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LORD MAHAVIRA

 

LORD MAHAVIRA

 

PUBLISHER�S NOTE

 

THE RELEVANCE OF THE TEACHING OF LORD MAHAVIRA IN THE PRESENT WORLD (INTRODUCTION)

  CONTENTS
 

THE AGE OF MAHAVIRA

  EARLY LIFE OF MAHAVIRA
  ASCETIC LIFE OF MAHAVIRA
  ENLIGHTENMENT
  JAINA ATHEISM
  PROPAGATION OF THE DOCTRINE
  RIVAL SECTS
  CONCLUSION
  Jain Books
  Catalog of Books in English
  Catalog of Books in Hindi
  Catalog of Books in Gujarati
  List of Books, Topics & Sub-topics and Authors

ENLIGHTENMENT


 

 

FUNDAMENTAL TRUTHS:

 

But, said Mahavira, there is no right conduct without right knowledge and no right knowledge without the right belief. It is therefore, desirable to first explain the fundamental ideas of Jaina Philosophy.

 

The foundation of true metaphysics, according to Jainism, consists of nine categories Jiva, Ajiva, Punya, Papa, Asrava, Samvara, bandha, nirjara, and Moksa. Sometimes the number of categories is reduced to seven by including two of them, Punya and papa under other heads.

 

Jiva or soul, according to Jaina metaphysics, is a substance, its chief characteristic being Caitanya (consciousness); but as a substance it is absolute and permanent, unlike the Buddhist belief. The Jaina idea of the jiva differs from the Brahmanic idea, in so far as it is the Jiva which, in consequence of the karma it has acquired, is believed to go through the succession of rebirths and finally, obtaining freedom through the destruction of its karmas, to soar upwards to moksa. �It performs different kinds of actions, it reaps the fruit of those actions, it circles round returning again; these and none other are the characteristics of the soul.� The soul in its pure state is possessed of infinite perception (Anantdarshen), infinite knowledge (Anantgyan), infinite bliss (Anantsukh) and infinite power (Infinite virya). It is perfect. Ordinarily however, with the exception of a few released pure souls (Sidh) all the other jives have all their purity and power covered with a veil of karmic matter which has been accumulating in them from the beginning-less time. Ajiva is in all respects the opposite of jiva, it means things inanimate, matter. Karma is Ajiva, which comes into contact with the jiva and bedims its power; but the union of jiva with ajiva can never be so complete as to make their separation impossible. The jiva is a substance (drvya) in the sense that it occupies a space-point in our mundane world, has a limited size and is not all-persuasiveness. But the jiva is not matter, for it has consciousness which matter cannot have. Of the jiva the Jainas have made a fivefold classification according to the number of senses it possesses. The sthaver jiva possesses only one sense, the sense of touch, but has four pranr, touch, body, the power of exhaling and inhaling, and allotted term of life. Water, fire, wind, and all vegetables are supposed to have Jives. The Dvindrya jiva possesses two senses, the sense of taste and the sense of touch, and has six pranr, taste and speech in addition to the four pranr of the sthaver jiva. Such jives are in worms, leeches, earth- worms, etc. The Trindriya jiva similarly possesses three senses, the sense of smell in addition to those of taste and touch and seven pranr examples of such beings ants, bugs, moths etc. The chaturindriya jiva possesses four senses, of touch, taste, smell and sight and eight pranr, the category including such beings as wasps, scorpions, mosquitoes, gnats, flies, locusts and butterflies. The panchindriya jiva possesses all five senses, of hearing, taste, touch, smell and sight and includes human beings as well as animals, besides hell-beings and demigods. But all these classes of jiva are to be clearly distinguished from Ajiva which is classified into Roopee and aroopee. Roopee division is pudgel or matter, which possesses color, smell, taste and form and is perceptible to touch. Its Aroopee division is further subdivided into which helps the jiva associated with Pudgala to progress, Adhermastikaye which keeps it motionless, akashastikaye which gives it space and kal which gives it a continuity of changes.

 

As was said above, it is the union of jiva with matter, which causes and constitutes samsara. The form of this union is determined by the force of Karma. Karma is a substantive force a sort of infra- atomic particles of matter, which have the peculiar property of developing the effects of merit. Karma acts in such a way that every change which takes place leaves a mark, which is retained and built into the organism to serve as the foundation for future action. Punya is the name of those actions which lead to the good karma, which in its turn is productive of peace of mind; Pap is just the opposite of Punya, may be laid up in the following nine ways; by giving food to deserving people who are hungry, weak, destitute of help and needy (anpunrya), by giving water to the thirsty (panpunrya); by giving residence, by giving sleeping accommodation, by giving clothes, by thinking well of every one and wishing them well (snkelp); by exerting ourselves to render service to others or to save life; by speaking sweetly and so as to influence others towards religion and morality (stevan); and by reverent salutations (Namaskar). Pap may be earned in eighteen ways; by destroying life (pranrtipat) by speaking untruthfull (mrishavad); by acting dishonestly (adetadan); by unchaste conduct (Methuen); by excessive love of one�s own possessions (prigreh); by getting angry without a cause (krodh); by conceited behavior (man); by intrigue or cheating (Maya); by avarice (lobh); by over- foundness (rag) for a person or a thing; by hatred or envy (dvaish); by quarrelsomeness (klah); by slander of others (abhyakhyan); by telling stories to discredit any one (peshunya); by continually thinking of other�s faults (parprivad); by excessive attachment to temporal and transitory objects of affection (Rti); by hypocrisy (mayamrisha); and by false faith (mithyatv). It is needless to labor the point that such detailed analysis of the acts of merit and demerit entitles Jainism to be considered as primarily an ethical philosophy.

 

Karma, the accumulated result of action, is one of the central ideas of Jaina philosophy, and Asrava deals with the way in which karma is acquired by the human soul. There are forty-two chief channels of Asrava through which karma affects a jiva; of these seventeen are regarded as major- the five senses, the four kasayas i.e., anger, conceit, intrigue and avarice, the five avrt or omission to take the vows, and the three yoga�s, that is to say entanglement with a material object of the mind, speech and body. But there is a distinction between the channels and the Karmas which actually enter through these channels, the distinction is represented by two terms Bhavasrava and Karmasrava. Bhavasrava means the thought activities of the soul through which or on account of which the Karma particles affect the soul; Bhavasrava is that kind of change in the soul which enables the karma to affect the soul while karmasrava is the actual movement of contiguous karma matter towards the soul. Bhavasrava is of five kinds, namely mithyatv (delusion), Avirti (want of control), Prmad (inadvertence), Yog (activities of body, mind and speech) and kshaye (passions). Karmasrava, which means the actual movement of matter towards the soul, affects the soul in eight different ways, gyanavaranr, drshanavaranr, vaidniya, mohniya, ayu, nam, gotr, and antraya all of which have been explained in another connection before.

 

Opposed to Asrava is Samvara, which means the arrest of the inflow of karmas into the soul. The subject is of supreme importance in so far as it implies a discipline which every individual is expected to practice in his own life. There are fifty-seven ways of impeding karmas; the five samitis consisting of the use of trodden tracks in order to avoid injury to insects Eeryasmiti, gentle and holy talk (Bhashase), care in eating (Aishanra), cleanliness (adan) and the careful disposal of rubbish and refuse (prishthapnika); the three guptis or restraints of body, speech and mind; the twenty-two parishes or endurance of hardships, of hunger, thirst, cold, heat, cloth, lodging etc., ten duties (dharm) particularly incumbent upon monks, like forgiveness, humility, straightforwardness, freedom from greed, fasting, control of mind, body and speech, truth, cleanliness, non-attachment, chastity; five Caritra or rules of conduct, twelve bhavanas or reflections about the transient character of the world, about our helplessness without the truth, about the cycles of world-existence, about our own responsibilities for our good and bad actions, about the difference between the soul and the non-soul; about the uncleanliness of our body and all that is associated with it, about the influx of karmas and its stoppage and destruction of those karmas which have already entered the soul, about soul, matter and the substance of the universe, about the difficulty of attaining true principles of the world. Corresponding to the two modes of inrush of karma into the soul. Bhavasamvara means thought modifications with a view to stop the inflow of karmas and Karmasamvara or dravyasamvara means the actual stoppage of the inflow of karma.

 

Bandha is the name of the stage after Karmasrava as nirjara is the name of the stage after Karmasamvara. Bandha means the bondage of the soul by karma, that is to say, subjection of soul to the laws of birth and death, old age and decay, pleasure and pain and other vicissitudes of life brought about by the effect of karma. The jaina view is that we are, by our actions of mind, speech and body, continually producing subtle karma matter, which in the first instance is called bhavakarma and later on transforms itself into dravyakarma, thus pouring into the soul and sticking there by coming into contact with the passions of the soul. The process of generation of Karma and its pouring into and sticking to the soul has been analyzed into four stages, which can be clearly distinguished from each other but not described in the spoken language with sufficient lucidity, Bhavasrava, karmasravava, bhavabandha and karmabandha. Accordingly as good or bad karma matter sticks to the soul, the soul gets colored respectively golden, lotus-pink, white, black, blue and gray; these are known as. Like Asrava, bandha, karma etc., also have been considered in two forms, as bhavalesya i.e., the feelings generated by the accumulation of the karma matter, and the dravya- lesya i.e., the actual coloration of the soul by it. Bandha or bondage of the soul by the karma is of four kinds according to its nature, (prakriti), duration (sthiti), essence (anubhav), and content (Pradaish). Man�s passions are responsible for the nature and duration of Karma and intensity and mass of Karma is largely determined by his exertion.

 

After the effect (vipak) of a particular karma matter has been once produced, it is discharged and purged off the soul. The process of purging off of the karma is called Nirjara. Nirjara also is of two kinds, bhavanirjara, i.e., the change in the soul by virtue of which the karma particles are destroyed, and dravya-nirjara i.e., the actual destruction of the karma particles. Destruction of the karma is automatic after reaping its effects vipak but is possible by proper exertion even before its time of fruition (Opkrmik). The best way is by burning up karma in the glow of austerities (tap). These austerities are of two kinds, exterior or bodily and interior or spiritual. The six exterior austerities are anshan (fasting), unreedree (graduated decrease of the quantity of food), Bhikshacharya (begging), Resprityag (giving up dainty foods), kayaklaish (mortification of the flesh), and Sanleenta (avoidance of temptation by control of limbs etc.); and the six interior austerities include Prayshchit (confession), Vinay (reverence and humility), vyavrit (service), (study), Vinay (Meditation), and Kayotserg (showing and feeling absolute indifference to the body and its needs).

 

When the soul is freed from all bonds to Karma, it gets released from the circle of births. It then attains Moksa or complete deliverance. It becomes a Siddha or a perfect soul, there is no returning again to a worldly state. The Siddha has been defined as a being �without caste, unaffected by smell, without the sense of taste, without feeling, without form, without hunger, without pain, without sorrow, without joy, without birth, without old age, without death, without body, without karma, enjoying an endless and unbroken calm.� The attainment of Siddhahood is by no means restricted to Jaina ascetics, it is equally possible for householders of eminent holiness (Grihasthlingsidh) and even for non-Jainas who live a perfectly holy life (Anyalingsidh). Jaina ascetics obtaining Siddhahood would be known Svlingsidh. It has sometimes been debated whether Moksa is a place situated somewhere in the Universe or merely a state or condition of freedom. In the Moksa state the soul has absolute knowledge and absolute perception so that it knows all things simultaneously: it also has infinite capacity or power for right action (anantveerye), so that karma can never subdue this freedom and absolute bliss (Anantsukh).

 

SYSTEM OF ETHICS.

 

From the foregoing analysis of the fundamental truths of Jainism, it will be clear that Jainism may fairly be regarded as a system of ethics rather than a religion. Its extremely severe practical discipline is a special feature of Jainism. Not only for the ascetic but also for the householder does Jainism prescribe a highly rigorous discipline. Like many other Indian doctrines, it emphasizes enlightenment and conduct, but to these it adds faith, and so insists upon right faith, right knowledge and right conduct as the three precious principles (Gunrratntriya) of life. Right conduct includes the five vows, which have been mentioned before, -viz., Ahimsa, Satya, Astay, Brahmcharya, and aprigreh and a long list of items of self-control and self-restraint. Practically each one of these vows was enjoined in some form or other by other faiths also, but they were quite distinctively interpreted by Jainism. The way in which the doctrine of Ahimsa is made to pervade the whole code of conduct is peculiarly Jaina. Ahimsa has been understood to comprehend Ahimsa in thought, by word or act. It is important to add that it has not been explained merely as negative principle, it has been taken to mean the rendering of active service to others, for we shall be really injuring a person when we can help him but do not. The social or objective side of ethics is not ignored; but in so far as the final aim of Jainism is the development of one�s personality, it emphasizes the individualistic aspect.

 

Purification of the mind is insisted upon as the starting point of all ethical life. No kind of asceticism can be of any good until the mind is purified, for with purification of the mind is the removal of attachment (rag) and antipathy (dvaish) really possible. Purification of the mind is achieved by continuous meditation and constant self-control. During his sadhakas life Mahavira devoted himself intently to meditation and the practice of the ten dharmas including Senyem (self-control or control of the senses), Stya (truthfulness), Showch (purity), Brahmcharya (chastity), Akinrchanya (absolute want of greed), tep (asceticism), Kshma (forbearance and patience), Mardv (mildness), Arjv (sincerity), and Mukti (freedom or emancipation from all sins). It was by that means that he ultimately obtained enlightenment and true self-knowledge. Samtv (the capacity to look on all beings with equality) and Dhyan (or meditation) are interdependent; there can be no Dhyan without samatva, nor can there be samatva without Dhyan. The Jaina Dhyan, consists in the concentration of the mind on the syllables of the prayer phrases, and is enjoined to be practiced as an aid to making the mind steady and perfectly equal and undisturbed towards all things. Further aids to making the mind steady have been mentioned in the Jaina texts. They comprehend Metree (universal friendship), Prmad (the habit of emphasizing the good sides of men), Krunra (universal compassion) and Madhysthya (indifference to the wickedness of people, i.e., the habit of not taking any note of sinners).

                                                              

Jaina texts give a very close description of the system of ethics in their analysis of Bandh and Moksh. Unlike Hinduism, Jainism has correlated ethical teaching with its metaphysical system. The four most important sins are the kasayas, anger, conceit, intrigue and greed. They are sister sins, that is to say, a person committing one of them invariably goes to the commission of others. Krodha or anger has been stressed first, for it is the source of all sins then there is mana or conceit, Maya or cheating and or avarice. Jainism argues that the length of time, a sin is indulged in, affects the nature of the sin. The worst degree to which any of these four sins may be indulged in is called Anantanubandhi when the sin is cherished as long as life lasts; while under the sway of sin to this degree it is impossible for a man to grasp any ideas of religion or to give his mind to study, The next, i.e., Apratyakhyana degree is when the sin, though nursed for a year, is confessed at the great annual confession. Under the influence of these degrees of sins a man might possess an intellectual grasp of religious principles, but cannot possibly carry them our into his daily life, for he cannot really give up attachment to the world. The least harmful of the degrees of sins is sanjvalana, when they are renounced at the evening confession. The matter has been brought home to the disciple by means of a number of parables. In the case of anger the least harmful degree has been likened to a line drawn on water which soon passes away; the next to one drawn to the dust, which is stamped out and effected in a day, the third to a crack in the dried mud at the bottom of an empty village tank which will not disappear till the yearly rains fill the tank and cover it, and the worst of all to a fissure in a mountain side, which will remain till the end of the world. In the case of Maya or deceit, which leads to crookedness, the last degree can be straightened as one can straighten a bamboo cane; the second degree has been likened to the crooked crack of moisture left in the dust by the dripping from the water carrier�s leather bucket; the third degree to a ram�s horn; and the worst degree to the knot in the root of a bamboo, the most crooked thing in the world. The result of any of these four sins, if indulged in the worst degree, is to condemn a man to rebirth in hell; the next worst forces him in his next life to become a bird or a beast, or an insect; it is only the less harmful degrees which would enable him to be reborn as a man or a god; and in order to become a siddha one must completely renounce all wrath, conceit, intrigue and greed.

 

It is important to point out that not only wrath, conceit, intrigue, greed, attachment and enmity are sins in the Jaina view, but also such personal characteristics as quarrelsomeness, slander, the telling of stories to discredit others, undue fault-finding, excessive attachment to worldly objects of affection, hypocrisy and false faith. The list is a comprehensive one, and when one remembers that the Lord enjoined upon every Jaina ascetic or householder, to make a daily confession of these sins, one cannot help being impressed by the significantly ethical character of the whole system. Jaina ethics is not simply negative as some critics have been often inclined to point out. The chapter on Pun gives a list of positive social duties, the performance of which is regarded as bringing peace of mind to the individual. These duties are the giving of food to the hungry, the weak and the needy, the giving of water to the thirsty, the giving of clothes to the destitute, the giving of shelter and lodging to the homeless. By thinking well of every one and by exerting ourselves to render them services also we accumulate merit. Sweet and fruitful speech, reverential behavior and generally amiable disposition are among the other acts of Punya. All these are virtues which are the only firm basis of a truly civic and socially useful life; and even Mrs. Stevenson admits �not in vain are practical ethic wedded to philosophical speculation� in Jainism.