SALVATION - PATH OF JAINISM
1. THREE-FOLD PATH OF SALVATION
From the basic principles of Jaina philosophy, it is evident that the
inherent powers of the soul are crippled by its association with karmic
matter and that is why every person is found in an imperfect state. The
Jaina philosophy, therefore, asserts that real and everlasting happiness
will be obtained by a person only when the karmas are completely removed
from the soul. Further, Jainism firmly believes that even though man is
imperfect at present, it is quite possible for him to rid himself of the
karmas associated with his soul by his own personal efforts without any
help from an outside agency. Moreover, it is quite clear that according to
Jaina philosophy the highest happiness consists in securing final
emancipation from the cycle of births and deaths and in attaining the
state of liberated soul, that is, obtaining Moksa or salvation.
Furthermore, the Jaina philosophy reiterates that as this world is full of
sorrow and trouble, it is quite necessary to achieve the aim of
transcendental bliss by a sure method.
When the goal has been ascertained the next question arises regarding the
way how to achieve that objective. To this question the Jaina religion has
a definite answer. In this connection, the Tattvarth-adhigama-sutra, the
most sacred text of Jainism, emphatically states in its first aphoristic
rule, Samyag-darsana jnana-charitrani moksa margah ( that is,
samyag�darsana (right belief), samyag j`nana (right knowledge) and
samyak�charitra (right conduct) together constitute the path to salvation.
Further, these three basic ingredients, namely, right belief, right
knowledge and right conduct, are called ratna-traya or the three jewels in
It is pertinent to note that these three are not severally considered as
different paths but are thought to form together a single path. That s why
it is firmly maintained that these three must be present together to
constitute the path to salvation. Since all the three are emphasised
equally, since moksamarga, i.e., way to salvation, is impossible without
the unity of all the three, it is obvious that Jainism is not prepared to
admit any one of these three in isolation as means of salvation.
In view of this firm conviction in Jainism, the Jaina works always
strongly emphasise that the three must be simultaneously pursued. This
conviction is brought home by some effective illustrations. For example,
it is contented that to effect a cure of a malady, faith in the efficacy
of a medicine, knowledge of its use, and actual taking of it; these three
together are essential; so also, to get emancipation, faith in the
efficacy of Jainism, its knowledge and actual practising of it, these
three are quite indispensable. Similarly, the Moksamarga, i.e.. the path
to salvation, is compared in Jaina works to a ladder with its two side
poles and the central rungs forming the steps. The side poles of the
ladder are right belief and right knowledge and the rungs or steps of the
ladder are the gradual stages of right conduct. It is obvious that it is
possible to ascend the ladder only when all the three i.e., the side poles
and the rungs, are sound. �The absence of one makes the ascent impossible.
Thus a simultaneous pursuit of right belief, right knowledge and right
conduct is enjoined upon the people as the only proper path to salvation
in the Jaina scriptures. Further, the ethical code prescribed by Jainism
for both the house-holders and the ascetics is based on this three-fold
path of liberation. Hence it is quite necessary to see the main
characteristics of these �Three Jewels� which constitute that path.
2. RIGHT BELIEF
(1) Meaning of Right Belief
It is clear that out of the three jewels� mentioned above, right belief
comes first and that it forms the basis upon which the other two jewels,
viz., right knowledge and right conduct, rest. Hence it has been laid down
that one must, by all possible means, first attain right belief, i.e., the
basic conviction in the fundamentals of Jainism, because it has been
asserted that only on the acquisition of right belief, the knowledge and
conduct become right.
The term Right Belief has been defined by acharya Umasvami in his
authoritative Jaina sacred text entitled Tattvarthadhigama-sutra as
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that is, right belief is the faith in the true nature of the substances as
they are. In other words, right belief means true and firm conviction in
the seven principles or tattvas of Jainism as they are, without any
Further, it is maintained that right belief consists in believing that
(i) the Jaina Arhats including the Tirthankaras are the true Gods,
(ii) the Jaina sastras are the true scriptures, and
(iii) the Jaina Gurus are the true Preceptors.
Moreover, it is also asserted that such right belief
(a) should have eight angas, i.e., essential requisites,
(a) should be free from three kinds of mudhatas, i.e. superstitious
(c) should be free from eight kinds of mada, i.e., pride or arrogance.
(2) Requisites of Right Belief
The Jaina scriptures state that the right belief should be charac�terised
by eight angas, i.e. essential requisites or components or limbs, and that
these angas determine the excellence of right belief. These eight artgas
which support the right belief are :
(i) Nihsartkita-anga, that is, one should be free from doubt about the
truth or validity of the tenets of Jainism.
(ii) Nihkanksita-anga, that is, one should have no love or liking or
desire for worldly enjoyment as everything is evanescent.
(iii) Nirvichikitsita-anga, that is, one should decline to have an
attitude of scorn towards the body even though it is full of impurities
and should have regard for the body as it can be purified by the three
jewels of right faith, right knowledge and right conduct.
(iv) Amudhadrsti-ariga, that is, one should have no inclination for the
wrong path or one should be free from perversity and superstition.
(v) Upaguhana-aitga, that is, one should maintain spiritual exce�llence
and protect the prestige of that faith when it is faced with the risk of
being belittled on account of the follies and shortcomings of others. In
other words, one should praise the pious but should not deride those who
may be faltering in their pursuit of religion.
(vi) Sthitikarana-aitga, that is, one should sustain souls in right
convictions. One should have the quality of rehabilitating others in the
path of right faith or conduct by preaching them or reminding them of the
religious truths whenever they are found to be going astray.
(vii) Vatsalya-anga, that is, one should have loving regard for pious
persons. One should show affection towards co-religionists and respect and
devetion towards the spiritually advanced by receiving them with courtesy
and looking after their comforts.
(viii) Prabhavana-anga that is, one should endeavour to demons�trate and
propagate the greatness of the Jaina tenets and scriptures. One should try
to wean people from wrong prac�tices and beliefs by establishing to them
the importance of the true religion by arranging religious functions and
(3) Avoidance of Superstitious Beliefs
It is also laid down in Jaina scriptures that right belief should be free
from the following three kinds of mudhatas, i.e., superstitious beliefs :
(i) Loka-Mudhata is the false belief in holiness. It relates to taking
baths in certain rivers, jumping down the peaks of mountains and entry
into fires under the supposition of acquiring merit for themselves or for
their kith and kin.
(ii) Deva-mudhata is the belief in false gods. It accepts the efficacy of
village gods and goddesses who are endowed with ordinary human qualities
and attempts to propitiate them. This super�stition consists in believing
in gods and goddesses who are credited with passionate and destructive
powers, willing to oblige the devotees by grant of favours they pray for.
(iii) Pdkhandi-mudhata is the belief in and respect for dubious ascetics.
It shows regard for false ascetics and considers their teaching as gospel
of truth. It refers to entertainment of false ascetics and respecting them
with a hope to get some favours from them through magical or mysterious
powers exercised for personal gain or show of power.
Thus the mind must be freed from such superstitious beliefs and any doubts
so that the ground can be made clear for the rise and development of right
(4) Freedom from Pride
Besides the avoidance of these three kinds of superstitious beliefs, the
mind must be made free from the eight kinds of mada or pride : j`nana
(learning), puja (worship), kula (family), jati (caste, or contacts and
family connections), bala (power or one�s own strength), riddhi (wealth or
affluence or accomplishments), tapas (penance or religious austerities and
vapus (body or person or beautiful form or appearance).
It is obvious that all or any one or more of these kinds of pride are
likely to disturb the equlibrium of mind, and create likes or dislikes for
men and matters. In such a case understanding is likely to be erroneous,
if not perverted. Naturally an inflated notion of oneself on any one of
these grounds is likely to cloud the vision. Hence it is necessary that
for the blissful drawn of right belief there should be an effacement of
these types of pride.