Contribution of Haribhadra to the Yoga-vidya

A Perspective in Jaina Philosophy and Religion

Contribution of Haribhadra to the Yoga-vidya

Prof. Ramjee Singh

[ 1 ]

The Indian systems of thought and culture are not mere speculations on the external nature of things but also of the mysteries of our mind and soul. Even frankly realistic disciplines like Jainism, Nyaya-Vaisesikas and the Mimamsakas show most serious concern to fathom the depths of mind and unravel the knowledge like perception, inference etc. are found to be inadequate and it has been the abiding spiritual ambition of man to extend the frontiers of his knowledge. Even to a scientist, any attempt to put a limit to our knowledge is the result of some wrong notions. Nothing is regarded as static or absolute. Even to the Marxists, ‘there is nothing in the nature which cannot be explained’. Thus the growth of human knowledge has been a sort of progressive limitation of sceptical and agnostic attitudes. It seems that it can extend without assignable limits to knowledge of mankind. A spiritual conviction and a constant urge for the ultimate truth is the mean of our common Sadhana. It is not only the perfection of the cognitive faculty of the self but also its ultimate end. Hence ‘know Thyself’ (Atmanam viddhi) has been regarded as the climax of our spiritual Sadhana. There are obvious limitations to our sensory knowledge, there are antinomies of reasons. Hence, we have to transcend these usual sources of knowledge in order to realize the truth. This process has a common term in Indian thought – Yoga. It is not against but beyond reason (Jnana vijnana sahitam).

[ 2 ]

The term Yoga symbolizes the core of Indian Spiritual Sadhana. The four-fold social division of occupation (Varnavibhajana), its trade and business, language and physical culture etc. are only the external signs of the Aryans; even the concept of other world (heaven-hell) is not its essential ingredients. It real and inner spirit lies in the absolute concentration of thought or one pointedness on the ultimate reality which is beyond the present space and time. Perhaps, on account of this distinctive feature, the Aryans have been judged as superior to all other races and climes.

In life, theory and practice, knowledge and action, empirical and the transcendental require a synthesis. As a matter of fact, the real practice of one’s knowledge is called Yoga. Knowledge precedes, Yoga succeeds. But a knowledge without its practice or implementation is not only incomplete but also ambiguous. Thus Yoga is superior to the Tapas, Jnana and Karma. It is the best of all the three and includes devotion also. Yoga or union with God which is attained through bhakti is the highest spiritual goal. Jnana is scriptural learning (Sastra panditya) and not spiritual realization. Truly wise man is the Yogi. Without Yoga or concentration of mind, the human energies are frittered away in many directions and go waste. Hence, the spirit of man is the key for the success of all practical activities. A man versed only in scriptural learning but lacking in Yogic realization is called as ‘the friend of the learned’ but not a Yogi.

Then there are two dimensions of Yoga – the external and the internal. Even the process of concentration is regarded its outer frame, where as renunciation of all attachment and reducing oneself to zero is its inner spirit. The real Yoga, therefore, consists in the inner poise, self-mastery, its conquest of anger, sensitiveness, pride and ambition. So there are two types of Yoga-the Yoga of knowledge and the Yoga of action. The former consists in the knowledge about the Self, its bondage, liberation and the path of liberation. But mere knowledge or theoretical knowledge is no good. What is more important is the performance of work without any selfish attachment to results, with a view to securing the welfare of the world, with the realization that agency belongs to the modes of Prakrti or to God himself. In fact, Yoga consists in practical realization of the self.

There are three-fold tradition of Yoga-literature in Indo-logical writings the Vedic, the Jaina and the Bauddha. Though the term ‘Yoga’ has occurred many times in Rg-veda, it has always been used in the sense of ‘Union’ only and never in the sense of meditation or concentration of mind. Even such key-words of the Yoga-literature like meditation, non-attachment, breath control, withdrawal from external world etc. are absent in the Rg-veda. However, the Upanisads do abound in the mention of these concepts. There might be differences of opinion regarding the nature or numbers of the ultimate reality but there is a remarkable unanimity regarding the acceptance of yogic sadhana for its realization. All the Vedic systems including the Nyaya-Vaisesika, Samkhya, Yoga and Vedanta accept the utility and relevance of Yoga in their respective systems. Purva-Mimamsa is the only exception which does not ever refer to Yoga. It is interested in ritualistic action. The Gita and the Mahabharata, the Bhagavat, the Yoga-vasistha and the important works on Tantra including many works of Hatha-yoga accept the place and importance of Yoga. Many medieval saints and scholars like Jnanadeva, Ambeya, Kabira etc. have discussed the subject of Yoga with great seriousness.

[ 3 ]

Together with its tradition, the term Yoga has a chequered history. In the Rg-veda, it is used in the sense of ‘union’ later on in about 700-800 B.C., it is used in the sense of ‘yoking a horse’ (uncontrolled spiritual horse). It can be traced also in German-Joch, OE-Geoc, Latin-Juguma, Greek-Zugon. In Panini’s time, the term ‘Yoga’ had attained its technical meaning of concentration. In Jainism, the term Carita (conduct) is the exact equivalent of the general term ‘Yoga’. Jaina tradition, predominantly being ascetic and world-negating lays stress upon willful silence (mauna), austerities (tapas), and other yogic activities. The Jaina Agamas describing about the conduct of the Sadhus (Sadhucarya) refer to many yogic activities like the abstentions and observances (Yama and Niyama), study (svadhyaya), austerities (tapas), withdrawal of the senses (pratyahara) etc. Even the acts of volition (Pravrtti) has to he surcharged by the spirit of volition in the negative sense (nivrtti), technically called as Asta-Pravacana-Mala. Jaina Sadhus are directed to concentrate on study and meditation for the three-fourths of daily routine. In the Jaina Agamas and the Niryuktis, the term ‘Yoga’ has been mostly used in the sense of concentration of mind with numerous classifications and sub-classifications. Even Tattvartha refers to dhyana and the Dhyana-Sataka of Jinabhadra Gani Ksama Sramana is only explication of the notion of dhyana. Hence, Yoga has been rooted in the Agamic tradition.

[ 4 ]

But it was Haribhadra who for the first time gave an altogether new dimension in the interpretation of Yoga. It is only Haribhadra who defined the term ‘Yoga’ in the sense of ‘what leads one to emancipation’ (mukhena, jayano savvo vi dhammovavaro). Thus he has ushered a new era in the Yoga-literature of the Jainas. He wrote important Yoga treatises like Yoga-bindu, Yoga-drsti-sammuccaya, Yoga-vimsika, Yoga-sataka and Sodasaka. The term Yoga used in the general sense of subduing the senses and the mind the process of concentration and ecstasy even in the earlier stages of the Jaina thought as well as the early Buddhist thought. But the terms Jnana (dhyana) and Samadhi were more in vogue than the term Yoga. It is only in the Yoga-sutra of Patanjali that we find the proper location of dhyana in the eight-fold process of Yoga, for the first time. Haribhadra’s in his characteristic catholic outlook did not discuss and interpret Yoga according to the Jaina tradition only but he made a comparative and critical study of Patanjali’s Yoga etc. The description of eight-fold standpoints in the Yoga-drsti-sammuccaya is altogether a new dimension in Yoga literature.

All spiritual and religious activities that lead towards emancipation are considered by Haribhadra as Yoga. His ingenuity lies in the yogic interpretation of the Jaina doctrine of Spiritual development (Guna-sthana). The soul has inherent capacity for emancipation but this capacity remains dormant and inactive due to Karmic influences. But the soul can be roused to active spiritual excertion which is nothing other than yogic activities. The Jainas do not believe either in the eternal revelation of the truth like the Mimamsakas and the Vedantins, or, in its revelation by a Supreme Divinity like the Nyaya-vaisesikas and the Patanjali-yoga. Only rare souls known as Tirthankaras, who have acquired potency of revealing the truth and preaching it to the world by their moral and virtuous activities can also help in arousing us from moral slumber. The centrifugal tendency of soul to run away from the fetters of world existence is thwarted by a centripetal force of attachment (raga), repulsion (dvesa) and perverted attitude (mithyatva). However, the soul, when it achieves purification feel uneasiness with the worldly existence and shows manifestation of energy known as Yathapravrttakarana for the spiritual advancement. But the struggle between the two-fold processes, centrifugal and the centripetal continues unless the soul develops such spiritual strength as is destined to lead it to final emancipation by reducing the duration and intensity and also the mass of Karmic-matter through the triple processes of Yathapravrttakarana, apurva-karana and anivrttikarana. The soul then starts climbing up the spiritual ladders of Upasamasreni (ladder of subsidence) and Ksapakasreni (ladder of annihilation) up to the final fourteenth stage of absolute motionlessness.

Haribhadra’s style of describing the fourteen stages of spiritual development through the process of Yoga is original and illuminating. While discussing, he has mentioned the names of many Yogis and treatises on Yoga. A crucial problem is posed by Haribhadra to know the real point of the beginning of the spiritual development of soul desiring salvation in the timeless world of attachment. According to Haribhadra, when the influence of deluding Karma start decreasing, the process of spiritual development starts. The state prior to this beginning of the spiritual development is called ‘Acaram Pudgala Paravarta’, while the posterior state is called ‘Caram Pudgala Paravarta’. Between these two poles of Acaram and Caram, we have the different stages of spiritual development. Here in the process of Yoga begins, which causes simplicity, humility, catholicity, benevolence and other virtues in the soul. The emergence of these ethical virtues are the outer signs of the spiritual development of the soul.

The special features of Haribhadra is his comparative studies in Yoga. For example, in Yoga-vimsika, wherein five kinds of activities (Sthana, Urna, Artha, Alambana and Analambana) divided into external activity (Karma-yoga) and internal spiritual activity (Jnana-yoga), are discussed, Haribhadra has tried to correlate them with stages of spiritual development (Guna-sthana). For example, these activities can be properly practiced only by those who have attained the fifth or a still higher stage of Guna-sthana. In this way, Haribhadra correlates the different stages of Guna-sthanas to the different stages of concentration (dhyana). Haribhadra compares analambana-yoga with samprajnata samadhi in Patanjali’s system, the final consummation of analambana concentration is Asamprajnata samadhi. Similarly, the fourteenth stage of spiritual development corresponds to the dharmamegha samadhi to bhavasatru of a third system, to amrtatman of yet another system, to bhavasatru of a third system, to Sivodaya of yet another school. Similarly, Haribhadra tries to show the unanimity of the conception of final self-realization of all the systems of thought. Haribhadra enumerates eight primary defects, from which the mind of a yogin must always be free. By practicing the concentration of mind the soul realizes itself. This is known as Supreme bliss (Paramananda) in the Vedanta, the extinguished lamp (vidhmatadipa) of the Buddhists, extinction of Animality (pasutvavigama), end of suffering (dukkhanta), freedom from the specific qualities (Nyaya-vaisesika), and detachment from the elements (bhuta-vigama). Like an impartial truth-seeker, Haribhadra asks the seekers to keep their minds open and investigate the truth with perfect detachment and freedom from prejudices.

Similarly, Haribhadra shows that there is a fundamental unity among all apparently conflicting systems of thought regarding the means to free from the worldly existence. He asks us to see unity in diversities. He lays down five steps as a complete course of Yoga, i.e., Contemplation of truth (adhyatma), Repeated practice (bhavana), Concentration of mind (dhyana), Equanimity (samata) and Annihilation of all the traces of karman (Vrttisamksaya). The same principle, according to Haribhadra, is expressed by different terms. It is Purusa in the Vedanta as well as Jaina system, as Jnana in the Buddhist school, Ksetravit in the Samkhya system. Similarly, the fundamental ground of worldly existence is called Avidya (Vedanta and Buddhism), Prakrti (Samkhya), Karman (Jainas). Similarly, the relation between matter and spirit is known as Bharati (Vedanta and Buddhism), Pravrtti (Samkhya) and Bandha in Jaina system. Haribhadra referring to Gopendra of the Samkhya System holds that the Purusa does not even inquire about the path of realization unless the Prakrti has turned her face from it. In other words, it is the nature of the Spirit to get disentangled from matter. For this requisite purification of the soul is very necessary. Then the soul becomes a boadhisattva or Tirthankara. When a man becomes a boddhisattva, there is no mere spiritual degeneration to him. He does not commit evil or sin, on the contrary, he is taken exclusively in the well-being of others, acquires wisdom, treads upon right path and appreciates merit. Haribhadra compares the Jaina conception of Tirthankaras with the Bodhisattvas. He distinguishes three categories of souls destined to be emancipated-Tirthankaras, Ganadharas and Munda-kevalins. Haribhadra’s contribution also lies in suggesting five-fold stages of preliminary preparation for Yoga as we find in Patanjali’s scheme of Yama and Niyama. As we have referred earlier, the stages of the soul are adhyatma, bhavana, dhyana, Samata and the last Vrttisamksaya. Here the accumulated and obscuring karmas are destroyed for ever and the soul attains omniscience and final emancipation.

In Yoga-drsti-samuccaya, Haribhadra presents a novel plan of classification of Yogic stages. The core of this scheme is the concept of Drsti which means attitude towards truth. The most important features of spiritual development is acquisition of love of truth (Samyag-drsti). The gradual purification of its love of truth takes place corresponding to the purification of soul. So long the soul has not cut the knot and attained purification, our attitude is bound to be wrong, and perverse called as avidya, mithyatva or darsana-moha. Without purification of the soul, we can have only common place attitude of the spiritually advanced soul (yoga-drsti). Haribhadra listed eight kinds of gradual development of love of truth (drsti) corresponding to the eight-fold stages of Patanjali’s Yoga. Haribhadra refers to the consensus of opinion of a number of authors regarding the stages of Yoga in his Svopajnavrtti. His love of truth is so great that he can never be sectarian. Haribhadra asks us to realize the truth by means of all the three organs – scriptures, logic and practice of Yoga in keeping with best tried and trusted tradition of India. The truth is one. It cannot be many. There is only the difference of angles or terminology. Yoga is not the monopoly of a particular sect or system. It is based on direct experience of the seers and lovers of truth. Differences in terminologies of different system about the same concept is illustrated by Haribhadra. For example, the state of final realization is known as Sadasiva in one system, Parabrahmana in another, Siddhantatnam in the third and tathata in another system. Hence, there can be no conflict when the truth is realized. Controversies take place only when the truth has not been realized as an empty pot sounds much. The various revelations have to be understood from various contexts and angles. The love of truth (drsti) give us the power to cultivate faith in spiritual revelations, Similarly, referring to the seventh drsti (nrabha), Haribhadra compares it with Visabhaga-Pariksaya in the Buddhist School, Prasantavahita in the Samkhya and Sivavartman in the Saiva system, and as dhruvadhvan in the Mahavartikas.

Besides these eight-fold drstis corresponding to the eight steps of Yogic-sadhana in Patanjali, Haribhadra refers to the three-fold Yoga – The first stage is Iccha Yoga when inspite of knowledge and will, the Yogic practitioner falters in his practice on account of inertia (Pramada). The second stage is called Sastra Yoga, wherein the practitioner does never falter in his yogic practices, strictly follows the scriptural injunctions and has developed penetrating insight. The third and the last stage of Yoga is Samrthya Yoga, when he has fully mastered the scriptural injunctions and has developed the power to transcend them. There are the three broad divisions of all the possible stages of Yoga and the eight-fold drstis are only the elaboration of these three. Similarly, Haribhadra’s four-fold classification of Yogins, viz., gotra, kula, pravrttacakra and nispanna. The first are not incapable of emancipation while the last have already achieved their final state. Hence, it is only the Kula and Pravrttacakra yogins who need yogic instruction.

In spite of these resemblances, there are fundamental differences also with the mystical way adopted by the Jaina monk. Yoga-system of Patanjali has not recognized the imperativeness of mystical conversion. Probably, it confuses moral with the mystical conversion , the importance of initiation by a Guru, and the necessity of seeking his guidance at every step, the possibility of fall from certain heights, i.e., dark-nights of the soul, the significance of Pratikramana and Pratyakhyana. Haribhadra knew these different systems of Indian thought. The process of spiritual development as traced in Yoga-drsti-samuccaya is different from that we find in Yoga-bindu. Yoga-vimsika does not describe the preliminary stages of spiritual development but it discuss adequately about the later stages. Altogether, Haribhadra’s studies in Yoga-vidya is a landmark in Indian spiritual sadhana.