Jainworld
Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions
PREFACE
FORWARD
INTRODUCTION
SAPTABHANGI SYSTEM
THE TATTVAS
  THE NATURE OF KARMA (Karma ka swroop)
  ASRAVA
  BANDHA
  SAMVARA
  NIRJARA
  MOKSHA
  STAGES ON THE PATH - GUNASTHANAS
  DHARMA IN PRACTICE
  COMPARATIVE ANTIQUITY OF JAINISM
  SOUL-SUBSTANCE
  Vairagya Bhavana

SAPTABHANGI SYSTEM


 

 

We now come to the philosophy of stand- points which is the first step in scientific metaphysics. Any one who has at all bestowed a thought on the nature of philosophy, must have arrived at the conclusion that it aims at the perfection of knowledge to emancipate humanity from `the slavery of superstition and awe of nature's might, and that knowledge itself signifies nothing other than a sense of familiarity with the nature of things as they exist in the world. Now, everything in nature exists in relation to a number of other things, and is liable to be influenced by them in different ways. Besides, all things present different aspects when looked at from the point of view of their nature and when studied in respect of the forms they assume under the influence of some other thing or things. Furthermore, when they are described by men, they are generally described from a particular point of view, though the unwary are led to imagine this one-sided description of their nature as exhaustive, many even falling into the pitfall of logical 'suicide' by basing their deductions on a set of rules or formulas which are applicable to facts gleaned from a particular stand-point, but not to any other. We can observe for ourselves the nature of confusion which is likely to result from an ignoring or mixing up of different stand- points by means of the two following illustrations:

 

(1) Let us take for our first illustration the famous text, Jiva is Brahman (soul of God), which certain people preach without the least possible qualification. But obviously the statement is true only in so far as the natural qualities of the soul are concerned; it is not true in respect of the present manifested condition of an ordinary Jiva who must exert himself in the right direction to attain to his natural purity. As water in its essence is pure gaseous matter, so is a Jiva, with regard to his pure natural qualities, a perfect God; but as water, as water, cannot be said to be air, so cannot a Jiva involved in the samsara be said to be pure Brahman. This illustrates the effect of a one-sided absolutism of thought which ignores all other points of view; and its far-reaching consequences can be seen in the monistic speculations of certain philosophers who have based their system of metaphysics on the natural attribute of the soul, altogether ignoring the standpoint of evolution. These gentlemen, unable to explain the different conditions of beings and things arising in the course of their evolution, have actually found themselves forced to describe the world as an illusion, pure and simple.

 

(2) Our second illustration is intended to emphasize the effect of confounding the different standpoints. Suppose we say: 'Here is a jar of iron; if we remove its iron-ness, it will cease to exist.' This is a perfectly true statement, as any body can see for himself. But if we now say: `Here is a jar of x; if we remove its x-ness, it must cease to exist.', the conclusion might be true in some cases, and not in others, for x may represent only such non-essential qualities or things as butter, or some living being's name. Obviously, a jar containing butter would never cease to exist by the removal of its contents, nor would one belonging to a person ever become a non-entity by changing hands' and yet it is perfectly permissible, in speech, to say ' a jar of butter' and 'a jar of John'. This one instance suffices to illustrate the nature of confusion, which is likely to result in philosophy by indiscriminately mixing up, or confounding, the results of research made from different points of view. `This is a jar of iron', is a statement, which is true from the point of view called dravyarthika Naya, which takes into consideration the substantive attributes of things, while `the jar of butter', 'the bucket of John', and thee like, have no reference to the nature of the substance or substances of which the jar or the bucket might be made, but only describe them in respect of their contents or owner's name.

 

There are seven principal stand- points, which are employed by men in their description of things. These are:

(1) Naigama (the non-distinguished) which describes things without distinguishing between their general and special properties.

 

(2) Sangraha (the collective) which deals exclusively with the general qualities of things.

 

(3) Vyavahar (the particular) is the standpoint of particularity. The difference between the Sangraha and the Vyavahar Naya lies in the fact that while the former describes things in respect of their general properties, the latter only concerns it self with their particular attributes.

 

(4) Rijusutra (literally the straight, hence the immediate) studies things as they exist in the present, and without regard to their past and future aspects.

 

(5) Sabda (literally the verbal, hence the point of view of a grammarian) pays exclusive attention to number, gender, tense, etc., of the words employed.

 

(6) Sambhiruda is the stand- point of an etymologist who distinguishes between synonymous words on etymological grounds.

 

(7) Evambhuta, literally such like, hence the point of view which describes things by words expressing their special functions, e.g., to call a man a devotee because of his being engaged in devotion.

 

These are the main kinds of Naya; and it is clear that each of them, taken by itself, is insufficient to impart full knowledge of things, and has to be taken as furnishing only partial information about their nature. They are current because of the practical requirements of human intercourse and the usage of society, which would be thrown into a state of chaos if lengthy descriptions were insisted upon, instead of short words, to describe things. Philosophy, which aims at the perfection of knowledge, however, cannot afford to follow the conventions of men designed to expedite their intercourse with their fellow beings, and must get hold of the actual truth by combining the results of investigation made from different points of view. A thorough insight into the philosophy of stand- points is also necessary to estimate the true value of the statements of our predecessors in the field of metaphysical research. Mankind would find, that almost all the confusion of thought, and we might also say the animosity existing between the followers of different religions, would cease to exist as soon as they would test the scriptural text which most of us blindly adhere to with the aid of the touch-stone of Naya Vada (the philosophy of stand-points). If they would only insert the word 'somehow' before any scriptural or prophetic, statement, they would find their minds becoming trained in the right direction to inquire into the stand-point of the prophet who made any particular statement. The word somehow' (Syat is Sanskrit) would show that the statement was made from a particular point of view, and would at once direct the mind to find out what that stand-point is. It would also enable us to reconcile many a seemingly contradictory statement in the scriptures of the same creed as well as in those of different faiths; for it does often happen. that a statement which is wrong from one particular point of view, is not so from another, e.g., one observer might say that a bowl full of water contains no air, both being right from their respective stand-points since water is only gaseous matter in its essence though manifested in the form of a liquid substance owing to the action of atoms of hydrogen and oxygen on one another.