First Steps To Jainism (Part-2)

First Steps To Jainism (Part-2)



With the blessings of Gurudev the second part of our publication `First Steps to Jainism’ is before the readers. It may be recalled that the First Part was printed in 1984 with a second edition in 1989. Since then we have been working on the second part which has indeed taken a long time.

This was partly due the complex nature of the subjects dealt with in this part like ‘The Doctrine of Karma’ and ‘The Central Philosophy of Jainism-Anekantavada-specially the latter. Partly the delay was due the fact that we wanted to explain the subjects in detail to make the book comprehensive and that too in simple language. However, the subject of ‘Anekantavada’ or the Theory of Non-One-sidedness has become so expansive that it has been difficult to keep up with the latest developments, not to talk of explaining the same. Actually with the researches of eminent scholars like Dr. D.S. Kothari and Prof. P.C. Mahalanobis the scope of Anekantavada and Syadvada has become very wide, being corroborated by the conclusions of the latest developments in physics and statistics. Therefore, even experts in these subjects can not throw proper light on the findings of the great men mentioned, because to understand the implications fully one has to have not only the scientific knowledge but also knowledge of the philosophical subjects. Such combinations are very rare indeed. We have, therefore, decided to give the articles of the above named scholars in original in the Appendices. At the same time the demand for the second part has been increasing and enquiries were received as to when this part will be out. Therefore, we have given in the concerned chapters in this book in simple language whatever we understood about these complicated subjects with apologies to our readers who find some grey areas therein.

From the above it will be clear that true to its name, the chapters in this book can be considered first steps to the storehouse of knowledge of the subjects covered. However, after reading the chapters the readers will not remain completely unfamiliar with the subjects and the terms employed; and to some extent their thirst for more information on the subjects may be aroused. Even this will be a source of satisfaction to the authors. For those who are keen for more knowledge, there is abundant literature available on the subjects, some indications whereof will be available in the appendices, which are also scholarly treatises on the subjects. Thus this book will provide not only elementary knowledge as first steps to the subjects, but will also supply some advanced knowledge thereof, and the matter included herein may prove of interest to the laymen as well as the scholars.

For obvious reasons this book should be read in continuation of Part I, in which indications were given about its contents. However, Part I dealt with the basic information about distinctive features of Jain religion, as also the path prescribed thereunder for all-round development of the human personality, man’s place in the universe and his duties to himself and his fellow creatures. We give in the following paragraphs the scope of chapters in this book in brief:

The Doctrine of Karma :

In the first chapter of this book we have dealt with `The Doctrine of Karma’. In Jain metaphysics Doctrine of Karma occupies the same supreme place as God occupies elsewhere as the main moving force. Though the concept of Karma is accepted in all systems of Indian religions “in no other system, perhaps, has Karma been taught to be of such concrete, realistic, physical nature,” as in Jainism, where Karma have special significance as Material particles with psychophysical qualities and distinctive powers of being attached with the soul and giving results. In this chapter an attempt has been made to describe the Karma in their various aspects and varieties. We have drawn heavily on Dr. H.V. Glasenapp’s research work `The Doctrine of Karma in Jain Philosophy’ which was published in Germany in the beginning of this century and was published in India in English in 1942. It is indeed an exhaustive treatise on the subject of Karma and an example of German scholarship and painstaking study. The degree of Ph.D. was granted to the author in 1914 for this work by the Bonn University. We have thought it fit to include in the appendices not only the Preface to the German edition by Dr.H.V. Glasenapp (as App. A), but also the Foreword to the English edition by Rev. Dr. R.Zimmermann of St. Xavier College, Bombay (as App. B), which we found very useful, as well as interesting, and think that these will be liked by the readers. It may also help in charting further studies of the subject as Dr. Glasenapp has given useful information about the books on the subject, and contents of the Karmagranthas.

Stages of Progress of the Soul – The Fourteen Gunasthan :

In this chapter the Jain path of progress of the soul on the way to salvation is indicated whereon the fourteen Gunasthana form the fourteen milestones. This shows that as the Karma load of the soul reduces, the soul rises on the scale of spiritual development and progresses on the path of liberation. This chapter is, therefore, directly related to the ‘Doctrine of Karma. Similarly the next chapter deals with The Five Bodies, the human soul acquires from time to time since times immemorial. These are also related to the Doctrine of Karma, but because of the fact that they are matters of common interest brief separate mention has been made of the same, as the Karma are also attached to the soul in the form of Karma body (Karman Sharir).

The Central Philosophy of Jainism – Anekantavada :

This is the chapter dealing with the philosophical contribution of Jainism which is being supported by latest findings by scientists ranging from mathematicians to physicists. Actually this contribution of Jain philosophy contains seeds of synthesis of conflicting views and proves that the things which appear contradictory are actually complementary. This is also the latest finding of “The Principle of Complementarity which we owe principally to Niel Bohr – perhaps the most significant and revolutionary concept of modern physics”. (Extract from Dr. D.S. Kothari’s article ‘Modern Physics and Syadvada’ given in the App. C) As stated earlier the scope of Anekantavada (including Nayavada and Syadvada which have been dealt with in this chapter) is expanding with modern findings of eminent scholars. Thus, interesting light is thrown by Dr. B.K. Matilal in his lectures delivered at and published by L.D. Institution, Ahemdabad (which one can read with benefit), that Anekantavada is a sub-variety of Vibhajyavadda like Buddha’s Middle way. The latter however, is only analytical and can be termed the `Exclusive Middle’; while Mahavira’s Anekanta should be called `Inclusive Middle’ with analysis as well as synthesis. Further the learned Doctor mentions that the standpoints or Naya were classified into various types for taking into account the different philosophical views prevalent in classical India. The vindication of these age old principles by advancement in science only goes to prove that the great seers-the Jinas-had perceived the eternal truths and one should approach these with open mind and reverence instead of criticizing and scoffing at them as has been the case at times. Special mention may be made of the following appendices on the subject which we have included for the reasons given in the book :

App. C – Modern Physics and Syadvada by Dr. D.S. Kothari.

App. D – The Indian-Jaina Dialectic of Syadvada in Relation to Probability By. Dr. P.C. Mahalanobis.

App. E – The Syadvada System of Predication By Dr. J.B.S. Haldane.

App. F – Anekanta By Dr. Nathmal Tatia.

Freedom of Will

In this last chapter we give the Jain view about the solution of the age old riddle whether man’s destiny is supreme or his effort (Takdir vis-à-vis Tadbir). True to its Anekantavadi tradition Jainism gives a satisfactory answer to the problem which we hope will be of interest to the readers.

We close with our grateful thanks to all those who have helped us in this work, special mention may be made of Shriman Johari Mal ji Sahib Parakh and Dr. Sagar Mal ji Sahib of Varanasi whom we consulted from time to time. The authors of books and articles from which we have drawn heavily deserve our gratitude. These include Dr. B.K. Matilal, Dr. H.V. Glasenapp., Dr. R. Zimmermann S.J., Dr.. D.S. Kothari, Prof. J.B.S. Haldane, Dr. P.C. Mahalanobis, Dr. Nathmal Tatia and others.

Special mention must also be made with our grateful thanks and acknowledgements for the following publications, individuals and institutions whose contribution we have included in this compilation which we think will add to the utility of this book :-

The article ‘Modern Physics and Syadvada’ by Dr. D.S. Kothari has been supplied to us by his son Dr. L.K. Kothari, Jaipur.

Dr. Prakash Rao, editor ‘Sankhya’ has supplied the two articles by Dr. P.C. Mahalanobis and Dr. J.B.S. Haldane titled `The Indian-Jaina Dialectic of Syadvad in Relation to Probability’ and ‘The Syadvada System of Predication’ respectively. These were published in Sankhya (1954) Vol. 18 at pp. 183-194 and pp.195-200 respectively and the Indian Statistical Institute Calcutta has permitted us to publish the same.

Prof. Mahalanobis’ article was originally published by Dialectica Vol 8/2 (1954) pp. 95-111 Switzerland.

Prof. R. Zimmermann’s Foreword and Dr. H.V. Glasenapp’s Preface to the German edition of his book ‘Doctrine of Karma in Jain Philosophy’ has become available to us from the English translation thereof, published in 1942, by the Trustees of Bai Vijibai, Jivanlal Panalal Charity Fund, Bombay.

Dr. Nathmal Tatia has permitted the publication of his article ‘Anekanta’.

We again express our gratitude and reverence to Gurudev who inspired us to undertake these studies, and who is, unfortunately, not with us to bless this effort, as he blessed Pt. I.


M. Com. LL.B., I.R.A.S.

Retd. Financial Adviser & Chief Accounts Officer,

Indian Railways

Former Member, Accounts & Finance,

Rajasthan State Electricity Board


B. Com

‘ALKA’ D-121

Shastri Nagar,

Jodhpur (Raj.) 342 003.

Divali, 1994.