Nature of divinity in Jaina philosophy --
historical perspective -- Jaina arguments against the existence of Creator
God -- Divinity of man -- no place for divine grace -- nature of man --
concept of man in philosophy -- Jaina concept of jiva -- man in the
physical and social environment -- human values -- Moksa is an ideal --
Jaina conception of moksa -- State of the liberated soul � Epilogue -- the
spirit of Anekanta pervading the problems of life and experience -- need
for the present day.
I. NATURE OF DlVINITY IN JAINA PHILOSOPHY: Religion as
a way of life and not merely as an institution, has been natural to man.
It is man's reaction to the totality of things as he apprehends it. It
implies an interpretation of nature and the meaning of the universe. lt
seeks to go beyond the veil of visible things and finds an inexhaustible
fund of spiritual power to help him in life's struggle. And the 'presence'
of god gave strength for man in his struggles in this life. The ways of
god to man and man to god have been rich and varied. It may be, as Prof.
Leuba pointed out, that fear was the first of the emnotions to become
organised in human life, and out of this fear God was born. Perhaps love
and gratitude are just as natural, as much integral parts of the
constitution of man, as fear; and gods were friendly beings. It is still
possible that men have looked at gods with a living sense of kinship and
not with the vague fear of the unknown pawers. We do not know. But one
thing, is certain that in higher religions fear is sublimated by love into
an adoring reverence. From the fear of the Lord in The Old Testament to
the worship of God 'with godly fear and awe' is not a far cry.
In the Vedic period, we find a movement of thought
from polytheism to monotheism and then to monism. The poetic souls
contemplated the beauties of nature and the lndo-Iranian gods, like Deus,
Varuna, Usas and Mitra were products of this age. Other gods like Indra
were created to meet the needs of the social and political adjustments.
Many gods were created; many gods were worshipped. Then a weariness
towards the many gods began to be felt as they did not know to what god
they should offer oblations. Then a theistic conception of God as a
creator of the vniverse was developed out of this struggle for the search
for a divine being. In ancient Greece, Xenophanes was against the
polytheism of his time. Socrates had to drink hemlock as he was charged of
denying the national gods. He distinguished between many gods and the one
God who is the creator of the universe.
2. THE JAINA ARGUMENTS AGAINST GOD: But the Jainas were
against gods in general and even the God as creator. They presented
several arguments against the theistic conception of God. They deny the
existence of a Creator God and refute the theistic arguments of the
Naiyayikas. The Naiyayika argument that the world is of the nature of an
effect created by an intelligent agent who is God (Isvara) cannot be
i ) It is difficult to understand the nature of the
world as an effect: a) if effect is to mean that which is made of
parts(savayava) then even space is to be regarded as effect;
a) if the effect is to mean that which is maade of
parts (savayava) then even space is to be regarded as effect;
b) if it means coherence of a cause of a thing which
was previously nonexistent, in that case one cannot speak of the world as
atoms are eternal;
c) if it means that which is liable to change, then God
would also be liable to change; and he would need a creator ta create him
and another and so on ad infinitum. This leads to infinite regress.
ii) Even supposing that the world as a whole is an
effect and needs a cause, the cause need not be an intelligent one as God
a) if he is intelligent as the human being is, then he
would be full of imperfectionsas human intelligence is not perfect;
b) if his intelligence is not of the type of human
intelligence but similar to it. then it would not guarantee inference of
the existence of God on similarity, as we cannot infer the existence of
fire on the ground of seeing steam which is similar to smoke;
c) we are led to a vicious circle of argument if we can
say that the world is such that we have a sense that some one made it, as
we have to infer the sense from the fact of being created by God.
iii) If an agent had created the world. he must have a
body. For, we have never seen an intelligent agent without a body. If a
god is to produce an intelligence and will, this is also not possible
without embodied intelligence.
iv) Even supposing a non embodied being were to create
the world by his intelligence, will and activity, there must be some
a) if the motive is just a personal whim, then there
would be no natural law or order in the world;
b) if it is according to the moral actions of men, then
he is governed by moral order and is not independent;
c) if it is through mercy, there should have been a
perfect world full of happiness;
d) if men are to suffer by the effects of past actions
(adrsta) then the adrsta would take the place of God. But, if God were to
create the world without any motive but only for sport it would be
v) God's omnipresence and omniscience cannot also be
a) if he is everywhere, he absorbs into himself
everything into his own self, Ieaving nothing to exist outside him;
b) his omniscience would make him experience hell, as
he would know everything and his knowledge would be direct experience.
vi) It is not possible to accept the Naiyayika
contention that without the supposition of God, the variety of the world
would be inexplicable, because we can very well posit other alternatives
(i) the existence of the natural order and (ii) a
society of gods to explain the universe.
But if a society of gods were to quarrel and fall out
as it is sometimes contended then the nature of Gods would be quite so
unreliable, if not vicious, that we cannot expect elementary cooperation
that we find in ants and bees.
The best way, therefore, is to dispense with God
We find similar objections against the acceptance of a
theistic God, in Buddhism also. The Buddha was opposed to the
conception of Isvara as a creator of the universe. If the world were to be
thus created, there should be no change nor destruction, nor sorrow nor
If Isvara were to act with a purpose, he would not be
perfect that would limit his perfection. But if he were to act without
purpose his actions would be meaningless like a child's play.
There is nothing superior to the law of Karma. The
suffering of the world are intelligible only on the basis of the law of
Karma. Though the Buddha admits the existence of the gods like Indra and
Varuna, they are also involved in the wheel of Samsara.
We have, so far, seen that the Jainas, as also the
Buddhist were against the theistic conception of God. God as a creator not
necessary to explain the universe. We have not to see God there in the
world outside, nor is God to be found 'in the dark lonely corner of a
temple with doors all shut.' He is there with us. He is there with the
tiller tilling the ground and the 'path-maLer breaking stones', in the
sense that each individual soul is be considered as God, as he is
essentially divine in nature. Each soul when it is perfect is god.
3. The Jainas sought the divine in man and established
the essential divinity of man. This conception has been developed specific
directions in Jaina philosophy.
As we have seen, the existence of the soul is a
presupposition in the Jaina philosophy. Proofs are not necessary. If there
are any proofs we can say that all the pramanas can establish the
existence of the soul. It is described from the phenomenal and the
noumenal points of view. From the phenomenal point of view, it possesses
pranas, is the lord (prabha). doer (karta), enjoyer (bhokta). Iimited to
his body (dehamatra), still incorporeal and is ordinarily found with
Karma. From the noumenal point of view, soul is described in its pure
form. It is pure and perfect. It is pure consciousness. It is unbound,
untouched and no other than itself. The joys and sorrows that the soul
experiences are due to the fruits of Karma which it accumulates due to the
continuous activity that it is having. This entanglement is beginningless,
but it has an end. The deliverance of the soul from the wheel of samsara
is possible by voluntary means. By the moral and spiritual efforts
involving samvara and nirjara, the Karma accumulated in the soul is
removed. When all Karma is removed, the soul becomes
pure and perfect, free from the wheel of Samsara.
Being-free, with its upward motion it attains liberation or Moksa. There
is nothing other which is as perfect. There is no other God. The freed
souls are divine in nature, as they are perfect and omniscient.
For the Jaina it is not necessary to surrender to any
higher being, nor to ask for any divine favour for the individual to reach
the highest goal of perfection. There is no place for divine grace, nor is
one to depend on the capricious whims of a superior deity for the sake of
attaining the highest ideal. There is emphasis on individual efforts in
the moral and spiritual struggle for self-realization. One has to go
through the fourteen stages of spiritual development before one reaches
the final goal in the ayogakevali stage.
However, the struggle for perfection is long and
arduous. Few reached perfection; and perhaps, as tradition would say,
none would become perfect in this age. Among those who have reached
omniscience and perfection are the Tirthamkaras, the prophets, who have
been the beacon lights of Jaina religion and culture. They have preached
the truth and have helped men to cross the ocean of this worldly
existence. They ]ed men, like kindly light, to the path of spiritual