Syadvada is a belief in Jain’s philosophy that all judgments are conditional and are good only in certain conditions, situations, and senses. Syadvada in Sanskrit is expressed by the word “maybe” or “could be”. The methods or manners to look at things are called naya, which are unlimited in number.
As per Jainism, interpreting experiences from one naya or viewpoint is a mistake or error. Jaina philosophers believe that as the world is complex in structure, there have to be many different aspects and views. A real thing itself has three different characteristics of production, destruction, and permanence. Every object which looks permanent in nature can be both produced and destroyed. Each object or entity has many aspects. Hence, it should be looked at from various viewpoints to understand the aspects well.
Syadvada theory is believed to be one of the most vital theories of the Jainas to elaborate the nature of reality. The theory has been later developed into saptabhaṅgīnaya, which means sevenfold judgment. Syadvada teaches that one should not look at a thing only from one aspect but multiple aspects, which can include both positive and negative.
Syādvāda or saptabhaṅgīnaya or the sevenfold judgment is expressed as follows:
- Syādasti: a thing is existent.
- Syānnāsti: a thing is non-existent.
- Syādasti ca nāsti ca: a thing is both existent and non-existent.
- Syādavaktavyam: a thing is indescribable.
- Syādasti ca avaktavyam: a thing that is both existent and indescribable.
- Syānnāsti ca avaktavyam: a thing that is both non-existent and indescribable.
- Syādasti ca nāsti ca avaktavyam: a thing is existent, non-existent, and indescribable.
For example, an employee who is not much educated and has come from a poor family cannot be looked at with suspicion if there is a robbery at the office. One cannot just look at the employee’s background to doubt his character but one should also look at his good aspects that is how well he performs at his job tasks, how well he behaves with other colleagues and his boss, and whether he would really do such act to defame himself. Syadvada tells us that one has to look at a situation or circumstance from different perceptions before jumping to any conclusion randomly.