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Anekāntavāda And Syādvāda: Section II

Published: 02.05.2012
Updated: 02.07.2015

Although there is an important relation between Anekāntavāda and Syādvāda yet it should be borne in mind that the two are distinct. Similarly, although there is an important relation between Nayavāda and Syādvāda, one should not be confused with the other.[1] The point, however, is made to avert the possible contusions of mixing between them.

The expression 'Saptabhaṅgī' suggests a set of seven formulae.[2] Each one of such formulae is prefixed by the expression 'syāt'. It is on account of this perhaps that the doctrine of Saptabhaṅgī is also known as Syādvāda. The expression 'syāt', as mentioned in the beginning of the paper, is rendered and understood in a particular way; i.e. in the sense of a modal predicate or modal notion.

It may be admitted that the expression 'syāt' is used by grammarians in different ways i.e. as a form of 'as' and as Avyaya. In the context of Syādvāda these two uses seem to be important. Several scholars have used it as Avyaya (indeclinable or grammatical particle).[3] In the sense of potential liṅ, however, Syāt is left understood by some texts. This sense is clear, however, not only from dictionaries but also from reliable Jaina philosophical texts.[4]

It is urged that although the word 'syāt' is understood in the sense of anekānta, vidhi, vicāra etc. yet in the context under consideration, viz. in the context of Saptabhaṅgī[5] it is only to be understood in the sense of Anekānta. Anekānta means that a given object or thing is (potentially) beset with many dharmas.[6] The grammatical particle (avyaya) syāt is indicative (dyotaka) of this. Syādvāda as a doctrine arises from this consideration. Syādvāda thus, essentially is that abhyupagama in with which it is maintained that (any) one thing is beset with many dharmas, invariable or variable (nityānitya).[7] Understood in this way Syādvāda emphasises that different dharma can be predicated of a given thing.

There is, however, another equally important, sense in which the word syāt is used. In this use it is the potential third person singular of the root 'as'.[8] But it is not merely the grammatical consideration that brings this sense to the foreground. Equally important are the philosophical and modal considerations. 'Syāt' in this sense brings out symptomatically (pratirūpakaḥ) that a thing is a collection or conjunction (Nipātah) of dharmas potentially it is beset with.[9]

If both these interpretations of the expression 'syāt' are brought to bear upon each other then two important consequences seem to follow, the fuller implications of which will become clear as we proceed, and they are: (a) Syādvāda is the explanatory foundation of anekāntavāda, the explanatory frame in terms of which anekāntavāda, the doctrine according to which a thing can have many dharmas without contradiction,[10] becomes significant and meaningful; and (b) Syādvāda is connected with potentiality, capacity or dispositions of a thing which actualize. Such actualized dispositions are given either right with the emergence of a thing (sahabhāvīdharmas), in which case they are called guṇas or as those which happen to be actualized collectively or sequentially (kramabhāvī) in course of time. In the latter case they are called Paryāyas. Both these interpretations have important consequences in the context of the Jaina Philosophical explanation, but more of it later.


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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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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Anekānta
  2. Anekāntavāda
  3. Anekāntavāda And Syādvāda
  4. Dharma
  5. Guṇas
  6. JAINA
  7. Jaina
  8. Nayavāda
  9. Nityānitya
  10. Saptabhaṅgī
  11. Syādvāda
  12. Syāt
  13. Vimaladāsa
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