Acharya Mahapragya

        Freedom of thought generated variety of thought which is the sine qua non of hte development of thought. Indian thought has two mainstreams, viz. Sramanic and vedic. Both are dedicated to the searce of truth and the advancement of knowledge. The corpus of Indian logic is nourished by the two and contains specific contributions of individual schools as well as a general advancement achieved in common. An outline of the basic contributions of Jainism to the field of Indian logic is being attemted here. It has resulted in two achievements; relativity and reconsiliation. While non-absolutism has characterised the thought of  the Jaina logician, the syadvada (the doctrine of conditional dialectic) has dominated their linguistic vehicle, and relativism and synthesis were the outcome. It is through relativism alone that one can understand the universe in its vastness and attempt an explanation of its working. The universal is made up of substances, each possessed of infinite modes. The substances are inter-related and they influence each other. Every event has its own set-up and context, and discrepancies in it would be impossible without the relativistic approach.

        Relativism is an all comprehensive principle which is applicable in the context of an effect or an event in its manifold, rather infinite-fold, character. Usually an entity, though infinitely complex in character, is explained with reference to a particular attribute which necessitates the use of the linguistic tool 'syat' to imply the remaining attributes. The perfection of our language is made up by the device of 'syat' which indicates that the specific attribute is not the whole entity. Nor is our cognition competent enough to know the truth in parts but the principle of relativism does not allow us to remain ignorant of the other parts making up the whole. The absolutists forget the fact that though the reals are independent so far as their own existence is concerned, they are not absolutely independent in their relationship with one another, which explains their existence in the context of the universe as a whole.

        The determination of the laws of pervasion or concomitance is possible only on the basis of hte principle of relativism. The laws of the gross world are not applicable to the working of hte subtle world. The analysis of the nature of the universe in its cosmic and supra-cosmic aspects has been explained from two different nayas or standpoints. The truth in its subtle or ultimate nature is to be studied through niscayanaya (ultimate or scientific standpoint), whereas the gross or the external world is explained through vyavahara naya (the pragmatic or the practical standpoint). The dictum 'the self is the doer of its own karman'-is acceptable to all the spiritualist philosophers, but this is only a common place statement and the formula represents pragmatic or practical view point. It cannot be the formula of the ultimate or the scientific standpoint, because the real in its ultimate nature is the doer of its own nature. The self is a conscious substance and, therefore, it can be the doer of a mode that is conscious. The Karman, on the other hand, is material and as such is heterogeneous and quite different from the self in nature. And as there cannot be any relationship between two principles of diverse nature, the self cannot be the doer of Karman which is quit unlike the latter. Had the self been the real doer of the Karman, it would never achieve freedom from it. The proposition 'the self is the doer of Karman' is therefore, only a pragmatic and commonplace statement, couched in a language expressive of the pragmatic standpoint.

        Some bodies are felt heavy and some others light, but heaviness and lightness are dependent on the location of those bodies in space at different distance from another body on account of the Law of Gravitation. A body loses its weight as soon it crosses the field of gravitation.

        Sometimes we determine the nature of an entity with reference to its length and breadth. This is understandable with reference to a material body, but such determination is impossible of the immaterial or the formless entity, there being no length and breadth. It occupies space but does not obstruct it. Lenght and breadth are, therefore, relative to a material object. When the energy in the form of heat is transformed into motion, its quantity remains constant. This is the first principle of  'thermodynamics'. The second principle is that energy passed through an instrument loses its quality which gradually decreases. It has not been possible to invent an instrument, therefore, which is capable of changing energy into motion that is perpetual and does not consume the quantity of the initial energy. It has been presumed by some thinkers that, although it is not possible to preserve the quantity of energy intact in this space and time, yet it may be possible to do so in a different space and time so that an instrument supplied with a quantum of energy would ever remain in motion without involving any decrease in the initial energy. From such instances or scientific discoveries and inventions it is evident that the concomitances valid in a particular space and time are not applicable universally in a different space-time context. The concomitances are, therefore, to be determined on the basis of the principle of relativism.

        Many a theory of statistics and physics has found an adequate exposition in the light of relativism.

        The second important outcome of syadvada (the doctrine of conditional dialectic) is synthesis. The Jaina sages abd saints have not accepted the exclusive validity of impermanence etc. given in experience, but attemped to discover their coherence with their opposites, such as permanence and the like. The philosophical doctrines have a cyclic fate due to reasoning (tarka). By one set of reasoning it is confirmed that a real is impermanent because it is a product and whatever is a product is impermanent, for instance, a jar. In another set of reasoning, on the other hand, it is established that the sound is permanent because it is not a product. What is not a product is permanent, for instance, the space. One can search for a synthesis between these two mutually opposed sets of reasoning. Opposition leads to synthesis. The proposition 'sound is impermanent', is true because it becomes an entity of the past immediately after becoming the object of the ear. It is not illogical to accept a sound as impermanent on occount of this change.The Mimamsaka philosopher's characterisation of "sphota',which is the material cause (upadana karana) of thge sound as eternal is also not unreasonable. The material bodies that transform into sound do never change their material character, and in this sense their permanence should also be acceptable. No attributes of a real, according to relativism, is independently true. The attributes can be true only as inter-related. Acarya Sayana Madhava of 14th century A.d., in his Sarvadarsanasamgraha, has refuted one system of  philosophy by another in order finally to establish the ultimate valisity of vedanta. Much earlier. the great Jaina logician Mallavadin, in the fifth century a.d., in his Dvadasaranayacakra demonstrated the inadequacy of one philosophy by another in a graduated scheme of nayas. He ultimately established the validity of none independently, emphasizing the soundness of a philosophy that encompasses all individual schools into a comprehensive whole, synthesising all of them, pointing out their relevance and proper place in the world view.

        The philosophy propounded by an individual naya, being only a partial estimate of reality, is untrue. Only the co-ordinated view of all those philosophies is true. This synthetic approach has saved logic from the whirlpool of wrangling and given the search for truth a sound and dependable basis.

        An important contribution of Jaina logic to indian thought is the classification of the valid organs of knowledge (pramana). The fault of intermixture (sankirnata dosa) or overlapping is avoided by the classification of the organs as pratyaksa (direct) and paroksa (indirect). All possible valid organs of knowledge are comprehended by it. The object is either known directly or through other means or medium. These are the only two ways of knowing which are the basis of the above-mentioned two divisions. The Buddhist and the Vaisesika logicians accepted pratyaksa (perception) and anumana (inference) as the two valid organs of knowledge, but they had to prove the agama (scriptural testimony) as included under the inference (anumana). It is not beyond controversy to include agama under the inference. Under paroksa (indirect) organ of knowledge it is easy to include inference, agama, memory (smrti), reasoning (tarka) etc. and thus their definitions also can be made free from the faults of intermixture or overlapping (sankirnata dosa). Thus considered the Jaina classification of the valid organs of knowledge is universally accptable, being based on a realistic estimate of the problem.

        The consecutive stage of sensuous perception (avagraha, iha,avaya, and dharana) of the Jaina is alos an important contribution to indian epistemology. This has been discussed in the first chapter entitled 'The Jaina Logic of the Agama Period' and alos in the sixth called 'organs of knowledge'. This analysis of perceptual cognition is very important from the psychological viewpoint.

        The problem of self-validity (svatah pramanya) of the knowledge is a widely discussed topic of logic. In tthe tradition of the Jaina logic the ultimate source and validity of experience is man himself. It is human being that is self-valid and not any particular scripture or text. The denial of the self-validity of any particular text and the acceptance of the self-validity of a human being is a very unique principle. The purva-Mimamsists accept the self-validity of text (like the vedas) and deny the self-validity of a man. According to them a human being cannot be absolutely free from greed and attachment, and in the absence of such freedom nobody can claim omniscience, and a person who is not omniscient is not ipso facto a possessor of self-validity. According to the Jaina thinker it is possible for a human being to become absolutely free from greed and attachment and consequently attain pure and perfect knowledge and omniscience. This is why only a human being can claim the self-validity of his knowledge. The verbal assertions of such man or the books written by him derive their validity from the writer and not  valid in themselves. The self-validity of human experience is a fundamental contribution of Jaina logic. In the entire range of Indian logic it is indeed the Jaina tradition that is the chief and the earliest upholder of omniscience. And it is but natural that a huge literature devoted to the proof of omniscience is available in Jainism The Buddhist have asserted the self-validity of  Buddha's knowledge and the secondary authenticity of their texts, but they considered Buddha as the knower of dharma and not the knower of all things like the Jaina. According to the Purva Mimamsa a human being cannot be the knower of dharma. The Buddhist, however, went a step farther and asserted that the nature of dharma is accessible to the human mind. The Jainas went still farther and affirmed that a human being can be an omniscient being as well. Kumarila has vehemently criticized the concept of omniscience upheld by the heterodox schools. The buddhist philosopher Dharmakirti has dismissed the concept of omniscience as irrelevant to the knowledge of a religious prophet. He asserts that one may see at a distance or not, but let him see the truth that is profitable and beneficent. If a person who can see at a distance is a valid authority, come, let us worship the vultures who can identify the prey at a great distance.

        The refutation of omniscience and the oblique accusation against it have been adequately answered by the Jaina logicians for over a millennium and a half and they have put up a strong defence against them.

        Along with this influence of Jaina thought on other schools, it would not be irrelevant to discuss the counter-influence of the non-Jaina systems on Jainism itself. The Jaina logicians have definitely borrowed some valuable concept from logical system contemporaneous with it. In their determination of the nature of inference they have followed the tradition of the buddhist and Naiyayika logicians. They have attemted clasification and amendment in conformity with their own thought and tradition about the subject of inference. The Buddhist logicians proposed the triple characteristic of a probans. But the Jaina thinkers made a remarkable advancement on it by proposing a unitary characteristic, viz. the logical impossibility in the absence of the other (anyathanupapatti). The following four categories of probantia are also unique contributions of the Jaina logicians-

        (1) A positive probans leading to an affirmative conclusion.
        (2) A positive probans leading to a negative conclusion.
        (3) A negative probans leading to a negative conclusion.
        (4) A negative probans leading to a positive conclusion.

        The above-mentioned example unambiguously demonstrate the fact that Indian thought unceasingly went on enriching itself by inter-disciplinary influences and was never individual aloofness. It  was to an appreciable extnet free from the obsession that refutation of alien system and confirmation of one's own was the only aim and object of a particular system of thought. The process of give and take was always in vogue-a phenomenon which characterises the entire range of Indian literature in all its ramifications.

Philosophy and logic: New possibilities.

        In concluding the discussion of the science of logic it would not be out of place to turn our attention to new possibilities in the field. There is no doubt that epistemology and logic in their developed form have been recognised as essential parts of philosophical speculations. It is also undeniable that logic brought about a stagnation in the stream of philosophical thinking by keeping it bogged down to exposition of the tenets and the doctrines of the bygone days. The entire energy of the majority of philosophers remained engaged in splitting hair in place of discovering new truths. And as a result dry logic drove scientific observation to a place of unimportance. The doors of new discovery and investigation of new facts were completely closed in the absence of the power of deep observation and scientific experiment.

        The search for truth has three avenues viz. (1) observation, (2) reasoning or logic, and (3) experiment. These are the only tools by which discovery of new truth and facts in the field of the various branches of science, viz. Metaphysics, Physics, Psychology, Botany, Biology etc. have become possible. It is with these instruments that humanity has been in search of truth since the times when such search was initiated.

        Whatever new facts were discovered by philosophers was possible only on account of scientific observation in those days. So long as our philosophers were not averse to the method of observation, there was a genuine search of a facts and truths. When logic raised pure intellect to a predominanat position and reasoning (tarka) came to occupy an extra-ordinary place in thought, the method of scientific observation lost its importance in the speculations of philosophy and completely fell into oblivion. The result was that the subsequent thinkers were rather philosophical commentators than philosophers in the true sense of the term. Only those who searched out and established new facts and truths through subtle observation were genuine philosophers. Over the past millennium and a half no new discovery has been made or even attempted, but our thinkers rested on their oars, engaged in vain discussions of the discoveries of ancient philosophers, and endless mutual criticism and refutations, fighting with phantoms created by themselves. Nothing else could be expected from them for want of the development of new methods of  observation of minute facts. There was, of course, one effective way of deep observation which is epitomised by what is called super-sensuous perception (atindriya jnana) of the yogins. But this was also neglected and not properly used and developed in a scientific way.

        The successful search of new knowledge and new principles by the different sciences is also, no doubt, due to the faculty of super-sensuous experience illustrated by the epoch-making discoveries spontaneously made by the great scientists like Newton and Einstein. These discoveries were certainly the outcome of incessant search for truth based on the analysis of the proprties of matter and mind and causal and acausal relations existing between them. It is absurd to think that a modern scientist has not played his part in developing the way of super-sensuous perception. Their approach may be different, but there is no doubt that science has provided methods and instruments to discover super-sensuous truths. The subjects that fall under super-sensuous perception are three, viz. (1) subtle, (2) concealed and (3) remote, which cannot be known by the ordinary sence-organs. The scientist todays has invented instruments like microscope, telescope and X-rays, through which we can study the subtle matter or objects hidden from the senses or situated at a distance and unknown in the past, The modern scientist, howerver, is not conversant with the power of the soul capable of knowing such objects by its faculty of super-sensuous perception. But he has invented physical instruments capable of performing the task of knowing the subtle, concealed and remote. A philosopher has to go a step farther and utilise the experience of the yogins of ancient times and the discoveries of modern  science to arrive at a comprehensive truth, integrating all the valuable contributions of yoga and science. But philosophy at present is not performing this function. It should be appreciated that whereas on the one hand logic produced some good results, it is also responsible for stalemate and stagnation of knowledge and thought in some ways. Today super-sensory experience is a suspect. We have let the lucid intervals of super-sensuous perceptions go in vain. There are two such occasions-

        (1) We some time pass on a problem to the sub-conscious mind which continues acting on it for some time and then suddenly the souletion flashes across the mind in a dream. this possibility of discovering new truths and solution through dreams by sowing seed of the problem in the sub-conscious mind ina semi-conscious state, has been abandondoned by the modern philosophers. (2) Another occasion for such flash present itself at a moment of pure intuition. A moment may come in our life when we are in a state of absolute equilibrium of mind free from the influence of reason and discursive thought. At such lucid interval there dawns an enlightenment that is spontaneous and revealer of  facts unknown and hither to considered impossible of being known.

        These two possibilities were living issues before the ancient philosopher and he applies them in the discovery of truth. Modern science also has attempted to throw light on these two possibilities. In non-conceptual consciousness or pure intuition the sublter states of the mind becomes active and present solutions of penetrating problems. Even in the state of dream the gross consciousness becomes inactive. At that state the subtle consciousness comes in touch with the minute truth. I cannot believe that such power is absent in a modern philosopher. This power lies hidden under the faculty of discursive thought and the philosopher has become more a logician than an instuitionist. His power of observation lies dormant and inactive. While discussing the new possible courses of philosophy one should not lose  sight of facts contained therein. The importance and the efficacy of reasoning (tarka) cannot be denied. It cannot be divorced from philosophy. But reason is, on no account, superior to experience. It is rather subordinates to it. Observation and experiment occupy the first position. In the expression anumana (inference) the particule 'anu' indicated that inference is preceded by perception and observation which is subsequently subjected to reasoning. The science of logic or reasoning is also called anviksiki, which is derived from anu=iksa, thus meaning a science which is preceded by observation. General principles are derived from observation and experiment. And then the successful working of these rules is carefully observed. These methods of experiment and verification make it possible for us to formulate a plausible theory. Such theories obviously are not based on pureintuition. It is reasoning along which is the instrument which enables us to derive conclusions from observed facts and finally to arrive at universal laws. this is the method of philosophy and also of modern science. By experiment the scientist discovered the rule that metals expand when they are heated and contract when they are cooled. But this general rule has a solitary exception in that water gradually expands in volume  when its temperature is reduced from four degrees to zero degree, and it does not contract even when cooling. This is a special law. It thus follows that nothings can be affirmed about actual facts exclusively on the basis of the  general rules. This maxim applies to theoretical science, medicine as well as law. Definite prediction can be made on the basis of  special laws. For instance, one can predict the bursting of waterpipe from the temperature of its water going four degrees. This is the functions of logic which has thus a paramount importance. But it cannot be considered as valuable as observation. In the absence of observational evidences it is neither possible to discover the general laws nor to apply logic when there are no data supplied by experience. The most urgent need and solid basis of philosophy can be summed up in the following three maxims-

        1. Investigation of new truths and facts deriving necessary conclusions from them.
        2. Development of the method of the minute observation.
       3. Development of the purity of mind for acquiring the power of subtle observation.

    For the successful implementation of all these conditions of development of knowledge, it is necessary to undertake co-ordinationted study and research of the science of yoga, karma and psychology along with logic. Without this co-ordinated study and research the approach of minute observation cannot flourish or be successful. The yogic experience is an important part of philosophy. It is not cultivated exclusively for physical health and elimination of mental tension, but it has a great paet to play in illuminating the minute strata of our consciousness. It is a successful medium of communication with subtle truths. Maharsi Caraka, it is said, could know the properties of medicinal herbs, simply by a sympathetic association with them without the help of microscope or other such subtle instruments to observe them. He used to sit down in deep meditation and the properties of medicinal herbs reflected themselves in the mirror of his pure consciousness. In ancient Jaina literature also there are recorded many such properties of vegetation as were intuited in special state of trance.

    For  the right growth of the method of minute observation the study of the science of karman is also very valuable. Behind our physical body there is a karmic body which is finer than the former and its subtle functions manifest themselves in th ereactions of the physical body. By developing the power of obseving the function of the karmic body we can succeed to expose he reactions manifested in the physical body and aslo determine the nature of the causal relationship between the two (viz. the karmic body and its reactions manifested in the physical body).

    By a careful study of the different faculties of the mind and different phases of the consciousness behind them as well as the external data conditioning the consciousness, it is possible to add new dimensions to the power of observation.

    It is not sufficient for a philosopher to be a mere logician to be successful in such co-ordinated study and aptitude for discovering new truth and facts. A philosopher has to cultivate the faculty of intuition by means of yoga. He has to achieve purification of mind by freeing it from perversions, angularities and idols. Many among the scientists are also saints and live an astute life as pure as that of an ascetic. In the minds engaged in the search after truth, pollution and blemished cannot subsist, and in case they subsist, obstructions are bound to present themselves to obstruct the quest of truth. While the scientific observation is the pre-requisite for the search after truth, the purity and one-pointedness of mind is the pre-condition of that search. In the scientific atmosphere of the modern times the examination and verification of the observed facts are to be pursued with requisite zeal. Science has inherited the legacy of philosophy and as such why should there be an impassable hiatus between the two. Philosophy can be a live pursuit and can reoccupy its primal place if right observation followed by examination and experiment and the application of the logical are brought to bear upon it in a harmonised way. The merits of the sciences of epistemology and logic would also thus receive their due appreciation and estimation.


[ Home Page of Acharya Mahapragya  ]       [ Impression Gallery ]        [ Feed Back ]        [ Email ]