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Jan 30, 2018

Entangled History

Entangled History
By: Sönke Bauck and Thomas Maie

Entangled History (EH) is a historical perspective and a concept in historiography. Taking a trans-cultural perspective as the main point of departure EH centers on the interconnectedness of societies. The basic assumption is that neither nations, nor empires, nor civilizations can be the exclusive and exhaustive units and categories of historiography. As entities they themselves were formed through a process of interaction and global circulation in which they related to each other. Conceptually, EH owes much to two interrelated discussions within the historical discipline: The “Spatial Turn” in history and the fundamental epistemological challenges of post-colonial studies as well as their critique of the political, economic, social and cultural order of the colonial and postcolonial world. As a concept that examines historic power structures and their constitution in space, EH participates in a critical re-assessment of modernity, together with adjacent and often overlapping perspectives like Transfer History, Transnational History, Atlantic History, Borderland History, Histoire Croisée, World History and the History of Capitalism. By questioning the absolute centrality of national borders and inquiring about processes of non-state based exchanges, EH and its sister terms, understood here in a relation of family resemblance, are clearly distinct to traditional approaches in historiography, like Diplomatic History and International History. EH, therefore, examines dependencies, interferences, interdependencies, and entanglements, and emphasizes as well the multidirectional character of transfers.

Origins and Conceptual Considerations
EH was inspired as a concept by authors from various disciplines, critical towards the limitations of dominant methodological nationalisms, who aimed at moving beyond reductive national-historic and Eurocentric perspectives.

Early steps for a conceptual framework that stressed transfers beyond borders can be traced back to the 1980s and were articulated in a European context of increased political integration. Michele Espagne showed the intercultural transfers between France and Germany, emphasizing the forms of transition in the constitutional process of nations (1988). Generally, proponents of Transfer History argued for the permeability of borders and against comparative approaches in International History that constitute their units a priori. Michael Werner and Bénédicte Zimmer, initiators of EH in its French articulation as Histoire Croisée, shared this uneasiness in constructing the units of comparison. However, they criticized Transfer History for situating the beginning and ending of border-crossing processes within developments, themselves located in national societies. Transfer History would end up using the same definitions and categories that were criticized in the first place. For Werner and Zimmer, entanglement occurs not only between historical objects, but can be itself a category of reflection. The object in question and the perspective on it constitute each other mutually in a permanent process of interaction. Developments on one side could be the result of developments on the other. The authors argued for a reflexive induction, which questions the validity of analytical categories as well as for an inductive pragmatism that concludes from observation instead of models or theory. Each analysis is supposed to involve two different angles and the crossing of these views is its result (Werner and Zimmermann 2002). Reflecting on the entanglement between observer, angle and object, Histoire Croisée has contributed a valuable theoretical basis.

Closely connected to the concerns of a historiographical renewal are recent debates on Global and World History that question national narratives as the only possible way of writing history. Although the limits of a relational history have been questioned within the ongoing debate about Global History (Epple 2013), EH has generated important synergies with certain perspectives of Global and World History writing. Arguably, studies in EH have contributed to the formation of Global History as a discipline. Historiographically, Global History emerged in discussions about a convergence of the world towards a structural Westernness: the influence of liberalism and the idea of the nation-state among others. Whereas Jürgen Osterhammel stressed the world of the 19th century after the “Sattelzeit” (saddle period) as being shaped in culture, time and space by Europe (Osterhammel 2009), British Historian Christopher Bayly (2004) identified a polycentric world system with other powers, e.g. China and Islamic empires, that played important roles in the emergence of structural resemblances of politics and culture worldwide. Finally, EH can be considered as being part of a particular perspective on a new Global History that is distinct from both earlier World History (or history of civilization) writings (e.g. Spengler 1922) and current approaches to Global History by authors who stress western superiority and fundamental and dividing cultural differences (e.g. Ferguson 2012). Essentially, Global history narrates stories of connections within the global human community, portraying the crossings of boundaries and the linking of systems of the human past. These include, but are not limited to large scale population movements and economic fluctuations, cross cultural transfers of technology, spread of infectious diseases, long distance trade, and the spread of religious faiths and ideas more generally (Manning 2003).

Ever since Edward Said initiated the debate on Orientalism as a specifically western discourse about the Other in 1978, extending earlier, critical approaches to Western domination by authors such as Frantz Fanon and Aimé Césaire, postcolonial studies have fundamentally contributed to the development of concepts on trans-cultural interaction, creating influences across disciplines (for an overview see Gandhi 2008). By articulating a critical perspective on the historic construction of empires and nation states, postcolonial theory contributed significantly to the theory production that informs EH. Proponents of postcolonial theory envisaged a concept of history that reflects on its own repressive, unequal and exclusionary foundations. This incredulous stance towards traditional history resulted from criticism against the hegemony of Eurocentric teleologies and models of developmental stages and modernization in European or World History writing that placed Asia, Africa and Latin America in the “waiting-room” of history (Chakrabarty 2000). To understand the relational constitution of the modern world, it is, thus, imperative to consider its inherent power asymmetries often hidden in binary analytical frameworks.

Under these pretexts, historians of all world regions have discussed the circulation, exchange and flow of knowledge, ideas, institutions and practices. Sanjay Subrahmanyam used the term “connected history” to point out the interconnectedness between India and Europe in the Early Modern Period (Subrahmanyam 1997). Sebastian Conrad and Shalini Randeria have elaborated a similar perspective to Histoire Croisée within a postcolonial articulation. Randeria described Modern History as a shared and divided history, emphasizing the twofold results from increased interactions and interdependence. Common experiences are shared by societies and cultures, but they simultaneously divide through resulting particularistic tendencies like nationalisms and categories of race, class, and gender. The development and worldwide adaptation of the nation-state exemplifies this tension precisely. The nation seemed universally transferable and at the same time was meant to show cultural particularities. Modern nation-states were at the same time the product and the basis of capitalist and colonial interactions (Randeria 1999; Conrad and Randeria 2002).

Global intellectual debates on the postcolonial resulted in a productive migration of these concepts into the writings of history in and of the Americas. Latin American scholars started elaborating a Latin American history of its place in colonial and postcolonial modernity, contributing crucial impulses to the field more generally. Powerful concepts emerged, such as “Coloniality of Power” and “Decoloniality”, with impact on critical theory way beyond the Americas (Quijano 2000; Mignolo 2011).

Another important conceptual impulse for the articulation of EH stems from the theoretical discussions that form part of the “Spatial Turn” in history. Building on the work of Fernand Braudel, Henri Lefebvre, Edward Soja, David Harvey and Doreen Massey, among others, historians started to recognize the constructed nature of space, acknowledged the simultaneity of various spatial frameworks and the centrality of both the historical actors and historians in defining spatial orders. In this frame, space is not interpreted as a given, but as the result of relational processes with the potential to influence social interaction in return (Midell and Naumann 2010). These reflections proved crucially important in questioning hegemonic notions of the nation and other spatial entities as the exclusive terrains of social actions.

Entangled Histories in the Americas
Shaped by European historians under the experience of post-cold war integration and the impact of globalization processes on European societies and nation states, the original articulation of EH had less resonance in the Americas than in the “Old Continent”. However, the “Spatial Turn” and therefore new conceptualization of territories and their political, economic, social and cultural constitution became prominent in the US from the 1990s onward. The thriving fields of a multicoloured (black, red, green -Irish-…) Atlantic History (and the consequential extension to include also African, European, and Latin American histories) on the one side and Borderland Histories on the other, exerted a profound impact not only on modern history, but also on early modern history, before the advent of modern nation states and their normative claim to exclusive organization of political societies under industrial capitalism. Paul Gilroy, who expanded the work of W.E.B Du Bois, CLR James, and Eric Williams, set out to show how the experience of enslavement and white supremacy created a “double consciousness”, whereby individuals from African descent were striving to be both black and European at the same time. This alienating force of disbelonging, operating in a theatre of nation states in which whiteness constitutes the norm, simultaneously creates the possibility to enact a transnational, shared black experience and subjectivity within the Black Atlantic (Gilroy 1993). Linebaugh and Rediker, on the other hand, presented a “Red Atlantic” from the early 17th to the early 19th century of expropriation and capitalism, proletarianization and resistance (Linebaugh and Rediker 2002). Also, Atlantic History helped to reshape understandings of early modern inter-imperial rivalries and structures of power, but also of cooperation and interchange between the imperial powers of the Atlantic World (Gould 2007, and, although US-centric, Bailyn 2005).

The perspective of EH also resonates with a long tradition of writing “Borderland Histories,” starting with Eugene Bolton’s famous call to create a history of “Greater America” (for its conceptual innovativeness see Adelman and Aron 1999 on the topic). Again, Borderland History is strongest in its colonial and early republican settings, creating powerful interpretative concepts such as the “Middle Ground,” where rivalries between first empires and later incipient and ambitious nation states could be exploited and temporarily turned to their advantage by native groups (White 1991; Hämäläinen 2008). Through this perspective, historic border regions became a central space for negotiations of power and identity, revealing a forgotten history of interchanges between European settler societies and indigenous groups and their native agency that contradict quasi ontological assumptions about Europeans and their American Others. Borderlands constituted not only spaces of mestizaje, but also terrains of refuge from the disciplinary regimes of nascent capitalist, racial, and national logics, where deserters, slave fugitives and delinquents found shelter and new existences.

Not surprisingly, the history of borderlands does find fertile grounds in the Americas as a whole, where fragile frontier relations dominated the exchange between colonizing societies and native groups in peripheral territories for centuries, from Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego to the Mexican North and Alaska (Weber and Rausch 1994. For a specific regional history of the Argentine Pampa as borderlands see Mandrini 2006). Importantly, contemporary borderlands and “unnatural borders” continue to be sites of hybridization and emancipatory struggles, as Anzaldúa’s (1999) articulation of a chicana feminist identity on the US-Mexican border, among other feminist activists, reminds us.

An earlier and different approach to rethinking space and borders in the Americas was put forward by Dependency theory, which did not emerge out of a historiographical tradition, but was informed by heterodox economics and Marxist inspired political sciences. Following a well elaborated political agenda and stressing international economic ties and inequalities in a structuralist perspective, Argentine economist Raúl Prebisch (1949) and others designed a bimodal system of cores and peripheries between developed and underdeveloped nations. Dependency theory, articulated by a host of Latin American intellectuals, became popular in the 1960s and 1970s and served as an important inspiration for other Latin American intellectuals in reflecting trans-border structures of power, asymmetries, and exploitation, most famously put forward by Eduardo Galeano in The Open Veins of Latin America. Furthermore, Dependency theory also had a profound influence on the work of Immanuel Wallerstein. According to Wallerstein’s World-System Theory, articulated as a critique to dominant modernization approaches, capitalism is organized around an inter-regional and transnational division of labour, with the Americas forming a central part in the advent of a capitalist world system (Wallerstein 1974).

Indebted to World System theory, more recent approaches to create richly textured and complex “Histories of Capitalism” are gaining ground. Mostly via narratives of particular commodities and how their production, trade, and consumption shaped societies in the western hemisphere and beyond, these histories transcend conventional economic histories by looking at societal and cultural factors as well. Primarily circulated by the academia of the American north, these works apply many of the conceptual, but also epistemological starting points of EH and include the whole of the Americas and beyond. Noteworthy examples are the complex histories of sugar (Mintz 1986; Schwartz 2004), rice (Carney 2001), cotton (Beckert 2014), and bananas (Striffler 2004). Especially Mintz’ work can be seen as a pioneering effort to integrate an interdisciplinary perspective, linking anthropology, history and economics to create a compelling narrative about one of the defining commodities of the modern and particularly the Atlantic world.

Other promising fields of historic inquiry on the Americas, using an EH-inspired perspective, are social histories of the Cold War (Grangin and Joseph 2010), the History of Labor and Labor struggles (see as examples Fink 2011; Hirsch 2010: especially part 2), the history of social movements, the history of Epistemic Communities and Entangled Knowledge (see Hock et al. 2012; Rinke and González de Reufels 2014) and the history of Migration in the Western Hemisphere (see Baily 1999; Wolff 2013).

Critical Acclaim
However valuable the perspective on entanglements is, the concept does suffer from shortcomings as well. A limited perspective on entanglements risks to re-affirm stereotypical hierarchies of spatial categories from the global to the local and to fade out inherent power asymmetries. Despite the power-sensitive approaches that had informed EH, in many historiographical writings we are confronted with celebratory accounts of circulation, exchange, mobility and influence, that do not take into account mechanisms of stratification, exclusion and structures of power more generally. Intensifications of communication and transportation technologies do not automatically entail higher levels of interdependency and increasing cultural homogeneity. Hence, the different degrees of entanglements as well as their obstacles need to be considered. In Conrad and Randeria’s proposition, studies in EH have to stay decidedly fragmentary in their character. Concerned with manifest situations and problems, they cannot be holistic (Conrad and Randeria 2002).

Beyond theoretical shortcomings, the conceptual implications of EH do confront the historian with a difficult task: She or he often must be not only multilingual (certainly the case for the History of the Americas), but also fluent in various national historiographies in the subject field, and willing and able to dedicate considerable resources to revise archives in multiple sites and countries. Finally, EH and other revisionist concepts, applying spatial metaphors to critique national historiographies, have found limited resonance in Latin American scholarship so far. If this reluctance can be ascribed to institutional inertia, academic parochialisms and the dominance of modern thought (as opposed to post-modern sensibilities) in Latin American academia is a discussion which is still pending.

Although important, discussions within the discipline on clear separating lines between the different approaches discussed here under the umbrella term of Entangled History often become sterile and irrelevant once the historian starts working with the archival record and creating historical narratives. What remains at the centre of reflexivity, however, is the motivating endeavour to question the monumentality of nationally defined borders and to account for the constituent power of transcultural circulations in a world of entangled influences, manifested in many seminal works (see for example Rodgers 1998; Manning 1996; Tyrell 1991).

Please cite as:
Bauck, Sönke, and Thomas Maier. 2015. “Entangled History.” InterAmerican Wiki: Terms - Concepts - Critical Perspectives.


Adelman, Jeremy and Aron, Stephen. 1999. “From Borderlands to Borders: Empires, Nation-States, and the Peoples In Between in North American History.” American Historical Review 104, no. 3, pp. 814-841.

Anzaldúa, Gloria. 1999. Borderlands- La Frontera. San Francisco, Aunt Lute Books, second ed. Baily, Samuel L. 1999. Immigrants in the Lands of Promise Italians in Buenos Aires and New York City, 1870–1914. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press.

Bailyn, Bernard. 2005. Atlantic History: Concept and Contours. Cambridge, MASS: Harvard Univ. Press.

Bayly, C. A. 2004. The birth of the modern world, 1780-1914: global connections and comparisons. Malden MA: Blackwell Pub.

Beckert, Sven. 2014. Empire of Cotton: A Global History. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Carney, Judith A. 2001. Black Rice: the African Origins of Rice Cultivation in the Americas. Cambridge, Mass.; London: Harvard Univ. Press.

Chakrabarty, Dipesh. 2000. Provincializing Europe: postcolonial thought and historical difference. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press.

Conrad, Sebastian and Randeria, Shalini and Sutterlüty, Beate. 2002. Jenseits des Eurozentrismus: postkoloniale Perspektiven in den Geschichts- und Kulturwissenschaften. Frankfurt am Main; New York: Campus.

Epple, Angelika. 2013. “Lokalität und die Dimension des Globalen- Eine Frage der Relationen”. Historische Anthropologie 21 (1), pp. 4–25.

Espagne, Michel. 1988. Transferts : les relations interculturelles dans l'espace franco-allemand (XVIIIe et XIXe siecle). Paris: Éditions recherche sur les civilisations.

Ferguson, Niall. 2012. Civilization. The West and the rest. New York: Penguin Books.

Fink, Leon, editor. 2011. Workers Across the Americas: The Transnational Turn in Labor History. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

Galeano, Eduardo. 1973. Open Veins of Latin America: Five centuries of the pillage of a continent. New York: Monthly Review Pr.

Gandhi, Leela. 2008. Postcolonial theory. A critical introduction. New Delhi: Oxford Univ. Press.

Gilroy, Paul. 1993. The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness. London: Verso.

Gould, Eliga H. 2007. “Entangled Histories, Entangled Worlds: The English-Speaking Atlantic as a Spanish Periphery.” The American Historical Review, Vol. 112, No. 3, pp. 764-786.

Grangin, Greg and Joseph, Gilbert M., editors. 2010. A century of revolution: insurgent and counterinsurgent violence during Latin America's long cold war. Durham, N.C.: Duke Univ. Press.

Hämäläinen, Pekka (2008): The Comanche Empire. Yale Univ. Pr.

Hirsch, Steven and van der Walt, Lucien, editors. 2010. Anarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Postcolonial World, 1870–1940. Leiden; Boston: Brill.

Hock, Klaus and Mackenthun, Gesa, editors. 2012. Entangled Knowledge. Scientific Discourses and Cultural Difference. Münster: Waxmann.

Joseph, Gilbert M. and Spenser, Daniela, editors. 2008. In from the cold: Latin America's new encounter with the Cold War Durham. London: Duke University Press.

Joseph, Gilbert M. and LeGrand, Catherine, and Salvatore, Ricardo D., editors. 1998. Close Encounters of Empire: Writing the Cultural History of U.S.-Latin American relations. Durham, N.C.: Duke Univ. Press.

Linebaugh, Peter and Rediker, Marcus. 2002. The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic. London: Verso.

Mandrini, Raúl José. 2006. Vivir entre dos mundos. Conflicto y convivencia en las fronteras del sur de la Argentina, Siglos XVIII y XIX. Buenos Aires: Taurus.

Manning, Patrick, editor. 1996. Slave trades, 1500-1800: globalization of forced labour. Aldershot: Variorum.

Manning, Patrick. 2003. Navigating World History: Historians Create a Global Past. New York: Palgrave Mcmillan.

Midell, Matthias and Naumann, Katja. 2010. “Global history and the spatial turn: from the impact of area studies to the study of critical junctures of globalization”. In: Journal of Global History 5 (1), pp 149 - 170.

Mignolo, Walter. 2011. The Darker side of Western Modernity: global futures, decolonial options. Druham, N.C.: Duke Univ. Pr.

Mintz, Sidney W. 1986. Sweetness and power: the place of sugar in modern history. New York: Penguin Books.

Osterhammel, Jürgen. 2001. Geschichtswissenschaft jenseits des Nationalstaats: Studien zu Beziehungsgeschichte und Zivilisationsvergleich. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

Osterhammel, Jürgen. 2009. Die Verwandlung der Welt. Eine Geschichte des 19. Jahrhunderts. München: Beck.

Prebisch, Raúl. 1949. “El desarollo económico de la América Latina y algunos de sus principales problemas.” El Trimestre Económico 16 (63/3), pp. 347–431.

Quijano, Anibal. 2001. „Coloniality of Power, Eurocentrism, and Latin America“. In Nepentla-Views from the South 1 (3), pp. 533-580.

Randeria, Shalini. 1999. “Geteilte Geschichte und verwobene Moderne.“ In Zukunftsentwürfe: Ideen für eine Kultur der Veränderung, edited by Jörn Rüsen, Hanna Leitgeb and Norbert Jegelka. Frankfurt; New York: Campus, pp. 87–96.

Rinke, Stefan and González de Reufels, Delia, editors. 2014. Expert Knowledge in Latin American History: Local, Transnational, and Global Perspectives. Stuttgart: Heinz.

Rodgers, Daniel T. 1998. Atlantic crossings: social politics in a progressive age. Cambridge, Mass.; London: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press.

Schwartz, Stuart B., editor. 2004. Tropical Babylons: Sugar and the Making of the Atlantic World 1450-1650. Chapell Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press.

Spengler, Oswald. 1922. Der Untergang des Abendlandes: Umrisse einer Morphologie der Weltgeschichte. München: Beck.

Subrahmanyam, Sanjay. 1997. “Connected Histories: Notes towards a Reconfiguration of Early Modern Eurasia.” Modern Asian Studies 31 (3), pp. 735–762.

Striffler, Steve, editor. 2004. Banana Wars: power, production, and history in the Americas. Durham; London: Duke Univ. Press.

Tyrrell, Ian. 1991. Woman's world - woman's empire: the Woman's Christian Temperance Union in international perspective, 1880-1930. Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Pr.

Wallerstein, Immanuel. 1974. The Modern World-System I: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World-Economy in the Sixteenth Century. New York: Academic Press.

Weber, David J. and Rausch, Jane M., editors. 1994. Where Cultures Meet: Frontiers in Latin American History. Wilmington, Del. : SR Books.

Werner, Michael and Zimmermann, Bénédicte. 2002. “Vergleich, Transfer, Verflechtung. Der Ansatz der Histoire croisée und die Herausforderung des Transnationalen.” Geschichte und Gesellschaft 28 (4), pp. 607–636.

White, Richard. 1991. The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.

Wolff, Frank. 2013. “Revolutionary Identity in the Process of Migration: The Transnationalism of Bundist Culture.” East European Jewish Affairs, 43, 3, pp. 314-331.

Jan 28, 2018

Global Flows: Kathryn Caminiti

Global Flows
By: Kathryn Caminiti

There is a complex relationship between dominant international media flows and subaltern, contra-flows today that a large majority of people around the world are not aware of. Most people today are so caught up in their daily cultural lives that they do not realize the major impact of global media flows and counter-flows on nationhood and cultural identity. The dominant international media flows are large, rich and powerful with global capitalism on their side. They have the sources, connections and supporters at their fingertips with their many investments and partnerships that allow them to spread a biased, one-way flow of information. In contrast, contra-flows in international media are other flows, some alternative flows of information, ideas/ideologies, media, and communication that participate in a two-way flow of discourse about news, information, politics, culture, etc. They are “contra-“ in that they counter the dominant media flows who control the majority of the news and media outlets today. One big fear with this process of globalization is that the values and images of the dominant international media flows are threatening to choke out the world’s “native flora,” as Appiah (2006) describes it, of other flows of information. The Hindi film Industry called Bollywood, the traditional motion-picture industry of India + Hollywood, is an example of a billion dollar entertainment contra-flow. It is the world’s largest (even bigger than Hollywood) but its influence is largely confined to the Indian subcontinent and among the South Asian diaspora. The issue at hand is that although these other “contra-flows” exist in the mediascape of the world, they are still not big enough, powerful enough, nor developed enough to put a dent in the dominant transnational mainstream media today. In fact, just by having such contra-flows dedicated to specific regions actually reinforces the dominance of international media flows given the limitability of global access. In order to understand further the impact overlapping narratives of global, national and local identities have on the world, I look to Daya Kishan Thussu’s (2006) case study, “Mapping Global Media Flow and Contra-flow,” to critically examine the complex relationship between global media flows. In addition, I ask for further research on implications for a new global media order with respect to advancements in digital technology and growth of broadband, equal reach advantages, and reformed news and entertainment regulations in order to increase global access in all media flows.

Our contemporary society is built around flows. These flows are described by Castells (2000) to include “flows of capital, flows of information, flows of technology, flows of organizational interactions, flows of images, sounds, and symbols” (p. 442). These flows can also be described as “mediascapes,” according to Arjun Appadurai (1996), which are one of five “scapes” or building blocks of culture that consist of many different shapes and sizes and flow in multiple directions, serving as images of cultural processes. He describes these mediascapes to refer, “both to the distribution of the electronic capabilities to produce and disseminate information (newspapers, magazines, television stations, and film-production studios),” (p. 53) and explain how they are available to increasing private and public interests though out the world and to the images of the world created by these media. In other words, they describe the ways in which so many products become available to so many places around the world. These images or flows also supply many complications depending on their audiences (local, national, or transnational) and the interests of those who own and control them. There are dominant international media flows and there are smaller, contra-flows that make up the global spectrum of media flows. 

Dominant international media flows are those predominantly coming from the global North (with the U.S. at its core) that are mainstreamed and consumed by heterogeneous global audiences. Contra-flows, or designated “subaltern flows” according to Thussu (2006), follow the dominant flows, stemming from past peripheries of global media industries. As the global society becomes increasingly networked, such flows have continued to grow in size and direction at rapid rates. In Thussu’s (2006) case study, “Mapping Global Media Flow and Contra-flow,” he discusses how digital technology has aided in the proliferation of satellite and cable television and the growing use of the internet, “partly as a result of the deregulation and privatization of broadcasting and telecommunication networks,” (p. 12) and that this has empowered media companies to seek and create new consumers on a transnational level rather than on a national level. As a result, the convergence of television and broadband has opened up new opportunities for the flow of media content. 

However, the relationship between dominant global media flows and contra-flows is more complex than people believe. At first, preservationists used to make their case of “the evil of cultural imperialism” by viewing the world system of capitalism as having a center and a periphery; cultural imperialism “structuring the consciousness” of those in a periphery. Kwame Anthony Appiah (2006) describes this in his article featured in the New York Times, “The Case for Contamination.” He states, “At the center— in Europe and the United States— is a set of multinational corporations. Some of these are in the media business. The products they sell around the world promote the creation of desires that can be fulfilled only by the purchase and use of their products” (p. 3), done explicitly through advertising and implicitly through the messages illustrated in film and television. This is also commonly described by Thussu (2006) as the “West to the Rest” phenomenon. However, this initial theory did not match up with the evidence. Researchers whom disagreed with this “cultural imperialism” theory went out to examine the actual content of television media and film in various parts of the world and discovered how American popular culture was adopted by different regional artists and transformed to fit their own cultures’ needs locally. People were responding differently to cultural imports depending on their existing cultural context, thus, proving the cultural imperialism theory wrong, biased, and honestly, condescending.

In order to properly understand global media flows, the world cannot be looked at from a center-periphery perspective anymore. As stated in the article “Media, Culture & Society,” authors Hartmut Wessler and Manuel Adophsen (2008) re-state Sakr and Thussu’s (2007) argument in saying that, “the concept of contra-flow is not only a mere geographical shift of production capacities towards peripheral locations. More important is the appreciation of contra-flow content in Western locations and a certain degree of interaction with dominant media — be it of an appreciative or confrontational nature” (p. 440). Going off this, I use Thussu’s configuration of media flows— the dominant global flows, transnational flows, and geo-cultural contra-flows— to better explain how information is spread via communication channels.

Dominant global flows are large media corporations that have a big impact on society with their extensive reach in obtaining many viewers. The U.S. continues to lead the field in the export of audio-visual products, from news and current affairs through youth programming to feature films, sports and the Internet. Dominant flows include ESPN, MTV, Google, BBC News, Hollywood, CNN and Fox News. An everyday example of dominant flows can be explained when I open up my browser to check my email. I click on the “Yahoo!” Home Screen tab in my browser menu and as my eyes scroll the left-hand column in search for the small graphic envelope symbolizing my “Mail” button, I can’t help but notice the top news headlines of five different Western-based stories listed on my center screen; the top 5 being CNN, Fox News, or Yahoo! stories. These are the dominant media flows that control my news feed everyday, and I am conditioned as a consumer to not question this observation. 

Media contra-flows are smaller flows, but they still represent multiple media sites of production, flow and identification. They are important but their impact remains small in comparison to dominant flows. Contra-flows can exist on the transnational level, such as Al-Jazeera, Euro-News, Bollywood, Brazilian shows and Korean drama. With new communication technologies evolving and other sources for information multiplying, smaller, alternative forms of communication, such as minority and protest media, have emerged with active and dedicated followers. Al-Jazeera English, joined in 2006 by the original Arabic-language station founded in Qatar in 1996, is one example of a transnational and alternative contra-flow news channel that contests the monopoly of Western-dominanted global TV news journalism today. It presents a view of the world in a different way from dominant media flows in which it provides objective journalism to America and its viewers rather than subjective journalism, allowing for the views and voices of other people to be heard. It takes the global news and makes it local, and takes the local/regional news and makes it global. 

Contra-flows can also exist on the geo-cultural level, which is more linguistic as its purpose is to allow foreigners in other countries to view their country’s media in their own language. For instance, in his article “Reconsidering Geo-cultural Contraflow: Intercultural Information Flows Through Trends in Global Audiovisual Trade,” Douglas Bicket (2005) speaks to a development in the globalization of media products being consumed by foreign people inside another country: “the desire of people around the world to watch television programming that originates from a cultural or geographic background close to their own” (p. 1). Contra-flows are “glocalized” in which the circulation and adaptation of media products is adapted inside and across regions. For example, an Arab living in New York City can open up his computer and read his homeland’s news written in Arabic. 

While these contra-flows exist in the global media flow sphere, the problem is that these mix of flows on a glocal, geo-cultural level are not necessarily impacting a dominant flow or driving force. Wessler and Adolphsen (2008) explain this in the case of Al-Jazeera, how this leads to the construction of a “communication bridge between the West and the Arab world” (p. 440); or in my case, to a communication bridge between the West and the Middle East. For my case study, I look at the Indian Film Industry of Bollywood in the Middle East as a major transnational contra-flow operating in a glocalized commercial environment; Bollywood also categorized as representing transnational “subaltern flows.”

According to Thussu (2006), “One result of the privatization and proliferation of television outlets and the growing glocalization of U.S. media products is that American film and television exports witnessed nearly a five-fold increase between 1992 and 2004” (p. 12). Today that number is even higher. The shift from a local and national view of media to a transnational one defined by consumer interest and market revenue became a main component in the growth and advancement of media flows: from North to South, East to West, and South to South. Such contra-flows are happening all over different parts of the world. The wider struggle that media flows and contra-flows form is over information flows which define power relations in the global information economy. The emerging transnational and geo-cultural networks today represent these contra-flows and they operate in both dimensions. Thussu (2006) explains, “The extension of satellite footprints and the growth of Direct-to-home (DTH) broadcasting have enabled Southern media networks to operate across the globe, feeding into and developing the emergent diasporic public spheres” (p. 14). With economic globalization and the growing efforts of movements across populations around the world, major geo-cultural markets based off languages are distinguishing themselves in transnational communication. 

The US-led Western media available online and offline and in various forms of information and entertainment are global in their reach and influence given their political and economic power. The US is the leading exporter of cultural products with the entertainment industry being one of its largest export earners. According to UNESCO’s 2005 report on International Flows of Selected Goods and Services, between 1994 and 2002 international trade in cultural goods increased from $38 billion to $60 billion (UNESCO, 2005a), demonstrating how trade is heavily weighed in favor of the industrialized world. These dominant global media flows are not only in English but are also in “dubbed or indigenized versions,” (Thussu, 2013, p. 20) those involving creating a new narrative for a film or TV show, since translation of its original content is never word-for-word. These are a form of glocalization, taking a global media format and re-appropriating it to fit a local context. For example, Rupert Murdoch owns News Corp. and STAR TV which are dominant media flows in the West and Australia. However, STAR TV has aggressively adopted an indigenization policy in offering localized channels, being STAR Chinese, STAR Japan, STAR Plus, and STAR News (the latter two for India), that are glocalized contra-flows of their specific region. As a commercial imperative, media content and services have been tailored to specific cultural regions in order to maintain the dominant flow.

The U.S. dominates the global entertainment market due largely to its film industry. Hollywood films are reported to be shown in more than 150 countries worldwide and dominate market share in a majority of the countries in which the films are shown (Miller et all. 2005). In 2005, Hollywood earned more than half of its revenue from overseas (European Audiovisual Observatory, 2005), the worldwide box office being worth $25.24 billion in 2004 with the world’s top ten grossing films being produced by Hollywood (Thussu, 2006, p. 18). This extensive reach of US-based media contributes to the global flow of consumerist messages and helps the U.S. use its “soft power” to promote its national economic and political interests. Soft power is another word for media power and media capital that dominant media flows like the U.S. utilize. Certain countries have more of this soft power than others that they can exercise globally, some regionally, with other countries at the receiving end. Castells (2007) states, “The media are not the holders of power but they constitute by and large the space where power is decided” (p. 242). Media is said to have soft power because it is so powerful that people don’t realize it. It does not involve direct contact of power in which it does not force people to do anything (like the military, which we call “hard power”), but it does persuade people, typically involving the use of economic or cultural influence via the media. The point is that we need to adapt to this and understand how the dominant media flows exert their power and operate in the global sphere of things. 

The impact of dominant media flows and their content is that if they own and control too much then therefore they own opinions, resources, and information that goes with them; if we are not having our voices heard or controlling anything, then we are controlled and it is harder for us to make an impact or dent in these huge media flows. However, with transnational television and its ability to transcend linguistic and geographical boundaries, it is extremely important in relation to media flows. Even though the flow of international television programs from the West to other parts of the world has become more pronounced in the era of multi-channel television, there is a small but significant contra-flow from the non-Western world. The one-way vertical flow has given way for multiple, horizontal, subaltern flows to emerge as an ever growing geo-cultural market. What most people don’t realize is that these subaltern flows have created new transnational configurations as they connect with gradually localizing global dominant flows on their own. Thussu (2006) suggests that there is evidence that global media traffic is not just one way (from the West to the rest) even though the former dominant flows are still in favor. He states, “The availability of digital technology, privatized and deregulated broadcasting and satellite networks has enabled the increasing glow of content from the global South to the North, for example, the growing international visibility of Indian films…” (Thussu, 2006, p. 23) like Bollywood. 

Given its size and diverse cultural and social precursors, India is one of the few non-Western countries to have established themselves in the global cultural market due to their $3.5 billion Hindi film industry. This is particularly significant due to the fact that they are the world’s largest in terms of production and viewership: “every year a billion more people buy tickets for Indian movies than for Hollywood films” (Thussu, 2006, p. 26). Even though more films are made in India each year than in Hollywood, their influence is largely confined to the Indian subcontinent and among the South Asian diaspora. However, according to Kaur and Sinha (2005), in recent years many “cross-over” films have opened the communication bridge between India and the West. 

The emergence of many dedicate film-based pay-channels and advancements in digital technology and the growth of broadband have ensured that Indian films are shown outside India on the regular. They dominate the cinema of South Asia and the South Asian diaspora as well as construct the popular culture based on “Bollywood.” The globalization of Bollywood has made sure than Indian films increasingly be watched both inside and outside their national audience. Thussu (2006) states that, “Hindi films are shown in more than 70 countries and are popular in the Arab world, in central and southeast Asia and among many African countries” (p. 26). This has made it imperative for producers to invest in dubbed/indigenized versions of their films to widen their reach and privilege scripts which interest audiences in foreign markets. Joint ventures between Indian film producers and Hollywood giants have received a boost after the Indian government announced in 2000, “to allow foreign companies to invest in the film industry” (Thussu, 2006, p. 26). A result of this interest is that diasporic film makers, like Mira Nair (director of Monsoon Wedding) and Gurvinder Chaddha (director of internationally successful British-Asian films like Bend it Like Beckham and Bride and Prejudice), have served as a bridge between Western and Indian popular cinema. Thus, rather than defining Indian films in terms of their modernity and desire for nationhood, Indian cinema cannot be understood on a national paradigm and must be more accurately described as a field of visual and cultural production that interlinks diverse sites and countries. 

The impact of the global media order is complex as reception of these cultural products is never uniform. The world is complex and we have only begun to theorize about it. Media flows and contra-flows create part of the wider struggle over information flows which define power relations in the global information economy. Soft power is supported by “hard” political and economic power, despite the massive movement of media flows across continents, cultures and communities. The significant examples of subaltern, contra-flows of media serve to show that the world communication is not, in fact, diverse and democratic like some may have previously supposed. This analysis about the reality of global media flows and contra-flows demonstrates a more complex process of globalization, the imbalance between the dominant and subaltern global media flows proving to be real in reflecting the asymmetries in flows of ideas and goods. Even though there is a growing trend towards contra-flow, non-Western media organizations are relatively small and do not have high enough revenues to make a global impact. Despite the growing existence of the Indian film industry as a contra-flow, Bollywood’s share in the global film industry in 2004 valued at $200 billion was still less than 0.2 percent. 

At the same time, dominant international media flows are becoming stronger as they continue to shape the global media order and serve as big influences around the world. The question then probes to ask: how contra is contra and contra against whom exactly? It is a question of focus, of where do we get our media content from? Contra doesn't necessarily mean that the media product has to be anti-hegemonic. Soft power is still power and glocalization processes, while important, still reinforce a dominant media order. Ideologically, commercial contra-flows reinforce free-market capitalism by supporting a privatized and commodified media system. Therefore, I contend that people should stop assuming they are “counter-hegemonic” to the dominant media flows for it is unlikely that subaltern flows will have a significant impact on the U.S. hegemony of global media cultures that have grown stronger given the localization of media content, despite the supposed displacing of global media from the center. In addition, as dominant international media flows expands its reach and power, “a hybridized and localized media product,” according to Thussu (2006), “can provide the more acceptable face of globalization and therefore effectively legitimize the ideological imperatives of a free-market capitalism” (p. 28). Or in other words, they can more appropriately describe globalization as a process and more effectively explain the dictatorial ideology of capitalism. 

In addition to my conclusion, I believe further research should be done involving implications for a new global media order. This new media order includes developing new advancements in digital technology and growth of broadband in order to increase global access in media flows; it requires equal advantages for all companies, big or small, in reaching people (seeing people as “citizens” and not as “consumers”); and it asks for an establishment of new regulations for mandating all news and entertainment in global media flows. 


Appadurai, Arjun. Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy. From Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996. 27-47.

Appiah, Anthony K. The Case for Contamination. New York Times, 2006.

Bicket, Douglas. Reconsidering Geocultural Contraflow: Intercultural Information Flows Through Trends in Global Audiovisual Trade. Global Media Journal. No. 8, 4.6 (2005) Purdue University.

Castells, Manuel. Communication, Power and Counter-power in the Network Society. International Journal of Communication: University of Southern California, 2007. 238-266.

Castells, Manuel. The Rise of the Network Society. The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture, 1.2 (2000). Oxford: Blackwell.

Focus 2005: World Film Market Trends. European Audiovisual Observatory. Strasbourg, 2005.

Kaur, Raminder and Ajay Sinha, eds. Bollyworld: Popular Indian Cinema Through a Transnational Lens. New Delhi: Sage, 2005.

Miller, Toby, Nitin Govil, Richard Maxwell and John McMurria. Global Hollywood, 2nd edn. London: British Film Institute, 2005.

Seib, Philip, and Amelia Arsenault., eds. “Ch. 5 Covering and Reaching Africa.” Al Jazeera English: Global News in a Changing World. Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. 79-96.

Thussu, Daya K., Communicating India’s Soft Power: Buddha to Bollywood. Palgrave Macmillian, 2013.

Thussu, Daya K., “Mapping Global Media Flow and Contra-Flow,” Media on the Move: Global Flow and Contra-Flow, ed. New York: Routledge, 2006.

UNESCO (2005a) International Flows of Selected Cultural Goods and Services 1994-2003, UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Wessler, Hartmut and Manuel Adophsen., “Contra-flow from the Arab world? How Arab television coverage of the 2003 Iraq war was used and framed on Western international news channels.” Media, Culture & Society. Sage Publications, 30.4 (2008): 439-461.

Jan 23, 2018

Indian-Jaina Dialectic of Syadvad in Relation to Probability

Indian-Jaina Dialectic of Syadvad in Relation to Probability
By P.C. Mahalanobis

Brief History of Syadvada
There are certain ideas in Indian-Jaina logic called syadvada which seem to have close relevance to the concepts of probability, and which can, therefore supply a convenient background to my own observations on the foundations of statistics. It is always difficult to be sure about the exact meaning of logical and philosophical phrases which were current 1500 or 2500 years ago : and it is not claimed (and I also agree that it would not be correct to claim) that the concept of probability in its present from was recognised in syadvada but the phrases used in syadvada seem to have a special significance in connection with the logic of statistical inference.

I shall first give a brief historical account of syadvada. Jaina religion and philosophy came into prominence from the time of its great leader Mahavira (599-527 B.C.) who was a contemporary of Buddha, the founder of the Buddhist religion. The earliest reference to syadvada occurs is the writings of Bhadrabahu who is believed to have given the following explanation of syadvada : syat = “may be”, and vada = “assertion”, or the assertion of possibilities.1 ”

The syadvada is set forth as follows :

(1) May be, it is;
(2) may be, it is not;
(3) may be, it is and it is not;
(4) may be, it is indescribable;
(5) may be, it is and yet is indescribable;
(6) may be, it is not and it is also indescribable;
(7) may be, it is and it is not and it is also indescribable.”2

There were two authors of the name Bhadrabahu, the senior belonging to the period 433-357 B.C., and the junior to about 375 A.D., and it is not definitely known whether the above explanation was given by the senior or the junior Bhadrabahu; but the above exposition is usually ascribed to the senior Bhadrabahu of the 4th century B.C.1 There is indisputable mention of syadvada in the Nyayavatara of Siddhasens Divakara2 (about 480-550 A.D.). A little later Samantabhadra (about 600 A.D.) gives a full exposition of the seven parts of Syad-vada or Sapta-bhanginaya in his Aptaminamsa.3 It is clear that syadvada was well developed by the sixth century A.D.,and received a great deal of attention in the mediaeval period of Indian logic; the syadvadamanjari of Mallisena (1292 A.D.) for example, is a separate treatise on `the same theory.4 There are, of course, still later works such as Vimala Dasa’s Saptabhangitarangini and a large number of mediaeval and modern commentaries. I am, therefore, dealing with a well-known theme which is considered to be the most original contribution of Jaina logic to Indian thought.5 Dialectic of Seven-fold Predication

I shall next refer to the actual text in Sanskrit of the dialectic of sevenfold predication (saptabhanginaya) :

(1) syndasti 6 = may be, it is.
(2) syatnasti = may be, it is not.
(3) syadasti nasti 7 ca = may be, it is, it is not.
(4) syadavaktavyah8 = may be, it is indeterminate.
(5) syadasti ca9 avaktavya sca10 = may be, it is and also indeterminate. (6) syatnasti ca avaktavyasca = may be, it is not and also indeterminate.
(7) syadasti nasti ca avaktav-yasca = may be, it is and it is not and also indeterminate.

The word syat has been translated as “may be” but this does not bring out the full implications. The Sanskrit word in mentioning one possibility has also some indirect allusion to other possibilities. The Sanskrit word asti may be rendered as “it is”, “it exists”, or “it is existent”; and nasti is the negation, i.e. “it is not” “it does not exist”, or “it is non-existent”. The third category predicates the possibility of both asti and nasti; of both “it is” and “it is not”. The first three categories conform thus to the categories of classical logic and do not present any difficulty.

The fourth category is avaktavya which I have translated as “indeterminate”. Other authors have used the words “indescribable”, or “inexpressible” or “indefinite”. For example, Satkari Mookerjee explains “The inexpressible may be called indefinite”…. (JPN, p. 115). I prefer “indeterminate” because this is nearer the interpretation which I have in mind. It will be useful if at this stage I give an illustration. Consider the tossing of a coin; and suppose it turns up “head”. We may then say (1) “it is head” (now). This also implies, (2) “it is not-head” (on some other occasion). The third category follows without difficulty, (3) “it is, and it is not” which is a synthetic predication based on both (1) and (2). The fourth category predicates that the position is still (4) indeterminate.

This, however, does not exhaust the possibilities of predication or modes of knowledge. For example, if we know that it is a coin which has “head” on one side and “not-head” or “tail” on the other side, and we also know that it must turn up either “head” or “tail”, we may then predicate that (5) there exists one type of indeterminateness which is capable of being resolved in terms of the first four categories. On the other hand we may know that the subject of discourse is not a coin but something else to which the category of indetermination in the above sense cannot apply, we may then use the sixth mode of predication and assert that (6) there does not exist that type of indeterminateness which is capable of being resolved in terms of the first four categories. Finally, there is the seventh mode of knowledge where we may be able to predicate that sometimes the possibility of resolution of indetermination exists (as in the fifth mode) and sometimes this possibility does not exist (as in the sixth mode).

According to syadvada, the above seven categories are necessary and are also sufficient so that they exhaust the possibilities of knowledge. There is a minority view which hold that there are further possibilities of (8) vaktavyasca avaktavyasca, a kind of duplicated indeterminateness together with successive categories of the fifth, sixth, and seventh types in an infinite regression but the accepted opinion is that the hypothetical eighth category is identical with the fourth so that there is no need of more than seven categories. I should like to emphasise that the fourth category is a synthesis of three basic modes of “it is” (assertion) “it is not” (negation), and inexpressible, or indefinite, or “indeterminate” (which itself is resolvable into either “it is” or “it is not”), and supplies the logical foundations of the modern concept of probability. Consider the throw of a coin. It has the possibility of head (it is) or not-head (it is not); sometimes head and sometimes not head; and the combination of both possibilities of “it is” and “it is not” in an yet indefinite or indeterminate form. The fifth category of knowledge in Jaina logic predicates the existence of indetermination (which we may perhaps interpret, in modern language, as the assertion of the existence of a probability field). The sixth category denies the existence of a probability field; while the seventh category covers the whole range of possibilities mentioned in the other six categories. Relativism

It would be of interest to consider some further aspects of Jaina logic. The points to be stressed are that Jaina thought is non-absolutist (that is, it is relativist) and realist. Siddhasena Divakara (480-550 A. D.) in Nyayavatara (which is accepted as the earliest Jaina work on pure logic at present available) gave an exposition of syadvada (knowledge of the all-sided method) of which the authentic text is described below : “Syadvada, which literally signifies assertion of possibilities, seeks to ascertain the meaning of things from all possible standpoints. Things are neither existent nor non-existent absolutely …. Syad which signifies “may be” denotes all these seven possibilities, that is, a thing may be looked at from one of the above seven points of view, there being no eighth alternative.”1

It has been pointed out that : “All objects are multiform (anekanta) according to him (i.e. the Jaina). From their many-sided nature it follows that all judgements are relative. They are true under certain conditions. They are conditional or hypothetical. No judgements are absolutely true. The word “perhaps” must be added to all judgements to indicate their conditional character. This is Syadvada or the doctrine of relativity of judgements.”2 “The Jains emphasise manifold nature of real things which are endowed with infinite qualities, modes, and relations to the other things.2 They have identity-in-difference. The Vedantists emphasise pure identity and deny plurality. The jainas emphasise manifoldness of inter-related reals and deny pure identity. They are anti-Absolutists. They are advocates of relative pluralism.”3

It has been also pointed out that : “Thus the Jainas hold that no affirmation, or judgement, is absolute in nature, each is true in own limited sense only, and for each one of them any of the above seven alternatives (technically called saptabhangi) holds good. (See syadvadamanjari with Hemachandra’s commentary p. 166 etc.) The Jainas say that other Indian systems each from its own point of view asserts itself to be the absolute and the only point of view. They do not perceive that the nature of reality is such that the truth of any assertion is merely conditional and holds good only in certain conditions, circumstances, or senses (upadhi). It is thus impossible to make any affirmation which is universally and absolutely valid. For a contrary or contradictory affirmation will always be found to hold good of any judgement in some sense or other. As all reality is partly permanent and partly exposed to change in the form of losing and gaining old and new qualities, and is thus relatively permanent and changeful, so all our affirmations regarding truth are also only relatively valid and invalid. Being non-being and indefinite, the three categories of logic, are all equally available in some sense or other in all their permutations for any and every kind of judgement. There is no universal and absolute position or negation, and all judgements are valid only conditionally. 1 Realism

Jaina logic is essentially realistic : “The Jaina philosopher maintains that existents are possessed of an infinite number of attributes and characteristics which can be discovered by experience alone. He refused to put a premium on internal intuition. The mind, even with its active contributions, which the Jaina does not seek to deny, is believed by him to be an instrument of discovery and not a creator of facts.” (JPN; p.1) “Logic has to work upon the data of experience and is as much an instrument as experience is.” “Pure logic, prior to and independent of experience, is a blind guide to the determination of truth. Logic is to rationalise and systematise what experience offers. “(JPN, p.8)” A things is existent, is non-existent and is both existent and non-existent, but always subject to limitations imposed by objective differences of substance, time, space and attributes (dravya-ksetra-kala-bhavapeksaya).1 The differences in predication are not due to our subjective contemplation from different angles of vision, but founded upon objectively real attributes. They are facts irrespective of the consideration whether we contemplate them or not.” (JPN, p.107) “The Jaina does not see any reason why things should be particulars alone. Things are, according to the Jaina, both universals and particulars together. A real is a particular which possesses a generic attribute”. (JPN p2.). ” in conformity with the plain verdict of experience, the nature of reals is admitted to be made up of both the elements – universal and the particular and to be cognised as such by perceptual knowledge.” (JPN, p.3) “Things are neither exclusively particulars nor are they exclusively universals, but they are a concrete realisation of both. The two elements can be distinguished by reflective thought, but cannot be rent asunder. So our experience of one particular individual is not confined to that individual alone, but extends to unperceived individuals also in so far as the latter typify the universal as a part of their constitution. Individuals, even when they belong to a class, will vary from one another. Repetition of experience only helps us to take stock of the universal in its true character, but once the latter is known, it does not stand in verification or confirmation by further observation”.1 (JPN, p.6)

The Jaina emphasises the multiple nature of reality and accepts the standpoint of non-absolutism. “He asserts that neither unity nor diversity sums up the nature of a real, but both taken together do it. Unity is not exclusive of diversity or vice versa. The difficulty that is confronted is not grounded upon objective reality, but arises from a subjective aberration, which consists in the imagination of inconsistency between unity and diversity. But unity is associated with diversity and diversity is never found as part from unity, which is its very foundation. (JPN, p.58) “The central thesis of the Jaina is that there is not only diversity of reals, but each real is equally diversified. Diversification as induced by relations has been explained. The conclusion is legitimate that each real is possessed of an infinite number of modes at every moment. The number of reals is infinite. All things are related in one way or the other and relations induce relational qualities in the relata, which accordingly become infinitely diversified at each moment and throughout their career. Things are neither momentary2 nor uniform”3 . (JPN, p.70)

According to the Jaina “a real changes every moment and at the same time continues The continuity never breaks down.” (JPN, p.70) “A real is that which not only originates, but is also liable to cease and at the same time capable of persisting. Existence, cessation, and persistence are the fundamental characteristics of all that is real. This concept of reality is the only one which can avoid the conclusion that the world of plurality, which is the world of experience, is an illusion.” (JPN, p.72)

The relativism of the Jaina philosopher is to be sharply contrasted with some of the other Indian systems of philosophy.

“The Vedantist start with the premise that reality is one universal existence; the Buddhist fluxist1 believes in atomic particulars, each absolutely different from the rest and having nothing underlying them to bind them together. The Naiyayika2 believes both to be combined in an individual, though he maintains that the two characters are different and distinct. The Jaina differs from them all and maintains that universal and the particular are only distinguishable traits in a real, which is at once identical with and different from both.” (JPN p.13) It is, however, necessary to notice that :”There is a difference – and intrinsic difference at that – between a manifested and an unmanifested real. They are identical and different both – identical in so far as it is the same substance and different in so far as it undergoes a change of characteristic. This is the Jaina position of non-absolutism.” (JPN, p.39.)

“A real is not entirely expressible in all its aspects and modes. But it is not inexpressible altogether. A real being a multiple entity is expressible and inexpressible both in reference to different aspects; it is expressible in so far as it partakes of a universal and is inexpressible so far as it is a unique individual.”3 (JPN., p. 113.) “The unique individuality of a real is not accessible to conceptual thought and, hence, to language, but it is reached by an analysis of the nature of reality as it is apprehended in perception; we have tried to prove, following the guidance of the Jaina philosophers, that the nature of reals, on analysis, has been found to exhibit the following traits, viz., existence, non-existence and inexpressibility.” (JPN, 127.))

Three Jain doctrines of relativity
According to McEvilley, the Jain theory of knowledge is not a phenomenalism but a realistic correspondence view.[8] The Jain doctrine lays a strong emphasis on samyaktva, that is, rationality and logic.[9] Jain suggests that the ultimate principle should always be logical and no principle can be devoid of logic or reason.[9] Thus, one finds in the Jain texts, deliberative exhortations on any subject in all its facts.[10] In the process, the Jains came out with three doctrines of relativity[11] used for logic and reasoning.

1. Anekāntavāda—The theory of relative pluralism or manifoldness
2. Syādvāda—The theory of conditioned predication
3. Nayavāda—The theory of partial standpoints

These Jain philosophical concepts made very significant contributions to the ancient Indian philosophy, especially in the areas of skepticism and relativity.[8]

1. Anekantavada
Anekāntavāda (Devanagari: अनेकान्तवाद), meaning “non-absolutism,” is one of the basic principles of Jainism that encourages acceptance of relativism and pluralism. According to this doctrine, truth and reality are perceived differently from different points of view, and no single point of view is the complete truth.[1][2]

The word anekāntavāda is a compound of two Sanskrit words: Anekānta “manifoldness” and vāda “school of thought.”[3] The term anekānta consists of the Sanskrit negative prefix an, the number one eka and the word for “attribute,” anta—”not of solitary attribute.”[3]

Jain doctrine states that objects have infinite modes of existence and qualities so they cannot be completely grasped in all aspects and manifestations by finite human perception. Only the Kevalins—the omniscient beings—can comprehend objects in all aspects and manifestations; others are capable of only partial knowledge.[4] Consequently, no specific human view can claim to represent the absolute truth.

Anekāntavāda is literally the doctrine of “non-onesidedness” or “manifoldness;” it is often translated as “non-absolutism.” As opposed to it, ekānta (eka+anta “solitary attribute”) is one-sidedness. Jains compare all attempts to proclaim absolute truth with adhgajanyāyah or the “maxim of the blind men and elephant.” In this story, one man felt the trunk, another the ears and another the tail. All the blind men claimed to explain the true appearance of the elephant, but could only partly succeed, due to their narrow perspectives.[5]

Syncretisation of changing and unchanging reality is achieved through Anekantavaad. Mahavira employed Anekanta extensively to explain the Jain philosophical concepts. Māhavīra’s responses to various questions recorded in Bhagvatisūtra demonstrates a recognition that there are complex and multiple aspects to truth and reality and a mutually exclusive approach cannot be taken to explain such reality: Gautama: Lord! Is the soul permanent or impermanent?

Māhavīra: The soul is permanent as well is impermanent. From the point of view of the substance it is eternal. From the point of view of its modes it undergoes birth, decay and destruction and hence impermanent.[18] Jayanti: Lord! Of the states of slumber or awakening, which one is better?

Māhavīra: For some souls the state of slumber is better, for some souls the states of awakening. Slumber is better for those who are engaged in sinful activities and awakening for those who are engaged in meritorious deeds.[19]

Thousands of questions were asked and Māhavīra’s responses suggested a complex and multifaceted reality with each answers qualified from a view point. Even a Tīrthankara, possessing and perceiving infinite knowledge cannot express reality completely because of limitations of language, which is of human creation.

This philosophical sycrentisation of paradox of change through anekānta has been acknowledged by modern scholars:

Our experience of the world presents a profound paradox which we can ignore existentially, but not philosophically. This paradox is the paradox of change. Something—A changes and therefore it cannot be permanent. On the other hand, if A is not permanent, then what changes?

In this debate between the “permanence” and “change,” Hinduism seems more inclined to grasp the first horn of the dilemma and Buddhism the second. It is Jainism that has the philosophical courage to grasp both horns fearlessly and simultaneously, and the philosophical skill not to be gored by either.[20]

In Jain scriptures and teachings Anekānta is firmly entrenched in the Jain texts as is evident from the various teachings of the Jain scriptures. Ācārya Amrtacandra starts his famous tenth century C.E. work Purusathasiddhiupaya by paying obeisance to the doctrine of anekānta:[21] ”I bow down to the anekānta, the source and foundation of the highest scriptures, the dispeller of wrong one-sided notions, that which takes into account all aspects of truth, reconciling diverse and even contradictory traits of all objects or entity.”

Ācārya Siddhasena Divākara, fifth Century C.E., explains the nature of truth in the court of King Vikramāditya:[22]

”Vikramāditya: What is “truth”? That which is said repeatedly, that which is said loudly, that which is said with authority or that which is agreed by the majority?

Divākara: None of the above. Every one has his own definition of ‘truth’ and that it is conditional.Vikramāditya: How about traditions? They have been established by our ancestors and have passed the test of time?

Divākara: Would the system established by ancestors hold true on examination? In case it does not, I am not here to justify it for the sake of saving the traditional grace of the dead, irrespective of the wrath-I may have to face.

“Ācārya Vidyānandi provides analogy of ocean to explain the nature of truth in Tattvarthaslokavārtikka: “The water from Ocean contained in a pot can neither be called an ocean nor a non-ocean, but simply a part of Ocean. Similarly, a doctrine, though arising from absolute truth can neither be called a whole truth nor a non-truth.”[23]

Ācārya Haribhadra, one of the leading proponent of anekānta, was the first classical author to write a doxography, a compendium of a variety of intellectual views which, rather than espousing narrow partisan views, attempted to contextualise the Jain thoughts within the broad framework of possible intellectual orientations available to Indian thinkers around the eighth century C.E.[24]

Going beyond anekānta, Yasovijayaji, seventeenth century Jain monk, advocated madhayastha, meaning “standing in middle or equidistant,” a position that allowed him to praise the qualities in others even though they may be non-Jain and belonging to other faiths.[25]

Anekāntavāda encourages its adherents to consider the views and beliefs of their rivals and opposing parties. Proponents of anekantvāda apply this principle to religion and philosophy, reminding themselves that any religion or philosophy, even Jainism, which clings too dogmatically to its own tenets, is committing an error based on its limited point of view.[6] In this application, anekantvāda resembles the Western principles of cultural and moral relativism. The principle of anekāntavāda also influenced Mahatma Gandhi’s principles of religious tolerance, ahimsa and satyagraha.[7]

2. Syādavāda
Syādvāda is the theory of conditioned predication which provides an expression to anekānta by recommending that epithet Syād be attached to every expression.[12] Syādvāda is not only an extension of Anekānta ontology, but a separate system of logic capable of standing on its own force. The Sanskrit etymological root of the term Syād is “perhaps” or “maybe,” but in context of syādvāda, it means “in some ways” or “from a perspective.” 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.[13]

Syädväda or Sapta-Bhanga (Seven Predications)‘‘The doctrine of Syädväda holds that since a thing is full of most contrary characteristics of infinite variety, the affirmation made is only from a particular standpoint or point of view and therefore it may be correct or true. However, the same assertion may be wrong or false from some other standpoint or point of view. Thus, the assertion made cannot be regarded as absolute. All affirmations in some sense are true and in some sense are false. Similarly, all assertions are indefinite and true in some sense as well as indefinite and false in some other sense. Assertions could be true, or false or indefinite. Thus, Jainism proposes to grant the non-absolute nature of reality and relativistic pluralism of the object of knowledge by using the word ‘Syät’ (or Syäd) before the assertion or Judgment. The word ‘Syät’ literally means ‘may be.’ It is also translated as ‘perhaps’, ‘some how’, ‘relatively’ or ‘in a certain sense’. The word ‘Syät’ or its equivalent in English used before the assertion makes the proposition true but only under certain conditions i.e. hypothetically. What is to be noted is that the word ‘Syät’ is not used in the sense of probability leading to uncertainty. Probability again hints at skepticism and Jainism is not skepticism. Since reality has infinite aspects, our judgments are bound to be conditional. Thus, Syädväda is the theory of relativity of knowledge. The Jains quoted quite a good number of parables, which are conventionally used by Jain writers to explain the theory. The most famous one for the grip over the core of the theory is the famous parable of six blind men who happened to come across an elephant. Each one was sure and asserting about his own description alone being correct. However, each one was correct from his point of view though contrary to each other. Thus the Jains hold that no affirmation or judgment is absolute in its nature, each is true in its own limited sense only. The affirmations will tell either about the existence, or non-existence, or about the inexpressible. Combining these three will give four more alternatives. So, we derive the seven alternatives technically known as Sapta-Bhanga Naya or the sevenfold Judgment.Theory of Seven Predications (Sapta-Bhanga)

To clarify the above approach of ascertaining the truth by the process of Syädväda, the Jain philosophers have evolved a formula of seven predications, which are known as Sapta-bhanga. ‘Sapta’ means ‘seven’ and ‘Bhanga’ means ‘mode’. These seven modes of ascertaining the truth are able to be exact in exploring all possibilities and aspects.

Since it ensures that each statement is expressed from seven different conditional and relative view points or propositions, it is know as theory of conditioned predication. These seven propositions also known as saptabhangi are:[14]

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.‬{{IAST|syād-asti-avaktavya—”in some ways it is and it is indescribable”
5.‬syād-nāsti-avaktavya—”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-avaktavya—”in some ways it is indescribable”

All these seven modes can be expressed with regard to every proposition. The Jain philosophers have applied them with reference to self, its eternality, non-eternality, identity and character. In fact, this approach of Anekänta permeates almost every doctrine, which is basic to Jain philosophy. S. Gopalan quotes Eliot in this connection as saying: “The essence of the doctrine (of Syädväda) so far as one can disentangle it from scholastic terminology, seems just for it amounts to this, that as to matters of experience it is impossible to formulate the whole and the complete truth, and as to matters which transcend experience, language is inadequate.”

Each of these seven propositions examines the complex and multifaceted reality from a relative point of view of time, space, substance, and mode.[14] To ignore the complexity of the objects is to commit the fallacy of dogmatism.

The theory of sevenfold predication is treated as synonymous with Syädväda owing to the fact that the number of possible or alternative truths under the conditional method of Syädväda is seven only.’’

Syädväda: Critical Evaluation
Jains admit that a thing cannot have self contrary attributes at the same time and at the same place. What Jainism emphasizes is the manyness and manifoldness of a thing or the complex nature of reality. Dr. Rädhäkrishnan says, “Since reality is multiform and ever-changing, nothing can be considered to exist everywhere and at all times and in all ways and places and it is impossible to pledge us to an inflexible creed.” A. N. Upadhhye writes that Syädväda and Naya-väda has supplied the philosopher the catholicity of thought. It also convinces one that Truth is not anybody’s monopoly with tariff walls of denominational religion while furnishing the religious aspirant with the virtue of intellectual toleration. This is the part of that Ahimsa which is one of the fundamental tenets of Jainism.’’ Lastly, in the words of Dr. Y. J. Padmarajiah, ‘‘Anekäntaväda is the heart of Jain metaphysics and Naya-väda and Syädväda (or Sapta-bhangi) are its main arteries. To use a happier metaphor: the bird of Anekäntaväda flies on its wings of Naya-väda and Syädväda.’’ Through Anekäntaväda, and thus through Naya-väda and Syädväda, Jains bring a solution to the age-old controversy between the absolutism and nihilism or between the one and the many or the real and the unreal. Theistic Implication of Syädväda

The spirit to understand the other and other’s standpoint and to learn to tolerate the conflicting or contrary situation helps a lot towards the higher development of right conduct. It broadens the mind and makes a person quite objective and open in his thinking. Such a person, like Jain monks, reads extensively the treatises of other schools. It proves to be good training ‘‘to identify extreme views and to apply the proper corrections.” Thus, here also, we find Syädväda a great help towards right knowledge and right conduct. Syädväda, by moulding a person towards better conduct and higher knowledge, proves to be of great theistic significance. One of the aims of life is to make the earth a better and worthier world. Syädväda in spite of its dry dialectic and forbidding use of logic is not without a lesson for the practical human beings of the world.

Pundit Dalsukhbhai Malvania, an authority on Jainism, in one of his essays on Anekäntaväda explains that the motto of Anekäntaväda is Ahimsa and that is the prime reason that Jain philosophy is based on Anekäntaväda. The very idea of not to hurt others but to be kind and sympathetic towards others’ views and thus to be friendly is the logical outcome of Ahimsa. Ahimsa in its positive concept becomes love and compassion. A perfect theism, not in its narrow rigid sense, but in the sense where broad religiousness, deep spirituality and high knowledge are thought of for the soul’s ultimate liberation from bondage, require Syädväda as its valid approach to have an objective vision of truth, to be tolerant, to be sympathetic and to have an attitude of impartiality. Without all these, no theism in its actual practice is possible. Syädväda shapes a personality into a theistic one. Moreover, subjective attitude and past recollections towards the same or similar objects play a decisive role in judgment. At the same time prejudices and predilections, social upbringing, environmental necessities and politico-social taboos also play a very decisive role in a judgment about an idea. In fact, every object and every idea has infinite characteristics and is required to be judged from a variety of standpoints. What should be our reaction towards a thing if we are convinced that everything in this universe has infinite characteristics and with limited knowledge, a human being is not capable of determining all these characteristics? Certainly, if our approach were objective and unbiased, we would not rush to take an absolute view of that thing or thought by keeping in mind the limitations of our knowledge. Our judgment based on limited data is likely to be wrong. We would, however, not have actual perception. Therefore, in our prudence, we would say that the judgment formed about actually perceived things is ‘likely’ to be true. While saying so, we would not rule out the possibility that it may turn out to be untrue if looked at from any other perspective. This is the approach of Syädväda, which implies that each and all knowledge is relative. What we know by the analytical process of Naya-väda, we express by the synthesis of Syädväda. As already noticed, the etymological meaning of the word ‘Syäd’ is ‘Perhaps.’ However, it is used to suggest a relative truth. The theory of Syädväda is based on the premise that every proposition is only relatively true. It all depends upon the particular aspect from which we appreciate that proposition. Since all propositions are related to many circumstances, our assertions about them depend entirely upon the particular circumstances through which we are viewing them. Since our view has a limited aperture, we cannot know everything and hence it is appropriate to avoid our absolute assertion. For instance, when we say that a particular thing weighs 5 lb., our statement about the weight is related to the gravitational force exerted on that thing by our planet, the earth. The same thing may not weigh anything if removed from this gravitational field or may weigh differently on a different planet. The same can be said about our statements relating to time and space and about every human experience. It is the matter of our daily experience that the same object, which gives pleasure to us under certain circumstances, becomes boring under different circumstances. Scientific truths are, therefore, relative in the sense that they do not give complete and exhaustive knowledge of the objects under study and contain elements that may be changed with further advance in knowledge. Nonetheless, relative truth is undoubtedly useful as it is a stepping stone to the ultimate truth.

3. Nayavāda
Nayavāda is the theory of partial stand-points or view-points. Nayavāda is a compound to two Sanskrit words—Naya “partial view point” and vāda “school of thought or debate.”[15] Nayavāda is used to arrive at a certain inference from a point of view. An object has infinite aspects to it; but in practice when one describes an object, one speaks of only relevant aspects, ignoring the other irrelevant aspects.[15] This does not deny the other attributes, qualities, modes and other aspects; they are currently not relevant from a particular perspective. For instance, when one talks of a “Blue BMW” one is simply considering the color and make of a car; but the statement does not imply that the car is devoid of other attributes like engine type, cylinders, speed, price and like. This particular view point is called “naya” or a partial view-point.

As a type of critical philosophy, the nayavāda holds that all philosophical disputes arise out of confusion of stand points, and the standpoints one adopts are, though one may not realize it, “the outcome of purposes that we may pursue.”[16] While operating within the limits of language and seeing the complex nature of reality, Māhavīra used the language of nayas. Naya, being a partial expression of truth, enables us to comprehend reality part by part.[17] The Blind Men and an Elephant.

The Jain concepts of Anekantvāda and Syādvāda are often explained with the parable of Blind Men and an Elephant. It is also known as andhgajanyāyah, which is translated as “the maxim of blind (men) and elephant.” The following parable (and many of its variants) is used by the Jain authors to explain the multifold nature of truth:

“A group of blind men heard that a strange animal, called an elephant, had been brought to the town, but none of them were aware its shape and form. Out of curiosity, they said: “We must inspect and know it by touch of which we are capable.” So, they sought it out, and when they found it they groped about it. In the case of the first one person, whose hand landed on the trunk, said “This being is like a drain pipe.” For another one whose hand reached its ear, it seemed like a kind of fan. As for another person, whose hand was upon its leg, said, “I perceive the shape of the elephant to be like a pillar.” And in the case of the one who placed his hand upon its back said “Indeed, this elephant is like a throne.” Now, each of these presented a true aspect when he related what he had gained from experiencing the elephant. None of them had strayed from the true description of the elephant. Yet they fell short of fathoming the true appearance of the elephant.”[5] Intellectual ahimsā and religious tolerance

The concept of anekānta and syādvāda allows the Jains to accept the truth in other philosophies from their perspective and thus inculcating a tolerance for other viewpoints. Anekantvāda is non-absolutist and stands firmly against all dogmatisms, even including any assertion that only Jainism is the right religious path.[26] It is thus an intellectual Ahimsā or Ahimsā of mind.[27][28]

Māhavīra encouraged his followers to study and understand the rival traditions as evidenced in Acaranga Sutra:[29] “Comprehend one philosophical view through the comprehensive study of another one” (5.113).

In Anekantvāda, there is no “battle of ideas,” because this is considered to be a form of intellectual himsa or damage, leading quite logically to physical violence and war. In today’s world, the limitations of the adversarial, “either with us or against us” form of argument are increasingly apparent leading to political, religious and social conflicts.

Sutrakritanga, the second oldest canon of Jainism, provides a solution by stating:[30] “Those who praise their own doctrines and ideology and disparage the doctrine of others distort the truth and will be confined to the cycle of birth and death.”

This ecumenic and irenic attitude, engendered by Anekānta, allowed modern Jain monks like Vijayadharma suri to declare: “…He is neither Jain nor Buddhist, Vaisnava nor Saiva, Hindu nor Muslim, but a traveler on the path of peace shown by the supreme soul, the God who is free from passion.”[31]

Even the mounting ecological crisis is linked to adversarialism, because it arises from a false division between humanity and “the rest” of nature. The modern judicial systems, democracy, freedom of speech, secularism, all implicitly reflect an attitude of Anekānta. Many authors like Kamala Jain, have advanced that the Jaina tradition with its emphasis on Ahimsā and Anekānta is capable of providing a solution to a host of problems facing the world: Religious intolerance, terrorism, wars, depletion of natural resources, environmental degradation, and so on.[32]

The interrelated doctrines of Anekānta and Syādavāda are often criticized on grounds that they engender a degree of hesitancy and uncertainty and may compound problems rather than solve them. It is also pointed out that Jain epistemology gains assertability for its own doctrine, but at the cost of being unable to deny contradictory doctrines. Furthermore, it is also argued that this doctrine becomes self-defeating when it is argued that if reality is complex and nothing can describe it completely, then this doctrine itself is incomplete and hence an ekantvadi.[37] This criticism seems to have been anticipated by Ācārya Samantabhadra when he says, “From the point of view of pramana (means of knowledege) it is anekānta (multi-sided), but from a point of view of naya (partial view) it is ekanta (one-sided).”[38]

In its defense, Jains also point out that anekānta manages to reconcile the opposing view points rather than simply refute them and helps in avoidance of one-sided errors and confusion that the ekantvadins tend to make.

The doctrine of anekāntavāda had also received criticism from the Vedantists, especially from Adi Sankarācārya. Sankara attempted to refute some of the tenets of Jainism in his commentary on the Brahmasutra (2-2-33 to 36), wherein he shows considerable disdain for the doctrine of Anekantavāda: It is impossible that contradictory attributes such as being and non-being should at the same time belong to one and the same thing; just as observation teaches us that a thing cannot be hot and cold at the same moment. The third alternative expressed in the words—they either are such or not such—results in cognition of indefinite nature, which is no more a source of true knowledge than doubt is. Thus the means of knowledge, the object of knowledge, the knowing subject, and the act of knowledge become all alike indefinite. How can his followers act on a doctrine, the matter of which is altogether indeterminate? The result of your efforts is perfect knowledge and is not perfect knowledge. Observation shows that, only when a course of action is known to have a definite result, people set about it without hesitation. Hence a man who proclaims a doctrine of altogether indefinite contents does not deserve to be listened anymore than a drunken or a mad man.[39] However, Sankara failed to take the real position of Anekānta into account by identifying syādavāda as sansayavāda, that is, “agnosticism” which was once articulated by Sanjaya Belatthiputta.[40] He failed to take into consideration that the affirmation of the existence of an object is in respect to the object itself and its negation is in respect to what the object is not, giving an object positive and negative attributes at the same time without any contradictions.

Another Buddhist logician Dharmakirti ridiculed Anekānta in Pramānavarttikakārika: “With the differentiation removed, all things have dual nature. Then, if somebody is implored to eat curd, then why does not eat camel?”[40] The insinuation is obvious: If curd exists from nature of curd and does not exist from nature of camel, then one is justified in eating camel, as by eating camel, he is merely eating the negation of curd. Ācārya Akalanka, while agreeing that Dharmakirti may be right from a view point, took it upon himself to issue a rejoinder: “The person, who criticises without understanding the prima facie view, is acting like a jester and not a critic. The Buddha was born a deer and deer was born as Buddha; but Buddha is adorable and deer is only a food.

Similarly, due to strength of an entity, with its difference and similarities specified, nobody would eat camel if implored to eat curd.”[40] Role in ensuring survival of Jainism

Anekāntavāda played a pivotal role in the survival of Jainism in ancient India during the onslaught from Shaivas, Vaishnavas, Buddhists, Muslims, Christians at various points of time. According to Christopher Key Chapple, Anekāntavāda allowed Jains to survive during the most hostile and unfavourable moments in history.[41] According to John Koller, Anekāntavāda allowed the Jain thinkers to maintain the validity of doctrine, while at the same time respectfully criticize the views of the opponents.

Anekāntavāda was effectively used by Ācārya Hemacandra to convert king Kumarapala of Gujarat to Jainism.[42] Certain Brahmins who were jealous of Hemacandras rising popularity with King complained that Hemacandra was a very egoistic person and he did not respect Hindu Gods and refuses to bow to lord Shiva. When called upon to visit Siva temple with the King, Hemacandra readily bowed before the idol of Siva, but by saying:[42] “I am bowing down only to that god, who has destroyed the passions like attachment (raga) and hatred (dvesa) which are the cause of worldly life, whether he is Brahma, Visnu, or Jina.”At one stroke he ensured that he remained true to tenets of Jainism, namely, a Jain should bow down only to a passionless and detached God (that is, a Jina) and at the same time managed to please the King. Ultimately, the king became a devoted follower of Hemacandra a great champion of Jainism.[42] Influence on Mahatma Gandhi

Since childhood, Gandhi was exposed to the actual practice of non-violence, non-possession and anekāntavāda.[33] He grew up in an area with a continued Jain population and one of his good friend was a Jain. According to his biographers like Uma Majumdar, Rajmohan Gandhi and Stephen Hay,[7] these early childhood impressions and felt experiences contributed to Gandhi’s character formation and further moral and spiritual development. Mahatma Gandhi, in his writings, attributed his seemingly contradictory positions over a period of time to his learning process, experiments with truth and his belief in anekāntavāda.[34] He proclaimed that the duty of every individual is to determine what is personally true and act on that relative perception of truth. According to Gandhi, while duty bound to act according to his relative truth, a satyagrahi is equally bound to learn from truth held by his opponent.[35] In response to a friends query on religious tolerance, he responded in Journal “Young India—21 Jan 1926: I am an Advaitist and yet I can support Dvaitism (dualism). The world is changing every moment, and is therefore unreal, it has no permanent existence. But though it is constantly changing, it has a something about it which persists and it is therefore to that extent real. I have therefore no objection to calling it real and unreal, and thus being called an Anekāntavadi or a Syādvadi. But my Syādvāda is not the Syādvāda of the learned, it is peculiarly my own. I cannot engage in a debate with them. It has been my experience that I am always true from my point of view, and am often wrong from the point of view of my honest critics. I know that we are both right from our respective points of view. And this knowledge saves me from attributing motives to my opponents or critics. The seven blind men who gave seven different descriptions of the elephant were all right from their respective points of view, and wrong from the point of view of one another, and right and wrong from the point of view of the man who knew the elephant. I very much like this doctrine of the manyness (sic) of reality. It is this doctrine that has taught me to judge a Musulman from his standpoint and a Christian from his. Formerly I used to resent the ignorance of my opponents. Today I can love them because I am gifted with the eye to see myself as others see me and vice versa. I want to take the whole world in the embrace of my love. My Anekāntavāda is the result of the twin doctrine of Satyagraha and Ahimsa.[36]

‪1.‬↑ Dundas (2002), 231.
‪2.‬↑ Koller (2000), 400-7.
‪3.‬↑ 3.0 3.1 Grimes (1996), 34.
‪4.‬↑ Jaini (1998), 91.
‪5.‬↑ 5.0 5.1 Hughes (2005), 590-1.
6.‬↑ Ronald Huntington, Jainism and Ethics. Retrieved July 8, 2007. ‪7.‬↑ 7.0 7.1 Hay (1970), 14-23.
‪8.‬↑ 8.0 8.1 McEvilley (2002), 335.
9.‬↑ 9.0 9.1 Duli Chandra Jain (ed.) (1997) p.21
‪10.‬↑ Hughes, (2005), 590.
11.‬↑ Griffin (2005), 145.
‪12.‬↑ Chatterjea (2001), 77-87.
‪13.‬↑ John M. Koller, Syādvāda as the epistemological key to the Jaina middle way metaphysics of Anekāntavāda, Philosophy East and West 50 (3): 400-8. ISSN 00318221.
14.‬↑ 14.0 14.1 Grimes (1996), 312.
‪15.‬↑ 15.0 15.1 Grimes (1996), 202-3.
‪16.‬↑ McEvilley (2002), 335-7.
‪17.‬↑ Shah (1998), 80.
18.‬↑ Bhagvatisūtra (Ladnun: Jain Vishwa Bharti Institute).
‪19.‬↑ Bhagvatisūtra (Ladnun: Jain Vishwa Bharti Institute): 12/53,54. ‪20.‬↑ Sharma (2001), xii.
‪21.‬↑ J.P. Jain (2006), Verse no. 2.
22.‬↑ Ācārya Siddhasena Divākara: Vardhamana Dvātrimṣikā 6/2.
‪23.‬↑ Ślokavārtikka of Ācārya Vidyānanda, Commentary on Tattvārthasūtra, verse 116. ‪24.‬↑ Dundas (2002), 228.
‪25.‬↑ Sethia Tara (2004), 134.
26.‬↑ Ronald Huntington, Jainism and Ethics. Retrieved July 18, 2007.
27.‬↑ Adian Rankin (2006).
‪28.‬↑ Matilal, 61.
29.‬↑ Jacobi (1884), 5.113.
30.‬↑ Jacobi (1895), 1.1.50.
‪31.‬↑ Dundas (2002), 227.
‪32.‬↑ Sethia (2004), 113.
‪33.‬↑ Majmudar (2005), 44.
‪34.‬↑ Griffin (2005), 145.
‪35.‬↑ Sonnleitner (1985), 14.
‪36.‬↑ Gandhi (1955).
37.‬↑ Mark Owen Webb, The Jain Philosophy, The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved March 18, 2008. ‪38.‬↑ Pandya (2001), 5210.
‪39.‬↑ Nakamura (1992), 169-70.
‪40.‬↑ 40.0 40.1 40.2 Pandya (2001), 5209-10.
‪41.‬↑ 41.0 41.1 Sethia (2004), 7-8.
42.‬↑ 42.0 42.1 42.2 Jain World, Hemacandra. Retrieved May 6, 2008.

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21. Pandya, V. 2001. “Refutation of Jaina Darsana by Sankaracarya.” In Nagendra Kr. Singh (ed.). Encyclopedia of Jainism. New Delhi: Anmol Publications. ISBN 8126106913.

22. Rankin, Adian. 2006. The Jain Path: Ancient Wisdom for the West. Winchester, UK: O Books. ISBN 1905047215.

23. Sethia, Tara. 2004. Ahimsā, Anekānta, and Jaininsm. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publ. ISBN 81-208-2036-3.

24. Shah, Natubhai. 1998. Jainism: The World of Conquerors, Volume I and II. Sussex: Sussex Academy Press. ISBN 1898723303.

25. Sharma, Arvind. 2001. Jaina Perspective on the Philosophy of Religion. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 8120817605.

26. Sonnleitner, Michael W. 1985. Gandhian Nonviolence: Levels of Satyagraha. India: Abhinav publications. ISBN 8170172055
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