Jain Philosophy

Jain Philosophy
Absolute knowledge
Cosmic Consciousness
Relative imperfect
Karmically conditioned
imperfect knowledge
Jain Cosmology
Jivas animate beings bound or liberated by karma
Invisible microbes (nigodas), plants, insects, animals,
humans, gods.
Ajivas inanimate things
Space (akasha)
Time (kala)
Body (pudgala)
material atoms (anu) of earth, water, fire, air
Fine particles of karmic dirt (karma varana)
Metaphors of dust, dirt, staining, contamination,
and coloring are used to explain how karma flows
into (asrava) the pure consciousness of the jiva.
The Jain Universe
Realist Ontology
Persons and things are real.
The universe (loka) is real and material.
Karma is a form of material substance.
The world is eternal.
There is no one supreme omnipotent creator god.
Jainism is trans-theistic rather than atheistic.
Many devas of a higher karmic attainment.
Jivas are the master of their own destiny.
No god’s grace can save them from their the
karmic choices.
Jivas are infinite in number. Their true nature is
infinite awareness, perception, bliss, energy.
Jaina Theory of Knowledge
Indirect fallible, karmically limited knowledge jnana
Mati opinion
Sensory perception vyavaharika pratyaksha
empirical perception
Memory smrti
Recognition pratyabhijna (combination of
memory and perception)
Logic (inference induction) tarka
Shruta verbal knowledge
Direct karmically purified supra-empirical
Avadhi purified but still limited cognition
of spatio-temporal objects, remote viewing,
Manahparyaya Even more purified
cognition of other minds, telepathy
Kevala pure infinite knowledge of
everything by the siddhas, omniscience
Jain epistemology and logic as the principle
of ahimsa applied to thought.
Intellectual non-violence.
Svetambara Monk on
The Jain Theory of Relativity
• Anekantavada Ontology of Relativity.
• Nayavada Epistemology of Relativity.
• Syadvada Logic of Relativity.
• An-eka-anta: Not one sided, the manysidedness of reality.
• All things have infinite aspects. As such they
cannot they perceived and cognized by the
ordinary human mind with its karmic
limitations. Only omniscient kevalins can see
the total reality.
• Reality is infinitely and irreducibly complex.
Intellectual humility and respect for other
points of view recognizing all are limited.
Avoid ekantata (absolutism): egotistical,
sectarian, or dogmatic clinging to a point
of view
• The partial standpoints or perspectives.
• Truth of any judgment or view depends on the
perspective, the naya.
• Apparently contradictory statements can be
made about anything from different nayas.
• Truth claims are based on valid nayas.
Nayas are kinds of knowledge accessible to humans.
Nayas are theoretically infinite.
But there are seven basic ones.
Not modern relativism or skepticism that there is
no truth or truth is a convention.
There is an absolute truth and Jinas know what it is.
Jains vigorously defend Jain principles against
attack and critique other philosophical systems
as one-sided.
Other philosophical views are stuck on one
naya, true from a one point of view.
The Jain view is simply more comprehensive
and inclusive.
Jainism saw itself as the true middle way
between the radical impermanence of the
Buddhists no self doctrine and the permanent
enduring self of the Vedantists and Naiyayikas.
Nyaya proofs for God were also targets for
much rigorous refutation.
Jain Logic
Dialectical logic of conditional predication
Transcends either/or binary logic and the
disagreements that arise from partial, one–
sided judgments.
Maybe Logic
Syat vada
Syat “let it be” or “it may be”
Multi-value logic
Syadvada is a seven-valued logic
Saptabhangi—seven-fold predication
1. From one point of view it is[ exists, true, or
2. From one point of view it is not.
3. From one point of view it and it is not.
4. From one point of view it is and it is
5. From one point of view it is not and it is
6. From one point of view it is, it is not, and it is
7. From one point of view it is indescribable.
From one perspective he is bad.
From one perspective he is not bad.
From one perspective he is bad and not bad.
From one perspective he is bad and
From one perspective he is not bad and
From one perspective he is bad, not bad, and
From one perspective he is indescribable.
Gautama: Lord. Is the soul permanent or
Mahavira: The soul is permanent as well as
impermanent. From the point of view of the
substance (dravya) it is eternal. From the point of
view of its modes (paryaya) it is undergoes birth,
decay, and destruction and hence is impermanent.
Bhagavati Sutra 7:58-59
Mahavira’s Inclusive Middle Path
Mahavira answered profound metaphysical
questions with yes and no:
Existence and non-existence of the soul;
Eternity and non-eternity of the universe
Being and non-being
Unity and plurality
Permanence and impermanence
Identity and difference
Materialism and idealism
Necessity and freedom
Founders of Jain
philosophy who set
the trend for later
Jain thinkers:
Siddhasena Divakara
“Emergence, perishing, and endurance characterize
all entities.”
Meaning of the Fundamental Principles
Umasvati 2nd-4th centuries CE,
First work in Sanskrit to systematize the basics of
Jain philosophy. Touchstone for all later authors
who write commentaries on it.
Kundakunda Digambara thinker
2nd or 3rd Century CE
Two Truths
Mundane perspective = Anekanta-Ordinary
Vyavahara naya
cognition from the point of
view of the seven nayas.
Ultimate perspective = Kevala-perfect knowledge
Niscaya naya
of a Jina.
Siddhasena Divakara the “Sun”
Svetambara logician, circa 5th century CE
Nyayavatara Introduction to Logic
Sanmatirtarka Logic of True Doctrine
Divides the seven nayas into
Permanent substances
Changing modes
Identifies the nayas with different philosophical
Permanent substances (dravyas)
1. Common
Vaisesika, Sankhya
2. General
Mahayana Buddhism, Vedanta
Changing modes and qualities (paryayas)
Sautrantika Buddhism
5. Verbal
6. Subtle
Haribhadra 8th century CE
Compendium of the Six Philosophical Systems
(Buddhism, Nyaya, Sankhya, Jainism, Vaisesika,
Mimamsa, Carvaka)
Compendium of Views on Yoga
Victory Flag of Relativity (Anekanta)
Satirizes Hindu Classics in his A Tale of Scoundrels
• Akalanka 8th c.
• Haribhadra 8th c.
• Hemacandra 12th c.
Ripper Apart of Other Systems of Thought
• Yasovijaya 17th c.
Jain were great builders of libraries and
collectors of manuscripts.
Religions are different roads converging upon the same
point. What does it matter if we take different roads so
long as we reach the same goal.