Anekäntaväda (Theory of Multiplicity)


Lakshana (Characteristics of a Substance)

Pramäna Jnän (True Knowledge)

Naya (Partial Point of View)

Nikshepa (Analysis of Truth)

Tripadi (Three Pronouncements)

Dravya, Guna, and Paryäya

Pramäna and Naya (Jain Logic)

Five Pramänas

Theory of Nayaväda

Sapta -Bhanga or Syädväda (Seven Predications)

Importance of Anekäntaväda

Anekäntaväda and Ahinsä

Five Samaväya (Five Causal Factors)

Käl (Time)

Svabhäv (Nature of a Substance)

Niyati (Destiny)

Nimitta & Prärabdh (External Circumstances and Karma)

Purushärtha (Self-effort)



Modern day logic is defined as study of principles and method of argumentation.  An argument in the system of logic is a set of statements.

Jain logic is ancient.  Its roots can be traced to Holy Scriptures in which it states, “Non-absolutism is the principal dogma of Jainism”.  Further more “every statement is to be accepted as relative truth”.

Let us take an example.  My name is Kirit.  My father’s name is Prabhudas, and my son’s name is Amit.  Now I am father and son at the same time.  How can this be?  From Prabhudas’s perspective, I am a son and from Amit’s perspective, I am a father.  Thus, both statements are true from their own perspectives.

Soul is eternal as well as changing.  How can these two conflicting statements be true?  According to Jain logic, they are true statements in their own perspective.  Soul is eternal from substantial point of view (Dravya).  Soul is ever changing from modal point of view (Paryäya).

As six blind men touched an elephant, and came out with their own opinion that the elephant is like a pillar, python, drum, pipe, long rope, and huge fan, depending on the parts of the body that they touched.  They could be right from their own perspective, but elephant is an elephant, and the person who sees knows an elephant as total.  He also knows that elephant could be like a pillar, python, drum, pipe, long rope and a huge fan, from the perspective of the legs, trunk, abdomen, tusk, tail, and ears.  Therefore, if you do not have complete knowledge, do not believe in other possibilities or think that their partial point of view is the only truthful and others are wrong then the partial point of view is not right.

Thus, understanding of Jain logic helps a lot for tolerance.  Nothing may be wrong and nothing may be right.  All the statements are true in their own perspective.  Because of our inability to know substance as a whole, we cannot have complete knowledge of a substance.  Only omniscient lord has perfect knowledge, so He has the complete knowledge.

The spoken and written language has limitations of expressions.  So one has to understand the broader meaning of Jain logic and then try to understand the reality in that perspective.  We should know all the angles of the substance and then present the partial point of view, and then we are right.  Presenting the partial point of view, and then considering it as a complete knowledge is wrong according to Jain logic.  We should also keep in mind, that when a sentence is spoken, we should know from what angle it is spoken.  If we understand it correctly, then our knowledge base increases. 

The term Anekäntaväda consists of three terms: ‘Aneka’, ‘Anta’, and ‘Väda’, The term ‘Aneka’, means ‘many or more than one', ‘Anta’, means ‘aspects’, or ‘attributes’ and ‘Väda’ means ‘ism’ or ‘theory’.  In its simple sense, it is a philosophy or a doctrine.  It is a theory of manifold aspects.  It has been described and translated by modern scholars variously.  Prof. S.N.  Dasgupta expresses it as ‘relative pluralism’ against the ‘extreme absolutism’ Dr. Chandradhar Sharma translates it as ‘‘doctrine of manyness of reality’’.  Dr. Satkari Mookerjee expresses it as a doctrine of ‘non-absolutism’.  This is also expressed as a theory of ‘conditional predication’ or ‘‘theory of relativity of propositions.’’  Since the doctrine of ‘Anekäntaväda’ is opposed to absolutism or monism, (Ekänta-väda) we would prefer a phrase ‘‘doctrine of non-absolutism’’ to convey the meaning of Anekäntaväda. The doctrine of  Anekäntväda can be subdivided in two categories - 1) Nayaväda relates to thoughts and analysis and 2) Syädväda relates to speech, while the base of both is knowledge. What we know by the analytical process of Nayaväda, we express by the synthesis of Syädväda.

As discussed earler, to have complete knowledge, or organ of knowledge (Pramäna Jnän), we should also know partial points of view (Naya).  The partial point of view becomes a pillar on which the building of organ of knowledge rests.  Of course, the true and complete knowledge of a substance is only possible with omniscience.

To know a substance, there are 4 different categories, which are described in scriptures.

Lakshana (Characteristics of a Substance)

One should know the characteristics of a substance.  The characteristic (Lakshana) should be such that it is present only in the substance and not in any other substance.  For example, if we say that the soul is formless, and then this is not its absolute characteristic because there are other substances like medium of motion, medium of rest, space, and time, which are also formless substances.  Nevertheless, if we say that, the soul’s characteristic is to know, and then it becomes a true characteristic.  Every soul starting with the lowest form of soul (Nigod) to the highest form of the soul (Siddha) has characteristics of knowledge.  Touch, taste, smell and color are all characteristics of matter because none of the other five substances have these characteristics.  Thus, a peculiar characteristic present in only one substance, and not in any other substance is known, as its true characteristic.

Pramäna Jnän (True Knowledge)

To know a substance from all angles is called the organ of knowledge, or true knowledge or complete knowledge.  The knowledge that allows one to make decisions about the self or others (Sva or Para) is called the organ of knowledge or true knowledge.  This knowledge is free from doubt, mistake, and uncertainty.  The organ of knowledge consists of several different and apparently opposite points of views.  Thus with the organ of knowledge, one gets equanimity, and becomes tolerant of different points of views.  The perception, which grasps the nature of a thing in a proper and contraindicated form, is called organ of knowledge.

Naya (Partial Point of View)

The knowledge of a substance from one point of view is called partial point of view.  The thought activity, which grasps only the aspect of an object with the aid of scriptures, is called partial point of view.  He who possesses such knowledge is wise.

Total knowledge or organ of knowledge (Pramäna Jnän) is the sum total of all partial points of view.  Thus to understand a substance in its fullest form, one must have knowledge of all partial points of view including seemingly opposite partial points of view.

Thus, as a religious person desires to attain bliss, without practicing religion, or a thirsty person desires to quench his thirst without water, similarly, the soul desires to determine the nature of substance without taking refuge in the partial points of view.  There are several different classifications of partial points of view given in scriptures.  We will see the one, which is more widely used in the later part of this chapter.

Nikshepa (Analysis of Truth)

Analysis of truth can be done in precision and clarity in different ways.  A substance has various attributes.  Keeping in mind those attributes, the substance can be divided into four different ways.

01.   Name (Näm) – it means to refer the object merely by its name.  Our day-to-day activity becomes easier by giving name to an object.  For example, a poor person’s name is King.  He is known as King by name, even though he is very poor.

02.   Symbol (Sthäpanä) – it means referring a person through his image, idol, picture, painting, etc. These things contain in themselves, the symbol of an original object;  e.g. looking at a marble idol at a temple, one says that this is Mahävir Swämi.

03.   Potentiality (Dravya) – here one refers to an object by mentioning its past condition or future condition.  For example, we refer to a person as a king now even though he is nota king yet but is going to be king in the future.

04. Actuality (Bhäva) – it means the name signifying the object is meaningful in its present condition.  For example, the word Tirthankar is used only after the soul attains omniscience and is now preaching and establishing four-fold religious congregation.



Logic means, “study of principles and method of argumentation.”  Argumentation in the system of logic is a set of statements.  Jains believe in non-absolutism.  One should know a substance from all the angles and then present the partial point of view, and then one is right.


Tripadi (Three Pronouncements)

Shraman Bhagawän Mahävir expounded and established the Jain philosophy and communicated it to his first disciple, Indrabhuti Gautam and ten other Ganadhars (Chief disciples) in three phrases, which constitute the foundation of the Jain philosophy; and lays down its essentials.  These three phrases are known as Tripadi.

·         Uppannei Vä – There emerges a new phase of the matter.  This is called Utpäd or Utpatti, which denotes emergence of a new mode.

·         Vigamei Vä – Old mode of the matter vanishes.  This is called Vyaya or Laya, which denotes disappearance of the old mode.

·         Dhuvei Vä – Original qualities of the matter remain constant.  This is called Dhrauvya, which denotes the permanence of the matter.

Dravya, Guna, and Paryäya

Though the matter may assume different forms at different times, it never loses its own essential qualities (Guna).  The Jain term for such matter is sat (literally, being).  This term denotes a matter that has three aspects: substance (Dravya), quality (Guna), and mode (Paryäya).  The matter, while retaining its own qualities, undergoes modifications (Parinäm) in the form of acquiring (Utpäd) new modes (Paryäya or Bhäva) and losing (Vyaya) old modes at each moment.  Production (acquiring new modes) and destruction (losing old modes) are endless processes.  On account of these changes, the substance does not experience any loss in its original qualities (Guna).

Substance as Dravya remains permanent and not destroyable.  Nevertheless, changes occur; old forms are destroyed and new ones come into being.  For this reason, the Jainism does not consider any substance either as always permanent or as always transitory.  The destruction of any thing, that we notice, is not the destruction of the substance.  It is only a change of mode, the transformation.


A bar of gold has its own original qualities.  That bar can be converted into a chain.  In that case, the shape of the bar is destroyed and a new shape (chain) has been produced.  However, the qualities of gold remain unchanged.  Now if we melt the chain and make a bangle (Bangadi) out of it, then we destroy the chain (an old form) and produce a Bangadi (a new form).  Again, the inherent qualities of the gold remain unchanged.  Therefore, the bar, chain and Bangadi are transient forms (Paryäya) while gold is the matter (Dravya) which remains constant.

A living being, through the process of growth, undergoes various changes, such as childhood, youth, and old age.  These changes are the natural modifications of the living being.  Childhood, youth, and old age are transient forms (Paryäya) of a living being.  The soul of the living being is permanent substance (Dravya).  Similarly, when we die, we will be born in another body.  Therefore, the body is also a transient form while our soul is the permanent substance (Dravya).

A soul is a substance (Dravya) that has innumerable qualities such as knowledge (Jnän), bliss (Änand) and energy (Virya).  The knowledge quality, for example, may increase or decrease, but there is never a time when the soul is without knowledge; otherwise, it would become, by definition, a non-soul, a lifeless material.

According to the Jainism, the numbers of various substances existing at present existed in the past and will continue to exist in future.  There cannot be any increase or decrease in that number.  All the transformations take place according to their properties and potentialities; and in course of time, one form may get destroyed and cease to exist and another form may emerge.  However, Dravya remains constant.



In fact, Jainism points out that both the permanent and the changing are the two sides of the same thing.  Considering on one side the human limitations to acquire the knowledge of a thing with its all the infinite attributes and on the other side three characteristics of knowledge possessing the three characteristics of production, destruction and permanence, nothing could be affirmed absolutely, as all affirmations could be relatively true under certain aspects or points of view only.  The affirmations are true of a thing only in a certain limited sense, and not absolutely.  Thus a thing or the conception of being as the union of permanent and change brings us naturally to the doctrine of Anekäntaväda or what we may call relative pluralism. The claim that Anekäntaväda is the most consistent form of realism lies in the fact that Jainism has allowed the principle of distinction to run its full course until it reaches its logical terminus, the theory of manifoldness of reality and knowledge.  The theory of non-absolutism clears that reality, as stated according to Jainism is not merely multiple but each real, in its turn, is manifold or complex to its core.  Reality is thus complex web of manyness (Aneka) and manifolds (Anekänta).

Pramäna and Naya (Jain Logic)

The real and deep understanding of Jain philosophy of non-absolutism, the theory of manifoldness and Nayaväda (standpoint) would mean unfolding the fact that in number of ways. Jainism, being sound and scientific, leads to such conclusions that bring us right into the inner core of Jainism, which is highly ethical, highly religious and therefore highly theistic.

History of Jain logic and Jain epistemology goes as far back as its canonical literature.  We find the doctrines and the discussions as well as reasoning on the doctrines even in the philosophical works by Umäsväti and Kunda-kundächärya.  ‘‘The Nyäyävatära” by Shri Siddhasen Diwäkar, as far as we know, is the earliest manual on logic composed for the benefit and training of the Jain authors who till his time studied Nyäya possibly from other sources available to them.’ Siddhasen Diwäkar has been accepted as ‘the first Jain writer on pure logic’ who belonged to the Shvetämbar tradition.  Some noteworthy Jain logicians, from Siddhasen to Yashovijayaji are Mallavädi, Haribhadra, Akalank, Virsen, Vidyänandi, Devasuri, Hemchandrächärya, and Yashovijayaji.  This is the period between 5th and 16th century.

Aim and Subject matter of Jain Logic

We can say that the chief aim is to understand the scriptures and the doctrine, which again is not possible without the correct knowledge of Pramänas (total view knowledge) and Nayas, (partial viewpoint knowledge).  The subject matter of Jain logic includes all such topics as are resulting from the Jain theory of knowledge and reality.  Apart from the Pramänas as sources for knowledge the ‘Nayaväda’ and ‘Sapta-Bhang-Väda ’ the ‘Dravyästika’ and ‘Paryäyästika’ views, the enumeration and classification of Naya, are some of the quite interesting topics included in Jain logic.

Five Pramänas

As discussed earlier, Pramäna kind of knowledge comprises all the aspects of a substance.  Pramäna means total, true, valid, pure and complete knowledge.

Pramäna is of two kinds

·  Pratyaksha (direct)

·  Paroksha (indirect)

Pratyaksha Jnän or direct knowledge is that which is obtained by the soul without the help of external means.  The Pratyaksha Jnän is of 3 kinds‑namely Avadhi-jnän.  Manah-Paryäya Jnän and Keval Jnän.

Paroksha Jnän means the knowledge that is obtained by the soul by means of such things as the five senses and mind. Paroksha Jnän is classified into (1) Mati-jnän, (2) Shruta‑Jnän.

Thus, there are 5 kinds of Pramäna: (1) Mati Jnän (2) Shruta Jnän (3) Avadhi Jnän (4) Manah-Paryäya Jnän (5) Keval Jnän.

Modes of Pramäna can also be classified as follows for detail understanding






















Direct knowledge (Pratyaksha Pramäna)

Soul’s knowledge of substance is pure.  Soul’s involvement is direct in obtaining this type of knowledge.  It can be of 2 types.

Direct knowledge in a conventional sense (Samvyavahärik Pratyaksha Pramäna)

The knowledge obtained by the soul in sensory (Mati) knowledge and articulate (Shrut) knowledge, is called indirect knowledge, for two reasons: 1) There is a need for senses and mind’s involvement and  2) The knowledge is called impure because the knowledge obtained from senses’ and mind usually is for others and not for the soul.  However, when the soul obtains right faith (Samyag Darshan) at that time, the sensory knowledge and articulate knowledge are used for the knowledge of the self.  Therefore, this is called direct knowledge in a conventional sense.  Here the knowledge is partially true (Ekadesha Spasta).

Transcendental knowledge (Paramärthika Pratyaksha Pramäna)

When the soul obtains the direct knowledge, without the help of any external causes (like senses and mind), then it is called transcendental knowledge.

·         Partial knowledge (Vikal Paramärthika) – when the soul obtains direct knowledge of a formed substance, it is called partial knowledge.

·         Clairvoyance (Avadhi Jnän) – clairvoyance refers to knowledge of things that are out of the range of senses.  Soul can perceive knowledge of a substance with form (Rupi Padärtha), which exists at great distance or time.  In celestial and infernal souls, this knowledge is present since birth.  In human, and subhuman (Tiryanch), this knowledge is obtained as a result of spiritual endeavors.

·         Telepathy (Manah-Paryäya Jnän)– in this type of knowledge, human soul has capacity to comprehend others’ thoughts.  Great saints who have achieved high level of spiritual progress can posses this knowledge.

·         Omniperception – Omniscience (Sakal Paramärthika)

·         Keval Jnäan– omniscient lord having this knowledge, knows about all substances in the universe and, all of their modes of past, present and future at a given time.  When a soul in his quest for purity destroys all four destructive (Ghäti) karmas, then at the 13th stage of the spiritual ladder obtains this knowledge.  This is perfect knowledge and stays with the soul forever.  About ‘Keval-jnän’, Dr.  Rädhäkrishnan writes: “It is omniscience unlimited by space, time or object.  To the perfect consciousness the whole reality is obvious, This knowledge, which is independent of the senses, which can only be felt and not described, is possible only for the purified souls free from bondage.’’


Indirect perceptions (Paroksha Pramäna)

The knowledge that is impure, of others, and not of the self, is called indirect perception.  Here we take the help of external means like, the five senses, and the mind. 

Sensory knowledge (Mati Jnän) – this knowledge is gained through the senses and/or mind.  Reflection on what has been perceived, reasoning, questioning, searching, understanding, and judging are the varieties of sensory knowledge.

Scripture knowledge (Shruta Jnän) – this knowledge refers to conceptualization through language. It is obtained by studying scriptures and listening to the discourses.  Scripture knowledge consists of comprehension of meaning of words that are heard or derived from the senses and the mind.

Pramäna (Valid Knowledge) Conclusion

Pramäna is capable of making us accept the agreeable things and discard the disagreeable ones;  it is but knowledge.  The object of valid knowledge, according to Jains, is always a unity of number of aspects or characteristics, such as general and the particular, the existent and the nonexistent, etc.

Valid knowledge or ‘pure knowledge’ is the total or partial destruction of ignorance.  The fruit of Pramäna is of two sorts: direct and indirect.  Direct fruit of all Pramänas is the annihilation of ignorance.  It is also said that, the immediate effect of Pramäna is the removal of ignorance; the mediate effect of the absolute knowledge is bliss and equanimity. 

‘The subject of all forms of valid knowledge is the self, as known by direct knowledge.’ The spirit (soul or Jiv) is the knower, doer and enjoyer, illumines self and others, undergoes changes of condition, is realized only in self consciousness, and is different from the earth, etc. The soul as described in Jainism, is permanent but undergoes changes of condition.

With reference to theistic approaches, Jainism believes in soul and its liberation.  Moreover, it accepts and agrees to the fact that no liberation is possible without the true knowledge of reality; and logic or Pramäna is the aid to such knowledge.  What is theistic behind the logic is its use and purpose.  This is neither an intellectual exercise nor a game of arguments to refute, but to know and sharpen the understanding for the spiritual progress.

On account of its knowledge, the soul is different from inert substances.  As the cover over it goes on decreasing, its knowledge goes on increasing, and showing itself.  Like a mirror that reflects everything, the soul can know anything that can be known.  If there is no cover at all, it is natural that it can know all the things.  It is illogical to say that we can know only up to this extent, not more than this.  Can we limit the flights of the mind?  Therefore, a Keval-jnäni knows everything directly.

Only he who possesses this kind of knowledge can expound sound doctrines and only he is the supreme spiritual well-wisher.  After that, even those who act according to his commands are well- wishers.  For great Ganadhars, Ägams are the Pramänas, source of true knowledge.

Jainism asserts that knowledge attained is the knowledge of real object.  What is known is not all the aspects of the reality of an object, but only one or some.  In Jainism, knowledge depends on experience and experience is always partial, in the sense that the reality in totality is never revealed.  Under the circumstance whatever is known is known in relation to a standpoint and therefore “absolution is to be surrendered.’’  This is the root of Nayaväda and Syädväda.

Theory of Nayaväda

According to the Jains, in order to have a complete and comprehensive judgment of reality one has to take into account the main substance that has the element to permanence and goes under the changes in various forms.  In this process of change, the previous form dies away and new form comes into existence.  The birth of the new form is called Utpäd, the death of the old form is called Vyaya and the substance, which remains constant during this process of birth and death, is called Dhrauvya.  When one is able to comprehend all these three, one can arrive at a proper judgment about the thing in question.  When the self takes the form of a human being, you can know it as a ‘man' or a ‘woman'.  When it takes a form of the vegetable, you can describe it as ‘grass'.  All these descriptions are true from the standpoint of the forms that the self has assumed.  Therefore, when we recognize a thing from the point of view of the modification or change, it is called ‘Paryäyärthika Naya'.  Paryäya means modification, change.  However, when we recognize that thing from the point of view of substance, it is called Dravyärthika Naya.  The former considers changing aspect of reality while the latter considers its permanent aspect.

Valid knowledge in Jain philosophy is divided into two modes: Pramäna and Naya.  Both, Pramäna and Naya, are valid knowledge.’’  Pramäna is knowledge of a thing as it is, and Naya is knowledge of a thing in its relation.  Naya means a standpoint of thought from which we make a statement about a thing.’ Siddhasen Diwäkar in Nyäyävatära writes.  “Since things have many characters, they are the object of all sided knowledge (omniscience); but a thing conceived from one particular point of view is the object of Naya (or one-sided knowledge).’’ It may be noted here that Naya is a part of Pramäna because it gives us valid knowledge of its object.  Naya being a particular standpoint determines only a part of its object.  The Jain logicians, reply to a charge that Naya becomes a form of false knowledge as it determines the knowledge not of an object but part of an object.  They say that false knowledge is knowledge about something which is not a real object or in conformity to what it is, ‘the part of an object and not non-object.  The knowledge determined by Naya of an object is valid knowledge from that point of view.  It does yield certain valid knowledge about the part of the object.

The greatest contribution that the Jains have made to the world of thought is by their theories of Nayaväda and Syädväda.  The word ‘Syäd' in Sanskrit means ‘perhaps' but in Jainism it is used to show the relativity of a judgment and the word ‘Naya' means ‘Standpoint'.  Truth or reality is always complex and has many aspects.  If one is impressed by one of the aspects of a complex reality and begins to identify the reality, only by that aspect he is bound to make a wrong judgment about the reality.  Therefore, the Jain seers exhort us to look at the complexities of life and knowledge, from every standpoint and from positive as well as negative aspects.  They recognize that the apprehension (view) of an ordinary human being is partial and hence valid only from a particular point of view, which cannot give a correct or even a nearly correct comprehension of the whole.  The complex reality has not only infinite number of qualities but also infinite number of relations.  Again, it may be looked at differently by different persons and under their different circumstances.  It assumes different forms and appearances for which due allowance ought to be made.  All this makes it difficult to form a correct judgment about it unless a systematic and logical method is found to identify it.  This method is called Nayaväda.  As Dr. S. Rädhäkrishnan observes:

"The doctrine of Nayas of Standpoint is a peculiar feature of Jain logic.  A Naya is a standpoint from which we make a statement about a thing.  What is true from one standpoint may not be true from another.  Particular aspects are never adequate to the whole reality.  The relative solutions are abstractions under which reality may be regarded, but do not give us a full and sufficient account of it.  Jainism makes a basic and fundamental principle that truth is relative to our standpoint."

Thus ‘Naya' can be defined as a particular viewpoint; a viewpoint which gives only a partial idea about an object or view which cannot overrule the existence of another or even a contrary view about the same object.  If an object or theory is judged only from one standpoint, the judgment is one sided and it is termed as ‘Ekänta'.  ‘Eka' means ‘one' and ‘Anta' means ‘end'.  Thus, Ekänta means one‑sidedness.  The Jains therefore ask us to judge from all aspects, which is called ‘Anekänta'.  This is the basic principle of Jain philosophy.  Every fundamental principle of Jain philosophy is based on Anekänta.  Throughout its approach, Anekänta has been to accept the different aspects or even contradictory aspects of the reality and to evolve a synthesis between the contradictory philosophical theories.

A Jain seer would say, both are correct from the standpoint from which they look at the problem, but both make their statements, which do not conform to the principle of Anekänta and hence do not give a correct judgment of the reality.  Jains say that changes are as real as the original substance.  A jug made of a clay substance cannot be used as anything, except as a jug and since the use is real, the form of a jug which clay has assumed, cannot be unreal.  If the clay substance assumes some other form of an earthen vessel meant for cooking, that vessel could not be used as a jug even though clay substance remains the same.  If this is so, how can we say that the form that the substance assumes at a particular time is unreal and only the substance is real?  The substance of clay appears to be the only real thing to those who concentrate on substance and ignore the form.  It is not correct to say that because there is a change in the form, the changing form is unreal.  If it is real even for a moment, its reality must be accepted and recognized. If a comprehensive view of the whole reality is to be comprehensive perception of a thing, it is possible only when its permanent substance (Dravya) is taken into account along with its existing mode (Paryäya).  As Ächärya Siddhasen puts it: "Anekäntätmakam Västu Gocarah", i.e., we can understand a thing properly by perceiving its various aspects.” Apekshä, Abhipräy and Drasti are other names of Naya.Seven Classes of Nayas

Jain philosophers have given broad classifications of different aspects (Nayas) through which we can perceive a thing.  They are:


01.  Naigama Naya

Generic and Specific view or teleological view

02.  Sangrah Naya


03.  Vyavahär Naya

Practical view

04.   Rujusutra Naya

Linear view

05.   Shabda Naya

Literal view

06.   Samabhirudha Naya

Etymological view

07.   Evambhuta Naya

Determinant view.


There are hundreds of sub‑classifications of these seven Nayas but without touching them, we shall presently discuss the bare outlines of these seven Nayas.  Before doing so, it may be noted that first three Nayas are with reference to the identification of the main substance called ‘Dravya' and hence are known as ‘Dravyärthika Nayas'.  The rest four refer to the standpoints, which identify the modes of the main substance and hence are known as ‘Paryäyärthika Nayas'.

Naya can also be classified as the following 2 types.

Absolute point of view (Nishchaya Naya)

Here one takes a substance and picks up one of its attributes (Guna).  Then analyzes one part of its attribute.  This is called absolute point of view. For example, one who has become a Sädhu based on the true conduct and inner feeling is called Sädhu even he is not intiated (taken Dikshä) as Sädhu.

Practical points of view (Vyavahär Naya)-

The substance and its attributes are interdependent and can never be separated.  To consider them as separate is called practical point of view.  For example when a person is initiated, he is called Sädhu even though his true inner aspects of being Sädhu may not exist. This is called practical point of view.  In the practical point of view, one takes into account the association of a substance with another substance.    Even though it is not right to know a substance this way, day-to-day activities become somewhat easier this way.  E.g. we use clay pot to hold water, so now we call this pot a water pot.  Here the pot is not made of water, but clay.  However, because of water’s association with the pot, we call it a water pot.  The right way of telling will be that this is a pot made of clay, and we use it to store water.  This absolute way of saying a sentence takes a long time and not practical.  That is why we call it a water pot.  It conveys the meaning.  The day-to-day activities become easier thereafter.  Even though the soul and body are separate, we use the word interchangeably.  We do call the body as living because of the association of the soul and body.

Naya can also be classified as follows

Dravyärthika Nayas (Substantial Point of View)

Substantial point of view (Dravyärthika Naya) - In this point of view, one considers the substance as a whole and gives its modes the subsidiary status.  E.g. -while talking about the soul, one will consider the soul as immortal - was never created, nor will it ever be destroyed.  This can be subdivided as follows



Generic Or Specific Or Teleological


Collective Generic




Paryäyärthika Nayas (Modification Point of View)

Modification point of view (Paryäyärthika Naya) - In this point of view, one considers modes of a substance as a primary subject.  The substantial consideration becomes secondary.  One considers a substance with origination and perishing of its modes, e.g. while talking about soul, one will consider ever-changing modes of soul.  One will consider the four realms (states) of existence, birth, growth, decay, death of a living being, etc.  This can be subdivided as follows



Linear Point of View


Literal Or Verbal




Determinant Point


Dravyärthika Nayas:

01.  Naigama Naya (Generic)

Etymological meaning of the word ‘Naigama' is the ‘end product' or ‘result'.  Tattvärtha-sära gives an illustration of a person who carries water, rice and fuel and who, when asked what he was doing, says he is cooking.  This reply is given in view of the result, which he intends to achieve though at the exact time when the question is put to him he is not actually cooking.  His reply is correct from the point of view of Naigama Naya, though technically it is not exactly correct, because he is not actually cooking at the time when he replies.  The general purpose, for which we work, controls the total series of our activities.  If someone passes his judgment on basis of that general purpose, he asserts Naigama Naya, i.e., the teleological viewpoint.  These empirical views probably proceed on the assumption that a thing possesses the most general as well as the most special qualities, and hence we may lay stress on any one of these at any time and ignore the other ones.

02.  Sangrah Naya (Collective point of view)

We get this Naya (viewpoint) when we put main emphasis on some general class characteristics of a particular thing ignoring altogether the specific characteristics of that class.  Such a view is only partially correct but does not give the idea of the whole, for it ignores the specific characteristics of that thing.

In collective point of view, the knowledge of an object is in its ordinary or common form.  The special qualities of the object are not taken into account.  E.g. there were 500 people in the hall.  Here we are now considering only general qualities like people and not considering like how many were men, women, children, old, young, etc.

One considers the general attributes of a substance like a substance has existence and eternality.  Now these attributes are common to all six universal substances.  Here we are considering the general attributes of a substance and ignoring the specific attributes of each substance.

03.  Vyavahär Naya (Practical):

If we look at a thing from this standpoint, we try to judge it from its specific properties ignoring the generic qualities, which are mainly responsible for giving birth to the specific qualities.  This amounts to the assertion of empirical at the cost of universal and gives importance to practical experience in life.

This point of view sees an object in its special form rather than the common form.  The special attributes of an object are taken into consideration.

On the basis of collective point of view, and after describing things in a collective form, it is necessary to find out their special characteristics.  For example, when we utter the word “medicine” it includes all branches of medicine but when one says allopathic, osteopathic, naturopathic, homeopathic, etc. then we can understand its specialty.  This can be further divided by its name, patent, quality, uses, etc. These divisions are examples of distributive point of view and have a tendency towards greater exactitude.

Paryäyärthika Nayas

04.  Rujusutra Naya (Linear point of view.)

It is still narrower than Vyavahär in its outlook, because it does not emphasize all the specific qualities but only those specific qualities, which appear in a thing at a particular moment, ignoring their existent specific qualities of the past, and the future.  The approach of the Buddhists is of this type.  To ignore the specific qualities of past and future and to emphasize on only continuing characteristics of Reality is the fallacy involved here.

In this point of view, one considers ideas like reality, etc. as the direct grasp of here and now, ignoring past and future.  It considers only the present mode of a thing.  Ruju means simple, sutra means knowledge.  Suppose a man was a king, and he is not a king now, thus his past is of no use in linear point of view.  Similarly, a person will be a king in the future, but is meaningless in linear point of view.  Only present mode is recognized in linear point of view, making the identification easier and scope narrower.

05.  Shabda Naya (Literal point of view)

The Verbalistic approach is called as Shabda Naya.  Shabda-Naya (the 'Verbal' standpoint): This standpoint maintains that the synonymous words convey the same meaning or thing, provided they are not different in tense, case-ending, gender, number, etc. In other words, it states that two synonymous words can never convey the same thing if they have different tenses, case endings, genders, and numbers.

Literal point of view uses words as their exact face value to signify the real nature of things.  Each word has very particular meaning.  In the literal view, even changing the gender, numbers, words ending or tense of a word is thought to change its meaning and therefore to change the object to which it refers.  So, it is not appropriate to use words in different genders, numbers, etc. to refer to the same object or event.  E.g. the words pot and pitcher signifies same meaning, but in the following sentence, the meaning gets changed, “why did you bring a pot?  I only want a pitcher.

06.  Samabhirudha Naya (Etymological point of view)

It is different from Shabda Naya, because it concentrates on the etymological distinction between the synonyms.  If carried to the fallacious extent this standpoint may destroy the original identity pointed by synonyms.

A group of words even though basically they mean the same things but as individual words, they represent a special condition, e.g. hut and palace are places to live.  However, in a hut, poor people live, and in a palace, king lives.  In etymological (word historical or derivation) point of view, it represents a specific quality or grammatical property of a word.

07.  Evambhuta Naya (Determinant point of view:)

This Naya recognizes only that word which indicates the actual action presently attributed to the individual.  In other words, among synonym words only that word should be selected which has a correlation with the action referred to.

In this point of view, the word or sentence, which further determines its characteristic property in its present state is used.  A word should be used to denote the actual meaning.  E.g. the word thief is to be used only when a person is caught stealing and not because a person is a known thief.  It represents a strict application of a word or statement.

Sunaya and Durnaya – When a person with a particular view accepts does not disagree with other partially true views then that is called Sunaya. When he/she calls his/her view is the only right one and calls other views as wrong ones then it is called Durnaya.

Partial truth of Individual Naya:

As already noted the purpose of pointing out to this detailed classification of Nayas is to show how differently, different individuals can view the same object.  However, these different aspects are only partially true and since they are only partially true, they are not capable of being wholly true.  They, however, cannot be rejected as wholly untrue also.  These different aspects can be illustrated by the reactions of some blind persons who were asked to go to an elephant and give its description after touching and feeling it.  One who touched its legs described it like a pillar, one who touched the tail, described it like a rope and so on.  Each one was right from his own standpoint because he could experience only a particular limb of the elephant and not the whole elephant.  Each one of them was, however, wrong because his description did not conform to the reality, which the elephant possessed.  Only one who could see the whole could comprehend this reality.

Utility of Naya Theory

The analysis of Naya shows that every judgment is relative to that particular aspect from which it is seen or known.  This is also called Säpeksha-väda that means relativity of our particular knowledge or judgment to a particular standpoint.  Since human judgments are always from particular standpoints, they are all relative and hence not absolutely true or absolutely false.  Their outright acceptance as a sole truth or rejection as totally false would not be correct.  This led the Jain seers to their famous doctrine of ‘Syädväda', which means the doctrine of relativity.

Nayaväda reveals a technique to arrive at such an understanding.  It teaches us that truth reveals to us only partially if viewed from a particular aspect.  Even if one finds that a proposition is quite contrary to the conviction he had for whole life, hence the cause of great irritation to him, once he applies the principles of Nayaväda his irritation begins to subside.  The simple reason being that he begins to realize the real cause for that contrary proposition.


Sapta -Bhanga or Syädväda (Seven Predications)


Syädväda is also called Sapta-Bhangi Naya (seven-fold judgment). Syädväda is known as the theory of relativity of propositions or theory of relativity of judgments.  Some critics call it theory of relativity of knowledge.  We can say that Syädväda is the epistemological explanation of reality; Sapta-Bhangi Naya is the method or the dialectic of the theory of seven-fold judgment.  It is the logical side of the theory.

As mentioned earlier, the doctrine of Anekäntväda is consisted of two major ideas: Nayaväda and Syädväda.  Nayaväda addresses the issue of thought process as well as analysis approach considering limitation of one’s knowledge or one aspect of knowledge, while Syädaväda addresses the issue of limitation of speech in relaton of knowledge. What we know by the analytical process of Nayaväda, we express by the synthesis of Syädväda. It is always difficult to make precise statement that can describe the entire truth (all aspects of the truth). Jains recognize the unavoidable limitation of the language and seeks to overcome it by a method known as Syädvada. Syadväda = Syät + Väda. Syät = in some respect or in a sense or from certain point of view or might be and Väda = school of thought (speech) or principle. Thus the statement "the soul is eternal," should be interpreted as "in some respect”. From the substantial point of view, the soul is  eternal.  By qualifying the statement in this manner, Jains not only make a meaningful assertion, but leave room for other possible statements.  (for example, "it is not eternal" - meaning “In some respect, from modal point of view,  the soul is not eternal“ ). Syädväda is the first step towards happiness and peaceful environment. A view is usually based on four parameters; Dravya (substance), Kshetra (place), käl (time) and Bhäva (form or mode).

What is to be noted is that the word ‘Syät’ is not used in the sense of probability leading to uncertainty.  Probability again hints at skepticism and Jainism is not skepticism.  Since reality has infinite aspects, our judgments are bound to be conditional.  Thus, Syädväda is the theory of relativity of knowledge.  The Jains quoted quite a good number of parables, which are conventionally used by Jain writers to explain the theory.  The most famous one for the grip over the core of the theory is the famous parable of six blind men who happened to come across an elephant.  Each one was sure and asserting about one’s own description alone to be correct.  However, each one was correct, though contrary to each other, from his point of view Thus the Jains hold that no affirmation or judgment is absolute in its nature, each is true in its own limited sense only.  The affirmations will tell either about the existence, or non-existence or about the existence and non-existence, or about the inexpressible.  Combining these again the first three with the fourth we derive the seven alternatives technically known as Sapta-bhang-Naya or the seven-fold Judgments.

Theory of Seven Predications (Sapta‑Bhanga)

To clarify the above approach of ascertaining the truth by the process of Syädväda the Jain philosophers have evolved a formula of seven predications, which are known as Sapta-bhang.  ‘Sapta' means ‘seven' and ‘Bhanga' means ‘mode'.  These seven modes of ascertaining the truth are able to be exact in exploring all possibilities and aspects.  For any proposition, there are three main modes of assessment, namely, (1) A positive assertion (Asti), (2) A negative assertion (Nästi), (3) Not describable or expressible (Avaktavya).  However, for greater clarity four more permutations of these three are added as under: ‘Asti‑Nästi', ‘Asti‑Avaktavya', ‘Nästi Avaktavya' and ‘Asti‑Nästi Avaktavya'.  The word ‘Syät' is prefixed to each of these seven predications to prevent the proposition from being absolute.

All these seven predications are explained with reference to an ethical proposition that ‘It is sin to commit violence'.  With regard to this proposition, the seven predications noted above can be made as under:



It is sin to commit violence with an intention to commit the same


It is not a sin to commit violence on an aggressor who molests an innocent and helpless woman


It is sin to commit violence in breach of moral and social laws, but it is not sin if violence is required to be committed in performance of moral or social duties


It is not possible to say whether violence is sin or virtue without knowing the circumstances under which it is required to be committed


Violence is indeed sinful under certain circumstances, but no positive statement of this type can be made for all times and under all circumstances.

Nästi Avaktavya

Violence is not indeed sinful under certain circumstances, but no positive statement of this type can be made for all times and under all circumstances

Asti‑Nästi Avaktavya

Violence is sinful, but there are circumstances where it is not so.  In fact no statement in affirmation or negation can be made for all times and all circumstances


All these seven modes can be expressed with regard to every proposition.  The Jain philosophers have applied them with reference to self, its eternality, non‑eternality, identity and character.  In fact, the approach of Anekänta (Nayaväda and Syädväda) permeates almost every doctrine, which is basic to Jain philosophy.  S. Gopalan quotes Eliot in this connection, as saying:

"The essence of the doctrine (of Syädväda): So far as one can disentangle it from scholastic terminology, seems just, for it amounts to this, that as to matters of experience it is impossible to formulate the whole and the complete truth, and as to matters which transcend experience, language is inadequate."

At no time in the history of mankind, this principle of Anekänta was more necessary than in the present.

This is the general view of the method of the Jain dialectic.  Only this type of dialectical method can represent Syädväda.  The theory of sevenfold predication, is treated as synonymous with Syädväda owing to the fact that, the number of possible or alternative truths under the conditional method of Syädväda are seven only.

Syädväda:             Critical Evaluation

Jains admit that thing cannot have self-contrary attributes at the same time and at the same place.  What Jainism emphasizes is the manyness and manifoldness of a thing or the complex nature of reality.  Dr. Rädhäkrishnan says, "Since reality is multiform and ever-changing, nothing can be considered to be existing everywhere and at all times and in all ways and places and it is impossible to pledge us to an inflexible creed."

A.N. Upadhhye writes that Syädväda (and Nayaväda) has supplied the philosopher the catholicity of thought.  It also convinces that Truth is not anybody’s monopoly with tariff walls of denominational religion, while furnishing the religious aspirant with the virtue of intellectual toleration, which is the part of that Ahinsä which is one of the fundamental tenets of Jainism.’’  Lastly, in the words of Dr. Y. J. Padmarajiah, ‘‘Anekäntaväda is the heart of Jain metaphysics and Nayaväda and Syädväda (or Sapta-Bhangi) are its main arteries.  Or, to use a happier metaphor, the bird of Anekäntaväda flies on its wings of Nayaväda and Syädväda.’’

Through Anekäntaväda, thus through Nayaväda and Syädväda, Jains bring a solution to the age-old controversy between the absolutism and nihilism or between the one and the many or the real and the unreal.

Theistic Implication of Syädväda

Thus, the spirit to understand the other and other’s standpoint and to learn to tolerate the conflicting or contrary situation helps a lot towards the higher development of right conduct.  It broadens the mind and makes person quite objective and open in his thinking.  Such a person, like Jain monks, reads extensively the treatises of other schools.  It proves to be a good training to identify extreme views and to apply the proper corrections.  Thus, here also, we find Syädväda a great help towards right knowledge, and right conduct.  Syädväda by molding a person towards better conduct and higher knowledge proves to be of great theistic significance.

One of the aims of life is to make the earth, a better and worthier world, Syädväda in spite of its dry dialectic and forbidding use of logic is not without a lesson for the practical human beings of the world.

Pt.  Dalsukhbhai Malvania, an authority on Jainism in one of his essays on Anekäntaväda explains that the most of Anekäntaväda is Ahinsä and that is the prime reason that Jain philosophy is based on Anekäntaväda.  The very idea of not to hurt the others but to be kind sympathetic towards others’ views and thus to be friendly, is the logical outcome of Ahinsä.  Ahinsä in its positive concept becomes love and compassion.   Practice of Anekäntaväda is a practice of Ahinsä of thoughts and speech. As we all know intentional physical Hinsä originates from thoughts, Anekäntaväda stops the physical Hinsä. All true practitioners of Ahinsä has to be the practitioners of Anekäntaväda.

Similarly, Anekäntaväda promotes positive attitude and removes prejudices and predilections, and improves social and political environment.

In fact, every object and every idea has infinite characteristics and is required to be judged from varieties of standpoints.  What should be our reaction towards a thing if we are convinced that everything in this universe has infinite characteristics and with limited knowledge, a human being is not capable of apprehending all these characteristics?  Certainly, if our approach were objective and unbiased, we would not rush to take an absolute view of that thing or thought, keeping in mind the limitations of our knowledge.  Our judgment based on limited data is likely to be wrong.  We would, however, not have actual perception.  Therefore, in our prudence, we would say that the judgment, formed about actually perceived things is ‘likely' to be true.  While saying so, we would not rule out the possibility that it may turn out to be untrue if looked at from any other perspective.  This is the approach of Syädväda, which implies that each and all knowledge is relative.  What we know by the analytical process of Nayaväda, we express by the synthesis of Syädväda.  As already noticed, the etymological meaning of the word ‘Syäd' is ‘Perhaps'.  However, it is used to suggest a relative truth.  The theory of Syädväda is based on the premise that every proposition is only relatively true.  It all depends upon the particular aspect from which we appreciate that proposition.  Since all propositions are related to many circumstances, our assertions about them depend entirely upon the particular circumstances through which we are viewing them.  Since our view has a limited aperture, we cannot know everything, and hence it is appropriate to avoid our absolute assertion.

For instance, when we say that a particular thing weighs 5 lb., our statement about the weight is related to the magnetic force exerted on that thing by our planet, the earth.  The same thing may not weigh anything if removed out of this magnetic field or may weigh differently on a different planet.  The same can be said about our statements relating to time and space and about every human experience.  It is the matter of our daily experience that the same object, which gives pleasure to us under certain circumstances, becomes boring under different circumstances.  Scientific truths are, therefore, relative in the sense that they do not give complete and exhaustive knowledge of the objects under study and contain elements that may be changed with further advance in knowledge.  Nonetheless, relative truth is undoubtedly useful as it is a stepping -stone to the ultimate truth.

Is “Self” Permanent or Transitory?

In the field of metaphysics, there has been serious controversy about the real nature of ‘Self'.  While Vedantists believe that everything that is found in this universe is ‘Brahma', the super self, permanent, and the material things, which are found, have no reality as they are transitory in nature, the Buddhists would say that everything in this universe including the super‑self is transitory and constantly changing.  These are the two extreme views as they concentrate only on particular aspects to the exclusion of other aspects.  The Jains say that both are relatively correct from the viewpoint through which they see the thing, but both are incorrect in as much as they fail to take the comprehensive view of all the aspects involved.  The Jains would say that from the point of view of substance (Dravya), self is permanent, but from the point of view of modifications (Paryäya), it is transitory.  Since substance and its modes should be taken as an integrated whole in order to comprehend it properly, both the attributes of permanence and transitoriness should be taken into account.  Both to the Vedantists as well as to the Buddhists the Jain seer would say ‘Syäd Asti', i.e., "From one aspect you are right" and applying his ‘Anekänta Naya', i.e., looking at the problem from different angles, would come to the above conclusion.  Thus the doctrine of relativity, which is the practical application of the theory of multifold aspects (Nayaväda), is nothing but the doctrine of metaphysical synthesis.  This doctrine has a great value in our day- to- day individual and social life.

Importance of Anekäntaväda

The importance of this comprehensive synthesis of ‘Syädväda' and ‘Anekänta Naya' in day-to-day life is immense in as much as these doctrines supply a rational unification and synthesis of the manifold and reject the assertions of bare absolutes.

Mahatma Gandhi's views (wrote in 1926) about the Jain theory of Anekänta are as under:

“It has been my experiencethat I am always true (correct) from my point of view, and often wrong from the point of view of my critics.  I know that we are both (myself and my critics) right from our respective points of view."

"I very much like this doctrine of the manyness of reality.  It is this doctrine that has taught me to judge a Muslim from his standpoint and a Christian from his...From the platform of the Jains, I prove the non‑creative aspect of God, and from that of Ramanuja the creative aspect.  As a matter of fact we are all thinking of the unthinkable describing the indescribable, seeking to know the unknown, and that is why our speech falters, is inadequate and been often contradictory."

History of all conflicts and confrontations in the world is the history of intolerance born out of ignorance.  Difficulty with the human being is his/her egocentric existence.  If only the human being becomes conscious of his/her own limitations!  Anekänta or Syädväda tries to make the human being conscious of his/her limitation by pointing to his/her narrow vision and limited knowledge of the manifold aspects of things, and asks him/her not be hasty in forming absolute judgments before examining various other aspects ‑ both positive and negative.  Obviously, much of the bloodshed, and much of tribulations of mankind would have been saved if the human being had shown the wisdom of understanding the contrary viewpoints.

The doctrine of Syädväda also clarifies the metaphysical doctrine of ‘Self' envisaged by the Jains.  The proposition ‘Syäd Asti' is positive in character and points out to the positive attributes of the thing in question.  A pot that can be identified as a ‘pot’ only if it carries the attributes of a ‘pot' but it cannot be identified as a pot if it carries the attributes, which are foreign to it.  Similarly the negative identification of ‘Syät Nästi' when applied to ‘Self' would mean that if the self tries to adopt the attributes of Pudgal (matter) which are foreign to it, it is not the ‘self'.  In other words, Syädväda teaches us that ‘Self' can be identified positively as ‘Syäd Asti' only if it is viewed from its own attributes, and negatively as ‘Syäd Nästi' to show that it is not Pudgal, etc., if it is viewed from the attributes, foreign to it.

Thus, the doctrine of Syädväda gives clarity to the real character of the ‘Self' and by the same process of reasoning, the real character of ‘Pudgal', i.e., non‑sentient things.

Anekäntaväda and Ahinsä

However, the important aspect of Anekäntaväda is, the subtlety with which it introduces the practice of Ahinsä (non‑violence) even in the realm of thought.  The moment one begins to consider the angle from which a contrary viewpoint is put forward, one begins to develop tolerance, which is the basic requirement of the practice of ‘Ahinsä'.  Origin of all bloody wars fought on the surface of this earth can be traced to the war of ideas, beliefs and disagreements.  Anekäntaväda puts a healing touch at the root of human psyche and tries to stop the war of beliefs, which lead to the war of nerves and then to the war of bloodshed.    If the mankind will properly understand and adopt this doctrine of Anekäntaväda, it will realize that real revolution was not the French or the Russian; the real revolution was the one, which taught the human being to develop his/her power of understanding from all possible aspects.

Five Samaväya (Five Causal Factors)


Who is responsible for the events that occur in the world?  Hegel said it is history.  Marx said it is “the system.”  Various views have been propounded to explain the occurrence of events.  These theories put forward mutually conflicting answers to the question of who or what causes events in this universe to transpire. An event does not take place because of one reason. There are always more than one factors are involved. Per Jain philosophy, a situation develops or an event happens because of five reasons, called Samaväy.



Samaväy is the name to the group of five causes which are associated with every situation or event. It gives to the connection between action and causes.  Without a cause, no action can take place.  These five causes have a deep connection with everything that takes place in the universe.  These all are responsible for all events (positive or negative) in the universe.   The five Samaväys (group of factors functioning simultaneously) are:

·  Käl (Time),

·  Svabhäv (Nature of a Substance),

·  Niyati (Fate)

·  Nimitta and Prarabdh (External Circumstances and Karma)

·  Purushärtha (Self-effort)

Some people give focus only on one of these causes and ignore the others.  The theory of Anekäntaväda, the Jain philosophy of multiplicity of viewpoints, rejects this way of viewing matters from a single angle.  The Jain philosophy views and reveals the importance of each Samaväy from the Anekäntaväda and considers these five Samaväys as the causes for any action or reaction.  Without these five, nothing can take place.

Käl (Time)

Time gives sequence to whatever happens in universe.  The Karmas that are bound to the soul due to activities may not immediately manifest their fruits as soon as they are bound.  The fruits of Karma appear at a specific time depending on the nature of the Karma itself.

Karmas have to depend on time to present their fruits.  One cannot have fruits the very moment a tree is planted.  The seed cannot neglect the temporal limitation set out by time for its transformation into a tree; even nature depends on time for its manifestation or actualization. 

Time is a controlling principle.  Without it, temporal order cannot be accounted for.  If there were no time, a spout, a stem, a stalk, a flower and a fruit - all would emerge and exist simultaneously.  We cannot but acknowledge the fact that time plays an important role in the events of one's life. 

If human being understands that time is one of the important factors that produces an effect, he/she will learn to be patient during the period from the inception of the work to its completion or accomplishment.  Otherwise, he/she will wrongly expect success or accomplishment the moment the work has commenced or at least before its due time.  He may then lose all hopes on account of not attaining success.  This will make him/her slack in his/her efforts. As a result he/she will certainly be deprived of success in the future.

Svabhäv (Nature of a Substance)

Time is not everything.  Even if the right time arrives, certain seeds do not sprout.  Why are thorns sharp?  Why do most flowers have beautiful colors?  Why are some animals cruel?  Why are some animals clever and capable of rapid movement?  Why does a dog bark?  A single answer to all these questions is, it is their nature (Svabhäv).  For example, to bark is a dog’s nature.  You will not be able to grow mangoes on a lemon tree.  In matters like these, individual nature is considered as the main cause.

Nothing can generate an effect against its own inherent nature, even if all other causal conditions such as time, human effort, etc., are present there.  An insentient or sentient thing produces an effect strictly in accordance with its own inherent nature.  Undoubtedly, the place of inherent nature is very important in the production of an effect or in the occurrence of an event. 

Niyati (Destiny)

Niyati means destiny or fate.  In this world, there are certain things that are predetermined and unalterable.  In these situations, whatever has been destined will take place.  Whatever has to happen keeps happening.  In this process, change cannot be made despite our best-laid plans.  For example, even if we make all possible efforts, we cannot prevent the aging process or may not be able to save someone’s life.  If someone were going to hit our car from behind, he/she would do so, despite our best efforts.  In essence, although we are in control of most events that occur throughout our life, there are certain things that are beyond our control.

Destiny can be regarded as identical to a certain type of karma, an unalterable karma.  In Jain terminology, it is called 'Nikächit karma'.  The Nikächit karma is that which is unalterable and which most certainly causes the experience of pleasure or pain to the concerned soul at the time of its fruition.  The fruit or result of such type of karma being Niyat (fixed and unalterable), the karma is known by the name 'Niyati'.  However, it must be stressed that the concept of Nikächit only applies to a select few karmas and cannot be used as a justification for apathy or evil.

Nimitta & Prärabdh (External Circumstances and Karma)

Nimitta is an apparent cause of a result or a catalytic agent (helper) of a process, result or activity. There can be one or more Nimitta in any given event. Nimitta can be either external (person, objects) or internal (Karma). Guidance of a Guru and scripture or an event can be an external cause.

Happiness, misery and various conditions related to us depend on diverse karmas.  Sometime we notice that good deeds yield bitter fruits and evil deeds yield sweet ones.  Behind this apparent anomaly, it is the force of karma that is at work.  All strange things and all the sad things we witness; all the happy things we experience; these are all are due to Karma.  A mother gives birth to two children together (twins).  Still one turns out to be different from the other.  This is because of one’s own Karma.  The rich become poor, poor become rich, rich become richer and poor become poorer.  This is also because of one’s own Karma.  Every one has to experience both the good and the evil consequences of Karma.

Purushärtha (Self-effort)

Purushärtha or individual effort has a special place.  A person cannot progress if he/she depends on Time or Nature or Destiny or Karma and if he/she does not put forth effort.  The human race has progressed because of its efforts and initiatives.  It is not possible to improve any thing without efforts.

Which one is the most important of these five?  Which is the most effectual?  The controversy regarding these questions is not of today; but has existed for centuries.  Countless arguments and counter-arguments have been made for and against one or another proposition.  One who supports one view disagrees with other causes.  However, Jain philosophy does not consider these five from a single point of view; nor does it consider anyone of them as the only right one.  The Jain philosophy considers their collective effect as valid and right. However, Jain philosophy does put more emphasis on individual effort (Purushärtha), because individual effort is the only one in our control.  Individual effort can change or eradicate one's Karma.  Purushärtha of past is Karma of present and Purushärtha of present is Karma of future.  If we continue to put self-effort to shed our Karma, our destiny will improve, and that can happen sooner depending upon the eradication of Karma.  However, we must understand that it takes all the five causes for any action to take place.

We cannot help but recognize the importance of human effort.  Those who regard karma as supreme should question themselves as to who generates karma.  It is the soul that generates karmas.  The soul binds karma to itself.  It can convert the auspicious karmas into inauspicious ones, and vice versa.  Karma makes the soul wander in the cycle of life and death, whereas human effort wages war against karmas, destroys their entire force and leads the soul to the Abode-of-the-Liberated.  It is not the force of karmas that brings about the manifestation of the state of liberation.  In fact, it is the destruction of karmas that is the only cause of liberation.  It is only human effort that can destroy karmas.  When one directs one's attention to this uncommon characteristic of human effort, one finds it improper to give sole importance to karma.  This is the reason why the knowledgeable and wise saints have taught us that the only means for improving and destroying karmas is one's firm determination to keep one's mental, vocal and bodily operations pure or auspicious (wholesome) while performing spiritual, good, auspicious and praiseworthy acts.  Those who depend solely on karma become despondent and indolent.  Hence, they are deprived of success.

Though human effort has to depend on time, nature, etc., it is the most efficient to bring victory to mankind.  In the modern age, many wonderful things have been invented and widely used.  These inventions serve as brilliant instances of the efficacy of human effort.  Individuals or nations that put forth great efforts make progress and attain prosperity and welfare.  On the other hand, idle individuals and nations fall behind and degenerate on account of their lack of vigor and vitality; they consequently become slaves of others and subject themselves to their oppressions.  If the achievements attained or inventions made by human effort are misused, it is the persons who misuse them that are at fault, and not the achievements or inventions. 


We have now seen the power of the five causal factors.  All five are useful in their own places.  All contribute to the production of an effect.  We should not give exclusive importance to any one of them, rejecting all others or relegating them to utterly insignificant place.  The believers in the doctrine of time are under the sway of illusion, if they accept time while excluding all the other factors without properly evaluating their contribution.  That view is the right view, which accords proper placement to all the causal factors.  Contrary to it, that view is the wrong view, which regards anyone of them as the sole cause, neglecting the rest.

Jainism puts most emphasis on Purushärtha (to rely a great deal on one's own efforts and initiatives) since it is the only one in our control and can make impact on other Samaväys in future.  No progress can be made if one depends upon only fate or Karma.  Individual effort (Purushärtha) can help in shedding the Karma and in purifying his/her consciousness.  Believing in these five causes is the beginning of the theory of multiplicity of views (multi-faceted truth or Anekäntaväda).

We must understand that in the production of each and every effect, all the five causal factors are not equally important.  Of course, all of them are necessarily present there to produce an effect.  However, with respect to a particular effect a particular causal factor acts as the principal one and the rest act as subordinate to it.