2. THE DOCTRINE OF NAYAVADA
(1) Meaning of a Naya
According to Jaina Philosophy the object of knowledge is a huge complexity
because (i) it is constituted of substances, qualities and modifications,
(ii) it is extended over past, present and future times, (iii) it is
extended over infinite space, and (iv) it is simultaneously subjected to
origination, destruction and permanence.
It is obvious that such an object can be fully conprehended only in
omniscience, which is not manifested in the case of worldly beings who
perceive through their organs of senses. But the senses are the indirect
means of knowledge, and whatever they apprehend is partial like the
proverbial perception of an elephant by seven blind persons: each one
touches only a part of an elephant and concludes that the elephant is like
a log of wood, like a fan, like a wall, etc.
In view of these conditions we find that the ordinary human being cannot
rise above the limitations of his senses; so his apprehension of reality
is partial and it is valid only from a particular point of view known as
In other words, according to Jainism, reality is a complex not merely in
the sense of constituting aneka, i.e., manyness but also because of its
nature of anekknta, i.e., manifoldness of view-points. That is why Jainism
points to the fact that reality may be compre�hended from different
angles. The attempt at comprehending anything from a particular standpoint
is known as Naya and the system of describing reality from different
points of view is termed as Nayavada, i.e., the doctrine of Nayas: This is
based on the fact that Jainism regards all things as anekanta (or
na-eikanta. In other words it is held regards all things as anekanta (or
na-eikanta). In other words it is held only under certain conditions.
In view of this, a naya is defined as a particular opinion framed with a
view-point, a view-point which does not rule out other different
view-points, and is, therefore, expressive of a partial truth about an
object, as entertained by a knowing agent.
(2) Classification of Nayas
As nayas are modes of expressing things, there can be a number of nayas
through which reality could be expressed.
(A) Paryaya-naya and Dravya-naya
To take an example, when different kinds of gold ornaments are described
from the point of view of the modes or modifications of gold, it is termed
the parydya-naya or the paryayarthika-naya, i.e., the modal point of view.
Similarly, when gold ornaments are described with regard to their
substance, i.e., gold, and its inherent qualities, it is termed the
draya�naya or the dravyarthika-naya, i.e., the substancial point of view.
(B) Vyavahara-naya and Nischaya-naya
On the same lines, in spiritual discussions, the things could be described
both from a practical point of view and from a realistic point of view.
Thus when things are described from the common sense or practical point of
view, it is termed the vyavahara-naya; and when things are described from
the pure or realistic point of view, it is termed the nischaya-naya.
(C) Seven Nayas
Since naya is the device which is capable of determining truly one of the
several characteristics of an object (without contradiction) from a
particular point of view, the Jaina philosophers formulated seven nayas.
These seven nayas are :
(i) Naigama naya, i.e., universal- particular, or teleological point of
(ii) Sartgraha naya, i.e., the class point of view.
(iii) Vyavahara naya, i.e., the standpoint of the particular.
(iv) Rjusutra naya, i.e., the standpoint of momentariness.
(v) Sabda naya, i.e., the standpoint of synonymous.
(vi) Samabhirudha naya, i.e., the etymological standpoint.
(vii) Evambhuta naya, i.e., the �such-likes� standpoint.
It is also maintained that these seven nayas could be considered as
sub-divisions of dravyarthika and paryayarthika nayas Thus, the first
three nayas, viz.,
the naigama naya,
the saigraha naya,
and the vyavahara naya
are the sub-divisions of dravyarthika naya as they deal with objects.
Similarly, the last four nayas, viz.,
the rjusutra naya,
the sabda naya,
the samabhirudha naya,
and the evvambhuta naya
are the sub-divisions of parayayarthika naya as they are concerned with
modifications of substances.
Similarly, the first four nayas are called artha nayas in as much as they
deal with objects of knowledge, whereas the remaining three nayas are
called sabda nayas in as much as they pertain to terms and their meanings.
Further, each one of these nayas is considered to have one hundred
sub-divisions. Thus, according to this view, there are seven hundred nayas.
We find that two other views are also expressed, viz.,
(a) that there are only six nayas, i.e., the nayas (the seven mentioned
above) with the exclusion of the first nrtya, i.e., the naigama naya, and
(b) that there are only five nayas, in the sense that the last two nayas
(of the above-mentioned seven nayas), viz., the samabhi�rudha naya and the
evambhuta naya are included in the fifth (of the above mentioned seven
nayas) naya, viz, the sabda naya.
(3) Significance of Nayavada
Nayavada is a warning to those philosophers who assert that their system
is absolute and all-comprehensive. It shows the way to a reconciliation.
of conflicting view-points and harmonization of a11 stand-points by
appreciating the relativity of the different aspects of reality.
But it is pertinent to note that nayas reveal only a part of the totality
and that they should not be mistaken for the whole. Because of this
infinite-fold constitution of a thing, there can be infinite nayas and
they can be classified into various categories. As naya is defined by
Saint Acharya Akalarika, the reputed philosopher-author, as Nuyv jnatur
abhipravah, (;T* 7T97. *�~qTq:) i.e., naya is a particular approach of the
kriower, a synthesis of these different view-points is a practical
necessity; therein every view-point must be able to retain its relative
importance and this is fulfilled by the doctrine of syadvada, i.e., the
doctrine of qualified assertion.
3. THE DOCTRINE OF SYADVADA
(1) Term Syadvada
The doctrine of nayavada provides the framework for the doctrine of
Syadvada, since it clearly points out that reality can be looked at from
many different standpoints, and that no standpoint can be claimed as the
only valid one. The term Syddvada is derived from the term syat meaning
`in some respect�. If the aim of philosophical enquiry is to comprehend
reality, the Jaina philosophers point out that it cannot be achieved by
merely formulating certain simple, categorical propositions. Reality being
complex any one simple propo�sition cannot express the nature of reality
fully. That is the reason why the term sydt, i.e., `in some respect�, is
appended to the various propositions concerning reality by the Jaina
philosophers. In this way, seven propositions are put forward by the Jaina
philosophers without any absolute affirmation whatsoever in regard to any
one of them. That is why each affirmation is preceded by the phrase `syaP,
i.e., `in some respect�. This indicates that the affirmation is only
relative, made somehow, from some point of view and under some
reservations and is not in any sense absolute.
(2) Meaning of Syadvada
It is not enough if various problems about reality are merely understood
from different points of view. What one knows one must be able to state
truly and correctly. This need is met by the doctrine of Syadvada or
Anekdntavada , i.e., many-sided view-point.
It is a fact that the object of knowledge is a vast complexity covering
infinite modes, that human mind is of limited understanding, and that
human speech has its imperfections in expressing the whole range of
experience. Under these circumstances all our statements are conditionally
or - relatively true. Hence every statement must be qualified with the
term syat, i.e., `in some respect�, or `somehow�, or `in a way�, with a
view to emphasise its conditional or relative character.
(3) Statements of Syadvada
In this way, on the basis of Anekantavadcz or Syadvada , while describing
a thing seven possible statements or propositions or assertions, seemingly
contradictory but perfectly true can be made in the following manner:
(i) Syad-asti, i.e., in some respects, it is;
(ii) Syad-nasti, i.e., in some respect, it is not;
(iii) Syad-asti-nasti, i.e., in some respect, it is and it is not;
(v) Syad-avaktavya, i.e., in some respect, it is indescribable;
(vi) Syad-asti, avaktavya, i.e., in some respect, it is and is
(vii) Syad-nasti, avaktavya, i.e., in some respect, it is not and is
(viii) Syad-asti-nasti, avaktavya, i.e., in some respect, it is and is not
and is indescribable.
These seven propositions are formulated by the three expressions, viz.,
asti, nasti and avaktavya, the word syat being common to all of them, and
These propositions will be clear with the help of an illustration. For
example, a man is the father, and is not the father and is both-are
perfectly intelligible statements, if one understands the point of view
from which they are made. In relation to a particular boy he is the
father; in relation to another boy he is not the father; in relation to
both the boys taken together he is the father and is not the father. Since
both the ideas cannot be conveyed in words at the same time, he may be
called indescribable: still he is the father and is in�describable; and so
Further, it may be noted that the seven propositions can be formulated in
regard to the eternality and non-eternality, identity and difference,
etc., of any object. The Jaina philosophers believe that these seven modes
of predication together give us an adequate description of reality.
Moreover, it is obvious that the combinations of points of view cannot be
more than seven as reality is open to seven statements and not to more.
The reason why the number of modes is neither more nor less than seven is
because it is believed that any complex situation is amenable to treatment
by this seven-fold technique if one is adept in using it. Any attempt to
add or subtract a mode will be found to be impossible since addition finds
the mode already there among the existing seven modes, and subtraction
will mutilate the essential limit from the scheme.
Thus the doctrine of Anekantav6da, comprising these seven propo�sitions,
is neither self-contradictory nor vague or indefinite; on the contraty, it
represents a very sensible view of things in a systematized form.
Further, this doctrine of anekantavada is also called the doctrine of
Sapta-bhahgi, i.e., the doctrine of seven-fold predication, because these
seven possible modes of expression can be used while describing a thing.
(4) Syadvada and Nayavada
From the above propositions it is obvious that Syadvada comple�ments the
Nayav6da. Whereas the emphasis in Nayavdda is on an analytical approach to
reality, on pointing out that different stand�points can be taken, the
stress in Syadvada is on the synthetic approach to reality, on reiterating
that the different view-points together help us in comprehending the
reality. As analysis and synthesis are not unrelated to each other we find
elements of synthesis even in a purely analytical approach and elements of
analysis even in a synthetic view of reality.
In more concrete terms : in nayavada there is the recognition that
over-emphasizing any one view would lead to a fallacy that different views
have their value, that each one of them reflects reality and, therefore,
that they together alone can give a sweep into reality. Similarly, in
Syadvirda the systematic character of the modes of predication, is
highlighted with a clear understanding that various propositions have,
each one of them, something to convey about reality itself.
(5) Significance of Syidvida
From the discussion of Syadvada it is clear that Syudvada aims to unify,
coordinate, harmonise and synthesise the individual view points into a
predictable whole. In other words, the Syadvada, like music, blends
discordant notes so as to make a perfect harmony.
Further, Syadvada is not a doctrine of mere speculative interest, one
intended to solve not only ontological problems, but has a bearing upon
man�s psychological and spiritual life.
Moreover, the doctrine of Syadvada has supplied the philosopher with
cosmopolitanism of thought convincing him that truth is not anybody�s
monopoly with tariff walls of denominational religions and it has again
supplied the religious aspirant with `intellectual toleration� which is
quite on par with ahimsa for which Jainism has eminently, stood for the
last two thousand years and more.
The essence of this doctrine of Syadvada, keeping off scholastic
terminology, seems just that as to matters of experience it is im�possible
to formulate the whole and complete truth, and as to matters which
transcend experience, language is inadequate.
Furthermore, it is partinent to note that apart from the pains the Jaina
philosophers have taken to describe reality, their doctrine of Syudvada
brings out the comprehensiveness of approach of the Jaina philosophers to