Wide Implications of the Jain Doctrine of Anekānta

May, 2024 by Samani Dr. Shashi Prajñā
It is this human mind, which is responsible for anekāntic thought. It is the power of the mind to think both creatively and destructively. John Milton rightly said, ‘It is man’s mind, which can make hell of heaven and heaven of hell.’ The U.N. Charter rightly commented that ‘War is first of all fought in the minds of men before it is actually fought on the battlefield.” It is the mind that makes plans, builds strategies, sets goals, and breeds love or hatred towards others which determines one’s healthy or poor relationships. The happy outcome of anekānta is the birth of an individual with an attitude of non-insistence or refraining from insistence. Such a person with the above attitude analyses an event from multiple angles as a result of which, he develops a viewpoint of reconciling different parts and aspects of the truth. ‘Only what I believe is truth and what others believe in, is false.’  Is a partial view, as per the view of Acharya Mahaprajña. If one does not give up this partial, one-sided, dogmatic view, he/she will be doing injustice to the other’s views and this too amounts to violence.

John Cort rightly says intellectual non-violence is implicit in anekāntvada. So anekanta is nothing but intellectual non-violence in modern times.  The Jain concept of Non-violence is nothing but respect for the life of others. Jainism can be viewed as transforming the principle of ahimsa to the respect for the life of others into an epistemological anekāntic standpoint i.e., respect for the view of others. It is, therefore an absolute necessity for a non-violent to be a non-extremist. It serves as the key to unlocking the doors of wisdom and a successful means to establish uniformity amidst diversity in views. Unless we are prepared to change our vision, developing the anekāntic perspective we can’t balance anything in this globe as a whole.

In this era of zero tolerance, ever-increasing graphs of divorce rate in marriage institutions,  the world is facing risks that threaten the poly-crisis, techno gadgets usage addiction in all levels of age groups, climate-related risks, multiple global risks like failure to mitigate climate change, widespread cybercrime and cyber insecurities, natural resource crisis, large scale environmental damages, geo-economic confrontations and alarming nuclear wars so on and so forth. The world faces in the contemporary era with several crises in all spheres of life, namely at the individual, familial, political, social, and environmental levels. Every day that goes by, all these crises deepen, whether in the national plans or on a planetary scale. The intellectual crisis of thought of the contemporary era is that the world we live in works chaotically like a ship drifting toward disaster.

The sociology of Jain Principles hints at the root cause of all the problems as the passionate state of mind and soul and its anekāntic approach to address the contemporary social dilemmas, and problems and resolve them in a comprehensive manner via Jain perspective of dispassionate consciousness. In this context, the Jaina Doctrine of anekānta will act as a mirror in unfolding the abiding wide social implications in all walks of life. Mahavira’s applied philosophy of anekānta can bring about a change of attitude and self-imposed restraint of thoughts at the individual level, mutual tolerance between the couples at the familial level,  respect for the views of others for peaceful coexistence at the social level, the transformation of consciousness at the spiritual level, holistic health at the physiological level, development of emotional intelligence at Psychological level, Non-violent communication at the speech level, anekāntic understanding at the thought level, mutual understanding between the two opposite parties at the political level,  the  Successful Leadership at organizational level,  establishment of crimeless society at the national level, protection of environment at the ecological level and conflict resolution in this era of clash of civilization and culture, world peace at the international level. Thus, wide implications of anekānta can serve as the key to unlocking the doors of wisdom and a successful means to establish uniformity amidst diversity in views and establish inner and outer peace as a whole. Because as per my viewpoint and understanding- “The Goal of Every Goal is Peace”.

About Author

Samani Dr. Shashi Prajñā is an Associate Professor in Deptt.of Jainology and Comparative Religion and Philosophy at Jain Visha Bharati Institute, Ladnun (Rajasthan). She has written a book on the Applied Philosophy of Anekānta and compared it with postmodern philosophy.

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Dr. Anjali jain
Dr. Anjali jain
9 days ago

Very thoughtful ideas