Scholars are especially fond of using this nyāya. But there is some debate regarding the import of this nyāya. There are no significant differences though. Jaratī means an old woman. What does it mean if a woman is half old? If a young lady has wrinkled skin and other signs of old age can she still be considered young? Or should she be addressed as old? Who will be willing to love her? She might be ridiculed. Likewise in some śāstra if one accepts only some portion of what it propounds and discards the rest then it falls under this nyāya. That is inconsistent. For example one accepts satya, śauca, ahimsā propounded in the vedas; but doesn’t accept varṇa, āśrama. This is ardhajaratīya.
Some interpret this as follows– some pervert might find some old woman to be beautiful in some aspects. This is improper. This should be shunned. Likewise accepting some parts and rejecting other parts of the same monolithic item isn’t proper too.
Anandagiri gives an analogy. “It is impossible to eat one half of the chicken while expecting the remaining half to be alive and lay eggs!”
Vaiśasa means to chop/cut or kill someone. An animal can’t be partly killed while the other part lives on. It is foolish to expect that such a thing can be accomplished. The import is that one should not leave anything incomplete. This in some way resembles the ardhajaratīya-nyaya. In the Kumārasaṃbhavam of the great poet Kālidāsa, Manmatha is reduced to ashes by the scorching fire emanating from the third eye of Hara. Rati laments, “The cruel fate has killed my beloved while sparing me, thus committing ardhavaiśasa.” Rati is indeed truly an inseparable half of Manmatha! The husband and wife verily have one body, indeed they are one, is the intent of the poet here, which he suggests in this heartbreaking episode.
11. Alaṅkrutya śiraśchedaḥ
Decorate first and then chop off the head! When thrashing an opposing view, it is decorated using many tricks and then brought down finally using this nyāya. The sheep is adorned with a garland before giving it as a bali to Māramma. To expose someone one can start praising someone as noble and then finally knock them out.
12. Avatapte nakulasthitam
A mongoose standing on the scorching surface. Mongoose is generally an agile animal. It is always on the move. Would such a restless animal remain still on some scorching surface? This nyāya ridicules the behavior of such restless people. If students listen to lessons attentively without mischief then it is like avatapte nakulasthitam. bhagavān Patañjali has used this nyaya in multiple instances in Mahābhāṣya. In one instance he explains– “what is the meaning of tīrthakāka? In the tīrtha the crows don’t stay for long. Likewise if a student keeps hopping from one guru to the other without staying put, he is called as tīrthakāka.” This nyāya is applicable to such people.
13. Aśakto'ham gṛhārambhe śakto'ham gṛhabhañjane
“I’m incapable of building a house; but I’m adept in demolishing them!” The meaning is straightforward. In any worldly affairs this is of high value. It is extremely difficult to build an institution and maintain it. But if it has been already built by highly capable people with great effort, fortitude and sacrifices, it is easy to break it apart. It is easy to find faults in someone’s work and this has been ingrained in every human being since our inception. It is said, “we should always criticize constructively and not destructively.” or “Talk is easy, deeds are difficult.” All these are similar to this nyāya.
Rāvaṇa after kidnapping devī Sītā imprisoned her in the aśoka-vana. While he had many other prisons and gardens at his disposal, why did he choose the garden with aśoka trees? There is no specific reason. ‘He should have anyway imprisoned her in some place; he just chose the aśoka-vana.’ That's the answer. Likewise many times there is no rhyme or reason for the tasks we do or things we choose. If someone asks for a reason then aśokavanikā-nyāya gives the answer.
It doesn’t mean that we should do things without any reason. When the result is the same irrespective of the process, our whims take over to make a choice. In the evening to get some air, one can go to Lalbagh. Then it comes under aśokavanikā-nyāya (going to some other park also meets the requirement). But if we also need to meet a friend who resides near Lalbagh then there is a proper reason, aśokavanikā-nyāya does not apply.
Aśma is stone, loṣṭa is a lump of mud. Irrespective of whether one tries to smash the stone using the lump of mud or vice versa it is the lump of mud that would get destroyed. If a weakling develops enmity with a strong foe, the weakling is the one who would suffer in all possible scenarios.
Aśvatarī means she-mule. It is an offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. It is well-known that if a she-mule becomes pregnant it dies. Pregnancy is a death sentence. If something is very dear but it causes one’s downfall this nyāya is used as an analogy.
सकृद्दुष्टमपीष्टं यः पुनः सन्धातुमिच्छति ।
स मृत्युमुपगृह्णाति गर्भमश्वतरी यथा ॥
[Someone who tries to acquire a foul thing even though it is very dear, finds death just like how a she-mule does in pregnancy]
This is the third part of the multi-part translation of the Kannada book "Sandarbha Sukti" by Mahamahopadhyaya Vidwan Dr. N Ranganatha Sharma. Thanks to Dr. Sharada Chaitra for granting us permission to translate this wonderful work. The original in Kannada can be read here