We shall begin this article with the doctrine of cause and effect and later touch upon two other fundamental concepts of Nyaaya.

In Nyaaya Shaastra, the doctrine of cause and effect is known as Kaarya-Kaarana-Bhaavah(कार्य-कारण-भावः). The word Kaaryam(कार्यम्) generally means work but in this context it means Effect. The word Kaaranam(करणम्) means Cause.

As per Nyaaya Shaastra, the Kaaryam or the effect is defined as anything which gets created at a certain point of time or anything which came into existence at a certain point in time. And that which comes into existence cannot come into existence on its own but has to be created or brought into existence by its cause or causes. For example, a piece of cloth is a Kaaryam as it came into existence at a point in time. It did not come into existence on its own but it was brought into existence by certain Kaaranas such as the weaver, the threads which it is composed of, the loom, etc. Whatever comes into existence, at any point in time is a Kaaryam. But entities which are permanent such as time-space, etc. do not come under the ambit of this definition, as they existed from time immemorial, they did not come into existence at any point in time.

For anything to be a cause of something else (the effect), there are two pre-requisites

      It always has to be present directly or indirectly wherever the effect is produced.

       It has to be present there before the effect is produced.

We can safely say that the aforementioned pre-requisites form the elementary definition of a cause. Let us get back to the cloth example. A piece of cloth is the effect. The threads that make it are always present wherever the cloth is being weaved since a cloth cannot be weaved without the thread.  They are also pre-existent to the cloth. In this way, they fulfill the said pre-requisites. Therefore they are also a cause to the cloth. The loom also is always present wherever a cloth is weaved and it is present there before the cloth is weaved. So it is also a cause. The threads are conjoined to each other in a certain manner i.e. they are interwoven, and this conjunction also is a cause. The weaver also is a cause.

When we say that something has to be directly or indirectly present where the effect is produced we mean to say that it has to contribute in any way to the production of the effect. In the example, the thread serves as the raw material for the cloth, the loom processes the raw material and the weaver operates the loom. In simpler words, anything without which the effect cannot be produced is covered by this part of the definition. Without the thread or the weaver or the loom, the cloth cannot be weaved.

When put this way, one may say, If the weaver wouldnt have been born, the cloth wouldn’t have come into existence, and it was because of the weavers parents that the weaver came into existence, therefore they also contribute to the making of the cloth and therefore they are also a cause of the creation of the cloth. To this the the answer is that if we accept this proposition then the number of causes to the cloth will be infinite. We will have to take into consideration all the ancestors of the weaver, the trees out of which the wood for the loom was extracted, the cotton plants from which cotton was derived for the thread and so on. That would defeat the point of classifying something as a cause of something else and therefore such objects do not come under the ambit of this definition.

Only direct causes come under the ambit of this definition. A cause that can be a cause only through an established cause is not a direct cause. For example, there is no doubt as to whether the weaver is a cause or not. He is said to be an established cause. Only through him can his parents be deemed as causes of the cloth and hence they are not direct causes. They are termed as Anyathasiddhas(अन्यथासिद्धा:) to the cloth and do not come under the ambit of this definition.

The definition also says that the cause must be pre-existent to the effect. If we take away this part of the definition, the effect will also come under the ambit of the definition of the cause. How? If we remove this part, the definition will be – whatever is always directly or indirectly present wherever the effect is produced is the cause. The effect itself is always present wherever it is produced. However the effect is not pre-existent to itself. Therefore when we add this clause to the definition, ativyaaptih in the effect is avoided, i.e. the effect does not come under the ambit of the definition of the cause.

If we only use the second clause, the definition of the cause will be – anything which is pre-existent to the effect. Obviously this definition is flawed because literally everything which was in existence before the effect came into being will come under the ambit of this definition, therefore, causing ativyaaptih.