Negotiating existence: Jainism
by Black Captain
Syādvāda is the theory of conditioned predication, which recommends the expression of anekānta by prefixing the epithet Syād to every phrase or expression.Syādvāda is not only an extension of anekānta into ontology, but a separate system of logic capable of standing on its own. The Sanskrit etymological root of the term syād is “perhaps” or “maybe”, but in the context of syādvāda it means “in some ways” or “from some perspective”. As reality is complex, no single proposition can express its nature fully. The term “syāt” should therefore be prefixed to each proposition, giving it a conditional point of view and thus removing dogmatism from the statement. Since it comprises seven different conditional and relative viewpoints or propositions, syādvāda is known as saptibhaṅgīnāya or the theory of seven conditioned predications. These seven propositions, also known as saptibhaṅgī, are:
- syād-asti—in some ways, it is;
- syād-nāsti—in some ways, it is not;
- syād-asti-nāsti—in some ways, it is, and it is not;
- syād-asti-avaktavyaḥ—in some ways, it is, and it is indescribable;
- syād-nāsti-avaktavyaḥ—in some ways, it is not, and it is indescribable;
- syād-asti-nāsti-avaktavyaḥ—in some ways, it is, it is not, and it is indescribable;
- syād-avaktavyaḥ—in some ways, it is indescribable.
Each of these seven propositions examines the complex and multifaceted nature of reality from a relative point of view of time, space, substance and mode. To ignore the complexity of reality is to commit the fallacy of dogmatism.