Dr Benjamin Whitlock
Course Rel 234
Jainism the Way of Non Injury
Mahavira means mightiest of warriors; one in possession of Virya or Spiritual energy, described as “the dauntless energy that fights its way to the supernal TRUTH out of the mire of lies terrestrial.” Mahavira, the founder of Jainism, is considered to be the twenty-fourth Tirthankara. The first Tirthankara was Adinath or Rishabha, the twenty-second was Nemi or Neminath and the twenty-third was Parsvanath. Tirthankara is one who leads you to God. “Tirtha,” in Sanskrit, means, among many things, a road or a passage and Tirtha-kara is to create a passage (through life).
Just as when a ship sails, it leaves behind a shiny track on the water, so also the great ones when they move leave behind a sacred track. Some authors suggest that Tirthankaras are “bridge makers” in a figurative sense, i.e., they are those by the practice of whose teachings we can cross the ocean of mundane life and reach spiritual perfection. “Tirthankaras are Jaina saints and chiefs, of which there are twenty four. It is claimed that one of them was the spiritual Guru of Gautama Buddha. explains who these Tirthankaras are, when she refers to the “Thirty-five Buddha’s of Confession.” She points out that these personages, though called “Buddha’s” in Northern Buddhist religion, may just as well be called Rishis or Avatars and are universal. They are historical sages. “They are chosen from among some ninety-seven Buddha’s in one group, and fifty-three in another, mostly imaginary personages, who are really the personifications of the powers of the first-named.” Gautama Buddha is the twenty-seventh of the last group (of fifty-three Buddha’s).
I AM AWAKE In a world filled with technology and industry, it can become increasingly difficult to take a step back and view the world in its natural state. In essence, we are humans trying to figure out how we fit into a world seemingly contradictory to the path of humanity. We look to nature for answers. We look to each other, as well as to one another's accomplishments for these same answers. ...
Explains further that these thirty-five Buddha’s represent once living men, great Adepts and Saints in whom the “Sons of Wisdom” have incarnated, and who, therefore, can be called minor Avatars of the Celestial Beings. But of these, only eleven belong to the Fourth or Atlantean Race, while twenty four belong to the Fifth Race, from its beginning.
They are identical with the Tirthankaras of the Jainas. Mahavira was a senior contemporary of the Buddha. Mahavira’s parents were not Brahmins but sramana, those who practiced asceticism and were devotees of Parsvanath. The sramanas have been described as an order of recluses, who believed in the faith of Arhats (or Arihanta).
His parents fixed his name as “Vardhaman” or the “prosperous one,” because with his birth there was increase in wealth, fame and merit of the family. He was known by the name Nirgrantha Nataputra by the Buddhists. Nirgrantha meant, literally and figuratively, outwardly unclothed and inwardly unfettered. It signifies supreme detachment and hence Nirgrantha means one without any ties external or internal. He was called Nataputra because he was the scion of Nata, Naya, or Jnata clan of Kshtriyas, just as Buddha was called Sakyamuni or Sakyaputra because he belonged to the Sakya clan. The philosophy given by Mahavira (and by the earlier Tirthankaras) is called Jainism. Jaina means a follower of Jina, which is a generic term applied to those who have conquered their mortality by destroying their ignorance and passion. The Tirthankaras are also known as Jinas. Jaina philosophy is studied in three parts: Epistemology or Theory of Knowledge, Metaphysics and Ethics.
Broadly, there are two kinds of knowledge: aparoksha (immediate or direct) and paroksha (mediate or indirect).
The ordinary knowledge covers our experiences through sense organs (mati) and that which we obtain through scriptures (sutra).
Psyche’ or the soul, is a intricate part of our being which many great thinkers such as Plato, Aristotle and Augustine aim to define and unravel. One should remain attentive to the fact that these great minds come to similar yet altered conclusions of the soul; for it is an intrinsic part of our being, aiding in our discovery and understanding of the world. Plato addresses in his novel, The ...
The absolute or immediate knowledge is of three kinds. When a person has partially destroyed the passions causing bondage, he is able to have knowledge of things too minute or too distant to be apprehended through the senses.
It is called Avadhijnana (limited knowledge).
When the soul has overcome jealousy, hatred, etc., it can have direct access to past and present thoughts of others. This knowledge is called manah paryaya (entering a mind).
The third is the highest knowledge called Omniscience or Absolute Knowledge or Kevala Jnana. The first two types of knowledge are possessed by saints and great beings, but Kevala Jnana is possessed only by the liberated souls. A very important teaching arising out of the theory of knowledge is the Jaina theory of Judgment. Every object has innumerable aspects or characters. For instance, a gold jug is a substance in so far as it is a collection of gold atoms, but looked at from the point of view of the space within, it is not a substance. Then again it is made by some Mr. A and not by Mr. B or C. It is of the shape of jug and not pot or tray, etc. A person who is omniscient can have direct knowledge of all these various aspects of an object at one go, but not so an ordinary being, and hence the understanding of an ordinary human being is partial, and therefore valid only from a particular point of view. This is called nayavada—there being seven points of view or nayas. The nayavada serves as a unique instrument of analysis. It points out that in daily life our judgments regarding objects are conditional because they are true only from a certain standpoint and as regards certain aspects considered. From this arises the theory of Syadvada. We must realize that an individual can never present complete knowledge of an object because of limited understanding, imperfection of speech, etc. Therefore, the Jaina logic insists that every judgment (Naya) should be qualified by the word (syat), “somehow” or “in a way,” to emphasize its conditional or relative character.
The Ethics of Jainism point out that the Soul is inherently perfect with infinite potentiality. Infinite knowledge, power, bliss and faith can be attained by all souls, but there are certain obstacles which prevent the soul from achieving this. The body that we are born into is not a chance acquisition. Our past karma determines the family in which we are born as well as the nature of the body. The Jainas mention eight basic types of karma, further subdivided into 148 sub-types. For instance, gotra karma is the karma that determines the family into which one is born; ayu-karma determines the length of life, and so on. Similarly we are told of the karma that clouds knowledge (jnanavarniya) that clouds faith (darsanavarniya) that produces delusion (mohaniya) that produces emotions of pleasure and pain (vedaniya).
In India there are six orthodox schools of philosophy which recognize the authority of the Vedas as divine revelation, and they generally function as pairs - Nyaya and Vaishesika, Mimamsa and Vedanta, and Samkhya and Yoga. Those who did not recognize this authority were the Jains, Buddhists, and materialists. Even in India where spiritual ideas dominate the culture there were some who were ...
The passions that cause bondage are anger, pride, greed and delusion, and are termed as kasyas or sticky substances, because the bondage of the soul to matter is the result of its bondage to bad dispositions or passions. One can obliterate past Karma in two ways: (1) by creating fresh good karma by acting with the highest motive of benefiting others, and (2) by complete acceptance of karmic consequences.
Having seen that it is craving or passion that binds the soul, the cure lies in realizing that everything springs from Ignorance. The important aspect of Jaina philosophy is Ratnatraya or Tri-ratna or Three Gems Right Faith, Right Knowledge and Right Conduct. Right knowledge includes various ethical precepts and knowledge of merit and demerit. Faith is not blind faith. The Initial faith is a reasoned faith based on some preliminary acquaintance with the teachings. This faith works like an incentive to study further. As one studies further and perfects in knowledge, his faith becomes progressively perfect.
Right conduct arises from the application of right knowledge. It consists in practicing the panchasila or five precepts, which are exactly the same as the panchasila of the Buddhists. They are: ahimsa, not taking any life even by mistake or through unmindful ness; satya, speaking in such a way as is true, good and pleasing; asteya, not taking anything that has not been given; brahmacharya, celibacy and abstaining from all forms of self-indulgence in mind, speech and body; and aparigraha abandoning attachment for all sense-objects or limiting one’s possessions. First there is the vow of ahimsa or not injury to life. Non-violence is not just in act but also at the level of thoughts and speech. It is said that virtue does not consist just in abstaining from doing wrong; it consists in not even desiring to do wrong. Further, violence may be committed, commissioned or consented to. As for non-killing bodily, it is based on the Jaina view of potential equality of all souls. The other consideration for non-injury is the principle of reciprocity, i.e., we must not do unto others something that we would not have them do unto us.
Faith is something only one can grow from within, it cannot be achieved vicariously. - Gandhiji With faith, you can move mountains is figurative of one capability of executing magnanimous tasks single handedly if they so believe in it. since one's performance cannot be compared to the other, it is difficult to lay benchmarks and give proofs. It is not indeterminable, I'd rather call it a huge ...
However, certain amount of injury, by householders and worldly men, is inevitable. There is (1) Accidental injury in the course of digging, pounding, cooking, etc. (2) Occupational injury: When the soldier fights, the farmer tills the land, policeman kills to protect other lives. (3) Intentional injury: When killing animals with the full intention of killing them, as in hunting or butchery A Jaina monk practices non-violence up to the hilt by breathing through a piece of cloth tied over his mouth and nose to avoid killing even tiny, floating organisms in the air. An ordinary man would find it impossible to live up to such an ideal and hence he is advised to begin with the partial observance of non-injury by abstaining from injuring moving beings that are endowed with at least two senses (faculties).
The Jainas believe that mobile living substances have bodies of different degrees of perfection and variously possess two, three, four or five senses. Souls or living substances like worms have two senses, touch and taste; those like ants have three senses, those of touch, taste and smell; while higher beings like beasts, birds and men have five senses. The most important thing for the householders is to abstain from intentional injury. It is not the act, but the mental attitude, which is more important
These various precepts termed anuvrata or lesser vows for a layman become mahavrata or great vows for a Jaina monk, who has to observe them thoroughly and rigorously. The entire spiritual career of the soul is divided into 14 stages called gunasthan or “levels of merit” which determine where exactly the person stands in his inner development. We can see that in Jaina philosophy the whole system of ascetic morality is worked out most minutely. “The soul marches from bondage and gross ignorance to final liberation and omniscience, gradually overpowering at different stages wrong beliefs, unrighteousness, negligence, passions….” In the first four stages the soul is struggling to get rid of wrong beliefs, which are overcome in the fifth stage and the person then begins to practice righteous conduct divided into eleven steps (pratima).
Within this story there are three clearly marked stages. These are not only characterised by changes of attitude and of personality in the main characters, but are also characterised by the emersion of certain themes which are central to the story. To start with, on the initial stage, the first meeting of Lorraine and Mohammed occurs. They instantly fall in love with each other and enter into a ...
These eleven steps include observance of the five precepts as well as practice of self-contemplation three times a day with a view to obtaining mental equipoise; observance of weekly fasts; abstaining from taking green vegetables as also taking food after sunset; ceasing to take interest in worldly matters, and so on. When he reaches the eleventh stage, he is fully prepared to follow the severe course of ascetic life. In the sixth stage he is already a monk but still liable to lapses and negligence. “In all stages up to the eleventh, regress may take place, and the soul may even fall back to the first stage.
When he reaches the twelfth, however, the passions, etc., are destroyed, and he begins meditation.” When all Karma is destroyed, the soul attains its fullest spiritual status. Jainas do not lay emphasis on sacrifices, rituals, ceremonies, but stress prayer and meditation on higher beings. There is no place in Jainism for God as creator and distributor of rewards and punishments. Instead, Jainas pay homage to and worship liberated souls, the Tirthankaras, considering them as the highest spiritual ideals to which every soul can aspire. By meditating on the pure qualities of these great beings, each one can purify his own mind and heart, overcome the obstructing karma, work out his own salvation and therefore become a liberated soul. There is no mercy, grace, or favor bestowed upon anyone. According to Jainism, “dying is as much an art as living.” A layman is expected to live a disciplined life, but also to die bravely a detached death. There are elaborate rules regarding voluntary death or (sallekhana) and it is to be distinguished from suicide which is looked upon by Jainas as cowardly sin. In case of old age, illness, famine and calamity, against which there is no remedy, a pious Jaina quietly lets go of the body.