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AN ANALYTICAL STUDY OF UPAMITI – BHAVA – PRAPAÑCA – KATHĀ

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CANTO VII

In the city of Saḥlāda “The Worldly Soul’ was born as Prince Ghanavāhana to King Jīmuta and Queen Līlāvatī. The King called the royal astrologer to cast the horoscope and predict the future of the Prince. The astrologer read the horoscope and predicted a presperous future for the Prince. He also gave a detailed account of the twelve Zodiac signs.

Akalaṅka was the son of Nirad and Padma. Nirad was the younger brother of Jīmuta. Ghanavāhana and Akalaṅka were brought up together. They were surrounded by all luxuries. They completed their education together and grew up to be handsome young lads. Akalaṅka was very soft-spoken, humble, lovable, god-fearing and a simple person at heart. He studied many scriptures (Āgamas) and was well-versed in philosophy.

One day Ghanavāhana and Akalaṅka went to the temple and saw six Jaina monks engaged in rituals of worship, meditation and scriptural study. Then Akalaṅka told Ghanavāhana that the monks were very handsome and charming, then what made them take up the arduous path of renunciation. He suggested that both of them go to the monks and enquire about their past experiences that inspired them to take up the path of renunciation in place of a life of enjoyment of material pleasures.

They went to one of the monks, prostrated before him and sat down near him, then Akalaṅka requested the holy monk to reveal the incidents that inspired him to renounce the world and its pleasures. The monk then narrated his experiences. He said that he was an ordinary citizen of Lokodara. One night his village was set on fire and everything was set ablaze. Men, women, children and cattle ran here and there for shelter. It was a very sad picture painted by agony, fear and death. Just then an intelligent magician appeared there and asked the people to take shelter on a platform created by him. Many took shelter but the foolish and the mad people did not heed to the magician’s advice. Instead of extinguishing the fire with water they added fuel to the fire and kindled it even more.

The monk said that he took shelter and saved himself from the conflagration and this incident inspired him to renounce the world and search the truth.

Akalaṅka could apprehend the essence of the above allegory, but Ghanavāhana could not understand it, so Akalaṅka explained the allegory to him. He said that the village Lokodara is the world, which is set ablaze by the fires of Attachment and Aversion. The intelligent magician is the omniscient Lord who calls upon “The Worldly Souls’ to abandon the village and take refuge in the platform of righteousness. The fortunate and the wise take shelter, who are few in number, whereas the ignorant and deluded souls remain absorbed in the worldly pleasures and continue to burn in the fires of Attachment and Aversion. They try to extinguish the fire by pampering the passions and enjoying the pleasures but they do not understand that instead of extinguishing the fire they are only kindling it all the more. They do not heed to the advice of the Lord and remain in the web of transmigration. But those who take refuge, save themselves from the worldly conflagration. Some take to complete vows while others take to partial vows and tread on the path of righteousness.

Finally the monk remarked that even Akalaṅka and Ghanavāhana were burning in the fire of Attachment and Aversion and instructed them to save themselves. Akalaṅka took great liking for the monk but Ghanavāhana remained uninspired as he was full of vicious thoughts.

They went to another monk, bowed to him and sat near him and asked him the same question. The monk said that he was a notorious drunkard and inspired by the words of a holy Brahmin, he gave up drinking and renounced the world. The monk described the bar to be full of all kinds of intoxicating drinks and drugs which was visited by all kinds of people. Music, dance, food, fashion, merry-making was a part and parcel of the people dwelling in the bar. Some parts of the bar were rolling in a dizzy state. Most of the people were confused and drunk, and ridiculed those who did not join them and take to drinking and merry making. The pious monk said that he too took drinks prior to becoming a monk, but was inspired by a Brahmin, afterwhich he gave up drinking completely and followed the path of the Brahmin. He instructed both the young lads to abandon the bar of the world and search the truth.

Akalaṅka was inspired by the narration and the knowledge of his previous birth (Jātismaraṇa Jñāna) dawned on him. He got up to talk to the third monk. When Ghanavāhana requested him to reveal the mystery of the allegory. Akalaṅka said that the bar is the world inhabited by “The Worldly Souls’, where the drama of life is enacted forever. The intoxicating drinks and drugs are the karmas ie., actions and their fruits and the root cause of sorrow and destruction. The ignorant who cannot give up the worldly ties ridicule those who do so. The Brahmin is none other than the spiritual adept who inspires “The Worldly Souls’ to relinquish the bar of intoxicating material pleasures and seek real happiness in renunciation and compassion.

Then Akalaṅka and Ghanavāhana went upto the third monk and asked him his story. He said that he was inspired by a water-wheel to renounce the world. He said that the water-wheel is nothing but the wheel of transmigration run by Attachment, Aversion, Disposition and Perverse Attitude. The oxen tied to the wheel are the passions and the waters of vowlessness are drawn from the well of unrestraint to water the fields of birth and death. The karmas are the seeds and the crop of happiness and sorrow are reaped accordingly. Ignorant is appointed by Delusion to run the water-wheel of the worldly-sojourn.

The monk then said that he was engaged in the water-wheel of the worldly-sojourn reaping unreal happiness and infinite sorrows since time immemorial but his master woke him up from the deep slumber of ignorance and inspired him to free himself from the water-wheel of worldly-sojourn. Hence he renounced the world and was engaged in spiritual contemplation. After hearing his story Akalaṅka and Ghanavāhana proceeded towards the fourth monk to ask him his experiences.

The fourth monk said that when he was an ascetic, (Parivṛājaka) a group of devotees headed by five members visited their monastery and served all the asceties impure and filthy food, which caused indigestion and delirium. His spiritual master who was seated in front of Akalaṅka and Ghanavāahana took pity on the monk, cured him of his delirium and showed him the cause and effect of the impure food. The monk realised the same and abondoned the monastery to follow the spiritual adept after renouncing the world.

Akalaṅka explained the above allegory to Ghanavāhana and said that the world is compared to the monastery and the five heads of the devotees are Perverse Attitude (Mithyātva), Vowless-ness (Avirati), Invigilance (Pramāda), Passions (Kaṣāya) and Inauspicious activities of mind, body and speech (Aṣubhayoga), who serve the impure food of karmas and cause the delirium of ignorance and false faith. As a result they wander in the worldly-sojourn and propound various false philosophies. The dispassionate spiritual adepts reveal the above truth for “The Worldly Souls’ to realize and relinquish the world like the fourth monk.

When Akalaṅka and Ghanavāhana requested the fifth monk to reveal his story of inspiration and renunciation, he said that he heard the story of four merchants from the spiritual adept and was inspired to embrace renunciation.

In the city of Vasantpur lived four friends namely Elegance (Cāru), Deserving (Yogya), Worthy (Hita), and Ignorant (Mūḍha). They took their ships and sailed to the island of pearls and gems. The first two were well versed in examining the gems. The first friend made good business and earned huge profits, the second friend did very little business and wasted his time wandering on the island. The third friend was not skilled in the art of examining the gems and was cheated by swindlers and tricksters. As a result he could collect only shells, conch shells, glass pieces etc. The fourth friend wasted his time roaming on the island and could only collect shells and glass pieces.

When the ship was full of precious pearls and gems, the first friend decided to return home. When he met his friends, he was most disappointed by the third friend, Ignorant, as he did not heed to his advice, but burnt both sides of the candle. Deserving and Worthy corrected themselves when guided by Elegance. In course of time the three friends became rich and loaded their ships with precious pearls and gems and returned to their lands. Ignorant, the fourth friend became poor and miserable and met his end. The king of the land became angry and ordered him to be thrown into the endless ocean.

The monk said that the above story of the four merchants inspired him to renounce the world. Ghanavāhana told Akalaṅka that he could not relate renunciation with the above story and asked him to clarify the allegory. Akalaṅka then said that the worldly sojourn is the ocean full of the waters of birth and death. It is difficult to transverse the ocean of birth and death because of perverse attitude and passions. The waves of Delusion, the wind of Attachment and Aversion, the tides of Desires are prevalent in the worldly sojourn which is beginingless and endless for the ignorant. Only the wise transverse it like Elegance, Deserving and Worthy did. People who are ignorant like the fourth friend are thrown into the ocean of transmigration. The island of pearls and gems is the precious human birth, where there are plenty of swindlers and tricksters who rob the souls and deprive them of their fortune. The gardens on the island are the sensual pleasures, where the idle and ignorant people rejoice, Deserving and Worthy people accompany Elegance to the city of bliss but not people like Ignorant who are thrown into the deep and troubled waters by King “Maturing-of-Deeds’.

When Akalaṅka explained the above allegory of four merchants Ghanavāhana experienced some solace and an iota of spiritual cheerfulness. They went up to the sixth monk to hear his story. The sixth monk told them that a view of the market place in the world was the cause of his renunciation. Akalaṅka apprehended the meaning of the mysterious statement of the monk, still he requested the monk to reveal the nature of the market place which caused his initiation.

The monk said that the world is the market place which yields the products of infinite births and deaths. The shops of happiness and joy are open forever and virtue and sin are the values exhanged in the market. Delusion, Anger, Lust etc. are the administrators of the place. “The Worldly Souls’ survive on the loan taken from the powerful bank of karmas. The place is full of incredible people and wonders. A close observation of the market place reveals the fact that none is happy in this mysterious market place, but are inflicted by some sorrow or the other.

When his master, the spiritual adept took pity on him, he showed him the temple of liberated souls situated at the end of the market place. They were unaffected by the pangs of birth and death as they had freed themselves from the market place and became perfect and blissful. When the sixth monk realized the same he too desired to become a resident of the temple and requested his master to take him there. So the master initiated him in the holy order and asked him to perform the daily rituals and the duties of a monk. He said that as long as he was reguired to discharge the duties of a monk, he should take care of the room that is the physical body. The windows are the five senses and partial destruction of karma is the central room. The body of karmas is another spacious room in the physical body and here dwells the baby monkey ie. conscience. The master asked the monk to protect the baby monkey from the rodents (passions), scorpions (quasi-passions), cats (instincts), rats (attachment and aversion), badgers (delusion), mosquitoes (adversities), bugs (conspiracy and false reasoning), squirrels (tensions), cockroaches (invigilance), lice (vowlessness), and darkness (perverse attitude) so that he did not jump in the abyss of mourning and get trapped in the cave of ambiguity. The master also asked the disciple to prevent the monkey from climbing on the five trees of sensual pleasures so that the dust of karmic particles did not accumulate on him and asked him to frighten the monkey by the spear of determination and vigilance. When the monkey is tamed, it will become pure and powerful, then he will be freed from all afflications and adversities.

When the monk asked his master, how he will benefit from the taming of the monkey, the master said it was important to tame the monkey of conscience to enter the temple of bliss and perfection. By doing so one will experience peace and happiness in this birth as well as in the following existence for dependence of any kind is sorrow and independence is happiness. Enjoyment of worldly pleasures is dependent on external forces where as being in one’s own self is freedom and independence. So one should realize one’s true self and become unperturbed by the maligning forces. By doing so the dust of karmas will be annihilated and the conscience will become pure and perfect. The monk also disclosed about the six kinds of thought processes (Leṣyās) that colour the soul of which the first three are impure and the last three are pure.

Akalaṅka threw light on another aspect of the worldly sojourn and added that because of False Perception, “The Worldly Soul’ is enticed in the web of transmigration. Again in different existences he takes wrong decisions, remaining absorbed in attachment and aversion, sensual pleasures and is binded by Karmas which extends his stay in the worldly sojourn. Thus the wheel of transmigration keeps on revolving and “The Worldly Soul’ remains in the grip of sorrow and dependance and adversity. The sixth monk applauded the knowledge of Akalaṅka and said that discrimination of right and wrong alone can make a person equanimous and free from karmic conditioning. Those who understand the cause of karmic bondage and its effect in transmigration do not yield to material temptations, for knowledge and practice yield the fruit of emancipation. Thus the sixth monk revealed his story.

Akalaṅka and Ghanavāhana imbibed the teachings from the six monks and took leave from them. Akalaṅka clarified the doubts of Ghanavāhana and said that an impure conscience is the cause of bondage and a pure conscience effects the fruit of emancipation. Akalaṅka gave may tips to Ghanavāhana to remain equanimous in birth and death, loss and gain, fame and dishonour, friend and foe, palace and forest, prosperity and adversity.

At this juncture, the King Right-Conduct sent “The-True-Doctrine’ to Ghanavāhana, so Ghanavāhana (“The Worldly Soul’) was able to grasp the essence of the expository dialogues that took place between Akalaṅka and the six monks. Then both Akalaṅka and Ghanavāhana went to Kovidācārya, the head of the monks and both prostrated before him. Ghanavāhana had a vision of “The-True-Doctrine’. Then Akalaṅka took the permission of his parents and became a disciple of Kovidācārya.

INFATUATION AND POSSESSION

When “The-True-Doctrine’ came in contact with Ghanavāhana, King Delusion and his subordinates (inner kingdom) became agitated and attacked Ghanavāhana. Ghanavāhana was overpowered by them and they influenced him to enjoy the sensual pleasures. On becoming a king after his father’s death, he was infatuated by the material pleasures. “True Doctrine’ tried to inspire him to resign the ephemeral and fleeting pleasures of the world, but Ghanavāhana could not do so, as he remained attached to his lineal heritage and the delights of the world, on the other hand the instinct of possession (Parigraha) motivated him to amass wealth and property and did not allow him to sit idle even for a single moment.

Thus “The Worldly Soul’ in the birth of Ghanavāhana experienced a battle between “The-True-Doctrine’ on one hand and infatuation and the instinct of possession on the other hand. Because of his past influences he was inclined towards Delusion and Possessions so he gave up his daily rituals and prayers and remained engrossed in material comforts.

Once again he met Kovidācārya and monk Akalaṅka. Since Akalaṅka was his close friend he prostrated before Akalaṅka and other monks. Akalaṅka had heard about Ghanavāhana and so requested his master to inspire Akalaṅka by telling him the importance of “The-True-Doctrine’ and the evil impact of bad company. So Kovidācārya told Ghanavāhana and others, his past experiences to inspire Ghanavāhana.

Although Ghanavāhana was not keen to hear him still he sat near the Acārya to hear him. The master said, Learned (Kovid) and Ignorant (Baliṣh) were the two sons of King Mass of Karmas (Malanicaya) and Queen Experience (Tadānubhūti). Learned was delighted by the company of “The-True-Doctrine’, where as Ignorant was never inclined towards him. Both of them came in association with “The Sense of Hearing’. Learned was not attached to her but Ignorant was very much impressed by her and left no stone unturned to please her and her escort (saṅgha). All kinds of music and musical instruments were brought to appease “The Sense of Hearing’. Ignorant was mad about music and he became a laughing stock for the wise.

“True-Doctrine’ educated Learned and told him that “The Sense of Hearing’ is the fifth daughter of King Attachment and “Maturing-of-Deeds’ and advised him to be careful in her company. Finally Ignorant meets with his end due to Attachment and “The Sense of Hearing’ but “Learned’ renounces the world and becomes Kovidācārya ie. Learned Ācārya. He then told Ghanavāhana that it was “True-Doctrine’ that protected him and saved him from falling a prey to misery and adversity. Hence those who seek their welfare should forsake the company of the evil and associate themselves with “True-Doctrine’.

Ghanavāhana remained uninspired by the story and thought that Akalaṅka and the learned Ācārya had hatched a conspiracy to make him devoid of his possessions and recreations. But when Akalaṅka repeatedly told him to lead a life of righteousness in place of longing for possessions and pleasures, he heeded to his advice for a short while. But when Akalaṅka left the city along with the other monks, Ghanavāhana returned to square one and became infatuated, attached and longed for possessions more than before. He indulged in all sinful activities to satiate his thirst for sensual pleasures and his desire for possessions. Just then tragedy struck him when his dear Queen Madana Sundarī died. He was gripped by Grief (Śoka). When Akalaṅka came to know about the tragedy in the life of Ghanavāhana, Akalaṅka came there once again to console his old friend Ghanavāhana and to inspire him to free himself from grief, delusion and the dreadful instinct of longing for possessions.

Ghanavāhana became good in the company of Akalaṅka and took interest in scriptural study, constructed temples with Jina idols, went on a piligrimage, peformed his daily rituals and took to charitable acts on a large scale. After a short while King Delusion sent Greed, Deceit and Parsimony (Kṛpanatā) to support Infatuation (other name for Delusion) and Longing for possession (Inner Kingdom). Ghanavāhana requested Akalaṅka to join his master so that he could be left alone to lead a life of comfort and pleasures. Now none could save Ghanavāhana from the above foes as he was totally influenced and overpowered by his inner instincts of Greed, Deceit and Infatuation.

When Akalaṅka came to know this he felt extremely sorry for Ghanavāhana. His master revealed that Ghanavāhana could be liberated only when he married Learning and Desirelessness, the two daughters of King Right Conduct. This marriage will take place only when “Maturing-of-Deeds’ permits, so Ghanavāhana remained a citizen of the kingdom of Delusion where the eight Kings of Karmas subjected him to all kinds of spiritual adversities, mental unrest and physical assault. At that time “Good Fortune’ too left him. His Generals and public did not approve his vitiated character. They dethroned him and imprisioned his where he met his end miserably only to wander again in the worldly sojourn.

After a long time his destiny brought him once again to the human kingdom as Amṛitodara. In this birth he met “True-Doctrine’ and a monk who inspired him to accept the vows of a householder (Dravya Śrāvaka). From here begins “The Worldly Souls’ ascent to higher forms of existences. By turns he was born in the heavenly existences and in human existences. Many times he took the vows of a householder and that of a monk but as he did not have steadfast faith in the vows and the path, he continued to be caught in the web of transmigration. But his close encounters with “True-Doctrine’ in many births, made him pure and cleared the way for Right Faith. In the birth of Virocana, he heard the discourse of monk Dharmaghoṣa, broke the knot of ignorance and the flower of Right Faith, blossomed in him. Whenever he moved away from Right Knowledge and Right Faith, he extended his stay in the worldly sojourn, otherwise secured many auspicious karmas to reap them in the domain of heaven and human existences. In these existences a battle ensued between Right Faith and False Faith and “True-Doctrine’ and Knowledge-Obscuring Karmas (Inner Battle).

In the birth of Vibhūṣaṇa influenced by false faith he criticized the spiritual adepts and caused himself infinite sorrow in endless births and deaths. Again in the life of Viṣāda he was accompanied by “Good Fortune’, “True-Doctrine’ and Right Faith and he became a pious Jain and ascended to the heavenly abodes.

CONCLUSION OF CANTO VII

At the end of the seventh canto the author suggests to all the worldly souls to understand the powerful nature of Delusion and cautions them not to fall prey to its alluring nature. Secondly, greed and possessions are the root cause of sorrow and worldly sojourn. One should also not entertain an iota of attachment for the pleasures of “The Sense of Hearing’. He further says that he has explained the above truths through different incidents and stories for the wise people to realise, understand and practise without delay.

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