A study of the philosophy of Jainism

by Deepa Baruah | 2017 | 46,858 words

This page describes the The Nature Of Substance (Dravya) 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 III.a - The Nature Of Substance (Dravya)

Every system in India accepts some categories or tattvas or padārthas. Padārtha literally means the meaning of a word. It signifies an object of valid knowledge which can be denoted by a word. The Jainas hold that the word sat, dravya, tattva, artha, padārtha and tattvārtha are synonyms with the word reality. A reality consists of substance and its mode (dravyaparyāyātmakaṃ vastu). They do not make any distinction between substance, reality etc. According to them, all the padārthas or substances or realities of the world possess the characteristics of generality and particularity. Generality (sāmānya) is of two kinds, viz., tiryaksāmānya and ūrdhvatā- sāmānya. Tiryak-sāmānya is the common property found in various things of the same class such as gotva (cowness) in all cows. Ūrdhvatāsāmānya is the pervading of the substance in all its previous and subsequent manifestations, like clay in different stages. Particularity (viśeṣa) is also of two kinds, viz., paryāya-viśeṣa and vyatireka-viśeṣa. Paryāya-viśeṣas are the transformation which take place in succession in one substance, e.g., happiness and sorrow in the self. Vyatireka-viśeṣa is the transformations of dissimilar nature in a distinct object, e.g. a cow and a buffalo. A distinct object is that which is different from both similar (sajātīya) and dissimilar (vijātīya) things. That means the unique characteristic of an object which is not common to others is called vyatireka-viśeṣa. Generality is that which points to the general character of a substance, while particularity means the special character. A cow is characterized by cowness, which is the general or common characteristic of all other cows. It has also some special qualities, such as the particular colour or size of a cow, by which it is possible to distinguish it from the other cows. Hence, all the substances or padārthas possesses two properties, viz., sāmānya and viśeṣa.

According to the Vaiśeṣikas, substance cannot possess sāmānya and viśeṣa together. There is no pramāṇa for proving this, because there is complete difference between the nature of sāmānya and viśeṣa. There are different since these two are known by different pramāṇas, like ghaṭa and paṭa. But, the Jainas do not agree with the Vaiśeṣikas. In Prameyakamalamārtaṇḍa, Prabhācandra says that though there is a difference between the natures of a particular thing, yet, it does not mean that the substance does not possesses many characters. He says that there are various kinds of characters found in every substances or padārthas, like sāmānya, viśeṣa etc., such as, the self possesses many characters like pleasure, pain, consciousness etc. , so, the substance can possesses sāmānya and viśeṣa together.

According to Umāsvāmī a synthetic method of sevenfold judgment or steps to define the nature, the definition of reality or substance is sat. That means that which exists is called a substance. Sat or substance possesses triple characteristics of origination (utpāda), decay (vyaya) and permanence (dhrauvya). That means, these three factors are always present in a substance. For an example, though a pot is produced from clay and later it is also destroyed, yet clay is the essential characteristic which continues to exist in both of these states of production and destruction. Here in this example, the production of pot is utpāda, the destruction of pot is vyaya and clay is dhrauvya. A thing changes in its nature, but it’s essential characters always continue to exist all the time. Hence, all these three elements that characterize reality are found in a substance. Prabhācandra says that these characteristics of a substance are always perceptible. For example, ghaṭa, kapāla etc.are perceived to be originated and destroyed. Similarly their permanence in the form of clay is also perceived.

The world is composed of various kinds of substances. The essential characters of the substances are abiding, so the world is permanent; while the accidental characters changes from moment to moment, so the world also changes. According to the Buddhists, all the things are kṣaṇika or momentary. Everything in this world changes from moment to moment. All the substances are momentary, such as, ghaṭa, paṭa, jīva, ajīva etc. are all momentary, because all of these are destroyed at a point of time. The knowledge through which one can know a substance is also kṣaṇika. The Buddhist also hold that reality consists in causal efficiency, i.e., an object is real if it is capable of causing any effect. But the Jainas do not agree with the Buddhists, because this is a false idea. According to them, if reality consists in causal efficiency, then even an illusory snake must be real, because it can cause effects like fear etc.

The Jainas further hold that all the things possess various qualities and nature. But there is a difference between their dharma, i.e., character and dharmī, i.e., which possesses the characters. They hold that every substance possesses two types of characters, viz., essential character and accidental character. The essential characters are the most important characters of a substance, because without these the substance cannot exist. Consciousness is the most essential character of the self. The accidental characters of a substance come and go. It does not exist for a long time in the substance. Desires, volition, pleasure, pain etc. are some accidental characters of the self. By these characters, the self undergoes changes or modifications. According to the Jainas, the essential unchanging character is known as guṇa, while the accidental changing character is called as paryāya. So, substance is that which possesses guṇa as well as paryāya. That means it is endowed with quality and mode.

Guṇas or qualities always co-exist in the substance, while paryāyas or modes changes in the substance. A Substance is changing by its modifications or accidental qualities, yet it remains permanent through its qualities.

The Jainas further hold that dravya, guṇa and paryāya are of one class. Guṇa inheres in dravya and is inseparable from it. As a matter of fact, substance cannot exist without qualities nor qualities exist without substance. If a substance is distinct from its qualities, then it may be transformed into infinite substances. Again, if the qualities are distinct from a substance and can exist apart from it, then there is no necessity for a substance at all. Hence, the substance and its qualities are not entirely distinct from each other. There will be no existence of dravya on the destruction or separation of guṇa.

The substance with the qualities must exists in some form or mode. This mode of existence is called paryāya. There is neither substance without mode nor mode without substance. Though, there is a difference between the substance and its mode from the point of view of significance, quality and utility, yet, the one cannot exist apart from the other. For an instance, an ornament which is the paryāya of gold is different from the gold in significance, in quality and in utility. But still, there can be no ornament apart from gold and gold apart from some mode or form. In the same way, the relation between dravya and paryāya are the same as the relation between matter and form. There can be neither matter without form nor form without matter.

All the qualities are not identical in a substance. Some common qualities are found in all substances, e.g. astitva, pradeśatva, jñeyatva etc.; while upayoga, rūpa etc. are some uncommon qualities which can be found in each individual substance. Each substance is distinct and separate from other substances because of its uncommon quality and mode.

Though there is a relation between dravya and guṇa, dravya and paryāya; yet, there is a difference between quality and mode. For example, mango as a substance has some qualities, such as, colour, touch, smell and taste. These qualities are always found in a mongo, but its modes are not always the same. Its colour, touch, smell and taste are changed from green to yellow, hard to soft etc. In this way, a mango is changed in various modes, but its qualities continue to exist in it. Hence, the guṇas continue to exist, while paryāyas change.

From all of these it can be said that both origination and decay change, but permanence continues to exist in a substance. So, origination and decay are known as paryāyas; and permanence is known as guṇa. Hence, the substance is that which possesses origination, decay and permanence as well as guṇa and paryāya.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: