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death with equanimity

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Chapter III, cont.

3.3113 (33) – (38)

3.3113 Final Preparation –

31. Kṣamāpanā “Begging Forgiveness” – To beg for everyone’s forgiveness is Kṣamāpanā. At this stage, as the kṣapaka advances towards the final phase of his end–practice, he wishes to shed the sting of pride and rancour and become light by getting forgiven by all those – the Ācārya, Upādhyāya, monks and the others – who might have been hurt by his behaviour during the time that he has lived in their company. He does so, humbly, with his folded hands placed against his forehead.i As the kṣapaka, in his by now much weakened condition, cannot go to each and everyone himself to beg his forgiveness, the niryāpakācārya goes on his behalf with his message of granting forgiveness to him. He carries the kṣapaka’s peacock whisk “picchī” as a symbol of his request and says that the kṣapaka has begged for their forgiveness, body, mind and speech.ii In order to complete the process of mutual pardon, he, too, forgives all others for any deliberate or inadvertent hurts caused to him. He acknowledges the favour done to him by his adopted monastic group in helping him in peacefully carrying out his most critical end–practice of Sallekhanā as also in helping him in shedding the karmic encumbrance and says that he has no anger or malice towards anyone and pardons everyone. Like this, in these two steps, he completes the process of begging forgiveness as well as forgiving and forgetting.

32. Kṣapaṇā “Shedding Karma” – Having completed the process of mutual pardon, the kṣapaka now sets about to annihilate the karmic encumbrance by undertaking most severe penance with equanimity of mind. iii He is constantly helped in his ultimate endeavour by the supervising master and the assisting monks who guide and assist him at every step.

33. Aṇuśiṣṭi “Teaching” – The instructions and teaching given by the niryāpakācārya is called ‘anuśiṣti’.iv The niryāpakācārya tells the kṣapaka that his end is near and he should endeavour to attain flawless equanimity, he should dispel falsehood by the proper knowledge of and belief in the fundamentals, he should overcome deceit by adopting simplicity, the desire to enjoy mundane pleasure by developing detached attitude and take out the sting that rankles otherwise. He advises him to proceed with his Sallekhanā by enduring pain, disease, hardships, and afflictions as also by dispelling false–belief, and lack of restraint as well as by ensuring flawlessness of residence, bed and equipage.v

34. Smaraṇa “Reminding” – To revive and reawaken the kṣapaka who has become senseless or delirious due to extreme pain, by reminding him of the nobility of his practice and the good track record that he has had in the past, is smaraṇa. If the kṣapaka gets shaken from his resolve by extreme pain, deprivation, hardships and afflictions, the niryāpakācārya reminds him of his great monastic tradition and reawakens in him the desire to proceed with his end–practice. He stabilises him by saying such sweet and reassuring words as, “your monastic life so far has been flawless, you must remove this delusion and patiently overcome the small little hurdles that hinder your path, you must overcome attachment, affection and aversion as it is the only sign of flawless monasticism. Those who cannot bear hardships and go for the means to mitigate them cannot preserve the purity of their monastic conduct, which is destroyed ultimately. Therefore, for the sake of purity of your monastic conduct you must bear these hardships and afflictions with patience and forbearance. It is only the cowardly that retract from the chosen path.” vi

35. Kavaca “Armour or shield” – The ability to hold forth when under extreme pressure, extreme pain, extreme hardship and affliction by reminding oneself of the fact that whatever untoward happens is only the result of one’s own past actions that come to fruition now, is the volitional armour that saves the aspirant from wavering and deviating from his path. Also, that it is this pain and suffering, which is going to result in karmic separation that is so essential for achieving spiritual emancipation and liberation. This karmic encumbrance, which is responsible for all the trouble, is the debt that one has to repay one way or the other and if the process happens to be painful, one ought not to despair.vii

36. Samatā “Equanimity” – Equanimity is the quality of remaining unaffected by various external stimuli and remaining calm in the face of seemingly favourable or adverse situations. When an aspirant practitioner of Sallekhanā is endowed with the spiritual armour mentioned in the last paragraph, he is able to take favourable and unfavourable situations with equipoise, he can take the pleasurable and painful experiences of touch, taste, sight, sound and smell with same calm composure. He remains unaffected by honour and insult, pain and pleasure, life and death and becomes free from affection and aversion.viii He knows that attachment, aversion and passions soil his spirit and deviate him from following the liberating path of ‘ratnatraya’ and so remains detached, unaffected and dispassionate. He can, thus, maintain the psychic purity so essential for spiritual emancipation and final liberation.

37. Dhyāna “Meditation” – Meditation has been defined as the concentration of mind by the aspirants of superior constitution; in order to achieve the stoppage of all mundane cares.ix In practice, however, the practitioner of meditation concentrates on stopping passionate thoughts. Meditation is the weapon with which passions can be destroyed. x Having overcome passions by the practice of meditation, the kṣapaka proceeds with his end–practice of Bhaktapratyākhyāna and when he becomes very weak and feeble and unable to talk, he makes his intentions known by various signs like closed fist, nodding his head, raising an eye–brow, hand–signs for drinking water, etc and the niryāpakācārya can be assured that he is well on his liberating path through the practice of Bhaktapratyākhyāna. xi

Meditation can be inauspicious “Aśubha–dhyāna”, auspicious “Śubha– dhyāna” and pure “Śuddha–dhyāna”. Inauspicious meditation comprises despondent contemplation “Ārtadhyāna” and angered contemplation “Raudra– dhyāna”; the auspicious meditation is the contemplation of one’s spiritual duties “Dharmadhyāna” and the contemplation of the real and untainted form of the soul is the pure meditation “Śukladhyāna”. The kṣapaka shuns the inauspicious meditation and engages himself only in auspicious and pure contemplations. Dharmadhyāna is, again, of four subtypes – 1. Ājñā–vicaya “Contemplation of the teachings of the omniscient Lords Tīrthaṅkaras available in the form of canonical scriptures”, 2. Apāyavicaya “Contemplation of means of karmic separation”, 3. Vipākavicaya “Contemplation of the karmic fruition” and 4. Saṁsthānavicaya “Contemplation of the form of universal whole”. This type of concentration is possible for those aspirants who are at the vigilant–restraint “Apramatta–saṁyat” stage of spiritual progress.xii The pure meditation is nothing but the contemplation of the pure and natural form of the soul and occurs to only those aspirants who have effectively conquered attachment and aversion, achieved perfect sense–control and overcome fear, passions, liking, dislike, delusion and greed.xiii

By this time the ksa<paka has achieved such concentration and single minded devotion to his cause that he does not even feel the need for the liquid food, shelter, bed, monastic equipage and attending assistants and renounces them, too.xiv However, when this happens, he passes into the ambit of higher forms of end–practice “Iṅginī and Prāyopagamana” discussed later in this chapter.

38. Leśyā “Colouration” – In the present context Leśyā means spiritual glow or colour of the spirit. The spirit or the soul, in its natural form, is absolutely pure and free from any colouration. However, when it is influenced by passions it assumes a certain hue that depends on the type and intensity of passions colouring it at any point of time. Leśyā can be 1. Volitional colouration “Bhāva–leśyā”, which is at the thought level and 2. Physical colouration “Dravya–leśyā”, which is at the activity level. As the aspirant practitioner of Sallekhanā has already renounced all untoward passionate physical activities, only Bhāvaleśyā is relevant at this stage. The leśyas are six – 1. Black “Kṛṣṇaleśya” that signifies most intense passionate state of the soul, 2. Blue “Nīlales^yā” signifying highly passionate state of the soul, 3. Grey “Kāpota–leśyā”, which signifies a passionate state of the soul, 4. Yellow “Pītaleśyā” that signifies the lesser passionate state of the soul, 5. Lotus “Padmaleśyā”, which is the least passionate state of the soul and, finally, 6. White “Śuklaleśyā”, which is the passion–free state of the soul. These spiritual hues reflect the psychic tendencies or propensities of people. The first three hues are destructuve in nature and can be termed as the worst, worse and bad while the other three are constructive and can be said to be good, better and the best. Consequently, the aspirants in the grip of the yellow spiritul hue is a good aspirant, that in the grip of the lotus hue is a better aspirant the one in the white or the colourless spiritual state is the best aspirant. The aspirant practitioner of Sallekhanā shuns the first three kinds of inauspicious spiritual hues and through a continuous and deliberate endeavour to overcome passions, progresses through the yellow and lotus hues towards the ultimate pure and colourless spiritual state of Śuklaleśyā.xvBy doing so he becomes free from all encumbrances and attains purity of spiritual hues possible for the enlightened souls.xvi

i “. . . mastakanyastāñjaliḥ kṛtapramāṇaḥ kṣamāṁ grāhayati || – Ibid, verse 710.

ii A. “Khāmedi tumha khavaoti kuñcao tassa ceva khavagassa |

Dāvedavvo ṇedūṇa savvasaṅghassa vasadhīsu ||” – Ibid, verse 704.

  1. Ācārye adhyāpake ṣiṣye saṅghe sādharmike kule |

Yo`parādho bhavettredhā ṣapayate sa taṁ ||” – Maraṇakaṇḍikā ibid, verse 740.

iii “Iya khāmiya veraggaṁ aṇuttaraṁ tavasamādhimārūḍho |

Papphoḍinto viharadi bahubhavabādhākaraṁ kammaṁ ||

Bhagavatī Ārādhanā, verse 714.

iv “Aṇusaddhi, anuśāsanaṁ śikṣaṇaṁ niryāpakasyācāryasya | “ – Ibid, p. 107.

v “ṇissallo kadasuddhī vijjāvaccakaravasadhisanthāraṁ |

Uvadhiṁ ca sodhaittā sallehaṇa bhoµ kuṇa idāṇiṁ ||” – Ibid, verse 720.

vi “Rogadaṅke suvihida vilaṁ vā vedaṇaṁ dhidibaleṇa |

Tamadīṇamasaṁmūḍho Jiṇa paccūhe carittassa ||” – Ibid, verse 1510.

vii “Iya puvvakadaṁ iṇmajja mahaṁ kammāṇugatto ṇāūṇa |

Riṇamukkhaṇaṁ ca dukkhaṁ pecchasu mā dukkhio hohi ||” – Ibid, verse 1623.

viii “Iṭṭhesu aṇiṭṭhesu ya saddapharisarasarūvagandhesu |

Ihaparaloe jīvidamaraṇe māṇāvamāṇe ya ||

Savvatthaṇivviseso hodi tado rāgarosarahidappā |

Khavayassa rāgadosā hu uttamaṭt,haṁ viṇāsanti ||

Evaṁ savvatthesu vi samabhāvaṁ uvagao visuddhappā ||

Ibid, verses 1683–84, 1690.

ix “Uttamasaṁhananasyaekagracintānorodho dhyānaṁ ||” – Tattvārthasūtra, 9.27.

x “Evaṁ kasāyajuddhaṁmi havadi khavayassa āudhaṁ jhāṇaṁ ||”

Bhagavatī Ārādhanā, verse 1886.

xi “Huṅkārañjalibhamuhaṅgulīhiṁ acchīhiṁ vīramuṭṭhihiṁ |

Siracālaleṇa ya tahā saṇṇaṁ dāvedi so khavao ||” – Ibid, verse 1898.

xii “Ājñā`pāyavipākasaṁsthānavicayāya dharmamapramattasaṁyatasya ||”

Tattvārthasūtra, 9.37.

xiii “Jidarāgo jidadoso jidindio jidabhao jidakasāo |

Aradiradimohamahaṇo jjhāṇovaogao sadā hodi ||” – Bhagavatī Ārādhanā, verse 1693.

xiv “Sejjā santhāraṁ pāṇayaṁ ca uvadhiṁ tahā sarīraṁ ca |

Vijjāvaccakarā vi ya vosirati samattamārūḍho ||” – Ibid, verse 1688.

xv A. “Kṛṣṇā nīlā ca kāpotī tistrau leśyā vigarhitā |

Dhīro vairāgyamāpannaḥ svairiṇīriva muñcate ||” – Maraṇakaṇḍikā, verse 1989.

B. “Iya samabhāvamuvagado taha jjhāyanto pasattajhāṇaṁ ca |

Lessāhiṁ visujjhanto guṇaseḍhiṁ so samāruhadi ||”

Bhagavatī Ārādhanā, verse 1900.

xvi “Edesiṁ lessān,aṁ visodhaṇaṁ paḍI uvakkamo iṇamo |

Savvesiṁ

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