Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

satkArya vAda

Definition - S. N. Sastri

This is the theory of the sAMkhya school. It is in contrast to asatkArya vAda which is the theory held by the nyAya-vaisheShika school. According to asatkArya vAda the effect is not pre-existent in its material cause, but it is altogether a new creation. That is to say, the effect, kArya, is asat, non-existent, in the cause. The cause becomes non-existent and from that non-existence a new product emerges as a new creation. sAMkhya rejects this theory, pointing out that, if the effect is not already in the cause, then anything can be produced from anything else; curd can be produced from water and oil from sand. So the sAMkhya-s hold that the effect, kArya, must exist (sat) in the cause. The sAMkhya-s further hold that there is a real transformation or pariNAma of the cause into the effect and that both the cause and the effect are real.

advaita vedAnta accepts one part of satkArya vAda, namely, that the effect pre-exists in the cause, as is clear from the quotations from Shri Shankara’s bhAShya given below:

bhAShya on Br. Up. 1.2.1—

“The effect exists before it is produced. The manifestation of the effect (from the cause) points to its pre-existence”.

“Obstruction is of two kinds. When an effect, such as a pot, has become manifest from its cause, clay, darkness and the wall, etc., are obstructions, while before its manifestation from the clay the obstruction consists in the particles of clay remaining as some other effect such as a lump. Therefore the effect, pot, although existent, is not perceived before its manifestation, as it is hidden”.

From the above statements it is clear that the effect exists in the cause according to advaita vedAnta.

The other part of the sAMkhya theory of satkArya vAda, namely, that there is an actual transformation of the cause into the effect and that the effect is also real, is not accepted by advaita vedAnta. According to advaita the effect is only a different configuration of the cause and is not real. The effect is only a vivarta or transfiguration of the cause and not a transformation. This is clear from the following statements in the bhAShya:

Ch. 6.1.4--- The effect is non-different from its material cause. All modification is mere name.

Ch. 6.2.2--- The same existence continues in a different configuration. As, for instance, a snake forms into a coil, and clay continues in different forms as dust, lump, potsherds, etc. A snake is the same whether it is coiled or stretched out. A man sitting does not become different when he lies down. Similarly gold remains as gold whether it is in the form of a chain or a bangle or any other ornament.

A pot is merely a configuration of clay and has no reality apart from clay.

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Page last updated: 10-Jul-2012