Tuesday, February 13, 2018


(Nor is a semi-effete existence admissible).

This is an ancient dictum quoted in Patanjali’s Mahaabhaashya 4-1-78. This is also found in Shankara’s Brahmasootrabhaashya 1-1-19 and again in 1-2-8 (while explaining some Upanishadic statements), Sarvadarshana Samgraha in its Boudha section, Saptapadaarthi, Brahmasootrataatparyavivarana 3-4-26, Nyaayamanjari of Jayanta Bhatta, Adwaita Brahmasiddhi, etc.

Zeno’s paradox describes something like 40 ‘paradoxes of plurality’, attempting to show that ontological pluralism - a belief in the existence of many things rather than only one - leads to absurd conclusions. However, the present maxim deals with many things including what Vardhamaana (iii 195) describes as indefiniteness, half-and-half-ness, the being neither one thing nor the other, etc. It is also described as action of indeterminate character, a proceeding void of decided leaning or bearing, etc. The reason is it has been differently interpreted by different authorities.

Vardhamaana argues: time evolution of a lady (स्त्री) cannot be explained by describing her as a damsel (तरुणी), because her breasts are no longer firm, but sagging; yet, she cannot be described as an old woman (जरती) because of her dark (not graying) hair. Here there is an indeterminateness, which needs to be determined (सिद्धासिद्धं प्रयोजनम्).

Aanandagiri says: you cannot take one part of a fowl and cook it, yet expect the other part to lay eggs. What he means is: you must take things as it is – wholly not partially.

Raamaananda says: you cannot entice a lady and after she is aroused, only kiss her and proceed no further because of your old age weakness.

One text gives the example of a horse, who is used in manual farming (where it is used to slow motion), and the same horse used in a cart (where it is expected to run very fast).

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