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Jaina doctrine of Syadvada

Syadvada or Sapta-bhangi Naya is the most important part of Jaina Logic. Syadvada is neither skepticism, nor agnosticism. In fact, Syadvada is the theory of the relativity of knowledge.

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Syadvada or Sapta-bhangi Naya is the most important part of Jaina Logic. Syadvada is neither skepticism, nor agnosticism. In fact, Syadvada is the theory of the relativity of knowledge. Every object exists in relation of its form substance, scope and time and not object exists in relation to the form substance, scope and time of any other object. Therefore, the knowledge of every object is not absolute but relative.

The Jainas insist that the word syad should necessarily be used before every Naya. It denotes that the truth of that statement is confined to that particular context and it may not hold good in other context. So according to them, the use of the word syad is imperative for rendering judgment (Paramarsa) flawless and correct.

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Kinds of Judgment:

The Jainas have divided the judgment into seven categories from different standpoints. The judgments, in which an object is related to its own attributes or symptoms, is called Astivachaka Paramarsa. On the other-hand, the judgment in which the absence of relationship is pointed between an object and the attribute and symptoms of other objects, is known as Nastivachaka Paramarsa. The following are the seven categories of Paramarsa.

Syad Asti:

The first judgment is that from its own stand point, the object can exist, e.g., the Jar exists as made of clay, in my room, at the present moment of such a shape and size.

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Syad Nasti:

From the point of view of the same quaternary, relating to itself and another thing, it may be said that a thing is and is not. In a certain sense the Jar exists and in a certain sense it does not. We say here what a thing is as well as what it is not.

Syad Astinasti:

From the point of view of the same quaternary, relating to itself and another thing, it may be said that a thing is and is not. In a certain sense the Jar exist and in a certain sense it does not. We say here what a thing is as well as what it is not.

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Syad Avaktavyam (Indescribable):

While in the above mentioned three we make statements that a thing is in its own self and is not, as another successively, it becomes impossible to make these statements at once. In this sense a thing is unpredictable. Though the presence of its own nature and the absence of other nature are the Jar sometimes may also be such that it can be described neither red nor black.

Form the philosophical point of view, it is important in many ways:

According to it, gradual description of an object from different stand points is possible. A thing cannot be described by simultaneously contradictory natures. So they are termed as a vaxtavyam or indescribable.

All the queries cannot be answered in Yes or No. There are many questions which cannot be answered.  Contradiction is defect. Contradictory nature cannot be attributed to a thing simultaneously.

Syad Asti Avaktavyam:

The remaining three Nayas are formed by adding the fourth Naya to the first three respectively. The fifth Naya is attained by the combination of the first and the fourth Nayas. Thus from the fifth stand point a thing is and is unpredictable also at the same time. The Jar can be described red from a particular view. But if the view is not specifically mentioned it becomes impossible to describe its color. So from a broad stand point, the Jar is red as well as indescribable.

Syad Nasti Avaktavyam:

By combining the second and the fourth Nayas respectively, we come across the sixth Naya. According to it a thing is not and is also unpredictable. So we can say that the Jar is not red and also that it is indescribable.

A thing may have many naturals. But there can be only seven paramarsa about the different natures. The above mentioned paramarsas can be imagined in relation to substance space, time or existence. The Jain philosophy is realistic (Vastuvadin) and relativist (Sapeksavadin). According to the Jainas, paramarsa is not only a mental concept, hut also a means of knowing the external things. A concept, to be true, must necessarily manifest the natures of the external things. Knowledge is relative, even then it depends not on mind, but on the nature of things.

Criticism of Syadvada:

Other philosophical thinkers have bitterly criticized the Jaina Syadvada. The reasons for criticism can be summarized as follows.

The Bauddha and the Vedantius have regarded it as nothing more than a negative theory. They take syad in the sense of probability and they have based their criticism on it. The same things cannot be present and past in the same sense. Philosophers like Dharma Kirti, Santa Raksit and Samkaracharya treat it as the ravings of Mad men. for Ramanuja it is as impossible to roll into one thing contradictory qualities of existence and non-existence as it is to bracket light and darkness together. But the clarification given above exposes the ignorance of the Buddhist and Vedantic philosophers about Syadvada. According to Anekantavada everything has more than one quality. Though one sat and eternal from the stand point of Dravya, it is many, asat and ephemeral from the stand point of paryaya. A thing is sat from the view points of its own substance. From, time and space. Thus it admits of no contradiction.
The second objection, raised by Samkaracharya, nevertheless points out the real defect of Syadvada. If everything, argues Samskara, is merely probable, then Syadvada cannot be an exception. In fact, the theory of Anekantika also hinges on Aikantika. The relative is based on the absolute. But for one absolute the seven Nayas of Syadvada are disconnected and cannot be synthesized. Of course, the Jainas believe both in Aikantika and in Anekantika. But they do not seek to effect any synthesis between the two. While propounding Syadvada, they forget it and regard their own theory as the sole gospel of truth. The Jainas criticize satkaryavada by the sole gospel of truth. The Jainas criticize satkaryavada by satkaryavada and vice versa. They differentiate between Sakaladesa and Vikaladesa.
The latter term is applied to scattered groups of particular truths, the former refers to the absolute truths. In the words of Yasovijaya the Jaina out look is the best as all the Nayas are brought together simultaneously in it. But conglomeration does not mean cohesion. In the mere absence of an absolute element, the diverse relative elements can not be united by any means whatever. Yasovijaya further asserts that Anekantavada is characterized by impartiality because it meets out the same treatment to all the different Nayas. Just as a father does not and should not discriminate among his sons, so Anekantavada also does not differentiate among the numerous Nayas. But this quality tends to overlook the diversity. According to Hem Chandra, all the philosophical schools, except the Jaina, are relative, biased and revel in criticizing one another. Only the Jaina Darshan provides a welcome relief as it is free from bias and treats the different Nayas alike.
Of the seven Nayas of Syadvada, the last three appear to be more repetitions of the first four Nayas. According to Kumarila Bhatta, if divided that way, the Nayas can have hundred categories instead of seven.
The Jaina philosophy does not seek to transcend relativism and pluralism and so it does not recognize absolution and monism. It does not distinguish among different relative judgments.
By taking absolute only as a conglomeration of parts, the Jainas have blurred the conception of their Keval Jnana also. They have thus made it ambiguous and indistinct. Kevala Jnana is other worldly, absolute and immediate. But even then the Jainas refuse to differentiate between temporal and other worldly (Paramarthika) knowledge. In fact, Keval Jnana and Syadvada have become contradictory.

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