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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 observed that:

"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.


Viewed in terms of the comprehensive character of reality, every object in nature has three aspects:

Origination (utpada)

destruction (vyaya)

permanence (dhrauvya)

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 and

attributes apart from their entity are mere abstractions.

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 are transient.

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 naya).



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).

(a) Nonliving:

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.