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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Anekantavad: True Essence Of Ahimsa

Anekantavad: True Essence Of Ahimsa

The twin doctrines of anekantavad and syadvad are an integral part of the Jain dharma's great experiment with ahimsa . Today, more than anything else, it is these uniquely Jain values that need to be examined and deeply contemplated upon.

Anekantavad - Many-ness of "Truth":

Most conflicts happen because of an inability to see the other's point of view, to acknowledge that one's version of truth is just that - one version.

There are infinite points in space from where to look at anything. Anekantavad is the Jain doctrine of the many-ness of truth, that there can never be only one point of view. It is best illustrated through the oft-quoted story of the seven blind men and the elephant.

Seven blind men came upon an elephant. Relying on their sense of touch, each one groped about and tried to make sense of the object in their path. The one who was near the elephant's trunk, felt it and was convinced he had touched a snake hanging from a tree. The one near the pachyderm's massive legs thought they were pillars, another took it to be a grove of trees.

Each one, from his place near a particular part of the elephant's anatomy, had a different theory about the huge obstacle. Soon, a quarrel ensued, since none was able to comprehend the other's point of view. "How can all of them be such fools", each blind man thought of the other. Everyone remained rooted to his spot beside the elephant. Since each one was convinced of the validity of his own explanation, the quarrel went on.

"Let us move around this object", one of them suggested. The moment they did so, they realised that although each one was correct in his place, they were all wrong, since their view had been limited by their staying in one spot. They moved around, collated their views, and finally realised that what they were trying to describe, from different positions, was in fact an elephant.

Syadvad - Maybe of "Truth"

This is what anekantavad is all about; it is the ability to recognise the multiplicity of reality, and it stems from syadvad, which is the doctrine of 'maybe', of examining an idea, object or thought from different standpoints.

This demands great dynamism, a constant movement to various positions around the elephant under examination - although the Ultimate Truth is One, there are as many ways to reach and speak of it as there are sentient beings in this world.

Aparigraha: Non-possessiveness
This willingness to give up everything for the sake of truth as enshrined in anekantavad, even refusing to be rigid about one's own point of view, is inextricably intertwined with another Jain ideal: that of aparigraha, or non-possessiveness.

Aparigraha, literally translated, means the giving up of worldly and material possessions, as evidenced in the aparigraha mahavrat of Jain Digambar munis, who abandon everything, even clothing, on the path to kaivalya.

True renunciation, however, is a state of mind, of being in the world (which we are, can we deny it?) and yet not of it.

As Sant Kabir says:
Tan ko jogi sab kare,
           man ko virla koye
Sahaj sab vidhi paiyye,
            jo man jogi hoye.

Material wealth is easily donated by everybody..
              But can we donate attachment to one's thoughts..
Effortless all paths will be..
             who renounces attachment to one's thoughts..

An important part of aparigraha (non-posessiveness)  is, therefore, anekantavad-syadvad(Many-ness, Maybe-ness of Truth) following which, one lets go of attachment to one's thoughts, ideas or standpoint, which really are the hardest to give up since they stem from one's ego. This is what makes aparigraha of attitudes the greatest way to move beyond one's ego-bound self to a greater realisation of the larger, all-encompassing Self.

Anekantavad, and attitudinal aparigraha, however, must not be misunderstood as intellectual fickleness. It is more about flexibility; an ability to bend that can come only with a real understanding of the nature of reality, which is yielding, dynamic, ever in flux.

Tao Te Ching, the book of Taoism says:

"Be humble and you will remain entire
           Be bent and you will remain straight
Be vacant and you will remain full
           Be worn and you will remain new".

The anekantavad sensibility leads to pluralism, a tolerance of diversity of thought, faith, of difference of any and all kinds. It is an acceptance of the fact that though I think my truth is right; I acknowledge that so might be yours. This is stepping back from the obduracy of "my truth, faith or religion is better than yours" and a movement towards genuine ahimsa, an embracing in love of all humanity. That is the message of the Jinas, the spiritual conquerors, whose timeless creed is Jainism.

PN: I have replaced the english translation of Sant Kabir doha..
original translation is:

It is easy to renounce the material world,
            true renunciation is where one renounces from the heart.
For such a person, everything flows effortlessly.

Original article link

1 comment:

Anil Jain(Shastri) said...

Anekanta vastu ka dharm hai kyuki vastu me ananth dharam ak sath ak samay me rahte hai.
anekantvad vani ka dharam hai.
syadvad anekantvad ka dusra nam hai.
vani maryadit hai kyuki sabdh maryadit hai.Isliye vani ak sath sabkuch(vastu ke ananth dharm ek shat) bolne me samarth nai hai.
vani karm se bole sakti hai parntu ek sath sabkuch nai bole sakti.
saptbang vani ki maryada ko batate hai.saptbang batate hai ke vani kya bata sakti hai, kya nai bata sakti, kaise bata sakti hai, kaise bata nai sakti.