Introduction to Jainism
Jain religion recognises the fundamental natural phenomenon of Symbiosis or mutual dependence, which forms the basis of the modern day science of ecology.
Life is viewed as a gift of togetherness, accommodation, and assistance in a universe teeming with interdependent constituents.
Jain whether monks, nuns or householders, therefore, affirm prayerfully and sincerely, that their heart is filled with forgiveness for all living beings and that they have sought and received the forgiveness of all beings, that they crave the friendship of all beings, that all beings give them their friendship and that there is not the slightest feeling of allienation or enmity in their heart, for any one or anything. They also pray that forgiveness and friendliness may reign throughout the world and that all living beings may cherish each other.
What is Jainism?
Jainism is nature in the purest and truest form. Jainism is as old as nature, which has neither beginning nor any end. The mission of Jainism is the mission of nature, which is to work for the welfare of one and all, to rise from the pitfall of ignorance and inaction to the spiritual climax of infinite bliss and perfect knowledge. i.e. absolute freedom.
Jainism is a religion based on cosmic principles, eternal principles on which this colossal machinery runs without any mistake or even a single momentary halt. The principles of modern science are true and temporary in particular context of space and time only, but the principles of Jainism are true for all time, for all space, for everybody and everything. Jainism throws light on the colossal structure of universe, its shape, size, origin, purpose and mechanism. It deals in perfect details with six reals out of which the universe is made. Everything that happens in the universe is according to the fixed pattern of eternal laws, which are unshakable and infallible.
Jainism does not belong to any particular sect or fixed dogmas. Jainism does not say that some particular class will be given freedom and the others will remain in bondage, it is a perfect form of democracy. It emphasises equality of opportunities to achieve perfect freedom and spiritual perfection, be it a highborn or any backward class member, even the lowest form of life. Each one has the potentiality of reaching the highest state. It believes that every soul has immense power, which can be released like the nuclear energy.
Jainism believes there are two kinds of energies, one is the energy of mechanism and the other is the energy of intelligence. In technical terms they are called matter and life. (Jada and Chetana). Energies of gravitation, magnetism and electricity are believed to be three scientific forces, which sustain the universe. But the subtle forces of silence and solitude of surrender and prayer, of love and sympathy, of dedication and determination these subtle forces etc., are manifestation of the energies of intelligence. It is a rule in nature that subtle forces of Yoga- (The activities of mind, speech and body are more powerful than the gross forces of material science).
Two kinds of Energies
"The energy of intelligence not through mind alone, nor through heart alone but through the whole of your totality is the highest wisdom" says Jainism. You should distinctly distinguish between what you are and what you are not. Jainism starts with the Holy curiosity to know the marvelous structure of reality and ends in the flawless perfection which is the combination of Joy, Knowledge and Energy.
The Fundamentals of Jain Philosophy are that (this universe) the whole cosmos is self-created, self ruled, self regulated and self-administered, according to the mighty and eternal cosmic law. Every conceivable subject in Jain Scriptures is well discussed in a systematic and convincing way that one would realise that if the Jain Doctrines are well understood and practised, it is certain that the world will enjoy lasting peace and prosperity instead of present day, world of hatred and violence!
Practically all religions have individuals as Supreme God. Jain religion believes that all worldly souls possess inherent attributes (principle qualities) 4 original – infinite knowledge, Infinite Cognisance, Infinite Power, but wordly souls are obscured by the veil of Karman and when liberated they can reach the highest state.
The word ‘Dharma’:- some aspects.
1. Ordinarily it means ‘Pious Act
2. Dharma – Duty : towards others, elders, dependents, sub-ordinates, society, country etc.
3. Dharma – Nature :
Nature of fire is to burn
Nature of water is to cool
Nature of soul is conscience, sentient, immortality, infinite knowledge, perception, energy, bliss, longs to be purified, to rise upward to Moksha- Eternal salvation.
4. Dharma -Religion : That saves one from sinking in the temporal ocean of births and deaths (Samsar). Religion consists of Dana, Sheel, Tapa, Bhava. (Charity, Chastity, Penance and Intention.)
The highest Charity is to give freedom from fear -the fear of death, injury, torture, hurt, oppression, etc. Chastity means complete control of impure desires of five senses and mind including celibacy. Penance is of twelve kinds to purify the soul from all Karmic energies. Intention means all of the above mentioned three should be with soul aim/ intent of achieving the spiritual zenith.
5. Dharma- Spiritual: Samyaka/ Jnana, Darshana and Charitra (Right & True Knowledge, Faith and Conduct)
6. Dharma – Shramana Dharma (monkhood) having ten fold
(i) Khsama : forgiveness, forbearance.
(ii) Mardava : humbleness, politeness, humility and courtest
(iii) Arjava : frankness, straight forwardness, deceitless
(iv) Mukti : free from desires, greed and expectations
(v) Tapa : penance of twelve kinds.
(vi) Samyama : to stop all inflow of karmas
(vii) Satya : beneficial, pleasant and well-thought truth, avoiding untruth.
(viii) Saucha : purity of conduct , to avoid all short-comings.
(ix) Akimchanya : to abstain from wealth and other material desires, even love and affection of own body.
(x) Bhramcharya : complete celibacy, chastity in thought, word and deed.
Universe and its constituents
The basis of the constitution of the cosmos lay in the basic substance called Dravya or Reals in the Jain Holy Scriptures. Every Real has three characteristics, Creation (emergence), Destruction (annihilation) and Permanence (persistence) "Utpada, Vyaya and Dhrouvya" with infinite qualities and subqualities. It means that every substance possesses the quality of permanence (Dhrouvya) generation (Utpada) and decay (Vyaya) as modification of itself.
In order to clearly understand the characteristics of Dhrouvya, we may take an example of gold bangles broken and made into a necklace with the same gold, the substance persists (Dhrouvya), bangle is destroyed (Vyaya) and the necklace is created, (Utpada). Every material object in the same manner is changing constantly. Yet the basic attribute (Guna), essential character, remains forever.
The comos has six Dravyas, Reals – Basic Substances, Fundamental Realities :
I. JIVA : Soul- life- spirit- innerself- conscious being (with chetana) with sentience, intelligence life.
The Soul : One of the Six basic Substances which are uncreate, self existent without beginning or end, only modifications. No new souls are created, it is a continuous cycle of birth and rebirth in four states of existence (GATI) i.e. (i) Human condition (ii) Sub Human condition of lower forms of, (iii) Angels in heaven, (iv) Infernal beings in hell, and this cycle is run by the infallible mathematical mechanism of nature, molded by soul’s conduct and deeds, committed by thought, speech or physical action in past or present life either with intensity of anger, pride, deceit, selfishness and greed, or with love, sympathy, fellow-feelings , pity etc.
All Omniscient Teachers (Arhats) from infinite past, present and infinite future will propound the same philosophy and show the way to attain eternal salvation (life of pure bliss) as friend, philosopher and guide themselves practised what they preached.
The soul is distinguished from other substances, that it possesses consciousness, intelligence with infinite qualities, attributes (Gunas). There are eight chief fundamentals. (attributes) :
1. The faculty of Omniscience. (Keval Jnana)
2. The faculty of Undifferentiated. Cognition- perception (Keval Darshana)
3. Eternal Bliss (Avyabadh Sukh)
4. Possession of Complete Religious Faith (Samyaktva) and Unreproachable Moral Conduct (Charitra)
5. Possession of Eternal Life (Akshaya Sthiti)
6. Complete Formlessness (Amruta)
7. Complete Equality in rank with others (Aguru Laghu)
8. Infinite Energy (Anant Virya)
All these attributes belong by nature to every soul.
II. AJIVA : Five kinds Without consciousness, Non Sentient.
2. PUDGALA : (Pud + Gal = Assimilation and Separation), Matter. The action and counter action of getting together and separation.
Pudgalastikaya (Matter) : This consists of individual atoms (Anu) ‘conglomerates of atoms (Skandha)’ indivisible part of atom (Paramanu) exists in infinite number , each one of these possesses touch, taste, smell, colour and can unite itself with other, or several others or groups, and or get separated under certain law. The continuous process of assimilation and separation creates Karmic Energies. The fusion of the soul with matter results in the production of eight kinds of Forces :
1) Which obscures knowledge (Jnanavarniya karma)
2) Which interferes with perception (Darshanavarniya karma)
3) Which produces the feeling of joy and grief (Vedaniya karma)
4) Which obstructs Right Belief and Right Conduct (Mohaniya karma)
5) Which determines the duration of life (Ayu Karma)
6) Which give the various factors of individuality (bodies, limbs, etc) (Nama karma)
7) Which destines family surroundings (Gotra karma)
8) Which hinders the " Jiva" in his capability of resolution and enjoyment (Antaraya Karma)
Jiva and pudgala are active substances, the remaining are passive (III,IV, V, VI)
3. DHARMASTIKAYA : Ether-motion media.
Ether, motion media for Jiva and Pudgala, serves as medium for movement as water is, for the swimming fish.
4. ADHAARMASTIKAYA : Rest media (modern science explains as gravitation and electro magnetic rest).
5. AKAASH: Space
Alokakasha – Limitless space – Pure empty space Lokakasha – Limited but unlimited space (universe), in which the cosmos exists. (Outer limits of Ether) Space , it is the receptacle of things, it iscomposed of an infinite number of space points. (Pradesha).
6. KAL: Time – real apparent and absolute
Time-Real absolute and apparent, present-undivisible unit of time. The Pudgala has shape and is visible, while the remaining substances are invisible and without form.
These six Dravyas – basic substances are all pervading to the minutest part of the cosmos. They are permanent, eternal, uncreated and of immense magnitude but have continuous modifications (Paryaya) yet maintain their attributes, (Guna) inalienable qualities (Virtues) intact.Jiva and Pudgala are active the remaning four are passive.
There are nine elements – Fundamental Truths:
1) " Jiva" – life – Soul – living beings with sentience, spirit, innerself.
2) " Ajiva" – no consciousness- without life- non sentient. (The five substances)
3) " Punya" – merit – weal.
4) " Paap" – sin- woe.
5) " Ashrava"- Inflow (The soul attracts subtle forms of matter to ourselves as result of the action of the sense which impels the soul towards external objects, good or bad).
6) " Samvara" – Restrain , Blocks the inflow of subtle-matter (energies) through Ahimsa (non-injury),
right conduct, etc.
7) " Nirjara" – to liberate, to discard- to remove the impurities of subtle matter.
8) " Bandha" – Bondage- assimilate the subtle matter (energy) in soul’s space points good or bad.
9) " Moksha" – absolute freedom – final pure natural state in everlasting blissfullness.
Life is dear to all, though it may contain misery as well as happiness. Man’s desire for an explanation of the existence of misery, for the relief to extinction and for consquent increase in happiness. Relieving misery, explaining its existence and increasing happiness in life is the function of religion. All living beings ardently seek happiness which should be complete, without blemish and permanent. Such an everlasting happiness is possible only in "Moksha" , supreme eternal bliss, the state of Omniscience, (Pure Effulgence Divine).
We are self existent, immortal, individual souls, alive with feelings and consciousness, and never lose our identity (Jiva). Each of us is responsible to others for our own conduct towards them. We are responsible to ourselves for our conditions, in whatever degrees we are of ignorance, pain, unhappiness, unkindness, cruelty or weakness, it is because since birth and previously in the infinite past, we are and we have been acquiring (Ashrava) and incorporating (Bandha) into ourselves by attraction and assimilations of subtle unseen though real, physical matter (Pudgala). The combination of soul and matter produces energy (Karma) which clogs the natural wisdom, knowledge, bliss, love, compassion and the strength of soul and which excites to unnatural action results in species, duration, intensity and degree. (Prakruti, Sthiti, Rasa and Pradesh).
When soul indulges in perverse tendencies like attachment, aversion, anger, deception, greed, lust etc. due to ignorance, subtle atoms of Karma (energy) which cannot be experienced by any of the five senses flow in (Ashrava) of their own and stick (Bandha) into soul’s countless space points (Pradesh) forming a "Karmic" body around and imprisoning the soul.
The imprisoned soul from infinite past is impure, like gold before excavation, it has to pass through fire and water, before it becomes pure god. Similarly the soul attracts and discards Karma continuously until it passes through confessions, repentance, penance, self control, austerity, renunciation, religious deeds, non injury (Ahimsa), etc. till the soul thoroughly gets liberated and becomes pure.
Every soul is immortal Basic Substance. Its attributes are (Gunas) inalienable, and possess unlimited strength, omnniscient knowledge and vision, blissfulness. All virtues remain dormant.
Concept of God in Jainism
Jainism believes in God but not as a creator, a theory which neither denies the existence of the soul nor starts with the presupposition of a creator but makes each individual the laster of his own destiny, holds out immorality for every living being, visible or invisible and insists upon very highest rectitude of life up to final perfection, as a necessary means to permanent happiness now and hereafter. The Jain "Spiritual Leaders" lived in flesh on earth as ordinary men, when purged of all the infatuating elements like anger, hatred or other passions and attain this state, of pure soul , leading to final beatitude in life, everlasting omniscience. Only thereafter the religion is propounded by the "Omniscient Teachers" (Jain Arhats). At the end of their life -span, leaving the body, the soul attains the final pure natural state of existence (Pure Effulgence Divine) in everlasting spiritual bliss. The "Moksha" that is "Siddhatwa" (Godhood) has the beginning but no end. All the souls attaining "Siddhatwa" are equal in all respects and they have their own individuality.
There are no Commandments, Omniscient Spiritual Teachers (Arhats) show right path traveled by them, and right conduct practised by them in their journey to salvation. Their guidance, advice and teaching are considered and accepted as Commands. The spiritual leaders and preceptors never issue commandments. Commands are sacrosanct and violation results in untold sin (woe).
Right faith and Right knowledge usually go together, one should have faith in the one who is a spiritual climax of positive dynamism who is "Arhat" – Right Faith means, therefore the Faith in the Omniscient Teacher – "Arhat". Right conduct prescribed by Jainism is very difficult to observe. But if you have "Right Faith" right behaviour will come in the natural course. A Jain monk has no home of his own. He moves from village to village on barefoot. He does not shave but removes his hair by plucking. He keeps no extra clothes. He does not keep money. He meditates and prays in silence and solitude. He does not take bath, for there is life in water, (the water itself is a living entity). He does not want to hurt anyone, he does not cook, because there is life in fire. Solicits his requirements by visiting several house-holders but accepts equivalent to only a few morsels per family just as honey-bee gathers honey. He does not use vehicles in order to protect the life in particles of dust on the road. His every tissue and texture of life is beaming with reverence for life and this is the essence of Jainism.
From where does he get such enormous strength to observe "Right Conduct" prescribed by Jainism? The answer is rule of aspiration and strength. Higher the aspiration, higher is the flow of strength. "Right Faith" is the aspiration, which is the highest in case of Jain monks, and Right Conduct is born out of aspiration and it is also the highest. Therefore Jainism puts all its stress on "Right Faith". "Right knowledge" is a bridge between "Right Faith" and "Right Conduct". There are fundamental divisions of spiritual life, which Jainism introduces us.
Ahimsa Samyam and Tapa :
The three divine qualities, "Ahimsa (Non Injury) Samyam (Renunciation) and Tapa (Penance) from raising a mortal to an immortal one, elaborately explained in the Jain Scriptures" together with various systems for giving them practical shape in our life. To put it in a nutshell, Ahimsa has eight, Samyam has seventeen and Tapa has twelve types of observations.
I : Ahimsa : Harmlessness (Non -Violence the supreme religion)
Ahimsa-non injury- not to hurt anybody is the negative side of non-violence, but reverence for life is the positive side of non-violence, To love the whole cosmos with motherly tenderness is the positive side of non-violence, for Jains its scope and nature are very wide and deep, covering every form of life.
Jainism expects every Jain, to venerate the sanctity of life, whatever that be a clod of earth, a drop of water or a burning charcoal or a branch of a tree. He fully respects every form of life whatever it is or wherever it is. A Jain regards every soul as equal to his own. He has reverence for life whether it is in the lowest form or the highest.
II : To observe the maximum possible reverence for life, is possible only if Samyam (Complete renunciation) is accepted, is to become a Jain monk or nun (Shraman).
The Jain monk/nun (Shraman) at the of initiation takes five great vows (Mahavrata).
To put it briefly they are :
1) Pranatipata Viramana : To abstain from Himsa (violence-injury) of mobile (Trasakaya) and immobile (Sthaverkaya)- such as plants, earth etc; whether visible or invisible.
2) Mrushavad Viramana : To abstain from speaking untruth
3) Adattadana Viramana : To abstain from taking anything (even a blade of grass) without prior
permission of the owner.
4) Maithuna Viramana : To abstain from " Sex passion". The sex passions implies materialistic pleasures of all the five senses-complete celibacy is implicit.
5) Parigraha Virmana : To abstain from possession or acquisition. And in addition the sixth Rathribhojana Virmana, (Nocturnal meals). To abstain from food and water, 48 minutes before sunset and not until 48 minutes after sunrise.
It is implicit that all vows must be fully observed i.eby (I) thought, (II) speech,(III) physical action, (IV) He will not do it himself, Nor (V) get it done through others, neither (VI) approve nor appreciate others doing it.
(III) TAPA – PENANCE (12 Kinds)
The attachment and aversion brings into soul Karmic Atoms, which is the root cause of our worldly existence. Karmic Atoms control and direct our every movement whether it be inner or outer. But when we become aware of the mighty spiritual empire hidden in us, Karmic Atoms loose their hold on us. Then it is not the matter that dominates the Soul but it is the Soul that dominates the matter. How can you remove Karmic atoms completely from your Soul so that the eternal spiritual splendour in you may outshine everything?
Jainism has prescribed 12 methods to uproot the Karmic Atoms the soul. There are 12 kindsof Penance : 6-exterior and 6-interior.
A : Exterior
a : To forgo meal or meals
b : Ordinarily fasting for minimum 36 hours, if possible even without water .
2) Unodary :To eat less i.e. to keep the belly partly unfilled.
3) Vritti Sankshepa : To reduce number of varieties – in food-reduce wants.
4) Rasa Parityaga : To forgo rich luscious dishes-tasty food.
5) Kaya Klesh : Self suffering – bodily austerity.
6) Sanlinata : To remain still or minimum bodily movements-control of temptation.
B) Interior :
7) Prayaschitta :- Expiation and self introspection, confession and penance.
8) Vinaya :- Respect – reverence, humility.
9) Viaya :- Vachha : Serve your fellow beings and spiritual superiors.
10)Swadhyaya :- Scriptual and religious studies.
11)Dhyana :- Meditation -concentration.
12) Kayotsarga : Meditation -reflections in a particular way (statue like) without moving the body including eyelid – lips – absolute indifference to the body and its needs. Each penance is of ascending importance. The practice of self-conquest is the path towards purification.