Skip to main content


Syādvāda (Skt., syāt, ‘perhaps’). Jain theory of knowledge which emphasizes the relativity and multifaceted nature of human judgement: it is therefore also known as sapta-bhaṅgi-naya, the ‘dialectic of the seven steps’; and leads to anekāntavāda. The Jains characteristically value the story of the blind men and the elephant, who feel only one part of the elephant and infer from that limited information what the elephant is like—a water pot (from the head), a winnowing basket (from the ears), a plough (from the tusks), a snake (from the trunk), a tree (from the legs), a rope (from the tail). The blind men then fall into furious argument, each one convinced that he alone possesses the whole truth. In contrast to the Western endorsement of the law of the excluded middle (either p or not-p), the Jains emphasize the provisionality of human judgements which allow several to coexist as contributions to truth, including some which appear to be mutually exclusive. See also NAYAVĀDA.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Syādvāda." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . 20 Mar. 2019 <>.

"Syādvāda." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . (March 20, 2019).

"Syādvāda." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Retrieved March 20, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.