Feb 11, 2008

Nayavada: Jaina View Of Reality

in the realm of indian philosophical speculation, the contribution of jainism is significant. philosophical speculation, generally speaking, is based on logical ratiocination or formal reasoning, and experience. new curiosities that emerge out of human mind are satisfied through these two processes. of the two, philosophical speculation based on experience is bound to be more mature and solid.

as pandit sukhlaji said, "just as in science a reasoning or hypothesis becomes a scientific theory only when verified through an experiment - a hypothesis without a supporting experiment being but sheer imagination - similarly in philosophical speculation the element finding support in experience proves uncontradicted and finally gains universal admission, while that element in philosophical speculation which is based on no experience turns out to be of the nature of sheer imagination''.


the concept of nayavada but human experience is not a single monolith entity, it too has grades. and there may be cases where partially genuine experience is treated as final and established to be so with the help of ratiocination. and many a time, such partial genuineness of experience is not even taken into consideration. in order to avoid such pitfalls, jainism has developed an interesting concept of nayavada which deals with the complexity of this aspect. how? it enables one to analyse the various points of view and appraises their relative validity. it is a remarkable method for the analytical comprehension of a complex question. naya is a particular approach. it reveals a partial or a particular view of the totality, and it should not be mistaken for the whole. in other words, jainism treats reality as a complex phenomenon which is not only multi-fold constituting aneka , but it is anekanta because of its very nature i.e. it has more than one viewpoint.


that is why jainism believes that reality should be comprehended from as many angles as possible . the attempt at comprehending anything from a particular standpoint is known as naya and the system of describing reality from different points of view is termed as nayavada or the doctrine of nayas . in fact, the doctrine of nayavada provides the framework for syat or anekanta-vada , the 'maybe'', theory, since it clearly affirms the non-absolutist point of view.in view of this, a naya is defined as a particular opinion framed with a view-point, a viewpoint which does not rule out other different viewpoints, and is, therefore, expressive of a partial truth about an object, as entertained by a knowing mediator. jaina savants knew that the object of knowledge was massive in its complexity. because it is constituted of substance, qualities and modifications, its time span covers past, present and future while its space is infinite. and it is simultaneously subjected to origination, destruction and permanence.


classificatuion of nayas now let us see how nayas are classified and sub-classified. paryaya-naya , suggesting an alternative mode, is a modal point of view, whereas dravya-naya , suggesting objective standpoint, is a substantial point of view. vyavahara-naya is a practical point of view while nischayanaya is a realistic point of view.


under these broad classifications are listed seven different types of naya , viz (1) naigama naya - universal-particular or teleological point of view, (2) sangraha naya - the class point of view; it is a collective standpoint which deals with general properties alone while recognising that there exists no specific property apart from the general property, (3) vyavahara naya - the standpoint of the particular, (4) rjusutra naya - the standpoint of momentariness, (5) sabdanaya - the standpoint of synonyms which is a verbal standpoint, (6) samabhirudha naya - the etymological standpoint and (7) evambhuta naya - the 'such like' standpoint.


the classification gets very minute as we delve deeper into this area of inquiry expounded by jainism. what is interesting is the core that contains the element of catholicity, the element of tolerance and understanding. it rejects arrogant and self-righteous attitudes. the spirit of non-absolutism obviously could lead to respect for each other's views and a feeling of fellowship. nayavada is a warning to those thinkers who steadfastly assert that only their system is absolute and all-comprehensive. nayavada shows the way to a reconciliation of conflicting viewpoints and harmonisation of all standpoints by appreciating the relativity of the different aspects of reality. if the aim of philosophical inquiry is to comprehend reality, the jaina philosophers point out that it cannot be achieved by merely formulating certain simple, categorical propositions. reality being complex, any one simple proposition cannot express the nature of reality fully. nayavada is a unique organ of analysis developed by jainism to help the understanding of reality.


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