-- meaning of Anekanta -- historical survey -- development of the Theory
of Anekanta -- Nayavada -- analysis of the Nayas -- Syadvada as a logical
expression of Nayavada -- Syadavada analysed -- criticism of the theory
some observations�Right Understanding � some Hurdels.
I. Jainism is
realistic and pluralistic. Its philosophy is based on logic and
experience. Moksa is the ultimate aim of life. lt is realised by the three
fold path of right intuition, right knowledge and right conduct. Right
knowledge is possible by the right approach to the problems of Life.
Anekanta, the Jainas believe, gives us the right approach to looking at
the various problems of life. Anekanta is the symboliation of the
fundamental non-violent attitude of the Jainas. It is the expression of
In surveying the
field of Indian philosophy, Dr. Padmarajiah mentions five types of
philosophy considered from the point of view of the nature of reality.
l. Philosophy of
Being Samkara represents this school of thought of identity.
2. Philosophy of
Becoming (change or difference) Buddhism presents this view.
subordinating difference to identity i) The Samkhya, ii) Bhedabhedavada
and iii) Visistadvaita hold this attitude.
subordinating identity to diflerence i) The Vaisesika, ii) Dvaita of
Madhvacarya gives this view.
coordinating both identity and difference The Jaina view of reality
presents this attitude.
Jainism meets the
extremes and presents a view of reality which comprehends the various
sides of reality to give a synthetic picture of the whole. It recognises
the principle of distlnction and develops the comprehensive scheme of
Anekanta realism. Anekanta is the 'most consistent form of realism as it
allows the principle of distinction to run its full course until it
reaches its logical terminus on the theory of manifold reality and
in a many-sided approach to the study of problems. It emphasizes a
catholic outlook towards all that we see and experience. lntellectual
tolerance is the foundation of this doctrine. lt arose as an antidote to
the one-sided and absolute approach to the study of reality of the
philosophers at that time. It arose out of the confusion of the
conflicting views of the philosophers and religious men on the problem of
the nature of reality. The Upanisadic philosophers sought to find the
facts of experience. This search gave rise to many philosophical theories.
Buddhism tried to present a fresh and a different approach in the
Madhyama-pratipada Drsti. The Anekanta view presents a coherent picture of
the philosophies, pointing out the important truths in each of them. It
looks at the problem from various
points of view.
The cardinal principle of the Jaina philosophy is its Anekanta which
emphasizes that 'there is not only diversity but that real is equally
Anekanta was a special feature of the Jaina point of view, it is possible
to say that some other schools of thought were aware of the view. In
Buddhist philosophy the phrase majjhima magga bears the same significance
as Anekanta. Pandit Sukeialalji Sanghvi, in his introduction to the
Sanmati Tarka, says that the doctrine of Anekanta and the madhyama marga
have great resemblance in the fundamental idea underlylng them.
Anatmavada of Sanjaya, Vibhajjavada, madhyama pratipada which induced the
Buddha to treat all prevalent opinions with respect may be mentioned as
expressions of Allekanta attitude. Similarly Bhedabheda-vada of
Bhartrprapanca is referred to as Anekanta. Gautama, the Buddha, faced
the confusion of thought presented in his time about the ultimate nature
of reality. He was silent about these problems. In Dlgha Nikaya, Gautama
says 'It is not that I was, I was not, it is not that I will be, I will
not be; it is not that I am, I am not.' The Buddha describes his attitude
to Manavaka as Vibhajjavada. This is similar to Anekanta, although it
is not so clearly defined and developed. No specihc words suggesting the
doctrine of Anekanta are found in the philosophic literature of ancient
lndia. lt is suggested that the doctrine of evolu-tion as propounded by
the Samkhya school implies the-Anekanta attitude. However, the Jainas
perfected the doctrine and systematized it. The Buddhist philosopher
SantaraKsita makes mention of the Anekanta of the Vipra-mimamsakas,
Nigghantas and Kapila Samkhyas. Among the Jaina exponents Mahavira
practiced the attitude and is supposed to have expressed it in the
A clear expression
of the Anekanta attitude is seen in Mahavira's discussions with his
disciples. ln the Bhagavatt sutra, there is a dialogue between the
Mahavira and his disciple Gautama.
"Are the souls, O
Lord, eternal or non-eternal?"
"The souls are
eternal in some respects and non-eternal in some other respects. .. They
are eternal, O Gautama,
from the point of
view of substance and non-eternal from the point of view of modes."
Again, the problem
of body and mind was answered by Mahavlra as -- "The body, O Gautama, is
identical with the soul and not identical with the soul in different
The application of
the principle of Anekanta can be seen in their analysis of the
metaphysical question concerning the categories. The Jaina theories of
atoms, of space and soul, to mention a few instances, illustrate the
pervading influence of the Anekanta viewpoint. Atoms are of the same kind:
they can yet give the infinite variety of things. Pudgala has certain
inalienable features, but within limits it can becorne anything through
qualitative differentiation. The transmutation of elements is quite
this view and is
not a mere dream of the alchemist.
Space is another
instance of a manifold real. It is un-corporeal and formless, yet
divisible  and its divisibility is a spontaneous feature. Abhayadeva
develops the concepts of manifoldness of space as a polemic against the
Naiyayika view of space as one and partless. The souls are individual
centres of experience. Like the Leibnizian monads the soul mirrors the
entire universe within self as a unique centre of experience. The universe
it mirrors is infinitely complex; and its experimental powers must be
manifold commensurate with the complicity of the experienced universe.
In the Anga
literature of the Jainas the doctrine of Anekanta was briefly and
incidentally discussed. But in the commentaries of the Jaina scripture
written in Prakrit it has -received greater attention. But when the
Sanskrit language found a place in the Jaina literature, it occupied an
important position. The commentary on the Tattvarthasutra of Umasvati
gives an exhaustive description of the problem. Later, a systematic
exposition of the doctrine was given by Jaina scholars like Samantabhadra,
Siddhasena Divakara, Mallavadi, Pajyapada, Akalanka, Vidyanandi and
The Anekanta view
does imply the principles of reciprocity and interaction among the reals
of the universe, as given by Kant, although this principle is more implied
than expressly stated in Jainism.
In Kantianism as
in Jainism, the principle of reciprocity goes beyond the 'coexistance' or
the inter-relatedness of the substances and explains the 'dynamical
community' among them. But the Jaina is a thorough-going realist.
Anekanta-vada is a theory of reality which asserts the manifoldness and
complexity of the real. In apprehending the complexity of the universe, it
has crystallised itself into the two-fold dialectic of Nayavada and
Syadvada; and they are complementary processes forming a normal and
inevitable development of the relativistic presupposition of the Jaina