Is “Self” Permanent or Transitory?

In the field of metaphysics, there has been serious controversy about the real nature of ‘Self’. While Vedäntists believe that, everything that is found in this universe is ‘Brahma’, the super self, permanent, and the material things, which are found to 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 transitoryness should be taken into account. Both to the Vedäntists 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 (Naya-väda), is nothing but the doctrine of metaphysical synthesis. This doctrine has a great value in our day – to – day individual and social life.


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