According to Jain Philosophy, each naya or point of view represents only one of the infinite aspects possessed by a thing from which we may attempt to describe it. When any such partial view is mistaken for the absolute truth, we have a fallacy.

The Jain metaphysics, called Anekantavada or the doctrine of the manyness of reality, is a realistic and relativistic pluralism. A thing has got an infinite number of characteristics of its own. Happy Ho organizes best Meditation and Tarot classes in Noida and Delhi NCR area in India.

Out of these innumerable characteristics of a thing, some are permanent and essential (attributes or guna) – without which the thing will cease to be what it is. Others are changing and accidental – (modes or paryaya) – which allow for modification. Viewed from the point of view of attributes, a thing is one and permanent and real; viewed from the point of view of modes, it is many and momentary and unreal. To mistake any one sided and partial view as the whole truth is to commit the fallacy of Ekantavada. As Jainism takes into account all these partial views, it is called Anekantavada.

While, in Jainism, the metaphysical side that reality has innumerable aspects is called Anekantavada, the epistemological and logical side that we can know only some aspects of reality and therefore all are judgements are necessarily relative, is called Syadvada.

The word ‘syat’ used here is in the sense of relative and the correct translation of Syadvada is the theory of relativity of knowledge. Reality has infinite aspects. To know all of them is to become omniscient (through kevala-jnana). But it is not possible for us, laymen, to know all these aspects.Therefore, all our judgements are necessarily relative, conditional and limited.

‘Syat’ or ‘relatively speaking’ must precede all our judgements. Absolute affirmation and absolute negation are both wrong. All our judgements are conditional and double edged. Affirmation presupposes negation and vice versa. The infinitely complex reality admits of all opposite predicates from different standpoints. It is real as well as unreal; universal as well as particular; permanent as well as momentary; and one as well as many. This is not self contradictory as viewed from the point of view of attributes, it is real, universal, permanent and one; viewed from the point of view of modes, it is unreal, particular, momentary and many.

In order to explain this theory, the Jainas fondly quote the old story of the six blind men and the elephant. The blind men put their hands on the different parts of the elephant and each tried to describe the whole animal from the part touched by him. And all the six quarrelled among themselves, each one asserting that his description was correct. But he who can see the whole elephant can easily know that each blind man feels only a part of the elephant and mistakes it to be the whole animal.

Almost all philosophical differences and disputes are mainly due to mistaking a partial truth for the whole truth. Our judgements represent different aspects of the many sided reality and can claim only partial truth. This view makes Jainism broad minded and tolerant as it teaches us respect for others’ points of view.