The third principle that Mahavira emphasised is that truth can be understood by multiple viewpoints. In Sanskrit, it is called anekantavada. It means that truth cannot be taken as absolute; it is nonabsolute. There are multiple ways to understand the truth; everyone talks about one single viewpoint, but if you put all the pieces together, then it becomes a beautiful truth and it becomes Ultimate Reality. There are multiple ways to understand reality. The perfect example of anekantavada is the story of six blind men trying to perceive the elephant. All of them had a different perception but if we put all those perceptions together, you will get a picture of an elephant.

When we talk of philosophy, there are many interpretations. If you put them all together, it will give a way of coexistence. Anekantavada says don’t fight with each other; understand what the other person wants to say. It gives the solution wherever there is conflict. These are the basic principles of Jainism, which are relevant even today and allow all countries to coexist peacefully in the modern world. 
Talk delivered at IIC, Delhi and reported by Sonal Srivastava
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