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Anekanta : Philosophy of Co-existence: 06.11 The Doctrine of Nayas - Dialogue

Published: 30.07.2010

Chapter 6

The Doctrine of Nayas: Infinite Modes and Infinite Approaches


Question 1

From the above discussion of the nature of nayas, it is obvious that the purport of one naya is not only different from that of the other nayas but it is definitely opposed to the latter. Under such circumstances which should be considered true between the two? If one of them is considered as true, then the other will evidently be untrue. Both of the two mutually opposed views cannot be accepted as true. Is truth also divisible on the basis of viewpoints?


  1. A thing is a composite of the universal and the particular. The generic attribute in it is the universal, whereas the specific attribute is called the particular. A generic attribute is not absolutely different from the specific attribute and vice versa. A thing, therefore, is a natural composite of the generic and the specific attributes. The generic attribute is eternal, while the specific attributes arise and vanish every moment, each succeeding moment replacing the preceding one without break. Each preceding moment is the cause of the moment that succeeds it as its effect. The generic attribute is also the cause of that effect. The auxiliary conditions also enjoy causal efficiency. This is an objective estimate of the nature of a real. The entire range of human thinking or search for truth is based on the duality of universal and particular, identity and difference or substance and modes. The pantoscopic viewpoint is the will or intention concerned with the universal and, therefore, it accepts the pre-existence of the effect in the cause (the Doctrine of Satkāryavāda of the Sāmkhya system). A believer in the generic attribute cannot think differently. But the specific attribute or the particular is as much real as the generic attribute or the universal. This leads us to the momentary viewpoint (rjusūtra naya), which is the outcome of the speaker’s attitude based on the particular, or the specific attribute, and this is the reason why it rejects such causality by asserting the non-existence of the effect in the cause (asatkāryavāda). In other words, whereas one of the viewpoints propounds the doctrine of the existence of the effect in the cause, the other denies it. Such opposition is not whimsical, because it is based on the divergent experiences of the thinkers.

    Both these experiences are certified by the behaviour of the reals. The generic attribute is as much a true component of a thing as the specific attribute. The generic attributes is eternal. The verbal or conceptual mode (vyañjana-paryāya) endures for a while whereas the objective mode (artha-paryāya) is evanescent and momentary. The causal relationship is applicable in the first two cases only, while in the latter case causality assumes a different meaning, for example, the doctrine of 'pratitya-samutpāda' in Buddhism. Both these alternatives are based on two different truths and as such both are true. And this is why the two different viewpoints look at the two truths differently as they actually are and verbally represent them in accordance with their divergent experiences. A viewpoint is essentially an experience. It does not create the object. It is limited in its function to know the object and express it as it is. A real is not divided on the basis of the viewpoints but the latter are divided on the basis of the objectivity of the former. The philosophies based on absolutistic viewpoints accept as the whole truth either of the alternatives exclusively viz., the system propounding the generic attributes or a theory based on the specific characteristics. This is the reason why some among them assert the pre-existence of the effect in the cause, while the others deny it.

    The Jaina philosophers, however, regard the viewpoints as relativistic in nature on account of their origin from the relativisim of the generic and the specific attributes. The dialogues of Lord Mahāvīra as recorded in the Ardhamāgadhī canon are all permeated with the spirit of relativism. And this is why the doctrine of the pre-existence of the effect in the cause and the doctrine of non-existence of the effect in the cause are both considered as relatively true by the Jaina thinkers. The apparent mutual contradiction of the two alternatives is explained on the basis of their relativistic approach. The former is a valid estimate of the aspect of generic attribute, while the latter derives its validity on account of being concerned with the specific attributes of a real. Both the estimates are objectivistic and are based on relativism. The generic as well as the specific attributes belong to the same object, as limited to them, and as such are free from mutual opposition or inconsistency. If the two aspects are not mutually opposed or inconsistent, why should be diverse experiences arising from them is considered as mutually contradictory? The appearance of contradiction should be an occasion for our attention as to whether it is due to the divergence of the referents, viz. the generic and the specific attributes. All philosophical contradiction would melt away spontaneously if a real is looked at from all plausible viewpoints without putting an exclusive stress on anyone of them.

  2. The Sāmkhya system propounds the 'purusa' as an unchanging eternal entity. The Buddhist philosophers, on the other hand, believe in momentariness of everything. The substantial (dravyārthika) and the modal (paryāyārthika) viewpoints are not inspired by these doctrines. The substance, in Jainism, is synthesis of continuity, origination and cessation. Neither origination-cessation independent of continuity nor continuity independent of origination-cessation is given to experience. This mutual entailment of the two aspects (origination-cessation and continuity) is responsible for the substantial and modal viewpoints, which demonstrates that the continuity aspect of the substance is permanent and unchanging whereas the origination-cessation aspect is impermanent and ever-changing. The permanence and impermanence of the substance is not based on the viewpoints. But in fact the latter are based on the former. In other words, it is the nature of things that is the source of nay as and not that the nature of the things is determined by them.

  3. Identity and difference are the intrinsic attributes of the substance. The substantial viewpoint represents the former whereas the modal viewpoint is based on the latter. The modes are twofold, viz.
    1. represented by an identical concept (vyañjana-paryāya), and
    2. the modes that are objective (artha-paryāya).

    The former are a kind of continuity of homogeneous change expressed by words. The latter appear indivisible or the like being ultimate in appearance or element. The substance as an entity is unitary and indivisible. It becomes many and infinite as divided into objective and conceptual or verbal modes. A person is called 'man' from birth to death. The onlooker always finds him as a person on account of the conceptual or verbal symbol, viz. 'person'. This is the identity aspect of the substance. But the person passes through infancy, youth and such other stages. Infancy again is also divisible in sub-stages, for instance, the milking babe, a three-year-old child and so forth.

    In this way the conceptual or the verbal modes represent both identity and multiplicity of a thing.

  4. According to the Upanisads the ultimate element is ineffable, being expressible only negatively by the verbal symbols (neti neti). In the Ācārānga Sūtra the 'self’ has been described as unspeakable, being unnameable to any sort of verbal expressions. Lord Buddha also characterized the 'self’, 'the life here-after' etc. as indeterminable. The analysis of the nature of the substance reveals that the inexpressibility itself is only relatively true, because it is expressible in reference to another attribute of the real. The objective mode, being momentary and infinitesimal, is not susceptible of being expressed in language. And, therefore, the substance is ineffable in reference to the objective mode. The conceptual or verbal mode, on account of its prolonged continuity, apparentness and being originator of a homogeneous flow of change, is amenable to linguistic expression. The substance, therefore, is speakable in respect of the conceptual or the verbal mode.

    The above discussion should clearly show that the viewpoints are based on the fundamental nature and the congregation of modes of the substance. These viewpoints are neither the eclectic combinations of heterogeneous systems nor conceptions based on whim.

Question 2

Is there any special viewpoint for the expression 'barren woman's son'?

'Barren woman's son' is a concept. No concept can be independent of any reference to something else. An unreal entity cannot even be conceived. Neither a 'barren woman' is unreal, nor a 'son' is unreal. Neither the 'sky' is unreal, nor a 'flower' is unreal. The expressions like 'a son of a barren woman' or 'a sky-flower' are compound concepts. The 'son' is objectively true, and 'a barren woman's son' is a negative concept with reference to a 'son'. Similarly, the 'flower' is a truth. And a 'sky-flower' is a negative concept formed on the basis of the 'flower' existing in its own capacity. A barren woman cannot have a son, but in the absence of any son anywhere, the concept of 'a barren woman's son' would be impossible. The sky cannot have flowers, but if the flowers were not present anywhere in the world, the concept of sky-flower would be impossible. And, therefore, the concepts like 'barren woman's son' or 'a sky-flower', are negative ideas born out of the real existence of their components elsewhere in the world. The pantoscopic viewpoint (naigama naya), on account of its being based obviously on the speaker's will or intention, is competent enough to explain such hypothetical truths.

If the meaning of silence is not to speak, it is actually the secret of good health, nothing else.
The meaning of silence should actually be to arrest the purpose of speech.

To be ignorant is difficult.
But greater difficulty is to be knowingly ignorant



Anekanta: Philosophy of Co-existence Publisher:  JainVishwa Bharati, Ladnun, Rajasthan, India Editor: Muni Akshay Prakash

Edition:  2010 (1. Edition)

ISBN:  817195140-6

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Artha-paryāya
  2. Buddha
  3. Buddhism
  4. Dravyārthika
  5. JAINA
  6. Jaina
  7. Jainism
  8. Mahāvīra
  9. Naigama Naya
  10. Naya
  11. Nayas
  12. Neti Neti
  13. Objectivity
  14. Paryāyārthika
  15. Rjusūtra naya
  16. Satkāryavāda
  17. Sūtra
  18. Vyañjana-paryāya
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