Jainworld
Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions
PREFACE
FORWARD
INTRODUCTION
SAPTABHANGI SYSTEM
THE TATTVAS
  THE NATURE OF KARMA (Karma ka swroop)
  ASRAVA
  BANDHA
  SAMVARA
  NIRJARA
  MOKSHA
  STAGES ON THE PATH - GUNASTHANAS
  DHARMA IN PRACTICE
  COMPARATIVE ANTIQUITY OF JAINISM
  SOUL-SUBSTANCE
  Vairagya Bhavana

STAGES ON THE PATH - GUNASTHANAS


 

 

     To revert to the subject under consideration, it will be observed that the arrangement of the Gunasthan is based not upon any artificial division of the 'path', but upon the natural effects observable in the being who takes himself scientifically in hand to control his destiny. No serious student of religion stands in need of being told that of all kinds of Tapa the Antaranga is the principal cause of emancipation, though the physical control of the bodily functions and organs is also necessary for bringing the wandering Manas (the organ of desires) under subjection. It follows from this that the best results can only flow from a system which scientifically deals with the subject of internal Tapa, and that no method which ignores or minimizes the importance of this most important department of self- training can ever be relied upon as a means for escape from the bondage of karmas. Applying these observations to the non-Jaina systems of Tapa (yoga), it can be seen at a glance that none of them is possessed of that scientific validity which alone can be depended upon for the realization of the ideal in view. Indeed, almost all of them in the end leave the aspiring soul in the greatest uncertainty as to the effect of the practices enjoined and the exercises laid down by them; and even the more perfected systems of Hindu yoga-- Jnana yoga, raja yoga, Bhakti yoga, Hatha yoga and karma yoga- -do little more than point out the direction in which lies the way out of the samsara, intersected by paths that certainly do not lead to Nirvana, but only to the four Gatis, or conditions, of life. That the unwary traveler needs something more than a mere indication of the direction to pick out the right track is a matter which is not open to dispute; and the importance of accurate scientific knowledge is an absolute necessity where a single false step might prove one's undoing. The Jaina Siddhanta has throughout kept these principles in view in its schematic arrangement of the stages on the journey, and the intelligent tyro is merely required to make himself familiar with the nature of the karma prakriti to know precisely what to do at any particular moment of time in the course of his onward progress on the Path.

     To understand the philosophy underlying the arrangement of the Gunasthan, it is necessary to bear in mind the fact that the attainment of every ideal requires:

     (i) The determination to know the precise truth, i.e., the proper attitude of inquiry.

     (ii) Exact knowledge of the thing to be attained, together with a steady, unchanging belief, or faith, in the possibility of its attainment, and

     (iii) Exertion in the right direction, that is the proper conduct.

     To put the same thing in the language of the Jaina Siddhanta, Right Faith, Right Knowledge, and Right Conduct are the three jewels, which enable their possessor to enter into the holy Abode of Gods. Of these three, Right Faith*(Samyag darshan) precedes Right Knowledge, (Samyag gyan) while Right Conduct (Samyag Charitra) is a characteristic of those alone who have almost perfected themselves in wisdom and faith.

 

 (*The word faith, it may be pointed out here, is a somewhat unsuitable equivalent for the 'Samyag darsana' of the Jaina Siddhanta, though usually employed as such. The idea underlying Samyag darsana, described as the cause of Samyag Jnana, is that of a proper insight into the nature of things which is necessary for the knowledge of truth. The man who acquires this true insight, or point of view, is characterized by an attitude of mind determined to know the precise truth at all costs, as distinguished from that which may be satisfied with half-truths, agreeable to one's preconceived or prejudiced views. This attitude would naturally give rise to right knowledge in due course of time, and would it self arise, as stated in Jaina Philosophy, on the destruction, or quiescence, or partial destruction and dispassionate judgment. These energies comprise the three kinds of anger, pride, deceit and greed (Nos. 17-19) and the anantanu Bandh type of the four kasayas, anger, pride, deceit and greed (Nos. 20-23). Thus, Samyag darsana is as much the natural attribute of the soul as Samyag Jnana, and is brought into manifestation by the destruction or loosening of the karmic bonds.

 

     So far, however, as faith is concerned, it might signify assent to the word of another or firmness of belief. It is acquired either as the result of study or meditation, or under the influence of surroundings, as in the case of parental religion which men generally adopt without inquiry. Knowledge is, however, necessary in either case to keep it from wandering away from rationalism, for faith without knowledge is only a form of fanaticism, incipient or full fledged.

 

     The casual connection between knowledge and faith, therefore, is to be found in the fact that rational faith pre-supposes some sort of intellectual inquiry or investigation, notwithstanding the fact that right knowledge is itself dependent on right faith. The dependence of right knowledge on right faith is evident in respect of those matters at least which fall outside the province of perception and reason; for such knowledge is a matter of testimony, and depends on the word of the Teacher, which cannot be acceptable to those who have yet to evolve out the right faith. It would thus appear that knowledge and faith are to some extent dependent on each other; knowledge leading to right faith in the first instance, and right faith giving rise to right knowledge in the end.

 

     The dependence of right knowledge on right darsana implies that no true insight can be had into the nature of things without it. It is not to be supposed that there is no difference whatever between the knowledge of a man endowed with right faith and of him who is involved in Mithyatva. There is, no doubt, a superficial resemblance between their ideas, to some extent, but that is confined to the surface of things. For instance, they may both know consciousness to be the distinguishing feature of life, but it is the true believer alone who also knows it to be an independent reality, eternal, undying and capable of enjoying the freedom and joy of Gods. This knowledge is not shared by the other man, who is, consequently, debarred from striving to obtain the bliss and blessedness pertaining to divinity, since no one ever tries for that which he does not know or believe to be attainable, or true.) Hence, the earliest stages of the journey are necessarily those, which mark the transition from the state of settled wrong convictions to the acquisition of true faith.

 

The next thing to be attended to is conduct without which it is not possible to realize the ideal in view. Hence the remaining Gunasthan are the landmarks on the path of progress in respect of Right Conduct. The eight and the ninth stages are also characterized by increased meditation, hence concerned in the advancement of knowledge; but to follow the teaching of the Siddhanta on the still higher rungs of the ladder, it is necessary to remember that perfection in conduct means neither more nor less than the attainment of the state of non-desiring which is possible only with the complete eradication of all those traits which spring from desire.

  

Now, desire signifies greed, the immediate cause of deceitfulness. Greed also leads to pride by focusing attention on the physical personality and by augmenting the sense of agouti; and pride and greed combined give birth to anger. Thus, greed is the root of the remaining three forms of kasayas (passions) and the most difficult mental trait to be destroyed. It cannot be eradicated before the twelfth stage for this reason. Omniscience is manifested in the thirteenth stage, while the fourteenth is like an ante- room to Nirvana. For facility of reference we give the main features of the Gunasthan in the accompanying tabulated form.