Anekāntavāda And Syādvāda: Preface

Published: 24.10.2011
Updated: 02.07.2015

With the drawing of the present millennium to a close, scholars are now increasingly acknowledging the value of the rich, profound and varied philosophical, religious and cultural heritage of India bequeathed to us by a galaxy of illustrious genius of the Brahminical, Buddhist and Jinist seers, saints and thinkers together with the followers of other faiths who also evinced keen interest in enriching and elevating the thought and culture of the country. The contributions and achievements of Brahminism (later known as Hinduism) and Buddhism are more or less widely known but it is a wonder that Jainism has remained unknown, to a greater extent, to scholars who, due to some reason or other, could not bestow adequate attention to it which it really deserves.

Jainism is one of the few religions of India which, dating back to hoary past, has survived the ravages of time. It is said~to be promulgated, during the present period, by twentyfour tirthankaras, the first being Rshabha, who is found mentioned even in the Vedas and whose details are also recorded in the Hindu Puranas. Neminatha, the twenty second tirthankara, is associated with Krsna. All these tirthankaras are not regarded as-historical personages. Only the last two tirthankaras, Parsvanatha and Mahavira, are accepted as historical persons. Parsva flourished in the eighth century B.C. and preceded Mahavira by 250 years. We find some details about the life and teachings of Parsva in the Jaina texts. The early Pali texts also furnish some information about him. Mahavira is regarded as the twenty fourth and the last tirthankara. The sermons delivered by Mahavira were first transmitted orally from one generation to another and later on compiled and committed to writing, and are now known as Agamas. What we, today, know as Jain philosophy, religion and culture all this has, in fact, originated with Mahavira. This knowledge has been made explicit in the vast post-canonical literature. There are a good number of literary and mythological works in several Indian languages produced by Jain poets and saints. Jain thinkers like Umasvati, Kundakunda, Siddhasena Divakara, Samantabhadra, Akalanka, Haribhadra, Vidy'ananda. Hemacandra, Upadhyaya Yasovijaya, Acarya Tulsi and others have made significant contributions of abiding value to Jain philosophy and religion. In the field of art and architecture, too, the Jainas have achieved singular heights and some of the images, temples, paintings etc. which exhibit rare artistic beauty can be regarded as excellent specimen of their workmanship.

With a view to providing an opportunity to the academic world to have a thorough acquaintance with the opulent and colossal information about Jain philosophy, religion and culture and opening the way for further research, we have undertaken a gigantic project to publish in 25 volumes such articles written by a number of scholars on these subjects which have already appeared in various Journals. We have also utilized some portions, relevant to our project, from the works of scholars of eminence. Each volume will contain articles on some specific topic. We are sure, this proposed project, when completed, would prove to be a valuable source for understanding the spiritual, intellectual and cultural contours of religio-philosophical thought of the Jainas.

The present volume, the first in the series of 25 volumes, contains articles on Anekāntavāda and Syādvāda. The doctrine of Anekānta forms the corner-stone of Jain philosophical thinking. Hence, the first volume is devoted to the study of the different aspects of this important doctrine of Jaina philosophy. It is the prerogative of the human beings to know the truth and also to express it. According to the Jainas, we find a multiplicity of reals in the world and each object of knowledge is found to be endowed with infinite characteristics. The infinite number of characteristics, though appear to be mutually contradictory, are, in fact, the inalienable part of a real. As a matter of fact, a real is an integrated whole of infinite number of qualities or attributes. They do certainly, say the Jainas, co-exist in the same object. This co-existence of mutually opposed characteristics should be accepted as a reality. This is the intrinsic nature of the reality. If we deny this, then there arise various sorts of complications and confusions which lead to conflicts, strifes and tensions. Seeing widely differing theories on the same subject one is apt to get confused, hardly knowing which of them represents the correct position. Here Anekāntavāda comes to our aid and rescue, and provides an amicable solution to controversies.

Anekāntavāda stands for right vision. It enables us to comprehend the true nature of an object which is possessed of infinite attributes. Reality, according to the Jainas, is multi-dimensional. It has many facets and qualities. So it is very difficult to comprehend the true nature of a reality in its entirety. Really speaking, only a particular aspect of an object is comprehended by a common onlooker. He, therefore, gives an estimate of reality from a particular standpoint. This is, in fact, only a partial truth about an object and if the person asserts in the like manner then he is not looking upon this standpoint as the only true standpoint. This goes well so far as he admits his limitations. The fact of the matter is that he understands that there may be a multitude of different viewpoints of a given situation or event and all those viewpoints in their totality reflect the full nature of the situation or event. And hence, unless we take into account all the different aspects of a thing we cannot be in a position to comprehend it fully as also to express it correctly and completely.

On the otherhand, if a person claims his thesis to be the absolute truth on the basis of his comprehension of only a particular aspect of the object, then certainly he is going beyond what he has comprehended. This assertion may be called false according to Anekāntavāda and will certainly encourage dogmatism and fanaticism, extremism and intolerance. Hence, Anekāntavāda cautions us against building closed systems of philosophy and rather encourages us to formulate a theory of relativity which harmonizes all mutually contradictory standpoints. This doctrine intends to convey the truth that co-existence of mutually contradictory characteristics of an object is a fact which should not be ignored if we want to live peacefully and smilingly. This is also a source of strength of democracy. The existence of opposition is essential for the survival and effective functioning of democracy. In the absence of opposition, democracy certainly loses its lusture, grandeur, creditibility and utility. This is our experience, and to deny it its due place and importance would be suicidal. To deny opposition, therefore, would mean to deny democracy. Similary, to deny the co-existence of mutually conflicting viewpoints about a thing would mean to deny the true nature of a reality. All our statements are conditional, and are made keeping in mind a certain context. If we present our viewpoints conditionally, then we are speaking the truth inasmuch as our statements are quite in conformity with our conprehension of those aspects of reality. Thus, Anekāntavāda fosters the spirit of reconciliation in us by pointing to the essential interrelatedness of different views and harmonizing them in a new Synthesis.

Anekāntavāda unfolds its vision through Nayavāda and Syādvāda. Nayavāda is an analytical method of standpoints, while Syādvāda is the Synthetical method of Knowledge. What we to-day know as the doctrine of co-existence, or the spirit of reconciliation, or the theory of relativity—all these, in fact, originate from Anekāntavāda. It is a dynamic philosophy of life through which we can lead a life of partnership and participation, a life of friendliness and harmony, a life of non-violence and equality. It indeed touches almost every aspect of life and envisages total change in the horizon of our outlook, thought and action. It provides an integral, balanced and effective-approach to the solutions of the problems which mankind is facing to-day. Thus it has all the potentialities for the emergence of a new man.

As in the past, so even to-day and years to come, Jainism is destined to play a vital role in the intellectual, social and cultural transformation of the humanbeings. Hence, a correct understanding, exploration and application of anekānta will certainly be fruitful for the welfare of the humanity. It will lead to the establishment of a peaceful world-order. To inculcate the spirit of tolerance as also the attitude of appreciation of other's point of view is the need of the hour which may be made possible by understanding and following the philosophy of Anekānta.

We hope, this volume will encourage the scholars and lovers of Jainism to undertake a critical exposition of the different aspects of Anekāntavāda and Syādvāda. There is a vast literature on this topic. Jain Agamas throw a welcome light on Anekāntavāda. But this has remained unexplored so far. Later Jain thinkers have also produced their masterpieces on this important doctrine. The contribution of each thinker should be brought to light. A thorough study of this doctrine has remained, more or less, neglected. It would not be out of place to mention that it has not been properly understood. Hence, we believe, it is the duty of earnest scholars to dispassionately evaluate the merit of Anekāntavāda and Syādvāda from various standpoints and present their results before the academic world.

This work we have been able to publish only due to the benig grace of Ganadhipati Gurudeva Tulsi and Acharya Mahaprajña who have been perennial source of inspiration to us. We offer our obeisance to them.

To the General Editor, Shri Sreechand Rampuria, who happens to be the Chancellor of our Institute, we offer our sincere gratitude for providing us an opportunity to edit this volume. We place on record our indebtedness to our Vice-Chancellor, Shri M.S. Bhandari for allowing us to complete this important task.

We are also thankful to Shri Suresh Bansal for printing this volume in a very short time.

Anuvrata Bhawan
New Delhi
January 14,1996
Rai Ashwini Kumar
T.M. Dak
Anil Dutta Mishra
Published by:
Jain Vishwa Bharati Institute
Ladnun - 341 306 (Rajasthan) General Editor:
Sreechand Rampuria
Edited by:
Rai Ashwini Kumar
T.M. Dak
Anil Dutta Mishra

First Edition:1996
© by the Authors

Printed by:
Pawan Printers
J-9, Naveen Shahdara, Delhi-110032

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acarya
  2. Acharya
  3. Agamas
  4. Akalanka
  5. Anekānta
  6. Anekāntavāda
  7. Anekāntavāda And Syādvāda
  8. Anil Dutta Mishra
  9. Anuvrata
  10. Bhawan
  11. Buddhism
  12. Delhi
  13. Haribhadra
  14. Hemacandra
  15. Hinduism
  16. JAINA
  17. Jain Philosophy
  18. Jaina
  19. Jainism
  20. Krsna
  21. Kundakunda
  22. Mahavira
  23. Mishra
  24. Nayavāda
  25. New Delhi
  26. Non-violence
  27. Pali
  28. Parsvanatha
  29. Puranas
  30. Siddhasena
  31. Siddhasena Divakara
  32. Sreechand Rampuria
  33. Syādvāda
  34. Tirthankara
  35. Tirthankaras
  36. Tolerance
  37. Tulsi
  38. Upadhyaya
  39. Vedas
  40. Yasovijaya
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