Adravya

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By Swami Harshananda

Adravya literally means ‘non-substance’.

The darśanas’ deal with three topics:

  1. Pramā - valid knowledge
  2. Pramāṇa - means of valid knowledge
  3. Prameya - objects of valid knowledge

The Viśiṣṭādvaita Darśana, one of the important schools of Vedānta whose chief exponent was Rāmānuja, categorizes prameya into two broad groups of ‘dravya’ (substance) and ‘adravya’ (non-substance).

If dravya acts as a substratum or locus of change, adravya is an attribute or quality always necessarily dependent on dravya. Neither dravya nor adravya can be thought of apart from the other.

The adravyas are ten:

  1. Sattva
  2. Rajas and tamas - the three guṇas or qualities of prakṛti or insentient nature
  3. Sabda - sound
  4. Sparśa - touch
  5. Rupa - color or form
  6. Rasa - taste
  7. Gandha - odor
  8. Ākāśa - ether
  9. Saiṅyoga - conjunction or external relation between substances
  10. Śakti - potency or the effecting agency in all causal substances as for instance, plasticity in clay or the

power of attraction in a magnet

According to Viśiṣṭādvaita, instances can be given where an adravya can be viewed both as a substance and as an attribute. For example, though light is an attribute of an effulgent object, it serves also as a substance, since it is subject to contraction and diffusion, and possesses color as an attribute. Dharmabhṅtajñāna is another example.


References

  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore