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Saptabhangi-Tarangini (The Seven Facets of Reality)

Saptabhangi-Tarangini (The Seven Facets of Reality)
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Item Code: NAI038
Author: Dr. S.C. Jain
Publisher: Bharatiya Jnanpith
Language: Sanskrit Text with English Translation
Edition: 2008
ISBN: 9788126315833
Pages: 126
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 9 inch X 6 inch
weight of the book: 265 gms
About the Book

Saptabhangi-tarangini is a rare and important treatise of Jaina philosophy from the pen of prominent scholar pandit Vimaladasa. It is written in Sanskrit prose. Acharya Samanta-bhadra pronounced the Jaina theory regarding Existence, Knowledge and Expression. The same has been expanded and explained in detail by Acharya Akalanka and Acharya Vidyananda. Saptabhangi-tarangini is an important link in the same chair of thought. It not only emphasizes expression but also constitutes the main theme of the work in the form of the theory of Sevenfold Predication.

Dr. S. C. Jain has attempted the English translation of the book dividing the entire Sanskrit text into a number of paragraphs to facilitate a comparison of the English version with the original Sanskrit text of the work.

The book is very much suggestive of newer channels of research by delving deep into the theory under consideration. The modern scholars, it may be gainfully hoped, will appreciate the work.



Jaina philosophy occupies a prominent place among the system of lndian Thought and Reality. Along with its richness of vast coverage of the field of study it is very much suggestive of the newer ideas to crop up within and outside the borders of India. Its consonance with the researches and concepts by scientists, so far as it goes, it equally encouraging. Anekantavada (theory of Non-absolutism), Syadvada (theory of Relativity) and Saptabhangivada (theory of Sevenfold Expression or Predication) are its foundational principles which, in essence, imply a conditioning of existents and knowledge under the governance of reference frames, both subjective and objective. Anekanta is held be the enlightenment or manifestation of two contradictory traits (dharmas) in an entity (vastu) with no possibility of inconsistency. Jaina thinkers do not find any inconsistency in the co-existence of contradictory traits in a real. According to Jaina philosophy the contradictory traits like existence (bhava) and non-existence (ahava). unity (eka) and diversity (aneka). Permanence (nitya) and impermanence (anitya), distinct (prthak) and non-distinct (aprthak) etc. are held to reside in the same real peacefully and even to the extent of making such a contradiction vital to the very existence of the real. Thus it makes Anekantavada a two-planked theory of Relativity. The prefix Syat (meaning somehow) in the term Syadvada), besides covering the contradiction of Anekantavada, makes Syadvada more general by introducing the need of reference-frames, and goes to bracket even the relational (sapeksa) and the non-relational (nirpeksa) into its ambit. Saptabhangivida is the further extension of Anekantavada to sevenfold traits of a real under the pressure of the theory of expression (vaktavyata or vachaniyata). It is certainly a unique Jaina contribution, not evidently available elsewhere.

The title of the work Saptabhangi-tarangini also denotes that the main and only theme of the unique work in the exposition of the Jaina theory of Sevenfold Expression of Predication, Vimaladasa, the author of the work, was a Digambara Jaina by faith as he himself mentions in the Sanskrit text of the book. As regards his time he has made a reference to plavanga samvat (Plavanga era), which being not identified as yet, nothing can be said with certainty as to when he graced this country with his presence. The mention of his place therein is Tanja where he completed the composition of his work. Nothing more about Tanja is seen there. In the book he also mentions a number of scholar-saints of Jainism, from which some idea about his time may be constructed. He begins with an phorism of Tattvartha Sutra of Umaswami (3rd-_4th century). He produces a verse from Svarupa sambodhana of Aklanka (8th-9th century). He also quotes aphorisms from Pariksamukh sutra of Manikyanandi (9th- 10th century), and also recalls Prabha Chandra (10th -11th century) the commentator of Pariksamukh sutra. The names of scholars-saints mentioned above will certainly enable us to draw the conclusion that Vimaladasa was later than the last of them, that is later than the 11th century.

The above survey of the literary field made use of by Vimaladasa is very much conductive to convince the readers about his deep and extensive studies of Saptabhangi-vada of the Jaina system. He must have been closely and critically aquainted with the text of Aptamimamsa wherin Samanta bhadra has initiated the theory in its widest context in respect of number of duos (dyads). He must have equally critically gone through the commentatiers of Aptamimamsa entitled as Astasati by Akalanka and as Astasahasri by Vidyananda. He must have collected necessary information about the subject from sources both Jaina and others to make his composition exaustive and convincing.

It will not be out of place of remember Anantavirya (11th-12th century). In his Prameyaratnamala he pays his tribute to Manikyanandi (9th-10th century) as 'I bow to Acharya Manikyanandi who churned out the nectar of Nyaya-vidya (science of Logic) from the ocean of the expressions of Acharya Akalanka'. It was Acharya Manikyanandi who composed Pariksamukh Sutra - a very important and original work on Jaina Logic on the foundation laid down by Acharya Akalanka.Similar seems the situation with Vimaladasa who composed his Saptabhangi-tarangini-a unique and core-touching work on the seven-planked theory of formulating bhangas or propositions. It is certainly a rare contribution of Vimaladasa to reveal and elucidate the theory. This similarity of situations between Acharya Manikyanandi and Vimaladasa is exemplary and encouraging even for the modern scholars for building the necessary ground and basis for their themes and projects. Actually speaking this Saptabhangi-tarangini preseribes and gives us a practical course of discipline as to how we obtain the seven-fold predication as a necessity for expression.

The seven bhangas (break-ups) or propositions, admitted universally in Jaina literature on the subject are enumerated in Saptabhangi-tarangini as under :< p> 1. Somehow the pitcher certainly is - Syadastiyeva ghatah.

2. Somehow the pitcher certainly is not -Syannastyeva ghatah.

3. Somehow the pitcher certainly is and is not - Syadastinasti gahtah.

4. Somehow the pitcher certainly is expressible -Syad-avakatavya eva.

5. Somehow the pitcher is and is inexpressible-Syadasti- chavaktevyascha.

6. Somehow the pitcher is not and is inexpressible- Syannasti -chavektasvyascha.

7. Somehow the pitcher is, is not and is inexpressible- Syadasti-nasti-chavaktavyascha.

After establishing the first two bhangas with detailed arguments Samantabhadra advanced to the third and the fourth ones with lesser details. The advancement has been repeated a number of times in connection with all the syadas he chose deal with. Regarding the remaining bhangas he has stated "The experts in the science of Naya-logic may formulate the remaining three bhangas by applying the technique of Naya-logic i.e. by supplying contexts and references considered suitable.'? Thus for him the number of bhangas (break-ups) or propositions is exactly seven, neither less or more. So it is for Vimaladasa too in his Saptabhangi-tarangini.

The first two bhangas have been designated as the primary (mula) ones as they provide ground for the other ones called the secondary or the derived ones (uttara bhangas). To obtain this result the Jaina scholars have resorted to a practical process - a most evident technique leading to a strong conviction. The same may be brought under treatment in accordance with the mathematical theory of combination. Following the mathematical notations the total number of combinations out of three elements is expanded as (3C1 = 3) + (3C2 = 3) + 3C3 =1) =7, or also a as 23 - 1 = 8 -1 = 7. This makes our conviction in the theory of Sevenfold predication still stronger. We are forced to note the difference between the above two positions. The mathematical procedure requires three elements to make a start; while the Jaina accepts first two positions as primary. To reconcile the above two situations one more position i.e. the fourth one, is required to stand parallel to the first two ones, though not declared primary. These three positions or propositions may be said to involve single elements; the third, fifth and sixth ones to involve two element each. Finally, we are able to uphold the rigidity of the bhangas as seven only as discussed in Saptabhangi-tarangini.

The concept of the traits or dharmas is clearly seen to lie in the very root of the theory of Sevenfold predication. The search for It trait or dharma starts with an urge to know (jijnasa) and through factors like doubt (samsaya), question (prasna) answer (uttara), impulsion to speak (vivaksa) culminates in traits (dharma) followed by a proposition (bhanga). It is also held that the holistic cognitions (parmana) and partial cognitions (naya) are both subject to such a treatment in the form of seven propositions under Saptabhangivada. It also means that the Sevenfold predication is admitted of all types of cognitions. Again, retracing the passage backward in Saptabhangi-tarangini there is a discussion of various types of cognitions implied by the seven propositions of Saptabhangivada. These various types of cognitions just point to the objects so cognized along with reference frames in which they are placed. Thus the Sevenfold predication keeps itself tied to the Order of Existence on one side and to the Order of Knowledge on the other, and, in itself, embodies the Order of Expression.

The determination of traits or the dharmas has been further reinforced and explained at a larger length by introducing the ideas of sva-chatustaya-the quaternary of substance (dravya), place (ksetra), time (kala) and manifestation (bhava) belonging to the other an entity and that of Para-chatustaya the quaternary of substance (Dravya), place (ksetra), time (kala), and manifestation (bhava) belonging to the other. An entity is considered in its four aspects and is also referred to the four aspects of others. It may be clearly noted that the two traits, position and negation so distinguished, belong to the self same entity. It has been clearly asserted that we also do not assign a different locus for the negative trait. Hence it becomes logically necessary to locate a negation for every position and vice versa. Samantabhadra very clearly and firmly announces. 'Astitva or position is necessarily concomitant with Nastitva or negation; and negation or Nastitva is necessarily concomitant with Astitva or position in the same entity. He finds no fallacy of mutual dependence in such a situation. So in Saptabhangi-tarangini we find that strenuous effort is made in favour of the search for opposition. Vimaladasa takes up the instances of the ultimate universal, the son of a barren lady, the horn of a hare, the sky-flower, the hair on the back of a tortoise to establish the truth of negation. Thus the non-existent and the imaginary entities are also shown as equipped with their positive and negative traits. In this way the basis for the formulation of the first two bhangas or propositions and that of Para-chatustaya the quaternary of substance (dravya), place (ksetra), time (kala) and manifestation (bhava) belonging to the other is established. As already mentioned, the rest of the bhangas result from the combinations of the primary bhangas.

The third, bhangas emerges from the successive consideration of traits behind the first two bhangas. Its identity may be gainfully compared with Mill's Joint method of Agreement and Difference which holds its individuality inspite of its dependence on the first two methods of agreement and dependence in the field of Inductive Logic. 'So the third bhanga is also singular, and may not be taken as a return to the first and the second ones. The fourth bhanga is evidently necessary, as the first three bhangas covered under the expressible ones, leave scope for inexpressibility. The individuality of the fourth bhanga lies in the failure of language to present and convey the opposition and contradiction by a single term simultaneously. The fourth bhanga thus, being singular and individual, is capable of effecting its combination with the former three bhangas along with its own individuality. Thus the possibility of only seven bhangas, neither of more nor of less, turns into a certainty under the Saptabhangivada of Jaina philosophy.

It may be noted that none of the seven bhangas yield an absolute commitment. Every bhanga finds its validity in a limited sphere by being governed by and fitted into a relevant reference-frame. So in case of the bhangas resulting from the process of combination of the first two bhangas and the fourth one, the binary and trinary application of reference- frames comes out not only justified; but, with Vimaladasa too, finds detailed explanations as essential to the theory of Sevenfold predication. The linguistic expression of every bhangs involves the use of Syat (somehow) and Eva (certainly) to indicate the need of a reference for the certainty of the statement under consideration. This situation may be interpreted as introducing a type of absolutism within non-absolutism. It may be happily held so, but it is only a partial absolutism to give meaning to the restrictive terms. In view of the assertion that the 'a Naya- a partial and referenced cognition-refers to an example along with its negation'? Such a meaning becomes expedient for communication and practicality (samvyavahara).

This Septabhangi-tarangini of Vimaladasa, a treatise written in Sanskrit prose, has created for itself a very important and special place in the realm of philosophy in general and Jaina philosophy in particular. The entire Sanskrit text of the work has been divided into paragraphs, and each paragraph is followed by its English translation. The plan of its simple literary translation has been intentionally adopted so as to present the contents of the work before the readers in their original form as understood and expressed by the author. This will certainly allow them freedom to frame their views, opinions and conclusions about the theme of the work. It is earnestly wished and hoped that this humble attempt at English version of Saptabhangi-tarangini may open further avenues to reveal the deeper meaning of Anekantavada, Syadvada and Saptabhngivada: of Jaina philosophy.

I humbly express mu gratitude to Sahu Shri Akhilesh Jain, Managing Trustee, Bharatiya Jnanpith for accepting this work for publication. I also owe my special thanks to Dr. Gulab Chandra Jain, Chief Publication Officer for his keen interest and close supervision of the publication work from the very begining. I pray and wish that Bharatiya Jnanpith attains unforeseen heights of success in its mission of surving the cause of Jaina Philosophy.


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