JAINISM – THE CREED FOR ALL TIMES
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Everyone’s Own Peep–hole –
A. G. Gardiner, the famous essayist, said, “Everyone looks at the world outside him through his own peep–hole”, this underlines the importance of having the right–view. In the presence of the right–view the things appear in their right perspective and in its absence even the right things appear to be wrong and vice versa. The Jaina thinkers have delved deep on the subject of having the right–view or the right–vision or the right–belief or the right–faith or the right–inclination or the right–attitude or the right perspective. So much so that they consider it to be the very basis of the faith at the very root of it when they say that the faith is founded on the (right) view itself (Daṁsaṇa mūlao dhammo). Another view has it that those of corrupt conduct can correct themselves and liberate but those of corrupt vision cannot liberate. This chapter presents the essential features of the Right–View, as seen by the Jaina seers of yore and interpreted by the saints and scholars down the ages.
Darśan And Samyagdarśan –
Darśan is defined as an expression of a living being’s capacity for discrimination or the way it perceives things. In its true sense it can be said to be the intuitive perception coupled with discretion. It has also been said to be the general view or conation of things around itself rather than specific perception or cognition, which is termed as knowledge. Thus a person or a living being for that matter, endowed with darśan develops a wider world–view rather than a limited one. This is what distinguishes conation (darśan) from cognition (jñāna). This very conation when coupled with right discrimination that can give its holder a right perspective on things that he perceives around himself, becomes right–conation or Samyagdarśan. It goes without saying that the outlook of a conative seer is much wider in its scope and it includes diverse points of view. In other words we can say that a seer has a synoptic view or a holistic view on things, which is completely comprehensive. In the context of a religious philosophy, however, it would mean having the right–faith or an unwavering belief in that faith. This brings us to the two meanings given to the word darśan – 1. Right–view and 2. Right–faith. In the first sense, the Jaina view ascribes it the quality of having a right–view by rising above attachment and aversion. It implies that one rises above dogma and parochialism. In the second sense it is synonymous with devotion to the view presented by the Prophets that propounded the faith we follow. Here, it is implied that we, the ordinary believers are not wise enough to have a completely comprehensive view and, therefore, we must steadfastly believe in the view presented by the Prophets, who had such comprehensiveness. The Jaina analysts have, over the ages, subscribed to the latter meaning of the term darśan. Vācak Umāsvāti’s Tattvārthasūtra mentions, at the very outset that Samyagdarśan is nothing but a firm faith in the fundamental verities enunciated by the seers (Prophets).
Here, we must not gloss over the fact that taken in its second sense, the meaning of darśan militates against a man’s reason, against the very speciality that sets him apart from the animal world. However, this is not an irreconcilable conflict. As long as man’s reason looks outwards, it is in conflict with faith; assoon as it starts looking inwards or becomes introspective it gives rise to faith. It not only becomes an aid to faith but an integral part of it.
The Importance Of Right–View –
To realise the full import of right–view, we must appreciate the dreadful nature of false–vision and gauge the harm that can come our way by having it. It has been said that false–vision is the ultimate disease, the ultimate darkness, the ultimate enemy and the ultimate poison. It is the greatest disease because the physical maladies adversely affect only the body, the mental illnesses do so to the mind but false vision corrupts the very soul. It is the darkest of the dark because even the darkest of night can be lighted by a mere lamp but the soul in the grip of false–vision cannot see right even in the broad day–light. It is the most potent enemy, for the other enemies only harm our worldly interests but it hurts to the very core and condemns the false–visioned to eternal cycle of worldly transmigration. It is, also, the most fatal poison since it kills the spirit rather than the body.
Its importance had been realised from the very early stage as is evident from the first place accorded to it amongst the three gems of the path of spiritual emancipation, namely – Samyagdarśan (Right–view), Samyagjñāna (Right–knowledge) and Samyakcāritra (Right–conduct). The Tattvārtha–sūtra very clearly states that these three, in that order, constitute the path of liberation.
From the spiritual point of view, the ultimate goal of every living being is liberation from miserable mundane existence. All that aids the realisation of that goal is important. Again, it is quite logical to think that one can liberate by following the religious faith. The importance of Samyagdarśan or the right faith lies in the fact that it is at the very root of the religious faith (Daṁsaṇa–mūlao Dhammo). Another view says that liberation is possible by adhering to the ethical norms that constitute the right–conduct. Again, the logic tells us that the knowledge of the right–conduct is possible only through the right–knowledge, which is, in turn, possible only through the right–view. When information combines with perspective it becomes knowledge. In the absence of the right–perspective, given us by holding the right–view, the knowledge becomes only a set of information and is not integrated with the intellect to be assimilated as right–knowledge. It is the perspective that converts information into knowledge and the right–perspective converts the information into right–knowledge. Therefore, there is a lot of substance to the saying contained in the 30th verse of the 28th chapter of the Uttarādhyayanasūtra – ‘one who lacks vision, lacks knowledge; without knowledge the conduct does not become virtuous and without the virtuous (right) conduct there is no liberation.’
The most important spiritual feature of right–vision is that it keeps the aspirant, endowed with it, free from sinful pursuits. The very first Jaina primary canonical scripture, Ācārāṅga says – ‘the right–visioned aspirant commits no sin (Sammattadaṁsī ṇa karei pāvaṁ).’ There are several reasons why it is so.
1. Firstly, the right–visioned aspirant sees things in their right perspective. His view of the fundamental verities is as it should be. He distinguishes the living from the non–living and thereby establishes a unity between his own self and the other living beings and treats them as such. He is, therefore, able to observe non–violence as per the dictates of his station in life.
2. Secondly, such an aspirant, by virtue of his subsided passions, controls his drives and remains away from sinful pursuits.
3. Thirdly, he is able to appreciate the duality of the soul and the body and, thereby, distinguish between the matters spiritual and those that are physical. By concentrating onthe spiritually beneficial pursuits, he remains free from sins.
4. Fourthly, he is able to appreciate the miserable nature of worldly existence and, therefore, strives for liberation from it.
5. Fifthly, his detached attitude keeps him away from many a sin.
6. Sixthly, he has a realistic view about the pleasure and pain, loss and gain, and honour and insult and is not unduly perturbed by them and, therefore, is not given to sins of revenge, retribution, despondence or anger, all of which ultimately result in committing of sins.
7. Seventhly, his discretion helps him in choosing the right from the wrong.
8. Eighthly, he is aware of the transient nature of life and wishes to spend his life in spiritually beneficial pursuits rather than wasting it in sinful ones.
9. Next, he realises the futility and ultimately painful nature of all sensory pleasures and, therefore does not lead a life of indulgence.
10. Next, his actions are in tune with his thoughts which are pious at the very least and spiritual at large.
11. Again, the right–visioned aspirant is afraid of only one thing in his life and that is committing sins. This fear of sins keeps him away from them and leads him to virtuous piety and righteousness.
From the worldly point of view also the importance of having a right–view cannot be denied. How the perspective changes the attitude of a person can be very well understood from this story from the Buddhist Jātakas.
Once, the only son of an old lady passed away. She couldn’t accept the fact of her son’s death and insisted that the doctor should keep treating him. She not only cried inconsolably but also wouldn’t let him be cremated. The old and sage doctor, who was treating her son, advised that she went and saw Lord Buddha, who only could help her son. The old lady went to Lord Buddha and requested him to make her son well. Buddha knew that if he plainly told her that her son had died, she wouldn’t believe Him. He told her to fetch a handful of mustard grains from any household from the village that hadn’t had a death in it. “I shall make your son alright as soon as you bring the mustard grains”, He said.
The old lady rushed to the first house in the village and asked for the mustard grains. The lady of the house brought the grains readily and offered them to her. However, she couldn’t accept the grains as she was told that the household had had deaths in the past. She faithfully went round each and every house in the village but couldn’t find a single one that hadn’t had deaths. Someone would say, “My father died here, my mother died here.” Someone else would say, “only recently my son died in this very house.”
Dejected, the old lady went back to where Lord Buddha was and said that she couldn’t find the mustard seeds as there was no household in the village that hadn’t had deaths in the past.
At this stage Lord Buddha explained the reality about the births and deaths to her. He said, “all those that take birth certainly die, this is the way of the nature.” Your son was born and lived his life. He had to die now. There is no escape from death”, He said.
This changed the old lady’s perspective on death. The grief of losing a son that seemed unbearable a little while ago did not seem so unbearable after this change of perspective.
The Indicators Of Right–View –
Samyagdarśan or the right–belief has been said to be the very basis of ‘dharma’ – the faith. The belief (darśan) can be false (Mithyādarśan) as well as right (Samyagdarśan). Though it is an abstract and an internal phenomenon, it has its external indicators, too. The following are the eight external indicators of right–view or right belief according to the Digambara tradition of Jainism: –
1. Saṁvega – An intense desire for salvation,
2. Nirveda – Detachment towards everything else,
3. Nindā – Condemnation for the falsehood,
4. Garhā – Censure for the unrighteous,
5. Upaśama – Cessation of evil ways.
6. Bhakti – Devotion for the faith,
7. Vātsalya – Selfless affection, and
8. Anukaṁpā – Compassion.
These eight can, however, be included in the following five that are mentioned in the works of the Śvetāmbara tradition –
1. Śama – or Upaśama including ‘Nindā‘ and ‘Garhā’.
2. Saṁvega – including Vātsalya‘ and‘Bhakti’.
3. Nirveda – Detachment from the mundane affairs,
4. Anukaṁpā, – Compassionate disposition, and
5. Āstikya – steadfast spiritual belief.
Praśama And Upaśama –
The complete suppression of passions – anger, pride, guile and greed – and resultant state of spiritual calmness and serene tranquillity is Praśama. It includes upaśama, which is only their part subsidence. In the case of upaśama, it is only the most persistent infinitely bonding passions, called Anantānubandhī kaṣāya, that are subsided. Unless the infinitely bonding persistent passions are subsided, the subject cannot hope for the right–vision to dawn, for such persistent passions cloud the vision. Once the stage of Praśama is reached, the spiritual aspirant is at the verge of enlightenment or self–realisation. As the outer disposition of an aspirant is indicative of his inner calmness or otherwise, Praśama or Upaśama are vital indicators of his right or false vision.
The second indicator of right vision is Saṁvega or intense desire to attain liberation from the miserable and spiritually inhibiting mundane existence. The state of purity of the soul is its natural state and there is no wonder that every rightly inclined soul desires to revert back to its natural state, just as every traveller desires to reach back home from a tiring journey. As it is natural for every traveller, who is not a homeless nomad, to wish to come back home, so is the case with every soul, which is not false–visioned, to crave to reach the home ground of liberation.
Nirveda is the psychic state in which the aspirant constantly feels that his worldly existence is like a prison where he has been imprisoned. He feels the futility of the worldly relations and mundane affairs from the spiritual point of view and develops a sense of detachment towards the mundane. This neutral detached disposition is evident in his every action. He does everything expected of him but as a matter of duty, without any sense of involvement and attachment. This sense of detachment is the third sign of right–vision.
Anukampā or compassion is the fourth sign of right–vision. An aspirant imbued with compassion is not only moved by the pain and sufferings of the others but is also aware of the sufferings that the karmic bondage and worldly existence have wrought upon his own soul. As much as he is eager to mitigate the sufferings of the others by helping them, he is equally eager to mitigate his own sufferings by leaning on to the spirituality.
Finally, the right–visioned aspirant can be recognised by his unwavering faith in the existence of the fundamentals, the universe with hellish grounds, heavens, human and animal world and the land of the liberated souls, which is the ultimate destination of all the souls. This firm faith keeps him on the right–track and gives him the wherewithal to achieve liberation from the mundane existence and reach the land of the liberated.
Four Organs Of Right–vision –
There are four well–defined organs of Right–vision. They are –
1. Acquaintance with the ultimate meaning and aim of life (Paramārtha–saṁstava) that includes a sense of deep devotion to the right path, its propounding Prophets and the preceptors that propagate it,
2. Visible practice of activities that lead to the ultimate goal like devotion and worship of the right faith and its propounding Prophets and preceptors (Sudṛṣṭa Paramārtha–sevana);
3. Shunning the company of those of corrupted vision (Vyāpanna–varjana) and
4. Not following the precepts of the false faiths (Kudarśana–varjana) are the four limbs of right–vision.
The wholesome right–vision has all these limbs intact. If any of these is not intact such vision can, at best, be only lame or mutilated.
Samyaktva or the right–belief has the following eight attributes and their corresponding flaws:–
Nissan†kiya (Nih‡śan†kita) or freedom from doubt.
Nikkan†khiya (Nih‡kān†ks‡ita)– Freedom from desire.
Nivigicchā (Nirvicikitsā) – Freedom from revulsion.
Amūdhaditthi (Amūdhadr‡s‡ti) –Comprehension of the faith.
Upagūhana – Protection of the faith.
Sthitikaran‡a – Firming of the faith
of the deviants.
Vātsalya – Affection for the faithful followers of the faith, and
Prabhāvana – Promotion of the faith.
San†kā (Śan†kā) – doubt.
Kan†khā (Kān†ks‡ā) – desire.
Vigicchā (Vicikitsā) –
Mūdhaditthi (Mūdhadr‡s‡ti) – Non–comprehension.
Anupagūhana – Non–protection of the faith.
Asthitikaran‡a – Non–firming
of the deviants.
Avātsalya – Non–affection for the faithful followers of the faith, and
Aprabhāvanā – Non–promotion of the faith.
Types Of Right–vision –
From the point of view of dawning of the right–vision, it can be of two types – 1. Naturally dawning (Nisargataḥ) and 2. Dawning through external stimulation (Adhigamtaḥ). These have been further categorised into the following ten categories:–
1. Nisargaruci – The right–vision that dawns naturally by virtue of earlier recall, etc.
2. Upadeśaruci– The right–vision that dawns by someone else’s preaching,
3. Ājñāruci – The right–vision that dawns through the teaching of the Lords Jina, which is referred to as instruction or ājñā.
4. Sūtraruci– The right–vision that dawns by studying scriptures,
5. Bījaruci – The right–vision that dawns by germination of the seed of one part of right–vision that ultimately grows into comprehensive right–vision.
6. Abhigamaruci – The right–vision that dawns when the meaning of the canonical texts becomes clear,
7. Vistāraruci – The right–vision that dawns by studying the explanatory literature on the scriptures,
8. Kriyāruci – The right–vision that dawns through various religious activities,
9. Saṅkṣeparuci – The right–vision that dawns by knowing, in nut–shell, that whatever has been preached by the Lords Jina is true and beneficial, and
10. Dharmaruci – The right–vision that dawns by believing in the fundamentals stated by the Lords Jina.
In the present times the sources of acquiring right–vision and maintaining it are – serving the right preceptors, listening to their discourses and studying the scriptures.
From the point of view of stability the right–vision has been said to be of the following three categories, which comes about by suppression (upaśama) or destruction cum suppression (kṣayopaśama) or the destruction (kṣaya) of one or the other or all of the seven types of bonded karma–matter – 1–4. Infinitely bonding persistent passions, namely anger, pride, guile and greed (Anantānubandhī krodha, māna, māyā, lobha), 5. Falsehood producing deluding karma (Mithyātva Mohanīya Karma), 6. Mixed delusion producing karma (Miśra Mohanīya Karma) and 7. Right–vision obscuring deluding karma (Samyaktva Mohanīya Karma) that produce false–vision and inhibits the right one : –
1. Aupaśamika Samyaktva– This is the right–vision that comes into being only through suppression of the aforementioned seven types of karma and is temporary, its duration being limited up to a period of one muhurta (48 minutes approx.). This type of right–vision vanishes when the deluding karma comes to fruition and the passions come to the fore.
2. Kṣayopaśamika Samyaktva– This type of right–vision comes into being through the suppression of some and destruction of the others of the aforementioned seven types of karma. It is also temporary and lasts up to a maximum duration of 66 Sāgaropama.
3. Kṣāyika Samyaktva – This is the permanent type of right–vision that comes into being by complete destruction of the aforementioned seven types of karma. This type does not lapse after it dawns.
From the angle of absolute and practical standpoints, again, the right–vision is of two types –
1. The absolute right–vision is only a state of mind and does not manifest itself in the form of devotion or worship of any deity etc. It considers the own soul itself as the treasure of all spiritual virtues that are waiting to be revealed through self–exploration.
2. On the other hand practical right–vision is visible in the form of devotion and worship of the prophets, preceptors and propagators of the right–faith.
Lastly, let us have a look at the five means that promote right–vision and the other five that endanger it. The five that promote it are –
1. Stability (Sthiratā) – to believe in and steadfastly adhere to the path of liberation preached by the Lords Jina is stability.
2. Promotion of The Faith (Prabhāvanā) – the right–visioned aspirant must consciously promote the right–faith and dispel the doubts that arise from within or without.
3. Devotion (Bhakti) – the right–visioned aspirant must remain devoted to the pillars of the faith such as its Prophets, preceptors and propagators.
4. Skill (Kauśal) – To gain a complete knowledge of the tenets of the faith with reasons thereto so that one is able to clarify any doubts expressed about it.
5. Service to The Four Organs of The Faith (Tīrthasevā) – serving the four organs of the faith, namely – the monks, the nuns, the lay male followers and the lay female followers not only promotes the right–vision but also strengthens it.
On the other hand, the five means that endanger the right–vision are –
1. Doubt (Śaṅkā)– doubt and disbelief in the words of the Lords Jina tarnishes the right–vision. Sometimes we are unable to comprehend something and start doubting its veracity. The steadfast belief requires that on such occasions we only lament the limit of our intellect and not doubt the words of the Prophets who were omniscient.
2. Desire or Lust For Pleasures (Kāṅkṣā) – At times it happens that we are attracted by certain temptations and fall prey to false–faiths. The right–visioned aspirant must be constantly vigilant to guard against such inducements and remain firm in the belief that own faith is equally beneficial if not more and one does not have to look over one’s shoulders for any worldly welfare.
3. Doubting The Result of Following The Faith (Vicikitsā) – One must realise that all our actions – pious or otherwise – do not fructify immediately. There is always a gestation period after which they come to fruition. There is, therefore, no reason to despair if our pious deeds or religious practices do not yield immediate benefits. This despair and consequent doubt in the beneficial effects of the religious practices is Vicikitsā.
4. Praising The Other Faiths (Parapāṣaṇḍa Praśaṁsā)– it is a general observation that the poor merchandise comes in better packaging. The false–faiths are, similarly very well presented and they are, generally, able to attract more gullible people. A right–visioned aspirant ought to see through this guile and realise the truth of the matter and not fall prey to false propaganda. If he is discriminating enough, he will not be unduly attracted towards such other faiths, leave aside praising them.
5. Familiarity With The followers Of False faiths (Parapāṣaṇḍa Paricaya) – Frequent contact with anyone has an induction effect on one’s thoughts. ‘Familiarity breeds friendship’ is an age–old adage. One must, therefore, guard against who one fraternises with in the matters of the faith. Familiarity with those of the false faith is bound to corrupt one’s own vision. Hence, the injunction to avoid contact with the others of the false faith. Also, ‘one is known by the company one keeps.’ If someone is seen in wrong company frequently, he is bound to be mistaken for being wrong himself.
To conclude this chapter, I give below, in tabular form, a comparison between the right–visioned and the false–visioned in order to impress upon the readers the distinction between the two –
THE RIGHT–VISIONEDTHE FALSE–VISIONED
Desires spiritual liberation. Desires mundane pleasures.
Looks inwards. Looks outwards.
Limits worldly existence/ Perpetuates worldly existence/
Voluntarily endeavours to Involuntary separation of
shed karmic bonds through karmic bondage by suffering
penance. inevitable retribution.
Bonds karmic bonds of Bonds karmic bonds of longer
short duration. duration.
Becomes fully involved in Indulges in ritual observances
religious practices. only.
Considers spiritual pleasure Considers bodily enjoyable
as the real pleasure. pleasures as the real pleasure.
Believes in the fundamental Does not believe in such
verities like living, non– fundamentals.
Has firm faith in the right– Believes in all the wrong ones.
faith propounded by the
right Prophets, taught by
the right preceptors and
propagated by the right
Distinguishes between the Dose not so distinguish.
soul and the body.
Remains aloof from the Remains engrossed in sensual
sensual pleasures. pleasures.
He sheds more karma– It is otherwise.
matter than he bonds.
Gains right–knowledge. Gains false–knowledge.
Achieves suppression, part Is unable to achieve such an
suppression and part accomplishment.
destruction or complete
destruction of the infinitely
bonding persistent passions
Stops the bonding of karma Cannot stop such bonding.
–matter resulting in infinite
Considers renouncing Considers mundane pleasures
worldly pleasures to be to be beneficial.
Remains detached even if Remains attached and deeply
a householder. engrossed in worldly affairs.
Is discreet of worthy, Is devoid of such discretion.
unworthy and knowledge
Can reach advanced Cannot go beyond the
spiritual practices. preliminary ones.
Is endowed with eight Is not so endowed.
attributes of right–vision.
Firmly believes in the Doubts and questions Jina–
Sheds great karma–matter Sheds little karma–matter
with little penance. through great penance
Employs his knowledge in Employs it in the furtherance
furthering the spiritual of the worldly encumbrance.
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