Anekanta : Philosophy of Co-existence: 13.01 The Value of Man’s Freedom (1)

Published: 14.08.2010

Chapter 13

The Value of Man’s Freedom


Key-Words

Advaitic - Monistic
Dharma - Religion
Jeevo jeevasya jeevanam - One creature becomes the reason for another's life
Naya - Perspectives
Nischaya naya - Transcendental viewpoint
Niyati - Predestined
Papa - Demerit
Punya - Merit
Purushartha - Human Effort
Shasvat - Eternal
Sutra - Theory

  

Independence and dependence can be explained in terms of relativity. From the absolute point of view nothing is entirely dependent or independent. Independence and dependence can be explained in terms of relativity. From the absolute point of view nothing is entirely dependent or independent. Freedom is an internal characteristic. One, who is free from his inner passions, looks for solutions within; he lives a life of action and is independent in the true sense. He is able to reply insults with silence, anger with love, arrogance with humility and faces assaults with calmness. This action is not inspired by the conduct of another man but is instead born out of his own internal thoughts and hence, it is an action. The spiritual meaning of independence is action and that of dependence is reaction.

  

The Value of Man’s Freedom (1)

If this world were advaitic (monistic) - there would be only one element and none else. Then there would have been no discourse on independence and dependence. This world has many elements, which influence each other. They have a cause and effect relationship also. Under such circumstances, a discussion on dependence and independence becomes necessary. The second aspect is that every aspect of element is changeable. Change is intrinsic to element. Change occurs at every instance of time. Time as defined by the Sun and the Moon, is not uniform for all places and countries. The time that is intrinsic to element and becomes the stimulus for change is multidimensional. It is an internal mode of element. It is always on the move. Its pace keeps the element on the move. It is not blocked anytime or anywhere. It is natural for element that is bound in the inevitable chain of changes, to explore the ideas of dependence and independence. That which is bound by a certain cause and effect relationship cannot be independent. That which is associated with change as an inevitable component cannot be independent. Man is bound by such a relationship that he cannot even break through the pace of time, how can he be independent? Is he dependent? Nothing can be fully dependent. If some aspect is dependent, some other will be independent and also conversely so. The existence of one argument cannot be proved without establishing the existence of its opposing argument. That man is dependent means he is independent too.

Independence and dependence can be explained in terms of relativity. From the absolute point of view nothing is entirely dependent or independent. Mahavira explained the world in terms of two perspectives (naya), the transcendental viewpoint (nischaya naya) and the empirical viewpoint (vyavahara naya). According to nischaya naya every object is seen in its intrinsic form. There is no substratum or substance. No cause, no effect. No creator, no creation. Whatever is, is its intrinsic form. This is an ontological definition. On the other hand, the vyavahara naya deals with nischaya naya elaborately. Within its ambit lie the relationships between the substratum and the substance, cause and effect, creator and the creation. It is here that a definition of dependent and independent can also be attempted.

Two schools of thinkers have attempted to define independence. The religious thinkers interpret independence as freedom from inner influences (passions which destroy the soul's attributes). Thinkers who have reflected upon the idea in terms of governance interpret it as freedom from external influences (imperfect organizational procedures).

Dharma (religion) is an exposition of the entire element and its norms. So its purview is not limited to man alone but to the organization of entire element. Governance deals with organizational norms and so its bearing is on inter-personal relationships and the Constitution. Indian seers and philosophers have concentrated primarily on a religious interpretation of independence. One reason for this could be that they did not want to mix the common rules of governance with the eternal rules of religion. On the basis of their definition of dharmic or eternal independence they tried to influence independence in governance but did not frame any separate guidelines for them. The authors of Smriti and Purana texts have however dealt with independence in the context of governance. They placed a lot of importance on intrinsic individual freedom.

Western philosophers have deliberated a great deal on the issue of governance and independence. Philosophers like Aristotle, Locke and Mill and others have established individual freedom as the base for independent governance. On the other hand philosophers like Plato, Machiavelli, Hegel and Bach and others have given greater importance to independence in governance. According to political thinkers, only that man is independent who does his duty - does only that which he ought to. The duty of an individual is decided by societal beliefs and the Constitution. This means that without flouting the norms of society and organization, man is free to do as he wishes. This freedom is used for social and economic growth.

In Mahavira's philosophy the meaning of independence is Kashaya-mukti - freedom from anger, ego, disillusion and greed. Only a man free from passions can act independently.

Insult for insult, anger for anger, ego against ego, this is the life full of reactions. Any man who lives the life of reaction can never live a life of independence. A bird pecks at is own image in a mirror, a child tries to catch its own shadow and a lion fighting with its own image falls into a well. All such reactions take place in the outer world only.

Freedom is an internal characteristic. One, who is free from his inner passions, looks for solutions within; he lives a life of action and is independent in the true sense. He is able to reply insults with silence, anger with love, arrogance with humility and faces assaults with calmness. This action is not inspired by the conduct of another man but is instead born out of his own internal thoughts and hence, it is an action. The spiritual meaning of independence is action and that of dependence is reaction. Ahimsa is action, himsa is reaction. So Mahavira has identified non-violence as dharma and violence as adharma. In other words, independence is dharma and dependence, adharma.

In the inner world, man can be independent beyond limits while in the physical, action-oriented and social world, man cannot be independent beyond limits. There the inner and the outer influences curb his independence. The soul can be completely independent only in its existence. In its contact with the outside world, the independence of soul can be relative. This world changes by itself in its own form. Its outer form is changed by living beings, particularly humans. Is man then capable of changing the world? Can he make it a better place to live in? The answers to this question come from two opposing streams of thought. One stream of thought belongs to the philosophers who argue for independence. According to them man is free to do as he wishes. He can change the world. He can make it a better place. Those philosophers who have placed great emphasis on time, bind action to time.; those who place emphasis on nature, bind action to nature, those who emphasize destiny, bind action to destiny, those who emphasize fate, bind action to fate and those who place human effort at the top, bind action to effort.

Mahavira assessed man's action with an anekantic point of view. He said that metaphysically, a real substance is that which has an intrinsic capacity for action, spontaneous action. It is not born out of any stimuli nor is it lost because of any stimuli. It is not bound by any external stimuli and so is completely independent. There are also some attributes of a real substance that lie outside it and are influenced at different levels, by time, nature, universal law, karma and effort. Where the influences of time, nature, universal law, karma are more powerful, man is dominated by them and hence although he may be independent in thought, he becomes dependent in action. On the other hand where self-exertion is more powerful, man is independent in exercising it in-spite of being dependent on time, etc. As such man's ability to work independently is relative. It is neither absolute, nor perfected nor unhindered. Had he been absolutely independent, man would have, very early in history, changed the world around to his taste and if he had not at all been independent in action, then he would have not been able to change anything in the world.

It is true that man has changed the world and it is also true that he has not been able to change it trice to his whims and fancies; he has not been able to create comforts in the world without bindings. Both these truths are a reflection of man's successes and failures, his capabilities and his inadequacies. If man's capabilities were dependent on any one of the factors such as time, nature etc., then there would have been a conflict between these factors, each one set to destroy the other. But in universal substances and in universal laws there is a harmonious balance between the conflicting and the reconciling. That is why they contribute their respective mite to the completion of a job. From a relative point of view, none of them can be given more importance than the other. They are important and primary in their respective areas. Time cannot work in lieu of nature or nature in lieu of time. Universal laws cannot play the role of effort nor effort that of universal laws. And yet in the world of action, effort occupies the prime place. Effort cannot be separated from the influence of time, but a change can be brought about in the time duration. Effort cannot be separated from fate but fate can be changed with effort. These truths can be tested on the anvil of history and philosophy.

As man's knowledge grows, his capacity for work increases. In the early stages of creation, man's area of knowledge was still not developed. The tools for acquiring knowledge were also limited and so the resultant human exertion was less. In comparison to stone-age, man's knowledge has indeed grown in the atomic age. His tools are strong and the capacity of work has also increased tremendously. The primitive man was solely dependent on nature. If it rained, crops would grow, as much as an acre of land could grow; as much time as was required to ripen it, so much time it would take. Today's man is not dependent on all this. Having developed different means of irrigation he has removed his dependency on the rains. Having developed fertilizers man has increased the per acre yield and through efficient tools is also trying to reduce the time for ripening of crops.

Many instances where effort has influenced time and nature can be quoted from our cultural history. Factors like time, nature etc.are not endowed with the power of knowledge and so their influence on human effort is minimal. Effort has been blessed with the patronage of knowledge and so it is able to influence time, nature, fate etc. With this influence he is able to make the present different from the past.

Immanuel Kant has propounded that man is independent in his capacity to resolve and so should be independent in action as well as in enjoying the successful or unsuccessful fruits of suchlabour. If he was not independent in action then he would not be dependent in action or its fruits. The famous contention of the Indian theory of karma is that good karmas give good results and bad karmas give bad results. As the nature of work a man does, so the fruits he reaps. Analyzing this sutra (theory) we see that man, while doing new actions is dependent on the older ones. He is not independent in action or in bearing the fruits of this action. If he was not independent then he cannot be held responsible for any good or bad act. The present has no role of its own. He is a puppet in the hands of the past.

Sources

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

Edition:  2010 (1. Edition)

ISBN:  817195140-6

Share this page on:
Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Adharma
  2. Advaitic
  3. Ahimsa
  4. Anekantic
  5. Anger
  6. Aristotle
  7. Dharma
  8. Greed
  9. Himsa
  10. Immanuel Kant
  11. Jeevo jeevasya jeevanam
  12. Kant
  13. Karma
  14. Karmas
  15. Kashaya-mukti
  16. Mahavira
  17. Naya
  18. Nischaya Naya
  19. Niyati
  20. Non-violence
  21. Papa
  22. Plato
  23. Punya
  24. Purushartha
  25. Shasvat
  26. Smriti
  27. Soul
  28. Sutra
  29. Violence
  30. Vyavahara Naya
Page statistics
This page has been viewed 1187 times.
© 1997-2021 HereNow4U, Version 4.5
Home
About
Contact us
Disclaimer
Social Networking

HN4U Deutsche Version
Today's Counter: