AN ANALYTICAL STUDY OF UPAMITI – BHAVA – PRAPAÑCA – KATHĀ
(3) THE NATURE OF EMANCIPATION AND THE TRIPLE-FOLD PATH OF EMANCIPATION
Jainism enumerates nine fundamental principles viz. Soul (Jīva), Matter (Ajīva), Auspicious deeds (Puṇya), Inauspicious deeds (Pāpa), Karmic influx (Āṣrava), Stoppage of karmic influx (Samvara), Partial annihilation of karmas (Nirjara), Karmic bondage (Bandha) and Emancipation (Mokṣa). Of these nine, Mokṣa or emancipation signifies the realization of the highest good in life. It is the highest ideal in life and righteousness is the only means of realizing it.
If one were to understand transmigration and emancipation in a nutshell it can be said that karmic influx is the cause of bondage and transmigration, and stoppage of the karmic influx is the cause of emancipation. The study of the text of Upamiti-Bhava-Prapañca-Kathā reveals that Perverse attitude (Mithyātva), Vowlessness (Avirati), Invigilance (Pramāda), Passions (Kaṣāya) and Inauspicious activities of mind, body and speech (Aṣubha Yoga) cause karmic influx and when “The Worldly Soul’ acquires right faith, he steps on the first step of the ladder of emancipation. Acquiring Right Faith marks the opening of the gates of emancipation. This right faith is nothing but self-realization and knowledge of the existence of the soul distinct from the body. When such knowledge dawns on the soul, the soul pierces the knot of ignorance and enters the last phase of the worldly sojourn. He then endeavours to discard all the foreign connections of the karmas to be liberated from the worldly sojourn.
Liberation, salvation, emancipation, beatitude, nirvana etc. are the synonyms of Mokṣa which literally means to be free. In other words it signifies spiritual freedom and freedom from the worldly sojourn. Such a self-realized liberated soul becomes omniscient and experiences infinite and unrestricted bliss. All the faculties of Infinite knowledge, Infinite bliss, Infinite vision and Infinite power manifest in the Arhats who become Siddhas (when the four Aghāti karmas are annihilated).
In the city of emancipation (Nivṛttinagara) which is at the end of universe (Lokā Kāṣa) there is no birth, death, oldage, disease, sorrow, poverty, karma, physical body, attachment, illusion, status of master or slave, pangs of hunger and thirst, for the emancipated beings who have self-realized and attained perfection. It is a state of complete self-realization and spiritual perfection.491 Volumes can be written about emancipation but much of it remains unspoken and unwritten as it is beyond the most powerful imagination and speech. Every being is divine in essence, inherent in him are all characteristics and powers we associate with emancipation and these are gradually unfolded resulting in bliss and perfection. One has to work hard to have faith in it, know it, reach it, and manifest it within oneself.
In Jainism there is no other God except the emancipated souls in their individual ideal intergrity. To conceive of God in any other way is to make him finite. The infinite is inherent in the finite, hence the finite is ever struggling to break down its finiteness and reach out to the fullest freedom and when this freedom of spirit is reached it is termed as emancipation.
In emancipation the self realized, self-illumined and self sufficient soul experiences eternal bliss. Once this state of emancipation is realized, nothing more remains to be realized, it is very much in contrast with the temporary happiness procured by the enjoyment of material pleasures which yield suffering and bondage in the long run.
TRIPLE FOLD PATH OF EMANCIPATION
The Tattvārtha Sūtra elucidates the triple-fold path of emancipation. This Sūtra “Samyak Darṣana-Jñāna Cāritrāṇi Mokṣa-mārgaḥ502 is the torch-light of all wisdom. It means that right faith, right knowledge and right conduct- the three together constitute the path of emancipation. This triple fold path is eternal. It was treaded upon by all Tīrthaṅkars, Arhats and shall be the same for all the future Tīrthaṅkars, Arhats and other aspirants. Right faith, right knowledge, and right conduct mould the soul and enable it to manifest the latent divine resources, thus approximating its nature to that divine perfection where all the characteristics of knowledge, vision, bliss and power are present in harmonious and balanced completeness.
There are contradictory theories regarding the path of emancipation. For some it is realised though knowledge alone, irrespective of conduct or by faith or conduct irrespective of knowledge. But in Jainism when the three i.e. right faith, right knowledge and right conduct are accomplished emancipation is worked out. The three do not signify three different paths but are considered one synchronized path.
Right Faith is the belief in the fundamental principles.513 Just as perverse attitude is the root cause of wanderings in the worldly sojourn, so also right faith is at the root emancipation. If emancipation is the fruit then right faith can be compared to the seed of emancipation. When the soul has realized right faith it becomes restless to purify itself and liberate itself from the wheel of transmigration. When right faith dawns in the soul, it realizes the futility of material existence and its internal dispositions get purer by the day. In other words it ceases to be a Bahiratman, and ascends to the higher stage, that of an Antarātman.
Thus Right faith is the prime requirement for emancipation. In its absence knowledge and conduct too do not serve the purpose of release from rebirth. Ācārya Samantabhadra remarks that the souls who have right faith enjoy wealth, fame, victory, wisdom, power and birth in noble families and they are also efficient in realizing the highest ideals of righteousness and emancipation.524 The five essential characteristics of a person who has realized right faith are Equanimity, Detachment, Desire for emancipation, Compassion and Steadfast faith ie. we can recognize a person to be of right faith if he is equanimous, detached, has the burning desire for emancipation, compassionate, has steadfast faith in the higher truths of life. From the noumenal point of view (Niṣcaya naya), faith in the existence of the soul as distinct from the body is right faith and from the phenomenal point of view (Vyavahāra naya), faith in Saddeva (omniscients) Sadguru (one who is devoid of all attachments) and Saddharma (righteousness and non-violence) is right faith.
Pain, fear, death, terror, poverty, depression, hatred, disease, mental tension, natural calamities are some of the innumerable forms of suffering but ignorance is the root cause of all sufferings. In other words ignorance is the only suffering, hence it can be concluded logically that knowledge is the greatest bliss. It is virtue and power and the key to happiness and bliss. It is only for the fools that ignorance is bliss. Knowledge is inherent in the soul and is not different from it. But owing to ignorance caused by the veil of karma and vice-versa, the knowledge acquired is false and does not prove to be worthy to be a constituent of the path of emancipation. Man is unhappy because he is unable to identify the true fountain of happiness which is within him and not outside in the material world. Knowledge of the true self can beget unhindered everlasting happiness. Happiness does not dwell in riches and pleasures, but in contentment and in self-realisation, which can be accomplished only by right knowledge and right conduct. The Gita too draws a line between Parāvidya and Aparāvidya and instructs the seekers to realize the truth. The Uttarādhyayana Sūtra echoes the same truth. It says “Right knowledge is the Cintāmaṇi Ratna, Kāmadhenu and Kalpavṛkṣa’.53 5 All the beings possess the inherent faculty of knowledge be it the micro creatures, but they too experience all the sufferings as others do, but are unable to express it. Hence false knowledge is the cause of the worldly sojourn as right knowledge is the cause of emancipation and it manifests completely in the self-realized omniscients. Hence right knowledge is the essence of human life and acquiring it should be the goal of one and all. Knowledge enables one to cross the ocean of birth and death and in its light all the karmas are burnt out in no time.
The amount of karmas that an ignorant person destroys in innumerable births, the wise man destroys the same amount in one samaya (smallest division of time). Only that knowledge is beneficial which results in destruction of karmas and yields emancipation, otherwise knowledge in the absence of right faith begets arduous journeys in the worldly sojourn. That knowledge, which causes obstructions in realizing emancipation, is of no use. Knowledge should be right to serve the purpose of emancipation. Hence spiritual knowledge i.e. knowledge of the existence of the soul is held in high esteem by saints and seers, intellectuals and scholars. It is greater than all the material knowledge and knowledge acquired through the senses and the mind. Knowledge is self-illuminative and it also illumines all the objects of knowledge.546 In Jainism omniscience is direct to the soul and does not require the medium of the senses and the mind.557 Hence the soul has to strive to eliminate all the obstructive mediums to manifest the direct knowledge and cognise the self as well as everything that is non-self.
The study of scriptures holds a very important place in the acquiring of spiritual knowledge. T.K. Tukol says, ““Their devoted study not only molds our outlook and character but also effectively shapes our mind to give a direction and meaning to our entire life. The twelve aṅgas and the sūtras occupy a special place amongst the scriptures, though there is divergence of opinion about their authenticity between the Śvetāmbaras and the Digambaras. That apart many eminent Ācāryas have contributed immense and invaluable literature to enrich the spiritual heritage of Jainism. These scriptures cover the entire gamut of Jaina philosophy couched in a simple style intelligible to the laity.’’568 Right knowledge can be acquired by quest, by developing love for it and by serving the wise personages. By contemplation (Cintana), deep contemplation (Manana) and practice (Nidhidhyāsana), one can acquire knowledge and realize emancipation. T.K. Tukol remarks on the Puruṣārtha Siddhyupāya, ““Right knowledge can be acquired by pursuit with devotion by reading sacred scriptures, understanding their full meaning and significance in proper time and with punctuality imbued with zeal, proper behaviour and open mind.’’579
Right Conduct is the third and the necessary constituent of the path of emancipation. Freedom from the mundane existence can be achieved only when right conduct is adhered to. T.K. Tukol remarks, ““Right Faith and Right Knowledge, which equip the individual with freedom from delusion and consequently with true knowledge of the fundamental principles, clarifying what are worthy of renunciation and realisation, require Right Conduct as an integral and crowning constituent of the path of liberation.’’5810 From the noumenal point of view right conduct signifies the being of the self in the self and the self remaining absorbed in the contemplation of the pure self and from the phenomenal point of view, practice of the twelve-fold austerities for annihilation of karmas is right conduct.5911 Right Conduct includes right austerities. Practice of right conduct is complete for the monks and nuns whereas it is practised partially by the householders. But the karmas are annihilated only through perfection of right conduct, i.e. when delusion and the passions are conquered completely. Conduct is right only when it is consistent with right faith and right knowledge. Conduct in the absence of right faith and right knowledge does not effect emancipation. Thus emancipation is nothing but the perfection of right faith, right knowledge and right conduct.
Jaina thinkers have laid great stress on acquiring of right conduct in life. It saves the soul from karmic bondage and also from other evils which modern day society faces. Nathmal Tatia says, “The identification of the soul with the body is the root evil to be got rid of.”6012 Hence the Jaina ascetics devoted themselves absolutely to the purification of the soul and acquisition of the power of detachment. The ten virtues, the complete and partial vows, the five-fold regulations (samiti), the three-fold restraints (guptis), equanimity, observance of twelve-fold austerities which include fasting as well as meditation and contemplation, serve as the pillar of right conduct. But mere mortification of the flesh in the absence of illumination of the spirit does not serve the purpose of emancipation and it is nothing but spiritual bankruptcy. Right conduct encompasses Saṁvara and Nirjara i.e. stoppage of karmic influx and annihilation of the previously acquired karmas. This in due course yields the fruit of emancipation. ““Ahiṅsā or Non-violence and love towards all forms the basis of Right Conduct. It illumines the self and endows the individual with spiritual strength.’’6113 Besides right faith, right knowledge, right conduct, charity (dāna), chastity (ṣīla), austerity (tapa) and contemplation (bhāva) form an integral part of working hard for emancipation. These four water the soul to flower into the fruit of emancipation. If one is unable to practise any of the first three he is always in a position to practise the twelve-fold pure contemplations ie. yearning for perfection and longing for freedom from the worldly sojourn. This yearning transforms an imperfect tiny creature into a great soul. It is a common saying Bhāvana Bhavnaṣinī which means that by Bhāva ie through mental disposition one can begin to end the wanderings in the worldly sojourn.
In the Daṣavaikālika Sūtra, the path of emancipation and release from the web of births and deaths is enumerated.6214 It reveals that the aspirant first acquires knowledge and differentiates the self from the non-self and also the living from the non-living. He then practises self-restraint and apprehends the different existences where the living beings experience birth, death, old-age and disease. He also knows the cause of four fold existence and grasps the meaning of auspicious and inauspicious deeds (puṇya and pāpa) bondage and liberation. He understands that there is freedom from bondage, so he becomes detached from the worldly affairs and becomes spiritually inclined. Such a person lives in the world but the world is not in his mind and ends the cycle of birth and death. Just as a boat floats over the surface of water and reaches the shore, but if the water enters the boat, it undoubtedly sinks. Then the aspirant renounces the world and all the channels through which the karmas enter and bind the soul are obstructed and fastened. Thus ignorance and false perception are replaced by right knowledge and right faith, from the state of vowlessness the person transcends to the state of accepting the vows, that of Āhiṅsā, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacarya and Aparigraha, the aspirant is now vigilant, his passions are subdued and the mechanism of Aṣubha or inauspicious Yoga is replaced by Śubha or auspicious Yoga. The aspirant then reaches the height of Śubha Yoga and destroys the knowledge-obscuring and other destructive karmas. There upon enlightenment, infinite knowledge, infinite vision dawns upon the Sādhaka and he becomes an omniscient who knows and sees everything related to all three times.6315 In other words he becomes an Arihant ie. Jīvanmukta. He then preaches the Dharma and the path of Sādhana to all creatures. When his Āyuṣa ie. age determining karma is exhausted, he becomes a Siddha ie. Videhamukta and departs from the body to the abode of the Siddhas. Thus we see in the Jaina tradition that each person builds or mars his own life.
Realisation of four-foldpath constituted by right faith, right knowledge, right conduct and right austerity and release from the clutches of the worldly sojourn is the bottomline of the text of Upamiti-Bhava-Prapañca-Kathā. The author Ācārya Siddhaṛṣi has interwoven the above philosophy with the story of “The Worldly Soul’ and enumerated how “The Worldly Soul’ wanders because of perverse attitude and liberates himself after realising right faith, right knowledge and after accomplishing right conduct and right austerity. This self sponsored realization and liberation is emancipation and release from rebirth. Thus the concept of Bhāva has been studied through the theories of the Soul, Karman and Emancipation.
- Kārtikeyānuprekṣa, Dravya Saṅgraha. [↩]
- Tattvārtha Sūtra 1/1. [↩]
- Tattvārtha Sūtra 1/2. [↩]
- Samantabhadra, Ratnakaran²a Śravakācāra. [↩]
- Uttarādhyayana Sūtra. [↩]
- T.K. Tukol in Compendium of Jainism Pg. 180. [↩]
- Ibid. Pg. 189. [↩]
- Ibid. Pg. 190. [↩]
- Ibid. Pg. 198. [↩]
- Ibid. Pg. 193. [↩]
- Dravyasaṅgraha. [↩]
- Nathmal Tatia, Studies in Jaina Philosophy Pg. 267. [↩]
- T.K. Tukol in Compendium of Jainism Pg. 194. [↩]
- Daṣavaikālika Sūtra 4/14-25. [↩]
- Ibid. [↩]