(Last Updated on : 27-01-2009)
Jainism thinks that knowledge is of five kinds: mati, sruti, avadhi, manahparyaya and kevala. The theories of knowledge as per Jainism therefore revolve around these kinds. "Mati
" is ordinary cognition; it is gained by normal means of sense perception. It incorporates "smrti
" which is remembrance and "sarharia
" or "pratyabhija
" that signifies recognition; "curitaor tarka
", or induction is based on observation; "abhinibodha
" or "anumana
", or deductive reasoning. "Matijnana
" has its three ramifications viz. "upalabdhi
" or perception, "bhavana
" or memory, and "upayoga
" or understanding. "Matijnana
" is the knowledge that is derived from the 'indriyas' or the senses and mind, which is called 'anindriya', to make a distinction from senses. Prior to the rise of "Matijnana
" the human entity perceives sense presentation or 'darsana'. The Jain Theory of Knowledge believes that "Sruti
" or testimony is the knowledge acquired through signs, symbols or words. "Matijnana
" provides the human minds with knowledge by acquaintance; knowledge obtained from "Sruti
" is through description. "Matijnana
" has its classifications that are of four kinds; they are 'labdhi' or association, 'bhavana' or attention, 'upayoga' or understanding, and 'naya' or aspects of the meaning of things. "Avadhi
" is the connotation of direct knowledge of things even at a distance of time or space. It is knowledge gained by precognition. In Jain philosophy "Mahaparyaya
" is recognized as direct knowledge of the thoughts of others, as in telepathic knowledge of others' minds. This is a particular kind of knowledge that is acquired involving some extraordinary process like clairvoyance or telepathy. According to the thory of knowledge as per Jainism "Kevala" or perfect knowledge encompasses all substances and their modifications. It is omniscience unlimited by space, time or object. The reality is in accordance with the perfect consciousness, is obvious. The derivation of this knowledge can only be felt and not described, is possible only for purified souls free from bondage. This is supposed to be the knowledge that is acquired by the individual after the transcendence of the real ordinary being and arriving to the state of "Kevalin
" or "Jina
The theories of knowledge in Jainism are described as having a direct and indirect means of sources. The Mati and Shruti Jnana are the indirect means of knowledge or 'Paraksha' that requires the external sources to develop and the other three jnanas like Abadhi, Mahaparyaya and Kevala are the evolution of direct or 'Pratyaksa' sources. The 'Chaitanya' or consciousness is the essential nature and requirement of 'jiva' or life. Caitanya or consciousness is the essence of jiva, and the two manifestations of caitanya are perception or 'darsana' and intelligence or 'jnana'. The perfect condition of the soul encompasses pure 'jnana' (knowledge) and 'darsana' (intuition). The 'jnana' and 'darsana' reside together and arise simultaneously. In the terrestrial 'jivas' or lives, 'jnana' is preceded by 'darsana'. The 'darshana' is general or 'samanya' and 'jnana' is considered as more specific and detailed and termed as 'visesa'. According to the belief of Jainism, the acquisition of 'jnana' or knowledge requires the indulgence of senses to gain perception. The 'jiva' is supposed to have the perception even in a state of liberation. The liberated souls are the pure souls that can acquire perfect knowledge, and the knowledge free from all doubts or 'samsaya', delusion or 'vimoha', and wrong perception or 'vibhrama'. "Darsanavaraniya karmas" is the term that refers to the karmas that obscure the different varieties of 'darsana'; and those that obscure the different kinds of 'jnana' are termed as the "jnana-varaniya karmas".
Jain theory of knowledge acknowledges an intimate relation between the state of salvation and Omniscience. The acquisition of the state of 'kevali' involves the progressive development of the self that leads to the obliteration of various obstructions of knowledge. Similar to the belief of Indian Philosophy, the theory of knowledge in Jainism tries to link the concept of omniscience with the highest of religious and spiritual life. The Jaina intellectuals have presented a number of arguments to prove the existence of omniscience through number of arguments. According to them the soul cannot be bereft of 'mati jnana' and 'sruta jnana' and knowledge is considered as the indispensable quality of human existence.
In Jain theory of knowledge, the self-consciousness reveals the relation between knowledge or 'jnana' and the object of knowledge or 'jneya' is very intimate. 'Jnanin' and 'Jneya' the subject of knowledge and knowledge are also inseparable, though they can be recognized separately. The self-consciousness assimilates the subject of knowledge, the object of knowledge, and knowledge itself in different aspects. The existence of 'jiva' is not possible or taken for granted without 'jnana'. The individual without 'jnana' would be bereft of 'cetana' or conscious character. Devoid of 'cetana', a 'jiva' descends to the status of 'ajiva dravyas'. All knowledge is in the soul, though it manifests itself when the disturbing media are removed. The hindrances which bar the soul from the acquisition of knowledge are passions and emotions.
These stimulate the inflow of matter and prevent the soul from exercising its natural function in full measure, and interests in the physical concerns of life which circumscribe human knowledge to the immediately useful. Unobstructed by the influences of matter which obscure knowledge, the soul aviates freely and functions accordingly. It ascends to the status of omniscience, or knowledge of all things, past, present and future. The empirical lives of the human animation and the absorption of the unconscious substance i.e. matter, prevents the mind from attaining the purity of the soul. Apart from this, the demolition of its energies, the soul tends to attain the power of knowledge.
Theories of Knowledge in Jainism depicts two forms that are- 'pramdna', which refers to the knowledge of a thing as it is in itself, and 'naya', which denotes the knowledge of a thing in its relation. The philosophy of 'nayas' or standpoints represent a peculiar feature of the Jaina logic. 'Naya' connotes a standpoint from which the human beings make a statement about a thing. The result of this abstraction and concentration on particular ends is the relativity of knowledge.