Samavaya

Definition - What does Samavaya mean?

Samavaya is a Sanskrit word that means “combination,” “union,” “aggregate” and “inseparable.” In the Vaisheshika school of Hindu philosophy, samavaya is one of the six categories of being known as the padarthas (objects that can be thought and named). The related Nyaya school of thought recognizes all of the Vaisheshika padarthas, including samavaya, as subcategories of one of its 16 padarthas.

Also known as “inherence,” samavaya includes things that are inseparably connected, such as an object and its quality.

Yogapedia explains Samavaya

Samavaya recognizes that an object ceases to be that object if one of its qualities is missing. Cloth and threads are inseparably connected in that minus the threads, cloth no longer exists. This is samavaya – one object inheres the other in the same way that cloth must have thread for its existence. Likewise, fire has heat and radiance; without those qualities, fire does not exist as the same substance.

In addition to samavaya, Vaisheshika recognizes these five padarthas:

  • Dravya – substance, which includes earth, air, water, fire, ether, space, time, spirit and mind
  • Guna – quality, which includes 24 subdivisions or species
  • Karma – action
  • Samanya – genus, or categorizing objects by similarities
  • Vishesha – specific difference, which notes the uniqueness of an object within a class.

Sometimes a seventh padartha is included: abhava, which is nonexistence or absence.

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