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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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2. Knowledge and Freedom in Indian Philosophy. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. ISBN 739106929.

3. Dasgupta, S. N. 1932. History of Indian Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
4. Duli Chandra Jain. (ed.). 1997. Studies in Jainism: Reader 2. New York: Jain Study Circle Inc. ISBN 0-9626105-2-6.

5. Dundas, Paul, and John Hinnels (eds.). 2002. The Jains. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-26606-8.

6. Gandhi, Mahatma. 1955. Truth is God: Gleanings from the Writings of Mahatma Gandhi Bearing on God, God-Realization and the Godly Way. Ahmedabad: Navajivan Publishing House.

7. Griffin, David Ray. 2005. Deep Religious Pluralism. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 066422914X.

8. Grimes, John. 1996. A Concise Dictionary of Indian Philosophy: Sanskrit Terms Defined in English. New York: SUNY Press. ISBN 0791430677.

9. Hay, Stephen N. 1970. “Jain Influences on Gandhi’s Early Thought.” In Sibnarayan Ray (ed.), Gandhi India and the World. Bombay: Nachiketa Publishers.

10. Hughes, Marilynn. 2005. The Voice of Prophets. Morrisville, NC: ISBN 1411651219.

11. Humphreys, Christmas. 1969. The Buddhist Way of Life. London: Unwin Books.

12. Jacobi, Hermann. 1884. Ācāranga Sūtra, Jain Sutras Part I, Sacred Books of the East, Vol. 22.

13. Jacobi, Hermann. 1895. Jaina Sutras, Part II: Sūtrakrtanga, Sacred Books of the East, Vol. 45. Oxford: The Clarendon Press.

14. Jain, J. P. 2006. The Art and Science of Self Realisation: Purusathasiddhiupaya of Ācārya Amrtacandra (in Sanskrit-English). Delhi: Radiant Publishers.

15. Jaini, Padmanabh. 1998. The Jaina Path of Purification. New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 81-208-1578-5.

16. Koller, John M. Syadvada as the Epistemological Key to the Jaina Middle Way Metaphysics of Anekantavada. Philosophy East and West 50 (3): 400-7.

17. Majmudar, Uma. 2005. Gandhi’s Pilgrimage of Faith: From Darkness to Light. New York: SUNY Press. ISBN 0791464059.

18. Matilal, B.K. 1981. The Central Philosophy of Jainism. Ahmedabad.

19. McEvilley, Thomas. 2002. The Shape of Ancient Thought: Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies. New York: Allworth Communications Inc. ISBN 1581152035.

20. Nakamura, Hajim. 1992. Comparative History of Ideas. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Pub. ISBN 812081004X.

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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