Non-absolutism and Jaina View of Darsana

A Perspective in Jaina Philosophy and Religion

Non-absolutism and Jaina View of Darsana

Prof. Ramjee Singh

India has been the birth-land and play-ground of different types of philosophies, even the rustics and the illiterate talk about Brahman and Atman, Maya and Moksa, Anekanta and Ahimsa. Infact philosophy runs into the veins of Indian blood. Indian people not only talk but also live philosophy. Philosophy, Religion and Ethics are so close to the Indian life that they become inseparable parts of the personality of every Indian. Jainism, Buddhism or Vedanta are not arms-chair of philosophies but they are living creeds of the Indian people. Thus philosophy is not only the light-house but also the fountain of life for them. It is not only an inquiry into the meaning of reality but also into the meaning of life. Indeed, Indian philosophy is the philosophy of life.

However, in the technical sense, philosophy is used in three different senses in Indian thought, namely, vision, self-realization and ratiocination. The first meaning, i.e., `vision’ is very crude although very close to the literal meaning of philosophy or Darsana (drs = to see). Here `seeing’ means `sense-perception’ or Pratyaksa. The Carvakas accept this view of darsana, because it holds that perception alone is the source of knowledge. In our ordinary usage, we glibly talk about vision of a pot (Ghata-darsana) or vision of cloth (Pata-darsana). But I wonder, if we can accept such a crude view of philosophy, although we can not deny that the `deeper-seeing’ starts from the `surface-seeing’ of a perceptual `pot’ or a piece of `cloth’. Even the Vedantic example that the different forms of pot have their ground in the mother-earth, forms change but not reality.

The second sense in which philosophy is used is that of Knowledge of self (Atma-darsana) or intuitive experience. The Upanisads and other systems recognize self as the ultimate reality and hence to know the self is to know the reality. Strangely enough, some of the Jaina mystics like Kunda-Kunda, Pujyapada and Yogindu accept this view of philosophy. For them knowledge of the self is the highest knowledge and self-realization is the highest value of life. “One who knows the self, knows all.” The gathas of Kunda-Kunda, Pujyapada and Yogindu’s words are also remarkable when he declares, “That Atman is known, everything else is known, so Atman should be realized.” Pujyapada distinguishes `self-knowledge’ from `self-delusion’ like the Upanisads and the Vedanta.

The third meaning of philosophy is reason or ratiocination. The Nyaya is the champion of logic in Indian thought. Logic is regarded as the light of all knowledge, means of all practical behaviour and even substainer of all virtues. Without logic, philosophy looses its luster. Self-knowledge or Intuitive-knowledge is rare phenomenon. It can not be generalized. Hence, for ordinary use of life, ,logic is a must in the field of thought and behaviour. In the absence of reasoning, idea become idiosyncrasies. They become too personal and private. Even intuition is not against reason, though it may be beyond reason. Those who do not know reason are begets and fools and not men. Hence every system of Indian Philosophy accepts Nyaya or Logic as the necessary methodology of Philosophy. The importance of Logic is reflected in the fact that Logic or Nyaya is identified with one of the important systems of Indian Philosophy, attributed to Gotama. Hagel in the west had gone further and had identified not only logic with Philosophy but also with reality. This sort of para-logism is however not accepted by the Indian thinkers. Even Gotama regards reason as the means not the end. The technical Nyaya word for philosophy called `Anviksa’ means “investigation, since it consists in the reviewing (anuviksana) of a thing previously apprehended by perception and verbal testimony.” Whatever is established is true. The purpose of the Nyaya is critical examination of the objects of knowledge by means of logical proof. Every Science is a Nyaya, which means literally going into a subject. Hence, it is sometimes called Tarka-vidya or Vada-vidya (science of debate and discussion). The Jainas also have a long and rich tradition of their own logic beginning from the Agamas. Samantabhadara called Tarka-vidya or Vada-vidya (science of debate and discussion). The Jainas also have a long and rich tradition of their own logic beginning from the Agamas Samantabhadra and Siddhasena, Akalanka and Hemcandra, Manikyanandi and Vidyananda, Abhayadeva, Devendra Suri, Vadiraja, Dharmabhusana, Anantavirya, Yasovijaya are some of the most important logicians of the Jaina tradition. It means that logic and life go together. Neither logic is unconnected with life nor life is averse to logic.

However, there are two additional senses in which Philosophy is used in Jainism, which are peculiar to its own. In one of these senses, philosophy stands for faith (Sraddhan) of which we find mention in the second verse of Tattvartha-sutra (I.2). Infact, here we get the definition of Samyak-darsana which means conviction in the knowledge of things ascertained as they are. Tattva means `thatness’ and Artha is that which is ascertained, hence tattvartha means ascertainment of `thatness’ or `tattva’. Tattvartha Sraddhanam is Samyak-darsanam. This is the first of the trio of the Right Belief, Right Knowledge and Right Conduct, together which constitute the path of liberation. Faith is the precursor to knowledge. The Gita also says that he who has faith attains wisdom or knowledge. Faith is not blind belief, but it is the psychological condition of knowledge. Not only knowledge, faith is necessary even for attaining the highest degree of Yoga, and the worlds of righteousness. Even sacrifice becomes void which is empty of faith. Man is of the nature of his faith, what his faith is, that verily, he is. Right belief is the basis on which Right knowledge depends, hence we find the serial order in the sutra which mentions first the right belief and only second Right knowledge. Right belief or Samyag-darsana is either with attachment (Saraga) or without attachment (Vitaraga). The first is characterized by calmness (Prasam), fear of mundane existence (Samyag), Compassion for all living beings (Anukampa) and belief in the existence of things according to tattvartha. The second type of samyak-darsana consists in the purity of soul without attachment which can be attained either by intuition (Nisarga) or by tuition (Adhigama) – either by precepts or scriptures. Matter, place, time and five attainments are the external aids and subsidence of Karma (Upasama), Destructor of subsidence (Ksayopasama) of Karmas are the internal aids to samyak-darsana.

However, there is one lacuna in the concept of Right belief as to what is `thatness’. Every system of philosophy has its own object of knowledge. Then, right belief will differ from System to system. But it does not matter. The supreme lord as the Gita says, confirms the faith of each and grants the reward each seeks. Every surface derives its soil form the depths even as every shadow reflects the nature of the substance. No matter what we revere so long as our reverence is serious, it helps its progress, which is required is serious and sincere faith.

The second special sense of darsana in Jainism is understood in the sense of the knowledge of the generality (Samanya-bodha) or Indeterminate knowledge (Alocana). This is also called formless consciousness or indeterminate knowledge (Anakara Upayoga). That knowledge which is gained without probandum (Linga) is darsana, which takes the help of probandum is Jnana. The former is restricted to the immediate present, where as which is spread over the past, present and future in the indeterminate intuition is the cognition of an object which leaves the specific determinations out of account and it takes place immediately on that very sense-object contact. The determinate intuition transforms into determinate perception. A cognition which fails to take note of specific characteristics is called indecision, because it falls short of certitude delivering itself in the form `what may it be.’ Where there is lack of decision or certitude, there can not be valid knowledge. Although, there is some similarity between Jaina `darsana’ and Buddhistic `Nirvikalpa Jnana’, but the latter cannot be called `Pramana’ as there is indecision. But darsana as Hemcandra holds is not sensation (Avagraha). That perception of the generalism (Samanya) of things without particulars (Visesa) in which there is no grasping of details is called `darsana’.

Darsana whether is visual (Caksuh) or non-visual or clairvoyant (Avadhi), it is merely `darsana’. It is neither right belief nor wrong belief. The logical tradition of the Jainas include darsana from the category of Pramana and scholars like Manikyanadi and Vadideva Suri treat it as semblance of Pramana (Pramabhasa). Abhayadeva in his commentary on Sammati-tarka, no doubt regard `darsana’ as `Pramana’ but it is not in the logical sense but in the scriptural sense where darsana is regarded as Samyak-darsana. Yasovijaya in his Trakabhasa (p.5) treats darsana as determinate perception and hence falls in the category of Pramana, on the other hand excludes darsana from the category of Pramana. Hemacandra also treat it is non-pramana.

We have seen that the term `darsana’ has been used in different senses in the Jaina Philosophy. However, even if we accept the most commonly accepted meaning of `darsana’ as direct knowledge of reality, it ceases to be universal in the true senses of the term as every system has its own conception of reality. Hence, there will be as many `darsana’ as system of thought. This leads us to posits alternative standpoints in philosophy. This is Anekanta, which is the soul of Jaina thought and culture.