Anekāntavāda And Syādvāda: Part 3

Published: 16.03.2012

The Jaina philosopher would submit that the elaborate arguments of the Vedāntist may have succeeded in refuting the reality of non-existence as an independent category. But however successful may be his argument, he must believe in the difference of things. If he is to engage in a debate with an opponent and has to convince him by argument he must employ the logical syllogism, which consists of three terms. The difference of terms and of their logical value has also to be recognized by him. This implies that the denial of non-existence even as part and parcel of a real is only an academic pastime with him and not a sincere conviction.

The denial of pre-non-existence again would entail the existence of effect from the beginningless time and that of post-non-existence would make the effect continue unbroken without end. But origination and destruction of effects are experienced facts. Origination means the coming into existence of an event which was not in existence before and destruction means that an effect ceases to exist after having come into existence. If neither origination nor destruction can be repudiated without doing violence to experience, the reality of the two types of non-existence must be accepted, as without them the two phenomena referred to cannot be understood. The Sāṅkhya philosopher maintain that things are neither produced nor destroyed. A non-existent cannot be made existent and an existent cannot be made to cease to exist, because a thing cannot surrender its nature and yet continue to be the same thing as before. So he interprets origination as manifestation of a pre-existent effect and destruction as relapse of the manifest into the unmanifest state, which was its characteristic before origination. So nothing is produced or destroyed. The logical consequence of such a theory is the doctrine of absolute existence of things. But, as has been pointed out above, the absolutist position cannot be maintained by the Sāṅkhya without falsification of his whole scheme of metaphysics. Of course the denial of non- existence as an extrinsic principle does not involve any untoward consequence, but its denial as a formative element in a real has been shown to lead to absurdities. Consistency demands that the Sāṅkhya too should admit that there is a difference and intrinsic difference at that between a manifested and an unmanifested real. The 'unmanifested' and the 'manifested' should be recognized as possessed of different characteristics and so strictly speaking as not entirely identical. They are identical and different both - identical in so far as it is the same substance and different in so far as it undergoes a change of characteristic. This is the Jaina position of non-absolutism; and if it is accepted by the Sāṅkhya and the Mīmāṁsist, as they seem to show their leanings in its favour, in the entire extent of reality, there would be no difference between them and the Jaina. But on occasions both the Sāṅkhya and the Mīmāṁsist lapse into the absolutist attitude and the Jaina thinks this to be an error on their part.

The unqualified affirmation by the Sāṅkhya of the identity of the cause and the effect is due to defective use of language or misconception or both. Whatever be the meaning of such assertions, the issue is clear, viz., that the cause and the effect are not entirely identical, but different also. If the effect were entirely identical with the material cause, there would be no occasion for the exercise of activity to bring it into existence. The Sāṅkhya may contend that the activity is not futile as it brings about manifestation of an unmanifest effect. But manifestation is a novel thing and if it is held to be identical with the thing manifested, there would be production of a novel effect. If it were different, the manifestation would not relate to the effect. So the pre-existence of the effect is to be understood as having a partial reference. The effect is pre-existent in so far as it is the same substance with the cause and pre-non-existent in so far as it is a new phenomenon. The identity again of the cause and the effect is not to be understood in all its aspects. In other words, the identity is limited in its reference. The effect is partially identical with the cause and different in other respects. This is the position maintained by the Jaina and it has been shown to be inescapable. The escape is possible only by having recourse to the heroic line of action adopted by the Vedāntist who repudiates causality as illusory appearance. An elaboration of the absurdities inherent in the absolutist stand adopted by the Sāṅkhya in respect of causality and by the Mīmāṁsist in respect of the eternity of word-essence is uncalled for. There is no via media between non-absolutist realism of the Jaina and the Vedāntist idealism. The Sāṅkhya and the Mīmāṁsist are only half-hearted realists. Whether they are conscious of the implications of their views is not a matter of importance in an objective study of philosophical problems. But the absolutist attitude taken with regard to causation or to the eternity of word is fraught with grave difficulties, which can be avoided either by the adoption of the non-absolutist standpoint of the Jaina philosophers or by unqualified repudiation of the phenomenal world as made by the Vedāntist.

The problem of the eternal existence of word has been alluded to by us. It is a pet theory of the Mīmāṁsist. The Mīmāṁsist believes that the 'word' is eternal and ubiquitous. The exercise of the vocal organs is necessary only to make it articulate and amenable to perception. But the question can be decided by a dilemma. Is the quality of articulateness eternally existent in the word or not? On the former alternative the activation of the vocal organ would be uncalled for and the occasional absence of perception of word would be unaccountable. It has been held that the vocal activity is needed to break the veil which prevents its cognition. But the hypothesis of veiling is understandable and may have justification only if it induces a state which is different from the state when the veil is removed. This means a difference either in the word or in the percipient consciousness or in the vocal organ. But all these three are eternal entities and veiling would be incompatible with the absence of change in them. The problem is entirely on a par with that of causation. It may not be inappropriate to remark that word according to the Jaina is a material stuff like earth. It exists even when it is not heard. The material stuff undergoes a change in order to become perceptible. So the Jaina is not in uncompromising opposition to the Mīmāṁsist view of the eternal existence of word, whether perceived or unperceived. But there is a vital difference in this that the Jaina does not maintain that the word-stuff is unchangingly real, which is the position of the Mīmāṁsist. But unchanging existence is a philosophical anomaly. That there is a change of character in a perceived word from the unperceived one is obvious. The only course open to the Mīmāṁsist is this; either he must surrender his theory of unchanging existence and qualify it in the manner of the Jaina, or declare the change and together with it the word, as the substrate of change, to be illusory appearance. As he cannot follow the latter course, he must frankly accept the non-absolutist position.

In the previous paragraph we have shown how the acceptance of non-existence as an element in the make-up of reals is inescapable in the philosophy of the Sāṅkhya and the Mīmāṁsist. But the problem cannot be regarded as solved unless the formidable array of arguments of the Cārvāka materialist, who denies the reality of non-existence on entirely different grounds, is disposed of. Non-existence as a separate objective category has been denied by the Jaina. It is believed to be an objective real, but only so far as it is an element in the constitution of a real. But' hitherto no light has been thrown on the nature of non-existence as a positive fact. But unless we are enabled to form a clear conception of its nature and function the postulation of non-existence will remain a vague assertion. To get down to the brass tacks of philosophy, we propose to take up the question of pre-non-existence and post-non-existence. The constitution of entities is believed by the Jaina to be dynamic. It changes every moment. But change does not mean that one thing is succeeded by another in toto. In that case the concept of change have no meaning. It is the presupposition of change would that the identity of the thing undergoing change is maintained in spite of the change that happens to it. It changes and persists in the same act. Change has no meaning without persistence and the contradiction between change and persistence is only apparent. Let us apply the results attained to the consideration of the problem. Production of an effect implies that a change has taken place in the causal stuff. But the stuff has been undergoing change for all the time whether the effect in question was produced or not. So not mere change but change of a distinctive character can account for the production of a particular effect. To be explicit and precise, it must be held that for every different effect there is a corresponding differential change in the causal stuff, which is directly and unconditionally responsible for the emergence of the effect. If pre-non-existence be the cause of the effect, as admitted by the advocate of non-existence, then it is to be equated with the immediate antecedent phase of the causal stuff. But if the pre-non-existence of the effect consists in the immediate antecedent phase of the causal stuff, the absence of this particular phase in the infinite past history of the causal stuff would entail the existence of the effect in question even before its production. It is held that effect is the negation of its pre-non-existence. Now if the pre-non-existence of the effect is distinctively identified with the immediate antecedent phase of the causal stuff, there is no room for denying that such antecedent phase was not in existence before. And when the absence of pre-non-existence entails the existence of the effect, its existence during the infinite past career of the causal stuff cannot be prevented by any logic. The consequence is that the Jaina is confronted with the issue of the beginningless existence of the effect to prevent which he trotted out the theory of pre-non-existence. So the admission of pre-non-existence and its denial lead to the same consequence. It may be argued that though the series of antecedent phases prior to the immediate phase do not constitute the pre-non-existence of the effect, still the issue of the previous existence of the effect cannot materialize, because the antecedent phases are numerically different from the effect, and numerical difference is as much a bar to the production of the effect as pre-non-existence is. But in that case the postulation of pre-non-existence is superfluous, as the numerical difference of the series of antecedent phases would prevent the emergence of the effect before its time. One might reply that the postulation of pre-non-existence is made in deference to the dictum that the effect is the negation of pre-non-existence. But since the negation of such pre-non-existence is found in the whole antecedent history of the cause the issue of the pre-existence of the effect is unavoidable. A different approach may be made to find a way out of the cul de sac. It might be maintained that the immediate antecedent phase may be regarded as the pre-non-existence of the effect and the effect may be regarded as the destruction of the pre-non-existence. As the phases previous to the phase called pre-non-existence do not constitute the destruction of the pre-non-existence, the question of the pre-existence of the effect does not arise. But the defence smacks of the Buddhist position which holds the destruction of the previous moment and the origination of the next moment as equivalent. The Jaina cannot consistently adopt this position as he maintains that pre-non-existence is devoid of a beginning. Being unbounded by a previous time-limit it cannot be identified with the immediate antecedent phase, which is bounded by all that goes before and comes after. If, in the alternative, it is held to be distinct from all the previous phases of the causal stuff as identification with any one phase would raise all the difficulties, the pre-non-existence would not be an element in the being of the cause, which is the Vaiśeṣika position, and it has been found to be unacceptable.

Published by:
Jain Vishwa Bharati Institute
Ladnun - 341 306 (Rajasthan) General Editor:
Sreechand Rampuria
Edited by:
Rai Ashwini Kumar
T.M. Dak
Anil Dutta Mishra

First Edition:1996
© by the Authors

Printed by:
Pawan Printers
J-9, Naveen Shahdara, Delhi-110032

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Consciousness
  2. JAINA
  3. Jaina
  4. Non-absolutism
  5. Sāṅkhya
  6. Vaiśeṣika
  7. Violence
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