A Peep into Jainism by Late Shri Khub Chand Jain

ANEKANTVAD

Anekantvad, as opposed to Ekantvad, or many-sided investigation as opposed to one-sided investigation is the characteristic feature of Jainism.

A story told of a number of blind men eager to know an elephant could be, each of them, put his hands on the different parts of his massive body. The man, who searched his round belly, contented that the animal was something like a round earthen pot, the one who slid his hands down the legs, stressed that the elephant was pillar-like, while one, who rolled his hands on the trunk, protested that the animal cannot but be something vertically suspended , long and flexible so n and so forth. A man blessed with eyes who watched this, brought the controversy to an end by revealing that an elephant is the sum of all these different views.

While other religions stressed one or the other aspect of a question under discussion, Jainism declares that in a way each one is correct-Jainism is thus a confluence of opposites, a rendezvous and a aprochment for different points of views. Its does not seek to nullify or antagonise other religious bt reconciles all the different faiths prevalent in the world.

To cite a particular instance different, attributes are ascribed to God by different religions. He is spoken of a being enthroned on the Judgement Seat Arshe Maullah ( v'ksZ ekSyk) & commading the earth from there. He is not only spoken as Vahidu-la-Sharik ( ogh yk 'kjhd ) . Verify. He is one and there is no partner of His, but plurality is as much attributed to Him as oneness for He had been descending on earth & taking births as so many Avtars or incarnations. He is also believed to be all pervading and so on.


In Jainims God, an Emancipated Soul, is revealed to be residing at the highest regions gf the universe, called Sidhshilla. Also there are many souls being endowed with Omniseicence, their knowledge do not differ nor the knowledge of one supplements that of another. So that there are many Gods as well as Once, being one or the same in attributes. Souls again being regarded as a repository of all knowledge and its number in the universe being infinite , just as an earthen pot is full of water. He may be regarded as all-pervading as well as omniscient.

The old conflict between Dualism and Monoism may also be pacified by saying that God is one from the point of view of Essence, from the view point of being Perfect, Pure status hood of All-knowing , All-seeing, All –powerful,All-happy etc.but from the point of view of manifestation He is not only many but infinite.

Thus in the Jain Conception of Goodhood all the different characteristic attributed to God by different religions, find theri reconciliation.

Take another instance of the Dualism of Fate ( fof/) and Action ( iq:"kkFkZ ) . Some thinkers hold fate to be the ruling principle of life, while other stren actions as the dominating principle. According to Jainism both the above views are partial truths, the complete truths being the co-ordination of both.

We are freeto act as we will and hence we may consider ourselves to be the masters and makers of Fate. Fate, so to say, is not a matter of change, it is a matter of choice; it is not a ting to be waited, it is thing to be achieved. But when in our daily routine we find ourselves as helpless as a straw is at the mercy of waves, we feel that we are the slaves of fate. The thing is this that slavery of fate is a natural corollary of our freedom of will, it is the result of the actions we did either in the life or any of the past lives.

Fate is not a thing of permanent character, it is subject to change according to our changing will active efforts which is at the bottom of the vast diversity of fates of different people as well as at the bottom of the fates of one and the same individual. In short freedom of will ( iq:"kkFkZ ) and fate ( fo/kh) both are the dominating principles of life.

Consider another and a similar instance, one man says, “ I am mortal.” Another man says. “ I am immortal.”

These are two diagonally opposite statements between which there seems to be no common ground. Can these statement be reconciled? Jainism says’yes’ . One who says that he is mortal is emphasising the phenomena of birth and death of the body while the other who says that he is immortal is thinking of the imperishable nature of soul.

Take still another interesting example:
“The earth is at rest and the sun moves.” was the view of Copernicus.

Which of these two statements is correct?

The verdict of classical physics is clear and definite in favour of the second statement. Is it ever possible that both the propositions may be false? And yet a modern physicist ,listening to a discussion between the supports of the respective theories of Ptomey & Copernicus might well be tempted to a sceptical smile. The Theory of Relativity has introduced a new factor into science and revealed a new aspect of phenomena , for it is now known that the question of deciding between the two views is pointless and that in fact the propositions of both of them have lost their significance whether we say. “The earth moves and the sun is at rest” or the earth is at rest and the sun moves. Which really coveys nothing. Copernicus’s great discovery is today reduced to the modest statement that in certain cases it is more convenient to relate the motion of heavenly bodies to the solar than to the terrestrial system.

The reader should carefully note the latest view point of science on this ancient puzzle. The Jain astronomers held the Potemey View with regard to the relative motion between the Earth and the Sun & until lately, before the advent of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. The Potelmic View was regarded as absurd and absolutely foolish. Mow it has been proclaimed that the conception of motion of the earth round the sun is only a matter of convenience.

Consider another statement: The weight of a body in 194 lbs. Is this absolutely correct? It may or may not be correct for a weigh of 194 lbs.at the Equator when weighs 195 lbs.at the Poles. Apart from the position of the observer, it also depends upon the state of body whether it is at rest or in motion.

Even such an obivious statement, as ‘The length of a table is 5 ft.’ Is relative. For this may be true with regard to a stationary observer to another who is in relative motion with respect to the fist and carrying the measuring rod, because as proved by Einsten, a moving body contracts along the line of its motion. The contraction is, however extremely small. For a speed of 19 miles per second contraction is one part in 200,000,000 or 21/2 in a length of 8,000 miles.

What about mass? Take a body at rest. It has a definite mass, called the rest mass of the body. Set the body in extremely rapid motion. According to the classical physics, there is no change in the mass of the body but the Theory of Relativity predicts that not only the mass increases with velocity but also in what way the mass depends upon velocity.

(The World in Modern Science, P. 80-81).


Time is relative and is the space. Today upon this Planet may be yesterday upon another & tomorrow upon a third planet. Time is a dimension of space and vice versa. Actually the universe consists of a space time continuity i.e., both time and space are dependent upon each other; neither can be expressed independently; both must be considered co ordinate aspects motion short, not three dimensional. It consists of three dimensions of space and additional fourth dimension—time.

Einstein proved the Curvature Theory of Space by means of a series of mathematical formulas. The significant point of the Thoery is this: The shortest between two points is not a straight line but a curved line since the universe consists of a series of curved slopes of these hills. Indeed in this universe of ours, there is no such thing as motion in a straight line. A ray of light travelling towards the earth from the distant star is deflected or turned aside when it passes the hill slopes of space around the Sun.

Einstein says, “The relative truth is known only to the universal observer.” The universal observer of Einstein, whether he knew Him or not, is none other but Almighty. Sarvagya Deva With infinite power of knowledge and bliss.

Mrs. Einstein did not understand her husband’s theory. One day she asked, “What shall I say is Relativity!” The thinker replied with unexpected parable, “When a man talks to a pretty girl for an hour it seems to him only a minute but let him sit on a hot stone for only a minute and it is longer than an hour. This is relativity”.


The analogue in modern science of the Thoery of Syadvada is Prof. Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. It is the first published in the year 1905 and then 1915 and has since then startled the scientists all the world over.

Sometimes the statements:
i) S is P
ii) S is not P
And at the same time iii) S is both P and P not P, are likely to cause contradictions.

Now suppose S represents strychnine and P and we make the statements :---

1. Strychnine is poison (when administered in large doses.
2. Strychnine is not poison (in medical doses).
3. Strychnine is both poison and non-poison at the same time
(when looked at without reference to dosage)
In the above reading the contradiction is completely gone and a very useful bit of information is acquired about the nature of strychnine.

It will be noticed that from the standpoint of contradiction we can make three kinds of statements:
S is P; S is not P; S is both P; and not P. By combining these in different ways we get four more forms of the contradictory statements.

4. S is P+S not P.
5. S is P+S is at once P and not P both.
6. S is not P+S is at once both P and not P.
7. S is P+S is not P+S is at once both P and not P.
These seven forms are taken together constitute what is known as the Sapta-bhangi (seven fold) system of prediction S of these the first three are simple forms of prediction and the remaining four their compounds.


Jain metaphysicians advise the intsertion of the term say at meaning from a particular point of view mentally before such statement of predication, so that the mind be directed to the necessity of referring them to their stand point. The statement would then be read as:

i) Syat S is P;

ii) Syat S is not P and so on.........

In order to describe a thing completely it must be reviewed from seven different aspects. While enumerating its various attribuses only one aspect can be given prominence at one time. If by nothing to be afraid of or surprised at. A substance is a conglomeration of attributes one may be prominent at one time and at another time.

As the modern Theory of Relativity has worked wonders in the domain of Physics, so did Sayadvad or Anekantvad (the philosophy of stand-points) produce revolution in metaphysical thought. It served as the key to unlock the doors of wisdom and the soul means to establish uniformity amidst diversity of views. It aims to bring within a single fold the apparently divergent systems of philosophies by interpreting their truths from various stand points. In the words of a great American thinker,

“It promises to reconcile all the conflicting schools, not by inducing any of them necessarily to abandon their favourite stand points but by proving to them that the stand points of all others are alike tenable or at least they are representatives of some of aspects of truth which under some modifications, needs to be represented and that to be integrity of truth consists in this very variety of aspects within the rational unity of an all-comprehensive and rampifying principle.”

The value of looking at things from different angles both in scientific investigation & in practical affairs is obvious. It draws upon us the idea that realty is always complex; it discourages dogmatism and hasty conclusions. In practical matters it nurses a spirit of justice and guards us against fanaticism. We are, in short, encouraged to respect the feelings and use of others. The Anekantvad, thus, is the master key of different religions. It is the main fountain of temporal and spiritual progress. It is the Theory of Cumulative Truth.

Just as the Theory of Syatavada was divided and rediculed by the thinkers of non-Jain schools, so has been the fate of the Theory of Relativity. One may call Einstein or the whole host of leading physicians mere fools, but the fact remains, “Relativityis probably farthest reach that human mind has made into the unknown. It is commonly thought of as metaphysical, but in realty it is so mathematical that only a few hundred men in the world are competent to discuss it.”

According to Prof. Phanibhushan Adhikari, Hindu University, Benaras,

“Shri Shankaracharya has done injustice tothis system of Syadvada by not understanding it properly. Many learned scholars after him also subscribed to his views. It is to be understood that Maharishi thought it unnecessary to read the original works on this system.”*


*Based on the writing of Barrister Champat Rai Jaini and Prof. G. R. Jain, M. Sc. Victoria College, Gawalior.