Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




K. Sivaraman


J. G. Arapura

Committee Member

Hans Mol


In the present work an attempt is made to study the problem of temporality in the religious philosophies of the Sámkhya-Yoga and Ábhidharma Buddhism. The two systems are studied in comparative perspective to determine the degree of compatibility of the two on the specific issue of temporality and its significance for the world-transcendence. The systems under investigation have been selected on the ground that both of them look at temporality as a characteristic built into the structure of things. Reification of time, as an abstract category independent of entities, is alien to both the systems. Temporality is conceived not in terms of time as a transcendent condition of our being and cognition. Rather it is conceived in terms of the changefulness and becomingness, characteristic of phenomena as such and its relationship to the cognizing consciousness. This indeed is the most important perspective that they share against other religious philosophies of India.

Our interest in the two systems' articulation of the problem emanates from the conviction that the systems under investigation, instead of being diametrically opposed to each other, complement each other and in some significant ways share certain basic perspectives. The fact of their complementarity has been ignored in the earlier studies. There are some occasional statements about the possibility of some similarities between the two. But no study of significance, except that of Stcherbatsky, has been undertaken to see if there is any significant correlation between the two. Most of the time scholars have treated them as representing two diametrically opposed ontological perspectives, Murti being the most prominent proponent of this position. That there are certain important differences between the two cannot be denied. But it has been our concern to demonstrate that, despite important differences in their ontological perspectives, the two systems are in close company, specially in their articulation of the problem of temporality and its soteriological implications.

The body of the thesis is divided into three major parts. The first part is a critical exposition of the problem in the context of Sāmkhya-Yoga. The second part deals with the problem with reference to Ābhidharma Buddhism. And the third part is an attempt to bring out the correlation between the two systems with special reference to the soteriological implications of their conception of the problem under investigation.

The following are the major findings of the present work:

1. Both the Sāmkhya-Yoga and Ābhidharma Buddhism relativize the category of time. This relativization is part and parcel of their non-cosmological understanding of the temporal process.

2. Temporality is defined as a feature built into the structure of change and becomingness and its subjective experience.

3. For explaining temporal determinations of past, present and future implicit distinction between real and existent is admissible. The present alone is considered existent, while past and future are real.

4. The realm of the temporal is conceived in contradistinction with Eternity, the two being dialectically related. The temporality is seen in opposition to Eternity and yet providing a link with Eternity.

5. The transcendence of temporality is a function of consciousness. Reflection (contemplation) as an act of consciousness is a temporal act. But reflection is seen as having a built-in structure of transcendence. This transcendence of the temporal process takes place in the present. Accordingly, both the Sāmkhya-Yoga and Abhidharma Buddhism are the soteriologies of the present.

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