Anekant

Posted: 02.08.2004
Updated on: 24.01.2012

Alias

Anekandvaad, Anekanta, Anekantavada, Anekantic, Anekantvad, Anekantvada, Anekānta, Anekānta-vāda, Anekāntavād, Anekāntavāda, Anekāntvād

To view contradictory opposites as complements

The term Anekāntavāda consists of three terms: ‘aneka’, ‘anta’, and ‘Vāda’,

Aneka’, means ‘many’
Ānta’, means ‘aspects’, or ‘attributes’
‘Vāda’ means ‘ism’ or ‘theory’.

Translated as

Anekāntavāda

also known as the principle of relative pluralism, is one of the basic principles of Jainism. According to this, the truth or the reality is perceived differently from different points of view, and that no single point of view is the complete truth. Jain doctrine states that, an object has infinite modes of existence and qualities and, as such, they cannot be completely perceived in all its aspects and manifestations, due to inherent limitations of the humans.

Anekāntavāda is literally the doctrine of non-onesidedness or manifoldness; it is often translated as "non-absolutism".

Syādvāda is the theory of conditioned predication which provides an expression to anekānta by recommending that epithet “Syād” be attached to every expression. Syādvāda is not only an extension of Anekānta ontology, but a separate system of logic capable of standing on its own force. As reality is complex, no single proposition can express the nature of reality fully. Thus the term “syāt” should be prefixed before each proposition giving it a conditional point of view and thus removing any dogmatism in the statement.

The seven propositions also known as saptabhangi are:

  1. Syād-asti - “in some ways it is”,
  2. syād-nāsti - “in some ways it is not”,
  3. syād-asti-nāsti - “in some ways it is and it is not”,
  4. syād-asti-avaktavyaḥ - “in some ways it is and it is indescribable”,
  5. syād-nāsti-avaktavyaḥ - “in some ways it is not and it is indescribable”,
  6. syād-asti-nāsti-avaktavyaḥ - “in some ways it is, it is not and it is indescribable”,
  7. syād-avaktavyaḥ- “in some ways it is indescribable”

Each of these seven propositions examines the complex and multifaceted reality from a relative point of view of time, space, substance and mode. To ignore the complexity of the objects is to commit the fallacy of dogmatism.


Non-absolutist view

The doctrine of anekānta took birth on the basis of interdependence of substantial and modal view-points. It conveys the relativity of substance and mode. Anekānta is lexically a negative term, but substantially it is not negative. It is a form of knowledge based on the nature of element or substance. It was enunciated for finding out the nature of truth. It tries to get rid of the internal contradictions apparent between the eternal and the non-eternal, that is, substance and mode. It has asserted that both the eternal as well as non-eternal can co-exist in the same substratum. The purpose of anekānta is not to contradict absolutist view. The basis of anekānta is the triplicate nature i.e. origination, cessation and permanence of substance. The law of anekānta is of universal application.

Anekanta: Philosophy Of Co-Existence
by Acharya Mahaprajna


Ekanta

Absolutism, one-sidedness, solitary viewpoint

Anekanta

Non-absolutism, a relativistic and multi-dimensional approach to reality

Anekant is a basic principle of Jainism dealing with the multiple nature of reality.

It asserts that every real entity is possessed of infinite number of pairs of opposite attributes; hence, the non-absolutism is a synthesis of infinite number of such dualities; thus, every entity is eternal as well as non-eternal, one as well as many, general as well as particular, expressible as well as inexpressible and so on; through syādvāda we can express the anekānta nature of reality.

It is the doctrine of

  • non-onesidedness, non-absolutis, non solitary view
  • the relativistic view in Jain philosophy, that is looking at things from all points of view.

Consequences:

The fundamental principle of Anekantvada is to tolerate others views or beliefs; one should not only try to discover the truth in one’s own views or beliefs, but also in other’s views and beliefs.

We have to accept the truth that there is truth in other’s views too.

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