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A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume 1

Sa@mgraha naya and vyavahara naya


The Doctrine of Nayas.

In framing judgments about things there are two ways open to us, firstly we may notice the manifold qualities and characteristics of anything but view them as unified in the thing; thus when we say "this is a book" we do not look at its characteristic qualities as being different from it, but rather the qualities or characteristics are perceived as having no separate existence from

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[Footnote 1: See Gu@naratna on Jainamata in _@Sa@ddarsanasamuccaya_, pp. 211. etc., and also _Tattvarthadhigamasutra_.]

[Footnote 2: See _Tattvarthadhigamasutra_, and _Vis'e@savalyaka bha@sya_, pp. 895-923.]

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the thing. Secondly we may notice the qualities separately and regard the thing as a mere non-existent fiction (cf. the Buddhist view); thus I may speak of the different qualities of the book separately and hold that the qualities of things are alone perceptible and the book apart from these cannot be found. These two points of view are respectively called _dravyanaya_ and _paryayanaya_ [Footnote ref 1]. The dravyanaya again shows itself in three forms, and paryayanaya in four forms, of which the first form only is important for our purposes, the other three being important rather from the point

of view of grammar and language had better be omitted here. The three nayas under dravyanaya are called naigama-naya, sa@mgraha-naya and vyavahara-naya.

When we speak of a thing from a purely common sense point of view, we do not make our ideas clear or precise. Thus I may hold a book in my hand and when asked whether my hands are empty, I may say, no, I have something in my hand, or I may say, I have a book in my hand. It is evident that in the first answer I looked at the book from the widest and most general point of view as a "thing," whereas in the second I looked at it in its special existence as a book. Again I may be reading a page of a book, and I may say I am reading a book, but in reality I was reading only one of the pages of the book. I may be scribbling on loose sheets, and may say this is my book on Jaina philosophy, whereas in reality there were no books but merely some loose sheets. This looking at things from the loose common sense 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 special characteristics, but simply as they appear at first sight, is technically called the 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 Jains the Nyaya and Vais'e@sika schools interpret experience.

Sa@mgraha-naya is the looking at things merely from the most general point of view. Thus we may speak of all individual things from their most general and fundamental aspect as "being." This according to the Jains is the Vedanta way of looking at things.

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[Footnote 1: _Syadvadama@njari_, pp. 171-173.]

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The vyavahara-naya standpoint holds that the real essence of things is to be regarded from the point of view of actual practical experience of the thing, which unifies within it some general as well as some special traits, which has been existing from past times and remain in the future, but yet suffer trifling changes all the while, changes which are serviceable to us in a thousand ways. Thus a "book" has no doubt some general traits, shared by all books, but it has some special traits as well. Its atoms are continually suffering some displacement and rearrangement, but yet it has been existing as a book for some time past and will exist for some time in the future as well. All these characteristics, go to make up the essence of the "book" of our everyday experience, and none of these can be separated and held up as being the concept of a "book." This according to the Jains is the Sa@mkhya way of looking at things.


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