Jain Science and Spirituality

by Medhavi Jain | 2020 | 61,419 words

This essay studies the elements of Jainism and investigates how Jain science and philosophy can give the world answers to through science and spirituality. Instead of interpreting it as a confined, strict philosophy, it is shown that Jainism represents a path towards self-awakening through self-improvement....

One of the fundamental branch of Anekantavada is Syadavada which depicts the restrictions of language in understanding the truth.

Syadavada underlines that each announcement is just incompletely evident and must be qualified by its unique circumstance or point of view. One may picture a given thing or circumstance from any of the standpoints (Nayas). Since no depiction is finished or completely obvious, it must be qualified by the explanation that "with respect to some specific situation (syat) it is this way". The main explanation one can, consequently, make with conviction is that no portrayal is sure or complete. Syadavada characterizes the points of confinement of learning and can be known as the rule of contextual perspective.’[1]

For example: “a man is a father to his son.” But this statement does not describe the other relations of the same man. If we say, “he is a good father.” Only goodness does not describe all of his attributes and so on. This is the limitation of the language that we can only describe one thing at a time, it depends in which context one is talking about. Hence every statement becomes partially true.

Syadavada states that even truths are multiple and relative, and one cannot know the truth completely.

syadasti nastyubhayamavaktavyam punashca tatryitayam dravyam khalu saptabhangamadeshavashena sambhavati
  —(Pancastikaya 14)

‘The description of the nature of substance is only possible by saptabhangi nyaya. According to that from one point of view substance is there. From another point of view, it is not there. Perhaps both i.e. it is and it is not. Perhaps indescribable. Perhaps it is and indescribable. Perhaps it is not and indescribable. Perhaps it is, it is not and indescribable.’[2]

So the knowledge about the truth stays incomplete at any given time. Keeping this statement in mind,

Syadavada can be contrasted and the Gödel's 'Deficiency Theorems' which propose that learning about the idea of reality has serious impediments.’[3]

Again nature of reality can wholly be understood within one’s experience but to describe it vocally one, be it anyone, has to take help of a language. Hence the limitation always persists.

As the human race quest to seek the reality appears to be our innate nature.

The principle of Anekantavada, along with Syadavada, helps us in finding so. Where we can dive deeper into the world of knowledge.

Jainism hypothesizes that there are three sorts of learning: known, unknown and the unknowable. While, 'unknown' can be changed over into 'known' by investigation of an object, unknowable can never be known, in any event by tangible organs or mind, and must be experienced by awareness. Blends of these three parts of knowledge about an object, for example the 'known', 'unknown’ and ‘unknowable' offer ascent to seven (and just seven) conditions of predication named as saptabhangi. The advanced ideas of insights and likelihood are fused in these seven conceivable outcomes.’[4]

This is wonderful indeed that to know, about whatever is there, only seven descriptions can be made, which seems to be a smaller number. Accordingly we analyse how constricted our way to understand the truth can be.

Footnotes and references:


SPJ. pp.18


Acharya Kundkunda. Pančastikaya. Hindi translation by Dr. Jaikumar Jalaj. Paras Mool Chand Chatter Charitable Trust. Kota. 2016. (English Translation done by me)


SPJ. pp. 18


SPJ. pp. 19

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