Jainworld
Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions
Shraman Bhagavan Mahavira and Jainism
The Jaina Concept of Soul
The Law of Karma
The Path of Moksha
Anekantavada

Anekantavada

 

 

The principle of the Anekantavada or Syadvada is a very valuable contribution of Jainism to world thought.  This doctrine is also known as the theory of Relativity or the Philosophy of Non‑absolutisim or the philosophy of Relative Pluralism.  This principle teaches us how to realize truth in its varied aspects.

 

Bhagavan Mahavira has said that every substance has infinite attributes or qualities and different attributes may be seen through different angles.  Just as a coin has two sides or a prism has many sides, similarly, every substance or situation has many aspects which could be seen from more than one side.  A man may be son of a father and father of a son or he may be someone's brother or nephew or uncle or brother‑in‑law, or grandfather or grandson and so on.  The town in which you stay is in the south for the people of the north and is in the north for the people of the south and so on.  Therefore every substance or situation should be looked from different angles in order to realize the truth underlying its different aspects.  It helps us to understand the view‑points of others.  If a person ignores various other angles or view‑points of an object or situation, and sticks to one particular angle or view‑point, he will never realize truth in its varied aspects.

 

Thus, Anekantavada teaches us that the kingdom of truth can be reached through different ways.  It also teaches us that we should not impose our own thoughts or views on others, but should try to reconcile with the thoughts or view‑points of others.  This principle, therefore, if earnestly put into practice shows us how to remove our short‑sighted, selfish and partial outlook.  It shows us how to remove discord and disharmony and establish concord and harmony in life, by being catholic and tolerant in our outlook and attitude towards others.

 

The principle of Anekantavada should be applied to every field of life.  It show's us how to respect candid opinions of all free thinkers of the world, and, therefore, the roots of modern democracy could be traced in this Jaina principle.  It establishes unity in diversity.  It promises reconciliation of divergent or conflicting statements, thoughts, ideologies, systems, religions etc.  The principle of Anekantavada, therefore, can be a great instrument to peaceful co‑existence and unity in the world.

 

Thus Jainism believes in the right faith, right knowledge, right conduct, non‑injury, truthfulness, non‑stealing, celibacy and non‑adultery, non‑acquisition of wealth, amity, appreciation, compassion, equanimity, forgiveness, humility, straightforwardness, purity of mind, control of senses, mercy, penance, renunciation, greedlessness, chastity, respect for other's view‑points, etc.  In short Jainism has advocated for all the best virtues required for peaceful and happy living for all the living beings and also required for the liberation of the soul from the cycle of birth and death. Jainism has thought of every possible situation in life, has elaborately analyzed them and has guided the followers of all categories towards the right path.

 

Let us end with one of the daily prayers of Jainism:

 

I forgive all the living beings and let all the living beings forgive me.  I have amity with all and enmity with none.

 

Let all the living beings be happy.  Let all the living beings be busy in making others happy.  Let the evils disappear from everywhere and let the whole world be happy.