One of the topics considered to be very important and hence frequently discussed in the works of Indian philosophy and logic is the relationship between kāraṇa, the cause and kārya, the effect. With regard to a given effect, determining its cause or causes, both primary and subsidiary, is of great significance since the same methods of logic will have to be extended to determine the final cause of this universe.
A given effect might have been produced by a single cause or several causes. Again, among these several causes one might be primary and the others secondary. To illustrate: a pot is a kārya or effect. Its kāraṇas or causes are clay, potter’s wheel, stick and the potter himself. Though all these are causes, clay is the primary cause and all the others are secondary causes. What is common to all these causes is that they are immediately antecedent to the effect, the pot. However, any other thing, merely by its being antecedent to the pot, cannot be considered as its cause. For instance, the ass that brings the clay, the sound made by the potter’s wheel or the stick or the potter’s father—none of these can be considered as the cause of the pot since its coming into existence can be demonstrated otherwise i.e., without reference to this parti-cular cause also. Such causes are said to be anyathā-siddha (anyathā = otherwise, siddha = demonstrated), and hence rejec-ted as superfluous.