A study of the philosophy of Jainism

by Deepa Baruah | 2017 | 46,858 words

This page describes the The doctrine of Nayavada (doctrine of standpoints) 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 II.f - The doctrine of Nayavāda (doctrine of standpoints)

The doctrine of anekāntavāda propounds that the things are endowed with innumerable qualities. The things are apprehended differently from different points of view. Of these innumerable standpoints the apprehension of reality from a particular standpoint is called naya. Actually the Jainas hold that knowledge is to be known in two ways, viz., pramāṇa and naya. These two are the different ways of knowing the reality. Pramāṇa is the valid knowledge of an object endowed with many qualities; while naya is the valid knowledge of an object from the standpoint of one part or aspect. That means, pramāṇa comprises all the parts of a thing, but naya refers to only one part of a thing.

Prabhācandra in his work, i.e., Prameyakamalamārtaṇḍa defines naya as the apprehension of the knower of a part of an object without discarding its opposite views. A naya becomes nayābhāsa when it discards its opposite view. This is the general nature of naya and nayābhāsa.

Types of Naya:

Naya is divided into two broad heads: (a) dravyārthikanaya and (b) paryāyārthikanaya. Dravyārthikanaya is that naya where the substance aspect of a thing considered. Paryāyārrthikanaya means that naya where the mode of a thing is considered. Dravyārthikanaya is of three kinds, viz., (i) naigamanaya, (ii) saṅgrahanaya and (iii) vyavahāranaya. While paryāyārthikanaya is of four kinds, viz., (i) ṛjusūtranaya, (ii) śabdanaya, (iii) samabhirūḍhanaya and (iv) evaṃbhūtanaya. Thus, there are seven kinds of nayas in the Jaina philosophy. A brief description of these nayas is given in the following:

(i) Naigamanaya: Naigamanaya means that stand-point where the purposes or end of a series of activities is emphasized, which is not yet completely accomplished. As for example, when a person going with an axe, being asked for what purpose he is going, answers “I am going to bring wood of certain measure”. Here, the measure of word is the purpose to be realized in the action. So, naigamanaya means that naya which emphasizes the purpose of the actions. It is also that stand-point where both general and specific aspects are taken into consideration. Another analysis of the term naigama is given by Prabhācandra as ‘not’(na), ‘one’(eko) and ‘understanding’(gamaḥ). Here the dharma and dharmī are taken into consideration as secondary (guṇa) and primary (pradhāna).

(ii) Saṅgrahanaya: Saṅgrahanaya means that stand-point which takes only the general quality of an object and not its specific quality. When the different state of a thing of a class is considered as a unity, it is called saṅgrahanaya. It is of two types, viz., parasaṅgrahanaya and aparasaṅgrhanaya.

(iii) Vyavahāranaya: Vyavahāranaya means that stand-point which differentiates the objects cognized by saṅgrahanaya in accordance to rule. It takes into consideration only the specific aspects of an object and maintains that the general aspects are not apart from the specific aspects.

(iv) Ṛjusūtranaya: It means that stand-point which only refers to the present form of an object, without taking into consideration of its past and future aspects. This is called ṛjusūtranaya.

(v) Śabdanaya: Śabdanaya means that stand-point which puts emphasis on the significance of synonymous words having the same meaning. As for example, though the words kumbha, kalaśa, ghaṭa etc. are different in their origins, yet, they are giving the same meaning i.e. the jar. Prabhācandra maintains that śabdanaya refers to the difference of meaning with reference to number, gender, case-ending etc.

(vi) Samabhirūḍhanaya: Śabdanaya maintains that the synonymous words express the same meaning. But samabhirūḍhanaya states that even synonymous words which are similar in tense, number, gender etc. also express different meanings depending on the roots and other derivative parts from which these are derived. (vii) Evaṃbhūtanaya: This naya refers to the fact that the meaning of a word corresponds to the meaning of derivational compounds. Hence, a word will not express its meaning if at the moment of reference the object referred to by it is not in the state of performing the function as expressed by the term.

Among these seven types of nayas former four, i.e., naigamanaya, saṅgrahanaya, vyavahāranaya and ṛjusūtranaya are called arthapradhāna; while śabdanaya, samabhirūḍhanaya and evaṃbhūtanaya are śabdapradhāna. Each succeeding stand-point is purer than the preceding one. These nayas are very important for the understanding of the anekāntavāda. These nayas point to the fact that reality is of various natures and admits of different descriptions. Any one of these views cannot be taken as the absolute truth.

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