This has been experienced that for human solidarity and national integration the concept of religious tolerance and religious co-existence should be developed. The idea that one’s own religion is the only way to approach the ultimate is to be given up. It is a matter of great satisfaction that jaina religion has developed a theory by virtue of which it has tried to be tolerant and respectful towards other religious faiths The Jain Acaryas while opposing the different philosophical ideologies have paid full regard to them by accepting that the opponent’s conviction is valid from a certain standpoint. This theory is known as Anekantavada or non-absolutism. According to this theory, different views regarding a thing are relatively true
Jaina thinkers have affirmed that reality is a complex entity. It has many facets. In its completeness it cannot be grasped by us. It can only be viewed and understood from different angles. While every angle or view-point can claim that it gives a true picture of reality, yet the fact is that each one gives us a partial and relative picture. On has no right to discard the views of one’s opponent as totally false. So the truth-value of an opponent’s view according to Jaina thinkers must be accepted and respected. Upadhyaya Yosovijaya (a famous jaina Acarya of 17th century A.D.) mentions that a true non-absolutist does not disdain any faith. He treats all the faiths equally, since a non-abso lutist does not have any prejudice in his mind. According to Haribhadra. liberation can be achieved by the person of any faith. The only condition for this is the attainment of equanimity. In the Lokatatva-himaya. Haribhadra says that he venerates all those who are free from vices and are adorned with virtues. They may be Brahma. Visnu, Siva or Jina Haribhadra’s crusade against sectarianism is unique and admirable in the history of world-religions. This view is further supported by various Jaina thinkers of medieval period. such as Akalanka. Yogindu. Manatunga. Hemachandra and so on. While worshipping Lord Siva, the Jaina pontiff, Hemacandra says: “I worship those who have destroyed attachment and aversion which are the seeds of birth and death, be they Brahma, Visnu, Siva or Jina. It is important to note that though Hemachandra was a Jain-saint, he composed a hymn in paise of Siva. This liberalism is also maintained by Gujarati and Hindi Jaina writers like Ananda- ghana and many others.
Anandaghana, a mystic Jaina saint of the 17 cent. A. D, remarks that just as ocean includes all the rivers, so does Jainism include all other faiths. Further he beautifully expounds that all the six schools are the organs of Jina and one who warships Jina also worship them
In the earliest Jaina literature, we come across many references of reli- gious tolerance. The Sutrakitanga mentions that those who praise their own faith and shows malice against their opponents will remain confined to the cycle of birth and death. In the Isibhasiyam. forty five Brahamanical and Sramanical-saints of other sects are remembered as Arhat risis and their teachings have been regarded as Agama.
Alongwith these literary evidences there are some epigraphic evidences of religious tolerance of the Jainas. Some Jaina Acaryas such as Ramakirti and Jayamangalasuri wrote the hymns in the praise of Tokalji and goddess Camunda; Jaina Kings such as Kumarpala, Visnuvardhana and others construc- ted the temples of Siva and Visnu alongwith the temples of Jina.
Thus Jaina philosophers firmly believe in the unity of all faiths, but for them unity does not mean an omnivorous unity in which all its constituents lose their identity. They believe in that type of unity in which all its integral parts can join each other to form an organic whole without losing their independent existence and peculiarities. In other words unity, as Jainas believe, means a harmonious co-existence of different faiths and cultures in an organic whole.
Jaina thinkers assert that unity implies diversity. Unity and diversity are the two phases of the same reality. They find reality as unity in diversity In the Bhagawati Sutra Lord Mahavira mentions, “I am one as well as many. According to Jaina philosophy, universal cannot exist without particular and vice-versa. There is no class without individuals and every individual belongs. to a certain class. We cannot imagine a cow without cow-hood and cow- hood without cow. The terms unity and diversity are relative. Unity implies diversity and diversity implies unity.
Haribhadra remarks that the diversity of the teachings of the sages is due to the diversity of the levels of their disciples or to the diversity of standpoints adopted by the sages or the diversity of the periods of time. Just as a physi- cian prescribes medicine according to the nature of a patient, and his illness. so is the case with the diversity of religious teachings. Since diversity in the understanding of disciples is inevitable, variety in religious ideologies and practices is essential. The only way to remove religious as well as other conflicts is to develop a tolerant outlook and to establish harmony among different faiths, ideologies and cultures.
Thus, in Jainism, unity means a co-operative co-existence of the constituents in an organised whole. So far as the problem of national integra- tion is concerned Jainas support it theoretically as well as practically. In the Sthananga,we have a mention of Kula-dharma, Grama-dharma and Rastra-dharma, i. e. of the duties pertaining to the family, the township and the nation. They also assert that if necessary the interests of the individual, the family and the township should be sacrificed for the common and greater good of the nation. Again, for them the concept of human solidarity has more importance than the concept of even nationality. They are of the view that for the solidarity and the greater good of mankind as a whole, we must get rid of even nationalism. If viewed from the point of view of the whole mankind even the outlook of nationalism is a hindrance to human solidarity.