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The Nyaya System Philosophy- The Indian philosophy

The Nyaya System Philosophy- The Indian philosophy

The Nyaya system is the work of the great sage Gautama. It is a realistic philosophy based mainly on logical grounds. It admits four separate sources of true knowledge, viz. perception (pratyaksh), inference (anumana), comparison (uparnana) and testimony (sabda). Perception is the direct knowledge of objects produced by their relation to our senses. It may be external (bahya) or internal (antara), according as the sense concerned is external, like the eye and the ear, or internal, like the mind (manas). Inference is the knowledge of objects, not through perception, but through the apprehension of some mark (linga) which is invariably related to the inferred objects (sadhya). The invariable relation between the two is called vyapti. In inference there are at least three propositions and at most three terms, viz. the paksa or minor term about which we infer something, the sadhya or major term which is the inferred object, and the linga or sadhana or middle term which is invariably related to the major, and is present in the minor. To illustrate: ‘The hill is fiery, because it smokes; and whatever smokes is fiery.’ Comparison is the knowledge of the relation between a name and things so named on the basis of a given description of their similarity to some familiar object. A man is told that a gavaya is like a cow. Then he finds an animal in the forest, which strikingly resembles the cow, and comes to know that the animal must be a gavaya. Such knowledge is derived from upamana or comparison. Sabda or verbal testimony is the knowledge about anything derived from the statements of authoritative persons. A scientist tells us that water is a compound of hydrogen and oxygen in a certain proportion. Although we may not have verified the truth ourselves, we know it on the authority of the scientist. Here our knowledge is derived from Sabda or testimony. All other sources of knowledge have been reduced by the Naiyahikas to these four.

The objects of knowledge, according to the Nyaya, are the self, the body, the senses and their objects, cognition (buddhi), mind (manas), activity (pravrtti), mental defects (dosa), rebirth (pretyabhava), the feelings of pleasure and pain (phala), suffering (duhkha), and freedom from suffering (apavarga). The Nyaya, like many other systems of Indian philosophy, seeks to deliver the self from its bondage to the body, the senses and their objects. According to it, the self is distinct from the body and the mind. The body is only a composite substance made of matter. The mind (manas) is a subtle, indivisible and eternal substance (aņu). It serves the soul as an instrument for the perception of psychic qualities like pleasure, pain, etc. It is, therefore, called an internal sense.

The self (atman) is another substance which is quite distinct from the mind and the body. It acquires the attribute of consciousness when it is related to any object through the senses. But consciousness is not an essential quality of the self. It is an accidental or adventitious quality which ceases to qualify the self in the state of mukti or liberation. While the mind (manas) is infinitesimal like an atom, the self is all- pervading (vibhu), indestructible and eternal. It is an agent which likes and dislikes objects and tries to obtain or avoid them and enjoys or suffers the consequences of its actions. It is ignorance of the truth (mithya-jnana) and the consequent faults of desire, aversion and infatuation (raga, dvesa and moha) that impel the self to act for good and bad ends and plunge it into the world of sin and suffering, birth and death. Liberation (apavarga) means the absolute cessation of all pain and suffering brought about by the right knowledge of reality (tattva-jnana). Some people think that it is a state of happiness. But this is entirely wrong, for there is no pleasure without pain, just as there is no light without shade. So liberation is only release from pain and not pleasure or happiness.

The existence of God is proved by the Naiyayikas by several arguments. God is the ultimate cause of the creation, maintenance and destruction of the world. He did not create the world out of nothing, but out of eternal atoms, space, time, ether, minds and souls. This world has been created in order that individual souls (jivas) might enjoy pleasure or suffer pain according to the merit or demerit of their actions in other lives and in other worlds. The most popular argument for God’s existence is: ‘All things of the world like mountains and seas, the sun and the moon, are effects, because they are made up of parts. Therefore, they must have a maker (kartā). The individual selves cannot be the maker or creator of the world, because they are limited in power and knowledge, and so cannot deal with such subtle and imperceptible entities as atoms, of which all physical things are composed. The creator of the world must be an intelligent spirit with unlimited power and wisdom, and capable of maintaining the moral order of the universe.

God created the world not for any end of His own, but for the good of all living beings. This, however, does not mean that there must be only happiness and no misery in the world. If individual selves have any freedom of will in them, they would act for good or bad ends and thereby bring happiness or misery on themselves. But under the loving care and wise guidance of the Divine Being, all individuals can sooner or later attain right knowledge about themselves and the world, and thereby final release from all suffering (mukti).

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