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Professor Dr. (Ms.) Shashiprabha Kumar, Distinguished Fellow, VIF

Updated: Apr 22



Prof. ShashiPrabha Kumar is currently the Chairperson, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla; a Distinguished Fellow of Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF), New Delhi and Dean, Sri Sankaracharya Sanskrit Mahavidyalaya, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Delhi Kendra. Earlier she was the Founder Vice-Chancellor at Sanchi University of Buddhist-Indic Studies, Madhya Pradesh and Chairperson, Special Centre for Sanskrit Studies, JNU, New Delhi. Prof. Kumar is an acclaimed Sanskrit Scholar, well versed in classical Indian Philosophy, particularly the system of Vaiśeṣika, which was her area of Ph.D. research at University of Delhi (1983). During her teaching career of almost fifty years, she has supervised/guided fifty-one students for their Post-Doctoral, Doctoral (Ph.D.) and M. Phil research. She has also taught at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies U.K. in the Trinity Term, (2007) as Shivdasani Visiting Fellow.

Let’s delve into the fascinating world of Nyaya and Vaisesika philosophy, with a special focus on the insights shared by Professor Shashi Prabha Kumar.

  1. Nyaya Philosophy:

  • Definition: Nyaya is a school of Indian philosophy that emphasizes logical realism and rigorous analysis. It seeks to examine objects and issues through evidence and reason.

  • Founder: Maharishi Gautam Aksapada is considered the propounder of Nyaya philosophy.

  • Goal: Nyaya aims to establish justice and truth by critically evaluating various aspects of existence.

  • Starting Point: Doubt serves as the beginning point for Nyaya philosophy.

  • Categories (Padarthas): Nyaya recognizes 16 padarthas or fundamental categories. These include substances, qualities, actions, universals, particulars, and more.

  • Also Known As: Nyaya is sometimes referred to as Pramada Shastra.

  • Key Texts: The Nyaya Sutras and Nyaya Bhashyas are important sources for studying Nyaya philosophy1.

  1. Vaisesika Philosophy:

  • Meaning: The term “Vaisesika” derives from “vishesha,” which means “particular” or “specific.” Hence, Vaisesika focuses on specific objects of knowledge.

  • Categories (Padarthas): Vaisesika recognizes six padarthas: substance, quality, action, generality, particularity, and inherence.

  • Nine Substances (Dravyas): Vaisesika identifies nine fundamental substances: earth, water, fire, air, ether, time, space, soul (atman), and mind (manas).

  • Theory of Matter: Vaisesika delves into the nature of matter and provides insights into the ancient Hindu worldview.

  • Sister School: Vaisesika is closely related to the Nyaya school, sharing philosophical procedures and ethical conclusions.

  • Sources: Scholars worldwide study Vaisesika philosophy, and its texts provide valuable knowledge2.

In summary, both Nyaya and Vaisesika offer distinct perspectives on reality, logic, and existence. Professor Shashi Prabha Kumar’s lecture sheds light on these profound philosophical traditions, enriching our understanding of ancient Indian thought. 🌟📜

-Ketaki

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