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Samanya – Vaiseshika System – Generality

Samanya is a category in Vaiseshika system. It is one of the seven categories enumerated in Annambhatta's Tarkasamgraha, an excellent Vaiseshika treatise. The enumeration of the seven categories is a complete analysis of all existing things. They resolve the entire universe into many classes. Nyaya deals with sixteen categories, like pramana, prameya and so on.

Samanya (generality) is a metaphysical category. It is defined as the eternal one residing in many. All objects of valid knowledge are either samanya (general) or vesesha (particular). Generality is of two kinds – tiryak (homogenous) and urdhvatva (heterogeneous).

Genus is different from samanya. Genus is not only means the common characteristic residing in several individuals, but also comprehending the individuals; while samanya denotes only the common characteristic. Genus is a class; samnya or jati is the common attribute which distinguishes that class.

Samanya is of two kinds – para (extensive) and apara (limited). The instances are satta (existence) and dravyatva (substantiality), respectively. The terms para and apara are relative. For example, the attribute dravyatva is apara with respect to satta (existence) and para with respect to ghatatva (the potness of a pot).

Samanya is again divided into two sorts, akhanda (whole) and sakhanda (with parts). The first is otherwise called jati (class) and is defined as that which is directly connected with the thing such as dravyatva, karmatva, and so on. The second is called upadhi (or condition) and is defined as “indirectly connected with the object, such as prameyatva (ability to know).”