Introduction


 

THE METHOD OF PHILOSOPHY (ANEKANTVAD)

 

The very first thing the follower of Jainism is required to impress upon his mind is the fact that the path of salvation consists in Right Belief, Right Knowledge and Right Conduct, called the three Jewels by the Jaina philosophers.

 

It is a self-evident truth that the successful achievement of an object of desire depends on the scientific validity of the means employed for the purpose; and equally evident is the fact that in all our pursuits and occupations we only resort to those methods of securing the end in view which have a causal connection with its accomplishment. The universal Law of Cause and Effect, thus, is the determining factor of all human, that is to say rational, activity, and it is obvious that nothing but confusion, disappointment and discomfiture, to say nothing of the pain and suffering which inevitably follow the baffled endeavors of mankind to secure some object of desire, can result from a disregard of this self-evident truth. The truth is that chance has no voice in the order of nature, and cannot be relied upon as a rational method of securing any desired end.

 

The law of cause and effect also holds good in the region of spiritual science, notwithstanding its emphatic denial by semi-trained theologians at times. For, were it otherwise, spiritual emancipation would have to fall within the uncertain domain of chance, and the method of the attainment of the ideal of the soul would be deprived of its rational basis of efficacy, leaving mankind to grope in the darkness of uncertainty and doubt by no means a happy predicament.

 

The necessity for right knowledge* (*It is interesting to note in this connection that almost all the rational religions of the world also lay stress on the necessity for knowledge as a pre-requisite of Moksha. Thus the "rite Janna na Mukti' (no salvation without knowledge) of the Vedas is directly confirmed by 'Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free' (John, VIII. 32) of Jesus, and, implying at least by, 'he dieth not who giveth (his) life to learning' The sayings of Muhammad) of the Prophet of Islam.) cannot, therefore, be overrated. In respect of right belief also it is evident that it is essential to the utility of knowledge, since belief signifies a cessation of doubt, and also since people only live up to their beliefs. Right conduct also is a necessary condition to the attainment of final emancipation, for no desired results are possible without the doing of the right thing at the right moment.

 

The subject of inquiry, or knowledge, in so far as spiritual emancipation is concerned resolves itself into the nature of that beatific condition and of the causes, which stand in the way of its attainment. These in their turn involve the nature of that beatific condition and of the causes, which stand in the way of its attainment. These in their turn involve the nature of existing realities, or substances, and their interaction. We thus get the following seven Tattvas (essentials or objects of knowledge):

 

     (1) Jiva (intelligence or living substance),

     (2) Ajiva (matter and other non-intelligent substances),

3    (3) Asrava (the influx of karmic matter),       (4) Bandha (bondage),

        (5) Samvara (the stopping of Asrava),

     (6) Nirjara (the gradual removal of karmic matter),

     (7) Moksha (the attainment of perfect freedom).

 

 

The would-be aspirant for Moksha has to understand the nature of these Tattvas, the knowledge of which is a condition precedent to the acquisition of that well balanced state of mind, which is designated by the word belief or faith.

 

In this connection it is necessary to point out two of the pit-falls of philosophy into which almost all the non- Jaina metaphysicians have fallen unconsciously. The first one has reference to the idea of a beginning of the world process, and the second relates to the philosophy of stand- points on which the greatest stress has been laid by Jaina Acharyas.

 

THE METHOD OF PHILOSOPHY - WORLD PROCESS

 

In respect of the world-process, it is obvious to every thinking mind, that philosophy is concerned with the determination of the nature of things, and that the starting point of all rational speculation is the world of concrete reality which is presented to the individual consciousness through the media of senses. A philosopher takes, in the first instance, the world as he finds it, and aided by the methods of analysis and research, reduces the perceptible phenomena to their simpler components, so that when he arrives at simple elements, he knows them to be the eternal causes of the ceaselessly shifting panorama of form and shape, which constitutes our universe. Beyond these eternal causes or realities, it is impossible to proceed, because being simple in their nature they cannot depend, for their existence, on any thing else; in other words, their own individual natures alone are the causes of their existence individually. It follows from this that however far back we may go in time, no beginning of simple elements can be discovered or conceived, so that we never arrive at a point in the life-story of nature when they were not. This is a death blow to the idea of a beginning, and its force will be felt by any one who seriously puts himself the question: how can a simple (non-compound) substance be brought into existence? It should be remembered that a simple substance, or reality, differs from a compounded effect of simple elements in so far as it is not the product of two or more substances, but is not analyzable, unbreakable, indestructible thing in itself. Creation of these simple realities from pure nothing is out of the question, because nothing is devoid of all qualities including existence and substantiality.

 

If any one still wishes to adhere to the notion of a creation of all things from naught, let him put to himself the question, how can the different elements possibly owe their existence to one source? This would convince him that `nothing' can never be turned into a concrete, substantial `something' by means of any process whatsoever.

 

The conclusion we arrive at, then, is that the idea of a beginning of the elements is not entertained in philosophy. Now, since there are no air-tight compartments to keep these elements separate from each other, and since the world- process is the result of the interaction and functioning of the different substances and elements, it follows that no starting point can be discovered for a general commencement of the universe. This amounts to saying that the idea of a creation is altogether untenable in philosophy.