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Jain Tradition

Non Secretarian & Liberal Outlook
By Munisri Nyayavijayaji, January 2003

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Friends these are excerpts from the book Jaina Darsana by Munisri Nyayavijayayji translated into English as Jaina Philosophy and Dharma by Nagin Shah. Content is verbatim from the book. Courtesy and copyright Bhogilal Lehar Chand Institute of Indology. My comments would start with the word Friends. This piece consists of nine paras that outlines Jaina concepts & compares it briefly with other schools of Indian philosophy.

The great Jaina spiritual thinkers of ancient times kept the object of the welfare of all people before them, while impartially expounding Reality and Truth. In the original Jaina works one notices the great currents of pure equanimity and equability. Even later works are no less important like Sastravartasamuccaya by Acarya Haribhadra or AH. Here are a few excerpts –

1. In the third section, after having logically established the Jaina doctrine that God is not the creator of the world, the author writes a verse meaning:  Even the view that God is the creator of the world can be established by adducing in its favor the argument of the following type. None but the Supreme Soul who is completely free from attachment and infatuation, perfectly non-attached and omniscient, is God. By following the path of spiritual welfare propounded by him, one can attain liberation. So he can also be called a Liberator. And by not following it one is subject to rebirth. Thus, transmigratory wandering is the result of one not following the teachings of God (Supreme Soul).

According to Jaina philosophy there are 2 types of supreme souls, one bhavastha (those in an embodied state) and bhavatita (those beyond an embodies state). The former perform all normal functions like you and me but they are the discoverers & propagators of the path of spiritual welfare, that is liberation as also the founders and organizers of the Order of aspirants. The latter are totally free from body, they are engrossed in their natural pure light of knowledge. They are called Siddhas.

Some have cultivated attachment or love for the statement ‘God is Creator’. The saint philosopher have preached God is the creator of the world, keeping in view these persons. Writes AH in a verse meaning: Now he shows how God is the agent or creator in the primary sense. Next verse: Or, it is maintained that the soul itself is God (Isvara), because in its pure pristine state, it is possessed of divine faculties of omniscience etc (aisvarya). And there is no doubt that the soul is really the agent or the doer. In this way we can make the doctrine of God as creator cogent.

While closing the topic AH writes a verse meaning: The great seers who composed scriptures were mostly free from desires and well dispersed to do good to all people. So why should they preach wrong and improper principles. Hence we should examine their intention in such a manner, as it would become consistent with logic or reason, even Manu has stated to this effect.
2. In his very section, after the topic of God, the author examines the doctrine of Prakrti, propounded by Kapila. Having pointed out defects in the theory, he brings out the object behind Kapila’s thought and in conclusion declares: From the standpoint of its purpose, the doctrine is to be regarded as true. Again, Kapila was a great divine sage, so his teaching must be true and wholesome, it can never be false and harmful.

3. In the 6th section, AH critically examines the doctrine of Momentariness, void, subjective idealism, shows their defects and finally reveals their propriety in this verse: The impartial saints maintain that it is not from the factual or real standpoint that Lord Buddha taught that everything is momentary. (There is neither substance without mode nor mode without substance. Everything undergoes change every moment. The whole substance is subjected to constant transformation. The Jaina and almost all other Indian thinkers agree on this point. We experience these momentary changes or transformations. Hence it is highly probable that Lord Buddha declared all things to be momentary from this standpoint. Change is the essence of life).

He enunciated the doctrine of momentariness with a view to rousing in man the feeling of detachment towards worldly objects and thereby eradicating longing for wordly pleasures which causes attachment to sensual objects. The theory that admits vijnana or consciousness as the only reality or the doctrine that declares everything is void seems to be with the sole object of destroying attachment for external objects.

4. In the 8th section, AH examines the Vedanta Monism as explained by Vedanta philosophers and points out to the logical defects that vitiate it. But in conclusion, he says the following words to do justice and thereby brings out the practical utility of it in cultivation of equanimity and universal love. Meaning of the verse: Other great sages declare that Vedanta monism is taught not to present the true picture of reality, but to help man cultivate the state of equanimity. Let us explain. As the worldly souls are under the sway of infatuation and delusion, they are attached to some and averse to others. All this is the result of nescience. To convince man of this fact, to prevent him from falling pray to these defects and cultivate in him equanimity, the teaching of Vedanta monism is propounded and propagated through great propositions like ‘atmaivedam sarvam (All this is Soul), ‘sarvam khalv idam brahma’ (All this is really Brahman). The teachings of Vedanta monism teach to regard the world as essenceless, unreal and illusory as to look upon all living beings as upon onself.

5.  Idol – Worship - An image is a symbol of the Supreme Soul, the highest ideal of non-attachment. We can worship this ideal through the medium of an image just like Ekalavya made an idol of his teacher Dronacharya in the Mahabharata. With great devotion to Dronacharya he started learning archery. As a result he learnt archery and even surpassed Arjuna.

The verse in point throws light on the question by which name one should worship the ideal. One can worship an idol by muttering any name. Said Upadhyaya Yashovijayaji in his Paramatma Paccisi: Though Buddha, Jina, Hrsikesa, Sambhu, Brahma, Adipurusa etc are different names; the meaning for which they stand is identical. All these different names denote the same Supreme Soul.

Meanings of Buddha, Jina, Shiva, Vishnu etc - The term Buddha means one who has attained pure spiritual knowledge or is the knower of ultimate reality. The term Jina has the sense of one who has conquered (removed) all the mental defects beginning with attachment. The name Hrsikesa yields the meaning lord of sense organs. The name Sambhu means the source of supreme bliss. The term Brahma has the meaning of embodiment of pure knowledge. Adipurusa yields the substance of the Supreme Soul. The term Vishnu means who pervades the entire universe by his all encompassing perfect knowledge. The term Sankara conveys the sense of one who causes happiness to others or one who shows the path of happiness. Names Hari and Hara mean one who destroys miseries of living beings. Mahadeva has the meaning ‘one who shines with perfect light’. The name Arhat means the supreme object of adoration and veneration.

A verse from the author’s book Anekantavibhuti-Dvatrimsika meaning: O Lord! You are Jina because you have conquered the passions like attachment, aversion, you are Buddha because you have attained the supreme knowledge, you are Visnu because you are all pervasive by your all-comprehensive omniscience, and you are Siva because are the embodiment of perfect of spiritual good.

6. Non-attachment should be the ultimate goal of every man. Without sacrificing this main object, Jaina Dharma respects philosophical views as well as codes or systems of rituals of other religious sects. Said Upadhyaya Yashovijayaji in his Paramatma Paccisi: Those who have control over their sense-organs, have subdued passions like anger, have equanimous and calm mind, and have good intentions, do attain the highest spiritual state, though they follow different paths of purification.

Another verse by Jayasekharasuri in Sambohasattari: If a person is equanimous he attains liberation without fail no matter whether he is Svetambara or a Digambara or a Bauddha or a follower of any other religious sect.

Regarding the question as to what type of teaching should be AH said in this verse from Yogasrstisamuccaya meaning: The teaching of those great sages (Kapila, Sugata etc) exhibits diversity of types parallel to the diversity of levels possessed by the understanding of the disciples concerned, for, these great personages are competent physicians in relation to the ailment called worldly existence. Further teachings should be different according to the different qualifications of grades of the hearers so that they can digest it and put it into practice.

7. Different teachings yet common thread. The difference that we notice between the philosophical teachings of the great sages is due to the different standpoints they have adopted while propagating their teachings. This was done keeping in view the different types of disciples. Thus, the diversity in their teaching is apparent, while in reality their teaching is not diverse or conflicting. Their aim was to cure the living beings of the disease of worldly existence. The 4 fold classification of Yoga, Buddha, Jaina, Nyaya-Vaisesika and Vedanta bears out the above words.
Yoga philosophy – 4 fold classification

Classification Nos Name Meaning of Classification What?
1. Heya That which is fit to be abandoned. Misery (duhkha) is fit to be abandoned.
2. Heyahetu The cause of what is fit to be abandoned. Nescience (avidya) is it cause.
3. Hana Abandonment or destruction of what is fit to be abandoned. Complete destruction or removal of misery of Hana.
4. Hanopaya Meansof abandoning or destroying what is fit to be abandoned. Knowledge of distinction between self and non-self (vivekakhyati).

Buddha philosophy – 4 fold classification

Classification Nos Name Meaning of Classification What?
1. Duhkha Misery  
2. Duhkhasamudaya Cause of Misery Is Desire or craving.
3.Duhkha-nirodha Destruction of Misery  
4. Marga Means of destroying misery. Means destruction of desire.

Jaina philosophy – 4 fold classification

Classification Nos Name Meaning of Classification What?
1.Bandha Bondage of karmic particles with the soul is what is fit to be destroyed (heya).

2.Heyahetu Cause of bondage. Is the influx of karmic particles (asrava).
3. Hana Destruction or removal of what is fit to be abandoned. Samvara (stoppage of the influx of karmic particles), nirjara (partial disassociation of the bound karmic particles & moksha (total disassociation of the bound karmic particles).

Means to the destruction of what is fit to be abandoned or destroyed.

Manovakkayagupti (restricted or controlled activities of the mind, speech or body, satya (truthfulness), samyama (self-control), tapa (austerity), tyagi (renunciation) are the means.

Nyaya-Vaisesika philosophy recognizes 4 fold classification but use different terminology.

Classification Nos Name Meaning of Classification
1. Samsara Transmigratory existence.
2. Mithyajnana Wrong knowledge.
3. Tattvajnana True knowledge of Reality.
4. Apavarga Liberation.

Vedanta philosophy recognizes 4 fold classification but use different terminology.

Classification Nos Name Meaning of Classification
1. Samsara Transmigratory existence.
2. Avidya Nescience
3. Brahmabhavana Meditation on Brahman
4. Brahma-saksatkara Realization of Brahman

8. Jaina Dharma, A Way of Living - Acarya Haribhadra’s thought related to the verse referred to above is worth studying.When we acquaint ourselves with the essence of Jaina dharma, we find that is not a factional religious sect, but that it is a way of living. Of course, tirthankara Mahavira has established the fourfold Order (of monks, nun, layman, laywomen) and has formulated a code of conduct. In order to lay down a practical path for the good of the people and guide them properly, he gave them a constitution of the Order as also the code of conduct. Even a person who has not entered the Order but observes the code of conduct is called a Jaina. He too can attain Ultimate Release, if he follows the path of truth and non-violence.

There are two aspects of life – thought and conduct. To improve them Bhagwan Mahavir has prescribed two remedies. They are non-one-sided standpoint/outlook (anekantardrsti) and non-violence (ahimsa). The former purifies thought and makes it right, while the latter purifies conduct and makes it friendly.

There are three noteworthy features that characterize the dharma of Lord Mahavira. They are non-one-sided standpoint/outlook (anekanta), non-violence (ahimsa) and non-possession (aparigraha). Anekanta makes it easy to achieve love and friendliness in society. It springs from non-violence. Friends simply put it means if that we respect and listen to other points of view even though we do not agree with them it promotes harmony in society. Violence includes in its fold all defects and vices like untruthfulness, stealing. Passion for possession gives rise to evils like violence, theft, and untruthfulness. It also creates disparity in human society and leads to class-war. Practice of non-violence is impossible without renouncing attachment for possession and limiting one’s possession.

Lord Mahavira observed austerities and taught the people at large the lessons of equality in order to abolish inhuman institution of slavery prevalent in those days. He purified man’s faculty of reason and understanding by presenting rational philosophy against infatuation and scriptures, misunderstanding about God and blind ritualism. He brought about a great revolution by non-violently and peacefully opposing the killing of animals in sacrifices. As a result, an epidemic of violence had to suffer a severe blow, and the principle of non-violence and universal love spread among the people. He emphasized the principle of caste should be based by one’s actions.

He declared: That person is really high who is high in quality & action, and that person is really low who is low in quality & action. Even a sudra is high if his conduct is good and virtuous, while even a brahmana is low if his conduct is evil and vicious.

He opened the doors of his Order to one and all. Low-caste, downtrodden people were initiated into the Order of Jaina monks, they attained high spiritual titles as rsi (sage), maharsi (great sage) and mahatma (great soul). Since women were not treated well at that time he declared women equal to men in status, regarded them as qualified for ascetic life and accepted them to the monastic Order.

He observed in Uttaradhyayana as follows: One becomes a sramana (non-Vedic ascetic_ by equanimity (samata), a brahmana by the spiritual practice for the realization of the Supreme Soul (brahmacarya), a muni by knowledge (of soul as distinct and different from body) and a tapasa by austerity (judiciously observed without any desire for fruit and with the sole object of the good of oneself and others).

Samata (equanimity) means to regard all living beings as equal and also to look upon them as upon oneself. It also means to keep one’s mind unagitated and calm on occasions of misery and happiness, gain and loss, victory and defeat.

Brahmacharya means not to crave for objects of senses & sensual pleasures, to have control over mind, to remain absorbed in the Supreme Soul and to follow wholeheartedly the Good path leading onward to the state of Supreme Soul or Highest Bliss.

9. Summary - Experience shows that Jaina Darsana is a system of spiritual philosophy. It lays great emphasis on the principle of a spiritually good life. It mainly deals with ascetic culture and ethical behavior. Its sole object is to bring man to the Path of non-attachment, to instruct him how to advance on it and ultimately attain the state of perfect non-attachment. It repeatedly and emphatically proclaims that Supreme Good depends on non-attachment. Its chief teaching is that man should live in such a manner that his passions of attachment and aversion may gradually decrease and ultimately suffer complete destruction. It loudly proclaims that there is no harm in following any system of philosophy and practice, if it helps man to cultivate righteous conduct and to progress in the direction of the final goal of non-attachment. The guiding principle of one’s life should be: mitti me savvabhuesu (May I have friendly relations with all beings). One may adopt any system of thought and practice, which suits one’s temperament, the only condition being that it should foster universal love and friendliness.

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