Anekāntavāda is the Jain doctrine about metaphysical truths that emerged in ancient India. It states that the ultimate truth and reality is complex and has multiple aspects. Anekantavada has also been interpreted to mean non-absolutism, religious pluralism, as well as a rejection of fanaticism.
About Anekantavada in brief
Anekāntavāda is the Jain doctrine about metaphysical truths that emerged in ancient India. It states that the ultimate truth and reality is complex and has multiple aspects. Anekantavada has also been interpreted to mean non-absolutism, religious pluralism, as well as a rejection of fanaticism that leads to terror attacks and mass violence. According to Jainism, no single, specific statement can describe the nature of existence and the absolute truth. This knowledge, it adds, is comprehended only by the Arihants. Other beings and their statements about absolute truth are incomplete, and at best a partial truth. All knowledge claims, according to the anekāntaveda doctrine must be qualified in many ways, including being affirmed and denied. The idea of reality gets enrichment in Jainist as it proposes that the reality cannot be the one and ultimate, it can have multi-dimensional form. What is reality for one individual may not be the reality for others. All must respect the reality perceived by one-another. This is the way the society can progress and to resolve conflicts and to aim at peace in society. Human attempts to express the truth is a partial expression of the truth, but a means to communicate truth. From truth comes karma and according to Māhāhavira, from karma returns and returns around the other way around. One can experience the truth of a taste, cannot fully express that taste through language, yet they can be experienced through an appropriate effort and karma.
The premises of the Jains of the premises of anekantsāvāda are: Truth is not a means and attempt to express it is a means. The word anekantavavada was coined by Acharya Siddhasen Divakar to denote the teachings of Mahavira that state truth can be expressed in infinite ways. The earliest comprehensive teachings of the doctrine is found in the Tattvarthasutra by Achariya Umaswami, and is considered to be authoritative by all Jain sects. In the Digambara tradition texts, the ‘two-truths theory’ of Kundakunda also provides the core of this doctrine. In fact, the doctrine emerges to be a social attempt at equality and respect to all diverse views and ideologies through the philosophical elucidation of thetruth or reality. It is a synthesis, a happy blend and proposes that reality has many forms as seen by various individuals and all must respect it as a result. The word vāda means ‘doctrine, way, speak, thesis’ and is a compound of two Sanskrit words: anek nta and ‘Vāda’. It connotes ‘not one ended, sided’, ‘many-sidedness’ or ‘manifoldness”. The term ‘anek tatva’ is translated by scholars as the doctrine of ‘non-onesidedness.’ It is not found in early texts considered canonical by Svetambara Tradition.