The significance of these nine tattvas, which
comprehend the whole process of bondage and freedom of the soul and hence
these also constitute the foundation and metaphysical structure of Jaina
Philosophy, will be dealt in later chapters. Thus, if one proceeds with
the belief in these Tattvas, his Darsana is Samyag or Right.
(2) Samyag Jnana - With this ï¿½Samyag Darsana' one
proceeds further, through scriptures tries to know more about these
Tattvas, their role in life and way to proceed onwards on the path to
salvation. This is the stage of acquiring proper knowledge.
There has been a good deal of debate on the question
whether ï¿½Darsana' precedes knowledge or vice a versa. In my humble view,
this debate is fruitless and merely academic because both are
interdependent. Without Darsana there would be no Jnana, the greater the
acquisition of Jnana, the greater is the Darsana. An analogy of a blind
and a lame-man, caught in a forest-fire, and who wanted to get at a safe
place is quite apt. If both cooperated and the blind agreed to carry the
lame and the lame agreed to show the path, both of them could carry
themselves safely out of fire. Want of proper Darsana amounts to blindness
and want of proper Jnana amounts to lameness. Darsana desires to get oust
of the fire of this worldly existence but cannot do so, so long as Jnana,
lame, without proper Darsana, does not co-operate and is ready to show the
details of the path. It is thus clear that proper Darsana and proper Jnana
are supplementary to each other.
Regarding Jnana the Jaina philosophers have their own
peculiar approach. To them, since the knower (Jnata) is the ï¿½self', the
Jnana acquired by self is always ï¿½direct'. The word used is ï¿½Pratyaksa'(direct),
i.e., without any medium. In ordinary sense, by ï¿½direct', knowledge we
mean, the knowledge acquired directly through senses or through our mind
and reasoning. But to Jaina philosophers, this knowledge, acquired through
our senses and mind is indirect. Because the main characteristic of Atman
(soul) being pure and illuminating consciousness, its direct knowledge
means ï¿½knowing' the things without any medium whatever. This ï¿½illuminating
consciousness' of the soul is called ï¿½Sva-para-prakasa', i.e.,
illuminating itself (Sva) as well as all other objects (Para). This is why
senses and mind are treated, in the ultimate analysis, as obstacles to the
realization of ï¿½Kevala-jnana'. Omniscience is the purest form of
knowledge. Therefore, the goal of every process of Yoga is to transcend
the limitations of mind and body both. The basic difference between
oriental and occidental thinkers is that while the orientals have gone
deeper than the mind in the process of exploring the self (soul), the
occidentals have mostly stopped at the mind process.
Five Categories of Jnana
Jainas have categorised Jnana(knowledge) into five
categories - Matisrutavadhi-manah- paryaya-kevalin Jnanam, i.e., Mati
(Sensory), Sruta (Scriptural), Avadhi (Clairvoyance), Manah-paryaya
(Telepathy) and Kevala (Omniscience). We shall now discuss each of them in
short and show how the soul proceeds to attain the last and the highest
category of knowledge, i.e., Kevala-jnana (Omniscience).
Jaina scholars have treated this subject very minutely
but here I have given only broad aspects of the basic principles of the
Jaina Epistemology. First, Jainas have classified knowledge into two
categories, i.e., Indirect and Direct. Of the above five varieties, first
two (Mati and Sruta) are Indirect (Paroksa) kind of knowledge as these are
attained through the activity of Senses and Mind (Manas). The remaining
three (Avadhi, Manah-paryaya and Kevala) varities of knowledge are
instances of direct knowledge. These three are considered direct
perception because they are acquired by the self independently of the
Senses and Mind, as Umasvati has put it - Adye-paroksam Pratyaksamanyat.
(a) Mati-jnana (Sensory knowledge) - It is the
knowledge obtained through senses and mind (Tadindriyanindriya Nimittam).
Thus what we see by eyes, hear by ears, taste by tongue as also what we
remember, infer and all knowledge acquire through logic and reasoning fall
within the classification of Mati. Jaina scholars have gone much deeper in
discussing psychological analysis to show the process of acquiring
Mati-jnana. There are four stages of Mati-jnana--Avagrahehavayadharana,
i.e., Avagraha (Sensation), Iha (Speculation), Avaya (Judgement) and
Dharana (Retention). Avagraha means contact-awareness, e.g., if we touch
something in darkness, we become aware of the fact that we have touched
something, though we do not know what that thing is. However that touch
sets us thinking as to what it is. We try to know whether we have touched
a rope or a serpent, and we reason out that it cannot be serpent. This
stage is called Iha (Speculation). Then we proceed further, make further
inquiry and finally conclude that it is nothing else but a rope. This is
called Avaya (Judgement). The conclusion, thus arrived at, is retained
rather permanently in memory. This is Dharana (retention). All these
stages of perception apply as much to the knowledge of a metaphysical
doctrine as to a physical object such as a rope.
Prof. Gopalan opines that Jainas conception of four
stages of sensory perception bears similarity with the analysis given by
modern psychologists in this regard. To quote his words-"It may be pointed
out that the four stages of perception analysed by the Jaina philosophers
are comparable to the analysis given by modern psychologists. The
psychological insight of the Jaina-philosophers is extremely significant
of their carefully and deeply analysing concepts relating to human mind."
(b) Sruta-jnana (Srciptural Knowledge) - This knowledge
is derived from the scriptures and the persons learned in scriptures.
Samskrta word ï¿½Sru' means ï¿½to hear'. Sruta means ï¿½heard'. Earlier Indian
tradition was to hear and remember the scriptural doctrines, recorded at a
subsequent stage. The preachings and sermons of Tirthankaras (Jaina
Prophets) were subsequently recorded by their direct and immediate
disciples who came in their personal contact. These writings are called ï¿½Angas'.
So the knowledge contained in these ï¿½Angas' is called Anga-pravista-sruta
meaning recorded in Angas. But the subsequent writings by those who
followed, are known as Anga-bahya-sruta meaning recorded outside the Angas.
These are the two main classifications of Sruta. There are many
sub-classifications, which we shall not touch.
Sruta is essentially the product of Mati, for the
obvious reason that application of mind, logic and reasoning are essential
for acquiring Sruta. As Umasvati puts it, "Srutam Matipurvam" means Sruta
is the product of Mati. Since Mati is the product of sense awareness, it
mostly relates to present objects but Sruta can comprehend past, present
and future, and is mainly the product of mind "Srutamanindriyasya". Sruta
is obviously more mature and determinative. Mati is subjective to the
person who acquires it while Sruta has many cognizers. These are the main
distinctive features of both these categories of ï¿½indirect knowledge'.
The other three categories of knowledge are direct.
Soul can perceive them without the help of mind or sense-organs. The soul
acquires these knowledge on the Karmic coverings, clouding its faculty of
knowledge, being removed. These coverings are called Jnanavaranya Karmas,
i.e., the karmas clouding the faculty of knowledge. We shall discuss it in
the chapter on Karmas. Here the point to be noted is that when karmas,
which cloud soul's faculty of knowledge, are removed it beings to exhibit
gradually the rest of the three categories of direct knowledge.
(c) Avadhi-jnana - It enables the ï¿½self' to know all
tangible objects within a limited compass of space even though these
objects are concealed from eye sight. Avadhi means limit. This knowledge
does not go beyond a limited space.
(d) Manah-paryaya Jnana is the knowledge by which the
ï¿½self' can read the mind of others.
(e) Kevala Jnana is boundless and unlimited. It
is perfect in all respects (Paripurna), complete (Samagra), unique (Asadharapa),
absolute (Nirapeksa), pure (Visuddha), all comprehensive (Sarva-bhava-jnapaka).
Its object is this and the other world (Lokaloka Visaya) and with
cognizance of infinite variations and modes of objects (Ananta Paryaya) -
(Sarvadravya Paryayesu Kevalasya). Thus this is the stage of omniscience
having no limitations of time and space. Such a soul is generally
identified as ï¿½Sarvajna' but the Jainas have preferred the terminology of
ï¿½Kevala-jnana' to convey the same meaning namely, knower of everything.
The question is whether the expression ï¿½Kevala-jnani' is used to suggest
the knowledge of past, present and future, irrespective of spiritual and
temporal distance or to suggest a philosophical insight, capable of seeing
through not only the ideological and theoretical position but also all the
different variations and modes which an object or a proposition is
expected to undergo under different situations and circumstances. Pt.
Sukhalalji, a great modern Jaina Scholar is of the opinion that the
expression ï¿½Kevala-jnana' is used in the later sense and not in the former
sense. According to him the expression conveys philosophical insight which
misses no aspect while assessing a thing or a thought. He emphasies that
the famous proposition of Acaranga-sutra, "Je Egain Janai Se Savvam Janai",
meaning "one who knows one (Atman), knows everything" goes to show that
one who properly knows the real nature of the soul, automatically knows
all its different manifestations, variations and modes and it is in this
sense that the quality of omniscience is attributes to a ï¿½Kevala-jnani'.
This modern interpretation may not be acceptable to old thinkers. However,
the fact remains that the insistence that Darsana and Jnana both must by
ï¿½Samyag' i.e., proper, points to the perfection which is not hindered by
any prejudice or predilection. This seems to be more in line with the
thinking of Sukhalalji.
It is emphasised that this categorization of knowledge
is not imaginary. We do come across the people who possess Avadhi and
Manah-paryaya-jnana. It shows that every soul has the potentiality of
achieving the highest omniscience provided in is able to totally
annihilate its Karmas. It prompts and encourages every soul to undergo
ethical discipline if it wants to achieve the highest type of knowledge.
We have seen how during the journey to freedom the soul
passes through the cycle of births and rebirths and is thus getting
experience of worldly objects and enriches itself with the knowledge of
(3) Samyag Caritra - However, this knowledge
cannot reach its perfection unless it is followed by action, because
thought without action is disease. Knowledge can become real and Samyag
only when it is ï¿½experienced'. A bare academic knowledge is, according to
the thinking of all shades of Indian philosophers, mere information. One
ï¿½knows' fully only when one experiences the thing which is to be known.
Mere academic knowledge is philosophy, but when that knowledge is
converted into actual action it becomes religion in practice. Western
philosophers like Nietzche and Schopenhauer were mere philosophers. They
did not and could not live what they preached. General tendency of the
Western philosophers is to divorce philosophy from religion. In India such
an approach is absolutely rejected. To an Indian mind no philosophy is
worth anything unless it is lived in actual life. Here lies the importance
of the distinction between Pratyaksa (direct) and Paroksa (indirect)
knowledge discussed above. Philosophy which is not practiced in life, is
not directly perceived and experienced by the self and hence it remains
confined to mind. It belongs to the category of Mati or Sruta and has no
status better than a mere ï¿½information'.
It is for this reason that the third jewel Caritra
assumes importance. If this Caritra, i.e., the action in life, building of
ones character as per Darsana and Jnana, is Samyag, i.e.,proper, one is
surely on the path of Moksa-liberation. To achieve this, Mahavira has
prescribed five ethical principles, namely-Ahimsa (Non-violence), Satya
(Truth), Asteya (Non-stealing), Brahmacarya (Celibacy) and Aparigraha
(Non-possession). What is the comprehensiveness of these principles and
what is the technique to observe them would be the subject matter of a
different discussion. If would, however, be sufficient to note here that
unless the first two jewels are followed by the third, our journey to
freedom would always remain incomplete.