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The Quest For Truth: [09.01] The Quest For Truth

Published: 27.04.2007
Updated: 06.08.2008

Truth is eternal. One who sees truth does not create it, but explains it. Bhagvan Mahavira was not the founder of truth, but one who expressed it, elaborated on it. With long years of penance he was able to see truth and describe it within the limitations of language. He perceived that truth can be seen but its entirety cannot be expressed. Explanations can be made of only one part of the truth. Knowledge is for oneself and expression of it for others. Knowledge can be seen in itself. In the process of acquiring knowledge it becomes apparent and visible. It is visible by itself. The process of acquiring knowledgecan be both of the seen and of the invisible.

By itself, knowledge is neither proved nor disproved. When acquiring knowledge it can be proved or disproved. Uncertain or controversial knowledge may be disproved. Definitive knowledge is the valid one. The capacity for development of knowledge, for the self and for others, direct and indirect, valid and invalid... these different aspects of knowledge have divided truth into many sections.

Truth is truth. It is not one for me and different for another and yet what happens is that what I think of as the truth another person thinks of as false. Whatever the other person thinks as true, I think as false. These different forms of truth take man towards untruth. Mahavira and Buddha were born in India. LaoTse and Confucius were born in China. Countries were different but the period was same. All four of them were contemporaries. Man can be differentiated in time and space. But truth cannot be differentiated by time and space. It is in the same form at all times, at all places. But the one, who is reading the works of Mahavira, understands truth in a certain fashion. The one, who is reading the works of the Buddha, understands truth in yet another fashion. One who is reading LaoTse or Confucius understands truth in the third and fourth manner.

Truth is one. Its explanation has many forms and its comprehension is far removed. This situation raises one question in the mind of a researcher working on truth. He asks, "Is truth real or imaginary; if it is true then why these differences in explanations, if it is an illusion then why so much effort to understand it?" This question has thrown many people seeking truth along the path of untruth. Mahavira contemplated on this question very seriously. He saw the weakening of those people who were walking towards truth and he saw how "partial truth" was imposing itself on the complete truth, was being mistaken as the whole. To resolve this problem, he established the idea of Anekanta and announced that all these expressions are not the complete truth but a part of the whole truth. Truth cannot be expressed. Only part of the truth can be expressed. I have seen the entire truth but I am not able to express it in its entirety. Another person too can see truth but will not be able to express it. It can only be the inexpressible part of the truth. I express one part of the truth; another expresses another part of it. Both the parts can be different from each other. This is not difference in truth. Nor is it division of truth. It is the relative expression of an aspect of truth. If I think that one part of truth is relevant, another thinks another part of truth is relevant. This is the difference in lingual felicity.

Word has only that much capability so as to express in one moment one aspect only of the infinite aspects of the truth. Entire language can only express a few aspects of truth. No language has been able to express more than a few thousand aspects of truth. They will not be able to do it either. No human being in his lifetime can give expression to more than a few thousand aspects of truth. In such a case, what is the meaning of the sentence that truth is eternal? These are the words of those who have seen truth. Can one who has seen the entire truth express it entirely? If he could, then truth will not be infinite, will not be eternal and if he can express it then he can only express a part of it.

Thinking of partial truth as the entire truth we cannot close the door to the quest for truth. The principle of Anekanta has opened, forever and for all, the doors to the quest for truth. Its belief is that I too can search for truth and so can you. We can all see truth. Our ancestors searched for truth, saw it and expressed it. The quest for truth and its realization was for themselves. Its expression was for us. If we accept only their expression, if we try to get to the entire truth through partial truth, there can be no greater untruth than this. Truth cannot be understood through its parts. Through its parts a desire to seek truth may be created but truth can be realized only through one's own spiritual practice (sadhana).

Anekanta has presented the path of such sadhana, which is through sincerity and without passions. Mahavira has said one who is sincere and straight can attain truth. He accepts what 'is' as 'is' and does not try to put what is, in a mould of the past; does not try to influence the objective truth through his inclination, discipline and sanskaras, does not try to reconcile the conflicting incompatible elements in the essential nature of matter through logical or compromising efforts. This effort is an effort towards simplifying thoughts. A straight and sincere man does not incline towards Mahavira or anybody else. His mind and heart are empty, a void. He does not insist that what Mahavira has said is the truth and what LaoTse has said is untruth. He tries to understand Mahavira's truth in the context of Mahavira's time, place, expectation and situation. He tries to understand LaoTse's truth in the context of his time, place, expectation and situation. And for the realization of truth, he does his own sadhana.

All the questions, problems, complications that arise in the path towards the quest for truth are created by those who see only one aspect. If one believer of truth believes that A represents truth and B is untruth, then there is another man who believes that the B represents the truth and A is untruth. In this way, by accusing each other's truth as untrue they create problems in the quest for truth. They are not willing to accept reality as it is. They want to establish truth from words and texts. It is such people who having highlighted the differences in different aspects of truth are raising doubts on the multi dimensional aspect of truth and creating controversy between seers who have seen truth.

  • The Quest For Truth: In the context of Anekanta by Acharya Mahaprajna
  • Edited by Muni Dulahraj
  • Translated by Sudhamahi Regunathan
  • under the guidance of Revered Munishree Mahendra Kumar.
  • Published 2003 by Jain Vishva Bharati Institute (Deemed University), Ladnun, Rajasthan, India

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Anekanta
  2. Buddha
  3. Discipline
  4. Mahavira
  5. Sadhana
  6. Space
  7. The Quest For Truth
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