Justice T.U.Mehta

Process of Change and Nine Tattvas

This is the Zen-Buddhist approach, appropriately emphasising the flittering nature of the things of this universe. The Jaina thinkers may have no objection to this proposition. But they go further and maintain that a man has the potential to understand the nature of the change in life as well as capable of bringing some order in the change. This understanding of the change led them to evolve nine fundamental elements, explaining the whole process of bondage and liberation of the soul. These Nine principles are fundamental to the understanding of Jaina philosophy, hence called Nine ‘tattvas' meaning ‘Essence'. The word ‘tattva' is explained in Samskrta as (Tasva bhavah tattvam) meaning ‘the essence of a thing is Tattva'. What is the essence of all this change, represented by the process of Karmic bondage and freedom of the self ? What is the mechanism by which this process works, why it works and how it can be regulated to take the self to the desired end, i.e., the final liberation ? These are the questions, the Jaina seers have tried to answer by pointing out the mechanism of these nine tattvas.

They have pointed out that every soul, in its journey to freedom has to reckon with seven elements, namely, Papa-vicious deeds known as sins, Punya-virtuis deeds, Asrava -influx of karmic particles caused by vicious or virtuous deeds, Bandha-bondage due to the said influx, Sanvara-prevention of influx of karmas, Nirjara-annihilation of accumulated karmas and Moksa-final liberation. Jiva the self, tied with Ajiva from time immemorial, struggles to liberate itself from the union with Ajiva, and in that process, it has to encounter with the above seven elements. These seven elements, along with the two elements of Jiva and Ajiva constitute nine elements in all, the understanding of which gives us the total picture are called (Nava-tattva), and the understanding of these Nine-tattvas, covers the whole field of Jaina metaphysics and the ethics.

It is pertinent to note that, unlike most of the Western thinkers, the Indian Philosophers have never tried to dissociate metaphysic from ethics, as according to them real knowledge is personal experience which does not come without living your philosophy in actual life. It is for this reason that the Jaina philosophers have joined the metaphysical concepts of Jiva and Ajiva with the rest of the seven concepts which are ethical in their contents.