Nyaya Shastra – The Queen Of The Sciences
Nyaya Shastra, or Anvikshiki, is the main pillar on which the Indian intellectual tradition stands. It is the Vidya that provides the two primal elements, namely knowledge of the means of right knowledge (pramana-shastra-jnana) and knowledge of the principles of logical discourse (tarka-shastra-jnana), which are required for the effective pursuit and understanding of all the vidyas.
Nyaya, unlike contemporary formal logic whose sole goal is the preservation of truth-value from the premises to the conclusion, is directed towards the right cognition of objects (yathartha-jnana) that linguistic expressions purport to speak about. The research projects of the discipline of contemporary logic are spearheaded on the premise that the topic-neutrality of logic derives from the linguistic-form alone and that logic itself is ontology-free; Nyaya rejects this hypothesis and holds that topic-neutrality of logic obtains from the generality present in the objects themselves in the form of the basic irreducible elements that linguistic expressions point to, called padarthas or word-objects. The Tarka-Samgraha, a principle introductory text of Nyaya, says that reasoning is impossible in the absence of knowledge of the padarthas. Nyaya however recognizes that there is subliminal knowledge of the padarthas operating intuitively in every person, for without it reasoning itself would be inoperative, but that until the knowledge of the padarthas is made explicit as padartha-tattva-jnana, a person would be prone to error and fallacious reasoning. And it is because Nyaya, or Indian logic, is based on the padarthas, the most fundamental set of word-objects, that it obtains a sweeping universality lending to it the power to conduct discourses on every topic of human interest that language can express. Even in the pursuit of liberation, which is said to be conferred by (Vedic) Vakhyartha-jnana alone, Nyaya has an indispensible role to play inasmuch as Vakhyartha-jnana cannot be obtained without prior padartha-jnana (Annambhatta, Shankara). Nyaya is therefore said to be the Queen of the Sciences, the enlightener of all the Vidyas, from the lowest vidya to the highest, as eulogized by Vatsayana in the Nyaya-sutra bhashya and echoed by Chanakya in the Artha-Shastra:
Tarka, or rational discourse, has been an indispensible central thread in the rubric of the societal life of Indian Civilization. From the ancient debates described in the Upanishads between Yajnavalkya and the rishis in the court of King Janaka to the famed debates held in later times in Kashi and other places, reason has always been the principal means adopted by Indian society to determine right knowledge regarding the key issues of human life. And of all the places in India that epitomizes the spirit of rational discourse, it is Kashi Kshetra, the field of high intellectual debates, which stands out as the undisputed centre.
To Devi Annapurneshwari, the presiding Goddess of Kashi Kshetra, we bow, and seek Her blessings to enable us to carry forward the spirit that has from ancient times invigorated the Indian civilization.