SALVATION - PATH OF JAINISM
(5) Glory of Right Belief
The Jaina works describe at length the glory of right belief and enumerate
the benefits which can be accrued by a person possessing right belief.
They go to the extent of declaring that asceticism without faith is
definitely inferior to faith without asceticism and that even a low caste
man possessing right belief can be considered better fit to attain moral
In short, the Right Belief is given precedence over Right Knowledge and
Right Conduct, because it acts as a pilot in guiding the soul towards
moksa, i.e. salvation. Further, there can be no rise, stability growth and
fulfillment of knowledge and character, unless they are founded on right
belief or faith.
3. RIGHT KNOWLEDGE
(1) Relation between Right Belief and Right Knowledge
It is considered desirable that on attaining right belief one should
strive after right knowledge. As regards the relationship between right
belief and right knowledge it has been specifically stated that although
right belief and right knowledge are contemporaneous, there is yet a clear
relation of cause and effect between them, just as it is between a lamp
and its light. It is true that lamp and light go together, still the lamp
precedes the light, and light cannot be said to precede the lamp. In the
same way there is the relation of cause and effect between right belief
and right knowledge, though both are almost simultaneous. Right knowledge
cannot precede right belief, and from this point of view right knowledge
is called the effect and right belief, the cause.
(2) Nature of Right Knowledge
Right knowledge has been described in Jaina scriptures as �that knowledge
which reveals the nature of things neither insufficiently, nor with
exaggeration, nor falsely, but exactly as it is and with certainty.� It
has also been stated that right knowledge consists in having full
comprehension of the real nature of soul and non-soul (i.e., matter) and
that such knowledge should be free from sanlsaya, i.e. doubt, vimoha,
i.e., perversity, and vibhrama, i.e., vagueness or indefiniteness.
Moreover, Jaina scriptures always assert that knowledge is perfect when it
does not suffer from the mithyatva, i.e., wrong belief. Mithyatva is the
enemy of right knowledge as it perverts both the understanding and the
attitude. That is why all Jaina thinkers have insisted upon the
elimination of wrong belief from mind. Mithyatva reminds one somewhat of
the avidya, i.e. ignorance of the Vedanta, the aviveka, i.e. want of
discrimination of the Samkhya, and the maya, i.e., illusion of the
Buddhist systems of philosophy. Hence Jainism insists that right knowledge
cannot be attained, unless wrong know�ledge is banished.
(3) kinds of Knowledge
When considered with reference to its means of acquisition, knowledge is
of five kinds :
(i) Mati jnana (sense-knowledge) is knowledge of the self and non-self
acquired by means of any of the five senses and the mind. Obviously this
kind of knowledge is limited to things and matters in existence.
(ii) kuta jnana (scriptural knowledge) is derived from the read�ing or
hearing of scriptures. Like the first kind of knowledge, the sruta jnana
is not limited to the things in existence but it can comprehend all
matters of the present, past and future as expounded in the scriptures.
(iii) Avadhi jnana (clairvoyant knowledge) is knowledge of things in
distant time or place. It is knowledge of the remote or past. It can be
acquired by saints who have attained purity of thought and developed their
mental capacity by austerities. It is otherwise possessed by the celestial
and infernal souls.
(iv) Manah paryaya jnana (Mental knowledge) is direct knowledge of
another�s mental activity, that is, about thoughts and feelings of others.
It can be acquired by those who have gained self-mastery or samyama
(v) Kevala jnana (perfect knowledge or omniscience) is full or perfect
knowledge without the limitations of time and space, which is the soul�s
characteristic in its pure and undefinable condition. It drawns on the
Tirthankaras and perfect souls.
(4) Pillars of Right Knowledge
Like right belief, right knowledge also has got eight pillars or
(i) Grantha, that is, correct use of words. It means that reading, writing
and pronouncing of every letter and word should be done correctly. It also
denotes that books must be studied with care and faith.
(ii) Artha, that is, meaning. It indicates that reading should be directed
towards understanding the meaning and full signi�ficance of words, phrases
and the text. It suggests that mere mechanical study without understanding
the meaning serves no purpose.
(iii) Grantha-artha, that is, combination of grantha and artha. It
stresses that both reading and understanding of the meaning are essential
as they together complete the process and the purport. It is emphasised
that mere reading is not enough.
(iv) Kala, that is, observance of regularity and propriety of time. It
means that improper and unsuitable occasions should be avoided. Again, the
time chosen for study must be peaceful and free from disturbance due to
worries and anxieties.
(v) 0inaya, that is, reverent attitude. It is laid down that humility and
respect towards the scriptures should be cultivated to develop our
devotion to learning.
(vi) Sopadhanata, that is, propriety. While studying we do come across
difficult expressions and inexplicable ideas. But in such cases one should
not draw hasty conclusions which might lead to improper behaviour.
(vii) Bahumana, that is, zeal. It is pointed out that zeal in the mastery
of the subject under study is also essential to sustain interest and
(viii) Anihnava, that is, without concealment of knowledge or of its
sources. It is suggested that one must keep an open mind and attitude so
that narrow considerations do not shut one out from fullness of knowledge.
Thus, right knowledge can be acquired by pursuit with devotion by reading
sacred scriptures, understanding their full meaning and signi�ficance in
proper time and with punctuality, imbued with zeal, proper behaviour and
In conclusion, it can be specifically maintained that both right belief
and right knowledge are very closely associated with each other just as
the association between a lamp and its light. Even though lamp and light
go together, there must be a lamp which must have oil and wick before it
could be lighted. Similarly, before right knowledge can be gained, there
must be the inexhaustible piety and urge for knowledge which is the oil;
the sources of knowledge like scriptures, the discourses from preceptors
and saints are the wick; the pursuit and study with devotion are like
lighting the lamp; then only there can be light in the form of knowledge.
4. RIGHT CONDUCT
After right belief and right knowledge, the third, but the most important
path to the goal of moksha, i.e. salvation, is right conduct. In Jainism
utmost importance is attached to the right conduct because right belief
and right knowledge equip the individual with freedom from delusion and
consequently equip him with true knowledge of the fundamental principles
clarifying what are worthy of renunciation and realization and ultimately
lead to right conduct as an integral and crowning constituent of the path
of salvation. That is why conduct which is inconsistent with right
knowledge is considered as wrong conduct or misconduct. Hence conduct
becomes perfect only when it is in tune with right belief and right
knowledge. It is, therefore, enough to point out that the importance of
right conduct in the process of self realization consists in the fact that
it is only when right knowledge based on right belief is translated into
practical and spiritual discipline that the path of emancipation of soul
from the cycle of births and deaths becomes smooth.
It is clear that in accordance with Jaina philosophy right conduct
presupposes the presence of right knowledge which presupposes the
existence of right belief. Therefore the Jaina scriptures have enjoined
upon the persons who have secured right belief and right knowledge to
observe the rules of right conduct, as the destruction of karmic matter
associated with the soul can be accomplished only through the practice of
Right Conduct includes the rules of discipline which (i) restrain all
censurable movements of mind, speech and body, (ii) weaken and , destroy
all passionate activity and (iii) lead to non-attachment and purity.
Further, Right Conduct has been conceived of two kinds or categories
according to the degree of intensity of the actual practice of rules of
behaviour laid down under right conduct. These two kinds are (i)
Sakala-charitra, i.e., complete or perfect or unqualified conduct; and
(ii) Vikala-charitra, i.e. partial or imperfect or qualified conduct.
Out of these two kinds of right conduct, the former, i.e., the
sakala-charitra involves the practice of all the rules of conduct with
vigour and higher degree of spiritual sensitivity while the latter, that
is, the vikala-charitra, involves the practice of the same with as much
increasing degree of deligence, severity and purity as might be possible.
Further, it may be noted that (i) Sakala-charitra is meant for and
observed by ascetics who have renounced worldly ties, and is also known as
muni-dharma; and (ii) Vikala-chdritras is meant for and observed by laymen
who are still entangled in the world and, is also known as sravaka-dharma,
i.e. the householder�s dharma.
The several rules of conduct prescribed both for laymen and ascetics
constitute the ethics of Jainism. As such they are discussed in detail in
the next chapter on `Ethics of Jainism�.