It is a common human experience that if a man has to undertake any work or scheme and be successful in it, he must have a good faith in it, and faith or belief is nothing but a firm persuasion of the mind regarding the utility and fruit, etc., of the thing or act to be believed in. Jainism has systematically worked out this common-sense view4l in the conception of its first jewel of the trio viz., samyag-drsti or samyaktva–Right Belief. Samyaktva is defined in various ways by different Acaryas, but the main point carried through these definitions is more or less the same. Some Acaryas like Camundaraya define it as, “Faith in the path to liberation shown by the Jina.”42 Others like Haribhadrasuri define it as, “Faith in the truths enunciated by the Tirthankara.”43 Some other Acaryas like Samantabhadra, Vasunandi etc., describe it as faith in the three articles of belief:

  1. apta (theJina)
  2. agama (the scriptures) and
  3. tattvas and padarthas44

Hemacandra calls it, “Faith in the right deva, the right guru and the right dharma.”45

The discussion of samyaktva:

Right Belief has been the essential part of any portion of the work connected with the householder’s conduct or of special treatises on the same, because Right Knowledge and Right Conduct (the other two jewels of the trio) are founded on Right Belief. The Uttaradhyayana-sutra announces that Right Knowledge cannot be attained in the absence of Right Belief; acquirement of Right Conduct is impossible without Right Knowledge; and without Right Conduct there can be no liberation.46 The Yasastilaka of Somadevasuri explains: Right Belief “is the prime cause of Salvation, just as the foundation is of the main-stay of the palace, good luck that of beauty, life that of bodily enjoyment, royal power that of victory, culture that of nobility and policy that of Government.47

With a view to describing samyaktva in all possible details and through different angles of vision, the Jaina Acaryas have brought it under different categories which are as follows:

  1. gunas (characteristic qualities),
  2. angas (limbs),
  3. dosas (errors),
  4. lingas (characteristics),
  5. bhusanas (excellences) and
  6. aticaras (infractions).48

While guna, anga and dosa are the Digambara concepts, linga and bhusana are presented by Hemacandra. The category of aticara; however, is common to both the Digambara and svetambara texts. R. Williams has systematically tabulated these categories with the following observation 49 “The subject of samyaktva is too vast and too imprecise to lend itself readily to numerical categorisation and there is considerable confusion and over-lapping in the lists of qualities and defects conceived to describe it.” I think it is natural to have been so, because the categories are conceived and laid down by different Acaryas, in different periods and with different practical needs.

Now let us pass our eyes over the various catagories of samyaktva. The following are the eight gunas ( characteristic qualities ) given by Camundaraya, Amitagati, Vasunandi etc., in their respective treatises:

  1. samvega spiritual craving
  2. gama, upasama tranquility
  3. nirveda disgust
  4. bhakti devotion
  5. anukampa compassion
  6. ninda remorse
  7. garha repentance
  8. vatsalya loving kindness

Following are the eight angas (organs) or smayaktva listed by Acaryas like Samantabhadra, Somadeva, Amrtacandra etc., in their respective works:

  1. nihsanka freedom from fear
  2. nihkandsa desirelessness
  3. nirvicikitsa overcoming of repugnance
  4. amudha-drsti unswearing orthodoxy
  5. prabhavana good works
  6. upaguhana edification
  7. sthiti-karana strengthening of faith
  8. vatsalya loving kindness

Following are the eight dosas (blemishes) enumerated by several Dig. authors in their works; and they are just the negations of the angas:

  1. sanka fear
  2. kanksa desire
  3. vicikitsa repugnance
  4. mudha-drsti blind orthodoxy
  5. aprabgavaba not doing good works
  6. anupaguhana non-edification
  7. asthiti-darana not strengthening the faith
  8. avatsalya unkindness

Following are the five aticaras (infractions) listed in all the concerned works of the Digambara as well as the Svetambara authors. These aticaras can be equated with the first four dosas:

  1. sanka doubt
  2. kanksa desire
  3. vicikitsa repulsion
  4. para-pasandi-prasamsa admiration of adherenst of other creeds
  5. para-pasandi-samstava praise of adherenents of other creeds

Hemacandra’s list of the five lingas (characteristics) is as follows. These almost stand in rank with the gunas listed above:

  1. samvega spiritual craving
  2. sama tranquility
  3. nirveda disgust
  4. astikya outright acceptance of jina-mata as the veritable creed
  5. anukampa compassion

His list of the five bhusanas (excellences) is as follows. The last element is common with the fifth of the angas listed above:

  1. sthairya firmness
  2. kausala being well versed in the Jaina Doctrine
  3. tirtha-seva frequentation of the tirthas- holy places
  4. bhakti devotion
  5. prabhavana good works

While describing samyaktva, and perhaps with a view to heightening its importance, mithyatva false belief is also described bringing it under different classifications with varied number of divisions: five, three and seven. Following is the one with three divisions:

  1. agrhita an inherent attitude
  2. grhita an acquired attitude
  3. samsayika an attitude of doubt or indecision

Some Acaryas have envisaged samyaktva from a negative angle of vision i.e., samyaktva which is free from twenty-five dosas (blemishes): eight kinds of madas (vanities), three mudhatas (foolish ideas or superstitious beliefs), six anayatanas (disrepects) and eight dosas (defects). The Ratnasara of Pujyapada raises the number of these blemishes to forty-four by adding the following nineteen: seven bhayas (fears), seven vyasanas (vices) and the five aticaras (infractions).

Samyaktva is also classified with various number of divisions. But the classification with three divisions i.e., ksayika, aupasamika and ksayopasamika, has been found to be much in vogue in the treatises on the householder’s code of conduct, particularly by the Digambara authors. It may be noted that each of the divisions indicates the extent to which the karmic matter has been eliminated from the soul or jiva.50

Some Jaina texts, both canonical and non-canonical, have also mentioned in the course of their dealing with samyaktva, the sources through which it could be acquired, cultivated and consolidated. The Uttaradhyayana-sutras51 mentions ten such sources: nisarga, (natural or spontaneous effort of the mind), upadesa (advice), ajna (precepts laid down in the scriptures), sutra (study of sacred texts), bija (logical inference), abhigama (comprehension of the meaning of the Sacred Law), vistara (extensive study), kriya (practice of rules of conduct), samyaktva (exposition in brief) and dharma (righteous behavior). In his Atmanusasanas52 Gunabhadracarya too enumerates these ten sources, with rather different terminology in respect of some, in the course of his elaborate discussion on samyaktva.

Lastly, it is worth noting that the category of the 3 salyas (darts) is closely associated with samyaktva. These salyas are:

  1. maya doubt
  2. mithyatva false belief
  3. nidana desire or longing for future worldly pleasures

These darts or ‘harmful stimuli or stings’53 distract one who has acquired right belief and make him shaky in his approach to the ethical discipline. So, one has to be free from them before accepting the vows To stress this, thus runs the ancient precept; nihsalyo vrati– a vower should be dartless.54

All these categories, classifications, sources, etc., of samyaktva very well reflect the magnitude of the width and depth of thought given by the ancient Jaina Seers and later Acaryas to this first jewel of the trio, which has been almost raised to the status of a vrata (vow), preliminarily quite essential to the householder on the eve of undertaking his vows. Some of the Acaryas have convincingly brought out the importance of samyaktva in the scheme of the householder’s conduct as a whole. Svami Samantabhadra says that Right Belief acts as a pilot (karnadhara) to Right Knowledge and Right Conduct on the path leading to Liberation and hence, is entitled to precedence over the two.55 Moreover, he points out that one should acquire samyaktva in its perfect form, i.e., with all its eight angas (organs) intact. Because just as an incomplete mantra (a magical formula) is incapable of removing pain and suffering arising from venom, so belief, which is imperfect in its organs, is unable to accomplish emancipation.56 The author of the Savaya- pannatti tells that samyaktva is the foundation for the householder’s code of conduct which is twelve-fold: savaya-dhamma duvalasaha eyassa mulavathu sammattam.57 Somadevasuri in his Upasakadhyayana, which comprises 46 chapters (kalpas), allots 20 of them for the discussion of samyaktva alone,58 which fact shows the extent of importance he gave to it.

In the Jaina stories also we get glimpses of the householder’s ethical discipline, wherein samyaktva or samyag-drsti too is found to have been given its due place. I can present, in support of this fact, one or two references from the Voddaradhane, a collection of stories, the earliest available Kannada prose work belonging to the first quarter of the 10th century A.D.59 (i) In story No 560Annlkaputra, son of a merchant goes to a wandering monk staying then in the park outside the town, listens to his preaching and teaching or sermon (dharma), and (consequently) adopts the householder’s rules of conduct (sravaka- vratas) as preceded by samyaktva (samyaktva-purvakam). (ii) In story No. 6,61 almost all people of the town move to listen to the sermon being delivered by the Bhatara (eminent teacher)i they all listen with great adoration and (consequently) those, who were of false belief (mithya-drstigal) acquire samyag-drsti and adopt the householder’s vows; and those, who were (already) householders, have their samyag-drsti made firm (drdha-samyag-drstigalagi) and then return home after adoring the revered one.

These two relevant references from the two stories in the Vaddaradhane clearly indicate the following points regarding samyaktva: (i) In those days, that belonged to the golden period of Jainism in Karnataka, the Jaina teacher or wandering monk infused through his instructive sermon (dhamma or dharmu-katha) right belief in persons with religious bent of mind like Annikaputra and, then,administered the partial vows. (ii) He eliminated false belief from some persons (possibly non-Jains), infused in them right belief and administered to them the partial vows. (iii) He also consolidated the right belief already possessed by the regular householders attending his sermon. (iv) He was thus the principal spring and protector of right belief for the masses in general.


41. Prof. Hermann Jacobi at some other context remarks that the Jainas have always sided with common-sense views. Vide op. cit, p. 60.

42. (i) CaritraSara, p. 2. (ii) It may be noted that this Camundaraya, a monk, is different from General Camundaraya, the author of the Camunduraya-Purana in Kannada.

43. Sravaka-dharma-puncasaka, v. 3.

44. (i) Vasunandi-5ravakacara, v. 4. (ii) Padarthas are 9, with the addition of punya (merit) and papa (sin) to the 7 tattvas (principles) which are the categories brought under the ethical classification of Reality as follows: jiva (soul), ajiva (non-soul), asrava (inflow of karmic matter into the soul), bandha (bondage), samvara (stoppage), nirjara (elimination) and moksa (liberation). The householder must have perfect belief in the nature of all these as enunciated by the Jina.

45 Yogasastra, v . 2.

46. Ch. 28, gaha 30.

47. Yasastilaka and Indian Culture, by Dr. Hanqigi, p. 248.

48. All English terms used for translation here cannot, of course, cover the exact meanings of the original ones.

49 Op. cit., p. 41.

50. R. Williams, Op. cit., p. 50.

51. (i) Ch. 28, gaha 16. (ii) Some scholars interpret all these ten as divisions of samyaktva. But the suffixed term rui (ruci ) – taste, relish, close application to, to each one here (like dhamma-rui), rather indicates that they are sources.

52 Sacred Books of the Jainas, Vol. VII, verses 11-14.

53. As translated by R. Williams, Op. cil. p. 50.

54. Tattvartha-. utra, VIII-18.

55. (i) Ratna Karandaka Sravakacaraa v. 31. (ii) Prof. Padmanabh Jaini, California University, Berkely (U.S.A.), observes that Samyaktva is the seed of perfection and “it is the single most sacred thing for the Jain. And upon this foundation he has built a very elaborate network of holy practices for the realisation of his true nature.” Vide his erudite paper, Jaina Concept of the Sacred, appearing in the Ahimsa-Voice, April-July number, 1990.

56. Ratna Karandaka Sra, v. 21.

57. Verses 6 7.

58. Nos. 2 to 21.

59. By so far an unknown author, a Digambara monk.

60. Op. cit, pp. 71 -72.

61. Op. cit., pp. 82-83.