atoms in the meditation by concentrating their mind on Dravyas.

The Yukata yogis do not need even the meditation to experience both.

Generally atoms can't be seen through physical eyes just like Vayu , Akasha , Mind etc. Yujjaana yogis can see them through mind (ManoYoga). The Vyakhya also tells us that nothing is impossible with Yogic practice and Yukta yogis can see and know the atoms and also their properties etc. without meditation. i.e through physical eyes also.

तथा द्रव्यान्तरेषु प्रत्यक्षम् | 9.1.12

Tatha DravyaNtareshu Praktyaksham

It’s said in this Sutra that as Yogis can see the actual Atma in Yogic meditation by process of unification of Mind and soul. They can also see the Atoms (Sukshma Dravyas) The previous sutra tells us about Atma and this sutra states that same thing happens with Atoms. i.e. they can actually be seen through meditation.The difference is Yujjaana yogis can see them in Samadhi only and the Yukata do not need Samadhi.


It’s even said in the next sutra that not only they can see the Atoms but they can see the Guna-Karmas of those Dravyas.

तत्समवायात् कर्मगुणेषु | 9.1.14

TatsaMavaYaat KarmaGuneshu

Conclusion -So the Vaisheshika scripture seems to say that nothing is impossible with Yogic practice .Yukta yogis even can see the atoms without meditation through their Yogic powers and atoms can be perceived through Yogipratyaksha and also directly with physical eyes.

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