Historical Background of Jaina Ethics

          The present work is substantially the same as the thesis which was approved by the University of Rajasthan for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in 1961.  In this work  I have endeavored, in the first place, to show that the entire Jaina ethics tends towards the translation of the principle of Ahimsa into practice.  The realisation of perfect human life.  In fact Ahimsa is so central in Jainism that it may be in controvertibly called the beginning and the end of Jaina religion.  The statement of Samantabhadra that Ahimsa of all living being is equivalent to the realisation of Parama Brahma sheds light on the paramount character of Ahimsa.  Now, this ideal of Ahimsa is  realised progressively. Thus he who is able to realise Ahimsa partially is call day householder, whereas he who is able to realise Ahimsa completely, though not perfectly is called an ascetic or a Muni. It belies the allegation that the ascetic flees from the world of action. Truly speaking, he recoils not from the world of action but from the world of Himsa. No doubt the ascetic life fords full ground for the realization of Ahimsa, but its perfect realization is possible only in the plenitude of mystical experience which is the Arhat state. Thus the householder and the ascetic are the tow wheels on which the cart of Jaina ethical discipline moves on quite smoothly. It is to the credit of Jaina Acryas that they have always kept in mind these two orders while prescribing an discipline to be observed. They were never in favor of confounding the obligations of the one with the other. In consequence, Jainism could develop the Acara of the householder with as much clarity as it developed the Acara of the Muni. Being overwhelmed by the ascetic tendency, it has not neglected the Acara of the householder. By developing the doctrine of Anuvratas for the householder it has shown the way in which the householder should direct his course of life. I feel that the doctrine of Anuvratas is the unique contribution of Jainism to Indian thought.

          Secondly, I have tried to point out that the Jaina formulation of ethical theory is grounded in Jaina metaphysics. The metaphysical outlook upheld by the Jaina is known as Anekantavada or non-absolutism. A true Jaina does not subscribe to the absolutist approach to the un-foldment of the inner nature of reality. The conviction of the Jaina is that absolutism in philosophy is subversive o ethical speculation, since absolutism is always based on a prioristic trend of thought very remote from experience. In this regard the statement of Samantabhadra is significant. According to him, the conception of bondage and liberation, Punya (virtue) and Papa ( vice ) lose all their relevancy, if we exclusively recoginse either permanence or momnetariness as constituting the nature of substance. A little reflection will make it clear that the concept of Ahimsa belonging to the realm of ethics is a logical consequence of the ontological nature of things.

           Thirdly, I have pointed out that Jaina ethics finds its culmination in mysticism. Thus if the fountain-head of ethics is metaphysics, mysti�cism is its completion. Ethics is the connecting link between the meat physical speculation and the mystical realization.       It will not be amiss to say that Jainism is not merely ethics and metaphysics but spiritualism too. This is manifest from the persistent emphasis laid by all the Jaina Acaryas on the veritable achievement of Samyagdarsana (spiritual con�version).

          The whole Jaina Acara, whether of the householder or of the Muni, is out and out sterile without having Samyagdarsana as forming its background. Thus spiritualism pervades the entire Jaina Acara; hence the charge that the Jaina ethics is incapable of transcending mora�lity and does not land us deep in the ordinarily unfathomable ocean of spiritualism gives way. It may be noted here that owing to its deep adherence to the spiritual way of life Jainism has developed fourteen stages of spiritual evolution, called Gunasthanas. l have subsumed these stages under the following heads, namely, 1) Dark period of the self prior to its awakening (1st Dark night of the soul); 2) Awakening of the self; 3) Purgation ; 4) Illumination; 5) Dark period post-illumina�tion. (2nd Dark night of the soul); and 6) Transcendental life. There is also a state beyond these stages, known as the Siddha state.

          Fourthly, I have indicated the theoretical possibility of devotion in Jainism. It is generally recognized that devotion in Jainism is a contra�diction in terms, since devotion presupposes the existence of a Being who can actively respond to the aspirations of the devotee, and in Jainism the conception of such a Being is inadmissible. It is true to say that Jainism does not uphold the idea of such a Being known as God, but it un�doubtedly recognizes the Arhat and the Siddha as the divinity-realised souls who may be the objects of devotion. Again, it is not inconsistent to aver that the Arhat or the Siddha can in no way be affected by devotion, they remain quite indifferent to human weal and woe in spite of human prayers. If such is the case, possibility of sincere devotion in Jainism evaporates and cannot be maintained. But, according to the Jaina, the inspiration to devotion for the Arhat or the Siddha comes from the fact that one's devotion accumulates in the self the Punya of the highest kind, which brings about, as a natural consequence, material and spiritual benefits. By our devotion to the Arhat or the Siddha our thoughts and emotions are purified, which results in the deposition of puizya in the self. This sort of Punya cannot accrue from worshiping a mere stone, hence the importance of the worship of Arhat or Siddha in Jainism.

          On account of this fact Samantabhadra proclaims that the adoration of Arhat deposits great heap of Punya in the self. He who is devoted to him relishes prosperity and he who casts aspersions sinks to perdition. Thus the aspirant should not breathe in despondency for the aloofness of God (Arhat or Siddha). Those who are devoted to him are automatically elevated.

          Finally, I have drawn attention to the fact that not-withstanding the differences in metaphysical conclusions arrived at by the various trends of thought, namely the Vedic, the Jaina and the Buddhist, their exponents have resorted to similar methods and contrivances in order to go beyond the manifest superficialities of objects. Thus they concur remarkably on the psychological, ethical and religious planes of existence. Along with this I have critically examined some of the important western ethical doctrines.

In the footnotes I have; acknowledged my debt to the sources utilized in the preparation of this work. I have cared more for the trans�lation of the spirit of the original sources than for the word-to-word rendering.

At the outset, I express nay deep sense of gratitude to late Master Mont, ALJi SANCXI of Jaipur (Rajasthan), who turned me to philosophy not by mere words but by his way of living and thinking. I regard him as a mystic of a high order.        He reminds me of Socrates owing to his way of turning persons to value spiritual way of life and of inculcating interest in the study of spiritual literature without any prejudice of caste and creed. Pandita CTTAlNSUTECH DAs Nyayatirtha, Principal, Jaina Sanskrit College, Jaipur (Rajasthan), a man of deep scholarship, critical thinking and saintly living, has always been a source of light and inspira�tion to me. It is on account of him that I could pursue the study of original sources and present them in the film I have done. To me, he is the emblem of persistence, patience, courage and unbarring zeal. What owe to him is beyond expression.

          I make a full acknowledgement or my gratitude to my supervisor, Dr. V. H. DATE, under whose guidance and loving care the present work was prepared. Here I should not hesitate to mention that it is on account of him that I could complete my post-graduate studies and learn many things in Philosophy which can only be learnt by a long personal contact. I cannot forget his kindness. Words are inadequate to express my grate�fulness to Dr. A. N. UPADXYR, the General Editor of this Grantha Mala, who, in spite of his diverse academic preoccupations, took personal interest in the publication of this work and corrected the proofs more than once. I offer my sincere thanks to the Trustees of the Jivaraja Granthamala who made provision for the publication of this work. I am highly indebted to Shri P. SINHA, Principal, R. R. College, Alwar (Rajasthan) who provided me all sorts of facilities necessary for writing a work of this nature. My thanks are due to my friend Mr. B. R. BXANDAXI who devoted much of his time to preparing the index. On this occasion, I should not forget to express my thanks to my wife Srimati KANRALA DEVT SOGANR who gave me practical encouragement by sacrificing many of her interests and by helping me in drawing material from the original sources.


Udaipur,                                                                                                                                  K. C. SOGANI.