Anekāntavāda And Syādvāda ► The Doctrine Of Syādvāda : Examination Of Different Interpretations ► Section V

Posted: 29.05.2012

S. Gopalan formulates the seven propositions of syādvāda as follows:

(1) May be, Reality is (Syāt asti dravyaṁ)

(2) May be, Reality is not (Syāt nāsti dravyaṁ)

(3) May be, Reality is and is not (Syāt asti ca nāsti ca dravyaṁ)

(4) May be, Reality is indescribable (Syāt avaktavyṁ dravyaṁ)

(5) May be, Reality is and is indescribable (Syāt asti ca avaktavyṁ dravyaṁ)

(6) May be. Reality is not and is indescribable (Syāt nāsti ca avaktavyṁ dravyaṁ)

(7) May be, Reality is, is not and is indescribable (Syāt asti ca nāsti ca avaktavyṁ dravyaṁ)[1]

This formulation of syādvāda presents two problems. The first relates to the translation of syāt as may be. Although this is fairly common,[2] and 'syāt means "may be"'[3] yet it is 'explained by Kathaṁchit, which in this connection may be translated "somehow".[4] Without being dogmatic on this point,[5] there is room for suggesting that 'somehow' may be a better translation as it prevents the Jain doctrine from appearing unduly sceptical. Secondly, the rendering of dravyaṁ as Reality with a capital R generates the impression that Jainism believes in the existence of one Reality. But Jain philosophy is 'realistic and pluralistic. There is a plurality of objects and jīvas (Ātmans) and all of them are real, and the objects of our knowledge are also real'. They 'are not mere ideas'.[6]

The word syāt here qualifies the word asti, and indicates the Indefiniteness of Being (or astitvaṁ). For example, we say a jar is somehow, i.e. it exists, if we mean thereby that it exists as a jar; but it does not exist somehow if we mean that it exists as a cloth or the like. The purpose of these seeming truism is to guard against the assumption of the Vedāntins that Being is one without a second, the same in all things.[7]

In other words, Jainism accepts the reality of plurality, that is, a plurality of realities. Actually S. Gopalan is aware of this. He points out immediately after unfolding the seven propositions that 'any object in the world represents Reality (though in a limited way)' and further that 'the proposition "The pot does not exist" does not signify "The pot does not exist as pot''. It means merely that the pot does not signify "The pot does not exist as pot". It means merely that the pot does not exist as cloth (paṭa) or as anything else'.[8] It is the actual formulation of the seven predications which seems to leave room for misunderstanding.

Footnotes:
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[5]
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Published by:
Jain Vishwa Bharati Institute
Ladnun - 341 306 (Rajasthan)

General Editor:
Sreechand Rampuria

Edited by:
Rai Ashwini Kumar
T.M. Dak
Anil Dutta Mishra

First Edition:1996
© by the Authors

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