Jain Ethics and Asceticism
104. Samyama or self-restraint is the basis of Jain asceticism. It is seen in the various vows, disciplines, codes of conduct and other doctrines propounded by Jainacaryas. The Maligns or basic virtues are nothing but regular practical exercise in self-control. Vinaya or humble attitude is the result of self-control. The commentator Aparajitasuri says in his Vijayodya Tika on the Mularadhana that which removes, keeps away or destroys inauspicious or sinful acts is Vinaya (Vinayati apanayati yatkarmasubham tad- vinayah). It is related with knowledge, faith, conduct and austerity.
105. Modesty, discipline, compassion, charity and other such good qualities are essence of Jainism and Jainism is to have a Right faith (Samyagdarsana) as its foundation. Right faith means right vision. Self-confidence, faith, trust and fidelity are its ingredients. Without realizing the self, it is aimless wandering in the undiscovered caves of fallacious reasoning. Samvega (the fear of worldly bondage), Nirveda (detachment), and Astikya (theism, belief in the next life and in the next world) are other its remarkable characteristics. By this way, the ascetic becomes desire less, fearless, and doubtless in observing the religious vows. One attains more purity, peace, insight, conduct and attainments (Labdhis) through Samyakdarsana.
106. Spiritual disciplines and practices are representative wings of religion and philosophy. Spirituality is immanent in human nature; religion is the moral force and philosophy and asceticism are intellectual and practical instruments respectively for achieving the spiritual and religious goals. Under this perspective, Jainism originally preaches ideals for attaining spirituality. Its religious ascetic aspects enjoin discipline for social upliftment and enlistment and philosophy justifies them for exemplary behaviors. Spirituality relates to having belief in an independent existence of soul, its nature of innate purity, and the removal of ignorance through right means. To attain this spiritual goal the certain amount of disciplines and practices are prescribed by all the systems. Therefore there is no controversy over the spiritual goal but controversy lies in framing the disciplines and practices leading to the goal. Here we shall have the bird’s view of the concept of Jainism in this regard.
107. Vows (Vratas) in Jain asceticism are the form of self- discipline. They should not be viewed superficially. A spiritual aspirant must observe vows both in theory and practice. Spirituality is the essence of spirit or self or ultimate reality in being which comprises its right knowledge and right conduct in its relation with the universe. It is beyond the physical or material world and therefore is immanent. It is called Adhyatma (pertaining to self) in Sanskrit. Spiritual knowledge of the self or Atman requires its realization that one has capacity and aspiration to attain the highest and ultimate truth. Spirituality needs spirit in its purity, which can be achieved only by right conduct and inwardness, intuition and mysticism. Ultimate reality is related to world until one reaches ultimate spirit destiny. Therefore there is significant relationship between human and pure spiritual and natural and super- natural phenomena.
108. Soul or spirit is, according to Mahavira, the central point of spiritual discipline and practices. For spiritual realization, he preached Right faith, right knowledge and right conduct which constitute all three together the path of spiritual salvation termed as triple jewel (Ratnatraya) 35 The Uttaradhyayana clearly says that Nirvana cannot be attained without observing combined the Ratnatraya36. Bhatta Akalanka explains the trinity with the help of medicine, which cures the diseases by following faith, knowledge and conduct accordingly37 this, is the abridged form of Astangikamarga or vice-verse.
109. Belief in the ascertainment of things in their true character is right faith. It can be achieved by avoiding doubts in the teaching of Jina, desire for worldly enjoyment, admiration for the knowledge and conduct of the wrong believers and so on. Anger, pride, deceitfulness and agreed are the passions which lead to endless worldly existences or transmigrations. Consequently on the fruition of Karmas, the soul wanders into different conditions of existence. When the infinite Karmas are completely destroyed, the perfect knowledge, perfect perception, fearlessness and infinite enjoyment are attained by the purified soul. This process comes under the Samvara and Nirjara Tattvas. Samvara means the obstruction of influx of Karmic matter and the Nirjara connotes the separation of part of Karmic matter from the soul. Stoppage and gradual dissociation of Karmas are the chief causes of liberation. Puiayapada defines state of the soul on the removal of all the impurities of Karmic matter and the body, characterized by the inherent qualities of the soul such as knowledge and bliss free from pain and suffering38