Jainworld
Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions

Jivaraja Jaina Granthmala, No. 20

General Editorial
Preface to The First Edition
Preface to The Second Edition
Synoptic Philosophy
  Approach to Reality
  The Jaina Theory of the Soul
  Critique of Knowledge
  The Doctrine of Karma in Jaina Philosophy
  The Pathway to Perfection
  In this Our Life
  Men and Gods

APPROACH TO REALITY

 

 

Introduction -- 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.[1] 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 intellectual non-violence.

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. They are:

l. Philosophy of Being Samkara represents this school of thought of identity.

2. Philosophy of Becoming (change or difference) Buddhism presents this view.

3. Philosophy subordinating difference to identity i) The Samkhya, ii) Bhedabhedavada and iii) Visistadvaita hold this attitude.

4. Philosophy subordinating identity to diflerence i) The Vaisesika, ii) Dvaita of Madhvacarya gives this view.

5. Philosophy 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 knowledge.[2]

Anekanta consists 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 diversified.'[3]

II. Although 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.[4] 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.[5] 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.[6]  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.[7] 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 Syadvada.

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 respects." [8]

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 possible in

this view and is not a mere dream of the alchemist.[9]

Space is another instance of a manifold real. It is un-corporeal and formless, yet divisible [10] 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.[11]

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 others.

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.[12] 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 metaphysics.[13]