Jainism and Metaphysics-Classical Indian Philosophy for Maharashtra PSC Exam

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The Theory of Anekant-Vada

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Jainism: Metaphysics - The Theory of Anekant-Vada: Classical Indian Philosophy (Philosophy)

The Theory of Anekant-Vada

  • Jaina is a realistic and relativistic school of pluralism.
  • Jaina accepts the theory of Anekant-vada or the theory of many-ness of reality because matter and spirit or soul are regarded as separate and independent realities. There are innumerable material atoms and innumerable individual souls or spirits which are all separately and independently real.
  • Each atom and each soul possess innumerable aspects of their own.
  • In other words, a thing has got infinite number of characteristics of its own.
  • Every object possesses innumerable positive and negative characteristics.
  • It is not possible for us ordinary people to know all these qualities of a thing, only the liberated soul or the omniscient souls can know them all.
  • On the other hand, we only know some qualities of some things. As we have already established in Jaina epistemology- human knowledge is necessarily relative and limited in nature.
  • So, epistemologically, this theory is called syad-vada. On the other hand, metaphysically, this theory is known as anekant-vada.
  • As a matter of fact, both anekantvada and syadvada are the two aspects of the same teaching, that is, realistic and relativist pluralism of knowledge and reality.
  • They are like the two sides of the same coin.
  • In simpler words, the metaphysical side of reality consisting of innumerable characteristics is called anekant-vada.
  • Whereas, the epistemological and the logical side of the knowledge consisting of innumerable characteristics or all our knowledge and judgements are necessarily relative is called syad-vada.
  • Hence, Anekant-vada is also known as the theory of co-relativity of affirmation and negation of reality. So, it is important to note that, one who takes the relative to be the absolute truth commits the fallacy of ekant-vada.

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The Concept of Bondage and Liberation

  • According to Jainism, karmas or the karmic particles unite the Jiva or the soul to the body.
  • It is possible due to the presence of ignorance and the passions.
  • There are four types of passions;
    • Anger or krodh
    • Greed or lobha
    • Pride or mana
    • Delusion or maya
  • These four passions are also called as Kshaya.
  • Jainism says that kshaya are the sticky substances that are also called karmic particles which stick to the soul.
  • According to Jainism, these passions exists because of the root cause - ignorance.
  • According to Jainism, when the karmic particles flow towards the soul to bind it, it is called ashrava or the flow.
  • When karmic particles infiltrate into the soul, it is called bandha or bondage. Jainism avers that bandha or bondage is of two types;
    • Ideal bondage or bhava-bandha: it deals with bad dispositions in soul. It is the primary cause of bondage.
    • Material bondage or dravya-bandha: it deals with the actual flow or influx into soul.
  • The third step is called samvarna or stoppage, here, the flow of karmic particles can be stopped from further infiltrating into soul. This according to Jainism is possible via the concept of Tri-ratnas or the three gems of Jainism. The three gems are;
    • Right Faith
    • Right Knowledge
    • Right Conduct
  • Right faith:
    • This is also called samyag-darsana.
    • This means to have faith in the teachings of the teachers or the founders of the faith of Jainism (Tirthankaras) .
    • This paves the way for right knowledge.
    • It is believed that unless we possess respect or faith in the teachings, the knowledge of the teachings cannot begin.
  • Right knowledge:
    • This is also called samyag-jnana.
    • This means the knowledge of reality which can only be obtained by studying carefully the teachings of the Tirthankaras who have already attained liberation and are hence fit to lead others out of bondage.
  • Right conduct:
    • This is also called samyag-caritra.
    • Right conduct means only the performance of those actions which are right and refraining from the wrong ones.
  • According to Jainism, when the influx of matter or karmic particles into the soul is stopped (Samvara) .
  • The next step is Nirjara, that is, complete annihilation of the karmic particles or matter associated with the soul.
  • This state is called the state of “wearing out” .
  • When all the particles of matter are exhausted and when there remains no association between matter and soul, the soul shines in its intrinsic nature of “infinite faith, infinite knowledge, infinite bliss and infinite power,” (also called, ananta-catustya) .
  • This state is called Moksha or liberation. In other words, moksha is the state of separation of the Jiva or soul from matter.
  • In this state Kevala Jnana is attained and the soul transcends samsara or the cycle of rebirth and heads to siddha-shila, the abode of liberated souls (empty-space) .
  • Jainism believes in Nine metaphysical categories. They are;
    • Ashrava or the flow
    • Bandha or bondage
    • Samvara or stoppage
    • Nirjara or wearing out
    • Moksha or liberation
    • Virtues or punya
    • Vice or paap
    • The concept of Jiva
    • The concept of Ajiva


1. The tri-ratnas of Jainism are;

A. Samyag caritra, samyag jnana, samyag vak

B. Samyag caritra, samyag jnana, samyag darsana

C. Samyag carita, samyag jnana, samyag drishti

D. None of these

Answer: B

2. When karmic particles infiltrate into soul, it is called

A. Ashrava

B. Kshaya

C. Bandha

D. Nirjara

Answer: C

3. The metaphysical side of reality consisting of innumerable characteristics is called

A. Syad-vada

B. Anekantvada

C. Naya-vada

D. Both A and B

Answer: B

4. Jainism believes in ________ metaphysical concepts

A. Ten

B. Nine

C. None

D. Twelve

Answer: B

5. The concept of tri-ratnas come under

A. Bandha

B. Ashrava

C. Nirjara

D. Samvara

Answer: D

1. Right Faith

2. Right Knowledge

3. Right Conduct





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