Jaina path of Purification

  • By Munisri Nyayavijayaji
  • September 2003

Now let us know about samyaktva which is the basic foundation of the final accomplishment of religious practice. It means self-faith purified by discretionary power of thought. The term conventionally conveys the sense of integrity or purity of inclination, attitude, and outlook. That is, integrated or pure inclination, attitude or outlook towards the essence is called ‘samyaktva’. But the essence of what? Essence of spiritual welfare. When the inclination towards the essence of spiritual welfare is integrated, right or pure it is called ‘samyaktva’. Right inclination arouses the pure desire to acquire knowledge & in its light we gain understanding that reality is not absolute but relative, not one-sided but many sided. As a result of this, synthetic & synoptic outlook is developed. This leads to the rise & development of equanimity purified by discretion.

It also means Right faith meaning not blind faith but the faith arising from the use of discretionary power of thought & an understanding of the truth of the universal law of cause-effect. In the faith which is purified by logic & which stands to scrutiny of reason, there can be no such element as can be objected to by the intellect or which cannot stand to the light of the intellect. This faith based on the discriminatory power of the intellect is the right path leading to liberation or the spiritual good. As soon as right faith appears the existing knowledge becomes right knowledge. On the basis of right faith+knowledge, right conduct is cultivated and at last liberation is attained.

If the faith is right, both knowledge & conduct will be right. Thus it is accorded first place in the enumeration of the means of liberation & considered supreme among them. It is not that right faith is gained only through the study of scriptures or philosophy. Any body belonging to any country can gain it provided his soul is soft, compassionate & friendly towards all living beings. Some practical matters about right faith (attitude) are – ‘To regard, with pure intellect, real God as real God, real teacher as real teacher and true Sharma as true dharma is right faith’.

In other words, a person possessed of right faith has the power to discriminate true from false God so on. He has no misconceptions, nor preconceived notions about God, teacher & dharma. Let us here recall the essential characteristics of God, teacher & dharma.

God – call him God or highest Soul the meaning is the same. The following verse while describing the nature of God states (translation), ‘That (embodied) soul who is omniscient, free from all defilements like attachment, aversion worshipped by all the three worlds and preaches reality as it is, is called God’.

Teacher - translation – ‘The saints who observe the five great vows i.e. non-violence, truth, non-stealing, continence & non-possession are adorned with spiritual quality of calmness & firmly established in equanimity, live on begging alms, & preach dharma as it is are called teachers’.

Dharma – translation of Acarya Haribhadra’s 13th Astaka, ‘non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, continence & non-possession, these five are held as pure virtues by the followers of all dharmas. The following verse (given in book) explains the meaning of the term ‘dharma’, it states that it is dharma which saves living beings from falling into lower conditions or miserable states, which is the natural quality of the soul that is experienced by all. On account of the removal of traces of the past evil acts, the passions of attachment & aversion become mild, and consequently mental purity is attained, this mental purity is dharma. Compassion, friendliness, doing good to others, truthfulness, self-control, renunciation – all these qualities constitute the auscipicious light of the internal pure of life. Life permeated with such life is called dharmic life.

5 types of Knowledge
When karmic coverings causing delusion are loosened or completely removed, right faith or attitude manifests itself. And as soon as it makes its manifestation, knowledge becomes right. Thus there is an invariable relation between right faith & knowledge. There are five types of knowledge i.e. mati, sruta, avadhi, manahparyaya & kevala.

Knowledge obtained thru sense organs is matijnana i.e. see with eyes, taste with tongue, smell with nose, hear with ears & touch with skin. Knowledge gained thru words or signs is srutajnana. Dependent on sense organs both these types of knowledge are indirect. Here the context demands the treatment of sense organs from the Jaina standpoint.

There are 5 sense organs i.e. skin, tongue, nose, eye and ear. Touch, taste, smell, color & sound are their respective objects. They are different aspects or modes of one & the same physical substance. However, efficient one of them may be, no sense organ can singly take grasp of all the five objects. The object of mind is thought or reflection. While the five sense organs can take grasp of only one object the mind grasps all entities belonging to various divisions of time – past, present & future. This means the function of the mind is to reflect & depending on its level of development - i.e. on its capacity – it reflects on all objects, whether grasped by the external sense organs or not. Sruta is more prominent then mati & is said to be the object of the mind.

Each of the five sense organs is of two types i.e. dravya (physical) & bhava (psychical). The former is split into two types i.e. structure & capacity. Those shapes of the sense organs in the body, which are of the form of specific structure made out of physical aggregates, are called ‘nirvrttindriya’. Outer structure is called ‘outer nirvrttindriya’ and inner structure is ‘inner nirvrttindriya’. If we compare the former with a sword, we can compare the latter to its edge. And the capacity of this edge to produce cognition is called ‘upakaranendriya’. The latter i.e. bhava is of two types i.e. labdhi (spiritual capacity) & upayoga (resultant knowledge).

The soul acquires the capacity to know different objects due to the subsidence cum destruction of the respective karmas acting as covering of matijnana etc. This acquisition of capacity is called labdhindriya and the actual indeterminate or determinate knowledge which takes place in relation to objects like color is a combination of labdhi, nirvrtti & upakarana is called Upayogendriya. Thus, each of the sense organs is of four types i.e. labdhi, nirvrtti, upakarana & upayoga. One is the inner spiritual capacity instrumental in its generation while 2 & 3 are the two forms of a physical sense organ which is an external instrument in its generation. The operation (upayoga) of the inner spiritual capacity is nothing but knowing or cognizing. So it is quote proper to employ the term ‘upayoga’ in the sense of knowledge.

Of the five types of knowledge 3 & 4 i.e. avadhijnana (clairvoyance) & manahparyayajnana (telepathy) are perceptual really & not merely empirically, because they do not depend on sense organs for their generation. They arise directly from the knower’s self. Last knowledge Kevalajnana is the perfect knowledge. It is omniscience.

To attain the highest state of self-isolation or liberation, one should understand the way of ascending the ladder leading to that state, i.e. the gradual development of the soul. This being the subject matter of the Jaina theory of spiritual development, we move on to the stages of spiritual development.

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