The Nyaya or Hindu logic was founded by Gautama Rishi, who is also known by the names Akshapada and Dirghatapas. The Nyaya and the Vaiseshika are analytic types of philosophy. The word Nyaya signifies going into a subject, i.e., investigating it analytically. In this sense of analysis, the word Nyaya is exactly opposed to Sankhya, synthesis. The Nyaya is sometimes called Tarka-Vidya or the Science of Debate, Vada-Vidya or the Science of Discussion. Tarka is the special feature of the Nyaya.
The Nyaya is not merely formal logic, but a complete epistemology. Ordinary people think that the Nyaya is chiefly concerned with logic. Logic is merely a part or a single topic. The purpose of the Nyaya is a critical examination of the objects of knowledge by means of the canons of logical proof. The Nyaya system deals critically with metaphysical problems. It contains discussions on psychology, logic, metaphysics and theology.
The Nyaya is intended to furnish a correct method of philosophical enquiry into all the objects and subjects of human knowledge, including the process of reasoning and laws of thought. The evidence of the senses is submitted to a critical enquiry. The Nyaya gives a description of the mechanism of knowledge in detail. The Nyaya and the Vaiseshika explore the significance of time, space, cause, matter, mind, soul and knowledge for experience, and give the results in the form of a theory of the universe. The Nyaya and the Vaiseshika are regarded as parts of one whole. The Vaiseshika is a supplement to the Nyaya. They are allied systems. They both believe in a Personal God, a plurality of souls and an atomic universe. Further, they use many arguments in common.
The Nyaya is the basis of all Sanskrit philosophical studies. It is an introduction to all systematic philosophy. It is the preliminary course for a student of philosophy. You cannot understand the Brahma-Sutras of Sri Vyasa without a knowledge of the Nyaya. A study of the Nyaya develops the power of reasoning or arguing. It renders the intellect sharp and subtle. You cannot make Vedantic enquiry without a sharp and subtle intellect. The Kathopanishad says: “Drisyate Tvagryaya Buddhya Sukshmaya Sukshma-Darsibhih—It (the Atman) is beheld by subtle seers through their sharp and subtle intellect.”
The ‘Nyaya Sutra’ by Gautama is the first work on Nyaya philosophy. This is the most famous book of the school. Numerous commentaries have been written on this book by various authors, viz., Nyaya-Bhashya by Vatsyayana, Nyayalankara by Srikantha, Nyaya-Manjari by Jayanta, Nyaya-Bodhini by Govardhana, Nyaya-Varttika-Tatparya-Tika by Vachaspati Misra, etc.
All knowledge implies four conditions: (i) the subject or the Pramata, the cogniser, (ii) the object or the Prameya, (iii) the resulting state of cognition or the Pramiti and (iv) the means of knowledge or the Pramana.
Prameya or the objects of which right knowledge is to be obtained, are twelve, viz., (i) Soul (Atman), (ii) Body (Sarira), (iii) Senses (Indriyas), (iv) Objects of senses (Artha), (v) Intellect (Buddhi), (vi) Mind (Manas), (vii) Activity (Pravritti), (viii) Fault (Dosha), (ix) Transmigration (Pretyabhava), (x) Fruit (Phala), (xi) Pain (Duhkha), and (xii) Salvation (Apavarga).
Perception (Pratyaksha), inference (Anumana), comparison (Upamana), and word, or verbal testimony (Sabda) are the Pramanas or the means of right knowledge. Sabda, or verbal testimony, includes Vedic revelation. Pratyaksha is perception by the senses.
God, Soul And Universe
The Nyaya says that the actions of man produce their fruits, called Adrishta, under the control of God. God supervises the work of Adrishta. The intelligent principle of Adrishta, which governs the fate of man, acts under the direction of God. God does not alter the course of Adrishta but renders possible its operation. God is the bestower of the fruits of actions of human beings. God is a Special Soul endowed with omnipotence and omniscience, by which He guides and regulates the world.
God is a Personal Being. He is free from Mithya-Jnana (false knowledge). Adharma (demerit), and Pramada (carelessness). He has Jnana (knowledge), Ichha (desire) and Prayatna (volitional effort). God is ONE, Creator, who is endowed with Nitya Jnana (eternal knowledge) and Ichha-Kriya (desire-action) as His Gunas (attributes). He is Vibhu (all-pervading).
The soul is a real being. It is an eternal entity. Desire, aversion, volition, pleasure, pain, intelligence and cognition are its qualities or marks. The object of the notion of ‘I’ is the soul. No cognition or recollection is possible without a soul. The eye cannot see objects and the ear cannot hear sounds without a soul. There should be an agent to use the instruments (senses). That agent is the soul. After an object is seen, even if the eyes are both destroyed, the knowledge that I have seen remains. This knowledge is not a quality of either the objects or the senses. The mind is not the soul. It is only an instrument of the soul, by means of which it thinks. The self is the subject. The soul exists even when the body perishes, the senses are cut off and the mind is controlled. There are infinite numbers of souls.
The universe is a composite of eternal, unalterable, causeless atoms, which exists independently of our thoughts. The universe is the modification of the atoms (Paramanus) of the physical elements: Earth (Prithvi), Water (Apas), Fire (Tejas) and Air (Vayu). The Nyaya admits nine objects (Dravyas), viz., Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Ether, Time, Space (Quarters), Mind and the Self (Atman).
Misapprehension (Mithya-Jnana), faults (Dosha), activity (Pravritti), birth (Janma) and pain (Duhkha) constitute the world. False notion or false knowledge is at the root of all misery and pain. From Mithya-Jnana or false notion comes the fault of like and dislike (Raga-Dvesha); from Raga-Dvesha proceeds Karma or action—virtuous or vicious—which forces a man to pass through repeated births for the sake of its reward or punishment. From these births proceed misery and pain. It is the aim of philosophy to eradicate the false notion or Mithya-Jnana which is at the root of all miseries and pains. On the successive annihilation of misapprehension, faults, activity, birth and pain, there follows release (Apavarga).
The Sixteen Categories
One can remove misapprehension or false knowledge and attain supreme felicity by the true knowledge of the sixteen categories. The sixteen categories are: means of right knowledge (Pramana), object of right knowledge (Prameya), doubt (Samsaya), purpose (Prayojana), familiar instance (Drishtanta), established tenet (Siddhanta), members (Avayava), argumentation (Tarka), ascertainment (Nirnaya), discussion (Vada), wrangling (Jalpa), cavil (Vitanda), fallacy (Hetvabhasa), quibble (Chala), futility (Jati), and occasion for rebuke (Nigraha-sthana).
There is, first, the state of Samsaya or doubt about the point to be discussed. Next comes the Prayojana or motive for discussing it. Next follows a Drishtanta or example which leads to the Siddhanta or established conclusion. Then comes the objector with his Avayava or argument, split up into five members. Next follows the Tarka or refutation, and the Nirnaya or ascertainment of the true state of the case. A further Vada or controversy takes place, which leads to Jalpa or mere wrangling. This is followed by Vitanda or cavilling, Hetvabhasa or fallacious reasoning, and Nigraha-sthana, the putting an end to all discussion by a demonstration of the objector’s incapacity for argument.
When one attains the true knowledge, his faults, viz., affection (Raga), aversion (Dvesha) and stupidity (Moha) vanish. Aversion includes anger, envy, malice and hatred. Attachment includes lust, greed, avidity and covetousness. Stupidity includes suspicion, conceit, carelessness and misapprehension. Stupidity generates dislike and attachment. You must put an end to the chain, which begins with misapprehension or false knowledge and ends with pain, if you wish to attain release. If false knowledge vanishes, faults will disappear. If faults vanish, one is freed from activity and the consequent transmigration and pains.
Transmigration, which consists in the soul’s leaving one body and taking another, is the cause of its undergoing pleasure and pain. A soul which is no longer subject to transmigration is freed from all pains. The soul attains release as soon as there is an end to the body, and consequently to pleasure and pain.
The State of Apavarga or Release
Apavarga, or release, is absolute deliverance from pain. It is freedom from pain. It is cessation of pain. It is not the enjoyment of positive pleasure. It is not annihilation of the self. It is destruction of bondage. Release from the twenty-one kinds of pain or Duhkha is liberation (Moksha). In the state of release, there is no connection of mind with the Atman. The Atman is destitute of desire, effort, merit, demerit, hatred, mental impressions, etc., in the state of liberation, as, then, there is no mind. The liberation (Moksha) of the Naiyayikas is a word without meaning. It is a state of painless, passionless existence, like that of a stone without sensation and interest.
To Sum Up
This world has begun by a combination of atoms. It has Samyoga (conjunction) and Viyoga (disassociation). The cause of the world is the Paramanus (atoms) and the nine Dravyas (materials), including Isvara (God). Isvara has Nitya-Jnana (eternal knowledge) who has also Ichha-Kriya (desire-action) as Gunas (qualities). He is Vibhu (all-pervading). Jiva is doer and enjoyer. He has several attributes. Jivas are endless. The cause for bondage is ignorance (Ajnana). Twenty-one kinds of pain constitute bondage. Moksha is destruction of all kinds of pain. Knowledge of the Atman, as is distinct from others, is Moksha-Sadhana. Gautama advocates Arambhavada and Anyathakhyati (theory of the production of a new effect from every cause and of realistic epistemology).