Quest For Truth

Posted: 01.04.2007
Updated on: 15.02.2008

A mind without thoughts, a mind full of thoughts and concrete information based on the senses cannot constitute knowledge.

So far, all quests for truth have remained quests for methods to get to the truth. No goal can be attained without first identifying the method with which to do so. Truth is a goal, knowledge, the method. Bhagwan Mahavira’s contemporary, Sanjay Velathiputha, said: ‘If I do not know that an object is the truth, then how can I say it is the truth? If I do not know that it is not the truth, then how can I say it is not the truth?’ This is the sceptical stream of Indian philosophy. In Western philosophy, the father of the sceptical method was Pyro (365-275), a contemporary of Aristotle. Looking at the philosophical arguments between philosophers ranging from Thalis to Aristotle, Pyro concluded that the journey towards truth is filled with doubt.

A mind without thoughts, a mind full of thoughts and concrete information based on the senses cannot constitute knowledge. There is no way of knowing the truth. To Kant, both senses-based knowledge and thinking were necessary. Knowledge and truth are definite. Truth comes from the knowledge of the senses and definiteness from thoughts.

Bhagwan Mahavira gave two ways of getting to the truth: anti-indriya gyan or knowledge derived from extra-sensorial perception and indriya gyan or knowledge derived from the senses. The knowledge gained from perception is that possessed by great saints or something which happens in extraordinary circumstances. It is not common. Common knowledge is gained through the senses where the senses, mind and the intellect participate. This knowledge is neither the truth nor the untruth. Intellectual perception is neither the truth nor the untruth. In relative terms it is the truth and in absolute terms it is untruth. Jain philosophers said with every thought we incorporate relativity and with every expression we add the word ‘syat’ or ‘in one respect…

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