by Jayaram V
The theory of naya or the doctrine of view points or standpoints is very peculiar to
Jainism. A naya is a stand point from which
we make a statement, form an opinion or pass a judgment.
This concept is based upon the premise that all human
knowledge and the various judgments and decisions we make about this and
that are relative and true in the context of certain conditions and factors
only. You remove these conditions or the context and your view point becomes
false or erroneous.
Since knowledge varies depending upon which standpoint we
are considering, no one should take truth for granted and speak in terms of
absolute certainty about anything.
We have many versions of nayas. We have chosen the most
popular version according to which there are seven fundamental nayas or standpoints
from which a thing can be examined and conclusions can be
When considered alone these nayas lead to logical
fallacies. The most appropriate approach should be to examine things from
various standpoints in order to gain a wider understanding and knowledge.
Naigamanaya: It refers to the general purpose or
the common description of an activity that is present in the
activity throughout. According to another interpretation, Naigama naya
is when we consider a thing from a holistic point of view, with
reference to its parts as well as the whole, to its general as well as
specific qualities without considering any distinction between them. For
example when we consider a person as a representative of human species as
well as an individual with distinct features of his own, it is naigamanaya.
Samgrahanaya: It is when we take a class point of
view, looking at the overall common features of a thing that it shares
with the rest of its class, without considering its specific or individual
features. For example when we consider a person as a representative of the
human species without considering his distinct qualities as an individual
human being, we are using Samgrahanaya.
Vyavaharanaya: It is when we consider the specific
or striking features or characteristics of a thing out of our
experience or habit, without considering the general characteristics
it shares with the things of its class. For example when we preoccupy
ourselves with certain striking features in a person ignoring the features
that he has in common with the rest of human species or his other distinct
features as an individual, out of sheer habit or our previous experience in
such matters, we are taking the stand of vyavharanaya.
Rjusutranaya: It is when you consider a thing form
its present stand point without considering its previous history or
antecedents. It is like watching the flow of a river, without bothering
yourself from where it is flowing or to where it is going.
Sabdanaya: It is when we strictly go according to
the meaning of a word, without acknowledging the fact that the same word may
have other meanings or other words may have the same meaning.
Samabhirudhanaya: It is when we consider the
conventional meaning of a word ignoring its root or etymological meaning.
Evambhutanaya: It is when we consider a thing from
the point of view of its root or etymological meaning of its name.
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