Ethical Aspect of Prasamarati Prakarana
The aim of philosophical investigations is not purely theoretical, but predominantly practical according to the major schools of Indian philosophy. Philosophy is not merely intellectual gymnastic, but a way of life for Indian thinkers. That being so, it is quite natural that ethics plays an important role in philosophical enquiries in India. Jainism in fact gives greater importance to ethical aspects of life. It is predominantly ethical in its nature.
Jainism like other systems, believes that emancipation is the ultimate goal of life. The empirical Self from the beginningless past is under the malignant influence of passions occurring from the association of karmic matter. Passions, alongwith psycho-physical activities, attract fresh material particles which get transformed automatically into karmic particles and engender empirical bondage of the soul. So long as the soul is imprisoned in the body; is subject to the shackes of the organism and is enmeshed in sordid karmic matter. So long as the soul is in the bondage of karmic matter, it will never be free from the taint of misery and pain (Pr. 30). Complete freedom can be attained only by checking the continuous activity of mind; speech and body, which is the cause of fresh inflow of karmic matter to the soul and by the elimination of the accumulated deposits of karmic force from the soul. Thus, liberation is deliverance of the soul from karmic bondage. To achieve this perfect state, ethical disciplines are prescribed as the means.
Jaina thinkers firmly believe that, the way to Moksa (emancipation) lies through the three jewels (ratnatraya) known as Right Faith, Right Knowledge and Right Conduct.53 These, three are said to be the ingredients of discipline that leads to freedom from karmic bondage. These three gems together constitute one path and are to be simultaneously pursued. If one is absent, the path of salvation is incomplete (Pr.230). They are inseparably bound up and prefection of one goes with the prefection of the other two (Pr.231). Right faith means, an unflinching faith in the nine fundamental principles of Jainism (Pr.232). Right knowledge is correct knowledge of the tattavas as taught by Jainas. (Pr.227). Right conduct is making ones life conform to the truths learnt. Right faith is the first step on the path of spiritual development. But this alone is not enough for complete spiritual advancement. It must lead to Right knowledge of reality. The Right knowledge of the nature of reality is a necessary condition to spiritual development. These two, Right faith and Right knowledge alone would not be sufficient to lead us to the highest spiritual goal. Acquisition of Right knowledge must lead to Right action. Without Right conduct, knowledge is futile. Thus, Right conduct in the light of Right faith and Right knowledge is a necessary condition for attaining the highest goal. In other words, Right faith is responsible for placing a person on the right path, Right knowledge illumines the path and Right conduct leads to the goal Thus Umasvati, emphatically maintains that all these three aspects must be present in a person, if he is desirous to reach his spiritual goal.54 Without Right conduct, Right faith and knowledge have no meaning. It is Right conduct which ultimately leads a person to the highest aim of life. Thus, Jaina thinkers prescribed an exhaustive list of code of conduct. These principles of code of conduct are prescribed to engender the spirit of renunciation in the soul, weaken and destroy the bonds of its Karmas and enable one to attain its original perfect state of Infinite, Power, Knowledge and Bliss.
So far as right conduct is concerned, it comprises of two sets of rules, one consisting in injunctions applicable to monks and other in directions to householders. Really speaking, Jainism gives a prominent place to the life of a monk and the life of a householder occupies only a secondary place. It considers that the life of a householder is just a stepping stone to the life of a monk. It believes that asceticism is a sovereign remedy against all ills of this life and life hereafter. According to Jaina thinkers, liberation, the ultimate aim of life cannot be attained without complete renunciation of the mundane life.