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The Vedanta Sutras, commentary by Sankaracharya (SBE34), tr. by George Thibaut [1890] at

26. (Entity) does not spring from non-entity on account of that not being observed.

The system of the Vainâsikas is objectionable for this reason also that those who deny the existence of permanent stable causes are driven to maintain that entity springs from non-entity. This latter tenet is expressly enunciated by the Bauddhas where they say, 'On, account of the manifestation (of effects) not without previous destruction (of the cause).' For, they say, from the decomposed seed only the young plant springs, spoilt milk only turns into curds, and the lump of clay has ceased to be a lump when it becomes a jar. If effects did spring from the unchanged causes, all effects would originate from all causes at once,

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as then no specification would be required 1. Hence, as we see that young plants, &c. spring from seeds, &c. only after the latter have been merged in non-existence, we hold that entity springs from non-entity.

To this Bauddha tenet we reply, ('Entity does) not (spring) from non-entity, on account of that not being observed.' If entity did spring from non-entity, the assumption of special causes would be purportless, since non-entity is in all cases one and the same. For the non-existence of seeds and the like after they have been destroyed is of the same kind as the non-existence of horns of hares and the like, i.e. non-existence is in all cases nothing else but the absence of all character of reality, and hence there would be no sense (on the doctrine of origination from non-existence) in assuming that sprouts are produced from seeds only, curds from milk only, and so on. And if non-distinguished non-existence were admitted to have causal efficiency, we should also have to assume that sprouts, &c. originate from the horns of hares, &c.--a thing certainly not actually observed.--If, again, it should be assumed that there are different kinds of non-existence having special distinctions--just as, for instance, blueness and the like are special qualities of lotuses and so on--we point out that in that case the fact of there being such special distinctions would turn the non-entities into entities no less real than lotuses and the like. In no case non-existence would possess causal efficiency, simply because, like the horn of a hare, it is non-existence merely.--Further, if existence sprang from non-existence, all effects would be affected with non-existence; while as a matter of fact they are observed to be merely positive entities distinguished by their various special characteristics. Nor 2 does any one

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think that things of the nature of clay, such as pots and the like, are the effects of threads and the like; but everybody knows that things of the nature of clay are the effects of clay only.--The Bauddha's tenet that nothing can become a cause as long as it remains unchanged, but has to that end to undergo destruction, and that thus existence springs from non-existence only is false; for it is observed that only things of permanent nature which are always recognised as what they are, such as gold, &c., are the causes of effects such as golden ornaments, and so on. In those cases where a destruction of the peculiar nature of the cause is observed to take place, as in the case of seeds, for instance, we have to acknowledge as the cause of the subsequent condition (i.e. the sprout) not the earlier condition in so far as it is destroyed, but rather those permanent particles of the seed which are not destroyed (when the seed as a whole undergoes decomposition).--Hence as we see on the one hand that no entities ever originate from nonentities such as the horns of a hare, and on the other hand that entities do originate from entities such as gold and the like the whole Bauddha doctrine of existence springing from non-existence has to be rejected.--We finally point out that, according to the Bauddhas, all mind and all mental modifications spring from the four skandhas discussed above and all material aggregates from the atoms; why then do they stultify this their own doctrine by the fanciful assumption of entity springing from non-entity and thus needlessly perplex the mind of every one?


416:1 If the cause were able, without having undergone any change, to produce effects, it would at the same moment produce all the effects of which it is capable.--Cp. on this point the Sarvadarsanasamgraha.

416:2 This is added to obviate the remark that it is not a general rule that effects are of the same nature as their causes, and that therefore, after all, existent things may spring from non-existence.

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