Although in India philosophy and religion have always been looked upon as the two aspects of one and the same discipline, still a critical outlook takes us to a different view on the situation. It is true that our religious systems seek to stand on a firm philosophical background, but what is more true is that we have not produced intuitive and speculative philosophy alone, which sometimes verges on mysticism. A Western student of philosophy always suffers from this misunderstanding that India never produced 'true' philosophy in the modern sense of the term, or I would say, rigorous analytical or critical philosophy. He thinks that the classical Indian philosophers were concerned with primitive speculations, some occult practices, some spiritual dogmas and mysticism. Our transcendental outlook on life was to a certain extent responsible for this misconception in the West about the business and nature of Indian philosophy.
But what passes for philosophy nowadays in the West can also be found in Indian philosophic tradition and recently in the West there has been a widespread increasing interest in the study of Indian analytical philosophy. What is after all philosophy or, in other words, what sort of problems it is that philosophers are constantly engaged in solving ? The answer is: To give a description of the whole universe. By this we mean not only the innumerable material objects, but also the varied acts of consciousness. We see, feel, remember, imagine and do such like. With this comes also the question of verification, that is, the rigorous analysis of human knowledge by means of logic. Such questions arise : If we can be sure that we 'know' some-thing and whether our knowing anything corresponds to reality, whether we can generalise from observed regularity in nature, the role of words in human behaviour, i.e. to say, whether words mean anything. To answer these sorts of questions we enter into the realm of epistemology and logic. Philosophy nowadays is being equated with this analytical tradition.
In India while tracing the origin and development of philosophy we often find an overlap between this philosophy and religion. We believe in unquestioned absolute authority of mystical revelations, but we have also a tradition of critical pursuit for truth. The result has been that every branch of religion sought sanction from some philosophical system. But the opposite process is also discernible: a critical philosophical tradition later turned into a speculative religious system by its followers. Even in exclusively critical system of Nyaya, Paksilasvamin, the author of Nyayabhasya, transformed a pure Vada-doctrine into a clear and conscious form of adhyatma doctrine and in doing so he drew upon the Yoga of Patanjali. But adherence to logical method implicitly runs through the mind of Paksilasvamin when he tries to show that the old categories of Vada-doctrine form an integral part of Nyaya, otherwise Nyaya would not have differed from other adhytitma doctrines, such as the Upanisads. Thus he interprets the term anviksiki in both ways: on the one hand he identifies it with Nyaya, i.e. methodology (cf. pramanar arthapariksanam) and on the other, he looks at it as a adhyatma doctrine dependent upon Nyaya, i.e. rationally worked out. This shows that in his opinion a philosophical system should neither be exclusively an assemblage of metaphysical dogmas, nor of logical or epistemological doctrines, but both these two aspects should be proportionately present. In spite of this working out of Nyaya by Paksilasvamin analytical mind of the early thinkers of this tradition run into a different direction. Later on, gradually the old adhyatma doctrine of Nyaya receded to the background and a vigorous polemic attitude came to the forefront. It is Navya-nyaya. What I want to make out is that in Indian tradition critical attitude has never been lacking. It has always guided our philosophic speculations. In Nyaya tradition this is more discernible when the Naiyayika says that 'whatever exists is knowable and nameable'. This serves as a blow to mysticism, because mysticism considers Ultimate Reality to be ineffable. But the fact remains that the mystics also seek sanction of his mystical experience through dialectical argumentation. The Madhyamika dialectic of four-fold alternatives is an instance lo the point. Although on the destructive side the Madhyamika has implicitly assumed that the nature of Reality cannot be ascertained by our dialectical reasoning and what we call Reality turns out to be empty in content, a fiction of our imagination. This method of arguments and counter-arguments has through centuries saved Indian mind from a complacent attitude and the importance of reasoning has always been admitted in spite of widespread belief in revelation and mystical experience.
Navya-nyaya is basically an epistemological and linguistic system. Analysis of statements and concepts, theory of know-ledge etc. form here the subject of discussion. Although by this time Indian epistemology in Buddhist and Brahmanical circle had far advanced, still Navya-nyaya is the turning point in pioneering an altogether new method of philosophical investigation. With Udayana (eleventh Cent. A.D.) this new attitude is discernible. Udayana was mainly engaged in his defence against the Buddhist and so he had to divert his attention also to meta-physical concepts. But truly speaking, Navya-nyaya made its .appearance as a rigorous system with Gangega (14th Cent. A.D.) whose epoch-making work Tattvacintamavi startled the intellectuals of all over the country. This work zealously displays the author's love for precision and exactitude in expression. Epistemological and logical concepts are analysed in terms of definition. This work of Gatigega gained so much popularity that the development of this school for the next six hundred years is based only on the commentaries and subcommentaries of this great work.
In Navya-nyaya traditional language in philosophy was superseded by a new set of vocabulary to keep pace with the -emergence of new concepts. In course of time all branches of Sanskrit literature. viz. Grammar, Aesthetics, Law etc. adopted this new methodology and expression. Although tradition says that Navya-nyaya originated in Mithila, but recent researches have shown that Mithila and Bengal schools of Navya-nyaya were two parallel streams. Although Gangesa is said to be the pioneer exponent of Navya-nyaya but with the publication of Nyayaratna of Manikantha and Nyciyasiddhantadipa of Saga-llhara, the two works belonging to pre-Gangega period, we are mow in a position to say that Gangda was more an expert in marshalling the definitions and arguments of his predecessors.
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