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Anekāntavāda And Syādvāda: The Theory Of Naya In Buddhist Literature

Published: 19.04.2012

Pali literature indicates some of the characteristics of Nayavāda. The Buddha mentions ten possible ways of claiming knowledge in the course of addressing the Kālāmas. The ten ways are (i) Anussavena, (ii) Paramparāya, (iii) Itikirāya, (iv) Piṭakasampadāya, (v) Bhavyarū-patāya, (vi) Samaṇo na guru, (vii) Takkihetu, (viii) Nayahetu, (ix) Ākāraparivitakkena, and (x) Diṭṭhinijjhānakkhantiya[1]. Out of these, the eighth way, viz. Nayahetu is more important for our study. Here Naya is a method of a statement which leads a meaning to a particular judgement (nayena neti, S. ii. 58 anayena nayati dummedho, J. iv. 241). The Jātaka says that the wise man draws a particular standpoint (nayaṁnayati medhāvī, J. iv. 241). In about the same meaning, Naya is used in Jaina philosophy, as we have already seen. This Nayahetu of Buddhism appears to indicate the Jaina influence of Naya, and it would have been made a part of its own in the form of two types of saccas, viz. Sammutisacca and the Paramatthasacca[2] which are used in about the same sense as Paryāyārthika naya and Dravyārthikanaya or Vyavahāranaya and Niścayanaya. The words "Dunnaya" is also found in Buddhism used in identical way.[3]

The Suttanipāta indicates that the Sammutisacca was accepted as a common theory of the Recluses and the Brāhmaṇas[4], and the Paramatthasacca was treated as the highest goal[5]. These two Saccas are characterised as Nītattha (having a direct meaning), and Neyyattha (having an indirect meaning[6]) The Commentary on the Aṅguttara Nikāya says that there is no third truth (tatiyaṁ n'upalabbhati). Sammuti (conventional statement) is true because of convention and Paramattha is true because of indicating the true characteristics of realities:

Duve saccāni akkhāsi Sambudho vadataṁ varo.
Sammutiṁ paramatthañ ca tatiyaṁ n'upalabbhati.
Saṇketavacanaṁ saccaṁ Lokasammutikāraṇam.
Paramatthavacanaṁ saccaṁ dhammānaṁ tathalakkhaṇam[7].

On the other hand, it is also said that there is only one truth, not second (ekaṃ hi saccaṁ na dutiyamatthi[8]). This contra­dictory statement appears to give an impression that even in Buddhism the nature of things is considered through some sort of relativistic standpoint which is similar to the theory of Nayavāda of Jainism.

Buddhism was aware of the conception of the Nayavāda of Jainism, since the Aṅguttara Nikāya[9] refers to the several Paccekasaccas (individual truths) of the several Recluses and Brāhmaṇas. If it is so, the conception of Paccekasacca (partial truth) of Buddhism is definitely influenced by the Nayavāda of Jainism. There is no doubt that Jainism founded this theory earlier than Buddhism.


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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. Buddha
  2. Buddhism
  3. Guru
  4. JAINA
  5. Jaina
  6. Jainism
  7. Jātaka
  8. Naya
  9. Nayavāda
  10. Niścayanaya
  11. Pali
  12. Parikṣā
  13. Paryāyārthika
  14. Paryāyārthika Naya
  15. Vyavahāranaya
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