Consideration of aspects or ways of knowing things

This subject and the following one are given in some detail in Pandit H. L. Jhaveri’s “First Principles of the Jain Philosophy”, Luzac & Co., 1910, 1s. 4d. or Jaina Publishing House, ARRAH.

In the analysis of an object or idea, consideration is given to the aspects, and in considering one of the innumerable qualities of a thing the rest must not be denied. There are two classes of aspects namely, the aspects of a thing regarded as permanent and the aspects of a thing regarded as perishable. For instance, this book, regarded as a book, is perishable, it has come into and will go out of existence; but looked upon as atoms of matter it is permanent, neither having come into existence nor being capable of going out of existence. From one point of view (the dravyarthika naya) the universe is without beginning and without end; from the other point of view (the prayayarthika naya) we have creation and destruction at every moment. These two aspects are found in analysis. After analysis comes the synthesis mentioned above and this introduces the next subject, modes of expression (syadvada), or the doctrine of the inexpugnability of the inextricable combined properties and relations of things.


Synthesis is the putting together of aspects in thought to realize that the truth consists in the irresolvable combination of all the possible aspects; and to speak the truth correctly all the seven modes of expression must be accepted. The subject is now how we should express ourselves when we make a statement about a thing. It is an important subject and the doctrine is found only in the Jain Philosophy. It is the doctrine of the non-isolation of the parts, elements, properties, or aspects of things; it is the method of knowing or speaking of a thing synthetically.

There are seven modes of expressing the is-ness or is-not-ness of a thing; and these modes are all interrelated, and each pre-supposes the others, each implies the others. In accepting all these seven modes and so speaking correctly we do not mislead the person spoken to. These modes are set out in detail in the book just mentioned “First Principles of the Jain Philosophy”, but it may be said here that to speak correctly under this doctrine the statement is commenced with an adverb (syat) to indicate that there are six other implied ways of speaking about the subject. For instance, the negative statement (that we are not dust, for example) is tacit when making a positive statement (that we are immortal souls, for example). And in addition to this one kind there are five more kinds of tacit expressions implied by the one positive statement. The innumerable qualities of a thing cannot all be predicated in one statement, but they are all implied by any statement which predicates one of the qualities of a thing.


To repeat the words of Mr. V. R. Gandhi, when the struggle for existence is followed by its enjoyment, man may begin to engage himself in reflection. Reflection is the moving spirit of philosophy. Early philosophical reflection engages itself with searching for the origin of the world; and it attempts to formulate the law of causation. After a certain amount of analytical thought, many stop by postulating some one being, or some one homogeneous substance and call it the cause or origin of the world. In these early attempts at philosophy, then we see two attitudes towards reality. The first attitude is seen to be assumption that the world had an origin; the second attitude towards reality is seen to be the assumption that the one being or primal substance had no origin; for these early philosophies give no cause or origin for this one being or for this primal substance.

By further philosophical reflection it is seen that both these attitudes may rightly to taken towards reality, but in a different sense. Mature philosophy does not apply one attitude to the present world only, and the other attitude only to a substance or to a being postulated as the original or first cause; but it recognizes that both attitudes can always be taken towards anything real; that any reality past, present, or future, can be looked upon these two way. This has already been mentioned under Aspects of Substance.

Everything that there is, was, or ever will be, has been classified as either a loving being or an inanimate thing; and has been defined as that in which there is origination, destruction, and permanence. So in regarding space, time, ether matter, and every individual souls as permanent, the Jain Philosophy takes this attitude towards all, and not merely towards one living being, or one primal substance.

With regard to the other attitude towards reality, namely, that it had an origin, the question very naturally arises as to how in a world that is everlasting there can be any cause or origin. And the answer is that each change of the way in which a being or thing manifests itself has its origin in time, as well as its cause. And this applies not only to each thing in the present world, but also to every thing or being in the past and in the future. The qualities (guna) of the ultimate atoms of matter and the qualities of each individual being are perpetually changing the mode of their manifestation I(paryaya), and the relation between things and between being are perpetually changing; thus new thing and being are continually coming into existence. Thus in a permanent universe is there origination its modes of manifestation, The snow on the mountain becomes melted into water; thus there is the origin of the water and the destruction of the snow. But the substance (H2O) has remained in existence. Or, a banquet is over and a dance has begun, there is the origin of the dance, and the banquet has gone out of existence, but the same individuals are present in new relations to each other. Or, if a nebula cools down and becomes a solar system and the destruction of the nebula; the identical substance remaining in existence.

Now we come to causation. What causes these changes to take place ?

Causation is a relationship between two different things, or between two aspects of one identical thing.

The snow melts because the sun is warm. There is the relation of cause between the sun and the melting snow. And there is the relation of cause between the snow and the water; the snow was the cause of the water.

Thus in this particular event there are two causes : (1) the snow, which is the substantial cause; and (2) the sun, which is the instrumental, circumstantial, or determining cause of the event.

The first or substantial cause (upadana) is always identical with itself in its previous condition; and the determining cause (nimitta) is always a different thing, not the substantial cause.

In the substantial cause of anything, substance and manifestation, cause and effect are really identical. The substantial cause of the present universe would be the universe in its previous condition. The substantial cause of the soul would be the identical soul in its previous condition. The substantial cause of the water (in the foregoing example) was the water in its previous condition, snow.

Thus the law of causation as formulated by the Jain philosophy recognizes two causes or classes of causes for every event, and both causes are equally necessary, equally present, and equally real; the determining cause is operative in shaping the other substance, and the substance is active in its reaction. As this is an important subject it may be applied to the old example of a watch. If you find a watch, you argue, not merely to its maker but to the pieces of metal it was made of. The pieces of metal react in the bands of the watch maker, and exhibit themselves in a new way and assume changed relations to each other. They were previously not a watch; now they are a watch. If one being in any way shapes another being, this latter was already in existence, and cooperates in reacting to become whatever he is, whether sinner or saint. Nothing is created in the sense of not having, from any point of view, previously existed. When a child is conceived it comes from somewhere else.

Thus is the early vague idea of origin and causation developed into a clear and definite understanding.

This is the end of the first part of the subject. The universe is seen to be a system of five different real substances two of which, viz., the material and the spiritual, are a mass of interrelated ultimate units, each unit being a complexity of irresolvable qualities. These units are permanent, the relations between them are always changing, and the units or elements of the universe are ceaselessly active in a perpetual change of the mode of manifestation of their qualities. The universe is, therefore, not one homogeneous substance, it is not one individual being splitting itself up into many. Knowledge is the final ground, and the individual soul has knowledge that the rest of the universe is not identical with himself. At least those who are claimed to have reached omniscience in the flesh and to have freed themselves from all infatuating elements teach that it is the nature of each soul to have in its being the non-existence (nastitva) of all other souls and things. One soul does not become another. Neither is the universe created by one being out of nothing; neither is the universe a soulless mechanism.

The next part of the subject of the book is man; he being the part of the universe that religious doctrine concerns. Man can be regarded as he actually is, or as he is potentially. Thus we get the next three parts of the subject, the third being the means by which he can become what he is potentially.