Justice T.U.Mehta


Paryayarthika Naya (Aspect of Modification or change) and Dravyarthika Naya (Aspect of substratum) , Seven classes of Nayas , Utility of Naya theory .

"The distinctive feature of an unintelligent man is the hastiness and absoluteness of his opinions. The scientist is slow to believe and never speaks without modification always ready to concede that it may be wrong."

Bertand Russel

The greatest contribution which the Jainas have made to the world of thought is by their theories of Nayavada and Syadvada. The word ‘Syad' in Samskrta means ‘perhaps' but in Jainism it is used to show the relativity of a judgement and the word ‘Nyaya' means ‘Standpoint'. Truth or reality is always complex and has many aspects. If one is impressed by one of the aspects of a complex reality and begins to identify the reality only by that aspect he is bound to make a wrong judgement about the reality. Therefore, the Jaina seers exhort us to look at the complexities of life and knowledge, from every standpoint and from positive as well as negative aspects. They recognise that the apprehension of an ordinary human being is partial and hence valid only from a particular point of view which cannot give a correct or even a nearly correct comprehension of the whole. The complex reality has not only infinite number of qualities but also infinite number of relations. Again, it may be looked at differently by different persons and under their different circumstances. It assumes different forms and appearances for which due allowance ought to be made. All this makes it difficult to form a correct judgement about it unless a systematic and logical method is found to identify it. This method is called Nayavada. As Dr.S.Radhakrishnan observes --

"The doctrine of Nayas of Standpoint is a peculiar feature of Jaina logic. A Naya is a standpoint from which we make a statement about a thing - What is true from one standpoint may not be true from another. Particular aspects are never adequate to the whole reality. The relative solutions are abstractions under which reality may be regarded, but do not give us a full and sufficient account of it. Jainism makes basic and fundamental principle that truth is relative to our standpoint."

Thus ‘Naya' can be defined as a particular view point-a view point which gives only a partial idea about an object or view which cannot over rule the existence of another or even a contrary view about the same object. If an object or theory is judged only from one standpoint, the judgement is one sided and it is termed as ‘Ekanta'. ‘Eka' means ‘one' and ‘Anta' means ‘end', thus Ekanta means one-sidedness. The Jainas therefore ask us to judge from all aspects which is called ‘Anekanta'. This is the basic principle of Jaina philosophy. Every fundamental principle of Jaina philosophy is based on Anekanta. Throughout, its approach Anekanta has been to accept the different aspects or even contradictory aspects of the reality and to evolve a synthesis between the contradictory philosophical theories. For instance, some of the Vedantic teachers have said that every visible form has an unchangeable substance. From a lump of clay many forms can be made but clay-substance remains the same. So, only that substance which remains unchanged and permanent is real, the forms are unreal as they are ever changing. From this point of view, only ‘Brahma', which pervades the universe, is true and the rest which is tangible is unreal and untrue called ‘Maya'. On the contrary, the Buddhists contend that everything in the universe is constantly changing and the change is so rapid that the apparent continuity gives the appearance of some unchanging entity, which is not there. It is, according to Buddhist belief, just like a flowing river which gives the appearance of continuity but every drop of water which flows is different. What we perceive in clay is only a particular quality but even qualities are changing and hence there is nothing permanent which can be received besides changing qualities of an object. Thus according to Buddhists even Atman (soul) is not permanent.

A Jaina seer would say, both are correct from the stand point from which they look at the problem, but both make their statements which do not conform to the principle of Anekanta and hence do not give a correct judgement of the reality. Jainas say that changes are as real as the original substance. A jug made of a clay substance cannot be used as anything except as a jug and since the use is real, the form of a jug which clay has assumed, cannot be unreal. If the clay substance assumes some other form of an earthen vessel meant for cooking, that vessel cannot be used as a jug even though clay substance remains the same. If this is so, how can we say that the form which the substance assumes at a particular time is unreal and only the substance is real. The substance of clay appears to be the only real thing to those who concentrate on substance and ignores the form. It is not correct to say that because there is a change in the form, the changing form is unreal. If it is real even for a moment, its reality must be accepted and recognised, if a comprehensive view of the whole reality is to be taken. If one wants a jug he would not ask you to bring a lump of clay because what he wants is a jug and not clay. Thus according to Jainism the Vedantist view is Ekanta and does not give a complete idea of the reality.

Similarly even the Buddhist view does not give the comprehensive idea because it concentrates its attention only on change and ignores the fact, that behind every change there is a constant substance, which remains the same. Analogy of rivers is fallacious because though it may be true that the apparent flow is made of different drops, water substance remains the same. Moreover, it would not be correct to say that the intrinsic quality substances are changing though their outward form may not be changing. For instance water may change the form and become ice or vapour but its intrinsic elements namely H2O remain the same. Thus the Jainas would contend that the Buddhists ignore to take into account that substance which is permanent.


Paryayarthika and Dravyarthika Naya

According to the Jainas, in order to have a complete and comprehensive judgement of reality one has to take into account the main substance which has the element to permanence and goes under the changes in various forms. In this process of change the previous form dies away and new form comes into existence. The birth of the new form is called Utpada, the death of the old form is called Vyaya and the substance which remains constant during this process of birth and death is called Dhrauvya. When one is able to comprehend all these three, one can arrive at a proper judgement about the thing in question. When the self takes the form of a human being you can know it as a ‘man' or a ‘woman'. When it takes a form of the vegetable, you can describe it as ‘grass'. All these descriptions are true from the standpoint of the forms which the self has assumed. So, when we recognise a thing from the point of view of the modification or change, it is called ‘Paryayarthika Naya'. Paryaya means modification, change. But when we recognise that thing from the point of view of substance. The former consider changing aspect of reality while the later considers its permanent aspect. A correct and comprehensive perception of a thing is possible when its permanent substance (Dravya) is taken into account along with its existing mode (Paryaya). As Acarya Siddhasena puts it : "Anekantatmakam Vastu Gocarah", i.e., we can understand a thing properly by perceiving its various aspects.


Seven Classes of Nayas

Jaina philosophers have given broad classifications of different aspects (Nayas) through which we can perceive a thing. They are : 1) Naigama Naya (Generic and Specific view or teleological view), 2) Sangraha Naya (class-view), 3) Vyavahara Naya (Empirical view), 4) Rjusutra Naya (Momentary view), 5) Sabda Naya (Verbalistic view), 6) Samabhirudha Naya (Etymological view) and 7) Evambhuta Naya (Specialised view). There are hundreds of sub-classifications of these seven Nayas but without touching them we shall presently discuss the bare outlines of these seven Nayas. But before doing so, it may be noted that first three Nayas are with reference to the identification of the main substance called ‘Dravya' and hence are known as ‘Dravyarthika Nayas' while the rest four refer to the standpoints which identify the modes of the main substance and hence are known as ‘Paryayarthika Nayas'. We take up first ‘Dravyarthika Nayas'.

(i) Naigama Naya : Etymological meaning of the word ‘Naigam' is the ‘end product' or ‘result'. Tattvartha-sara' gives an illustration of a person who carries water, rice and fuel and who, when asked what he was doing, says he is cooking. This reply is given in view of the result which he intends to achieve though at the exact time when the question is put to him he is not actually cooking. His reply is not correct from the point of view of Naigama Naya, though technically it is not exactly correct, because he is not actually cooking at the time when he replies. The general purpose, for which we work controls the total series of our activities. If some one passes his judgement on basis of that general purpose, he asserts Naigama Naya, i.e., the teleological view-point.

Another sense in which this Naya is used is generic-cum-specific. A thing has both generic and specific qualities but when we comprehend that thing without making distinction between these two is called as Naigama view point. Shri S. N. Dausgupta explains this as under :

"This looking at things from loose commonsense view in which we do not consider them from the point of view of their most general characteristic as ‘being' or as any of their specific characteristics, but simply as they appear at the first sight, is technically called Naigama standpoint. This empirical view probably proceeds on the assumption that a thing possesses the most general as well as the most special qualities, and hence we may lay stress on any one of these at any time and ignore the other ones. This is the point of view from which, according to the Jainas, the Nyaya and Vaisesika schools interpret experience."

According to Jaina view the approach of emphasizing only general or special qualities of reality and not both is fallacious as it fails to give a comprehensive idea of a thing. The fallacy is called as ‘Naigamabhasa'.

(2) Sangraha Naya : We get this Naya (view point) when we put main emphasis on some general class characteristics of a particular thing ignoring altogether the specific characteristics of that class. Such a view is only partially correct but does not give the idea of the whole, for it ignores the specific characteristics of that thing. Jainas cite Vedanta as suffering from this fallacy, when it extracts only one class characteristic saying that every thing is ‘Sat' or existence and whatsoever saying is ‘Sat' is Brahman and rest is Maya, i.e., ‘Asat'. Particulars of Reality, according to Jainas are as real as its main substance and sole emphasis on any one of them leads to a fallacious approach which is called Sangrahabhasa.

(3) Vyavahara Naya : If we look a thing from this standpoint, we try to judge it from its specific properties ignoring the generic qualities which are mainly responsible for giving birth to the specific qualities. This amounts to the assertion of empirical at the cost of universal and gives importance to practical experience in life. It is the materialistic view as entertained by Carvakas. The fallacy is called Vyavaharabhasa.

(4) Rjusutra Naya : It is still narrower than Vyavahara in its outlook, because it not only emphasizes all the specific qualities but only those specific qualities which appear in a thing at a particular moment, ignoring their existent specific qualities of the past and future. The approach of the Buddhists is of this type. To ignore the specific qualities of past and future and to emphasize on only continuing characterstics of Reality is the fallacy involved here.

(5) Sabda Naya : The Verbalistic approach is called as Sabda naya. It accepts that all synonyms connote the same object. Their meaning is changed only when we use them in different gender, case a context. All languages have synonyms suggesting the same thing. For instance the same person is indicated by the synonyms, yet they do indicate different qualities of the same person, because the word ‘Indira' connotes the ‘prosperity of the person, the word ‘Sakra' connotes the powerful personality and the word ‘Purandara' connotes the destroyer of fortresses. But if these words are used to establish complete identity between them, the distinct qualities which are indicated by them are obliterated and this results in the fallacy called ‘Sabdanayabhasa'.

(6) Samabhirudha Naya : It is different from Sabda Naya, because it concentrates on the etymological distinction between the synonyms. If carried to the fallacious extent this standpoint may destroy the original identity pointed by synonyms.

(7) Evambhuta Naya : This Naya recognises only that word which indicates the actual action presently attributed to the individual. For instance Indra can be described as ‘Purandara' only when he is acting as the destroyer of fortresses. In other words, among synonym words only that word should be selected which has a co-relation with the action referred to.

Partial truth of Individual Naya : As already noted the purpose of pointing out to this detailed classification of nayas is to show how differently the same object can be viewed by different individuals. However, these different aspects are only partially true and since they are only partially true, they are not capable of being wholly true. They, however, cannot be rejected as wholly untrue also. These different aspects can be illustrated by the reactions of some blind persons who were asked to go to an elephant and give its description after touching and feeling it. One who touched its legs described it as like a pillar, one who touched the tail, described it like a rope and so on. Each one was right from his own standpoint because he could experience only a particular limb of the elephant and not the whole elephant. Each one of them was however, wrong because his description did not conform to the reality which the elephant possessed. This reality could be comprehended only by one who could see the whole.

The Jainas, therefore, hold that the Carvakas, Nyaya-Vaisesikas, Vedantins, Sankhyas and Buddhists apprehend reality partially neglecting other aspects of its and consider their own view-points as absolutely true and thus commit different types of fallacies pointed above.


Utility of Naya Theory

The utility of the theory of Nayas lies in its analytical approach and the consequential approach of a rational unification of the manifold revealed by this analysis. The task of this rational unification is done by the theory of Syadvada. As. Pt. Dalasukha Malavania, an esteemed Jaina Scholar puts it, "Acarya Siddhasena has said that there are as many view points (Nayas) as there are statements. Enlarging this pronouncement of the Acarya, Jinabhadra makes it clear that all philosophies taken collectively constitute Jainism. Contradiction seems to be existing in the mutually exclusive statements so long as they are not harmonized and integrated with each other."

The analysis of Naya shows that every judgement is relative to that particular aspect from which it is seen or known. This is also called Sapeksavada which means relativity of our particular knowledge or judgement to a particular standpoint. Since human judgements are always from particular standpoints, they are all relative and hence not absolutely true or absolutely false. Their outright acceptance as a sole truth or rejection as totally false would not be correct. This led the Jaina seers to their famous doctrine of ‘Syadvada', which means the doctrine of relativity.