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death with equanimity

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(Chapter I, cont.)

1.22 – 1.221

1.22 Arddhamāgadhī Canonical Literature –

Later, as the time passed several works of fundamental spiritual value, besides the Aṅga Āgamas, were also composed by other masters down the line and they were called Aṅgabāhya Āgamas or the extra–primary canons. However, this classification didn’t prove to be final and for a long time several classifications of Arddhamāgadhī canonical works have been available. They are as follows –

1.221 The Aṅga Sūtras –

The earliest available classification of the Arddhamāgadhī canonical literature, which draws a line of demarcation between the works inherited from those of the twenty–three Prophets before Lord Mahāvīra and those compiled and composed on the basis of His teachings. It is in the form of the Pūrvas and the Aṅga Sūtras.iAṅga Sūtras are twelve in number and the Pūrvas fourteen. However, in the context of the canonical literature prevalent in the religious order of Lord Mahāvīra, the fourteen Pūrvas form a part of the twelfth Aṅga Sūtra – Dṛṣṭivāda, which is believed to have been lost to the ravages of time and its knowledge, including that of the fourteen Pūrvas is not currently available. It has, therefore, become traditional to list only eleven Aṅga Sūtras and mention Dṛṣṭivāda and the Pūrvas separately.

Eleven Aṅga Sūtras ii are

  1. Āyāraṅga “Ācārāṅga” – It is a treatise on the right monastic conduct, divided into two parts called Śrutaskandhas. The first part consists of nine chapters and within them forty sub–parts called Uddeśakas. According to its language, content and the style of composition, the first part “Śrutaskandha” of the treatise is quite ancient. The second part is in the form of supplements “Cūlikas” and consists of three supplements and sixteen chapters. From the very beginning there flows a current of non–violence towards all the living beings of the universe and an emphasis on the point that all the living beings love life, therefore one must avoid killing or hurting life in any manner.iii The subsequent chapters lay down the rules for monastic conduct based on this underlying philosophy of non–violence. The eighth chapter of this most important treatise of the primary canons is entitled ‘Vimokṣa’ and contains a detailed description of the three kinds of end–practices – Bhaktapratyākhyānamaraṇa, Iṅginīmaraṇa and Prāyopagamana– maraṇa. The ninth chapter of the first part, entitled Upadhānaśruta, contains a fairly detailed description of the severe penance undertaken by Lord Mahāvīra before He gained enlightenment and omniscience as well as that of his peregrinations – tours in the land of the non–believers and consequent hardships and afflictions suffered by Him. In the second part, the seven chapters of the first supplement lay down rules for seeking alms “Pinḍaiṣaṇā”, moving about “Iryā” and residence “Śayyā or Vasati” by the Jaina clergy – monks and nuns. The seven chapters of the second supplement contain rules regarding places of self–study – Svādhyāya–sthāna “of scriptures” and those of disposal of waste material Utsarga–sthāna. Lastly, the two chapters of the third supplement – Bhāvanā and Vimukti – deal with the subjects of contemplation – Bhāvanā of the possible flaws of the five great monastic vows “in order to avoid them” and that of spiritual liberation – Vimukti. It is considered to be the first and the foremost treatise amongst the Jaina sacred lore, pertaining to the monastic conduct as well as the others.

  2. Sūyagaḍaṅga “Sūtrakṛtāṅga” – It is a treatise that contains a detailed description of the Jaina and other religious philosophies of the time. While tracing the origin of its nomenclature, it has been said that it is called Sūtrakṛtāṅga because it beautifully does the work of informing the readers of the contents of own and the others’ religious philosophies.iv This treatise is also divided into two parts – Śrutaskandhas ¤– containing sixteen and seven chapters respectively. Its importance lies in the fact that it deals with all major religious philosophies of the time such as Kriyāvāda, Akriyāvāda, Niyativāda, Ajñānavāda, Jagat–kartṛtvavāda, Lokavāda, etcand then proves as to how these are not fundamentally true. It also contains detailed descriptions and analyses of the qualities of Śramaṇa, Brāhmaṇa, Bhikṣu, Nirgrantha, etc. In the last chapter, entitled Nālandīya, it also contains a description of the meeting and a dialogue between Gaṇadhara Gautama and Udakapeḍhālaputra, a follower of the tradition of the twenty–third Prophet Bhagvan Pārśvanātha, held at Nālandā, which yields some information about the four dimensional faith “Cāturyāma dharma” preached by Him “Bhagvan Pārśvanātha”.

  3. ṭhāṇaṅga “Sthānāṅga” – A treatise with ten chapters and seven hundred and eighty–three aphorisms, this work enumerates various things and concepts – both concrete as well as abstract – as per their numbers. In this regard it can be compared to the Aṅguttaranikāya of the Buddhist scriptures.v The examples of its enumeration are – one view, one conduct, one time–unit, one space unit, one Paramāṇu, one soul, etc contained in the first chapter; two types of living beings – mundane and liberated, two types of canonical works – primary “Aṅgapraviṣṭha” and extra–primary “Aṅgabāhya”, etc. in the second chapter; three Vedas, three types of endeavours “puruṣārtha” Dharma, Artha and Kāma, etc in the third chapter and so on. In the subsequent chapters this treatise contains a lot of information of contemporary historical, geographical, medical, anthropological, social, economical, commercial, spiritual, philosophical and fundamental importance.

  4. Samavāyaṅga “Samavāyāṅga” – Just like the Sthānāṅga, this treatise also lists various things according to their numbers. However, while the things mentioned in the Sthānāṅga are of a general nature and interest, those mentioned in this work are the ones that are connected with monastic life and conduct. Its expanse is that of two hundred and seventy–five aphorisms of which the first two hundred and ten aphorisms list things from one to Koṭā–koṭi “1014” and the rest of the aphorisms contain information of miscellaneous nature. Some examples of the listings in this treatise are – one soul, two sets of living beings, three self–restraints “Guptis”, four passions “Kaṣāya – anger, pride, guile – deceipt and greed”, five great monastic vows “Mahāvrata”, etc.The 150th aphorism describes the seventy–two skills to be learnt by men, etc.

  5. Viyāhapaṇṇatti “Vyākhyāprajñaptyaṅga or Bhagavatī Sūtra” – A treatise in forty–one centoes “Śataka or sets of a hundred aphorisms each” and with many sub–sections in each cento “except the fifteenth” and with eight hundred and sixty–seven aphorisms in all, it contains the explanations and analyses of various things, concepts and precepts as given by Lord Mahāvīra to Gaṇadhara Gautama. The explanations given in this treatise are in the form of questions and answers. Gaṇadhara Gautama asks questions related to the fundamental principles, which are then answered by Lord Mahāvīra, who has been addressed as Vaiśālika. At many places, in this treatise, there are descriptions of discussions between the followers of Lord Mahāvīra and those of the twenty–third Prophet Lord Pārśvanātha wherein the latter are convinced of the importance of the five dimensional faith “Pañcayāma dharma” preached by Lord Mahāvīra under the changed circumstances and embrace it with pleasure. Amongst other things, this work also mentions the historically important events such as two great wars fought, inVaiśāli, between the Vajjis and the Ajāta–śatru Kuṇika on one side and almost all the rest of the kingdoms and republics of the eastern and central India “comprising nine Mallakis, nine Licchavis, Kāśī, Kauśala and the eighteen republics” on the other. In these wars, respectively, 8.4 million and 9.6 million warriors were killed and it changed the face of the Indian sub–continent. Besides these, this work also contains the questions by the Ājīvakas, which brings out their precepts and conduct in sufficient details. According to its commentary by Ācārya Abhayadevasūri, this work contains 36000 questions and answers in which subjects like contemporary history, geography, politics, religion, sects, traditions, customs, philosophies, etc have been beautifully dealt with. It is for this reason that this treatise is considered to be encyclopaedic and has been given the honour of being called by the alias of Bhagavatī Sūtra.

  6. āyādhammakahāo “Jñātā–dharmakathāṅga” – A treatise in two parts “Śrutaskandha”, it contains moral and religious stories told by Jñātaputra Lord Mahāvīra. The nineteen chapters of the first part contain nineteen moral stories, which uphold and expound morality. Ten stories of the second part are religious stories that aim at propounding and establishing the Jaina tenets through this medium of lucidly told and captivating stories. Though a common thread of morality and ethical values runs through all these stories, they are independent of each other as far as their plots are concerned. All of them aim at promoting the value of renunciation, restraint and penance towards the attainment of spiritual emancipation. Some of the well–known stories of this work are – Meghkumara, Dhannā and Vijaya the thief, Sāgaradatta and Jinadatta, Sthāpatyāputra, Rohiṇī, Draupadī, Gajasukumāla, etc. The marked thing about this work is that the fourth chapter of the first part contains animal stories, which, it can be surmised, sowed the seeds of a major literary style in the coming times which ultimately gave major animal stories’ works like Pañcatantra, Aesop’s fables etc.

  7. Uvāsagadasāo “Upāsaka–daśāṅga” – It is a treatise containing the accounts of the lives and spiritual practices by ten leading lay followers “Upāsakas or Śrāvakas” of Lord Mahāvīra in ten chapters. The ten chapters are, respectively, devoted to the accounts of ten lay practitioners namely Ānanda, Kāmadeva, Culanipriya, Surādeva, Cullaśataka, Kuṇḍakaulika, Saddālaputta, Mahāśataka, Nandinipita and Śālinipita. The rules of conduct to be followed by the lay followers of the Jaina faith have been laid down and explained through the medium of these stories. According to the available accounts, these lay practitioners were highly devout and did not flinch from the laid–down path even under extreme circumstances and on being afflicted by mortifying afflictions. In the very first chapter the five minor vows “Aṇuvrata”, three virtue enhancing vows “Guṇavrata” and four educational vows “Śikṣāvrata” as well as their possible excesses “aticāra” that can be committed have been very lucidly presented. Ānanda was a very devout devotee of Bhagvān Mahāvīra and had taken the vows at the hands of the Lord Himself. He had attained the highly sensitive and extensive accomplishment of clairvoyant perception “Avadhi–jñāna” after undertaking rigorous lay followers’ practices for twenty years. Gautama, the first and the foremost principal disciple of the Lord became doubtful about the extent of his clairvoyant perception and rebuked him for making false claims. However, the Lord clarified that the claim of extensive clairvoyant perception made by Ānanda was correct and that Gautama must apologise for the misplaced rebuke, which Gautama did, unhesitatingly. In the second story there is an account of the afflictions caused to Śrāvaka Kāmadeva, by a demon to deviate him from the path of devotion and that of Kāmadeva’s unflinching faith in the face of such afflictions. The accounts contained in the third to the fifth chapter are also similar. In the sixth chapter there is an account of Śrāvaka Kuṇdakaulika remaining unmoved in the face of false propaganda by a follower of the Ājīvaka faith of Maṅkhali Gośālaka. The seventh chapter contains an account of the Lord’s preaching the faith to Saddālaputra, a follower of the Ājīvaka faith, of Mankhali Gośālaka, in which He demolished Niyativāda the mainstay of the Ājīvaka faith and Saddālaputra’s accepting the Jina faith. In this chapter Lord Mahāvīra has been referred to as Mahābrāhmaṇa, Mahāgopa, Mahā–sārthavāha, Mahā Dharmakathaka and Mahāniryāpaka. The account in the eighth chapter reveals as to how the wife of the faithful follower, Śrāvaka Mahāśataka, hindered his practices and how he succeeded in retaining his piety in the face of most alluring enticements. The ninth and the tenth chapters are very short and contain brief accounts of the practices of Śrāvakas Nandinipitā and Śālinipitā respectively.

This work can easily be termed as the Ācāraṅga for the lay followers. As the first primary canonical work, Ācārāṅga propounds the rules of conduct for the monks and the nuns, this work does the same for the laity.

  1. Antagaḍadasāo “Antakṛddaśāṅga” – A treatise containing eight divisions and ninety chapters to describe the lives and spiritual practices of ninety spiritual aspirants, fifty–one from the religious orders of the twenty–second Tīrthaṅkara Lord Ariṣṭanemi and thirty–nine from that of the twenty–fourth Tīrthaṅkara Lord Mahāvīra, who practised severe penance and liberated in the same birth. The eight divisions of this primary canonical work are, respectively, divided into 10, 8, 13, 10, 10, 16, 13 and 10 chapters. The first division describes the life–sketch of prince Gautama of the Yādava clan in some detail and gives a vivid description of various types of penance, including a month long end–practice of Voluntary peaceful death “Antima Maraṇāntika Sallekhanā Jhūṣaṇā Ārādhanā or Samādhi–maraṇa” undertaken by him. This description is followed by very brief note saying that the lives of the other nine aspirants followed a similar course. This pattern is, more or less, followed in all the eight divisions of this work. First five divisions are devoted to the life–sketches of 51 aspirants that practised during the realm of Lord Ariṣṭanemi and the remaining three chapters to the life–sketches of the other 39 aspirants that lived and practised during the time of Bhagvan Mahāvīra. According to its name there should have been ten divisions in this work but it seems that the other two chapters have been lost to the ravages of time.

  2. Aṇuttarovavāiyadasāo “Anuttaropapātikadaśāṅga” – It is a treatise containing the accounts of the lives and spiritual practices of thirty–three great aspirants whose spiritual practices yielded them rebirths in the ultimate heavens. The gods of the ultimate heavens “Anuttara–vimānavāsī deva” are unique in the sense that they are destined to attain the final deliverance in the human birth that they take after descending from these heavens on completing their tenures of life there. This primary canonical work is divided into three parts having 10, 13 and 10 episodes respectively. It’s name suggests that like the Upāsakadaśāṅga and the Antakṛddaśaṅga, there might have been ten divisions in it, too, but only three are currently available. The stories of this work are not fully developed and sometimes only the mentions of the main characters are available. Out of the thirty–three characters whose spiritual practices and penance have been described in this work, twenty–three bear relationships to three queens –Dhāriṇī, Nandā and Celanā – of Śreṇika Bimbisāra the king of Magadha. The remaining ten are the sons of Bhadrā the wife of a merchant from the town called Kākandī. The character of Jālī, the son of queen Dhāriṇī and that of Dhanya, the son of Bhadra, have been developed in detail in the first and the third chapters respectively. In the first episode of the third chapter there is a vivid description of the severe penance undertaken by Dhanya and that of his emaciated body as a result of such severe penance – “The vertebrae of the back–bone of that Dhanya could be counted one by one like the beads of a rosary, his ribs were clearly and distinctly visible like the waves of the Ganges, his penance–dried arms appeared like a dried serpent, his hands hung like the canvas feeding–bag hangs from the neck of a horse and his head shook like that of a person suffering from a severe affliction of gout.vi This work also contains a detailed description of the most severe type of end–practice “Voluntary peaceful death” of the Pādapopagamana type of Samādhimaraṇa.

  3. Paṇhavāgaraṇāiṁ “Praśna–vyākaraṇāni” – The title of this treatise suggests that it ought to have been a treatise containing questions and answers related to spiritual matters pertaining to own and the other faiths. However, this purported original form of this work seems to have been lost to time. In its present form, it exits in two parts that deal with karmic influx “Āsrava” and stoppage “Saṁvara”. The first of the two parts of this work contains the descriptions of the five causes of karmic influx “Āsrava–dvāra” and the second part that of the five measures for ensuring karmic stoppage “Saṁvara–dvāra”. According to this work the doors that allow karmic influx into the soul–field are violence, falsehood, theft, sexual indiscipline and attachment to possessions. The five great vows of complete abstinence from violence, untruth, theft, sexual incontinence and material and volitional encumbrance have been mentioned as the shutters that shut out the karmic influx and ensure karmic stoppage.

  4. Vivāgasuyaṁ “Vipāka Sūtra” – It is a treatise that outlines the inevitable retribution of one’s actions – both, pious and impious. In its twenty stories the first ten are devoted to showing as to how the sinful actions result in painful retribution “Duh<kha–vipāka” and the next ten stories underline the pleasurable results of pious actions “Sukha–vipāka”.

i In the present context the compilations of the preaching of Lord Mahāvīra is in the form of Aṅga Sūtras and the preceptual knowledge inherited from the traditions of the earlier twenty–three Tīrthaṅkaras is known as the Pūrvas or the ‘Former Knowledge’.

ii “Duvālasaṅge gaṇipiḍage paṇṇatte, taṁ jahā – Āyāre Sūyagaḍe ṭhāṇe Samavāe Viāhapaṇṇattī ṇāyā–dhammakahāo Uvāsagadasāo Antagaḍadasāo Aṇuttarovavāiya–dasāo Paṇhavāgaraṇāiṁ Vivāgasue Diṭṭhivae |” – Samavāyāṅga, Samavāya 88.

iii “Savve pāṇā piy-uyā, suhasāyā, dukkhapaḍkūlā, appiyavahā, piyajīviṇo jīviukāmā | Savvesiṁ jiviuṁ piyaṁ ||

  • Quoted : Prākṛta Bhāṣā Aur Sāhitya Kā Ālocanātmaka Itihāsa, Dr. Nemicandra Shastri, Tārā Book Agency, 1988, P. 165.

iv “Svaparasamayārthasūcakaṁ sūtrā, sā`smin kṛtamiti Sūtrakṛtaṅgaṁ |” – Q. Ibid, p. 166.

v Ibid, p. 167.

vi “Akkhasuttamālāviva–gaṇejjamāṇehiṁ piṭṭhikaraṇḍakasandhīhiṁ, Gaṅgātaraṅgabhu—eṇaṁ urakaḍagadesabhāeṇaṁ sukkasappamāṇehiṁ bāhāhiṁ siḍhilakaḍālīvivalamtehiṁ ya aggahatthehiṁ, kampamāṇavāie viva vevamāṇīe sīsagaḍīe . . . . |”

Aṇuttarovavāiyadasāo, 3.1.

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