The doctrines of multiplicity of
viewpoints and relativism, as postulated by Jains, have a unique
importance today. The
present-day world is too circumscribed
and interdependent as never before in the history of mankind. In order to
achieve the objectives world peace, harmonious individuality and
integrated personality of the individual, the contributions of different
sages, faiths, philosophers and thinkers of different nations and periods
must not only be fully recognized, but should also be given their proper
place. This will bring out a common outlook based on justice and equality.
The great philosopher statesman, late Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, has rightly
"Increasing control over the forces of
nature has brought men of different regions nearer one another. Different
cultures have, thus, been brought into close proximity. Closer brought
into one common pool of human knowledge. They also facilitate the task of
philosophy in affecting a reconciliation between the different principles
underlying the outlook of different
civilizations. The evolution of a world
philosophy has become today a matter not only of theoretical interest, but
of great practical urgency."(4)
Obviously, the dogmatism emphasizing
only the point of view of one religion, philosophy, nation, period or
class of people will not satisfy modern, intelligent men. Multiplicity of
viewpoints (anekantavada) is an approach to solve the problems of life
from a truly integrated point of view. It provides a synoptic view to
bring together in one compass the knowledge attained by different peoples
at different times. Relativism (syadavada) is the first step towards human
happiness, peaceful prosperity, world civility, coexistence and
cooperative universality in this war-torn, fearful and tense situation of
the world today.
3.2 THE CONCEPT OF ENTITY (DRAVYA)
Viewed in terms of the comprehensive
character of reality, every object in nature has three aspects:
A faithful and natural description of
reality takes into
consideration the three aspects:
Permanence in the midst of change
identity in the midst of diversity
unity in the midst of multiplicity
For example, a plant begins its life,
grows and then dies. However, the plant maintains its identity throughout
its process of growth.
The complex nature of reality as a
permanence in the midst of origination and destruction, has been described
by Jain thinkers by the concept of entity (dravya). An entity is defined
to have existence (sat), which in turn implies origination, destruction
and permanence. An entity possesses its own characteristic qualities or
attributes (gunas) and it assumes a variety of modes, modifications or
forms (paryayas). Attributes and modes are inseparable from an entity.
In other words, an entity apart from its
attributes apart from their entity are
The modifications that an entity
undergoes refer to the various shapes and forms into which a substance is
transformed either naturally or artificially. A living being, through the
process of growth, undergoes various changes such as childhood, youth and
old age. These changes are the natural modifications of the living being.
Modifications can also be affected artificially. For example, clay is
molded by the potter into various shapes, and gold is made by a goldsmith
into various ornaments. While undergoing various modifications, either
natural or artificial, the basic substance remains the same. The intrinsic
attributes remain unchanged and are permanent, while the forms change and
An entity (substance) is permanent (nitya)
considering its attributes, and it is transient (anitya) from the
standpoint of its forms (modifications). The point of view of the
attributes is known as substantial standpoint (dravyarthik naya) and the
point of view of the modes (forms) is called modal standpoint (paryayarthik
3.3 STRUCTURAL VIEW OF THE UNIVERSE
The world of reality consists of two
classes of objects:
Conscious (chetan) objects and
non-conscious (achetan) objects. These are otherwise called the living (jivas)
and nonliving (ajivas).
The nonliving or non-conscious is the
universe minus the living or conscious. It is not exactly equivalent to
matter, for, besides matter, it includes such entities as space and time.
There are five nonliving entities. The most important of these is matter
(including energy) which, in Jainism, is called
pudgala. Material objects are
constituted of atoms (paramanus). The atoms of different elements make up
physical objects which are called aggregates (skandhas in Jainism). The
whole physical world is itself a super aggregate (mahaskanddha). Material
objects can be perceived by the senses (indriyas) and have the sensory
qualities (touch, taste, smell and color) as their attributes.
The second nonliving entity is space (akash).
It accommodates other entities of the universe. The portion of space that
contains other substances is called physical space (Lokakash), and beyond
it there is empty space (alokakash) which is just a void.
The third and fourth nonliving entities
are medium of motion (dharma) and medium of rest (adharma)(5). These two
pervade the whole of lokakash. The medium of motion supports the motion of
the living and nonliving objects while the medium of rest keeps them
steady and in equilibrium.
Time (kaal) is the fifth entity of the
universe. It is made up of atomic moments. Time is real and it cannot be
dismissed as illusory. Time maintains the reality of change and motion in
physical realm, and growth and development in the living world.
The space, medium of motion, medium of
rest, time and the souls (described below) do not possess sensory
qualities. Thus they cannot be perceived by senses. They can only be
postulated. They make the physical world what it is.