The Nature Of Reality: [03] Criticism of Non-Jaina Systems

Published: 10.07.2005
Updated: 06.10.2008

Jainas claim that non-Jaina systems (darsanas) are defective in that they view Being (sat) in only a single aspect (ekanta), either as eternal (nitya) or non-eternal (anitya), unchanging (aparinamin) or changing (parinamin). The monistic (Advaita) school of the Vedanta system maintains, for example, that Being is unitary (eka) and that this Being, called Brahman. is eternal and absolutely unchanging.
It denies the existence of the phenomenal world, that is, multiplicity and change, relegating it to the realm of illusion (vivarta).

Another school of the Vedic tradition, the Samkhya, on the other hand, is a dualist who postulates two kinds of Being one an eternal but constantly changing (parinami-nitya). mind-matter complex (prakrti), the other a multiplicity of eternal and totally incorruptible, unchangeable (kutastha-nitya) souls (purusas). Here prakrti is conceived in a manner very similar to the Jaina view of the total range of Being, but purusa resembles the Brahman of Advaita. Consequently, the Samkhya too ends up by saying that "bondage" of purusas by the prakrti is illusory and not to be taken as real.

The Jaina maintains that both these schools can be categorized as "extremist" (ekantavada), propounding a one-sided dogma of eternalism (nityavada). They are said by the Jaina to preceive only the substance aspect of the existent, denying its modal aspect; thus they cannot explain the true nature of bondage and are unable to teach the path of salvation.

The Buddhist - particularly the Abhidharmika, who up-holds a doctrine of discrete (niranvaya) and momentary (ksanika) elements (dharmas) - is considered an ekantavadin of the other type, one who follows the dogma of non-eternalism (anityavada). He denies the reality of an abinding substance (the dravya, or the atman), accepting the existence only of what would in Jaina doctrine be called modes.
This denial of substance, according to the Jaina critique, makes it impossible for Buddhists to explain logically either bondage by karma (samsara) or the release from this bondage (nirvana). Such a doctrine, being annihilationist (ucchedavadin), must be rejected.


Chapter 3: The Jaina Path of Purification, 1979
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  1. Advaita
  2. Anitya
  3. Atman
  4. Brahman
  5. Dravya
  6. Ekanta
  7. JAINA
  8. Jaina
  9. Karma
  10. Nirvana
  11. Nitya
  12. Prakrti
  13. Purusa
  14. Samkhya
  15. Samsara
  16. Vedanta
  17. Vedic
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