|www.jainworld.com||ANTIQUITY OF JAINISM||www.jainworld.com|
Salvation - Path of Jainism: three-fold path of Salvation
Three-fold path of Salvation
From the basic principles of Jaina philosophy, it is evident that the inherent powers of the soul are crippled by its association with karmic matter and that is why every person is found in an imperfect state. The Jaina philosophy, therefore, asserts that real and everlasting happiness will be obtained by a person only when the karmas are completely removed from the soul. Further, Jainism firmly believes that even though man is imperfect at present, it is quite possible for him to rid himself of the karmas associated with his soul by his own personal efforts without any help from an outside agency. Moreover, it is quite clear that according to Jaina philosophy the highest happiness consists in securing final emancipation from the cycle of births and deaths and in attaining the state of liberated soul, that is, obtaining Moksa or salvation. Furthermore, the Jaina philosophy reiterates that as this world is full of sorrow and trouble, it is quite necessary to achieve the aim of transcendental bliss by a sure method.
When the goal has been ascertained the next question arises regarding the way how to achieve that objective. To this question the Jaina religion has a definite answer. In this connection, the Tattvarth-adhigama-sutra, the most sacred text of Jainism, emphatically states in its first aphoristic rule, Samyag-darsana-jnana-charitrani moksa margah, that is, samyag darsana (right belief), samyag-jnana (right knowledge) and samyak charitra (right conduct) together constitute the path to salvation. Further, these three basic ingredients, namely, right belief, right knowledge and right conduct, are called ratna-traya or the three jewels in Jaina works.
It is pertinent to note that these three are not severally considered as different paths but are thought to form together a single path. That is why it is firmly maintained that these three must be present together to constitute the path to salvation. Since all the three are emphasized equally, since moksamarga, i.e., way to salvation, is impossible without the unity of all the three, it is obvious that Jainism is not prepared to admit any one of these three in isolation as means of salvation.
In view of this firm conviction in Jainism, the Jaina works always strongly emphasize that the three must be simultaneously pursued. This conviction is brought home by some effective illustrations. For example, it is contented that to effect a cure of a malady, faith in the efficacy of a medicine, knowledge of its use, and actual taking of it; these three together are essential; so also, to get emancipation, faith in the efficacy of Jainism, its knowledge and actual practicing of it, these three are quite indispensable. Similarly, the Moksamarga, i.e., the path to salvation, is compared in Jaina works to a ladder with its two side poles and the central rungs forming the steps. The side poles of the ladder are right belief and right knowledge and the rungs or steps of the ladder are the gradual stages of right conduct. It is obvious that it is possible to ascend the ladder only when all the three i.e., the side poles and the rungs, are sound. The absence of one makes the ascent impossible.
Thus a simultaneous pursuit of right belief, right knowledge and right conduct is enjoined upon the people as the only proper path to salvation in the Jaina scriptures. Further, the ethical code prescribed by Jainism for both the house-holders and the ascetics is based on this three-fold path of liberation. Hence it is quite necessary to see the main characteristics of these Three Jewels" which constitute that path.
Meaning of Right Belief
It is clear that out of the three jewels, mentioned above, right belief comes first and that it forms the basis upon which the other two jewels, viz., right knowledge and right conduct, rest. Hence it has been laid down that one must, by all possible means, first attain right belief, i.e., the basic conviction in the fundamentals of Jainism, because it has been asserted that only on the acquisition of right belief, the knowledge and conduct become right.
The term Right Belief has been defined by Acharya Umasvami in his authoritative Jina sacred text entitled Tattvarthadhigama-sutra as follows :
that is, right belief is the faith in the true nature of the substances as they are. In other words, right belief means true and firm conviction in the seven principles or tattvas of Jainism as they are, without any perverse notions.
Further, it is maintained that right belief consists in believing that
Moreover, it is also asserted that such right belief
Requisites of Right Belief
The Jaina scriptures states that the right belief should be characterized by eight angas, i.e., essential requisites or components or limbs, and that these angas determine the excellence of right belief. These eight angas which support the right belief are :
Avoidance of Superstitious Beliefs
It is also laid down in Jaina scriptures that right belief should be free from the following three kinds of mudhatas, i.e., superstitious beliefs:
Thus the mind must be freed from such superstitious beliefs and any doubts so that the ground can be made clear for the rise and development of right belief.
Freedom from Pride
Besides the avoidance of these three kinds of superstitious beliefs, the mind must be made free from the eight kinds of mada or pride : jnana (learning), puja (worship), kula (family), jati (caste, or contacts and family connections), bala (power or one's own strength), riddhi (wealth or affluence or accomplishments), tapas (penance or religious austerities and vapus (body or person or beautiful form or appearance).
It is obvious that all or any one or more of these kinds of pride are likely to disturb the equilibrium of mind, and create likes or dislikes for men and matters. In such a case understanding is likely to be erroneous, if not perverted. Naturally an inflated notion of oneself on necessary that for the blissful drawn of right belief there should be an effacement of these types of pride.
Glory of Right Belief
The Jaina works describe at length the glory of right belief and enumerate the benefits which can be accrued by a person possessing right belief. They go to the extent of declaring that asceticism and that even a low caste man possessing right belief can be considered better fit to attain moral dignity.
In short, the Right Belief is given precedence over Right Knowledge and Right Conduct, because it acts as a pilot in guiding the soul towards moksa, i.e., salvation. Further, there can be no rise, stability growth and fulfillment of knowledge and character, unless they are founded on right belief or faith.
Relation between Right Belief and Right Knowledge
It is considered desirable that on attaining right belief one should strive after right knowledge. As regards the relationship between right belief and right knowledge it has been specifically stated that although right belief and right knowledge are contemporaneous, there is yet a clear relation of cause and effect between them, just as it is between a lamp and its light. It is true that lamp and light go together, still the lamp precedes the light, and light cannot be said to precede the lamp. In the same way there is the relation of cause and effect between right belief and right knowledge, though both are almost simultaneous. Right knowledge cannot precede right belief, and from this point of view right knowledge is called the effect and right belief, the cause.
Nature of Right Knowledge
Right knowledge has been described in Jaina scriptures as "that knowledge which reveals the nature of things neither insufficiently, nor with exaggeration, nor falsely, but exactly as it is and with certainty". It has also been stated that right knowledge consists in having full comprehension of the real nature of soul and non-soul (i.e., matter) and that such knowledge should be free from samsaya, i.e. doubt, vimoha, i.e., perversity, and vibhrama, i.e., vagueness or indefiniteness.
Moreover, Jaina scriptures always assert that knowledge is perfect when it does not suffer from the mithyatva, i.e., wrong belief. Mithyatva is the enemy of right knowledge as it perverts both the understanding and the attitude. That is why all Jaina thinkers have insisted upon the elimination of wrong belief from mind. Mithyatva reminds one somewhat of the aviveka, i.e., want of discrimination of the Samkhya, and the maya, i.e., illusion of the Buddhist systems of philosophy. Hence Jainism insists that right knowledge cannot be attained, unless wrong knowledge is banished.
Kinds of Knowledge
When considered with reference to its means of acquisition, knowledge is of five kinds :
Pillars of Right Knowledge
Like right belief, right knowledge also has got eight pillars or requirements:
Thus, the 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.
In conclusion, it can be specifically maintained that both right belief and right knowledge are very closely associated with each other just as the association between a lamp and its light. Even though lamp and light go together, there must be a lamp which must oil and wick before it could be lighted. Similarly, before right knowledge can be gained, there must be the inexhaustible piety and urge for knowledge which is the oil; the source of knowledge like the scripture, the discourses from preceptors and saints are the wick; the pursuit and study with devotion are like the lighting of the lamp; then only there can be light in the form of knowledge.
After right belief and right knowledge, the third, but the most important path to the goal of moksha, i.e. salvation is right conduct. In Jainism utmost importance is attached to the right conduct because right belief and right knowledge equip the individual with freedom from delusion and consequently equip him with true knowledge of the fundamental principles clarifying what are worthy renunciation and realization and ultimately lead to right conduct as an integral and crowning constituent of the path of salvation. That is why conduct which is inconsistent with right knowledge is considered as wrong conduct or misconduct. Hence conduct becomes perfect only when it is in tune with right belief and right knowledge. It is, therefore, enough to point out that the importance of right conduct in the process of self-realization consists in the fact that it is only when right knowledge based on right belief is translated into practical and spiritual discipline that the path of emancipation of soul from the cycle of births and deaths becomes smooth. It is clear that in accordance with Jaina philosophy right conduct presupposes the presence of right knowledge which presupposes the existence of right belief. Therefore the Jaina scriptures have enjoined upon the persons who have secured right belief and right knowledge to observe the rules of right conduct, as the destruction of karmic matter associated with the soul can be accomplished only through the practice of right conduct.
Right Conduct includes the rules of discipline which
Further, right Conduct has been conceived of two kinds or categories according to the degree of intensity of the actual practice of rules of behavior laid down under right conduct. These two kinds are (i) Sakala-charitra, i.e., complete or perfect or unqualified conduct; and (ii) Vikala- charitra, i.e., partial or imperfect or qualified conduct.
Out of these two kinds of right conduct, the former, i.e., the sakala-charitra involves the practice of all the rules of conduct with vigor and higher degree of spiritual sensitivity while the latter, that is, the vikala-charitra, involves the practice of the same with as much increasing degree of diligence, severity and purity as might be possible.
Further, it may be noted that (i) Sakala-chritra is meant for and observed by ascetics who have renounced worldly ties, and is also known as muni-dharma; and (ii) Vikala- charitras is meant for and observed by laymen who are still entangled in the world and, is also known as sravaka-dharma, i.e., the householder's dharma.
The several rules of conduct prescribed both for laymen and ascetics constitute the ethics of Jainism. As such they are discussed in detail in the next chapter on `Ethics of Jainism".