definition of sAmAnAdhikara.nya

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vidya at
Mon Dec 9 06:50:11 UTC 1996

On Thu, 5 Dec 1996, John Dunne wrote:


>  'sabdaanaa.m tv ekasmin prav.rrttes tadvaacyaanaam aikaatmyabhrama.h /
>  This in many ways summarizes the basic point of his comments; that is,
>  although saamaanaadhikara.nya might appear to require that the vaacya of
>  the expressions in question be identical, it would be mistake to assume
>  any such identity. In making this point, Vaacaspati re-affirms the
>  realist ontology to which he is committed.

Not always. The same Vaacaspati, in his Bhaamatii, uses
saamaanaadhikara.nya in a very different way, to come to advaita
conclusions. tat and tvam in tattvamasi refer to the same entity, i.e.
brahman, although usually conceived of as limited by different adjuncts.
Here, Vaacaspati has given up the contention that it is a bhrama to insist
on aikaatmya. 

To clarify, within each work of his, Vaacaspati is faithful to the school
he is expounding, so it is not as if Vaacaspati is himself committed to a
realist ontology. Rather, nyaaya is committed to a realist ontology, and
Vaacaspati is being faithful to nyaaya in the taatparya-.tiikaa. 

>  For the purposes of this discussion, what is interesting about the above
>  quoted statement is simply that Vaacaspati appears to presume the same
>  type of gloss given by Kar.nakagomin, Raamaanuja, and so forth.

Note however, that even Raamaanuja accepts that tat and tvam refer to the
same entity in tattvamasi, although he explains it in terms of a
'sariira-'saariirin analogy, instead of the limiting adjuncts of Advaita

It seems to me that saamaanaadhikara.nya is used in many different ways
depending upon context, and depending upon the intention of the author. I
do not think that the majority of Indian philosophers used it in only in
one particular way. For example, even advaitins, e.g. Sure'svara, notice
that normally saamaanaadhikara.nya requires a sambandha (e.g. of
vi'seshana and vi'seshya) between the two terms (as in 'sukladadhi), but
reject this requirement in favor of a which is
possible on a different application of saamaanaadhikara.nya, on the
grounds that no such sambandha can be postulated between tat and tvam.
Specifically, this interpretation requires a real identity of the two
vaacyas, which is the only relation between "tat" and "tvam", at least in
Advaita Vedaanta. 

>  Birgit also suggests that "co-referentiality" is the best translation,
>  but I am not particularly satisfied with it. The problem is that this
>  translation raises the entire issue of "reference," which, given its uses
>  in Euro-american philosophy, can be quite misleading in the Indian
>  context. On Vaacaspati's Naiyaayika ontology, for example, what would be
>  the "referents" of the two terms in the expression *'sukladadhi*? On
>  Vaacaspati's view, one should argue that the "referents" of the terms
>  must be distinct. Hence, it would be a mistake to say that both of these
>  terms "refer" to the dravya, but on the most straightforward
>  interpretation of "reference" as it is used these days, this is what the
>  translation "co-referentiality" would suggest.
>   The advantage of "co-instantiation" is that it points to the manner in
>  which the vast majority of Indian philosophers conceived of
>  saamaanaadhikara.nya; that is, it is a state of affairs in which two
>  entities are somehow instantiated in the same locus such that the 'sabda
>  for those entities are applicable to (or "refer to") that same locus. A

"Co-instantiation" seems to require that the two entities that are
instantiated in the same locus are necessarily different. The question 
also arises whether the two entities being instantiated are the same as or 
different from this locus, and so on. This would clearly be misleading in
a discussion of Advaita Vedaanta, which certainly accounts for a great 
number of Indian philosophers, probably more than most other schools. To
me, it seems that saamaanaadhikara.nya plays the role of co-instantiation
in some contexts and co-referentiality in others. 

How about coordinate predication? I have seen this used in translations of
both Advaita and Vi'sish.taadvaita works by Indian authors.

S. Vidyasankar

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