Anekāntavāda And Syādvāda ► The Rudiments Of Anekāntavāda In Early Pali Literature ► Makkhali Gosāla And Syādvāda

Posted: 24.04.2012

Makkhali Gosāla, the founder of the Ājīvika sect and an earlier companion of Nigaṇṭha Nātaputta has contributed to the develop­ment of the Syādvāda conception. He considered problems through the three-fold standpoints, called Trirāśis, a short version of Sapta-bhaṅgīs.

On the basis of the Nandisūtra commentary, Basham observes: "the fact that the Ājīvika heretics founded by Gosāla are likewise called Trairāśikas, since they declare everything to be of triple character, viz. living (jīva), not living (ajīva) and both living and not living (nojīva): world, not world and both world and not world: real, unreal and both real and unreal, in considering standpoints (naya) regarding the nature of substance, of mode, or of both. Thus, since they maintain three heaps (rāśi), or categories, they are called Trairāśikas." Further he says, "the Ājīvakaṣ thus seem to have accepted the basic principle of Jaina epistemology, without going to the over-refined extreme of Saptabhaṅgī, as in the orthodox Jaina Syādvāda and Nayavāda[1]".

This reference indicates that the Ājīvakaṣ were aware of the Saptabhaṅgī of the Jaina logic and they reduced them to three. Dr. Jayatilleke remarks on this reference: "But judged by the fact that the three-fold scheme of predication is simpler than the four-fold scheme of the Sceptics and Buddhists and the corresponding seven-fold scheme of the Jainas, it would appear to be earlier than both the Buddhist and the Jaina Schemes, with which the Ājīvakaṣ could not have been acquainted when they evolved theirs". Further he says, "In fact, it can be shown that in the earliest Buddhist and Jain texts the very doctrine of the Trairāśikas, which seems to have necessitated the three-fold scheme, is mentioned, thus making it highly probable that it was at least earlier than the Jain scheme". He accounts for this view by saying that "while the earliest stratum of the Pali Nikāyas knows of the four-fold scheme, one of the earliest Books of the Jainas Canon, the Sūtrakṛtāṅga, which makes an independent reference to this Trairāśika doctrine, does not mention the seven-fold scheme, although it is aware of the basic principle of Syādvāda" (Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge, p. 156).

Here Jayatilleke tries to prove that the three-fold scheme appears to be earlier than the Jaina scheme. He gives a reason in support of his view viz., the Sūtrakṛtāṅga does not mention the Seven-fold scheme. I too hold the view that the three-fold scheme had come into existence earlier than the four-fold scheme. Dīghanaka Paribhājaka, who seems to be a follower of Pārśvanātha tradition, also maintains, as we have already found, this scheme.

As regards the absence of the reference in the Sūtrakṛtāṅga, it should be remembered that it is not totally unaware of the basic principles of Syādvāda, as Jayatilleke himself accepts. It is said that "the wise man should not joke or explain without conditional propositions"[2]. He should 'expound the analytical theory (vibhajjavāyaṃ ca vyāgarejja) and use the two kinds of speech, living among virtuous men, impartial and wise'[3]. Further it does not deal with the Jaina Philosophy. It is a concise compilation of the Jaina doctrines as well as others of that time. It was, therefore, not essential to deal with Syādvāda in detail. Kundakunda, who flourished in first century B.C. or in the beginning of the Christian era, described the Saptabhaṅgī himself in the Pañcāstikāyasāra. He says that "Dravya can be descri­bed by the seven-fold predication: (i) siya atthi or syādasti, (ii) siya natthi, or syānnāsti, (iii) siya uhayam or syādasti nāsti, (iv) siya-avvattavva or syādavaktavya (v) siya atthiavatavya or syādastyavak-tavya, (vi) siya natthi avvattavva or syānnāstyavaktavaya, and (vii) siya atthi natthi avvattavva or syādastināstyavaktavya:

Siya atthi natthi uhayam avvattavvaṃ puno ya tattidayaṃ
Davvaṃ khu satta bhaṅgaṃ adesavasena sambhavadi [4].

This means the Syādvāda and its predications were well known at the time of the Buddha, and up to the time of Kundakunda they were developed still further.

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