Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 March 2012
The Vaiśeṣika philosophy of Kaņāda is usually held to be a metaphysical theory. But on closer analysis it becomes clear that this stream of Indian philosophy is very rich in other aspects as well. For instance, the sixth chapter of Kanāda's Vaiśeṣikasūtras deals mainly with moral problems. This chapter is divided into two sections – the first section focuses on morality from social angle while the second is concerned chiefly with the individual ethics. The aim of the present paper is to highlight some socially important moral issues emerging from the first section of the sixth chapter in Vaiśeṣikasūtras. But it must be admitted that the scope of this presentation is very limited in the sense that it does not discuss the Vaiśeṣika in its total perspective and focuses only upon the relevant portion of sutra text from a very specific point of view.
The word ‘Moral’ can etymologically be traced to the word ‘Mores’ (Morals) which means ‘Custom’ and ‘Custom is some regularity of behaviour not of an individual but of a group of individuals in a society’.(Barlingay 1998:35) Therefore when we deal with morality, we have to take into account the individual conduct as in relation to others in group. In other words, morality is fundamentally concerned with social norms since moral acts generally have a bearing upon others.