Jains "The Achievers"
By Mr. Shugan C. Jain
Jains by nature are achievers. The word Jain is derived from Jina the conqueror of all evils which result in pain. Howevers in this article I prefer to call Jains -the achiever as by the nature a Jain tries to and does achieve whatever objective they set forth in their life. We shall therefore systematically review the Jain religion as practiced by Jains.
1.0 What is religion?
Religion is defined in many ways by different writers, philosophers and individuals. Jain literature defines religion in three different ways namely:
1. Nature of a substance is its religion
2. The conduct of an individual is his religion
3. The ten commandments (Dasa Laksana) are the religion
1.1 Nature of the substance is its religion.
Abraham (Abe) Lincoln was one of the most popular Presidents of USA. He was fishing on the banks of River Potomac in Washington DC. Suddenly a scorpion came out of the water and bit Abe. Abe separated the scorpion and put it back in water. This process went for seven times when a person standing by and observing it asked Abe, "Why do you put the scorpion back in water? Why don't you kill it?" To this Abe replied, "The scorpion's nature is to bite and my nature is to protect. So the scorpion is doing its job and I am doing mine".
Similarly the nature of fire is to burn, nature of water is to cool, nature of mother is to love and nature of elders is to forgive and so on. Jain philosophy says that the nature of every living being is to be happy eternally and not to have pain at all.
1.2 The conduct of an individual is his religion.
He has emphasised conduct i.e. how we live and do our daily duties as religion. He has, however, qualified it as right conduct based on right knowledge about the objective to be achieved. So performing your duties righteously is religion.
1.3 The Ten Commandments are the religion Tattvaratha Sutra
Giving up pride
Not to be cunning
Always speaking the truth
The objective of every living person is to be happy for ever and never have pain, i.e. attain Moksha / Liberation / Mukti. We, the common householders, however try to minimise our pains and maximise our happiness by being healthy, earning money, loving our near and dear ones, trying to share our pleasures with others and sometimes removing the pains of others.
In a nutshell, religion can be defined as the science of BLISS.
2.0 History, peculiarities and important information about Jainism.
Orientalists like Sir S. Chetty, Dr. Jacobi and others say, "Jainism was the religion of the Dravidians who were the pre-Aryan inhabitants of India. Jainism was flourishing when the Aryan migration came to India and when the religion of Vedas was being evolved in Punjab."
In ancient times, when the Indian civilisation was being developed, the entire country was divided in three different cultural groups, namely:
Manavas: living in the Gangetic plains (from Magadha in Bihar to Ayodhya -Kashi -Mathura -Hastinapur). Manavas were peace loving, vegetarian, religious people. Gangetic plains were the home of Jains.
Dravids: living in Mountainous regions of north, south and east were the people who were less religious but expert in art / trade / skills and considered Manavas as their spiritual gurus.
Indo Aryans, living in north-western hill areas (who were Manavas earlier but separated and started wandering towards Western parts like Afghanistan, Iran), called nomads were less spiritual and practised cattle breeding etc.
Manavas were mainly Jains (reramans / Vartyas / Nirgrajthas) and they practised the cult established by Bhagwana Rireabha Deo.
Archeologically speaking, excavations from Mohanjodaro and Harrappa , which provide the historical facts about the oldest civilisation in the world ( popularly known as Indus Valley civilisation) substantiate that ( findings of certain seals, nude Jain idols with Bull emblem and other cultural icons) the inhabitants of India 4 to 6000BC were mainly worshipping Bhagwana Rireabha Deo, the first Tirathanakara of Jains.
From the scriptures, the traditional history of Jainism, from the earliest known times down to the age of Bhagwana Mahavira (6th century BC) is principally based on the facts consistently maintained by Jains. In order to appreciate this, it would be advisable to keep in mind its primary assumption that the universe, with all its constituents and components are without a beginning or an end, being everlasting and eternal. This assumption is supported by Darwin's theory of Origin of species. Further the wheel of time incessantly revolves, pendulum like in half circles, one ascending and the other descending- from the paradisiacal (Utsarpini) to the catastrophical (Avsarpini) period and back to the former. We live in the catastrophical period and its 5th (out of the six epochs or arras). Bhagwana Rireabha Deo attained omniscience at the beginning of the fourth epoch and Bhagwana Mahavira at the end of the fourth epoch.
2.2 Important Information about Jainism
Jain : The word Jain is derived from' Jina', the one who has conquered his desires or simply the achiever who has achieved eternal peace/ happiness.
Aeramana : The one who puts in effort and believes in success resulting from his efforts & karmas and not a gift of some super natural power. Jain literature normally uses it for Sages who have given up the worldly pleasures and are busy seeking eternal happiness.
Vartya : One who practices vows, like the five Anuvrats, rules (yams and niyams) for self purification and worldly happiness.
Nirgraithas : One who believes in and practises in non possession to achieve happiness.
Tirathankaras : A person who has achieved omniscience and Moksha himself and guides others to achieve the same. There are twenty four Tirtahnkaras, Bhagwana Rireabha Deo being the first one and Bhagwana Mahavira being the twenty fourth. We live in the period of Bhagwana Mahavira.
Moksha : The place where the pure soul which has cleaned itself of all karmas and achieved eternal happiness resides. The soul never returns to the universe once it attains Moksha.
2.3 Peculiarities about Jainism
A. Soul is eternal. It has infinite knowledge, cognition, power and happiness. It has the ability to expand and contract according to the body it resides in. Its nature is to always go up. It is bonded by material particles called karmas which act like insulation and is hence do not let the soul achieve and realise its full capabilities. All religious practices of Jains are to make soul free of these material particles (karma) so that it can always enjoy its full capabilities.
B. Every action of our mind, speech and body generates some results. These results and their capabilities to generate reactions are stored in material particles, called karman vargas, which are bonded with soul as karmas. These karmas, as per their schedule become active and cause good / bad! pure or other thoughts in the person who acts accordingly. However the soul has the power make efforts (puru-artha) to change these effects for better results or totally eliminate them and ultimately achieve Moksha. Attachment and Aversion are the main reasons which do not let the soul make puru-artha.
C. Substance is real. Real is defined as with origination, decay and permanence together, i.e. persistence with change.
3.0 Bheda Vijoana or discriminating knowledge
Am I Ajay or am I I the body as you see it or am I an engineer / doctor or lawyer or businessman? If we analyse it, we shall find that all these things are perishable states of me i.e. change in the course of time even as long as I live or in my other lives.
To explain this ambiguity further it is possible that my name could change at my will. In my present form I have the body of a man and hence you can recognise me as a man called Ajay. These days sex change can be achieved by medical means. I can also change my profession from an engineer to a doctor or a businessman? Let us call these as stages /phases of life and hence cannot be me forever. I continue to be there, no matter what stage I may go through.
But what happens when I die? All the stages / phases end and they are no more. But do I really die? No, as the primary rule of even science says that Matter can neither be created nor destroyed. I leave my present body and take the body of some new living being. So we see that I am something else which cannot be seen but is always present (omni present) enshrined in different forms of living bodies. As long as I am in a body (rearira), I am called Prai; or living being. This body and the associated senses are all other things ( not me) as they are perishable. The body, on its own cannot do anything (see, speak, walk, eat etc.). The real me, which resides inside the body, is the real thing which causes the entire body and its senses to perform their activities. This thing which resides inside the body is called Jiva in Jain philosophy or generally Atma (SELF or SOUL). Without Atma, the body is useless (Death).
3.1 My Identity
Now I know who I am. We will now try to understand what all other things are and how Jiva is different from them.
Jain philosophy divides all the substances in this universe in two categories, namely i. Living or Jiva, ii. Non living or Ajiva
The first category is known as Jiva. Jiva which has body and breathe attached to it is called Living being (Pra). Pure Atma (Jiva) has no breathe or body, it has only knowledge as its Pra. Jiva (including pure Atma) is identified as one of the forms of substances (Dravya). There are infinite Jiva in this universe. Sentiency and its manifestation are Jiva's distinguishing attributes. Jiva has the ability to change with time; to feel Joy and sorrow; to react / respond i.e. have desires, to learn and remember etc. Thus human beings, animals, birds, fish etc. belong to this category. Sir J.C.Bose has even shown that vegetation also belongs to this category.
The second category is opposite of first category i.e. they cannot feel joy/ sorrow or re[produce or grow or decay etc. These are called Ajiva or non living beings). These are insentient. Ajiva can be further classified in two broad categories namely:
i. Pudgala or matter which can be seen! felt with the five senses. They have form, smell, taste, colour. This is the only category of substances which is concrete and hence perceptible by our senses.
ii. Those which cannot be seen / felt with senses. (Dharama, Adharma, Akaua and Kala). These are all inert categories that is they are not active by themselves like Jiva and Pudgala but support the activities of both Jzva and Pudgala.
To know this fact i.e. "that I am distinct from all other things in this universe and the detailed knowledge" ofl (Self) and U (Ajiva) is called Bheda Vijoana. Bheda Vijoana helps in proceeding further to understand all the explanations, practices provided by Jain philosophy.
We can thus conclude that the in pure form, Jiva and Pudgala have almost infinite energy, perform their functions with minimal or no external inputs / energy i.e. to be in their own natural state. In the case ofJiva in its pure state, it has infinite joana (Knowledge), infinite energy / power to enjoy eternal Bliss.
The above doctrine forms the basis of today's scientific research as in this age of Information technology, computers have started approaching the human being in terms of knowledge and power (but they have no feelings of being happy or unhappy). Our knowledge level about living and non living things has in- creased tremendously and the information about the entire world is available at our finger tips. We see the impact of knowledge, purity in our daily lives through following examples:
Impact of knowledge in enhancing the capabilities of computers in performing computations at unbelievable speeds.
By purifying matter we can generate tremendous energy form them ( Uranium 234 to make Atom bomb) and value to diamond from rocks generating tremendous lustre and almost eternal existence.
3.2 What do I want? Bliss.
The main aim of every Jiva is to be just itself or enjoy its own nature (i.e. attain complete knowledge and everlasting Happiness (BLISS) by focusing on itself (joana- ananda ).
A. All living beings (Jiva) want happiness; they are scared of unhappiness. When the human beings feel happy, then their souls (Jiva) experience Bliss (pleasure / Bliss) and a smile appear on their faces sending pleasant vibrations throughout.
B. Our desires keep on changing ever since we are born. Satisfying one desire gives temporary happiness as fulfilment of one set of desires results in greater desires (Dil Mange More). This results in greater unhappiness.
C. We work hard to maintain good body, spend lot of time to study in school and college to get good livelihood and then give our best to our profession or business and so on.
D. Desires are infinite and resources to satisfy them are limited'. It is this experience about the short lived happiness even with best efforts, that Jiva starts its search for long lasting happiness within him by gaining control over its desires for other things. This is renunciation, which is giving up false ideals / of worthless substitutes to achieve eternal happiness.
The above show my ignorance of the true meaning of happiness and the ways to be happy. I keep on looking for happiness in other things, like kasturi dear runs everywhere to find where kasturi is and gets tired. He does not know that kasturi is within him. Happiness is within and other things cannot give it happiness. Some even say that happiness is in the mind e.g. I have a beautiful house which gives me happiness. But when I see more beautiful house adjacent to mine, I feel unhappy. So we can surmise that desires and possessions of any type cannot give happiness. Thus to say that happiness is in worldly objects is to make Happiness unreal and temporary.
The outcome is that non living matters and even other Jivas cannot give us everlasting Happiness. This is so as if the Jiva tries to extract happiness from others, then it makes itself a slave or dependent of others (DOORMAT), be they its own body, family or possessions. Dependence or attachment of happiness to others make Jiva only unhappy as the degree of their attachment to it compared to others is the reason for its unhappiness.
We can therefore surmise that infinite knowledge and happiness are not only the distinctive virtues of Atma/Jiva but are the Atma itself. Everlasting happiness 'Bliss' is within, can be experienced by Jiva himself and this is what every living being wants.
4.0 The Jaina path of achievement I Siddhi
Martin Luther King, the famous American Liberation movement Leader composed a prayer to motivate the people to follow his path of liberation from bondage I colour discrimination. This starts as follows:
We shall overcome; we shall overcome, some day
Deep in my heart I do believe, we shall overcome someday...........................
I feel this clearly shows the path to liberation as enunciated in Tatvaratha Sutra as follows:
With right attitude, we acquire right faith in an ideology along with its right knowledge and then act accordingly to attain our objectives. Here Moksha means freedom from all pains I karmas for ever. From worldly view point we can substitute Moksha by Nirvana (as done by Lord Buddha) and aim to eliminate all deficiencies in us to enjoy the world, i.e. good health, plenty of wealth, social and family esteem etc. Basically it means to do the following:
Set your medium to long term objective to be achieved.
Acquire the know-how and do-how to achieve the objective.
Be 100% devoted to achieve your objective by utilising the knowledge above.
Put your best, more than 100%, efforts to achieve the objective.
By doing these we shall definitely achieve our objective sooner than later. This is why Jains generally try to achieve their objectives in all activities they undertake.
Author : Mr. Shugan C. Jain, D-28, Panchsheel Enclave, New Delhi-110016
Source : Souvenir Published By Shree Digamber Jain Mandir, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi-110070
at the time of Panch Kalyanak Pratishtha of the temple ( April 2004 )