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AN ANALYTICAL STUDY OF UPAMITI – BHAVA – PRAPAÑCA – KATHĀ

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CANTO VIII

“The Worldly Soul’ was then reborn as Prince Guṇadhāraṇa in the city of Sapramoda to King Madhuvaraṇa and Queen Sumālinī. He was accompanied by “Good Fortune’. The Prince and his cousin Kulandhara, were good friends. Both of them grew up together amidst all worldly comforts.

One day Prince Guṅadhāraṅa saw Madanamañjarī, the daughter of King Kanakodara and Queen Kāmalata of Vidhyādhara race and was attracted towards her. The remarkable and impressive personality of Guṅadhāraṅa enabled him to get married to her. He also averted the battle between Kanakodar and other Vidhyādharās. His parents were very delighted and blessed him again and again.

Once upon a time Kandamuni came and stayed in the outskirts of the city in the Āhlad garden. Guṇdhāraṇa went with his friends and relatives to seek his blessings. At that time he was reunited with “True-Doctrine’ and “Right Faith’. So also his wife and his friend Kulandhara too realised Right Faith and Right Knowledge in their present lives.

In the life of Guṇadhāraṇa, the family of righteousness and the family of Delusion were engaged in a battle but when Guṇadhāraṇa went in the company of Kandamuni, the family of Delusion became powerless and dissipated its ties with Guṇadhāraṇa.

King Right Conduct and his minister, Right Perception then sent their second son Partial Vows in the service of Guṇadhāraṇa with the permission of “Maturing-of-Deeds’. As a result Guṇadhāraṇa accepted the twelve vows of the householder along with his wife and friend. Guṇadhāraṇa enquired about the mystery of the four persons and five persons who said that they were responsible for all the goodness, success and fortune that Guṇadhāraṇa was experiencing in his life. The mystery had come to light through a dream sequence at the time of his marriage with Madanamañjarī. Kandamuni could not reveal the mystery of the same and informed that the omniscient Nirmalācārya could enlighten Guṇadhāraṇa about it.

Guṇadhāraṇa was crowned King after his father’s death. Kings, Vidhyādharas and demi-Gods joined the entire public in the crowning ceremony. His treasury was always full and all people respected him and carried out his orders sincerely. But he was never engrossed in the royal pleasures but took care to practise the twelve vows accepted by him and was always inclined to acquire Right Knowledge and Right Faith. Thus Guṇadhāraṇa led a happy and peaceful life with his wife and friend.

Once when Nirmalācārya came there, along with all his kith and kin and other public Guṇadhāraṇa went in the service of the spiritual adept who discoursed about the wheel of transmigration which was full of sorrow. He said that only righteousness can save the souls caught in the web of the worldly sojourn. Birth is terminated in death, youth paves the way to oldage and all material prosperity fades away one day yielding misery and adversity. To search happiness in the body, youth, material prosperity and worldly possessions is a mirage. Real happiness can be experienced only when a person searches inwards after giving up all internal and external desires and attachments.

“The Worldly Soul’ in the life of Guṇadhāraṇa reflects on the truth, for his obscuring karmas had been unveiled a little. Guṇadhāraṇa then requested the spiritual adept to reveal the mystery of four persons who appeared in his father-in-law’s dream and of five persons who appeared in his friend’s dream.

The spiritual master then revealed to Guṇadhāraṇa his past existences which were influenced by King Delusion and his kith and kin. They had ruled him for a very, very long time because “Maturing-of-Deeds’ was unfavourable to him. But in recent times “Maturing-of-Deeds’, “Fruition-of-Time’, Destiny, “Inherent Nature’ and “Good Fortune’- all were in his favour and so King Right Faith and his son Partial Vows had manifested in him.

The four persons who appeared in King Kanakodar’s dream are “Maturing-of-Deeds’, “Fruition-of-Time’, “Inherent Nature’ and “Destiny’ and the five persons who appeared in his friend Kulandhar’s dream are the above four and the fifth one being “Good Fortune’ who told him that they were responsible for all the goodness, success and fortune that Guṇadhāraṇa was experiencing in his life.

Thus the spiritual adept revealed the mysterious dreams and said that “Good Fortune’ had been of great help in his previous births. Guṇdhāraṇa did not recognise him and attributed his success to Violence, Anger, Falsehood, Conceit, Stealing, Deceit, Greed, Longing for possessions and Infatuation in different conditions in past existences. All along “Good Fortune’ had been his associate, but Guṇadhāraṇa did not acknowledge his importance and so suffered endlessly in different existences.

Then Guṇadhāraṇa asked, ““When “Good Fortune’ had been his associate all along why did he suffer and wander in the worldly sojourn?’’ To this the adept replied that “Good Fortune’ and Misfortune are the two commanders of “Maturing-of-Deeds’. Misfortune headed the army of King Delusion and “Good Fortune’ was a representative of King Right Conduct and his army of noble qualities. Since beginningless time Misfortune was associated with “The Worldly Soul’, so Guṇadhāraṇa had to wander in the endless worldly sojourn. Misfortune became so powerful that he did not enable Guṇadhāraṇa to realise his true self, instead Guṇadhāraṇa considered him and his associates as his best friend. At that time “Good Fortune’ measured very little opposite Misfortune. Misfortune on his own cannot operate, but “Maturing-of-Deeds’, “Fruition-of-Time’, “Nature of the person’ and “Destiny’ all combine to effect the worldly sojourn. At present “Good Fortune’ measures good and misfortune is subdued and cast aside, so Guṇadhāraṇa was experiencing all that is good and noble.

Further the Spiritual adept clarified that “Maturing-of-Deeds’, “Fruition-of-Time’, “Destiny’ and “Good Fortune’ are secondary causes, the primary cause of worldly sojourn is the corrupt nature of “The Worldly Soul’. The above are like the family members whereas the head of the family is none other than the worldly soul himself. As the choice of the creator so the creation. Thus “The Worldly Souls’ are the creators of “Maturing-of-Deeds’, “Fruition-of-Time’, “Destiny’ and “Good Fortune’ but once they are created they become the creators and govern the activities of “The Worldly Soul’, until the person corrects himself and changes their course.

He then said that the liberated souls, who have realised their true selves dwell in the city of emancipation. They are the enjoyers of happiness and bliss. They are omniscients and called by different names by different people. But they do not create the destiny of any worldly soul as they are devoid of attachment and aversion. Creation follows a desire to create, since the perfected souls have relinquished all desires they do not favour or disfavour any person or any thing. But they have laid down an ordinance following which the worldly souls can liberate themselves from the worldly sojourn. The ordinance is as follows-

(1) To purify the conscience.

(2) To recognise King Delusion and his army as foes and the cause of worldly sojourn and endure to defeat them.

(3) To recognise King Right Conduct as friend and always nurture his friendship.

The above rules are universal and by all means the worldly souls should adopt the rules and put them into Practice. Practice of the above rules procures happiness and rejection of the same effects the worldly sojourn full of miseries and adversities. The spiritual adept said that Guṇadhāraṇa had faced adversity when he did not follow the above rules, and the degree of happiness and satisfaction that he was experiencing now, was directly proportional to the practice of the above code of conduct as was evident from the life of Guṇādharaṇa.

When Guṇādharaṇa enquired how he can enjoy unhindered happiness, the spiritual adept said that after he associates himself with the ten maidens namely Forbearance, Compassion, Humility, Truthfulness, Modesty, Honesty, Chastity, Contentment, Learning and Desirelessness, he can enjoy boundless happiness and freedom. But Guṇādharaṇa was contemplating to leave Madanamañjarī and accept initiation. So the master revealed that in the absence of his association to the ten maidens, his initiation will not prove to be fruitful.

When Guṇadhāraṇa wanted to know what he should do to associate with the ten princesses, the master said that he should imbibe all the good qualities and make himself worthy of the ten maidens. He should develop the qualities of forbearance, compassion, humility, truthfulness, modesty, honesty, chastity, contentment, learning and desirelessness. He added when “Maturing-of-Deeds’ and King Righteousness are matured they shall get him married to the ten maidens, within six months. Guṇadhāraṇa said that he could not wait for six months to be initiated and expressed his desperation. Then Kandamuni consoled him and advised him not to take decisions in haste but do as the adept advised and wait for the time to ripen. Guṇadhāraṇa said that he will wait for further instructions and returned home with a heavy heart with his family and attendants.

After reaching the palace Guṇadhāraṇa took great care to learn and exercise the lessons that Nirmalācārya had taught. In due course he met the Princess Learning and entered into wedlock with her, she was accompanied by the beautiful thought processes. As a result, King Delusion and his army of karmas, passions and five senses attacked the inner kingdom of Guṇadhāraṇa and a battle followed between the army of Delusion and the army of Righteousness headed by King Right Conduct, but Minister Right Perception and “Good Fortune’ enabled him to defeat the army of Delusion.

He also had the vision of Aṣṭa-Pravacana-Mātā ie, the principles which govern the code of conduct of a person who is to be initiated, be it a monk or a nun. After they were worshiped the sacrificial ceremony took place. Right Perception was the priest, the fuel of karmas and the oblation of pure disposition burnt the evil impressions at the altar. Thus Guṇadhāraṇa got married to the other nine princesses and experienced indescribable bliss and happiness which he longed for and about which Nirmalācārya discoursed at great length previously.

Consequently Guṇadhāraṇa embraced initiation and exercised the twelve kinds of austerities and in the last stage of his life he took to Sallekhana, ie. Saṅyāsa Maraṇa meaning embracing death wisely when it comes. He ascended to the higher realms of heaven in his consequent births intermediated by human births.

Once in the birth of Siṅha he became very proud of his lineage and succumbed to spiritual fatigue and Learning caused his own vitiation and extended his stay in the worldly sojourn. Once again he stooped to the vicious passions and trapped himself in the cage of transmigration. The author remarks, had the worldly soul exercised a little vigilance he would have been liberated from the worldly sojourn.

At this juncture “Innocence’ remarked that had “The Worldly Soul’ followed the universal rules laid down by the omniscients he would not have fallen in the ocean of worldly sojourn.

Then “The Worldly Soul’ who was present in the guise of a thief narrated the story of his current existence and also revealed the mystery behind his false appearance. He said that after a long span of wandering in heavenly existences and earthly existences he was born in Kṣempurī in Mahāvideha land to King Yugandhara and Queen Nalini. His mother had a vision of the fourteen auspicious dreams and gave birth to Anusundara, the Cakravarthy. His christening ceremony, childhood and education were attended to in a royal manner. He grew up to be a handsome young youth and was crowned King after his parents expired. When he acquired the fourteen precious gems, he was crowned Emperor and ruled his kingdom wisely and judiciously. Once he took his son Rajvallabha and set out to travel the length and breadth of his kingdom to see the welfare of his people. He reached the garden on the outskirts of the city of Saṅkhpur.

Kandamuni, Madanamañjarī and Kulandhara, who were related to him in the birth of Guṇadhāraṇa were reborn as Mahābhadra (“Rich-Insight’), Sulalitā (“Innocence’) and Pun²arika (“Good Spirited’) respectively. Sister Mahābhadra and brother Samantabhadra relinquished the material comforts and got initiated in the Jaina faith. Princess Sulalitā could not renounce the world but she took the permission of her parents and escorted Mahābhadra wherever she went. They too reached the city of Saṅkhpur, Pun²arika was the son of King Śrīgarbha and Queen Kamalinī of Saṅkhpur.

Once Samantabhadrācārya came and stayed in the outskirts of the city of Saṅkhpur, he predicted that Pun²arika will grow up to be a learned person. He also said that “Maturing-of-Deeds’ and “Fruition-of-Time’ had given birth to “Good-Spirited’, “Man-of-Prosperity’ in the “City-of-Man’. When Sulalitā heard this she could not understand what the adept meant, so she went up to Mahābhadra and told her what the adept had predicted. Then Mahābhadra told her that “Maturing-of-Deeds’, Fruition-of-Time’ were the parents of not only Prince Puṇḍarika, but of all the worldly souls and revealed that the Ācārya was none other than “The-True-Doctrine’ (Sadāgama). They both had arranged the association of the Prince and “The-True-Doctrine’ and the Prince was inspired to study under “The-True-Doctrine’. Thus Prince Pun²arika was engaged in scriptural study. One day when all four of them (“The-True-Doctrine’, “Rich-Insight’, “Innocence’ and “Good-Spirited’) were engaged in religious discussion they heard the turbulent sounds and saw a thief being led to the altar of judgment. He was sentenced to death. On his way he took refuge in “The-True-Doctrine’ and narrated his journey in Manifold existence. Then “Innocence’ (Sulalitā) asked him why he appeared in the guise of a thief when he was Emperor Anusundara. The King Anusundara replied that he appeared in the guise of a thief in order to inspire “Innocence’ and “Good-Spirited’ and reveal to them the nature of the worldly sojourn. “Rich-Insight’ had an insight in the matter, so she could easily apprehend the mysterious narration.

Emperor Anusundara then revealed the mystery of the allegory of the thief and Stealing. Anusundara who had acquired Right Faith, Right Knowledge and Right Conduct in the birth of Guṇadhāraṇa had gone away from the path of righteousness in his following births. In the present life Anusundara forgot the righteous path, became materialistic and robbed the soul of its inherent nature. So he was led to the altar of judgement when he was rescued by “Rich-Insight’ and “The-True-Doctrine’. When “Rich-Insight’ inspired King Anusundara to take refuge in the “The-True-Doctrine’, Anusundara had a vision of his previous births and revealed the same before the learned audience.

“Innocence’ and “Good-Spirited’ now understood the mysterious tale of the worldly sojourn and the present status of King Anusundara. In due course King Anusundara, Sulalitā “Innocence’, “Good-Spirited’ Pun²arika, his parents King Śrigarbha and Queen Kamalinī and King Magadhasenā and Queen Sumangalā (parents of Sulalitā) renounced the world and got initiated in the Jaina order.

Thus Samantabhadrācārya initiated seven of them and inspired the others to tread on the path of righteousness. The day Anusundara was initiated his age defining Karmas were terminated, he accepted the vow of Sallekhana and ascended to the highest realm of heaven. The next day, Samantabhadrācārya revealed to all the people gathered, about the future of Anusundara. He said that Anusundara will be reborn as Amṛitsar and destroy all the karmas and attain emancipation. All were very happy for Rajaṛṣi Anusundara.

Then Sulalitā took to rigorous austerities to annihilate the veil of karmas, Pun²arika Muni too engaged himself in scriptural study. Once he enquired from his spiritual mentor the essence of Jaina Āgamas. The master said that spiritual contemplation (Dhyāna Yoga) is the quintessence of all spiritual practices. All the other codes of conduct, rituals and practices are formulated to strengthen the practice of spiritual contemplation. Muni Pun²arika said that many philosophers and saints have recommended various types of Yogic practices and methods of meditation. He questioned if emancipation could be accomplished by the above practices and methods. The spiritual adept then clarified the doubt of Muni Pun²arika and narrated the allegory of a false physician.

In a city there lived a physician who was very wise, kind, practical and skilled in his profession of curing even the most dreadful diseases. But only a section of people trusted him and took his treatment. Many false physicians initiated his practices and tried to establish themselves as real physicians. When they prescribed the cure as the wise physician did, people were cured otherwise they continued to suffer from the diseases. Instead of being cured the ignorant people intensified their ailments as the false physicians did not know the root of diseases, so they remained imperfect in their jobs.

The above is the allegory of the wise physician and the false physicians. The city is the world inhabited by the worldly souls. The wise physician is the omniscient, perfect, emancipated supreme Lord, who is compassionate, practical and skilled in curing the diseases of karmas. Only a section of the people have faith in him and get themselves cured from the karmic conditioning. When the omniscients preach the gospel, some ignorant and perverted people distort the preachings, while some others misconstruct it and deform it completely.

As there are all kinds of people, so there are all kinds of philosophies, philosophers and their followers. Those who imbibe the teachings of the omniscients, drive away the karmic diseases and liberate themselves from the worldly sojourn. Those philosophers who preach the gospel characteristic of the omniscients, succeed in curing their followers to a certain extent. The omniscients certify attachment, aversion and delusion to be the root cause of all karmic conditioning but those philosophers who are ignorant of the above fact remain imperfect in their profession.

Then Samantabhadrācārya established the universality of Jaina faith, which preaches one and all to apprehend the cause of worldly sojourn and relinquish those causes, to rise above the worldly sojourn. He said that mere practices and external appearances do not serve the purpose. Only when the husk is stripped from the rice it can be cleaned and cooked. So also one should remove the husk of material inclinations by spiritual contemplation and clean the blemishes of karmas attached to the worldly soul. Whoever does so is worthy of emancipation, immaterial of his religion and status. Irrespective of the philosophy or religion one adheres to, those exercises which free him from attachment, aversion and delusion are meritiorous and commendable. On the other hand, if one performs Jaina rituals and burdens himself with karmas he is said to be outside the Jaina faith, although externally he may appear to be a devout Jain.

An aspirant should discriminate, understand and remain equanimous in all circumstances and be ever vigilant not to fall prey to attachment and aversion. An owl can never enjoy the light and hides himself in the hole of the tree in broad daylight. So also the perverted minds do not benefit from the knowledge of the wise and hide themselves in the hole of the worldly sojourn.

The Jaina faith is like the health station of the wise physician and the Āgamas (scriptures) are the testaments which cure the karmic conditioning. Traces of the contents of the Āgamic declaration can be found in non-jain philosophies and religious traditions only to a certain extent. The extent to which the cardinal values are imbibed, will correspond to the bondage and destruction of karmas.

GOD IS ONE

The next question Muni Puṇḍarika asked was a very significient one. He asked, ““A non-Jain will also be equally attached and faithful to his religion and philosophy, like a Jain. A Jain upholds his faith and propagates it to be the best, the same is the case of followers of other faiths, so what is the difference between the two?’’

To this the spiritual adept replied that, throughout his above answers he had presented a comprehensive and impartial philosophical outlook of the Jaina faith. Right Faith enables one to grasp the knowledge which will only be right. In its light there is no place for ignorance and doubt. So they look upon the omniscient, detached, self-realised, emancipated Lord as their saviour irrespective of his name and form. All are equal in the eyes of the perfected souls, so there is no scope for differences among them. The worldly souls are bound by karmas so they apprehend the Almighty according to their whims and fancies but the supreme souls are devoid of karmas, hence they are above all differences. The fortunate ones realize this truth and do not entertain any conflicting debates in their minds but those who consider God to be otherwise are instructed again and again by the wise.

RELIGION IS ONE

In reality religion is one, that which is full of humanitarian values and serves the purpose of all living beings. Supreme Forbearance, Supreme Humility, Supreme Straightforwardness, Supreme Truthfulness, Supreme Purity, Supreme Austerity, Supreme Self Restraint, Supreme Renunciation, Supreme Chastity and Supreme Detachment are the essential characteristics of Universal Religion.

PATH OF EMANCIPATION IS ONE

Path of liberation too is one, although philosophers apprehend it by different names. In the world, adversity is caused by sinful living and all prosperity is caused by virtuous living-this is the quintessence of the path of liberation. One should purify oneself and relinquish the path of passion and ignorance to accomplish Mokṣa or Emancipation. To remain absorbed in the formless self which is characterised by infinite knowledge, infinite vision, infinite bliss and infinite power is Mokṣa or Emancipation and people understand it by different names. Hence the purpose of all spiritual and religious practices should be the purification of disposition which will yield the fruit of emancipation.

Those scriptures which reveal the true identify of the liberated God and Righteousness (Saddharma), speak of this kind of emancipation. These scriptures are the genuine scriptures (Sadṣāstras). When the obscuring karmas are got rid of, the soul apprehends the real nature of the path of emancipation and abandons all futile thoughts and frivolous contemplation. To eliminate delusion from one’s life and inspire others to expel it, is the highest good.

Thus Samantabhadrācārya answered the philosophical queries of Muni Pun²arika. In course of time, both of them destroyed all the karmas and freed themselves from the fetters of karmic conditioning and attained Emancipation. They preached the path of righteousness to the multitude for a long time and their life served as a model for the exercise of Charity, Virtuous Character, Austerity and Spiritual contemplation.

Muni Dhaneṣwara was made the head of the congregation and given the responsibility of guiding the four-fold congregation. Mahābhadra and Sulalitā too destroyed their karmas and attained emancipation and the others entered the realm of heaven. Among those who heard the story of the worldly sojourn, many renounced the world, many took the vows of the householder, many others realized Right Faith and many others cherished a desire to be liberated from the worldly sojourn.

The author concludes that he has presented the journey of “The Worldly Soul’ in Manifold Existence. The reader should apprehend it to be their journey in the worldly sojourn, realize their destination in life and without delay tread on the path of righteousness and emancipation.

“Good-Spirited’, alias “Man-of-Prosperity’ (Muni Pun²arika) are the humble and noble souls caught in the web of transmigration. “City-of-Man’ is the world. In reality “Maturing-of-Deeds’ and “Fruition-of-Time’ are the parents of all living beings. People who are wise like “Rich-Insight’ (Mahābhadra) give prime importance to the essential values of life and tread on the path of virtue.

Like “Innocence’ (Sulalitā) some people find it difficult to grasp the truth but ultimately work hard towards it and realize their aim in life. The story of Emperor Anusundara is the allegorical story of “The Worldly Soul’ caught in the web of transmigration.

Thus the author has narrated in detail the nature of the worldly sojourn, the causes of the worldly sojourn and has interwoven it with philosophical treatise. At the end of the narration the author has presented the bottom line of the story which is as follows:-

All fortunes and prosperity can be acquired only by auspicious deeds, but the wise prefer equanimity and inner peace above all else. If a person of repute does not consider inauspicious deeds as his enemy, he gets trapped in the web of worldly sojourn. Even if a person has bound evil karmas previously and realizes the path of virtue later he is ultimately delivered from the worldly sojourn. Everyone should comprehend the truth and acquire Right Knowledge so that they can be liberated like Emperor Anusundara. Emperor Anusundara was overpowered by Delusion and Passions in his previous existences and so had to suffer endlessly in the worldly sojourn. The author chose to narrate his journey in the worldly sojourn for all his readers to understand and realize. The above narration is just an illustration of the wanderings in the wheel of birth and deaths. The destiny of all living beings is diverse and is in accordance with the mental dispositions and karmic patterns of each individual. The wise should relinquish all sins and endeavour to annihilate all karmas.

CONCLUDING REMARKS OF THE AUTHOR

The author says that this allegorical narration is replete with significance. The wise should imbibe the essence of the narration for their welfare and enlightenment. He says that he has written this allegorical work to cross the ocean of the worldly sojourn. He also requests the wise scholars and pious aspirants to read the text in right light.

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