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A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume 1

The Jains said that no ultimate


doctrine of the sacrifices supposed that a suitable combination of rites, rituals, and articles of sacrifice had the magical power of producing the desired effect--a shower of rain, the birth of a son, the routing of a huge army, etc. The sacrifices were enjoined generally not so much for any moral elevation, as for the achievement of objects of practical welfare. The Vedas were the eternal revelations which were competent so to dictate a detailed procedure, that we could by following it proceed on a certain course of action and refrain from other injurious courses in such a manner that we might obtain the objects we desired by the accurate performance of any sacrifice. If we are to define truth in accordance with the philosophy of such a ritualistic culture we might say that, that alone is true, in accordance with which we may realize our objects in the world about us; the truth of Vedic injunctions is shown by the practical attainment of our


[Footnote 1: This chapter is based on my _Study of Patanjali_, published by the Calcutta University, and my _Yoga philosophy in relation to other Indian Systems of thought_, awaiting publication with the same authority. The system has been treated in detail in those two works.]


objects. Truth cannot be determined _a priori_ but depends

upon the test of experience [Footnote ref l].

It is interesting to notice that Buddhism and Jainism though probably born out of a reactionary movement against this artificial creed, yet could not but be influenced by some of its fundamental principles which, whether distinctly formulated or not, were at least tacitly implied in all sacrificial performances. Thus we see that Buddhism regarded all production and destruction as being due to the assemblage of conditions, and defined truth as that which could produce any effect. But to such a logical extreme did the Buddhists carry these doctrines that they ended in formulating the doctrine of absolute momentariness [Footnote ref 2]. Turning to the Jains we find that they also regarded the value of knowledge as consisting in the help that it offers in securing what is good for us and avoiding what is evil; truth gives us such an account of things that on proceeding according to its directions we may verify it by actual experience. Proceeding on a correct estimate of things we may easily avail ourselves of what is good and avoid what is bad. The Jains also believed that changes were produced by the assemblage of conditions, but they did not carry this doctrine to its logical extreme. There was change in the world as well as permanence. The Buddhists had gone so far that they had even denied the existence of any permanent soul. The Jains said that no ultimate, one-sided and absolute view of things could be taken, and held that not only the happening of events was conditional, but even all our judgments, are true only in a limited sense. This is indeed true for common sense, which we acknowledge as superior to mere _a priori_ abstractions, which lead to absolute and one-sided conclusions. By the assemblage of conditions, old qualities in things disappeared, new qualities came in, and a part remained permanent. But this common-sense view, though in agreement with our ordinary experience, could not satisfy our inner _a priori_ demands for finding out ultimate truth, which was true not relatively but absolutely. When asked whether anything was true, Jainism


[Footnote 1: The philosophy of the Vedas as formulated by the Mima@msa of Kumarila and Prabhakara holds the opposite view. Truth according to them is determined _a priori_ while error is determined by experience.]

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