What is the meaning of the term duḥkha-pratiyogi?

Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī uses the term ‘duḥkha-pratiyogi’ as a synonym of the word ‘ānanda’, which is an intrinsic quality of the ātmā. Śrī Babaji has explained that the term ‘pratiyogi’ is used to convey the meaning of an absence of duḥkha or misery in the ātmā. Opponents claim that this is incorrect, and that duḥkha-pratiyogi simply means ‘opposite of duḥkha’, and actually means ‘the bliss of bhakti’. So what does this term pratiyogi mean?

One of the many things I have come to appreciate about Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī is that he is a precise thinker. There is no wishy washiness or imprecision in his writings. His use of the term ‘pratiyogi’ is indeed an example of his precise use of language. The term pratiyogi is a very common word in nyāya, and used to great effect in the Vedānta by Advaitins. I will explain its meaning below. As a word of caution, this article is long, and requires the reader to exercise the brain somewhat.

The concept of abhāva in nyāya

In my explanation below, I will borrow explanations from an excellent book in Sanskrit by Śrī Devadatta Sharma called Vidyādhari, which itself is a commentary on Śrī Annambhatta’s Tarka Sangraha.

The term ‘abhāva’ means absence. Śrī Devadatta Sharma offers the popular example of the statement:

There is no pot on the floor.

Equally, one could say

There is an absence of a pot on the floor.

In nyāya, the latter statement is the preferred one. So one would say:

bhutale ghaṭasya abhāvaḥ = there is an abhāva (absence) of the pot (ghaṭa) on the floor.

The concept of virodha

As mentioned above, some say that the term duḥkha-pratiyogi means ‘opposite of misery’. The Sanskrit word for ‘opposite’ is ‘virodha’. But in the context of the term ‘pratiyogi’, the term virodha does not have just a generic meaning of ‘opposite’, which would connote ‘bliss’. Rather, it is used to specifically indicate the abhāva or absence of a thing. Devadatta Sharma explains (my translation):

Ghata-abhāva means the absence of the pot. This abhāva is not perceived when there is a pot. It is perceived when there is no pot. In common parlance, this kind of a situation is called ‘virodha’. If there is a mongoose present, there is no snake. When there is a snake, one can infer that there is no mongoose.

Note also that this virodha is present in both objects. That is, virodha is present in the mongoose, and the virodha is present in the snake. Thus, the term ‘virodha’ has a technical meaning.

Two types of virodha

There are two types of virodha in nyāya- vadhya-ghātaka-bhāvarūpa virodha and sahānavsthāna-rūpa virodha. The virodha which is each present in the snake and in the mongoose is of the first type. Śrī Devadatta presents an informative table to understand it which I present below.

First momentSecond momentThird momentFourth moment
Snake alone is presentSnake alone is presentSnake is present, and the mongoose is also presentSnake is dead, and the mongoose is present

He points out that in the vadhya-ghātaka-bhāva-rūpa virodha, there is virodha, but at some point of time, both of them have to be present together. This happens at the third moment in the above table.

In the second virodha, called saha-anavasthāna-rūpa-virodha, the virodhis (i.e. the two objects which each possess the virodha) are not together at any time. Consider the table below and see the contrast with the snake-mongoose example above.

First momentSecond momentThird momentFourth moment
Absence of pot on the floorAbsence of pot on the floorPresence of the pot on the floorPresence of the pot on the floor

Thus, at different moments, the pot or the absence of pot may be present on a table, but never in the same moment. This is saha-anavasthāna-rūpa-virodha, and this virodha is present in both – it is present in the abhāva or absence of the pot and the pot itself. This is important enough to deserve its own highlight:

saha-anavasthāna-rūpa-virodha is present in the abhāva or absence of the pot. It is also present in the pot. The pot is the virodhi of the abhāva (ghataḥ abhāvasya virodhi), and the abhāva is the virodhi of the pot (abhavaḥ ghatasya virodhi).

Definition of ‘pratiyogi’ and ‘anuyogi’

In nyāya, precision of language is all important. To express the virodha specifically present in abhāva or absence, the term pratiyogi and anuyogi are used. For the pot, the pratiyogi and anuyogi is as follows:

The virodha which is present in the pot, is called pratiyogitā.

The virodha which is present in the abhāva of the pot is called anuyogitā.

Why are these terms used in nyāya? For the simple reason that nyāya is obsessed with relations and there is always a need to express a relation between the absence of something and that something. Śrī Devadatta writes that the term ‘pratiyogītva’ is a sākāṅkṣā padārtha. Sākāṅkṣā captures the following meaning— when we hear the word ‘pratiyogī’, the curiosity immediately arises: who is its sambandhī or relata? That is, the question arises: who is the anuyogi? This curiosity is always present (nitya).

For example, if we hear the words, “the son Rāma”, the question immediately arises, whose son is Rāma? Indeed, this is the basis for defining all relations in nyāya. Likewise, if we hear the word ghaṭa-pratiyogi, the question arises- who is the anuyogi?

The word pratiyogi is interchangeably used with the word ‘virodhi’. So in the example of the pot, it would be appropriate to say:

ghaṭaḥ ghaṭa-abhāvasya pratiyogi = ghaṭaḥ abhāva-pratiyogi = the ghaṭa (pot) is the pratiyogi of the ghaṭa-abhāva (pot-absence)

One can play with these concepts. For example, consider the statement:

There is an abhāva (absence) of ghaṭa-abhāva (pot-absence) in ghaṭa-abhāva-abhāva (pot-absence-absence, which is nothing but the pot)

If we construct the statement this way, we can arrive at an inverse type of relation:

ghaṭa-abhāvaḥ ghaṭa-abhāva-abhāvasya pratiyogi = ghaṭa-abhāvaḥ ghaṭasya-pratiyogi = ghaṭa-abhāvaḥ ghaṭa-pratiyogi = The ghaṭa-abhāva (pot-absence) is a pratiyogi of the ghaṭa (pot)

Thus, the statement can be expressed in both ways:

ghaṭa-abhāvaḥ ghaṭa-pratiyogi or ghaṭaḥ ghaṭa-abhāva-pratiyogi

Let X = ghaṭaḥ, then we can cast the first statement above as follows:

ghaṭa-abhāvaḥ ghaṭa-pratiyogi = X-abhāva is X-pratiyogi

Now, we are equipped to interpret any general statement of the type:

X is Y-pratiyogi — (1)

From the logic presented above,

Y-abhāva is Y-pratiyogi –(2)

X = Y-abhāva (from (1) and (2))

The meaning of duḥkha-pratiyogi

We are now ready to properly interpret the term duḥkha-pratiyogi. Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī’s statement is:

Using the logic stated above,

ānanda = duḥkha-pratiyogi = duḥkha-abhāva = absence of suffering

Notice that we can arrive at this another way also:

ānanda = duḥkha-pratiyogi = duḥkha-abhāva-abhāva-pratiyogi = duḥkha-abhāva = absence of suffering

The relation between pratiyogitā and anuyogitā

Pratiyogitā is a sākāṅkṣā padārtha, it is always related, to (obviously) anuyogitā. The relation between the pratiyogitā and anuyogitā is that of nirūpya and nirūpaka, or nirūpya-nirūpaka-saṁbandha. The nirūpaka is one who describes or indicates. The nirūpya is one who is indicated or described. For example, if Vyāsa speaks Kṛṣṇa kathā, then Vyāsa is the nirūpaka and Kṛṣṇa kathā is the nirūpya. Likewise,

pratiyogitā is the nirūpaka (who describes) and anuyogitā is the nirūpya (described)

Equally, one can write it in the opposite way:

anuyogitā is the nirūpaka (who describes) and pratiyogitā is the nirūpya (described).

Now, where does the pratiyogitā reside in our example of duḥkha-pratiyogī? In duḥkha-abhāva or absence of misery. To express this in nyāya, one would use the word ‘niṣṭha’ which simply means ‘residing in’ . So one would write:


Where does the anuyogitā reside? It is present in the duḥkha (by definition; see above). In Nyāya, one would use the word ‘āśraya’ to express this. That is, duḥkha is the āśraya of the anuyogitā. So one would write:

anuyogitā-āśrayaḥ duḥkham

How are duḥkha and duḥkha-abhāva related? By nirūpaka-nirūpya saṁbandha of course! In the formulation below, the pratiyogitā is taken as the nirūpaka, and the anuyogitā as the nirūpya. So we get the rather complicated sentence (which is par for the course in nyāya!)

duḥkha-abhāva-niṣṭha-pratiyogitā-nirupita-anuyogitā-āśrayaḥ duḥkham – the duḥkha, which is the āśraya of the anuyogitā, which is described by the pratiyogitā present in duḥkha-abhāva.

Why duḥkha-pratiyogi cannot mean bliss of bhakti

The foregoing can now help understand why the bliss of bhakti cannot be the meaning of duḥkha-pratiyogi. As soon as we hear the term ‘duḥkha-pratiyogi’, we understand that

the anuyogi is duḥkha, and the pratiyogi is duḥkha-abhāva, and these two are related by the nirūpya-nirūpaka-saṁbandha

There is a eternal relation between the pratiyogi and anuyogi in this way, and there is no way around it. In other words, there is no way to interpret this statement in any other way. Therefore, there is no way to translate duḥkha-pratiyogi as ‘bliss’; then the relation would be

the anuyogi is duḥkha, and the pratiyogi is bliss, and these two are related by the nirūpya-nirūpaka-saṁbandha

This formulation does not work, because the very purpose of the terms pratiyogi and anuyogi is to express opposition between an object and its absence.

In the statement,

ānanda = duḥkha-pratiyogi

what is not known is ānanda. The term duḥkha-pratiyogi is the predicate of the sentence, and specifies what ānanda is. It immediately informs us that the anuyogi is duḥkha, and ānanda is the pratiyogi of duḥkha, that is, the abhāva of duḥkha. This is the new information provided. Nothing more can be gleaned from this precise technical statement.

Use of the term pratiyogi in the Sarva-samvadini

I now turn to the use of these terms in precisely the way I have outlined above by Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī in his Sarva-samvadini commentary on the Bhagavat Sandarbha, Anuccheda 10. There, he examines the views of the Advaitins.

At issue is the statement, vijñānaṁ ānandaṁ brahma from the Upaniṣads. Śrī Jīva’s challenge is- why is Brahman described in two words? If vijñānaṁ and ānandaṁ mean the same thing, then there is the fault of repetition. If they mean two different things, then there is duality in Brahman. Both ways, the Advaitin is caught in a bind.

Śrī Jīva Goswami represents the Advaitin’s reply, which in essence, is the same as his description of the jīva’s ānanda and jñāna:

ānandaṁ duḥkha-pratiyogitvaṁ vijñānaṁ jaḍa-pratiyogitvaṁ

Notice the cleverness of the Advaitins! The reader should now be able to recognize that they are responding to the challenge as follows:

ānanda is the abhāva of duḥkha or absence of suffering

vijñāna is the abhāva of jaḍatva, or absence of inertness

The Advaitin’s way out is to interpret ānanda and vijñāna as denial of suffering and inertness in Brahman. The idea is that denial preserves the non-dual nature of Brahman because vijñāna and ānanda are not being described as positive qualities. If we translate duḥkha-pratiyogitva as the bliss of bhakti, as the bhakti-inherence-vādis do, the whole Advaitin argument that Śrī Jīva Goswami is presenting as a pūrva-pakṣa becomes hopelessly distorted.

Śrī Jīva uses precisely the same terms with precisely the same meaning for the jīva because this meaning actually applies to it.


  1. The term “virodha” is a technical term that refers specifically to the opposition between the object and its absence. This virodha is present in both the absence itself (which is a padārtha) and the object.
  2. The term pratiyogitā refers to the virodha present in the object.
  3. The term anuyogitā refers to the virodha present in the absence of the object.
  4. The pratiyogitā and anuyogitā are related always by the nirūpya-nirūpaka sambandha.
  5. The term duḥkha-pratiyogi means duḥkha-abhāva-abhāva-pratiyogi which means duḥkha-abhāva or the absence of suffering
  6. The anuyogitā is present in duḥkha or misery.
  7. duḥkha-pratiyogi cannot be translated as the bliss of bhakti, because the sole purpose of the terms pratiyogi and anuyogi is to express opposition between an object and its absence.
  8. Nothing else can be understood from any statement that contains the term of pratiyogi, other than an object and its absence.

Categories: Definitions, jīva-tattva

Tagged as:

2 replies »

Leave a Reply