Anekanta (Part-2)

First Steps To Jainism (Part-2)


Appendix F: Anekanta (Part II)

The Nyaya School :

In the early Nyaya literature also we see discussions which are representative of the anekanta way of thinking. Nagarjuna’s criticism of the Nyaya categories of pramana and prameya provoked answers from the author of the Nyayadarsana, and also Vatsyayana, the author of the Nyayabhasya, which take resort to the non-absolutist method for refuting the Madhyamika philosopher’s attactks. Nagarjuna’s argument that the concepts of pramana and prameya, being interdependent, cannot establish themselves, is countered by pointing out that there is no logical inconsistency in viewing the same entity both as pramana and prameya. The Nyayadarsana, II. 1.16, cites the example of a measure (tula) which is usually employed to measure other things, but on occasion it is itself measured by another article of a standard weight. So there is nothing absurd if the same object is conceived as both pramana and prameya. Vatsyayana, in this connection, gives a very lucid exposition of the nomenclature of pramana, prameya, pramata and pramiti. The atman (self, soul ) is called a prameya because of its being an object of knowledge, but it is also a pramata because of its being the subject exercising the function of knowing; the intellect qua the instrument of commotion is a pramana, (while as an object of cognition it is a prameya) and it is simply a pramiti when it is exercising none of the functions of ‘knowing’ or ‘being known’ (atma tavad upalabdhivisaysayatvat prameya paripathitah, uplabdhau svatantryat pramata; buddhir upalabdhisadhanatvat pramanam, upalabdhivisayatvat prameyam; ubhayabhavat tu pramitih). The expression vibhajya vacaniyah is also found in the bhasya on II. 1.19 There is thus unambiguously a trend of Nyaya thought, which takes the school a great way towards the non-absolutist approach of the Jainas. It is interesting to note in this connection that Udayana, in his Atmatattvaviveka (pp. 530-1 Bibliotheca Indica Calcutta, 1939), imagines a simpleton who sees, for the first time in his life, a tusker at the gate of a royal palace and conjectures; Is it a mass of darkness eating white radish, or a piece of cloud pouring out white cranes and roaring, or the proverbial benign friend waiting at the royal gate, or the shadow of what is lying down on the ground, and counters his conjectures by arguments which are equally fanciful; another simpleton makes appearance at this point and persuades him of the futility of all thought about the nature of things. Udayana identifies the Buddhist absolutists with these simpletons and rejects their speculations as pure imaginations unworthy of respectable treatment. One should neither go astray in imagination and wishful thinking, nor give up in despair all attempts at discovering the full truth from whatever partial glimpses of it one may be able to get. The Jaina philosopher is in perfect agreement with such trends of thought as are conductive to the advancement of knowledge and revelation of truth, and fully supports the realistic approach of Udayana to the problem of reality.

Umasvati, Siddhasena Divakara and Mallvadin, Jinabhadra and Kundakunda

We have been till now discussing the stages of evolution of the doctrine of anekanta in the Agamas and its parallels in the literature and schools contemporaneous with them. Now we have arrived at the transition period when the Jaina thinkers were establishing contacts with their counterparts in the alien systems of thought and composing treatises in the Sanskrit language which was then the only powerful medium of communication between the intelligent. The Prakrit was also of course, along with the Apabhramsa, an important medium. But its influence was gradually waning, although Siddhasena Divakara’s Sanmati and the works of Kundakunda and Jinabhadra, written in Prakrit in those days were monumental treatises of abiding value and profound interest.

  1. Umasvati : 
    Among Jaina authors of the period of transition, Umasvati stands first and foremost. His Tattvarthadhigamasutra with Bhasya is a compendium of the Agamas, which leaves nothing of philosophical importance out of consideration. Its comprehensive thoroughness can be compared with that of the Buddhist Abhidharmakosa (with Bhasya) of Vasubandhu. In addition to giving a summary of the traditional lore, Umasvati gives a critical shape to the anekantavada through his exposition of the nayas, niksepas and the nature of the sat (a real), and dravya (substance). He also introduces the elements of saptabhangi in his own way which is reminiscent of the same in the Bhagavati Sutra mentioned above. Umasvati is not much concerned with the non-Jaina views. He raises the question whether the nayas are the proponents of alien philosophies or independent upholders of opposition, inspired by diverse opinions, and answers that they are only different estimates (literally, concepts derived from different angles of vision) of the object known (Bhasya, I.35 : kim ete tantrantariya vadina ahosvit svatantra eva codakapaksagrahino matibhedena vipradhavita iti. Atrocyate, naite tantrantariya napi svatantra matibhedena vipradhavitah, jneyasya tv arthasya’ dhyavasayantarany etani). It is also asserted in this connection that there is no contradiction between them, just as there is none between different cognition’s of the same object by different instruments of knowledge, such as perception, inference, comparison and the words of a reliable person (yatha va partyaksanumanopamanaptavacanaih pramanaireko’ rthah pramiyate svavisayaniyamat, na ca ta vipratipattayo bhavanti tadvan nayavada iti). This is followed by an elaborate description of the nayas and their relationship with the epistemological system of early Jainism. Umasvati’s definition of the sat (a real) as consisting of origination, cessation and continuity (V. 29 : utpada-vyayadhrauvya-yuktam sat) gives the fundamentals of anekantavada in a nutshell. The dravya (substance) is defined as `what is possessed of qualities and modes’ (V. 37 : guna-paryayavad dravyam), indicating the relation of identity-cum- difference between the substance and the modes (including qualities). The nitya (permanent) is defined as `what does not lapse from being and would not do so at any time’ (Bhasya, I.30 : yet sato bhavan na vyeti na vyesyati tan nityam iti). All these concepts are brought by Umasvati (Bhasya, I 31) under four heads – dravyastika, matrkapadastika, utpannastika and paryayastika which appear to stand respectively for the view points of substance, categories of substance, the immediate present, and the past-cum-future modes. From the first view point, negation does not exist (asannama nasty eva dravyastikasya), because it takes not of only what is existent and positive in character. Negation appears with the classification of the substance into matrkapadas (categories), and consequently here we get both affirmation and negation, (sat and asat), as classification implies both affirmation (inclusion of lower categories under a higher category) as well as negation (mutual exclusion of the categories). The utpannastika, being concerned with the immediate present alone is also the negation of the past and the future and as such gives rise to the duality of affirmation and negation. Similarly, the paryayastika, which is the viewpoint of the past and the future, is the negation of the present, and as such gives rise to the same duality of affirmation and negation. In the last three cases we also get a third mode which cannot be described either as sat or asat (na vacyam sad iti, asad iti va). This is the third bhanga called `indescribable’. Umasvati concludes this discussion with the statement-desadesena vikalpayitavyam iti- which may imply the remaining four bangas of the saptabhangi.

  2. Siddhasena Divakara :
    The application of the anekanta principle to ontological problems raised in the different school of philosophy was made, most probably, for the first time by Siddhasena. This was done by means of the nayas “Kapil’s (Sankhya) philosophy”, says he, “is a statement from the dravyastika (substatial) standpoint, whereas the Buddha’s is a variety of pure paryayastika (modal) one Kanada composed his treatise from the standpoint of both (these nayas) : nevertheless, that remained a false doctrine, as the views propounded therein, each arrogating exclusive validity to itself, are independent of each other. (Sanmati, III. 48-49). On the varieties of nayas and their relation to philosophical views Siddhasena says that the former are as many as there are ways of speech, and the later as many as there are nayas (III. 47) :
    javaiya vayanavaha tavaiya ceva homti nayavaya
    javaiya nayavaya tavaiya ceva parasamaya.

    His distinction between vyanjanaparyaya and arthaparyaya also deserves notice. As soon as the substance is subjected to division, the sphere of modes starts functioning (III.29). Such modes are twofold-(1) vyanjana modes and artha modes. The former are expressible in words, while the latter are not. Thus an object is called `man’ so long as it continues to be so, though undergoing change every moment. Here `man-hood’ is a vyanjanaparyaya which is expressible by the word `man’ , while the changes that occur in him every moment are arthaparyayas which cannot be expressed in words. An object thus is affable as well as ineffable (saviyappanivviyappam, 1.35). In Sanmati, I.35-40 Siddhasena enumerates the seven bhangas almost exactly in the fashion of the Bhagavati Sutra mentioned above. The full credit of interpreting the Agamas for a new generation and giving original material for fresh thinking goes to Siddhasena who acted as a link between the orthodox past and the progressive future. This is indeed the true function of the propounder of a faith according to Siddhasena himself. “The person who acts as a logician”, says he, “in the domain of logic, and as a scripturist in the domain of scripture is a true protagonist of his faith; a person acting otherwise is an impostor”.
    jo heuvayapakkhammi heuo agame ya agamio.
    so sasamayaopannavao siddhamtavirahao anno..

  3. Mallavadin :
    The Dvadasaranayacakra of Mallavadin is an encyclopaedia of philosophy, where all schools of thought prevalent in those days are critically examined one by one and superseded by their rivals, thus making a complete circle with twelve spokes connecting the hub with the twelve sections of the rim, each section representing particular doctrines taken up for discussion. The doctrines discussed are linked to the traditional seven nayas in a novel plan of the wheel of twelve nayas viz. (1) vidhih, (2) vidhervidhih, (3) vidhervidhiniyamam, (4) vidherniyamah (5) vidhiniyamam, (6) vidhervidhiniyamasya vidhih (7) vidhiniyamasya vidhinyamam, (8) vidhiniyamasya niyamah (9) niyamah, (10) niyamasya vidhih, (11) niyamasya vidhiniyamam, and (12) niyamasya niyamah. The book starts with the common-sense popular view of things, represented by the first naya called vidhi (vidhivrttis tavad yathalokagraham eva vastu, p. 11). How does it concern us whether there is a cause, or an effect : who can make an end of debate on such issues (pp. 34-35) ? Mallavadin here quotes Sanmati, I. 28, in support of his contention. The epistemological position of Dignaga is here criticised as going against the common-sense view of things. Vidhi stands for `injunction’ as in the Mimamsa school. It is only the injection to do some thing that is valuable and also desirable (arthyo hi kriyaya evopadesah, p. 45). The second naya called vidhi-vidhi stands for the particulars in favour of the universal oneness. The absolutist doctrines are consequently brought within the purview of this naya. The third naya literally means affirmation-cum-negation of the positive entity. The Sankhya doctrine of prakrti as subservient to purusa, and the doctrines of divine creator and the created world represent this naya. The fourth naya, viz., vidher niyamah appears to indicate the restriction of absolute freedom of both the purusa and the karman in the evolution of the worldly process. The other nayas similarly bring within their purview the doctrines that were prevalent in those days in order to evaluate their merits and demerits. About a dozen and a half doctrines are thus discussed and refuted in the treatise which brought for its author the encomium “anu Mallavadinam tarkikah” (all logicians are inferior to Mallavadin) from Hemacandra, the omniscient of the Kali age.

  4. Jinabhadra :
    The activity of Mallavadin was further carried by Jinabhadra who, in his Visesavasyaka-Bhasya, gave a critical account of the nayas based on his deep and extensive learning in the Agamas. Here he brings within purview the problems of the general and the particular, substance and modes, word and meaning, ultimate truth and practical truth (niscaya-naya and vyavahara-naya). His treatment of the problem of niksepa is thorough and penetrating. An evaluation of the non-Jaina philosophical views is also made by him in the section called ganadhara-vada and nihnavavada.

  5. Kundakunda : 
    A new trend of thought was developed by Kundakunda in his Samayasara, although his Pancastikaya and Pravacanasara generally uphold the traditional positions. His treatment of the problems of dravya, guna, paryaya, and also utpada, vyaya, dhrauvya, is deep and critical. But in his Samayasara, Kundakunda develops a new idea which appears influenced by Yogacara idealism and also Vedantic absolutism. The soul is the cause of what is happening within itself and has no essential relationship with what is happening in the world outside. The reverse is also true. This cleavage between soul and matter is explained through niscaya-naya and vyavahara-naya, the former being the standpoint of truth, and the latter of untruth. The traditional interpretation of vyavahara-naya as the popular or practical viewpoint and of niscaya-naya as the factual or scientific standpoint is radically changed. Scholars have designated this new meaning of the two nayas as the `mystic pattern’ as distinguished from the traditional interpretation which they call the `non-mystic pattern’. The works of Kundakunda contain both these patterns, but the `mystic pattern’ is the predominant theme of the Samayasara. In the philosophy of Kundakunda thus the concept of anekanta acquires a new meaning in that a new vista is now opened up for the development of the concept of avaktavya (the third bhanga of the saptabhangi) into a mystic realisation of the nature of truth in its fullness.

These great thinkers have now paved the way for the advent of the classical period which is the subject matter of the next section.

The Classical Period : Samantabhadra, Haribhadra, Akalanka, Vidyananda and Others

The transition period was followed by a period of intense critical thinking when the Jaina logicians headed by Akalanka, composed treatises which were of lasting value in the field of logic and epistemology. Sarvarhasiddhi of Pujyapada Devanandi and the Aptamimamsa of Samantabhadra provided a firm ontological base to these thinkers who were responsible for the classical period. We here propose to give a brief account of the doctrine of anekanta as treated by some of these authors.

a) Samantabhadra :

The Aptamimamsa of Samantabhadra provides a fertile ground for the doctrine of anekanta to flourish. The essence of anekanta is envisaged as lying in the solution of the contradictory attributes of features exhibited by an ontological doctrine, or an ethical principle, or an epistemological theory. Each one of the two members of pairs of contradictory attributes of features is critically judged with a view to exposing the difficulties that beset the concept, and then a synthesis of the two is offered. The Aptamimamsa opens with a vindication (verses 1-6) of the possibility of the existence of the omniscient. In verse 8 it asserts that the ethics of good and bad deeds and the existence of life hereafter cannot be justified without accepting the principle of anekanta. The abolutistic conception of an unchanging soul is repugnant to the possibility of moral evolution heading to emancipation. The doctrine of pure affirmation (bhavaikanta) denies negation and consequently fails to explain the fact of diversity which is so glaring and patent ( verse 9). The doctrine of pure negation or nihilism (abhavaikanta), on the other hand, will deprive the nihilist’s arguments of their validity (verse 12). The critics of syadvada cannot again accept affirmation-cum-negation as the nature of the real in order to avoid these difficulties, because that would be tantamount to the acceptance of the doctrine of anekanta on their part. Nor is the position of absolute inexpressibility’ (avacyataikanta) a tenable hypothesis, because in that case the proposition “the real is inexpressible” will be an illogical assertion on account of the absolutist character of the inexpressibility (verse 13) :

virodhan nobhyaikatmyam syadvada-nyaya-vidvisam
avacyataikante py uktir navacyam iti yujyate.

Our text (verses 14-16) then formulates a correct ontological position by asserting that a real is definitely existent from one viewpoint ‘definitely non-existent’ from another, ‘definitely existent-cum-non-existent’ from a third, and also definitely inexpressible’ from a fourth viewpoint, though none of these viewpoints should be considered as absolute and exclusive; one should accept a real as (i) ‘existent definitely’ (sadeva) in the framework of its own substance, space, time and modes, and also as (ii) ‘non-existent definitely’ (asadeva) in the framework of alien substance, space, time and modes, because otherwise it would be impossible to determine the nature of the real; it should moreover be accepted as (ii) possessed of the dual nature of ‘existence’ and ‘non-existence’ in succession, and also as (iv) `inexpressible’ on account of the failure of the linguistic device to express the pair of contradictory attributes simultaneously; the remaining three (5-7) bhangas are obtained by combining the fourth with the first three in their proper context. Here the dialectic of sevenfold predication (saptabhangr) has been clearly defined by Samantabhadra by assigning the fourth position to the attribute of `inexpressibility’ instead of the third assigned to it in the Bhagavati Sutra and also by Sidhasena. The Aptamimamsa now explains the saptabhang of ‘existence’ and ‘non-existence’ (verse 17-20). ‘Existence’ is necessarily concomitant, in the self same entity with its opposite viz. non-existence, being its adjunct (visesana counterpart), even as homogeneity is necessarily concomitant with hetero-geneity (intention to assert difference); similarly, ‘non-existence’ is necessarily concomitant, in the selfsame entity, with its opposite (viz. existence); being its adjunct (visesana, counterpart), even as heterogeneity is con-comitant with homogeneity (intention to assert identity) :

astitvam pratisedhyenavinabhavyekadharimni

visesanatvat sadharmyam yatha bhedavivaksaya

nastitvam pratisedhyenavinabhavyekadharmini.

viseanatvad vaidharmyam yatha bhedavivaksaya

An entity is moreover of the nature of positum as well as negatum (vidheya-pratisedhyatma), exactly as the same attribute of the subject (minor term) of an inference may be a valid as well as an invalid probans in accordance with the nature of the probandum to be proved by it. This is the third bhanga of the Saptabhang of ‘existence’ and ‘non-existence’. The remaining four bhangas are also to be understood in their proper perspectives. Samantabhadra now explains the nature of a real in the light of this anekanta dialectic. The real must be an entity which is not determined by any exclusive property or any absolute character. Only that which is undefined by a positive or a negative attribute exclusively is capable of exercising the causal efficiency which is the sole criterion of reality (verse 21 : evam vidhi-nisedhabhyam anavasthitam arthakrt). The Buddist fluxist as well as the Vedantic monist are jointly criticised here as upholding ontological views, which, being truncated and partial, fail to explain the real in its comprehensives. Neither an absolutely static, nor a radically dynamic object is capable of exercising the causal efficiency in spite of all other conditions, external and internal, being fulfilled. Samantabhadra (verse 22) applies the anekanta dialectic in constructing the real as a totality of infinite number of attributes (dharmas), each of which represents the whole entity relegating the others to the status of mere attributes of that entity :

dharme dharme ‘nya evartho dharmino’ nantadharminah
angtive ‘nyatamantasya sesantanam tadangata.

He then gives a general instruction to his readers, proficient in the application of the nayas to follow the same method of saptabhang to discuss the problems of ‘one and many’, and the like, that were prevalent in those days. In fact, he himself discusses the following additional problems in the text under review : identity and differences, permanence and flux, cause and effect, reason and scripture, free will and determinism, idealism & realism, bondage & emancipation.

b) Haribhadra :

The Anekantajayapataka is an important contribution of Haribhadra to the field of anekanta dialectic, which brings within its purview the problems of existence and non-existence, permanence and flux, universal and particular, and describable and indescribable. Among the doctrines refuted in the treatise, ksanikavada and vijnanavada occupy a prominent position. All these refutations are made strictly from the standpoint of Jaina philosophy and sometimes they go to a depth hitherto unreached by his predecessors. The comparative outlook of Haribhadra enabled him to unfold the hidden potentialities of the anekanta principle and apply them in the interest of a comprehensive view of the problems, epistemological and ontological, that exercised the minds of those days.

c) Akalanka :

The Astasati (commentary on the Aptamimamsa) of Akalanka provides a most penetrating insight into the niceties of the doctrine of anekanta. His defence of the doctrine is unique and perhaps unsurpassed by any predecessor or successor. He unfolds the thoughts of Samantabhadra in a manner which is comparable to that of Dharmakirti in respect of Dignaga. The ksanabhangavada of the Buddhists as well as their vijnanavada are vehemently criticised by Akalanka. His contributions to the field of Jaina logic and epistemology are most original and unique, and they set up a norm for the posterity to follow and emulate.

d) Vidyananda :

The Astasahasri (the subcommentary on the Astasati of Akalanka) of Vidyananda is perhaps the last word on the doctrine of anekanta. His criticism of the non-Jaina schools is more realistic and thorough. He brings a number of new topics and schools under the purview of his refutation. Vidyananda’s exposition of nays & niksepas in his Tattvarthasloka-vartika throws new light on these subjects.

Among the successors of Vidyananda, who made important contributions to the doctrine of anekanta, the following authors occupy a position of importance : Prabhacandra, Abhayadeva, Vadideva and Yasovijaya. The reader is referred to the accounts of the life and works of these authors given elsewhere in this encyclopaedia.