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Nyaya System On The Concept Of Atman Or Soul

The Nyaya system, one of the classical Indian philosophical schools, presents a profound understanding of the concept of 'atman' within the framework of its philosophical doctrines. According to Nyaya, atman or soul is posited as an eternal soul distinct from the physical body, the senses, and the mind. It is considered to be vibhu, signifying its omnipresence, and possesses consciousness. Interestingly, Nyaya views consciousness as an adventitious attribute, not intrinsic to atman but rather acquired through its association with the mind.

The atman, within the Nyaya framework, functions as an agent of action, both performing and experiencing the consequences of those actions. However, it is susceptible to the influence of false knowledge or ignorance, known as mithya-jnana. This ignorance leads the atman to be swayed by the impulses of raga (attachment), dvesha (dislike), and moha (infatuation). Consequently, the atman engages in actions, both virtuous and non-virtuous, and undergoes the subsequent results.

The path to liberation or apavarga, according to Nyaya, lies in acquiring tattva jnana — the right knowledge of Reality. Liberation is viewed as a state where the atman is freed from all sorrow, suffering, and misery. However, it's essential to note that Nyaya conceptualizes liberation as a negative state of transcendence, specifically the transcendence of dukha (pain and suffering). It is not depicted as a positive state of bliss, as some other philosophical traditions might suggest.

In Nyaya philosophy, the atmans are considered to be infinite in number. This concept aligns with the broader Indian philosophical understanding of the multiplicity of individual souls or consciousness entities. Each atman undergoes the cycle of action, reaction, and liberation based on its accumulated karma and the pursuit of right knowledge.

In summary, the Nyaya system provides a nuanced perspective on the atman, viewing it as an eternal soul with consciousness as an acquired attribute. Liberation, according to Nyaya, is achieved through the right knowledge of Reality, resulting in the transcendence of suffering, and the atmans are infinite in number, each traversing its own path towards liberation.