Anekāntavāda And Syādvāda: Pramāṇa-Saptabhaṅgī And Naya-Saptabhaṅgī

Published: 08.03.2012
Updated: 30.07.2015

Pramāṇa stands for the 'whole truth' and Naya, as just stated, is 'neither truth nor untruth, but only a partial truth'; in other words, if the pramāṇa is a comprehensive view of reality, the naya is only a partial view of it[1] in the sense that it takes into consideration only a particular aspect of the whole situation. In its widest sense, the term pramāṇa means 'valid knowledge', sensuous (consisting of mati and śruta) as well as supersensuous (consisting of awadhi, manaḥparyāya and kevala).[2] But the concept of validity, when analysed, is found to include 'comprehensiveness' without which knowledge is not completely valid. A pramāṇa thus turns out to be a comprehensive knowledge, though there are admittedly different grades of such comprehensiveness, ranging from the most perfect in the kevala-jñāna (omniscience) to the most imperfect in the lowest type of mati-jñāna (sense-perception). Knowledge as a natural function of the self is inherently comprehensive. This comprehensiveness however lapses as soon as the knowledge is influenced by the abstractionist tendencies of logical thought and language. The lapse in its turn may either halt at the assertion of a particular position without negating (but only implicit recognizing) the truth of other plausible views, and thus give rise to what has been called naya (or more accurately, sunaya); or, it may lose the balance and climb down further by asserting a particular position as the only truth intolerant of other truths and thus give rise to what is known as durnaya (wrong view).[3] The contingencies of naya (sunaya) and durnaya arise only when a knowledge situation is sought to be expressed in or understood through inadequate logical categories and linguistic symbols, which fail to express the knowledge in its pristine comprehensiveness unless their significance is rightly analysed. Aright analysis leading to a comprehensive logical understanding and linguistic expression is called syādavāda,[4] and what leads to only a partial apprehension and expression is नय. In other words, while the syādavāda[5] is a complete logical estimate and linguistic expression of the real, the naya is only a partial logical estimate and linguistic expression of it. Now as the logical-linguistic analysis of reality is the subject matter of śrutajñāna, the syādvāda and the naya are regarded as the two aspects of the latter.[6]

A brief reference to the private-cum-public character of pramāṇa and naya and a further distinction between the two may be made here. A pramāṇa or a naya in its private character is knowledge or intuition[7] and in its public character, it is verbal expression conveying the intuition.[8] Each of the five pramāṇas - viz., mati, śruta, avadhi, manaḥparyāya and kevala - thus has two aspects, viz., intuitional and verbal[9] and the verbal aspect, being representative of the intuitional, is as much comprehensive as the latter. The natural comprehensiveness of the verbal expression, however, lapses with the latter's association with logical categories and growth into linguistic symbols which the human intellect invents for a better understanding of the nature of reality, though the result is quite the contrary. The categories and symbols are further knit together into various theories which crystallize into mutually opposed schools of thought. The Jaina philosopher[10] includes all these conflicting schools of thought under śrutajñāna which may be right (samayak) as well as wrong (mithyā). The right śruta again may be either pramāṇa or naya. It is pramāṇa if it is comprehensive and naya if it is only partial. The implications of the terms 'comprehensive' and 'partial' have already been explained and need no further clarification. The other four jñāna - viz., mati, avadhi, manaḥparyāya and kevala - are, however, necessarily comprehensive inasmuch as logical categories and linguistic symbols do not play any significant part in their case. Their intuitional comprehensiveness is not disturbed by the vagaries of conceptual thought and the defects of abstract linguistic symbols. Of these four, the kevalajñāna is the most perfect inasmuch as it knows its object completely in all its details. The other three are imperfect in that they are capable of knowing only a limited number of objects with a limited number of attributes and modes. But, in spite of this, they are regarded as comprehensive because of their direct touch with the object and freedom from the association of false opinions and doctrines which destroy their natural freshness and purity. The case of śrutajñāna, however, is quite different. It is knowledge derived from verbal expressions and artificial concepts engendered by them, which, on account of their inherent limitations, present a hazy or even a distorted view of the object, and an intellectual effort is needed to clear the haziness or rectify the distortion.The recapture of the full original intuition hidden under logical categories and linguistic symbols is the function of śruta qua pramāṇa (also called syādavāda), to understand the standpoint and intention which inspire a particular statement of facts is the function of śruta qua naya[11] and the blind insistence on the distorted view is durnaya.

But how can our language overcome its inherent limitations and express the original comprehensive intuition in full? A word (predicate) can express only one characteristic (attribute or mode) at a time and number of characteristic a can be expressed only consecutively (krameṇa), by a number of words. The simultaneous (yaugapadyena) expression of all the characteristics of a real in its entirety (sakalādeśa) is beyond the capacity of language, and hence the problem of the expression in language of the original comprehensive intuition arises. The Jaina philosopher has tried to solve the problem by a device which is symptomatic of his non-absolutistic position. From the substantial (dravyārthika) standpoint, a word expressed a characteristic in its aspect of identity with the other coordinate characteristics, and this ontological identity (abhedavṛtti) among the characteristics of a real is taken as the basis for the extension of the import of a word to all the other coordinate characteristics; from the modal (paryāyārthika) standpoint, on the other hand, a word expresses a characteristic in its aspect of difference (indivi­duality) from the other coordinate characteristics, and here the basis of a similar extension of the import of the word is metaphorical identity (abhedopacāra) among the characteristics of the real.[12] The extension of the import of a word is thus found to be possible on the basis of identity, either ontological or metaphorical according to the standpoint of the speaker. And the expression syāt is used to manifest the intended extension of the import of the predicates of the propositions.[13] Each of  the seven propositions of the saptabhaṅgī can thus, if so intended, be made to mean the whole truth in its own peculiar way through the individual characteristic (e.g. existence, nonexistence and the like) directly expressed by its predicate.

It may be mentioned in this connection that the Jaina philosophers have enumerated eight distinct factors - viz., time and the like - which are conceived as differentiating limits as well as integrating bonds of the characteristics of a real and as such respectively conditions of the consecutive and simultaneous expression of these characte­ristics.[14] Thus (1) time is a differentiating limit, because a unitary entity cannot prima facie possess a number of different characteristics at one and the same time, and if it is found to do so, its unity is dissolved into plurality, there being as many entities as there are characteristics. This is the finding of the analytic standpoint. In the synthetic standpoint, on the other hand, time is an integrating bond. The plurality of characteristics is found to be somehow bound into a unity by means of simultaneity. Similarly, (2) self-identity (ātmarūpa) of a characteristic is a differentiating limit, because it differentiates one characteristic from another. It is a uniting bond as well in view of its reference to an entity which is the common referent of all other coordinate characteristics. (3) The substratum, likewise, is regarded as a differentiating limit in respect of its aspect that varies with each of its characteristics and as an integrating bond in respect of its aspect that is the constant reference of all those characte­ristics. In the same way, (4) the relation (sambandha) of identity-cum-difference that obtains between an entity and its characteristics functions as a differentiating limit when taken as a relation of difference, and as an integrating bond when taken as a relation of identity. Similarly, (5) the influence exerted by each characteristic upon an entity, viewed as an isolated event, is the differentiating limit and the same influence qua a common function of all characteristics is the integrating bond. (6) The substance-space, likewise, viewed as an inelastic space-point of a particular characteristic is a differentiating limit; but, viewed as a common locus of the coordinate characteristics, it is an integrating bond of those characteristics. In the same manner, (7) the association[15] between an entity and its characteristics can be viewed as a differentiating limit as well as an integrating bond. Lastly, (8) the verbal symbol (śabda) standing for a characteristic is a differentiating limit in so far as it is expressive of that particular characteristic, but, in so far as it is an expression for the thing possessed of similar characteristics, it is an integrating bond.[16]

The possibility of the simultaneous expression of all the characteristics of a real in its entirety being thus established the concepts of pramāṇa-saptabhaṅgī and naya-saptabhaṅgī can be easily understood. Each of the seven propositions of the pramāṇa-saptabhaṅgī stands for the whole truth. As a member (bhaṅga) of the pramāṇa-saptabhaṅgī the proposition "A jar certainly exists in its own context (syādastyeva ghaṭaḥ) is intended to be expressive of all the characteristics of the jar in its entirety (sakalādeśa). And this is the case with each of the other six propositions also". Each of these seven propositions expresses the whole subject by means of the particular characteristic predicated in it. The comprehensive character of each of the seven propositions does not make the six propositions other than itself redundant, because each stands for the whole truth in its own peculiar way through a particular characteristic which is directly expressed by the predicate - the remaining characteristics being indirectly implied (by the predicate)[17] Thus, for instance, if in the first proposition 'A jar certainly exists in its own context', the predicate 'existence' directly (prādhānyena) expresses the substantial continuity of the jar, it indirectly (guṇabhāven) implies the modal discontinuity; of the same thing.[18] In the second proposition the position is reversed, that is, the modal aspect is directly expressed and the substantial aspect is indirectly implied. The meanings of the other five propositions are to be expounded on similar lines.

The same septet of propositions (saptabhaṅgī) can be viewed as naya-saptabhaṅgī if the predicate of each of the propositions is intended to stand for the characteristic which is directly expressed by it without any intention of affirming or denying the indirectly implied characteristics other than the one directly expressed. The intention of affirming the other characteristics indirectly implied would make the proposition a member of the (saptabhaṅgī) while the intention of denying the same would make it a case of durnaya (untrue proposition), and this is why a proposition, in order to be a member of the naya-saptabhaṅgī must be inspired by the intention of asserting the particular characteristic only, without any further implication, positive or negative.

The use of the expression syāt (e.g. in syādastyeva ghaṭaḥ) is to be made both in the propositions of the pramāṇa-saptabhaṅgī and those of the naya-saptabhaṅgī. It may however be dropped if its meaning is otherwise apparent. In the case of the propositions of the pramāṇa-saptabhaṅgī the expression syāt does the positive function of implying simultaneously (yaugapadyena) all other possible characteristics that are true of the subject, while in the case of the propositions of the naya- saptabhaṅgī, the same expression does the negative function of prohibiting the denial of these characteristics. The cognitive attitude in the first case is 'indefinite', that is, without any artificial definiteness, while the cognitive attitude in the second case is 'definite', that is, with a definiteness which tends to define the object without denying its 'indefinite' character.[19]

Vidyānandi who agrees with the above distinction between a pramāṇavākya (i.e. a sakalãdeś in proposition of the pramāṇa-saptabhaṅgī (and) naya-vākya (i.e. a vikalādeśin proposition of the naya-saptabhaṅgī), records a number of views on the subject and rejects them as untenable.[20] Thus there were thinkers who regarded the proposition, which predicated more than one characteristics of the subject, as a pramāṇavākya, and the proposition, which predicated only one characteristic, as a naya-vākya. But according to this view, the first, the second and the fourth propositions of the saptabhaṅgī would be cases of nayavākya and the remaining four propositions only would be cases of pramāṇavākya, and this is obviously a consequence which no Jaina philosopher would admit as acceptable. There was again the view that a proposition about pure substratum (dharmimātra) is pramāṇavākya and that about a characteristic (dharmamātra) is naya-vākya. But this is also untenable, because a pure substratum or a pure characteristic is incapable of being expressed by a proposition. There was a third view which regarded the seven propositions, when taken severally, as so many naya-vākyas and the same, when taken jointly, as a pramāṇavākya. But this also is absurd, because a number of partial truths cannot together make up the whole truth. Truth is a unitary whole and cannot be taken as composite of discrete parts. The part of a whole must itself be a whole. Abhayadevasūri, in his commentary on the Sanmatitarka prakaraṇa of Siddhasen Divakar mentions a view which regarded the first, the second and the fourth propositions of the saptabhaṅgī as sakalādeśin (i.e. pramāṇavākya) on account of their reference to the whole subject by virtue of the unitary character of their predicates, and the remaining four as vikalādeśin (i.e. naya-vākya) on account of their reference to the individual aspects of the subject by virtue of the multiple character of their predicates.[21] This is also untenable because of the unnecessary distinctions it makes between the identical subject of the seven propositions.

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Sources
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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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Ahmedabad
  2. Akalanka
  3. Consciousness
  4. Dravyārthika
  5. JAINA
  6. Jaina
  7. Jñāna
  8. Kevala-jñāna
  9. Kevalajñāna
  10. Naya
  11. Paryāyārthika
  12. Pramāṇa
  13. Saptabhaṅgī
  14. Syādavāda
  15. Syādvāda
  16. Syāt
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