Anekāntavāda And Syādvāda: Part 3

Published: 15.11.2011
Updated: 02.07.2015

The non-absolutist standpoint easily succeeds also in eliminating the opposition between the 'doctrine of absolute presence of the effect in the cause' and the 'doctrine of absolute absence of the effect in the cause.' For according to it, the effect (kārya) is present as well as absent in the material cause (upādāna). E.g. even before it is actually turned into a bangle, a piece of gold has the capacity (śakti), to turn into a bangle; thus viewed in the form of a 'capacity’ (śakti), that is, in the form of something non-distinct from the cause, the effect can be said to be present even before it is actually produced. However, even though present in the form of a capacity, this effect is not there to be seen (upalabdha), because the absence of necessary accessories (utpādana-sāmagrῑ) has prevented it from emerging into being, i.e. from being produced; in this sense the effect is absent (before it is actually produced). Again, after the bangle has disappeared and the material concerned turned into an earring, the bangle is doubtless not there to be seen, but since even the gold turned-into-an-earring possesses the capacity to turn into a bangle, the actually absent bangle can be said to be potentially present in this gold.

The Buddhist's 'doctrine of mere conglomeration of atoms' (kevala-paramāṇupuñja-vāda) and the Naiyāyika's 'doctrine of an altogether novel composition' (apūrva-avayavi-vāda) come in conflict with one another. But the non-absolutist standpoint with its acceptance of skandha, which is neither a more conglomeration of atoms nor something so contradictory of experience (bādhita) as a composite standing over and above its component-parts, properly resolves the conflict and works out a flawless synthesis of the two doctrines. Thus the non-absolutist standpoint has impartially synthesized, on so many questions, the current doctrines that were clashing with each other. And in the course of its doing so, the doctrine of Nayas (nayavāda) and the dotrine of Bhaṅgas (bhaṅgavāda) follow as a natural corollary; for a proper formulation of non-absolutism requires as its preliminary an analysis of the different stands and view-points, a demarcation of their respective subject-matters, and a determination of their roles concerning one and the same subject-matter.

No one corner of a house makes the whole house, nor do the different corners of this house lie in one particular direction. The view (avalokana) had of the house from one of the two opposite directions—like south and north, or east and west—is certainly not full but nor is it false. It is the totality (samuccaya) of the views had of the house from different possible angles which may be called a full view of the house. Thus the view had of the house from one particular angle is a necessary part of the total view of the house. Analogously, the formulation of thoughts and views (cintana-darśana) concerning the nature of an entity or of the entire universe is accomplished from various stands (apekṣā). And a stand is determined by a multiplicity of factors like the innate constitution (sahaja racand) of the mind, the impressions (saṃskāra) received from outside, the nature of the object thought about, etc. Such stands—for thinking about the nature of things—are many in number. And since these stands form the basis or the starting point of the viewing process (vicāra; lit, thought-process) they are also called 'angles of vision' (dṛṣṭikona) or 'points of view' (dṛṣṭibindu). The harmonious totality (sāra-samuccaya) of the thoughts and views concerning a thing formed from different stands—however contradictory of each other in appearance—is called the total view or the non-absolutist view of this thing. The view formed from a particular stand is a part of this total view, and though the different such views (i.e. the views formed from different particular stands) are (seemingly) contradictory of one another, they are really uncontradictory of one another inasmuch as they all find synthesis in the total view.

When a mind ignores and takes no account of diversities—qualitative (guṇa-dharmakṛta) or essential (svarūpa- kṛta) as well as numerical (vyaktitva-kṛta)—while confining its attention to mere continuity (akhaṇḍatā) the universe appears to it as one and continuous. Understood from this standpoint of non-distinction (abheda), the word 'real' means something one and continuous (and nothing more), and this type of partially true understanding of things is technically called saṅgraha-naya (where 'naya' stand for a partially true understanding of things). The view taken of the universe from the standpoint of diversities—qualitative as well as numerical - is technically called vyavahāra-naya, for here special importance is assigned to the diversities on which is grounded our everyday experience (loka-siddha vyavahāra). On this view, the word 'real' denotes not something one and continuous but things different and discontinuous. When this tendency to take note of diversities confines its attention to mere temporal diversities, and concludes that the present alone is real because it alone is capable of performing a function (kāryakara), that is to say, when the past and the future are excluded from the denotation of the word 'real', there results a partially true understanding of things which is technically called rjusūtra-naya. It is so called because it seeks to avoid the labyrinth (cakravyūha) of the past and the future while sliding along the straight line (rju-rekhā) representing the present.

The above stated three attitudes consider the nature of things without basing themselves on (the consideration of) words and their qualities and attributes. Hence the three resulting understandings are designed arth-naya. But there are also possible attitudes which consider the nature of things basing themselves on (the consideration of) words and their qualities and attributes. The understandings resulting from these attitudes are designated śabda-naya. Grammarians are the chief advocates of the various śabda-nayas, for it is on account of the divergent standpoints upheld by grammarians that one śabda-nyaya differs from others.

Those grammarians who regard all words as impartite (akhaṇḍa) or etymologically underived (avyutpanna), certainly, do not base on etymology their distinction of the meaning of one word from that of another, but they too hold that words mean different things according as they possess different attributes (dharma) in the form of gender, person, tense, etc. This type of distinguishing the meaning of one word from that of another is called śabda-naya or sāmprata-naya. On the other hand, those grammarians who regard all words as etymologically derived (vyutpanna) posit distinction between the meanings of even such words as are generally admitted to be synonymous; this view, according to which (for example) the synonyms like ‘śakra', 'indra', etc. have different meanings, is called samabhirūḍha-naya. Lastly, there is a view according to which a word applies to a thing not in case this thing sometimes satisfies the etymology of the word in question, but only in case this thing is for the time being satisfying this etymology.[4] This view is called evambhūta-naya. Apart from these six logical nayas there is a seventh called naigama-naya. ‘Nigama' literally means local convention (deśa-rūḍhi), and this seventh naya stands for the view which includes—in accordance with local conventions—all kinds of doctrines of distinction and the doctrines of non-distinction.[5] These are the seven chief, (not all) nayas, and, really and generally speaking, whatever understanding of things results from the adoption of one particular standpoint rather than any other is the naya corresponding to that standpoint.

The Jaina texts also speak of the two nayas called dravyārthika-naya and paryāyārthika-naya; however, these are not something over and above the abovementioned seven nayas but a mere broad classification (saṃkṣipta vargῑkaraṇa) of and an introductory ground (bhūmikā) to these very seven nayas. Dravyārthῑka-naya is that line of thought which takes 'substance' (dravya) into account, that is, which takes into account what is general (sāmānya), common (anvaya), non-distinctive (abheda) or unitary (ekatva) about things. The nayas called naigama, saṃgraha and vyavahāra are comprised with dravyārthika-naya. Of these, saṃgraha-naya, inasmuch as it takes note of pure non-distinction, is the pure (śuddha) or basic (mūla) dravyārthika-naya: but even vyavahāra-naya and naigama-naya, which no doubt take note of certain distinctions, are invariably cognizant also of non-distinction of some type or other. Hence it is that these latter two nayas are also classed under dravyārthika-naya, but they are dravyārthika-nayas of an impure (aśuddha) or mixed (miśrita) type (and not of the pure and basic type as in saṃgraha-naya).

Paryāyārthika-naya is the name for that line of thought which takes 'modes' (paryāya) into account, that is, which takes into account what is particular (viśeṣa), exclusive (vyāvṛtti) or distinctive (bheda) about things. The remaining four nayas—i.e. rjusūtra etc.—are comprised within paryāyārthika-naya. Consideration of distinctions by a neglect of non-distinctions starts with rjusūtra-naya, and hence the texts call this naya the prakṛti or root-basis (mūla) of paryāyārthika-naya. The remaining three nayas—i.e. śabda-naya (sāmprata-naya) etc.—are in a way the amplifications of this basic sort of paryāyārthika-naya.

Similarly, the line of thought which attaches sole utility to knowledge will be called jñāna-naya while that which attaches sole utility to action will be called kriyā-naya. In short, the total - i.e. non-absolutistic—view of the universe is unlimited (niḥsῑma) because the nayas that form the basis of this view are unlimited (in number).

The multifarious views concerning one and the same entity that result from the adoption of the various stands (apekṣa), angles of vision (dṛṣṭikona), and approaches (manovṛtti) constitute the foundation of Bhangavāda or the Doctrine of Manifold Judgment. When two views whose subject-matters are diametrically opposite of each other are sought to be synthesized, and with this end in view such (simple) judgments are formed as given expression to the positive as well as negative aspects of the (two) subject-matters in question, the result is a (complex) sevenfold judgement (saptabhaṅgī). The Doctrine of Partial Truths (nayavāda) is the basis of the Doctrine of Sevenfold judgment (saptabhaṅgῑ) and the latter doctrine aims at an all-comprehensive (vyāpaka) harmoniously synthesized—i.e. non-absolutistic- understanding of things. Just as inference-for-the-sake-of-others (parārthānumāna)—i.e. inference expressed in the' form of verbal/propositions—is resorted to when one seeks to convey to others a piece of knowledge that he has come to acquire through some particular organ of knowledge, similarly, resort is taken to the simple judgments that go to constitute a complex sevenfold judgment when one seeks to convey to others how certain mutually contradictory traits are harmoniously synthesized in one single whole. Thus the Doctrine of Partial truths (nayavāda) and the Doctrine of Manifold Judgment (bhaṅgavāda) are natural corollaries to the non-absolutistic standpoint.

True, in the Vedicist philosophical systems like Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika, Vedānta, etc. and so also in the philosophy of Buddhism, we often come across a tendency (dṛṣṭi) to view the same thing from different standpoints and thus synthesize its various aspects;[6] but the utmost insistence (ātyantika āgraha) that every aspect of everything must be viewed from every possible standpoint, and the unflinching faith that the consummation of all thought-process lies only in a synthesis of all possible standpoints, are to be found nowhere except in the Jaina system of philosophy. It was as a result of this insistence (and this faith) that the Jainas gave birth to those independent (svatantra), systematic disciplines (vyavasthita śāstra) called 'Doctrine of Non-Absolutism' (anekāntavāda), 'Doctrine of Partial Truths' (nayavāda), and 'Doctrine of Sevenfold Judgment' (saptabhaṅgi), disciplines which became a part and parcel of their treatment of Logic (pramāṇa-śāstra) and on which no other school produced even a single or even a minor text. Though an advocate of Vibhajyavāda (Doctrine of the Avoidance of Extremes) and Madhyamamārga (Middle Path), the Buddhist system, remained blind to the element of permanence exhibited by a real entity, and hence declared everything to be but momentary. Similarly, though actually employing the word "anekānta" to characterize their own standpoint,[7] the Naiyāyikas could not help harping on the thesis that atoms, souls, etc. are absolutely unchanging (sarvathā apariṇāmin). Again, the Vedāntists, even while taking recourse to the various standpoints called 'empirical' (vyāvahārika) 'ultimte' (pāramārthika), etc., could not help insisting that all standpoints except the standpoint of Brahman (Brahma-dṛṣṭi) are of an inferior—or even utterly false—sort. The only reason for this anomaly seems to be that these systems did not imbibe the spirit of non-absolutism to the same extent as did the Jaina. Thus the Jaina synthesizes all the standpoints and, at the same time, grants that all these standpoints are equally competent and true so far as their respective spheres are concerned, Since the Jaina's non-absolutistic standpoint and the systematic treatises composed by him on the subject, concern themselves exclusively with the time-honoured philosophical controversies like identity versus difference, generality versus particularity, eternity versus transience, etc., it might appear, at first sight, that all this is repetitive, hackneyed, and something lacking in originality; but the spirit of accepting (nothing save) the total (akhaṅḍa), living (sajiva), and all-sided (sarvāṃśa) truth—a. spirit reflected in the standpoint and the treatises in question—which is so characteristic of the Jaina and which found entrance in Logic through him, is capable of successful employment in all the fields of life, and may on that account be regarded, not unduly, as a contribution made to (Indian) Logic by the Jaina savants.


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Published by:
Jain Vishwa Bharati Institute
Ladnun - 341 306 (Rajasthan) General Editor:
Sreechand Rampuria
Edited by:
Rai Ashwini Kumar
T.M. Dak
Anil Dutta Mishra

First Edition:1996
© by the Authors

Printed by:
Pawan Printers
J-9, Naveen Shahdara, Delhi-110032

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Abheda
  2. Anekānta
  3. Anekāntavāda
  4. Anvaya
  5. Bheda
  6. Brahman
  7. Buddhism
  8. Dharma
  9. Dravya
  10. Dṛṣṭi
  11. Ekatva
  12. JAINA
  13. Jaina
  14. Naya
  15. Nayas
  16. Nayavāda
  17. Non-absolutism
  18. Paryāya
  19. Parārthānumāna
  20. Prakṛti
  21. Sanskrit
  22. Saptabhaṅgi
  23. Saptabhaṅgī
  24. Skandha
  25. Sāmānya
  26. Upādāna
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