Anekanta : Philosophy of Co-existence: 02 The Quest for Truth

Published: 06.07.2010
Updated: 03.08.2010

Chapter 2

The Quest for Truth


Anekānta - A multi-faceted point of view
Sadhana - Spiritual practice

Truth is one. Its explanation has many forms and its comprehension is also difficult. Entire truth cannot be expressed. Only partial truth can be expressed. The principle of Anekānta has opened, forever and for all, the door to the quest for truth. It envisages that everyone can make a search for truth. If we try to understand partial truth as the truth, there can be no greater untruth than this. Partial truth cannot be understood as the entire truth. Truth can be realized only through one's own spiritual practice.

The Quest for Truth

Truth is eternal. One who sees truth does not propound it, but explains it. Bhagvan Mahavira was not the propagator of truth, but one who explained it. With long years of penance he visualized the truth and described it within the limitations of language. He perceived that truth can be seen but cannot be expressed in its entirety. Explanations can be given of only one part of the truth. Knowledge is for one's own self and propagation of it is for others. Knowledge can be felt within self. Knowledge is apparent and visible by itself. The process of acquiring knowledge can be both acquired and innate.

By itself, knowledge is neither approved nor disapproved. When acquiring knowledge it can be approved or disapproved. Definitive knowledge is the valid one. The harmony of knowledge development, for the self and for others, direct and indirect, valid and invalid - these different aspects of knowledge has divided truth into many sections. Truth is truth. It is not one for me and different for another and yet what happens is that when I think that it is true may not be true for others. Whatever the other person thinks as true, may not be true for me. These different attitudes towards truth take a person towards untruth.

Mahavira and Buddha were born in India. Lao Tse and Confucius were born in China. Countries were different but the period was the same. All four of them were contemporaries. But truth cannot be differentiated by time and space. It is in the same at all times and at all places. But the one, who reads the works of Mahavira, understands truth in a certain fashion. The one, who reads the works of Buddha, understands truth in yet another fashion. Yet one who reads Lao Tse or Confucius understands truth in the third and fourth manner respectively.

The form of the truth is one. Its explanation has many forms and its comprehension is also difficult. This situation raises pertinent questions in the mind of a researcher working on truth. He asks, "Is truth real or imaginary; if it is real then why there are differences in explanations, if it is an illusion then why so much effort to understand it?" This situation has taken many people towards the untruth, those who were seeking truth. Mahavira contemplated on this subject very seriously. He saw the weakening of those people who were walking towards truth and he saw how "partial truth" was imposing itself on the complete truth, and was being mistaken as the whole. To resolve this problem, he established the idea of Anekānta and announced that all these expressions are not the complete truth but a part of the whole truth.

Entire truth cannot be expressed. Only partial the truth can be expressed. I have realized the entire truth but I am not able to express it in its entirety. Other person too can see truth but will not be able to express it. It can only be the inexpressible part of the truth. I express one part of the truth; other expresses another part of it. Both the parts can be different from each other. This is not difference in truth, nor is it division of truth. It is the relative expression of an aspect of truth. If I think that one part of truth is relevant, someone else thinks other part of truth is relevant. The difference is that of expressiveness of language.

A Word has only that much capability to express in one moment, which is one aspect of the infinite aspects of the truth. Entire language can only express a few aspects of truth. No language has been able to express more than a few thousand aspects of truth nor will they be able to do it either. No human being can give expression to more than a few thousand aspects of truth in his lifetime. Why it is said that such and such is the expression of omniscient? These are the words of those who have seen truth directly. Can he or an omniscient express the entire truth? If he could, then truth will not be infinite, will not be eternal. Hence, he can express a Partial truth only.

We cannot close the door to the quest for truth by thinking a partial truth as the entire truth. The principle of Anekānta has opened, forever and for all, the door to the quest for truth. It envisages that everyone can make a search for truth. We all can see truth. Our ancestors made a search for truth, saw it and expressed it. The quest for truth and its realization was for themselves. Its expression was left for us we accept only their expression, we try to understand the partial truth as the truth, there can be no greater untruth than this. Partial truth cannot be understood as the entire truth. Through its parts, a desire to seek truth may be created but truth can be realized, only through one's own spiritual practice (sadhana).

Anekānta has presented the path of such Sadhana, which is through sincerity and without passions. Mahavira has said that one who is sincere and committed can attain truth, he accepts things in their own state and does not try to put what is, in a frame of prejudice, does not try to influence the objective truth through his inclination, discipline and Sanskara, does not try to reconcile the conflicting elements in the essential nature of matter through logical or compromising efforts. This effort is an effort towards simplifying thoughts. A committed and sincere man does not incline towards Mahavira or anybody else. His mind and heart are empty, a void. He does not insist that what Mahavira has said is the truth and what Lao Tse has said is untruth. He tries to understand Mahavira 's truth in the context of Mahavira's time, place, expectations and situation. He tries to understand Lao Tse's truth in the context of his time, place, expectation and situation, and for the realization of truth, he does his own sadhana.

All the questions, problems, complications that arise in the path towards the quest for truth are created by those who see only one aspect of the truth. If one believer of truth believes that A represents truth and B is untruth, then there is another man who believes that the B represents the truth and A is untruth. In this way, by accusing each other's truth as untrue they create problems in the quest for truth. They are not willing to accept element as it is. They want to establish truth on the basis the words on treatise. They are such people who having highlighted the differences in different aspects of truth are raising doubts on the multi dimensional aspect of truth and creating controversy between seers of truth.

Read the past.
It is not enough to know only the present, look at the future and develop a three dimensional perspective.
Only a three dimensional approach can take you towards growth/development.


Anekanta: Philosophy of Co-existence Publisher:  JainVishwa Bharati, Ladnun, Rajasthan, India Editor: Muni Akshay Prakash

Edition:  2010 (1. Edition)

ISBN:  817195140-6

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Anekānta
  2. Buddha
  3. Discipline
  4. Mahavira
  5. Omniscient
  6. Sadhana
  7. Sanskara
  8. Space
  9. The Quest For Truth
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