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Anekāntavāda And Syādvāda: Part 3

Published: 12.01.2012
Updated: 02.07.2015

Except for an occasional hint here and there the principle of Reciprocity or Interaction is more implied than expressly stated or developed in Jainism. Nevertheless its necessity and importance are undoubtedly clear. It would not, therefore, be inappropriate if we approach Kant for an explicit formulation of this idea which is germane to the fundamental notion of Anekānta in Jainism.

It has been observed earlier that the Anekāntavādin postulates the interrelatedness of all reals in the universe, and, therefore, that one who has a total cognisance of one thing would have a total cognisance of everything and vice versa. The interrelatedness or relativity of nature evidently involves, at any rate in its narrow sense, the permeation of the relational factor in reality, but does not explicity specify the dynamical element of interaction among the reals. It is this dynamical or active element which is provided for by the principle of 'reciprocity' or 'interaction', or 'community"[1] (commercium).[2]

Without 'the reciprocity of the manifold' the interrelatedness, therefore, becomes 'merely an ideal relation', whereas with it the inter-relatedness becomes a 'real one'. This is the significance of the description of reciprocity as "the action and reaction of quite different substances, of which each determines the other's state." Prichard's instance of the 'reciprocal influence'[3] between 'a lump of ice' and 'fire' clearly illustrates this idea of interaction.[4] Describing reciprocity as a 'double refraction....of objects upon each other', Caird refers to it, in Kant's own words, as "the condition of the possibility of the things themselves as objects of experience".[5]

In Kantianism, as in Jainism, the principle of reciprocity goes beyond the 'co-existence' or the interrelatedness of the substances, and explains the 'dynamical community' among them. This is in sharp contrast with the 'isolation of the individual substances' as found in the individualism of Leibniz or the momentariness of Hume and Buddhism.

The terms like anyonyātmakatva[6] (mutuality) or anyonyavyāptibhāva[7] (mutual pervasiveness), used by Abhayadeva and Haribhadra in the somewhat limited context of concrete real, correspond, at least in a limited degree, to the Kantian idea of 'reciprocity' or 'dynamical community' among the reals in Jainism. When we consider, however, the Jaina view of the universe as a fully interrelated or relativistic[8] (sāpekṣa) system of reals, which in turn are causally efficient[9] (arthakriyākārī) it is not difficult to see that the feature of Kantian 'reciprocity' is implicitly contained in the structure of reality as envisaged by Jainism.[10]

In course of this brief enquiry into, and the illustration of, the steps in the development of the spirit of distinction involved in the theory of the Anekānta (the manifold or indeterminate) nature of reality we have observed that the notion of manifoldness not merely presupposes the notion of manyness or pluralism, but also contains the activistic implication of reciprocity or interaction among the reals in the universe. Although manifoldness is the most significant step in the dialectical analysis of the Jaina conception of reality, it comprehends and presupposes the other steps within its scope as a logical necessity. That is, independence (of consciousness and the world), pluralism, interrelatedness and reciprocity or dynamism are component factors in the amplitude of the ontological as well as the epistemological significance of the relativistic notion of manifoldness or indetermination with which the entire reality is, according to Jainism, stamped (syādvādamudrāṅkitam).

Before proceeding, finally, to consider the theories of standpoints (nayavāda) and of the Conditional Predication (syādvāda) or the Sevenfold Dialectic (saptabhaṅgīvāda, as syādvāda is otherwise called), it is necessary to point out that the whole above account of the nature of anekāntavāda, has aimed at progressively demonstrating the fact the anekāntavāda is the most consistent form of realism in Indian philosophy.

The claim that Anekāntavāda is the most consistent form of realism in Indian philosophy hinges mainly on the fact that it has allowed the maximum scope for distinction to play its role. It will take us far afield if we go closely into the problem of elucidating how the analytical function of distinction is inherent in any realistic procedure. This problem deserves to be specifically brought within the focus of the discussion of comparative Indian philosophical thought although some broader-questions—like how the notion of anekānta is found, in some measure and form, even in some non-anekānta[11] schools of philosophy, a conscious, balanced and systamatic treatment of it being a special feature of Jainism—have been noticed with some degree of attention by a few old writers[12] and contemporary critics.[13] A brief attempt has, however, been made in the immediately preceding pages to show how the impelling logic of distinction, inherent in all realistic metaphysics, has led to the evolution of the Jaina conception of reality from the simple notion of dualism to the complex one of manifoldness or indetermination. All that is necessary for our purpose now is to indicate how this notion of manifoldness or indetermination is the most consistent and inevitable manifestation of the realistic spirit in Indian philosophy.


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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. Agam
  2. Anekānta
  3. Anekāntavāda
  4. Buddha
  5. Buddhism
  6. Calcutta
  7. Consciousness
  8. Gautama
  9. Haribhadra
  10. Hume
  11. JAINA
  12. Jaina
  13. Jainism
  14. Kant
  15. Leibniz
  16. Nayavāda
  17. Poona
  18. Siddhasena
  19. Sutta
  20. Syādvāda
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