Five Supreme Auspicious Beings (Paňca Parameşthis) & Namokāra Mahāmańtra [1/2]

Published: 28.05.2008
Updated: 30.07.2015

Five Supreme Auspicious Beings (Paňca Parameşthis) & Namokāra Mahāmańtra

1.0 Introduction

Jainas refute the existence of a God as a creator, benefactor or destroyer. The goal of all religious actions is to free the soul from all the impurities (karmas as per Jains) that are attached to it so as to establish itself in its true, pure and blissful condition. All those many precepts, vows, mortifications, observances and rites prescribed by the Tīrthańkaras (perfect beings who guide others through their experience to realize this pure state of their soul) to the believers serve to attain this goal. It is true that they apply only to an individual, are meant for an individual and are to be realized as such by an individual.

Such a person who has conquered the world i.e. freed himself from the cycle of birth-death-birth and associated pains and proclaimed salvation, to whom even the heavenly kings approach with reverence, is alone worthy to be worshipped. He is totally detached from the world. He alone can guide all living beings about the path to salvation. The one who has him constantly before his eyes, the one who is committed forever in achieving this eternal state of bliss and knowledge is also promoted and elevated and as such he would thereby, approach slowly but surely the blissful state and may hope finally to be identical with him.

Jains rever those who have attained perfect state of their souls for their virtues and also those who are completely and all the time following the path prescribed by t to attain this perfect state of bliss and knowledge.

1.1 Prayer, Hymn, Mańtra 

Prayer is the simplest form of devotion, which is most commonly used in Christianity and in other religions. The believer converses with the God in it; he dedicates his worship to him, he praises Him and shows his love and devotion, bares his sufferings to him and hopes to get fulfilment of all sorts of wishes. But prayer, on the other hand, has no place in the right believing Jainism; since a Jaina does not believe in a Tīrthańkara as a world- ruling God, he cannot invoke him and cannot expect from him an influence on his life and on the way of the world. However Jains perform prayers and worship Tīrthańkaras, siddhas and other auspicious beings for their attainments and being their ideals so that they can also become like them. Their worship constitute reciting the attributes of perfect beings and thus reminding the devotees themselves the ideals to be attained by him.

1.2 Jain benediction: Namokāra Mahāmańtra

Ņamo Arihańtāņam,
Ņamo Siddhāņam,
Ņamo Āyāriyāņam,
Ņamo Uvajjhāyaņam,
Ņamo Loye Savva Sāhuņam.

This is Namaskāra Mańtra (benedictory incantation for salutation to five auspicious beings). This is in ‘Prākrta’ language and is extremely blissful. It’s Sańskŗta version is as follows:

Namo Arhadbhyaħ, Namah Siddhebhyaħ, Namah Ācāryebhyaħ,
Namah Upādhyāyebhyaħ, Namo Loke sarva Sādhubhyaħ.

It’s Meaning:

Obeisance to Arihańtas (adorable embodied omniscient), obeisance to siddha (Liberated disembodied omniscient), obeisance to Ācāryas (Chief preceptors of the congregation of ascetics/monks), obeisance to all Sādhus (ascetics-monks) found in the universe. Thus, in this Mańtra the ‘Namaskāra, (salutation /obeisance) is offered to five categories of supreme auspicious souls. Hence this is called ‘Namaskāra Mańtra.

In Jainism, highest consideration is given to all forms of moral / ethical and spiritual practices to free the soul of all matter bondages (karmas primarily) so that the pure soul, devoid of any bondage with foreign matter can enjoy its nature of infinite knowledge and bliss for ever. In this mantra, we see that obeisance is paid to those who have achieved this status of pure soul (both as with a human body (Arihańta) and the other without a human body and just soul state ‘siddha’) as well as those who are hundred percent committed and practicing the Jain code of spiritual purification to attain the pure soul state.

Now, we ponder over their distinguishing characteristics of these five auspicious beings as per ‘Niyamasāra’ of Kunda- Kunda.

2.0 Arihańta (omniscient with human body):

Ghaņghādikamma rahidā, Kevala ņāņāadi paramgūņa sahidā,
Cauttisa-adisayajuttā, Arihańtā erisa hońti .
Niyamsāra-71

Meaning:

Arihańtas are those living beings who are entirely free from all the four types of destructive karmas (Ghāti-karmas, i.e. Knowledge obscuring, perception obscuring, deluding & obstructive karmas) and possess the highest attributes i.e. omniscience, omni perception, infinite power and infinite bliss. They are crowned with 34 (Thirty Four) extra ordinary glories called ‘Atiśayas’ for a total (including internal and external) of 46 glories. The omniscience and omni-perception in Arihańtas & Siddhas are found as co-existent and simultaneous and not sequential i.e. not one after the other.

Arihańtas are thus living human beings, who as a result of intensive practice of spiritual path of purification and penance have removed the four obscuring karmas completely from their soul and have attained omniscience. They then deliver sermons, based on their experience for our benefit so that we can also practice the path shown by them and attain the omniscience. Todaramal in his monumental work ‘Mokşa Mārga Prakāśaka’ has written the characteristics of ‘Arihantas’ (adorable worship Lords) as under:

2.1 Characteristics Of Arihańtas  

First we ponder over the characteristics of Arihańtas. He (the true believer) who having renounced the house holder’s life and accepted monk’s conduct (ascetic life), has destroyed the four ghāti karmas (obscuring Karmas) through immersion in one’s own soul’s intrinsic nature and in him are manifested the highest attributes of four infinites (ananta catuşţaya). Through infinite knowledge (ananta jňāna) omniscient know directly all substances (6 types of dravyas) simultaneously together with their infinite attributes and modifications; through infinite perception-ananta darśana (omni-perception) perceives all these substances in general undifferentiatedly; through infinite energy ‘Ananat Virya’. He always holds such potency (of knowing & seeing). Trough infinite bliss (Anant Sukha) he experiences imperturbable supreme bliss of experiences imperturbable supreme bliss of beatitude. Further, who has attained the state of perfect serenity and peace by freeing oneself from all sorts of impure dispositions like attachment aversion etc. and has achieved the state of supreme or pure soul state by becoming free from hunger, thirst, birth-death and all sorts of physical maladies thereby turning his body into a supernatural ‘ParamAudārika’ body.

He has no weapons or clothing, is devoid of censurable signs and symptoms of sex feeling, anger etc., foul dispositions and emotions and by whose sermons the ‘Dharma- Tirtha’ (the conduction of true religious path) prevails in the universe by means of which the mundane beings attain the welfare of the self; and who is found possessing different glories (wonders) and greatnesses which are cause for worldly people to believe in his being supreme soul. He is adored by the Gaņadharas (the highest rank of monks order) etc. for their own spiritual benefit; thus become adorable in all respects. To these i.e. Arihańtas, I (Todarmal) offer my salutations.

3. 0 Siddhas (The liberated non-corporal pure souls):

Ņaţţhaţţha Kammabańdhā, AţţhaMahāguņa Samaņņidā Paramā.
Loyaggaţhidā ņicchā, Siddhā te erisā hońti

Niyamsāra-72

Meaning:

Those great souls i.e. Arihańtas who have destroyed the bondages of all the eight types of karmas (4 Ghāti+4 Aghāti ) thereby become possessed of the eight great attributes, stay at the summit of the universe and are the most exalted and indestructible supreme perfect souls and called ‘siddhas’ (disembodied omniscient). From the destruction of the bondage of all 8 karmas with the soul point of view, Siddha possesses infinite attributes. In ‘Mokşa Mārga prakāśaka’ Todarmal Ji has described their characteristics as under:

3.1 Characteristics Of Siddhas (Non- corporal Liberated Souls)

Now, we meditate on the characteristics of ‘Siddhas’ (liberated disembodied omniscient). He (the true believer who having renounced the householder’s life by following the monk’s conduct has attained the four infinities (infinite knowledge- perception-bliss and energy).

After destruction of four ‘ghāti Karmas’ (obscuring Karmas and then destroying, after lapse of some time, the four ‘Aghāti Karmas’ (obscuring karmas) also; he quits his supernatural body, reaches the summit of the universe by virtue of its upward motion-nature. There he attained the perfect liberated state by getting release from the association of all foreign substances with his soul and its soul retains the shape of last human body it owned.

Since all types of karmas i.e. counter effect producing karmas; Nokarmas (body etc.) and Bhāvakarmas (psychic impure dispositions like attachment- aversion etc.) got destroyed, so all spiritual attributes like right belief- knowledge-conduct etc. get fully manifested in their natural states in his soul. Similarly manifestation of imperturbable wholly bliss full form of pure self-nature is continuing incessantly. They also become the efficient cause for the capable souls (Bhavya Jivas) attain the discriminative knowledge of the self-substance and non-self substances and non-self substance and of alien impure dispositions (evolved in the absence of Karmas) and hence the true nature of pure soul and bliss state also. They the ‘Siddhas’ serve as images for exhibiting it and who have become “ Kŗtkŗtya” (attained the supreme state attainable) and hence continue to dwell in such (a perfect blissful) state infinitely. I salute to such accomplished ‘Siddhas’.

4.0 Ācāryas: (The chief of the congregation of monks)

Pańcācāra- samaggā; Pańcińdaya dańtidappa ņiddalaņā.
Dhīrā gūņagańbhīrā, āyariyā erisā hońti.

Niyamsāra-73

Meaning:

Those saints who are possessed of five kinds of conduct, who are firm in their determination, who have crushed the arrogance of the five senses form of elephant and who are profound in virtues are called the (Ācāryas) head of the order of the saints. Ācārya monks are possessed of 36 basic virtues called Mulagūņas”.

4.1 Characteristics of Ācāryas :

Todarmal Ji in his ‘Mokşa Mārga Prakāśaka’ has written the characteristics of Ācārya monk as under:

He (that monk) who has become the leader of a congregation of monks by acquiring the chief rank by virtue of excellence in right belief, right knowledge and right conduct and who chiefly remains engrossed in “Nirvikalpa Swaroopacarana” (steady pure state of self - contemplation) and when he has compassionate feeling due to rise of slight mild attachment, preaches sermons to only those ‘Jivas’ who pray for and are curious for religion, he administers “Diksā (renunciation vow) to those who want to accept asceticism and purifies by the process of expiation those (monks) who admit their faults. I bow to such an ascetic chief monk Ācārya who admonishes such kind of spiritual conduct.

Besides 28 Mulagūņas enjoyed by a Digambara Jaina monk or 27 for Śvetāmbara monks, Ācārya the chief monk observes 36 Mulagūņas and they are as follows:

Dharma (1)
Characteristics of passionless conduct or religion (supreme forbearance, modesty, straight forwardness, contentment, truth, self-restrain, austerity, renunciation, detachment or possession-less-ness and supreme celibacy)

Tapa - Penance (2):

External (6) and Internal (6)

      • External
        Fasting, reduced diet - (not stomach full), restricted beginning for food, avoidance of full meals abstaining tasty articles of food, lonely habitation away from the haunts of men, mortification of body.
      • Internal
        Expiation for negligence, reverence to holy personages, serving and attending upon holy saints, studying scriptures, giving up attachment with body, meditation

Conduct (5): Related to faith, knowledge, conduct, penance and energy.)
Controls (3) of mind, speech and body
Essentials (6): Observing Equanimity, Eulogy, salutation, studying with interest, repentance for transgressions, chanting Namokāra Mantra.

5.0 The upādhyāya Monks (Practicing Teachers)

Rayaņattay Sańjuttā Jiņakahida Payattha Desayā Surā.
ņikkańkha BhavSahidā uvajjhāyā erisā hońti.

Niyamsāra-74

Meaning:

Those saints who are possessed of three jewels, i.e., right faith, right knowledge, right conduct and are undated preachers of the ‘Tattvas’ (substances, realities) as enunciated by the omniscient /Jina/ Tirthańkaras’ and are possessed of the spirit of selflessness (desire-less-ness), are called the teacher monks (preceptors). The upādhyāya monks possess the knowledge of 11 Ańgas and 14 Pūrvas (i.e., Knowledge of the whole of scriptures) and hence they are said to be having 25 Mulagūņas.

5.1 Characteristics of upādhyāya Monks:

Todarmal Ji in Mokşa Mārga Prakāśaka has written the characteristics of ‘upādhyāyas’ as under:

The Jaina monk who, having attained the knowledge of various Jaina - ‘Śāstras’ (scriptures) has been installed as the authority of teaching and preaching in the congregation of the monks and who by knowing the purposeful meaning of all the ‘Śāstras’ (the sacred books of Jainas) meditates upon the nature of the self (soul). If sometimes, due to rise of slight mild- passion his attaining (upayoga) does not remain engrossed in the self then he himself reads the ‘Śāstras’ and teaches other religious minded people. I bow to such an ‘upādhyāya monk who teaches ‘Bhavya Jīvas’ (capable to attain liberation)

Sources
International School for Jain Studies
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  1. Aghāti
  2. Aghāti Karmas
  3. Anant
  4. Ananta
  5. Anger
  6. Arihantas
  7. Body
  8. Celibacy
  9. Christianity
  10. Contemplation
  11. Darśana
  12. Dharma
  13. Digambara
  14. Dravyas
  15. Equanimity
  16. Fasting
  17. Ghāti
  18. Ghāti Karmas
  19. International School for Jain Studies
  20. JAINA
  21. Jaina
  22. Jainism
  23. Karmas
  24. Mantra
  25. Meditation
  26. Niyamasāra
  27. Omniscient
  28. Sarva
  29. Siddha
  30. Soul
  31. Sukha
  32. Sādhus
  33. Tapa
  34. Tattvas
  35. Three Jewels
  36. Tirtha
  37. Upayoga
  38. Upādhyāya
  39. Upādhyāyas
  40. Virya
  41. siddhas
  42. Ācārya
  43. Ācāryas
  44. Śvetāmbara
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