Nyaya Philosophy1

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Nyaya Philosophy1 or logic, one of the six systems of Indian philosophy. It was introduced by Maharshi Gautama (Gotama or Aksapada) and is based on his Nyayasutra. Human beings attain fundamental truth for their salvation through three processes: thinking, hearing and profound meditation. The practice of thinking is logic. According to Vatsayana, logic helps to find the shape and form of a subject through a series of proofs. The basic principle of logic is inference composed of proposition, syllogism, exemplifying, deduction and outflow. Its other name is anviksa or something re-examined after it has already been known through direct or other sources of knowledge.

The oldest available treatise on logic is Nyayasutra (200-450 AD). Its 528 aphorisms on metaphysics are very brief, at times making it difficult for the common reader to determine their real significance. To make the aphorisms easier to understand, many commentaries have been so far written. The first comprehensive commentary on Nyayasutra was Vatsayan's annotation. He was followed by Uddyotkar (Nyayavartik, 6th-7th century), Vachaspati Mishra (Tatparyatika, 9th century), Udayanacharya (Tatparyaparishuddhi, 10th century), Jayanta Bhatta (Nyayamavjari), Vishwanath (Nyayasutravrtti, 17th century), and Radhamohan Goswami (Nyayasutravivaran, 18th century).

According to logic, excellence comes from profound knowledge of 16 matters: evidence, probability, doubt, necessity, example, deduction, form, reasoning, discernment, exclusion, establishment of opinion, unnecessary argument, fallacy, dissimulation, genre and place of affliction. Knowledge removes wrong notions that cause all the ills of the world. Removal of false notions destroys anger and ill will, which in turn destroy religious or irreligious desires; loss of desires stops rebirth and end of rebirth ends pains. Logic deals with the material world that it accepts as real. It is difficult to say if Maharshi Gautama believed in God but his successors did.

According to logic there are four proofs: direct perception, inference, analogy and words. Emphasis on proofs later gave birth to new logic. It was introduced by gangeshopadhyay (12th century). Based on Gautama's Nyayasutra he wrote Tattvachintamani, which is divided into four parts: pratyaksachintamani (knowledge through perception) anumanchintamani ((knowledge through inference), upamanchintamani (knowledge through analogy), and shabdachintamani (knowledge through words). In later years, several commentaries were written on Tattvachintamani by Gangeshopadhyay's son, Burdwan Upadhyay (13th century), Pakshadhar Mishra (15th century), raghunath shiromani (15th-16th century), mathuranath tarkavagish (16th century), jagadish tarkalankar (16th-17th century), and gadadhar bhattacharya (1604-1709). The commentaries of Mathuranath, Jagadish, and Gadadhar were known as mathuri, jagadishi, gadadhari respectively. Nyaya philosophy and Vaishesik philosophy are almost similar and, from the 10th century, have flowed in one stream.

Sridharbhatta (10th century), a scholar of the mimangsa system of philosophy, was well-versed in nyaya and vaishesik philosophies. His treatises on nyaya or logic are known as Advayasiddhi, Tattvaprabodh, Tattvasangvadinisangrahatika etc but the manuscripts of these works are no longer extant. Nyaya philosophers of the 11th century included Sriharsha, author of Khandankhandakhadya and Bhavadev Bhatta, minister of the Radha king, Harivarmadev. The latter's scholarship in all branches of knowledge is mentioned in the inscription at the Ananta Vashudev temple at Bhubaneshwar.

In the 12th century, many mimamsa and nyaya scholars adorned the court of King laksmanasena. Raymukut vrihaspati, Smarta jimutavahanA (c 1050-1150), and shulapani (c 1375-1460) had uncommon expertise in logic. The culture of new logic that flourished in Bengal centering round Navadwip is an important episode in the history of Indian philosophy. Smarta Raghunath was the best known scholar of the new logic in Bengal.

During the pre-Raghunath period, one of the best logicians was basudev sarvabhauma (c 1520/30-1540). The Gauda school of thought is mentioned in different Maithili books, indicating that the new logic was practiced in Bengal even before Sarvabhauma. Two of Sarvabhouma's books which have been found are a commentary on the anuman section of Tattvachintamani and an important commentary on Advaaitamakaranda. Chintamani's commentary is believed to be titled Saravali. In his book Didhiti, Raghunath disproved many of the opinions of Sarvabhauma's Saravali. In his commentary, Sarvabhauma makes respectful mention of the opinions of Burdwan Upadhyay but strongly refutes the opinions of Jajnapati Upadhyay. Sarvabhauma was also an expert in Vedanta-Mimamsa scriptures. He adorned for a long time the courts of King Purushottamdev and King Prataprudradev at Puri. Sarvabhauma's father, Narahari Visharad, was also an establishment scholar.

The opinions of a smrti scholar named 'Visharad' are mentioned in smrti books by such experts as raghunandan bhattacharya (16th century). These opinions were disproved by Pakshadhar Mishra of Maithili in Anumanalok. Sarvabhauma's son, Jaleswar Bahinipati, (born c 1560-65) was also an expert in the new logic. He wrote the book Shabdalokaddato. Swapnesharacharya, Jaleshwar's son, became famous for Sangkhyatattvakaumudiprabha, a commentary on Shandilyasutra. This book also refers to his other books on logic and vedanta. Srinath Bhattacharya, a younger brother of Narahari Visharad, wrote commentaries on the pratyaksa and anuman parts of Tattvachintamani. In fact, the entire Basudev family was well-known as a family of logicians.

A near contemporary of Basudev, Pundarikaksa Vidyasagar Bhattacharya (c 15th century) wrote books on logic as well as other subjects. His commentaries are known as Vidyasagari. Other logicians include purushottam bhattacharya (c 12th century), Kavimoni Bhattacharya, and Ishan Bhattacharya. However, none of their books have been found.

Kashinath Vidyanivas led the community of logicians during the second half of the 16th century. He wrote a commentary Tattvachintamanivivechan but only the pratyaksa part has been found. It is believed that Dvadashyatrapaddhati, a book on smrti, and Sachcharitamimangsa, a book on good conduct, were written by him.

Raghunath Shiromani was the leader of the new logicians of Bengal. His first book Pratyaksamanididhiti mainly discusses credibility. His most famous book was Anumandidhiti. Innumerable commentaries were written on this book, which also discusses the doctrine of fallacy. Basically it was this book around which the new logicians of Navadwip got themselves organised. Raghunath also wrote Shabdamanididhiti, a commentary on the sabda part of Tattvachintamani. Only a portion of this book has been found. Raghunath's commentary on Chintamani's akhyatavad or theory of denomination became so popular that it overshadowed the study of Chintamani's original akhyatavad among the scholars of Navadwip. Raghunath discussed in detail Chintamani's theory of want in his commentary Nyayavad. In Padarthakhandan, he discarded the traditional division of matter. Raghuath also wrote commentaries such as Dravyakiranavaliprakashdidhiti and Gunakiranavaliprakashdidhiti on Udayanacharya's (12th century) Kiranavali, Atmatattvavivekdidhiti on his Atmatattvavivek, Nyayalilavatiprakashdidhiti on Nyayalilavati, and Malimluchavivek on his new smrti. According to some, he also wrote a commentary entitled Khandanbhusamani on Khandankhandakhadya.

Many commentaries have been written on Raghunath Shiromani's Didhiti. Haridas Bhattacharya (1891-1956) has been credited with the first of these in Kusumavjali. He also wrote two other books: Shabdamanyaloktippani and Anumanalokvyakhya. Another prominent commentator on Raghunath was Krishnadas Sarvabhouma (c 16th century), who is believed to have written commentaries on all eight books of Raghunath. His books were Pratyaksadidhitiprasarini, Anumandidhitiprasarini, Aksyatadidhitiprasarini, Navavadtippani, Gunadidhititika, Anumanalokprasarini and Bhasaparichchhedmuktavali. Only part of the second book has been printed, and while some sections have been preserved in manuscript, the rest have been lost. Bishwanath Nyayapanchanan is associated with the writing of Bhasaparichchhedmuktavali.

Two other contemporary logicians of Raghunath were janakinath bhattacharya (15th century) and kanad tarkavagish (15th century). At one time Janakinath's Nyayasiddhantamavjari was popular all over India. Janakinath also wrote Manimarichi, a commentary on Chintamani, and Tatparyadipika, a commentary on Udayan's Tatparyaparishuddhi. According to some, Anviksikitattvavivaran and Atmatattvadipika were also written by him. The name of Kanad's book is Bhasaratna.

Another famous logician of the time was Rambhadra Sarvabhauma (16th century). He wrote Nyayarahasya, an explanation of Gautam' philosophy, Gunarahasya, Siddhantasar (collection of correct judgements), Samayrahasya (a treatise on smrti), Samasvad (assessing power of samas in terms of logic), Sabdanityavad, Suvarnataijasatvavad, Padarthatattvavivechanaprakash, Siddhantarahasya, Navavadatika, and Kusumavjalikarikavyakhya. Unfortunately, very few of these texts have been preserved intact. Four of Rambhadra's pupils were like four pillars of logic: Mathuranath Tarkavagish, Jagadish Tarkalankar, Gourikanta Sarvabhauma (16th century) and Jayram Nyayapanchanan (18th century). Sriram Tarkalankar, father of Mathuranath, was given the title of 'jagatguru'. Sriram wrote a commentary on Anumandidhiti. He also wrote Atmatattvavivekadidhititippani.

Mathuranath Tarkavagish's reputation as a logician spread far and wide in India. He wrote commentaries on all four parts of Tattvachintamani under the title of Tattvachintamanirahasya. These were known as 'Mathuritika'. His commentary on the Upaman part has not yet been found but the other three have been published. Mathuranath wrote a commentary on Pakshadhar Mishra's Aloktika under the title of Rahasya. He wrote several commentaries on Raghunath's books: Anumandidhitimathuri, Gunadidhitimathuri, Bauddhadhikardidhitimathuri, Lilavatididhitimathuri, and Akhyatavadtika. Mathuranath wrote commentaries on Udayanacharya's books under the titles of Dravyakiranavalitika, Gunakiranavalitika, and Bauddhadhikarvivrti. He wrote Lilavatimathuri on Ballavacharya's Nyayalilavati. Only part of his commentaries on Burdwan's Dravyakiranavaliprakash, Gunakiranavaliprakash and Nyayalilavatiprakash have been found. There are references to other books of Mathuranath Gautamasutravrtti and Supshaktivad. Parts of his commentaries on smrti scriptures Shivamahimnahstava and Panigrahanadivivek have been found. Mathuranath also wrote an original book under the title of Siddhantarahasya.

A popular shloka mentions four great logicians of Bengal: Bhavananda Siddhantavagish (16th century), Gunananda, Mathuranath and Jagadish. The books written by Bhavananda are Pratyaksadidhititika, Anumandidhititika, Navavadtika, Gunadidhititika, Lilavatishiromanitika, Pratyaksalokasaramavjari, Akhyatavadtika, Anumanlokasaramavjari, Shabdalokasaramanjari, Shabdamanisaramavjari and Shabdarthasaramavjari. Only a part of the second book has been published. Bhavananda's books of logic were once read and discussed throughout India.

Bhavananda's son Ram Tarkalankar was also a famous logician. In the writings of Rudra Tarkavagish, grandson of Bhabananda, mention has been made of the opinions of Ram Tarkalankar. A part of the manuscript of Ram Tarkalankar's book Karakbichar has been found. Ram Tarkalankar's eldest son Madhusudan Vachaspati (19th century) was also well versed in logic. He perhaps wrote a commentary on Didhiti. His youngest son was Rudra Tarkavagish, whose best book was Anumandidhitiraudri. He also wrote a commentary, Raudritika, on Siddhantamuktavali. In addition, he also wrote a book of poems entitled Vivaharaudri.

At one time the fame of Gunananda Vidyavagish's scholarship spread to all parts of India. His commentary Vivek on Gunakiranavaliprakashdidhiti was widely popular. His other books include Bauddhadhikardidhitivivek, Anumandidhitivivek, Lilavatididhitivivek, Nyayakusumanjalitatparyavivek, Pratyaksamanitika and Shabdalokvivek.

Jagadish wrote commentaries on Tattvachintamani such as Pratyaksamayukh, Anumanmayukh, Upamanmayukh and Shabdamayukh. He also wrote commentaries on Didhiti under titles such as Pratyaksadidhititika, Anumandidhititika and Lilavatididhititika. Jagadish also wrote Dravyasukti and Ganasukti, commentaries on Kanada philosophy. His Shabdashaktiprakashika and Tarkamrta were widely read. It is believed that he had also written Nyayadarsha. During the 16th century, a large number of commentaries were written on Didhiti. But the books by Jagadish overshadowed those commentaries.

There were also a number of other logicians at this time. Some of the better known works by them include Gopikanta Nyayalankar's Anumandidhititika, Govinda Bhattacharyachakravarty's Samastattva, Padarthakhandanvyakhya, Atmatattvavivektika and Muktivivechana, Ramnathvidyavachaspati's Shabdartharahasya, Lilavativivrtirahasya, Shabdamanirahasya, Ramchandra Nyayavagish's Akhyatavadtika and Navavadtika and Ramgopal Siddhantapanchanan's Vivahatattva, Vakyatattva, Bidhitattva and Karaktattva.

Gadadhar Bhattacharyachakravarty was the last follower of Raghunath's Didhiti. Parts of his commentaries on Tattvachintamani's Sabdakhanda and Anumankhanda have been found. Two of his other books Pratyaksadidhititika and Anumandidhititika have been found in full and published. Gadadhar also wrote Navavadvyakhya, Bauddhadhikardidhitika and Kusumavjalitika. Moreover, he wrote a few doctrinal books: Shaktivad, Muktivad, Butpattivad, Visayatavad and Bidhisvarup. He also wrote Dashakarmapaddhati (as mentioned in Rg Veda) and Kavyaprakashtika.

With Gadadhar the era of Bengali commentaries on the new logic came to an end. The subsequent era was known as the era of dissertation. The object of these logicians was to analyse the works of Mathuranath, Jagadish and Gadadhar, find inconsistencies and resolve them. Among the many logicians of the 18th century are Jaydev Tarkalankar, Srikrishna Sarvabhouma, Viswanath Nyayalankar, Shivram Vachaspati, Jaykrishna Bhattacharya, Shankar Tarkavagish, Krishnakanta Vidyavagish, Sadhanchandra Tarkasiddhanta, Harinath Tarkasiddhanta, Jagannath Tarkapanchanan, Dulal Tarkavagish, Radhamohan Vidyavachaspati. These logicians were followed in the early 19th century by Kalishankar Siddhantavagish (1781-1830) and Golaknath Nyayaratna (1807-1855).

Many Bengali logicians lived at Benares and helped promote the culture of nyaya philosophy. Prominent among them were Pragalbhacharya (c 1415-?), Sriman Bhattacharya, Balabhadra Mishra (16th century), padmanabha mishra (16th century), Ramkrishna Bhattacharya (Raghunath's direct disciple), Raghunath Vidyalankar (16th century), Rudra Nyayavachaspati (16th century), Viswanath Siddhantapanchanan (16th-17th century), Gourikanta Sarvabhauma (16th century), Raghudev Nyayalankar (17th century), Jayaram Nyayapanchanan (17th century) and Ramchanda Siddhantavagish (17th century). [Nirmalya Narayan Chakraborty and Mrinal Kanti Gangopadhyay]

Bibliography Dineshchandra Bhattacharya, Bangalir Sarasvata Abadan, Bangiya Sahitya Parisad, Kolkata, 1958; Fanibhusan Tarkavagish, Nyaya Parichay, Pashchimbanga Rajya Pustak Parsad, 1986.

See also sada darshan