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Anekāntavāda And Syādvāda: References To Syādvāda In The Ardha-Māgadhī Canon

References To Syādvāda In The Ardha-Māgadhī Canon[1]

The approach to reality adopted by Anekānta-vāda strikes an original note in the history of Indian logic. If rightly grasped, Anekānta-vāda prepares a percipient for an all-sided apprehension of reality. The object of knowledge has to be realised as itself and as related with all others: the Anekāntavāda aims to achieve this purpose in a successful manner. Unfortunately it has been a neglected branch of study; it is often either misunderstood or half-under-stood: that is why it is often adversely criticised. Many points connected with Anekānta-vāda require to be cleared by studying the original texts.

It has been usual with us nowadays that an idea, an institution or a doctrine should be studied historically detecting its various stages of development as gleaned from the available tracts of literature. Many religious institutions and philosophical doctrines are sub­jected to this method of study, and Syādvāda cannot be excepted. It is really an useful line of study but very often its value is over­stated. It is remarked[2] that "Syād-vāda or Saptabhaṅgīnaya may be a later development in Jainism but the doctrine of Anekānta-vāda, the first and the most fundamental teaching of Mahāvīra, seems to have been at the root Syādvāda. The references in the Jain canons of the Śvetāṁbaras are in favour of this view." The statement appears to mean much, but it is not so clear. Syādvāda and Saptabhaṅgī are accepted as synonyms, and Anekānta-vāda is said to precede Syādvāda in time. This last remark possibly means that the Jaina canon of the Śvetāṁbaras does not refer to Syādvāda or Saptabhaṅgī.

So far as the pro-canonical texts of the Digaṁbaras are concerned, Kundakunda, who is one of the earlier author-saints, mentions, as I have shown elsewhere,[3] full-fledged Syādvāda in Pañcāstikāya and Pravacanasāra; and the former work gives the name Saptabhaṅgī. Turning to the Svetāṁbara canon, it has been already pointed out[4] that the three primary predications are mentioned in Bhaqavatīsūtra or Viyāhapaṇṇatti. As yet the Ardhamāgadhi canon of the Śvetāṁbaras is not exhaustively studied in all its details. Quite recently, however, that great German orientalist, Dr. Walther Schubring of the Hamburg University, has given to us an authentic resume of the entire Ardhamāgadhī canon in his 'Die Lehre der Jainas.'[5] He states that the basic material for Syādvāda is already there, but the complete structure, which is later on known as Anekānta, is not explicitly found there.

The Sanskrit commentators do help us in interpreting the texts of the Ardhamāgadhī canon, but at times we have to ignore their explanations, when they are not satisfactory, and try to construe and interpret certain passages on comparative and philological lines of study. I purpose to draw the attention of scholars to a couple of passages, which, I think, refer to Saptabhaṅgī and Syādvāda by these names.

(i) The Vācaka family of religious teachers, to which Nāgahastin and many other famous personages belonged, is thus glorified in Nandisūtra, verse No. 30:

''वड्ढउ वायगवंसो जसवसो अज्जनागहत्थीणं ।
वागरणकरणभंगियकम्मपयडीपहाणाणं ।।"

The second line is explained by Malayagiri in this manner:

"कथंभूतानामित्याह-व्याकरणकरणभङ्गिकर्मप्रकृतिप्रधानानाम्, तत्रव्याकरणं
संस्कृतशब्दव्याकरणं प्राकृतशब्दव्याकरणं च प्रश्नव्याकरणं वा, करणं पिण्डविशुद्धादि,
उक्तं च - 'पिंडाविसोही समिई भावण पडिमा य इंदियनिरोहो। पडिलेहणगुणिओ
अभिग्गहा चेव करणं तु।।' भङ्गि भङ्गबहुलं श्रुतम्, कर्म प्रकृति: प्रतीता, शब्देषु
प्ररूपणमधिकृत्य प्रधानानाम्"।।

The term bhaṅgiya or bhaṅgī in the above passage, I think, refers to Saptabhaṅgī; and Malayagiri's interpretation 'bhaṅga-bahulaṁśrutam' possibly means the same. The second line mentions various branches of study rather than the names of particular texts. This excludes the possibility of interpreting bhaṅgī as the name of a text, now obsolete and lost.

(ii) In the 14th chapter of Sūyagaḍam we have the following warning to the pious monk:

''नो छायए नो वि य लूसएज्जा माणं न सेवेज्जा पगासणं च।
न यावि पन्ने परिहास कुज्जा न यासियावायं वियागरेज्जा।।19।।"

We are concerned with the phrase 'na yāsiyāvāya viyāgarejja1 which Śīlāṅka explains in this manner:

"तथा नापि चाशीर्वादं बहुपुत्रो बहुधनो [बहुधर्मो] दीर्घायुस्त्वं भूया इत्यादि व्यागृणीयात्।"

So far as Ardhamāgadhi and Jaina Māhārāṣṭrī are concerned, the normal equivalent of āśis is āsī, and another form āsīsā[6] is noted by Hemachandra. With Hemchandra's illustration that siāvāo - syādvādaḥ[7] in view, it is more reasonable to render that passages thus: vyāgṛṇīyāt, i.e., he should not explain anything which is not (conforming to) Syādvāda. We know from many early Jaina stories that Jaina monks were not prohibited from giving blessings in the form of dharmalābha. Thus it is more consistent to interpret the phrase yāsiyāvāyam as ca asyādvādam than as ca āśīrvādam. Śīlāṅka would not object to author's mention of Syādvāda in this context, as it is clear from verse No. 22 which runs thus:

''संकेच्च यासंकियभाव भिक्खू विभज्जवायं च वियागरेज्जा।[8]
भासादुय धम्मसमुट्ठिएहिं वियागरेज्जा समया सुपन्ने।।"

The phrase vibhajjavāyaṃ etc. is explained by Śīlāṅka in this manner:

"तथा विभज्यवादं पृथगर्थनिर्णयवादं व्यागृणीयान्, यदि वा विभज्यवादः
स्याद्वादस्तं सर्वत्रास्खलितं लोकव्यवहाराविसंवादितया सर्वव्यापिनं स्वानुभवसिद्धं वदेत्,
अथवा सम्यगर्थान्विभज्य पृथक् कृत्वा तद्वादं वदेत्, तघथा-नित्यवादं द्रव्यार्थतया
पर्यायार्थतया त्वनित्यवादं वदेत्" etc.

Even though it may be disputed whether Vibhajjavāda meant Syādvāda at the time when Sūyagaḍam was composed,[9] this much is certain that Śīlāṅka accepts the possibility of Syādvāda being mentioned in this context. So we may accept that verse No. 14 mentions Syādvāda according to which the monk is expected to explain the various topics.


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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. Anekānta
  2. Anekānta-vāda
  3. Anekāntavāda
  4. Aśoka
  5. Buddha
  6. Buddhism
  7. Hemachandra
  8. JAINA
  9. Jacobi
  10. Jaina
  11. Jaina Canon
  12. Jainism
  13. Kundakunda
  14. Mahāvīra
  15. Nirgrantha
  16. Pali
  17. Pañcāstikāya
  18. Sanskrit
  19. Saptabhaṅgī
  20. Schubring
  21. Siddhasena
  22. Syādvāda
  23. Sūtrakṛtāṅga
  24. Trivandrum
  25. Walther Schubring
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