Jainworld
Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions

Publisher's Note

Something About Late Shri V.R. Gandhi
Contents
Introduction
I - The Sankhya Philosophy
  II - The Yoga Philosophy
  III - The Naya Philosophy
  IV - Mimamsa
  V - The Vedanta Philosophy
  VI - Buddhism
  VII - Jainism
  Sanskrit Terms

VII - Jainism

 

 

VII

JAINISM

 

1.   For this, the last lecture of the course, the subject that I have selected is Jainism, and I shall condense as much as possible the things that might be said on the subject.

 

Any philosophy or religion must be studied from all standpoints, and in order thoroughly, know what it says with regard to the origin of the universe, what its idea is with regard to God, with regard to the soul and its destiny, and what it regards as the laws of the soul's life. The answers to all these questions would collectively give us a true idea of the religion or philosophy. In our country religion is not different from philosophy, and religion and philosophy do not differ from science. We do not say that there is scientific religion or religious science; we say that the two are identical. We do not use the word religion because it implies a binding back and conveys and idea of dependence, the dependence of finite being upon an infinite, and [the idea that] in that dependence consists the happiness or bliss of the individual.1 With the Jainas the idea is a little different. With them bliss consists not in dependence but in independence; the dependence is in the life of the world and if that life of the world is a part of religion then we may express the idea by the English word, but the life which is the highest life, is that in which we are personally independent, so far as binding or disturbing influences are concerned. In the Highest State the soul, which is the highest entity, is independent.

 

2.   This is the idea of our religion. The first important idea connected with it is the idea of universe. Is it eternal or non‑eternal? Is it permanent or transitory? Or course, there are so many different opinions on the subject, but with these opinions I am not concerned in this lecture; I am only going to give the idea of the Jaina philosophy.

 

We say that we cannot study any idea unless we look upon it from all standpoints. We may express this idea by symbols or forms; we have expressed it by the story of the elephant and the seven blind men who wanted to know what kind of animal the elephant was, and each, touching a different part of the animal, understood its form in so many different ways and thereupon became dogmatic. If you wish to understand what kind of animal an elephant is, you must look upon it from all sides, and so it is with truth. Therefore we say that the universe from one standpoint is eternal and from another one‑eternal. The totality of the universe taken as whole is eternal. It is a collection of many things. That collection contains the same particles every moment, therefore as collection it is eternal; but there are so many parts of that collection and so many entities in it, all of which have their different states which occur at different times and each part does not retain the same state at all times. There is change, there is destruction of any particular form, and a new form comes into existence; and therefore if we look upon the universe from this standpoint it is non‑eternal. With this philosophy there is no idea, and no place for the idea, of creation out of nothing. That idea, really speaking, is not entertained by any right‑thinking people. Even those who believe in creation believe from a different standpoint than this. It cannot come into existence out of nothing, but is an emanation coming out of something. The state only is created. This book in a sense is created because all its particles are put together, having been in a different state. The form of the book is created. There was a beginning of this book and there will be an end. In the same manner, with any form of matter, whether this form lasts for moments or for centuries, if there was beginning of this book and there will be an end. In the same manner, with any form of matter, whether this form lasts for moments or for centuries, if there was a beginning there must be an end.

 

    We say there are both preservation and destruction in the many forces working around us all these forces are working ever moment in the midst of us and around us, and the collection of these entities is called by the Jainas `God'.2 The Brahman. Represent it by the syllable OM; the first sound in this word represents the idea of creation, the second of preservation and the third of destruction. All these are energies of the universe and taken as a whole they are subject to certain fixed laws. If the law are fixed why do people bow down to these energies? Why do they consider the collective energy as a god or as God? There is always an idea of the power to do evil in the beginning of this conception. When railroads were first introduced into India ignorant people who did not know what they were, who had never seen in their lives that a car or carriage could be moved without the horse or the ox, thought that there was some divinity in the engine, some God or Goddess. and some of them even bow down before the car; and even to this day you will find in some parts of India, among the pariahs  or low class, that there are people who entertain this idea. So to these energies in our primitive state we are liable to attribute personality; and after a long course of development we symbolize our thought in the form of pictures and explain them in that way to make them more intelligible to others. In the ancient times there was not rain but a rainer, not thunder but a thunderer, and in that way, personality is attributed, or living consciousness and character, to those forces. There may be conscious entities in these forces, as there may be living entities on the planets, but these forces themselves are not living entities. This, however, expresses the idea in the beginning; these energies were classed as creative, preservative and destructive, and these three entities were considered to be component parts of one entity called Brahma by the Hindus. Really, creation in this is in the sense of emanation, preservation is used in the sense of preserving the form, and destruction in the sense of destroying the form.

 

 The idea of matter is something that can be handled or perceived by the senses and the energies must be material energies, as cohesion, magnetism, electricity, but to consider these God would be the most materialistic idea, and therefore the Jainas discard this idea so far as the Godhead or Godlike character is concerned. They of course admit the existence of these energies, that they are indeed to be found everywhere, but they are subject to fixed laws which cannot be interfered with by any person, not that these energies consciously influence our destinies with regard to good and evil. To say that they do so influence us is only to show our ignorance with regard to their laws. These energies collectively we call substantiality. There are innumerable qualities and attributes in matter itself, and they manifest themselves at different times and ways. We are not able selves at different times and ways. We are not able without further development to know what energies are inherent in matter, and when any new thing comes to view we are surprised, and whatever is surprising is considered to be something coming from divinity; but where we understand scientific principles the surprise is removed and it is all as simple as the daily rising and setting of the sun. Thousands of years ago the different phenomena of nature were considered in different parts of the world to be the working of different Gods and Goddesses, but when we understand science these phenomena become simple and the idea of theses beings as characters of the highest spiritual power goes away.

 

3.   `What is the God of the Jainas?' you will ask. I have only told you what he is not. I will now tell you what it is. We know that there is something besides matter; we know that the body exhibits many qualities and powers not to be found in ordinary material substances, and that the some thing which causes this, departs from the body at death. We do not know where it goes; we know that when it lives in the body the powers of the body are different from what they are when it is not there. The powers of nature can be assimilated to the body at death. We do not know where it goes; we know that when it lives in the body the powers of the body are different from what they are when it is not there. The powers of nature can be assimilated to the body when that some thing is there. That entity is considered by us the highest and it is the same inherently in all living beings. This principle common to us all is called divinity. It is not fully developed in any of us, as it was in the saviors of the world, and therefore we can them divine beings. So the collective idea derived from observations of the divine character inherent in all beings is by us called God. While there are so many energies in the material world and in the spiritual and putting those two energies together we give them the name of nature we separate the material energies and put them together; but the spiritual energies we put together and call them collectively God. We make a distinction and worship only the spiritual energies. Why should we do so? A Jaina verse says, " I bow down to that spiritual power or energy which is the cause of leading us to the path of salvation, which is supreme, which is omniscient; I bow down to the power because I with to become like that power." So where the form of the Jaina prayer is given the object is not a receive anything from that entity or from that spiritual nature, but to become like that power." So where the form of the Jaina prayer is given the object is not to receive any thing from that entity or from that spiritual nature, but to become one like that; not that spiritual entity will make us, by a magic power, become like itself, but by following out the ideal which is before our eyes, we shall be able to change our own personality; it will be regretted, as it were, and will be changed into a being which will have the same character s the divinity which is our idea of God. So we worship God, not as being who is going to give up something, not because it is going to do something or please us, not because it is profitable in way; there is not any idea of selfishness; it is like practicing virtue for the sake of virtue and without any other motive.

 

4. (a) Now we come to the idea of soul. The ordinary idea of soul substance is that in order for thing to exist it must have formed, it must be perceived by the senses. This is our ordinary experience. Really speaking it is the experience only of the sensuous part of the being, the lowest part of the human entity, and from and experience we derive conclusions and think that these conclusions apply to all substance. There are substances, which cannot be perceived by the senses; there are subtler substances and entities and these can be known only by the consciousness, by the soul. Such a substance which cannot be seen, heard, tasted, smelt or touched, is a substance which need not occupy space and need not have any tangibility, but, it may exist although it may not have nay form.3 Sight is an impression made on the nerves of the eye by vibrations sent forth form the object perceived and this impression which we call sight, if there are no vibrations coming out of the object, is of course not produced; but if this substance influences us in certain ways the implication is that there is something moving or producing vibrations, and these cannot exist unless there is some material substance which is vibrating. The very fact that something is moving in some way and influences us in some peculiar way implies that there is something material about this. If there are no vibrations the substance is not material. It need not exist in a form, which will give us the impression of any color, smell, etc. There is nothing, which can partake both the attributes of soul and of matter; the attributes of matter are directly contrary to those of the soul. While one has its life in the other, it does not become the other.