Sixteen elements of Nyāya
Sometimes transliterated as: padārthāh, padārtha, padartha, elements, elements in nyaya
Nyāya darśanaṃ is one among the six traditional philosophies, which consider the vēdaḥ as the unchallenged source of knowledge. That is why it is considered to be one among āstika darśanaṃ. As all the philosophies have their own way to understand the world. Sorrow is stated as the main problem faced by mankind and liberation from it is the main goal of our life. To attain this goal, the true knowledge of all the elements is very primary. These elements are sixteen in number.
This is the first sutra of nyāya sūtraṃ which states that the true knowledge of the sixteen elements or padārthāḥ leads to niśrēyasa or the mōkṣhaḥ(Destruction of the final sorrow is mōkṣhaḥ according to nyāya.)
Sixteen elements of Nyāya
These sixteen elements of nyāya are:
- Pramānaṃ - It is the means of valid knowledge.
- Prameyaḥ - It means the object of right knowledge.
- Saṃśayaḥ - It means doubt.
- Prayojanaṃ - It means the motive.
- Dṛṣṭāntaḥ - It means the illustrations.
- Siddhāntaḥ - It means the demonstrated truth.
- Avayavaḥ - It means the factors of reasoning and syllogism.
- Tarkaḥ - It means reasoning and confutation.
- Nirṇayaḥ - It means discernment.
- Vādaḥ - It means discussion.
- Jalpaḥ - It means disputation.
- Vitaṇḍā - It means cavil or objection.
- Hetvābhāsaḥ - It means fallacious reasoning.
- Chalaḥ - It means casuistry or unfair reasoning.
- Jātiḥ - It means futile rejoinder.
- Nigraha-sthānaṃ - It means clinchers.
Pramā is nothing but valid knowledge. The source of that is pramānaṃ. Valid knowledge is that which reveals a thing as it actually is. It can be identified as valid knowledge when it is corresponding to the actual nature of the object as it is. We can also know that it is valid when we successfully obtain the object stated.(Like when we know that there is a cow by seeing, we can conclude that it is a valid knowledge only after when we really obtain it)
According to Nyāya tradition, there are four pramāṇās namely:
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Ātmā- śarīra-indriya-artha-budhdhi- manaḥ-pravṛtti-dōṣa-prētyabhāva-phala-duḥkhāpavargāstu pramēyaṃ।
After defining pramāṇāni, Gautama further defines pramēya, which is an object of valid knowledge. It is classified into twelve types:
- Ātmā - It is denoted by self.
- Śarīraṃ - It is represented by body.
- Indriyaṃ - It is called as senses.
- Arthaḥ - It is known as experiences.
- Buddhiḥ - It is denoted as intelligence.
- Manaḥ - It is known as intellect.
- Pravṛttiḥ - It is defined as activity.
- Doṣaḥ - It is known as imbalances.
- Prētyabhāvaḥ - It is called as re-birth.
- Phalaṃ - It is known as consequences.
- Duḥkhaṃ - It is called as suffering.
- Apavargaḥ - It is defined as liberation.
There are many things that might be considered as topics of valid knowledge, but these 12 are especially significant because the true knowledge about them will banish all the misconception and lead to freedom from sufferings; while false knowledge of these topics helps in rebirth and suffering(samsara).
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The term samśaya means doubt, but that must not be confused with an error or false knowledge. Doubt has at least two parts in it, which are opposite to each other. Either of it is an error or false knowledge. So, either of it is true or valid knowledge. When two opposite things are known at a time, leads to further enquiry about the truth. Thus, Doubt is just the incomplete knowledge which forms the platform for further investigations.
Causes of Saṃśaya
A conflicting judgment about the character of an object arises from the below mentioned four different arguments:
- Samanadharmōpapattēḥ - Display of properties common to many objects leads to doubt.(Like
a man and a small tree may tend to have similar height and width. So, from seeing from a distance we doubt whether it is 'a tree or a man'.)
- Anēkadharmōpapattēḥ - Characteristics not common to any objects also leads to doubt.
- Vipratipatteḥ - Conflicting testimony also leads to doubt.
- Upalabdhyavyavasthātaḥ - Irregularity of perception and non-perception also leads to doubt.
Yaṃ arthaṃ adhikṛtya pravartatē tat prayōjanaṃ।
Prayojanam is a desire which impels one to act. Purpose serves as the motive behind all the action done to attain something pleasurable or to avoid something undesirable. Until there is a purpose, there can be no successful action; therefore, a wise person never engages in any kind of purposeless actions. It is also the purpose or motive which determines if an act is morally right or wrong. No act should be deduced as good or bad, it is the intention with which it is done that determines its moral character. Therefore sincere spiritual aspirants should always examine and reflect upon our motives and clarify the intent of actions performed.
Laukikaparīkṣakāṇāṃ yasminnarthē budhdhisāmyaṃ saḥ dṛṣṭāntaḥ।
When an expert and layman are of the same opinion this happens. It is also known as the familiar example which is a common observation of both common folk and experts. Both the scientists and laymen accepts the general proposition that whenever there is rain there must be clouds. This type of example can be used in the process of reasoning from the known to the unknown.
Siddhānta philosophy is a conclusion that is recognized as being logically proven by a certain school of philosophy. There are four kinds of Siddhāntas:
- A commonly accepted truth is a tenet which is not opposed by any school of philosophy and which is claimed by at least one school; e.g. All the schools of Hindu philosophy accept earth, water, light, air and ether as the five base elements and smell, taste, colour, touch and sound as the objects of the five senses.
- A peculiar truth is a tenet which is accepted by the similar schools, but rejected by the opposite schools. e.g., the 3 Abrahamic schools accepts that God created the world from nothing. All schools of Indian philosophy rejects this conclusion saying that something cannot come into existence out of nothing.
- An implied truth is a tenet which is not explicitly declared, but are finalized on the basis of examination of the particulars concerning it. e.g., The discussion whether certain people should be allowed to vote implies that those people are capable of understanding and making political decisions.
- A consequential truth is a tenet which if accepted, leads to the acceptance of another tenet for e.g., the acceptance of the doctrine that there is a Self which is separate from the 5 senses, because it can recognize one and the same object by seeing and touching both. Hence it implies the following mentioned possibilities:
- Senses are more than one.
- Each of the senses has its particular characteristic.
- Self derives its knowledge through the channels of the senses.
- Substance which are distinct from its qualities is the locus of them.
Pratijñā hētūdāharaṇōpanayanigamanāni avayavāḥ
Avijñātatvē arthē kāraṇōpapattitaḥ tatvajñānārthaṃ ūhaḥ tarkaḥ
Tarkaḥ is a process for ascertaining the real nature of a thing of whose character is not known. It is a method of arriving to the right conclusion by showing the absurdity of all the contrary ideas. Tarka is a method of attaining knowledge of the truth about an unknown or uncertain thing by comparing and then gradually eliminating all the competing suppositions; E.g. Is the Self a product or a non-Product? If the Self is a non-product, it will experience the result of its action and on the eradication of the causes of re-birth, will be released; therefore, re-birth and release are indeed possible. If it is a product, these chances would not be possible, because the Self's connection with the body, mind and senses will not be the result and experience of its own action.
The phenomenon of re-birth and release is very well known and established; therefore, the Self must be a non-product. This form of reasoning is also called as Confutation. This is not a method which ascertains, determines and verifies that the Self is a particular thing and nothing else. It simply eliminates all other contesting theories to the supposition it supports; after which truth is established through the application of other means of accurate knowledge. Hence, confutation is considered to be a supporting technique and is therefore mentioned separately.
Vimṛśya pakṣapratipakṣābhyāṃ arthāvadhāraṇaṃ nirṇyaḥ
The removal of doubts and the resolution of a dispute by examining two opposite views is called as nirṇayaḥ. Dialectic is in the form of a dialogue between two people who may hold differing views, yet wish to establish the truth by seeking agreement with one another. This is in contrast to debate in which two or more people hold differing views and wish to persuade or prove one another wrong and thus a jury or judge is needed to decide the matter. The sequence of investigation is as follows:
- First impression
- Doubt arises
- Examining the opposite view
- Application of logic
- Determination of the controversy
- Ascertainment of Truth
Doubt is the result of first impression and gives impetus to investigation in order to ascertain the truth. “Ascertainment” is unnecessary in the case of direct perception or the verbal testimony of a trustworthy authority. But one must be convinced of the authority being trustworthy. In other words, everything should be questioned and not accepted simply because the person holds a degree or title. One must test that individual and once the authenticity is assured then only one can accept the statements without further investigation. Endlessly questioning for the sake of questioning is also not useful for coming to the accurate conclusion.
Pramāṇa tarkasādhanōpālaṃbhaḥ sidhdāntāvirudhdaḥ paṃcāvayavōpapannaḥ pakṣapratipakṣa parigrahaḥ vādaḥ
A dialogue in which one adopts one of two opposing positions is called as vādaḥ. The purpose of discussion is to come to the truth of the proposition under consideration. This may be achieved by talking about the topic with anyone who is a sincere seeker of truth. In vāda it is not necessary to establish one's own thesis, it is enough to submit one's views for examination in order to ascertain the truth. The discussion does not necessarily have to take into consideration the opposite opinion; it is enough to put any proposition to logical reasoning. The usual procedure is to maintain the thesis by means of right knowledge and to counter-thesis by the means of tarka.
Yathōktōpapannaḥ chalajātinigrahasthānōpālaṃbhaḥ jalpaḥ
A vigorous verbal disputation directed to gain victory in it is called as jalpaḥ. The sole purpose of engaging in a polemic is simply to gain victory over the other party. There’s no desire to either gain further knowledge or to establish one’s own position. Therefore, one can employ any device of debate in order to win. These devices are usually of a negative character, such as attacking the opponent’s character, quibbling, advancing futile arguments, behave with absurdity, evading the issue, focusing on examples or metaphors rather than on the actual argument itself etc.
Sa pratipakṣa sthāpanāhīnaḥ vitaṇḍā
A kind of wrangling, which consists in mere attacks on the opposite side is called as vitaṇḍā. In cavil there is no desire to establish any proposition. The only interest is to heckle the speaker by carping and offering frivolous objections. Polemics and caviling, which are considered as forms of discussion, may be used by an aspirant of truth only as means of protecting one's young and fragile knowledge which has not yet matured to a full blossomed conviction.
One may occasionally encounter objectionable people, who devoid of true knowledge, are puffed up with their academic achievements or are deluded by their own erroneous convictions. These people may try to impose their views and beliefs on others. Under such circumstances the student is urged to make use of these argumentative devices in order to safeguard the development of knowledge in the same way that nature uses thorns on some plants to safeguard the growth of its fruit.
If one’s philosophy or belief system is under attack then one may also employ these negative means for self-defense. One should never gratuitously criticize or attack anyone else’s belief system, ideology or way of life if that person is keeping to themselves. When a person tries to impose their views on others then defense is required.
Generally, an argument takes place where there is a difference in opinion. This does not generally happen in perceptual cognition, where the object is sensed the same by everybody. But in an argument one establishes a statement by giving some proof, while the other person may differ with his views. So to establish his point he would use the anumānaṃ or inference, which has a peerless place in the argument process. To win an argument one should not only provide flawless proof but also find the flaws in the opponent's proof. To attain a comprehensive knowledge in this subject hētvābhāsaḥ or flaws in proof were also described.
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Vacanavighātō arthavikalpōpapatyā chalaṃ
The opposition offered to a proposition by the assumption of an alternative meaning is called as chalaḥ. Casuistry is classified into three types:
- Vacas - It is called as playing upon words. This consists of willfully taking a term to mean something different from that intended by the speaker; e.g., taking the word 'quadruped' to mean four-legged table instead of an animal.
- Sāmānyas - It means generalizations. This consists of asserting the impossibility of a particular part because of the impossibility of the whole; e.g., to deny that a particular cow is black because all cows are not black.
- Upacārās - It is denoted by metaphors. This consists of invalidating a word used in a particular context by taking it literally when it was used metaphorically; e.g., the ‘House cheered’ means that the people in the house cheered and not the physical structure.
Sādharmya vaidharmyābhāṃ pratyavasthānaṃ jātiḥ
Offering objections founded on mere similarity or dissimilarity is called as jātiḥ. The reply is said to be futile if it does not take into consideration the universal connection between the middle term and the major term. Mere similarity or dissimilarity is not sufficient. There are twenty-four kinds of futility which display equality of the arguments of two sides so that neither side can win the argument.
When we do not understand or misunderstand the arguments stated by the opponent we eventually lose the debate. There is no purpose in entering into a debate if one is ignorant about the subject being investigated. Demonstrating ignorance or misunderstanding of the subject under discussion and attaining defeat in a debate is the last element in nyāya darśanaṃ, which is called nigrahasthānaṃ. Here the term 'nigrahasthānaṃ' means attaining defeat in a debate. The means for that defeat are shown as Vipratipattiḥ(viparītā vā kutsitā vā pratipattiḥ) and Apratipattiḥ. 'Vipratipattiḥ' is a situation in which one misunderstands and 'Apratipattiḥ' is a situation in which does not understand at all.
- It is also called as duḥkhaṃ in Sanskrit.
- Nyāya sūtraṃ - 1.1.1
- Nyāya sūtraṃ - 1.1.3
- Nyāya sūtraṃ - 1.1.9
- Nyāya sūtraṃ - 1.1.23
- Nyāya sūtraṃ - 1.1.24
- Nyāya sūtraṃ - 1.1.25
- Nyāya sūtraṃ - 1.1.26
- Nyāya sūtraṃ - 1.1.32
- Nyāya sūtraṃ - 1.1.40
- Nyāya sūtraṃ - 1.1.41
- It is called as pūrva pakṣa.
- It is called as nirṇaya.
- Nyāya sūtraṃ - 1.2.1
- Nyāya sūtraṃ - 1.2.2
- It is called as argumentum ad hominem.
- Nyāya sūtraṃ - 1.2.3
- Nyāya sūtraṃ - 1.2.4
- Nyāya sūtraṃ - 1.2.10
- Nyāya sūtraṃ - 1.2.18
- Nyāya sūtraṃ - 1.2.19