A study of the philosophy of Jainism

by Deepa Baruah | 2017 | 46,858 words

This page describes the Conclusion from the study of the philosophy of Jainism: one of the oldest religions in India having its own metaphysics, philosophy and ethics. Jainism is regarded as an ethical system where non-violence features as an important ethical value.

Chapter VI - Conclusion

From our foregoing discussion it has been clear that Jainism is one of the most important heterodox philosophical systems of India which has emerged in 6 century B.C. It is one of the oldest religions in India having its own dogma, metaphysics, philosophy, mythology, ethics and rituals. It occupies a unique place in the philosophical mileage of India. The Jaina literature has been found in two different languages, mostly in Prākṛt and also in Sanskrit. Most of the early literature is not available now. One of the most famous works of Jaina literature is Prameyakamalamārtaṇḍa of Prabhācandra. It is a comprehensive Sanskrit commentary on Parīkṣāmukhasūtra which is a work on Jaina logic by Māṇikyanandi. It is an encyclopaedic work on Indian philosophy. It is a specific work on Indian logic. It is the treasure house of Indian philosophical thoughts. It has not only elaborated the Jaina thoughts, but has also systematically presented the opponents’ view points. That means, Prabhācandra systematically presents the pūrvapakṣa views in a thorough and authentic manner. After that he finally establishes the uttarapakṣa views i.e. the Jaina views. In Prameyakamalamārtaṇḍa, all the important topics of Jaina philosophy, viz., the concept of knowledge, viparītakhyātivāda of the Jainas, categories or substance, the concept of matter or pudgala, the doctrine of the self, the theory of karma, liberation, anekāntavāda, syādvāda, nayavāda etc are discussed. In the following lines we are going to summarise our findings.

1. The date of Prabhācandra is not clearly known. For deciding the date of Prabhācandra we have taken the help of internal and external sources. And from our study it is concluded that Prabhācandra belonged to the later part of 11 century A.D. or earlier part of 12 century A.D.

2. Prabhācandra’s contribution to Jaina theory of knowledge is immense. According to Prabhācandra, knowledge is cetana (conscious) and different from its object. It is cetana. It is self-revealing as well as object-revealing. It is not known by another knowledge. In determining the nature of knowledge Prabhācandra has refuted the views of different philosophers, viz., the Buddhists, the Sāṃkhyas, the Bhāṭṭa Mīmāṃsakas, the Nyayāyikas and the Vaiśeṣikas. He has refuted the Buddhists view that knowledge possesses the form of object and established that knowledge and its objects are different from each other. Refuting the Sāṃkhyas and the Bhāṭṭa Mīmāṃsakas view, Prabhācandra points out that knowledge is selfrevealing and as well as object-revealing. He also rejects the Mīmāṃsakas view that knowledge is parokṣa. In his view, knowledge is directly perceived. Against the Nyayāyikas and the Vaiśeṣikas, Prabhācandra’s rejoinder is that knowledge is not known by any other knowledge.

Pramāṇa in Jaina philosophy means that determinate knowledge which reveals itself as also a new object. Explaining the sūtra giving the definition of pramāṇa, Prabhācandra refutes different theories of pramāṇa also. He has refuted the kārakasākalyavāda of Jayanta Bhaṭṭa, sannikarṣavāda of the Nyayāyikas and the Vaiśeṣikas.

The Jainas do not agree with other Indian philosophers regarding the number of pramāṇas. They accept only two pramāṇas, viz., pratyakṣa and parokṣa. There are again many sub-varieties of these two pramāṇas. Following Māṇikyanandi Prabhācandra has established that pratyakṣa is that knowledge of an object which does not require any other knowledge to reveal it. That is what is said as clear knowledge. Prabhācandra has also established that perception or pratyakṣa does not arise from sense-object-contact as held by other philosophers. It is divided into two categoris, viz., sāṃvyavahārika and mukhya.

Prabhācandra has discussed about parokṣa-pramāṇa and said that it is unclear knowledge. It is divided into five categories, viz., smṛti, pratyabhijñāna, tarka, anumāna and āgama. He has explained the definitions of all these types of knowledge refuting the opponents’ views. The anumāna-pramāṇa of the Nyayāyikas and the Vaiśeṣikas is included by the Jainas in parokṣa-pramāṇa. Prabhācandra has discussed about this pramāṇa more or less in the line of the Nyayāyikas and the Vaiśeṣikas. However, regarding the avayavas of anumāna, Prabhācandra points out that the five avayavas are not necessary and only two, viz., pakṣa or pratijñā and hetu will serve the purpose.

Following all the Jaina philosophers, Prabhācandra has also accepted viparītakhyāti as the theory of error. In this context he has refuted the other theories forwarded by different philosophers about the nature of error. Viparītakhyātivāda means an illusory experience which is not a complex web of perception and memory, but it is a single perception. It is the apprehension of an object of its opposite nature.

The theory of anekāntavāda is the heart of Jainism, and syādvāda and nayavāda are its two wings. Anekāntavāda propounds that reality is many-sided and complex, i.e. an object has infinite number of attributes. Nothing can be said to possess a character or characters absolutely. It does not regard the one sided point of view of a thing. Syādvāda holds a unique position in Jainism. It is a synthetic method of sevenfold judgment or steps to define the nature of a thing positively and negatively. Nayavāda means the particular standpoint about an object which knows only one part. Prabhācandra has discussed all these things elaborately.

3. According to the Jainas, a reality consists of substance and its modes. The Jaina categories or substances are divided into two classes, viz., astikāya and anastikāya. Astikāya substances are sub-divided into five classes, viz., jīva, pudgala, ākāśa, dharma and adharma. These are called pañcāstikaya. Anastikāya substance is kāla. Prabhācandra has explained the different types of categories in the line of other Jaina philosophers. He has maintained that a category or substance can possess many characters at the same time. Substance possesses the characteristics of origination, decay and permanence. In this context Prabhācandra has refuted the theory of the momentariness of the Buddhists. He proved that substance is not momentary but possesses permanence.

The pudgala is used in the sense of matter in Jainism. Prabhācandra points out that material substance can combine together to form larger and larger wholes and can also break up into smaller and smaller parts. The smallest parts of matter are called aṇu or atoms. Prabhācandra rejects the Vaiśeṣikas view about avayava and avayavī as two different things and holds that they are not totally distinct nor totally identical with one another.

4. As regards the concept of self Prabhācandra does not differ from his predecessors and upholds the view in the line of other Jaina philosophers. According to Jainism, the jīva or self is an eternal substance, which is sāvayava, is the knower, enjoyer and active agent. The most important quality of the self is consciousness, which is manifested in two ways, viz., vision and knowledge, which are jointly called upayoga. The self is naturally perfect and is endowed with four infinite qualities, viz., infinite vision, infinite power, infinite bliss and infinite knowledge.

In Prameyakamalamārtaṇḍa, Prabhācandra has vehemently refuted the Buddhist theory of not self. The Buddhists do not accept any eternal substance called self other than some particular modes of joy, sorrow etc. Refuting this view Prabhācandra has established that the existence of the self is directly perceived through self cognition.

One of the most controversial views of the Jainas refers to the size of the self. Whereas all other philosophical schools of Indian uphold either all-pervasive size or atomic size of the self, the Jainas postulate that the self is of the size of the body which it occupies. Prabhācandra, in Prameyakamalamārtaṇḍa, has critisized all the views of the opponents’ and pointed out that the self cannot be all- pervasive and partless. He also establishes that the self is not of any definite size; it is subject to change due to changing circumstances. It contracts and expands according to the size of the body in which it resides.

5. According to the Jainas, karman is the root cause of the bondage of the self. One of the peculiar views of the Jainas is that karman is the subtle particle of matter called pudgala. Because of this karma-pudgala the jīva gets bondage and liberation. The bondage of the self is caused by its contact with the karma-pudgala and self attains liberation for its complete stoppage and dissociation from karmicmatter. The self comes under bondage of karma-pudgala because of āsrava and bandha and becomes free from all the karma-pudgalas through samvara and nirjarā. This general view of the Jainas is shared by Prabhācandra also and he has provided brief discussions on these topics in Prameyakamalamārtaṇḍa.

To safeguard the above mentioned unique view of karman of the Jainas Prabhācandra has categorically refuted the view of the Vaiśeṣikas regarding karman as separate category.

He also refuted the views of the Buddhists and the Sāṃkhyas in order to establish the Jaina view that the pure knowledge of the self is not revealed because of the āvaraṇa of karma–pudgala. The Buddhists regard karman as a quality of the self and not a pudgala. Similarly the Sāṃkhyas maintain that the karman is an evolute of Prakṛti. Prabhācandra has critically examined both these views and rejected them.

When the self is fully freed from these karma-particles, it possesses boundless happiness, because consciousness is the essential quality of the self, then it realizes its own nature, i.e. infinite bliss, infinite vision, infinite knowledge and infinite power. According to Prabhācandra, the four infinite qualities i.e. sendless vision, endless knowledge, endless power and endless bliss are the nature of liberation. Because, these four qualities are the real nature of the self attainment of which leads the self to liberation.

There is a difference between the two sects of Jainism regarding the concept of liberation between men and women. According to the Śvetāmbaras, women also have the capability to attain liberation. According to Digambaras, women cannot attain liberation. Prabhācandra sides with the Digambaras and gives arguments to establish that women are not capable of attaining liberation. For the attainment of liberation, the Jainas prescribe that right-faith (samyag-darśana), right-knowledge (samyag-jñāna) and right-conduct (samyag-cāritra). These three together constitute the way to liberation. These three are called the three jewels in Jainism. Prabhācandra also admits that there are three means for the attainment of liberation, these are: right-faith, right-knowledge and right-conduct, which are called three jewels.

In this way, we find that the Jaina concept of the theory of knowledge, anekāntavāda, syādvāda, nayavāda, the self and its size, karma-pudgala etc. are elaborately discussed by Prabhācandra in Prameyakamalamārtaṇḍa. The Jaina philosophy holds a unique position in Indian philosophy with its material karman and intermediary size of the self.

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