apratisaṃkhyānirodha; अप्रतिसंख्यानिरोध ; pratisaṃkhyānirodha; is considered as the dharma whose intrinsic nature and an activity can not be cognized by anybody except āryas; nirodha m. the unobserved annihilation of an object Buddh; In early buddhist sūtra texts “asaṃskṛta” is a term used as a synonym for nirvāṇa, the ultimate purpose of buddhists.
Disciples in Sarvāstivāda, one of the most influential buddhist sects in india, regarded asaṃskṛta as dharma, and in their abhidharma texts they classified three kinds of dharma, that is to say pratisaṃkhyānirodha, apratisaṃkhyānirodha and ākāśa, into asaṃskṛtadharma. According to the Vaibhāṣika orthodoxy these three asaṃskṛtadharmas are real-entities ( dravyasat ); on the other hand scholars of Sautrāntika / Dārṣṭāntika denied the real-entityness of them. This article deals with the controversy about real-entityness of asaṃskṛtadharmas appeared in abhidharma texts, in particular *Abhidharmamahāvibhāṣā (阿毘達磨大毘婆沙論, MV ), *Tattvasiddhi (成實論, TS ), Abhidharmakośabhāṣya ( AKBh ) and *Nyāyānusāriṇī (阿毘達磨順正理論, NA ).
The argument for acknowledging the real-entityness of asaṃskṛtadharmas in TS, AKBh and NA is grounded on the possibility of cognizing intrinsic nature ( svabhāva ) of asaṃskṛtadharmas.And scholars who accepted this argument considered that the possibility can be reasoned from the possibility of cognizing results of activities of intrinsic nature.
Saṅghabhadra, the author of NA, affirmed that ākāśa has an activity of receiving ākāṣadhātu and that apratisaṃkhyā-nirodha has an activity of constant obstruction to the arising of those factors whose nature is to arise ( 可生法, *utpattidharmaka ). On the other hand in TS, AKBh and NA pratisaṃkhyānirodha is considered as the dharma whose intrinsic nature and an activity can not be cognized by anybody except āryas. Then Vaibhāṣikas who appear in AKBk and Saṅghabhadra reinforced the argument of real-entityness of asaṃskṛtadharmas with finding out their characteristics which are inherent only in beings.
According to NA non-beings are neither distinguishable, cognizable, nor describable, but pratisaṃkhyānirodha is not accepted as such a thing, so it is a being. And furthermore, it is not a being as a provisional designation ( prajñaptisat ) by any possibility, therefore it must be a real-entity. From the viewpoint of those who denied the real-entityness of three asaṃskṛtadharmas each of them is a non-being.
In TS ākāśa has an active influence on spatial beings with its non-beingness, but pratisaṃkhyānirodha is a mere non-being. And according to AKBh a statement that pratisaṃkhyānirodha exists is only a negation ( pratiṣedhamātra ) and indicate non-beings. Saṅghabhadra considered this “existence” is not only existence as a real entity, but also existence as a provisional designation.