Tuesday, April 26, 2011


The term Anekäntaväda consists of three terms: ‘Aneka’, ‘Anta’, and ‘Väda’, The term ‘Aneka’, means ‘many or more than one’, ‘Anta’ means ‘aspects’ or ‘attributes’ and ‘Väda’ means ‘ism’ or ‘theory’. In its simple sense, it is a philosophy or a doctrine of manifold aspects. It has been variously described and translated by modern scholars. Prof. S. N. Dasgupta expresses it as ‘relative pluralism’ against ‘extreme absolutism.’ Dr. Chandradhar Sharma translates it as ‘‘doctrine of manyness of reality’’. Dr. Satkari Mookerjee expresses it as a doctrine of ‘non-absolutism’. This is also expressed as a theory of ‘conditional predication’ or ‘‘theory of relativity of propositions.’’ Since the doctrine of ‘Anekäntaväda’ is opposed to absolutism or monism (Ekänta-väda), we would prefer a phrase ‘‘doctrine of non-absolutism’’ to convey the meaning of Anekäntaväda. The doctrine of Anekäntaväda can be subdivided in two categories:

• Naya-väda relates to thoughts and analysis
• Syädväda relates to speech

What we know by the analytical process of Naya-väda, we express by the synthesis of Syädväda and the base of both is knowledge. According to the Jains, in order to have a complete and comprehensive judgment of reality one has to take into account the main substance that has the element of permanence and undergoes changes in various forms. In this process of change, the previous form dies away and a new form comes into existence. The birth of the new form is called Utpäd (emergence), the death of the old form is called Vyaya (disappearance) and the substance, which remains constant during this process of birth and death, is called Dhrauvya (Permanence). When one is able to comprehend all these three, one can arrive at a proper judgment about the thing in question. When the self takes the form of a human being, you can know it as a ‘man’ or a ‘woman’. When it takes a form of vegetable, you can describe it as ‘grass’. All these descriptions are true from the standpoint of the forms that the self has assumed. Therefore, when we recognize a thing from the point of view of the modification or change, it is called ‘Paryäyärthika Naya’. Paryäya means modification, change. However, when we recognize that thing from the point of view of substance, it is called Dravyärthika Naya. In the former mode is predominant and substance subordinate, in the latter substance predominant and mode subordinate. The former considers changing aspect of reality while the latter considers its permanent aspect.

The greatest contribution that the Jains have made to the world of thought is by their theories of Naya-väda and Syädväda. The word ‘Syäd’ in Sanskrit means ‘perhaps’ but in Jainism it is used to show the relativity of a judgment and the word ‘Naya’ means ‘Standpoint’. Truth or reality is always complex and has many aspects. If one is impressed by one of the aspects of a complex reality and begins to identify the reality, only by that aspect, he is bound to make a wrong judgment about reality. Therefore, the Jain seers exhort us to look at the complexities of life and knowledge from every standpoint and from positive as well as negative aspects. They recognize that the comprehension (view) of an ordinary human being is partial and hence valid only from a particular point of view, which cannot give a correct or even a nearly correct comprehension of the whole. The complex reality has not only an infinite number of qualities but also an infinite number of relations. Again, it may be looked at differently by different people and under their different circumstances. It assumes different forms and appearances for which due allowance ought to be made. All this makes it difficult to form a correct judgment about it unless a systematic and logical method is found to identify it. This method is called Naya-väda.

As Dr. S. Rädhäkrishnan observes: "The doctrine of Nayas of Standpoint is a peculiar feature of Jain logic. A Naya is a standpoint from which we make a statement about a thing. What is true from one standpoint may not be true from another. Particular aspects are never adequate to the whole reality. The relative solutions are abstractions under which reality may be regarded, but do not give us a full and sufficient account of it. Jainism has a basic and fundamental principle that truth is relative to our standpoint."

Thus ‘Naya’ can be defined as a particular viewpoint; a viewpoint which gives only a partial idea about an object or view which cannot overrule the existence of another or even a contrary view about the same object. If an object or theory is judged only from one standpoint, the judgment is one sided and it is termed as ‘Ekänta’. ‘Eka’ means ‘one’ and ‘Anta’ means ‘end’. Thus, Ekänta means one-sidedness. The Jains therefore ask us to judge from all aspects, which is called ‘Anekänta’. This is the basic principle of Jain philosophy. Every fundamental principle of Jain philosophy is based on Anekänta. Throughout its approach, Anekänta has been to accept the different aspects or even contradictory aspects of reality and to evolve a synthesis between the contradictory philosophical theories.

A Jain seer would say, both are correct from the standpoint from which they look at the problem, but both make their statements, which do not conform to the principle of Anekänta and hence do not give a correct judgment of reality. Jains say that changes are as real as the original substance. A jug made of a clay substance cannot be used as anything except as a jug and since the use is real, the form of a jug which clay has assumed cannot be unreal. If the clay substance assumes some other form of an earthen vessel meant for cooking, that vessel could not be used as a jug even though the clay substance remains the same. If this is so, how can we say that the form the substance assumes at a particular time is unreal and only the substance is real? The substance of clay appears to be the only real thing to those who concentrate on substance and ignore the form. It is not correct to say that because there is a change in the form, the changing form is unreal. If it is real even for a moment, its reality must be accepted and recognized. If a comprehensive view of the whole reality is to be a comprehensive perception of a thing, it is possible only when its permanent substance (Dravya) is taken into account along with its existing mode (Paryäya). As Ächärya Siddhasen states “we can understand a thing properly by perceiving its various aspects.”

Classification of Nayas
Jain philosophers have given broad classifications of different aspects (Nayas) through which we can perceive a thing. Naya can be classified as the following 2 types.

Absolute point of view (Nishchaya Naya)
Here one takes a substance and picks up one of its attributes (Guna) and analyzes one part of its attribute. This is called absolute point of view, e.g. to call a clay pot as a clay as it is made of clay. Here clay is a substance and one of its attributes is represented in the form of a pot. The standpoint that concentrates on the original pure nature of a thing is called Nishchaya Naya. It implies the real or the ultimate meaning or interpretation of an object.

Practical points of view (Vyavahär Naya)
The substance and its attributes are interdependent and can never be separated. To consider them as separate is called the practical point of view. For example, to know is an attribute of the soul. In addition, to consider knowledge in a separate way from the soul is called practical point of view. In the practical point of view, one takes into account the association of a substance with another substance. Even though it is not right to know a substance this way, day-to-day activities become somewhat easier. E.g. we use clay pot to hold water, so now we call this pot a water pot. Here the pot is not made of water, but clay. However, because of water’s association with the pot, we call it a water pot. The right way of telling will be that this is a pot made of clay, and we use it to store water. This absolute way of saying a sentence takes a long time and not practical. That is why we call it a water pot. It conveys the meaning. The day-to-day activities become easier thereafter. Even though the soul and body are separate, we use the word interchangeably. We do indicate the body as living because of the association of the soul and body.

From Nishchaya Naya or absolute stand point, a soul is independent, self existed and uncontaminated by matter. From Vyavahär stand point it can be called impure as soul is bound with Karma leading to the cycle of birth and death. Such classification of Naya or standpoints enables identification or distinction of objects or theories according to particular class of Naya.

Classification of Naya:
1. Naigama Naya: Generic and Specific view or teleological view
2. Sangrah Naya: Collective view
3. Vyavahär Naya: Practical view
4. Rujusutra Naya: Linear view
5. Shabda Naya: Literal view
6. Samabhirudha Naya: Etymological view
7. Evambhuta Naya: Determinant view.

There are hundreds of sub classifications of these seven Nayas but without going in details, we shall presently discuss the bare outlines of these seven Nayas. Before doing so, it may be noted that first three Nayas are with reference to the identification of the main substance called ‘Dravya’ and hence are known as ‘Dravyärthika Nayas’. The remaining four refer to the standpoints, which identify the modes of the main substance and hence are known as ‘Paryäyärthika Nayas’.

Dravyärthika Nayas (Substantial Point of View)
Dravyärthika Naya means the standpoint that concentrates on a substance (the generic and permanent aspect). Dravyärthika Naya (substantial standpoint) considers all things to be permanent or eternal. For example, it states that a pot qua substance clay is permanent or eternal. In this point of view one considers the substance as a whole and gives its modes subsidiary status. E.g. while talking about the soul, one will consider the soul as immortal, was never created, nor will it ever be destroyed. On the other hand, Paryäyärthika Naya regards all things as impermanent, because they undergo changes (transformations). Hence it declares that all things are non-eternal or momentary from the standpoint of modes or changes. The standpoint that grasps the generic aspect is Dravyärthika Naya. And the standpoint that grasps the specific aspect is Paryäyärthika Naya.

This can be subdivided as follows
Naigama: Generic or Specific or Teleological
Sangrah: Collective Generic
Vyavahär: Practical

Paryäyärthika Nayas (Modification Point of View)
Modification point of view (Paryäyärthika Naya) Paryäyärthika Naya regards all things as impermanent, because they undergo changes (transformations). Hence it declares that all things are non-eternal or momentary from the standpoint of modes or changes. In this point of view one considers modes of a substance as a primary subject. The substantial consideration becomes secondary. One considers a substance with origination and perishing of its modes, e.g. while talking about soul, one will consider ever-changing modes of soul. One will consider the four realms (Gati) of existence, birth, growth, decay, death of a living being, etc. This can be subdivided as follows

Rujusutra: Linear Point of View
Shabda: Literal or Verbal
Samabhirudha: Etymological
Evambhuta: Determinant Point

Dravyärthika Nayas:
01. Naigama Naya (Generic)
The etymological meaning of the word Naigama is the end product or result. Tattvärtha-sära gives an illustration of a person who carries water, rice and fuel and who, when asked what he was doing, says he is cooking. This reply is given in view of the result, which he intends to achieve though at the exact time when the question is put to him he is not actually cooking. His reply is correct from the point of view of Naigama Naya, though technically it is not exactly correct because he is not actually cooking at the time when he replies. The general purpose, for which we work, controls the total series of our activities. If someone passes his judgment on the basis of that general purpose, he asserts Naigama Naya, i.e., the teleological viewpoint. These empirical views probably proceed on the assumption that a thing possesses the most general as well as the most special qualities and hence we may lay stress on any one of these at any time and ignore the other ones. It overlooks the distinction between the remote and the immediate, noting one or the other as if it were the whole, depending upon the intention of the observer. A man has decided to perform an act of theft. The religious works regard him as defiled by the sin of theft, though he has actually not performed the act of theft. The standpoint adopted by the religious works is that the act, which is sought to be undertaken, is as good as being accomplished. This is also an instance of Sankalpi - Naigama.

02. Sangrah Naya (Collective point of view)
We get this Naya (viewpoint) when we put main emphasis on some general class characteristics of a particular thing ignoring altogether the specific characteristics of that class. Such a view is only partially correct but does not give the idea of the whole and it ignores the specific characteristics of that thing. In the collective point of view, the knowledge of an object is in its ordinary or common form. The special qualities of the object are not taken into account. E.g. there were 500 people in the hall. Here we are now considering only general qualities like people and not considering like how many were men, women, children, old, young, etc. One considers the general attributes of a substance like a substance has existence and eternality. Now these attributes are common to all six universal substances. Here we are considering the general attributes of a substance and ignoring the specific attributes of each substance. Concentrating on a common quality, viz., consciousness that is found in all souls, one can say that all souls are equal. Its scope is more limited than Naigama Naya.

03. Vyavahär Naya (Practical):
If we look at a thing from this standpoint, we try to judge it from its specific properties ignoring the generic qualities, which are mainly responsible for giving birth to the specific qualities. This amounts to the assertion of empirical at the cost of universal and gives importance to practical experience in life. This point of view sees an object in its special form rather than the common form. The special attributes of an object are taken into consideration. The practical view, concentrates on the function of a thing or being. It is analytic in approach and often uses metaphors to explain the nature of things.

On the basis of the collective point of view, and after describing things in a collective form, it is necessary to find out their special characteristics. For example, when we utter the word “medicine” it includes all branches of medicine but when one says allopathic, osteopathic naturopathic, homeopathic, etc. then we can understand its specialty. This can be further divided by its name, patent, quality, uses, etc. These divisions are examples of a distributive point of view and have a tendency towards greater exactitude. With understanding of Naigama Naya we should recognize the potentiality of achieving liberation by all souls. As all souls are capable of liberation, we should appreciate that potentiality in all souls. And we show our respect and humbleness to all living beings. When we act accordingly with all, this becomes Vyavahär Naya. Many times we act in accordance to Paryäya, however if we realize to Dravya we can reduce our internal and external conflicts.

Paryäyärthika Nayas
04. Rujusutra Naya (Linear point of view.)
It is still narrower than Vyavahär in its outlook, because it does not emphasize all the specific qualities but only those specific qualities, which appear in a thing at a particular moment, ignoring their existent specific qualities of the past and the future. The past and future modes of a thing are not real as they have served or will serve their purpose and do not exist at the moment. The approach of the Buddhists is of this type. To ignore the specific qualities of the past and future and to emphasize only continuing characteristics of Reality is the fallacy involved here. In this point of view, one considers ideas like reality, etc. as the direct grasp of here and now, ignoring the past and future. It considers only the present mode of a thing. Ruju means simple, sutra means knowledge. Suppose a man was a king and he is not a king now, thus his past is of no use in a linear point of view. Similarly, a person will be a king in the future, but is meaningless in a linear point of view. Only the present mode is recognized in a linear point of view making the identification easier and scope narrower.

05. Shabda Naya (Literal point of view)
The Verbalistic approach is called as Shabda Naya. This standpoint maintains that synonymous words convey the same meaning or thing, provided they are not different in tense, case ending, gender, number, etc. In other words, it states that two synonymous words can never convey the same thing if they have different tenses, case endings, genders, and numbers. So it is not appropriate to use words in different genders, number etc. to refer to the same object or event. The literal point of view uses words at their exact face value to signify the real nature of things. Each word has a very particular meaning. In the literal view, even changing the gender, numbers, words ending or tense of a word is thought to change its meaning and therefore to change the object to which it refers. Therefore, it is not appropriate to use words in different genders, numbers, etc. to refer to the same object or event. E.g. the words pot and pitcher signifies same meaning, but in the following sentence, the meaning gets changed, “why did you bring a pot? I only want a pitcher”.

06. Samabhirudha Naya (Etymological point of view)
It is different from Shabda Naya because it concentrates on the etymological distinction between the synonyms. If carried to the fallacious extent this standpoint may destroy the original identity pointed to by synonyms. It discards the conventional use of a word in favor of the meaning derived from its root. The etymological view asserts that, because the roots of synonyms are different, they are not actually “synonyms” in the sense of words that mean the same as each other. A group of words may basically mean the same things but as individual words, they represent a special condition, e.g. hut and palace are places to live. However, poor people live in a hut and king lives in a palace, in an etymological (word historical or derivation) point of view, it represents a specific quality or grammatical property of a word.

07. Evambhuta Naya (Determinant point of view)
This Naya recognizes only that word which indicates the actual action presently attributed to the individual. In other words, among synonyms only that word should be selected which a correlation with the action has referred to. In this point of view, the word or sentence, which further determines its characteristic property in its present state, is used. It recognizes only the action implied by the root meaning of a word. To be real, the object must satisfy the activity meant by the word. A word should be used to denote the actual meaning. e. g. the word thief is to be used only when a person is caught stealing and not because a person is a known thief. It represents a strict application of a word or statement.

Partial truth of Individual Naya:
As already noted, the purpose of pointing out to this detailed classification of Nayas is to show how differently, different individuals can view the same object. However, these different aspects are only partially true and since they are only partially true, they are not capable of being wholly true. They, however, cannot be rejected as wholly untrue also. These different aspects can be illustrated by the reactions of some blind people who were asked to go to an elephant and give its description after touching and feeling it. One who touched its legs described it like a pillar; one who touched the tail described it like a rope and so on. Each one was right from his own standpoint because he could experience only a particular limb of the elephant and not the whole elephant. Each one of them was, however, wrong because his description did not conform to the reality, which the elephant possessed. Only one who could see the whole could comprehend this reality.

Utility of Naya Theory
The analysis of Naya shows that every judgment is relative to that particular aspect from which it is seen or known. This is also called Säpeksha-väda that means relativity of our particular knowledge or judgment to a particular standpoint. Since human judgments are always from particular standpoints, they are all relative and hence not absolutely true or absolutely false. Their outright acceptance as a sole truth or rejection as totally false would not be correct. This led the Jain seers to their famous doctrine of ‘Syädväda’, which means the doctrine of relativity. Naya-väda reveals a technique to arrive at such an understanding. It teaches us that truth is revealed to us only partially if viewed from a particular aspect. Even if one finds that a proposition is quite contrary to the conviction he had for the whole life and hence the cause of great irritation to him, once he applies the principles of Naya-väda his irritation begins to subside. The simple reason being is that he begins to realize the real cause for that contrary proposition.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


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Aim and Subject matter of Jain Logic

We can say that the chief aim is to understand the scriptures and the doctrine, which again is not possible without the correct knowledge of Pramänas (total view knowledge) and Nayas, (partial viewpoint knowledge). The subject matter of Jain logic includes all such topics resulting from Jain theory of knowledge and reality. Apart from the Pramänas as sources for knowledge, the ‘Naya-väda’ and ‘Sapta-bhanga-väda’, the ‘Dravyästika’ and ‘Paryäyästika’ views, and the enumeration and classification of Naya are some of the quite interesting topics included in Jain logic.

Pramänas (Valid Knowledge) in Jain philosophy is divided into two modes: Pramäna and Naya. Pramäna is knowledge of a thing as it is, and Naya is knowledge of a thing in its relation. Naya means a standpoint of thought from which we make a statement about a thing. Siddhasen Diwäkar in Nyäyävatära writes, “Since things have many characters, they are the object of all sided knowledge (omniscience); but a thing conceived from one particular point of view is the object of Naya (or one-sided knowledge).’’It may be noted here that Naya is a part of Pramäna because it gives us valid knowledge of its object. Naya being a particular standpoint determines only a part of its object. A Naya can also be defined as a particular intention or viewpoint – a viewpoint which does not rule out other different viewpoints and is thereby expressive of a partial truth about an object as entertained by a knowing agent or speaker. Nayas do not interfere with one another or enter into conflict with one another. They do not contradict one another. They uphold their own objects without rejecting others’ objects. Naya becomes pseudo Naya, when it denies all standpoints, contradicts them, excludes them absolutely and puts forward its partial truth as the whole truth.

According to The Jain logic, Naya becomes a form of false knowledge as it determines the knowledge not of an object but part of an object. They say that false knowledge is knowledge about something which is not a real object or in conformity to what it is, ‘the part of an object and not non-object. The knowledge of an object determined by Naya is valid knowledge from that point of view. It does yield certain valid knowledge about part of the object.

The Pramäna kind of knowledge comprises all the aspects of a substance. Pramäna includes every aspect; and not as understood from any one aspect. Pramäna is of two kinds

Pratyaksha (direct)

Paroksha (indirect)

Pratyaksha Jnän (direct knowledge)

Direct knowledge is that which is obtained by the soul without the help of external means. The Pratyaksha Jnän is of three kinds, namely Avadhi-jnän, Manah-Paryäya Jnän and Keval - jnän.

Paroksha Jnän (indirect knowledge)

Indirect knowledge is that which is obtained by the soul by means of such things as the five senses and the mind. Paroksha Jnän is classified into “Sensory Knowledge” and “Scriptural Knowledge”. Thus, there are total five kinds of Pramäna: (1) Sensory Knowledge (2) Scriptural Knowledge (3) Clairvoyance (4) Telepathy (5) Omniscience.

Pratyaksha Pramäna (Direct Knowledge)

The soul’s knowledge of substance is pure. The soul’s involvement is direct in obtaining this type of knowledge. It can be of 2 types.

Direct or Practical (Sämvyavahärik Pratyaksha Pramäna)

Transcendental (Päramärthika Pratyaksha Pramäna)

Direct Knowledge in a conventional sense (Sämvyavahärik Pratyaksha Pramäna)

The knowledge obtained by the soul through Sensory Knowledge (Mati-jnän) and Scriptural Knowledge (Shruta-jnän), is called indirect knowledge for two reasons: 1) There is a need for the senses’ and mind’s involvement and 2) The knowledge is impure because the knowledge obtained from senses and mind usually is for others and not for the soul. However, when the soul obtains Right Faith (Samyak Darshan), at that time, the sensory knowledge and Scriptural Knowledge are used for the knowledge of the self. Therefore, this is called direct knowledge in a conventional sense. Here the knowledge is partially true (Ekadesha Spasta).

Transcendental knowledge (Päramärthika Pratyaksha Pramäna)

When the soul obtains direct knowledge without the help of any external means (like senses and mind), then it is called transcendental knowledge.

Partial knowledge (Vikal Päramärthika) – when the soul obtains direct knowledge of a formed substance, it is called partial knowledge.

Clairvoyance (Avadhi-jnän)

Clairvoyance refers to knowledge of things that are out of the range of senses. Here the soul can perceive knowledge of a substance with a form (Rupi Padärtha), which exists at great distance or time. In celestial and infernal souls, this knowledge is present since birth. In human and animal, this knowledge can be obtained as a result of spiritual endeavors.

Telepathy (Manah-paryäya-jnän) –

In this type of knowledge, the human soul has a capacity to comprehend others’ thoughts. Great saints who have achieved a high level of spiritual progress can posses this knowledge.

Omni Perception and Omniscience (Sakal Päramärthika)

A Tirthankar or an Ordinary Omniscient having Keval-jnän (Sakal Päramärthika) knows about all substances in the universe, and all of their modes of past, present and future at a given time. When a soul in his quest for purity destroys all four Destructive Karma at the 13th stage of the spiritual ladder, it obtains this knowledge. This is perfect knowledge and stays with the soul forever. About ‘Keval-jnän’, Dr. Rädhäkrishnan writes: “It is omniscience unlimited by space, time or object. To the perfect consciousness, the whole reality is obvious. This knowledge, which is independent of the senses and which can only be felt and not described, is possible only for purified souls free from bondage.’’

Indirect Perceptions (Paroksha Pramäna)

The knowledge that is impure, of others, and not of the self is called indirect perception. Here we take the help of external means like the five senses and the mind.

Sensory knowledge (Mati-jnän)

This knowledge is gained through the senses and/or mind. Reflection on what has been perceived, reasoning, questioning, searching, understanding, and judging are the varieties of sensory knowledge. It can also be classified as remembrance, recognition, induction, and deduction.

Remembrance (Smaran)

Recognition (Pratyabhijna)

Induction (Tarka)

Deduction (Anumäna)

Scripture knowledge (Shruta-jnän) –

This knowledge refers to conceptualization through language. It is obtained by studying the scriptures and listening to the discourses. Scripture knowledge (Ägam Knowledge) consists of comprehension of meaning of words that are heard or derived from the senses and the mind. This knowledge is authoritative.

Pramäna (Valid Knowledge) - Summary

Pramäna is capable of making us accept the agreeable things and discard the disagreeable ones; it is but knowledge. The object of valid knowledge according to Jains is always a unity of a number of aspects or characteristic, such as general and the particular, the existent and the nonexistent, etc.

Valid knowledge or ‘pure knowledge’ is the total or partial destruction of ignorance. The fruit of Pramäna is of two sorts: direct and indirect. Direct fruit of all Pramäna is the annihilation of ignorance. As regards the indirect fruit of pure knowledge is indifference. It is also said that, the immediate effect of Pramäna is the removal of ignorance; the mediate effect of absolute knowledge is bliss and equanimity, while that of ordinary practical knowledge is the facility to select or reject.

The subject of all forms of valid knowledge is the self, as known by direct knowledge. The spirit (soul or Jiva) is the knower, doer and enjoyer, illumines self and others, undergoes changes of condition, is realized only in self consciousness, and is different from the earth, etc. The soul, as described in Jainism, is permanent but undergoes changes of condition. With reference to theistic approaches, Jainism believes in soul and its liberation. Moreover, it accepts and agrees to the fact that no liberation is possible without the true knowledge of reality; and logic or Pramäna is the aid to such knowledge. What is theistic behind the logic is its use and purpose. This is neither an intellectual exercise nor a game of arguments to refute, but to know and sharpen understanding for spiritual progress.

On account of its knowledge, the soul is different from inert substances. As the cover over it goes on decreasing, its knowledge goes on increasing and showing itself. Like a mirror that reflects everything, the soul can know anything that can be known. If there is no cover at all, it is natural that it can know all things. It is illogical to say that we can know only up to this extent, not more than this. Therefore, an Omniscient (Kevali) knows everything directly.

Only he who possesses this kind of knowledge can expound sound doctrines and only he is the supreme spiritual well-wisher. After that, even those who act according to his commands are well - wishers. For great Chief Disciples of Tirthankars (Ganadhars), Ägams are the Pramänas, source of true knowledge. Jainism asserts that knowledge attained is the knowledge of real objects. What is known is not all aspects of the reality of an object, but only one or some. In Jainism, knowledge depends on experience and experience is always partial, in the sense that reality in totality is never revealed. Under the circumstance, whatever is known is known in relation to a standpoint and therefore “absolution is to be surrendered.’’ This is the root of Naya Väda and Syädväda.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Modern day logic is defined as the study of principles and method of argumentation. An argument in the system of logic is a set of statements. Jain logic is ancient. Its roots can be traced to the Holy Scriptures, in which it states, “Non-absolutism is the principal dogma of Jainism”. Furthermore, “every statement is to be accepted as relative truth”.

Let us take an example. Someone’s name is Kishore. His father’s name is Maganlal and his son’s name is Karan. Now he is father and son at the same time. How can this be? From Maganlal’s perspective, he is a son and from Karan’s perspective, he is a father. Thus, both statements are true from their own perspectives. Soul is eternal as well as changing. How can these two conflicting statements be true?

According to Jain logic, they are true statements in their own perspective. Soul is eternal from a substantial point of view (Dravya). The soul is ever changing from a modal point of view (Paryäya).

Six blind men touched an elephant and came out with their own opinion that the elephant is like a pillar, python, drum, pipe, long rope, and huge fan depending on the parts of the body that they touched. They could be right from their own perspective, but an elephant is an elephant, and the person who can see knows an elephant as total. He also knows that the elephant could be like a pillar, python, drum, pipe, long rope and a huge fan from the perspective of the legs, trunk, abdomen, tusk, tail, and ears. Therefore, if you do not have complete knowledge, do not believe in other possibilities and think that the partial point of view is the only truth and others are wrong, then the partial point of view is not right.

Thus, understanding of Jain logic helps a lot for tolerance. Nothing may be absolutely wrong and nothing may be absolutely right. All the statements are true in their own perspective. Because of our inability to know substance as a whole, we cannot have complete knowledge of a substance. Only the omniscient Bhagawan has perfect knowledge, so He has the complete knowledge.

The spoken and written language has limitations of expressions. So one has to understand the broader meaning of Jain logic and then try to understand reality in that perspective. We should know all the angles of the substance and then present the partial point of view, and then we are right. Presenting the partial point of view, and then considering it as a complete knowledge is wrong according to Jain logic. We should also keep in mind, that when a sentence is spoken, we should know from what angle it is spoken. If we understand it correctly, then our knowledge base increases. Literature is also written either in a substantial point of view (Dravyärthika Naya), or modal point of view (Paryäyärthika Naya).

Thus to have complete knowledge or organ of knowledge (Pramäna Jnän), we should also know partial points of view (Naya). The partial point of view becomes a pillar on which the building of the organ of knowledge rests. Of course, the true and complete knowledge of a substance is only possible with omniscience.

To know a substance, there are 4 different categories, which are described in the scriptures.

Lakshana (Characteristics of a Substance)

One should know the characteristics of a substance. The characteristic (Lakshana) should be such that it is present only in the substance and not in any other substance. For example, when we say that the soul is formless, this is not its absolute characteristic because there are other substances like medium of motion, medium of rest, space, and time, which are also formless substances. Nevertheless, if we say that the soul’s characteristic is ‘to know’ then it becomes a true characteristic. Every soul starting with the lowest form (Nigod) to the highest form (Siddha) has characteristics of knowledge. Touch, taste, smell and color are all characteristics of matter because none of the other five substances have these characteristics. Thus, a peculiar characteristic present in only one substance and not in any other substance is known as its true characteristic.

Pramäna (True Knowledge)

That by which a thing is known rightly is called Pramäna, i.e., true or valid knowledge. To know a substance from all angles is called the organ of knowledge, or true knowledge. On the rise of true knowledge doubt, illusion, and ignorance are removed and a nature of a thing is understood rightly to a considerable extent. The knowledge that allows one to differentiate and to make decisions about the self and others (Sva and Para) is called the organ of knowledge or true knowledge. The organ of knowledge consists of several different and apparently opposite points of views. Thus with the organ of knowledge, one gets equanimity, and becomes tolerant of different points of views. The perception, which grasps the nature of a thing in a proper and contraindicated form, is called the organ of knowledge.

Naya (Partial Point of View)

The knowledge of a substance from one point of view is called Naya (a partial point of view). The thought activity, which grasps only one aspect of an object with the aid of scriptures, is called a partial point of view. Total knowledge or organ of knowledge (Pramäna Jnän) is the sum total of all partial points of view. Thus to understand a substance in its fullest form, one must have knowledge of all partial points of view including seemingly opposite partial points of view. Just as Pramäna is pure knowledge, so also Naya is pure knowledge. The former grasps the entire thing, while the latter grasps only one of its many aspects. There are several different classifications of partial points of view given in scriptures. We will see the one, which is more widely used, in a later part of this chapter.

Nikshepa (Analysis of Truth)

Analysis of truth can be done with precision and clarity in different ways. A substance has various attributes. Keeping those attributes in mind, a substance can be divided into different ways. Language is a means of communication. All practical exchange of knowledge has language for its main modality. When it is embodied in language, intangible knowledge becomes tangible and hence conveyable. Language is made up of words. One and the same word is employed to yield several meanings depending on the purpose or context. Employment of a word to express different meanings is done at least in four different ways. These four ways are known as Nikshepa.

Four Nikshepa (Four Way Analysis of Truth)

Name (Näm)

The meaning that is not derived etymologically, but is gathered on the basis of convention set up by the father, mother or some other people, is known Näm Nikshepa. It means to refer to the object merely by its name. Our daily activity becomes easier by giving name to an object. For example, a poor person’s name is King. He is known as King by name, even though he is very poor.

Symbol (Sthäpanä)

It means referring a person through his image, idol, picture, painting, etc. These things contain in themselves the symbol of an original object; e.g. looking at a marble idol at a temple, one says that this is Lord Mahavir. In this usage we superimpose the real thing on its representation, viz., a statue, a photograph, or a picture.

Potentiality (Dravya)

Here one refers to an object by mentioning its past condition or future condition. The term ‘Dravya’ in the word ‘Dravya Nikshepa’ has the sense of potentiality. For example, we refer to a person as a king now even though he is not a king but is going to be a king in the future.

Actuality (Bhäva)

It means the name signifying the object is meaningful in its present condition. This meaning satisfies the etymology of the concerned word. A person is called king (Räjä), when he is actual carrying the royal scepter and is shining with glory on that account; he is king in the real sense. For example, the word Tirthankar is used only after the soul attains omniscience and is now preaching and establishing a fourfold religious congregation.


We worship Supreme Soul (God) by respectfully remembering and muttering His name, worshipping His image, worshiping Him by devotedly serving the spiritual teacher, because the real spiritual teacher can be regarded as Supreme Soul (God) in potential. In this way, Nam Nikshepa, Sthäpanä Nikshepa, and Dravya Nikshepa (rather our activities performed with respect to these three meanings) lead to Bhäva Nikshepa (rather the activity with respect to the Bhäva Nikshepa, or the actual attainment of the state corresponding to the actual etymological meaning of the concerned word).

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courtesy: Jain Philosophy and Practice-2