Philosophical Aspect of Prasamarati Prakarana

Though the central topic of Prasamarati is mainly ethical, the erudite writer deals with almost all the important philosophical principles such as Tattavas, Substances, Syadvada, theory of Karma and so on.

Tattvas :

Tattvas are the fundamental principles on which Jaina philosophy rests.  These tattvas form the metaphysical background of Jaina ethics.  In the absence of knowledge of realities, self-realization is an impossible task.  Any amount of moral practice is futile without knowing the nature of reality.  Thus metaphysics and ethics are the two sides of the same coin.  Metaphysics deals with the theoretical aspect of nature or reality while, ethics with practical side of it.  Ethics is a means to realize the nature or reality.  It is this close relation between philosophy and ethics that led the Jaina thinkers to introduce nine fundamental principles in their system.  These tattvas deal with the cause of samsara (cycle of births and deaths) and release from this chain of mundane life.  The insight into the nature of these tattvas is considered to be the beginning of ethical and spiritual life.  An unflinching faith in these tattvas is called Right path-samyak darsana (Pr. 222).

Firm faith in and knowledge of these tattvas are of primary importance for an aspirant of liberation.  These nine fundamental principles are as follows :

Jiva (soul), Ajiva (non-soul), Punya (merit), Papa (demerit), Asrava (inflow of karmic matter), Samvara (stoppage of karmic influx), Nirjara (annihilation of stock of Karma), Bandha (bondage of Karma) and Moksa i.e., total annihilation of Karma (Pr. 189).

The first two of the tattvas deal with the nature and enumeration of the eternal realities and remaining seven with the interaction between two of these substances, namely, soul and non-soul.

Jiva- the soul is the first important principle, without which all other principles lose their significance.  It is the self which is bound and it is the self which seeks freedom from bondage.  Thus it is of utmost importance to have knowledge of nature of the self prior to the knowledge of other principles.

There are two aspects of Jiva-nominal and phenomenal.  In its former aspect, it is enternal being without beginning and end, pure consciousness, free from taint of Karma, but with regard to both its births and deaths in which it is united with the karmic matter since beginningless past, it has both beginning and end.

Consciousness is a characteristic mark of the soul (Pr. 194).  Empirical Jiva consists of faith (darsana), knowledge (jnana), conduct (caritra), power (virya) and disciplinary virtues (Siksaguna) (Pr. 218).

Jainism subscribes to the view of plurality of souls.  Since there are many bodies there are many souls.  The souls are of different grades.  First of all, these souls are brought under two broad divisions viz., the liberated (mukta) and the mundane souls (Pr. 190).  The difference between the liberated souls and the bound ones is that while the former being free from bodily adjuncts, as well as from the limitations caused by the karmic matter, are pure, perfect and are possessed of infinite knowledge, infinite power and bliss and the latter are in a state of bondage of Karma, limited by adjuncts, impure, imperfect and have limited knowledge, owing to their being limited by the karmic matter.  The liberated souls live in Sidhaksetra while the Samsari Jivas live in the world.

These Samsari Jivas are divided into two sub-groups, viz., mobile (cara) and stationary (acara).  Souls can be divided into three types-male, female and neuter.  Again, Jivas can be divided into four kinds on the basis of place where they are born, viz., hellish, sub-human, human and gods.  The souls also can be divided into five kinds on account of possessing number of senses viz., one-sensed to five sensed Jivas.

Stationary (acara) Jivas have only one sense organ, that of touch and they are of five kinds, the earth bodied, the water bodied, the fire bodied; the air bodied and the vegetation (Pr. 192) and remaining two-sensed are mobile souls. These samsari Jivas can be divided into infinite number on the basis of birth, knowledge, modifications etc. (Pr. 193).

Ajiva-non-soul : It is in all respects opposite of Jiva.  It is unconscious.  It is classified into five kinds viz., dharma (medium of motion), adharma (medium of rest), akasa (space) pudgala (matter) and kala (time).  The pudgha has a form (tangible-rupin) and others are devoid of form.  (Pr. 207).  These five categories constitute the world (universe-loka).  The pudgala (matter) is a very important category which has malignant influence on the nature of the soul.  An apprehension of the nature of ajiva will yield insight into the nature of the material binding force, which is to be shaken of for the freedom of the soul.  Freedom from bondage implies the removal of the karmic particles of matter and its result (body etc.) from the Jiva.

The good and auspicious actions are called Punya.  Those good actions bring of mind.  The bad deeds, are called Papa, they disturb the peace of mind (Pr. 219).  Both these actions are cause of bondage, but from a practical point of view good deeds are preferred to bad ones.  The inflow of Karma particles into the soul is called Asrava.  Just as water flows into a boat through a hole in it, similarly the asravas represent the channels through which the karmic patticles enter the soul, and impede its progress.  The fundamental cause of asrava is the vibratory activity of the soul caused by the action of mind, speech and body.  Every action, whether good or bad, opens the door to certain kinds of particles of karmic matter, which may immediately enter into union with the soul.  Performance of action with a pure mind, speech and body, leads to inflow of meritorious karmic particles into the soul and bad deeds lead to an influx of demeritorious particles into the soul (Pr. 220).

The process of checking the inflow of fresh karmic particles to the soul through the controlling of the psycho-physical activities of mind, speech and body is called Samvara (Pr. 220).  The ideal of liberation can be realized only by the stopping and shedding of Karma.  Stopping of inflow of Karma is called Samvara, while, annihilation of the accumulated karmic matter through austerity is called Nirjara (Pr. 221).  Merely stopping of the inflow of fresh karmic matter is not enough to obtain liberation, unless the stock of previous Karmas is also not shed away.  By austerities, these accumulated Karmas can be annihilated.  Bandha is caused by the inflow of karmic particles (karmasantati).  Wrong belief, want of control, negligence, passions and activities of mind, speech and body are the cause of this bondage of the soul.  Bandha is of four kinds, according to its Prakrti (nature), Sthiti (duration), Anubhaga (intensity) and Pradesa (mass).  Prakriti and Pradesa bandhas are a result of activities of mind, speech and body; anubhagabandha (intensity) results from the passions and sthitibandha is on account of Lesyas (Pr.  37).  The state of Jiva which is free from karmic bondage (bandhaviyoga) is called moksa or liberation (Pr. 221).  it is emancipation of the soul from the bondage of Karma.  This is the state of infinite happiness.  In this state the soul transcends the state of worldly pleasures and pains and enjoys its original nature of infinite bliss, knowledge, insight and power (Pr. 289).