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Bhagavan Mahavira Life and Philosophy : [07.06] Non-violence And Synthesis

Published: 07.09.2005
Updated: 06.08.2008

Chapter 7

The Relevance Of The Jaina Religion To Modern Problems

ental violence is even worse than physical violence and can be a cause of the latter. To ideas man is as much attached as to wealth, sometimes even more. Bhagavan Mahavira's doctrine of anekantavada was aimed at removing dogmatism. He said,

"Look at innumerable characteristics and variations of things in infinite perspectives. Do not perceive them in a single perspective. A narrow-minded man is always dogmatic about his beliefs and decries those of others.”

There were a large number of religious sects in the time of Bhagavan Mahavira. They professed different doctrines and defeated the very purpose of religion by engaging them- selves in polemics. The eternalists (nityavadls) attacked the phenomenalists (anityavadis) and vice versa.

On the basis of his spiritual vision, Bhagavan Mahavira said,

"There is nothing either absolutely eternal or absolutely phenomenal. Whatever exists is eternal as well as ephemeral. A thing, which you call eternal at one moment, is at the same moment ephemeral also. There is no word in man's language to express this simultaneity of opposites. Therefore whenever you give a statement, add the term syat (from a certain point of view) to it. 'Syad asti' means that from a certain point of view, the thing exists. 'Syan nasti' means that from a certain point of view it does not exist. The moments of existence and non-existence are not different. A thing, which exists at one moment, also does not exist at the same moment. The term syat implies that when we emphasise the existence of a thing, we treat its non-existence as secondary characteristic; associated with it and vice versa. Existence and non-existence cannot be separated from each other. But we cannot: express both with a single word and from this point of view a thing is ‘inexplicable' (syad avaktavya)."

This theory of syadvada puts an end to ideological conflict. It synthesises all the schools of thought. The theory itself, however, does not create a synthesis in the objects. Synthesis exists in the very nature of objects. Syadvada expresses this natural state of synthesis. This way of synthesizing liberates us from violence born of a one-sided view of things, cock-sureness and dogmatism.

Title: Bhagavan Mahavira Life and Philosophy
Translated & Edited: Muni Mahendra Kumar


Edition 1995
Publisher: Jain Vishva Bharati, Ladnun, India

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Anekantavada
  2. Avaktavya
  3. JAINA
  4. Jaina
  5. Mahavira
  6. Syad
  7. Syadvada
  8. Syat
  9. Violence
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