As has been said before, India was during Mahavira’s age passing through a period of unusual religious enthusiasm. The county as a whole, and in particular the eastern provinces, were bristling with conflicting views and rival schemes. Numerous individual philosophers and religious sects were preaching their doctrines, and the relations between them were not always of the happiest kind. The animosities of the time may be well illustrated by the remark made by Mahavira’s newly ordained lay disciple, Ananda, in Uvasagadasao sutra; “Truly, Revered Sir, it does not befit me from this day forward to praise and worship any man of a heretical community, or any of the objected of reverence to them; or without being first addressed by them, to address them or confuse with them; or to give or supply them with food or drink except it be the command of the King or the community or any powerful man or deva or one’s own elders or by the exigencies of living.” Even the Acaranga sutra explicitly says that “to friendly or hostile one should not give alms, drink, dainties and spices...... nor do them service......” The insistence on the necessity of right faith is indicative of the same thing. Faith has been held to be easier to obtain by those who, though not versed in the sacred doctrines, are not acquainted with other systems and hold no wrong doctrines. Among the eight principles on which the excellence of faith rests, the most important have been mentioned as the absence of preference for heretics and the non-shaking of right belief at the prosperity of heretical sects.
Classification of creeds:
The account of philosophical schools mentioned in the Jaina canonical literature refers to three hundred and sixty three different creeds divided into four great schools-Kriyavada, comprising 180 different doctrines; Akriyavada 84, Ajnanavada 67, and Vinayavada 32.
Kriyavadais the school which admits the existence of the soul by itself (svta) for all eternity (nitya). Among the Kriyavadins there may be those who believe that the soul exists in its own nature and is eternal but acts through time (kalvadi) and those who believe that the soul exists in itself eternally through Isvara or those who believe that the soul exists by itself eternally through Atma (atmvadi) or those who believe that the soul exists in itself eternally through Niyati (the fixed order of things niyativadee) or those who believe that the soul exists by itself eternally through Svabhava or nature (savbhavvadee). There may be further divisions of the Kriyavadins according to whether they consider that the soul exists but is not eternal or that the soul exits but not of itself, that is to say, that it can be known only by contrast with other things. The Kriyavadins, among whom Jainism may also be included, hold the belief that unless a sinful thought is translated into action or a sinful act performed with a sinful motive, the full karmic consequences will not follow and the soul will be affected but slightly, and further that misery is produced by one’s own acts and not by the act of somebody else, viz., fate, creator etc.
Akriyavada denies the existence of the soul and considers that everything has a momentary existence and that a state comes to an end the moment it comes into existence. Without continuity of existence no Kriya is possible, so that when existence is believed to be momentary in its character, the philosophy is essentially Akriyavada. The Akriyavadins are mentioned in the texts as not admitting that the action of the soul is transmitted to future moments and as holding that nothing exists and all forecasts of the future are false. The Buddhists are obviously included in this school, for their doctrine is that everything has but a momentary existence and that there is no continuous identity of existence between a thing as it is now and as it will be in the next moment. By not admitting the existence of Jiva, they were considered by the Jainas denying Karman as well.
The Ajnanavada school denies the necessity of importance of. According to them knowledge is not the highest accomplishment, for where there is knowledge, there is contradiction, dispute and discussion. On the other hand, ajnana or negation of knowledge may be the condition of the absence of pride and ill- will and so removal of bondage. Knowledge produces volition, and the result of volition is karma and therefore bondage, while ajnana generates absence of volition.
Vinayavada upholds the supremacy of reverence as the cardinal virtue that leads to perfection.
In Buddhist literature also there is an elaborate description of contemporary schools. The classification given in the Brahmajala Sutta in the Digha Nikaya divides contemporary philosophical thought into sixty-two schools, like the Eternalizes, holding that the soul and the world are both eternal, the semi Eternalizes, believing that the Brahma is eternal but not individual souls, the Extensionists, who built up their doctrines round the finiteness or infiniteness of the world, and the Eal-Wrigglers, who gave no categorical replies to any questions but specialized in ambiguous and equivocating replies. It may be pointed out that the disputes between the various schools did not always arise on properly religious subjects. At times disputes arose over cosmographic details, as illustrated in Bhagavati Sutra in the story of Prince Shiva where the duration of the God’ lives in different heavens became a matter of hot debate.
We know that the most important rival creed with which the Jaina preachers were faced was that of the Buddhist and that it was at the hands of the Buddhists that the Nirgrantha suffered most in latter times. But in the Jaina canonical literature there are very scanty references to Buddhism, although Buddhist literature on the other hand abounds with criticisms of the Jaina doctrine. For this there may be several reasons. The Buddha was a junior contemporary of Mahavira and had therefore greater need for counter-acting and criticizing the creed of the latter than Mahavira had for combating the doctrine of a junior. Not only was Mahavira senior, the system which he was preaching was also, as we have stated before an ancient system. The rivalry between the two sects grew stronger after Mahavira’s death.
Nevertheless references to the Buddhists as heretical order are there in the Jaina canons. In Acarangasutra there is mention of a school of heretical order are there in the Jaina canons. In Acarangasutra there is mention of a school of heretics who justify the use of water on the ground of having permission to drink it or take it for toilet purposes; this undoubtedly refers to the Buddhists for the Buddha had declared that there was no sin in either drinking water or in using it for bath and wash. He permitted bath and washing to is ascetic disciples. Their doctrine of the five Skandhas of momentary existence has been ascribed to “some fools,” There is an undeniable reference in this to the Rupa, Vedana, Vijnana Samjna and Samskara skandhas of the Buddhists. Akriyavadins who deny karman and do not admit that the action of the soul is transmitted to future moments, are possibly the Buddhists also. In Sutrakrtanga Sutra, in the discussions of Adda a man appears and argues that if one pierces a lump of oilcake with spit mistaking it for a man or a gourd, mistaking it for a baby and roasts it, one will be guilty of murder; while of a savage puts a man on a spit and roasts him mistaking him for a lump of oilcake or a baby mistaking it for a gourd, he will not be guilty of murder. This is an account, although exaggerated, of the Buddhist view that motive determines whether an act is sinful or not.
The best known heresy to the Nirgranthas was, however, the doctrines of the Ajivika. They have been referred to with the greatest frequency and their doctrines have been denounced with very great vehemence and care. From descriptions in the Jaina sutras the Ajivika doctrine would appear to be an extreme form of Niyativada, that there is no such thing as exertion or labor or power or manly strength but that all things are caused by destiny which is unalterably fixed.
“Saddalaputta, the follower of the Ajivika, one day brought out his air dried potter’s ware from within his workshop, and placed them in the heat of the sun.
Mahavira, who happened to go there, asked “Saddalaputta, how is this potter’s ware made?”
Saddalaputtra: “Reverend Sir, this ware is at first clay, then it is kneaded with water, and then it is mixed well together with ashes and dung; then it is mixed well together with ashes and dung; then it is placed on the wheel, and finally many bowls and jars of various sizes are made.”
Mahavira: “Saddalaputta, is your ware made by dint of exertion and manly strength, or on the other hand, is it made without exertion and manly strength?”
Saddalaputta: ”Reverend Sir, it is made without exertion and manly strength, and all things are unalterably fixed,”
Mahavira: “Saddalaputta, if any one of thy men were to steel thy unbaked or baked ware or scatter it about or make holes in it or let it drop into pieces or place it outside unguarded or if he were to indulge in outrageous familiarities with thy wife Aggimitta, what punishment would thou inflict on that man?”
Mahavira then pointed out that if all things were unalterably fixed and depended not on exertion, then he ought not to take any action again this servant’s conduct for the servant was not responsible for it. This convinced Saddalaputta of the falseness of Ajivika doctrines and he was converted to the creed of Mahavira.”
Dr. Barua has collected and reviewed exhaustively all the materials available in Jaina and Buddhist texts on the history of Ajivika and the life and teachings of Gosala, the founder of the Ajivika order. The order did not die with its leader, although it undoubtedly lost its vigor and following to a large extent, The Bhagavati Sutra gives a detailed description of the meeting between Gosala and Mahavira and of the manner of Gosala’s death.
“The headquarters of the Order was in Savatthi in the shop of the potter woman Halahala. In the twenty-fourth year of Gosala’s ascetic life he was visited by six ascetics with whom he discussed their doctrines and propounded his own theory from the eight Mahanimittas belonging to the Purvas consisting of the principles of obtainment and non-obtaining, pleasure and pain, life and death. He met a disciple of Mahavira and notified to him his intention of destroying Mahavira by means of his fiery forces. The threat was conveyed to Mahavira who forbade Nirgrantha ascetic to hold any communication with Gosala. Gosala called on Mahavira and angrily ridiculed him for having called Gosala a disciple of Mahavira. “Mankhaliputta who was a disciple of Mahavira” said Gosala “was dead and reborn in the heavens as a god. But I whose name was Udayi was born in the body of Ajjuna and entered in the seventh re-animation the body of Gosala, which I still hold.” He then went on to narrate in detail the processes of re-animation he had undergone in the bodies of different persons in different places and how in his seventh and last re-animation he obtained omniscience in the body of Gosala in the potter shop of Halahala. Mahavira in reply told him that he was like a thief who being chased by villagers attempted to conceal his identity under various disguises and in various places of hiding. Gosala was enraged at this and hotly abused Mahavira. A disciple of the latter intervened but was burnt up by Gosala’s fiery forces. Another disciple also met with the same fate. Mahavira himself now rebuked Gosala who attempted to burn him but was unsuccessful. A scene followed of trial of strength between the two teachers. They parted and Mahavira instructed his disciples to go and annoy Gosala with questions.
“After sometime Gosala was stricken with a fever and being delirious he held a mango in his hand, drank liquors, sang, danced and made improper advances to Halahala, and sprinkled on himself the cool muddy water from the potter’s vessels, which acts, Mahavira explained to his disciples, led to the Ajivika doctrines of the eight Finalities (Atthacarimaim). The first four of he eight Finalities were the last four acts performed by Gosala, viz., the last drink, the song, the last dance and the last improper solicitor. The other four were the last tornado, the last sprinkling elephant, he last fight with big stones and missiles, and the last Tirthankara who is Golsala himself.
Gosala’s sprinkling himself with the muddy water from the earthen vessels gave rise to the doctrine of the four things that may be used as drinks and the four things as their substitutes by virtue of the coolingness. Those that may be used as water are the cow’s urine, water accidentally collected in a Potter’s vessels, water heated by the sun, and water dripping from a rock. Those that may be used as substitutes are holding in the hand a dish or a bottle or a jar or a pot which is cool or moist; squeezing in the mouth a mango or a hogplum or a jujube or a tin-duka fruit when it is unripe or uncooked, but not drinking its juice and feeling the touch of the moist hands of the gods punnabhadda and Manibhadda when they appear on the last night of six months to one who eats pure food for six months, lies successively for two months each on bare ground, on wooden planks, and on kusa grass. He who submits to touch of the two gods furthers the work of venomous snakes but he who does not do so generates in himself a fire, which burns his body, and he dies and attains liberation.
Ayambula, an Ajivika, came to visit Gosala at the time and felt ashamed finding Gosala in a delirium. He was about to go away but Ajivika elders called him back, explained the new doctrines and asked him to put his question to Gosala after throwing away the mango in his hand. Ayambula did so and asked about the halla insect. Gosala replied “This which you see is not a mango but only the skin of a mango. You ask about the halla insect, it is like the root of the bamboo; play the lute, man, play the lute.” Then Gosala feeling the end approaching called his disciples and requested them to observe his funeral with all honors and proclaim that he was the last Tirthankara. But afterwards he felt that he was not an omniscient but a false, teacher and a humbug but that Mahavira was the true Jina. Then he called his disciples and asked them to treat him with dishonor after he was dead and proclaim his misdeeds and the Jina hood of Mahavira. Then he died. The Ajivika theras closed the door and pretended to carry out Gosala’s last instructions, and then they opened the doors and gave him a funeral according to his original wishes.”
The account may be exaggerated, but seems to be fundamentally well- based. It is also corroborated by Buddhist texts. The Buddhists had no cause for special resentment against the Ajivika, yet even the Buddhists do not refer to Gosala with respect. Dr. Hoernle mentions in his article on the Ajivika in the Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics that in the mouth of the Buddhists, ‘Ajivika’ was a term of reproach, meant to stigmatize Gosala and his followers as professionals. Gosala’s humble origin and humble connections may have been partly responsible for the contempt with which, he was looked upon by the other religious leaders.
Gosala’s father was Mankhali, who used to wander about from place to place exhibiting a picture. He once came with his wife to Sarvana and took up his lodging in the cowshed of a wealthy Brahmin called Gobahula, and Gosala is reputed to have been born there. For some time Gosala himself seems to have followed his father’s calling, but ultimately he took up ascetic life and for sometime was also a companion of Mahavira during the period of his preparation. The story of Gosal’s separation from Mahavira, assumption of the Jinahood, and the establishment of the Ajivika order, has already been told in a previous chapter.
Jaina literature is full of references to numerous schools of popular Brahmanism. Among heretical doctrines there is mention of some, who hold that the owing of possessions and the engaging in undertakings is quite compatible with the attainment of perfection. This is obviously a reference to Brahman priests who supported a non-ascetic religion of rituals and ceremonies and themselves possessed wealth and property. The Sankya, Yoga, Vedanta and other views also have been referred to in order to equip the Nirgrantha ascetic with the usual beliefs of the common people entertained under wrong understanding, and also with a view to show up the apparently contradictory views held by the Vedantists and the Purantists. The Philosophy of the Nastikas, the materialists, who deny the existence of the soul, is also mentioned as a wrong doctrine.
There is mention of a host of minor schools, holding quite unusual views: (1) That a Jiva performed right conduct and wrong conduct at the same time, (2) That there is no harm in enjoying the pleasures of the senses, for it gave relief to the enjoyer without causing harm to any one else, (3) that the soul and everything else is mere appearance, mirage, an illusion, a dream, a phantasy, etc.
The twenty-seventh year of Mahavira’s ascetic life, that is, the fifteenth year after the attainment of Kevala, the year of his famous encounter with Gosala, was marked by the occurrence of the first schism in the community, when Jamali separated from the Lord with a small band of his disciples who afterwards gradually left him. The event that had led to the dissension can briefly be stated as follows. Once Jamali begged permission to go wandering with a large number of ascetics, but Mahavira gave no reply even after being asked three times. Jamali, however, did not wait for the permission any further and left Mahavira, together with his own disciples. While thus wandering independently, once upon a time he went to Sarvasti and stayed at the Tinduka garden. He had been suffering from fever at the time and asked his companion ascetics to stretch a bed to lie down upon. While they were stretching the bed, he asked them whether it was ready. They replied in the affirmative. But when Jamali found that it was only being made ready, he got angry, and ascribed their affirmative answer to their false doctrine that a thing in the making is as good as a thing completely made (karain manrai kedai). His companions tried to convince him of the soundness of the doctrine, but he would not listen to them. There was much discussion about Jamali’s refutation of the doctrine, and some of his disciples left him consequently. Jamili visited Mahavira at Campa in order to inform him that he had attained omniscience. But when Mahavira refused to admit his claim, Jamali felt humiliated and finally left him to establish his own order. His order, however, does not appear to have lasted for long. It is most probable that his order did not survive him. Jamali is the first Nihnava ‘dissenter’ in the Sangha established by Mahavira.
The texts record six more such Nihnavas belonging to different periods, within the first six centuries of the Nirvana of Lord Mahavira in the history of the Jaina church. They are Tisyagupta (15 years after Mahavira’s Kevalihood) the Acarya of the Jivapradesikas; Asadha 214 years after Vira-nirvana) the Acarya of the avyaktikas; Asvam itra (220A. V.) the Acarya of the Samucchedkas, Ganga (228 A. V.) the Acarya of the dvaikriyas; Saduluka (also known as Rohagupta, 544 A. V.) the Acarya of the Trairasikas; and Gosthamahila, (584A. V.) the Acarya of the Ababdhikas.
The Jivapradesikas held that the last space-point of the soul was the soul proper in view of the fact that the soul is incomplete and, therefore, not soul proper unless it includes its last space-point which completes its being. But they did not notice the fact that any and every space point of the soul could be considered as the last space point and as such they insisted on a doctrine which had no sound reasoning behind it. Tisyagupta formulated the doctrine on the basis of some texts which he failed to understand properly. The Avyaktikas were skeptics who were suspicious of everybody and so did not bow down to anyone. The result was that their lay disciples also began to withhold their respectful homage from them. It is said that the Avyaktikas developed this skeptic attitude after they were made to bow down to the corpse of their Acarya named Asadha, who re-inhabited his own corpse, out of mercy, in order to bring to a speedy end the Yoga of his disciples. The Samucchedikas were those who believed in the momentariness of all things. Asvamitra was their Acarya. He misinterpreted a text and developed the doctrine. He remained quite blind to the other texts, which clearly stated the permanence as well as constituting the nature of a thing. The Dvaikriyas upheld the doctrine of the possibility of the experience of two-fold actions at one and the same time. Ganga the Acarya of Dvaikriyas was one day crossing a river, when he experienced both cold and heat, and jumped to the conclusion that they felt simultaneously. The Agama text, however, clearly denies the possibility of two-fold experience. The Trairasikas were those who believed in the three categories of Jiva, Ajiva and No-jiva instead of the two, viz., Jiva and Ajiva as accepted in the Agamas. Sauluka as their Acarya, who is said to have invented the third category in order to defeat his opponent by confronting him with a new problem. But afterwards when he was asked by his gura to admit the trick before the judges, he disagreed and was consequently turned out of the Sangha. The Abaddhikas upheld that the Karma-matter can only touch the soul, cut cannot become one with it, because if it became one with the soul, there would be no possibility of re-separation. This doctrine openly goes against the accredited view that Karma unites with the soul exactly as heat unites with iron and water with milk, Gosthamahila was the Acarya of the Abaddhikas.
The sects founded by these Nihnavas, it appears from the accounts given, did not survive their founders. The accounts further reveal the fact that the Jaina Sangha as strong enough to foil the attempts of these dissenters at bringing about any untoward change in it.