Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions
Publisher's Note
Author’s Note
Mahavira: A Non-Violent Revolutionary
Transfer of Embryo
  Socio-political Conditions
  Vajji's Democracy
  Magadha and Srenika
  Ajatasatru Vajjis
  Princely following of Mahavira
  Social Conditions
  Intellectual Fervour
  Revolutionary push by Mahavira
  Significant Events
  Indra's Offer of Protection
  Five Resolves at Morak Hermitage
  Education Rather than Exposure
  Poisonous Fangs of Canda Kausika
  States of a Digambara
  Association with Gosala
  Candanabala : First Head of Women Disciples
  Final Act of Nirjara
  Attainment of Kaivalya
  First Ganadharas
  Actions follow the Doer
  Search for Responsibilty and Sramana Line
  Mahavira's Synthesis
  Psychological Approach of Mahavira
  Categories of Karmas
  Duration of Karmic Bondage
  Nature of Bondage
  Mitigation of Bondage
  Fresh Karmas
  Life's activities
  Even good actions bind, if motivated
  Consequences of Karma Theory
  Process of Change and Nine Tattvas
  Essential Tendency of Jiva
  Papa' and ‘Punya' : Both of Binding Nature
  Asrava (Influx)
  Bandha (Bondage)
  Nirjara (Shedding of Accumulated Karmas)
  Moksa (Final Liberation)
  Enlightened Consciousness
  Self, the starting point
  Will and Eagerness
  Bhavana or Anupreksa (Reflection)
  Twelve Vratas of House-holder
  Dhyana (Meditation)
  Lesya (Disposition)
  Code of Conduct for Monks - Modus Operandi
  Austerities (Tapascarya)
  Appendix - A
  Appendix - B
  Appendix - C
  Appendix - D
  Appendix - E


Justice T.U.Mehta

Importance of Anekanta

The importance of this comprehensive synthesis of �Syadvada' and �Anekanta-naya' in day to day life is immense in as much as these doctrines supply a rational unification and synthesis of the manifold and rejects the assertions of bare absolutes.

Mr.Stephen Hay, an American Scholar-historian, in his article, "Jaina influences on Gandhi's Early Thought" refers to Mahatma Gandhi's views about the Jaina theory of Anekanta as under :

It has been my experience, wrote Gandhi in 1926, "that I am always true (correct) from my point of view, and often wrong from the point of view of my critics. I know that we are both (myself and my critics) right from our respective points of view."

He further quotes Gandhiji's saying as under :

"I very much like this doctrine of the manyness of reality. It is this doctrine that has taught me to judge a Mussulman from his stand point and a Christian from his...From the platform of the Jainas, I prove the non-creative aspect of God, and from that of Ramanuja the creative aspect. As a matter of fact we are all thinking of the unthinkable describing the Indescribable, seeking to know the unknown, and that is why our speech falters, is inadequate and been often contradictory."

History of all conflicts and confrontations in the world is the history of intolerance born out of ignorance. Difficulty with the man is his egocentric existence. If only the man becomes conscious of his own limitations, Anekanta or Syadvada tries to make the man conscious of his limitation by pointing to his narrow vision and limited knowledge of the manifold aspects of things, and asks him not be hasty in forming absolute judgements before examining various other aspects-both positive and negative. Obviously, much of the bloodshed, and much of tribulations of mankind would have been saved if the man had shown the wisdom of understanding the contrary view points.


How the Doctrine Clarifies �Self'

The doctrine of Syadvada also clarifies the metaphysical doctrine of �Self' and the envisaged by the Jainas. The proposition �Syad asti' is positive in character and points out to the positive attributes of the thing in question. These are individual attributes which belong to and inhere in the thing in question. Therefore, when the proposition �Syad asti' is applied to �Self', it conveys that �Self' is justified in its existence only from the point of view of its own individual attributes, modes, space and time. But when the other proposition of the doctrine namely �Syad-nasti' is applied to it, it means the �Self' does not possess the attributes, modes, etc. Which do not belong to it. It is just like a pot which can be identified as a �pot' only if it carries the attributes of a �pot' but it cannot be identified as a pot if it carries the attributes which are foreign to it. So the negative identification of �Syat nasti' when applied to �Self' would mean that if the self tries to adopt the attributes of Pudgala which are foreign to it, it is not the �self'. In other words, Syadvada teaches us that �Self' can be identified positively as �Syad asti' only if it is viewed from its own attributes, and negatively as �Syad nasti' to show that it is not Pudgala, etc., if it is viewed from the attributes, foreign to it.

Thus the doctrine of Syadvada gives clarity to the real character of the �Self' and by the same process of reasoning, the real character of �Pudgala', i.e., non-sentient things.


Anekanta and Ahimsa

More important aspect of Syadvada is, however, the subtlety with which it introduces the practice of Ahimsa (non-violence) even in the realm of thought. The moment one begins to consider the angle from which a contrary view-point is put forward, one begins to develop tolerance, which is the basic requirement of the practice of �Ahimsa'. Origin of all bloody war fought on the surface of this earth can be traced to the war of ideas and beliefs. Syadvada puts a healing touch at the root of human psyche and tries to stop the war of beliefs which lead to the war of nerves and then to the war of bloodshed. It makes all absolutes in the field of thought quite irrelevant and naive, imparts maturity to the thought process and supplies flexibility and originality to human mind. If the man-kind will properly understand and adopt this doctrine of Syadvada it will realize that real revolution was not the French or the Russian; the real revolution was the one which taught the man to develop his power of understanding from all possible aspects.


Einstein's Theory

What Mahavira found by the process of intuition and reasoning. Einstein proved in his physical theory of Space and Time in the year 1905 A.D. Development of Optics and Electrodynamics led to the rejection of the concept of absolute time, absolute simultaneity and absolute space. If time and space are relative to other factors, everything that happens in time and space would naturally be relative to other factors. Therefore Einstein was convinced that there is causal interdependence of all processes in nature. As a result, the revelations made by him and other theories of Quantum Mechanics, the field of relativity was enlarged so as to take into consideration the fact that Reality is much dependent upon the subjective reaction of the individual who observes the event.

Jaina theory of relativity in the field of thoughts and metaphysics thus gets sufficient support from these scientific revelations in the field of physics. Theocrates world over have tried to emphasize that the truth revealed to them is absolute, eternal and immutable. Theory of relativity as embodied in Syadvada or Anekantvada is happily an exception to this. Lenin unknowingly endorsed this theory when he said :"Human thoughts by its nature is capable of giving, and does give, absolute truth, which is compounded of sum total of relative truths. Each step in the development of science adds new grains of absolute truth, but the limits of the truth of each scientific proposition are relative, now expanding, now shrinking with the growth of knowledge." If only Lenin knew how to apply this principle in the evolution of social and economic theories propounded by Marx, the fate of socialism would have been quite different today.


Theory of Seven Predications (Sapta-bhanga)

To clarify the above approach of ascertaining the truth by the process of Syadvada (Anekanta) the Jaina philosophers have evolved a formula of seven predications which are known as Saptabhanga. �Sapta' means �seven' and �Bhanga' means �mode'. These seven modes of ascertaining the truth are able to be exact in exploring all possiblities and aspects. For any proposition, there are three main modes of assessment, namely, (1) A positive assertion, (2) A negative assertion, (3) Not describable. The first is called �Avaktavya'. However, for greater clarity four more permutations of these three are added as under : �Asti-nasti', �Asti-avaktavya', �Nasti-avaktavya' and �Asti-nasti-avaktavya'. The word �Syat' is prefixed to each of these seven predications to prevent the proposition from being absolute.

All these seven predications are explained with reference to an earthen pot; But we may try to understand with reference to an ethical proposition that �It is sin to commit violence'. With regard to this proposition, the seven predications noted above can be made as under :

(i) It is sin to commit violence with an intention to commit the same (Asti).

(ii) It is not a sin to commit violence on an aggressor who molests an innocent and helpless woman (Nasti).

(iii) It is sin to commit violence in breach of moral and social laws, but it is not sin if violence is required to be committed in performance of moral or social duties (Asti-nasti).

(iv) It is not possible to say whether violence is sin or virtue without knowing the circumstances under which it is required to be committed (Avaktavya).

(v) Violence is indeed sinful under certain circumstances, but no positive statement of this type can be made for all times and under all circumstances (Nasti-avaktavya).

(vii) Violence is sinful, but there are circumstances where it is not so. In fact no statement in affirmation or negation can be made for all time and all circumstances (Asti-nasti-avaktavya).

All these seven modes can be expressed with regard to every proposition. The Jaina philosophers have applied them with reference to self, its eternality, non-eternality, identity and character. In fact this approach of Anekanta permeates almost every doctrine which is basic to Jaina philosophy. S.Gopalan quotes Eliot in this connection, as saying :

"The essence of the doctrine (of Syadvada), so far as one can disentangle it from scholastic terminology, seems just, for it amounts to this, that as to matters of experience it is impossible to formulate the whole and the complete truth, and as to matters which transcend experience, language is inadequate."

At no time in the history of mankind, this principle of Syadvada (Anekanta) was more necessary than in the present.