Compendium of Jainism ► XII ►Ratnatraya or The Three Jewels

Posted: 01.11.2015

Ratnatraya - The Three Jewels

Most of the individuals start their journey of life from the stage of mithyātva (wrong belief) in which they are born. Wrong belief is the greatest enemy as it shuts out an individual from under­standing the true nature of his self and makes him believe that the body and all that appertain to it in this material world are real, that the real happiness lies in making accumulations that make for a comfortable living. This type of living encourages vow less ways of life, with no self-control self-restraint. Even where there is inclination towards a life of restraint, normal knowledge of the various vows which regulate life on the right path appears to be beyond comprehension.

There are great foes that attack us during the course of our Journey. The passions are the most powerful enemies that deprive us of our spiritual riches and reduce us to a state of poverty, The activities of the body, mind and speech are beset with many hurdles which add to the existing burden of Karmas. Every individual who becomes aware, however vaguely, of the purity of the self would be anxious to know more about its nature and inquisitive to acquire the necessary knowledge for realizing his end.

The central subject of every philosophy is the Paramātman who is called by different names and is described as possessed of different attributes. Jainism, as already discussed, does not believe in God as an almighty creator of the universe. Godhood is an ideal, a pure perfect soul whose attributes are infinite perception, knowledge, power and bliss; it is the condition of perfection and omniscience. Imperfection attached to the soul as we see in the universe is due to its association with Karmic matter. Our joys and our sorrows, our friends and foes, our kith and kin and in short, all that mundane life stands for are of our own making, 'the fruits of Karmas that we accumulated in the past arising out of our own passions and activities of body, mind and speech.

How do we attain the state of purity and perfection? In describing the path to salvation or the Mokṣa mārga, each school of philosophy has emphasised that aspect which its propounders considered important. While some have emphasised the path of faith or devotion, others have emphasised the path of knowledge as supreme. There is a third school which has laid the greatest stress on action or conduct. Jainism has considered the problem from two points of view viz. Vyavahāra-naya (practical standpoint) and Niścaya-naya the point of Reality). For most of us it is difficult to understand the point or the language of reality unless it is first explained from the practical point to which, we are normally used, having regard to popular expressions and similarity of experiences or objects. The practical point of view is normally related to popular view and understanding. The exposition of the true reality may sometimes transcend our experience and understanding as well.

Umāsvāmi has, in his inimitable aphoristic sutra, stated:

Samyag darśana jnana cāritraṇi mokṣamārgah.[1] "Right faith, right knowledge and right conduct together constitute the path to salvation." The word samyak used therein qualifies not only faith but also knowledge and conduct. These three principles are called the Ratna-traya or the Three Jewels by the Jaina thinkers. The works of the great saint Kundakunda, particularly the Niya-masāra deals with it in full detail. The "Three Jewels" form the subject-matter of the Puruṣārtha–siddhyupāya by Amritacandra Acarya. In fact, every Jaina scripture deals with this subject as it sums up the philosophy of liberation or omniscience. It also makes it clear that those who are devoid of conviction in the efficacy of the path have no hope of progress.

It is necessary to say a word about the precedence given to faith over knowledge. One can argue that knowledge must precede faith as otherwise faith will be blind faith and as right faith can only be based on knowledge. Though faith and knowledge might arise in a soul simultaneously, faith must precede it as it is the originator af desire to pursue knowledge. A firm conviction is an incentive for pursuit of knowledge. Faith itself implies a desire for removal of doubts and other illusory factors that disturb the mental equili­brium of the individual. It gives a direction and meaning tox to acquisition of knowledge and moulds the conduct.

if we consider the meaning and content or the three-fold path from the point of reality (Niścaya-naya), we must admit that the omniscient soul itself is possessed of all the attributes. Such pure and perfect soul is free from K arm ic bondage and is untouched by any impurity of physical matter. The soul is all blissful and free from all vibratory activities. The pure soul itself is right knowledge. An individual's right faith and right conduct are centred in such soul Such a soul is also the object of contemplation and self- absorption.[2]

The pure soul is omniscient and hence is able to visualise the mysteries of the universe and fundamental truths that guide the course of life. All the scriptures are based on what was expounded by the omniscient Tirthankaras. Unless a living being makes these scriptures the basis of life and conduct, there can be no real happiness. That is why it is said that the three jewels are, from the point of reality, centred in the pure soul itself.

In everyday life, a person who wants to acquire wealth by serving a king, must believe in him, know his powers and wealth, and conduct himself in such a way during the course of his entire service as will help him in the realization of his worldly object. So in reality, the pure soul should be known to be the king, should be fully believed in as the embodiment of the attributes of all perfection and should be realized by contemplation of and conce­ntration and its nature.[3]

It is only from the practical point of view that the three-fold path is required to be pursued by an embodied soul so that the body which is a mass of subtle karmic matter would cease to be a hindrance in the attainment of perfection.

Right Faith

To start with, it is necessary to discuss the meaning of right faith. Acarya Samantabhadra has defined it to mean belief in the meaning of the principles, the Āpta or the Arhat, the sacred scriptures and the pious saint free from three kinds of superstitions, eight angas and eight kinds of pride.[4] God according to the Jaina conception, as already discussed, is pure and perfect soul, the omniscient with infinite knowledge and bliss. Umāsvāmi has defined right faith as belief in the true nature of the substances as they are (Tattvārtha śraddhānaṃ samyag darśanaṃ).[5] A firm belief in the nine fundamental truths (Padārthas) is considered to be the pre-requisite for right knowledge and conduct.

Belief in the vītarāga or the Conquerer, the scriptures, the nine fundamental truths and the preceptor must be free from doubts and ignorance.[6] Amongst the mundane souls, right faith can arise only in beings which are samanaska (possess a mind) and whose passions are not dominating. There are beings who identify the soul with the body and are unable to overcome the false beliefs cherished by some members in society.

An average mind is clouded by three kinds of superstitious beliefs: belief in false gods (devamūḍhatā) false belief in the holiness (lokamūḍhatā) and belief in and respect for dubious ascetics (pākhaṇḍi mūdhatā). The first kind of superstition consists in believing in gods and goddesses who are credited with passionate and destructive powers willing to oblige the devotees by grant of favours they pray for. The second relates to taking baths in certain rivers, jumping down the peaks of mountains and entry into fires under the supposition of acquiring merit for themselves or for their kith and kin. The third belief refers to enter­tainment of false ascetics and respecting them hoping to get some favours from them through magical or mysterious powers exercised for personal gain or show of power. The mind must be freed from such superstitions and doubts so as to clear the ground for rise and development of right faith.

Besides freedom from three kinds of false beliefs (mūḍhatva), the mind has to be free from eight kinds of pride:

  1. pride of family (kula-mada),
  2. pride of cantacts and family connections (jñāti-mada),
  3. pride of one's own strength (bala-mada),
  4. pride of beauty (sundaratā-mada),
  5. pride of knowledge (jnana-mada),
  6. pride of wealth (dhana-mada),
  7. pride of authority (ājñā-mada), and
  8. pride of penance (tapaḥ-mada).[7]

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, the mind cannot be unbiased. The understanding is likely to be erroneous, if not perverted. An inflated notion of oneself on any of these grounds is likely to cloud the vision. It is therefore necessary that before right belief could dawn, there should be an effacement of these factors of pride.

Right faith is characterised by eight aṅgas (aspects) which detrmine its excellence;[8] they are;

  1. one should be free from doubt about the truth or validity of the tenets (niḥśaṅkitā);
  2. one should have no love or liking for worldly enjoyment as everything is evanescent (Nikāmkṣitā)
  3. Nirvicikitsā-aṅga consists in declining to have an attitude of scorn towards the body even though it is diseased and is full of impurities, as it can help in the cultivation of the three jewels;
  4. amūḍhadṛṣṭi is freedom from perversity and superstition. One should not pursue wrong and heretical faiths;
  5. upagūhana requires one to maintain spiritual excellence and protect the prestige of that path when it is i faced with the risk of being belittled on account of the follies and I shortcomings of others. One should praise the pious but not deride those who may be faltering in their pursuit of religion;
  6. sthitikaraṇa-aṅga is the quality of rehabilitating others in the path of right faith or conduct by preaching them or reminding them of the religious truths, whenever they are found to be going astray;
  7. vātsalya-aṅga is showing affection towards co-reli­gionists and, respect and devotion towards the spiritually advanced by receiving them with courtesy and looking after their comforts; and
  8. prabhāvanā consists in weaning people from wrong practices and beliefs by establishing to them the importance of the true religion by arranging religious functions and charities; one should endeavour to demonstrate the greatness of the Jaina tenets and scriptures.

These eight aṅgas (organs or members) or vital constituents of right faith require the individual to be thoroughly free from doubts about the real attributes of the Omniscient the scriptures and the preceptors. They require him to follow the path with devotion and clear understanding of the possible pitfalls. While attaining spiritual excellence himself, he should do nothing by deriding his companion travellers who may be going astray. He should bring them to the right path by advice and persuasion. He should do nothing that will bring discredit to his religion. He must protect his co-religionists from scandal whenever they might go astray by educating them in the true tenets. Pious and meritorious persons ought to be respected and treated with devotion so-that he himself might have occasion to ponder over their virtues and others might be influenced by their spiritual conduct. One should also, by the best of one's own capacity spread the tenets of the Jainas by precept and example.

Amṛtacandra Suri has pointed out the kind of doubts which might beset a mind in the attainment of firm belief of the right kind (samyag-darśana). Doubts arise as a consequence of our limitations in understanding or may be induced by our friends and neighbour following other faiths and extolling the merits of their own faiths. When the mind is in a state of cogitation, miseries and calamities may add to our mithyātva as interested persons would be advocating the prowess of false gods and goddesses as the relievers of human miseries by offerings and worship. These arc occasions for testing the firmness of one's own faith in the immutability of the law of Karma.

Since our capacity for comprehension is limited, we have to accept many things in life on trust. Even in ordinary life, we find persons with different attainments in various subjects. Religion and spiritualism have to be pursued with effort and assiduity and there can be no advancement in our studies unless we start with a few beliefs in matters like the omniscient and their attributes as laid down in the scriptures. This does not mean that a relevant inquiry is prohibited, it is common experience that things which are beyond comprehension go on clearing themselves up as we progress in our studies and processes of thought. Doors of knowledge do not open to all of us and all of a sudden. Study with devotion clears all clouds and new vistas of light dawn on a dedicate student. Sometimes, doubts are dispelled by our teachers and the enlightened; it is thus that new light illumines the dark corners of our minds making visible what was invisible earlier.

The doctrine of Anekanta or many-sided approach to each and every matter requires us to examine it from various angles to find out the truth Metaphysical problems are difficult in their very nature. We ought to inquire with an open mind and should not rely upon fallacious doctrines and scriptures.

A belief motivated by reward cannot be a right belief. A true believer will not expect to be born in a royal family or to attain of power and wealth. All such matters are the fruits of Karmas of the individual concerned. One should not also feel disgusted with the natural conditions of life like hunger, poverty, disease, dirt, etc., but should strengthen one's belief in the divinity of the soul. Practices of ten virtues without giving room to the play of passions is the way of developing samyaktva. These ten virtues are: supreme forgiveness, supreme compassion, supreme straight­forwardness, supreme purity, supreme truth, supreme self-control supreme austerities, supreme charity, supreme non-attachment and supreme chastity. Our effort should he towards self-improve­ment; indulging in scandalizing others trying to pick holes in them is unhealthy and inconsistent with eight attitude. Deviation from. the path of righteousness can be prevented by conquest of passions and acquisition of more knowledge

Since samyaktva forms the foundation of ethics according to Jainism, the Uttarādhyayana Sutra which is one of the oldest Agamas according to the Śvetāmbaras has briefly indicated the sources through which the same could be acquired and cultivated. They are ten: nisarga is spontaneous effort of the mind to comprehend the nature of the soul and the principles connected with it in mundane life. Upadēśa (advice), ājñā (precepts given in the scriptures), sutra (study of the angas and other sacred books) bīja (learning through logical inferences from what is known), abhigama (comprehension of meaning of the sacred lore), vistāra (extensive study), kriyā (practice of the rules of conduct), saṃkṣēpa (brief exposition) and dharma (the law of religion).[9]

The same subject has been dealt with in somewhat greater detail and with slight modifications by Guṇabhadra who has characterised samyagdarśana as of two kind s: nisargaja (intuitive) and adhigamaja (tuitive). While the former is self-born and inspired, the latter is acquired by precept, study and guidance. There is need for subsidence of Karmas and conquest of passions and pride which have already been dealt with. Then he refers to ten sources which form the springs of Right Faith:

  1. ājñā is the precept of passionless saints;
  2. mārga is belief in the peaceful path of eternal liberation which is free from temporal ties and attachments and which arises as a result of the subsidence of the deluding Karmas;
  3. upadēśa is belief which arises from the teachings of the ancient saints and from the sayings that are found in the ocean of great scriptures of right knowledge;
  4. sutra is another source of belief; it consists of rules of conduct prescribed for the ascetics and of religious discipline which when studied bring in fresh light and understanding;
  5. bīja is belief which arises from the knowledge of the substances and the Padārthas which are difficult to understand but can be under­stood after patient pursuit and as a result of the subsidence of perverse belief;
  6. saṃkṣepa is belief of the laudable ones; the belief in this case is acquired in the principles even though the same have been expounded briefly;
  7. vistāra belief possessed by one after a careful study of the twelve angas which constitute the ancient sacred lore;
  8. artha is belief which is produced by ascertaining the true meaning of doctrines contained in sacred books, without undue emphasis on words.;
  9. avagāḍha is belief acquired as a result of the study of- sacred literature consisting of the Aṅgas and other books;
  10. paramāvagāḍha is belief in the truths as seen by the omniscient.[10]

From what has been discussed above, it should be clear that samyaktva is characterised by love of religion (saṁvega), indifference to worldly pleasures (nirveda) and an attitude of self-criticism for all conscious and careless transgressions of ethical rules of conduct A person with samyaktva should confess and repent before his spiritual preceptor for his faults (garhā) and consciously exert to subdue his passions (upaśama). There should be devotion towards the five supreme saints (pañca-parameṭṣhis) and affection for the virtuous (vātsalya). To crown all, compassion towards all living creatures (anukampā) should be the devout creed. Samyagdarśana is thus grounded in spiritualism. It is proper insight into the nature of things which is necessary for the knowledge of truth. The man who acquires this true insight is characterised by an attitude of mind determined to know the precise truth at all costs.[11] We can scarce forbear mentioning that Jainism is not merely ethics and metaphysics but spiritualism too which is evidently manifest from the persistent emphasis laid by all the Jaina philosophers, without any exception, on the veritable achievement of samyagdarśana before any acara subscribing to the attainment of emancipation is practised. Samantabhadra has stated that even the Gaṇadharas would regard a person possessed of samyaktva as a god, though he might have been born in a low family.[12] There can be no rise, stability, growth and fulfilment of knowledge and character, unless they are founded on Right Faith.

Right Knowledge

Right Faith makes us perceive, though not in full detail, the principles of life and matter, devote our thoughts and worship towards the conquerors and bestow our diligence in the study of scriptures. With belief in the tenets of religion, the ground for pursuit of knowledge would have been prepared. What is more, there would be the necessary purity of thought and a reverential but logical attitude of approach. Mithyātva is the bane of right knowledge.

Samantabhadra has defined knowledge as comprehension of the full and real nature of an object as it is, without any doubt, perversity or exaggeration. Compression which is partial, exce­ssive, perverted or doubtful is wrong knowledge.[13] Nemicandra Siddhānta Cakravarti holds the view that perfect knowledge is full comprehension of the real nature of soul and matter free from doubt (Saṁśaya), perversity (vimoha) and indefiniteness (vibhramā),[14] Jaina philosophers have laid down that there are four means (pramāṇas) of acquiring right knowledge; they are: i) direct perception (pratyakṣa), inference (anumāna) analogy (upamāna) and sacred precepts (āgama).

From the real point of view, knowledge is the inherent attribute of the soul. It is the knower as well as the fountain-head of knowledge. That knowledge is perfect; but, it is only due to the veils of Karmas that its immensity and brilliance are not realizable. Knowledge is perfect when it does not suffer from the mithyātva or wrong belief. Mithyātva is the enemy of right knowledge as it perverts both the understanding and attitude. Kundakunda holds the view that self- knowledge is the true knowledge. Expounding the theory from a negative point of view, he says that scripture, word, form, colour, smell, taste, touch, Karma or any of the substances is not" knowledge.[15] The reason is that all these attributes are the characteristics of matter and hence foreign to the nature of the soul. The soul is the knower, the enlightened and therefore knowledge is not separate from the knower. This knowledge is itself right belief.

Right Faith or insight is the stepping stone to right knowledge. That is why all Jaina thinkers have insisted upon elimination of wrong belief from the mind. Mithyātva reminds one somewhat of the ignorance (avidyā) of the Vedanta, the want of discrimi­nation (aviveka) of the Sāṁkhya, and the illusion (māyā) of the Buddhist systems of philosophy. Jainism insists that right knowledge cannot be attained unless wrong knowledge is banished.[16]

While dealing with the subject of Jīva or the concept of soul, we have dealt with the kinds of knowledge from the practical point of view. Knowledge is either svabhāva jnana (natural knowledge) and vibhāva jñāna (non-natural).[17] The former is perfect and is not assisted by any external agency in its acquisition. Due to the operation of the knowledge-obscuring Karmas, natural knowledge does not function in all poeple; knowledge derived from other sources would be therefore non-natural (vibhāva). Vibhāva jnana is of two kinds: it may be right knowledge or wrong knowledge. There are thus eight kinds of knowledge about which something has already been said.

When considered with reference to its means of acquisition, knowledge is of five kinds as already explained in chapter II. Knowledge which is acquired through any of the five senses or the mind is mati-jñāna, while that which is acquired through the scriptures is śruta-jñāna. While the first kind of knowledge is limited to things and matters in existence, the other might comprehend all matters of the present, past and future as expounded in the scriptures. Avadhi jñāna is knowledge of the remote past- It can be acquired by saints who have attained purity of thought and developed their mental capacity by austerities. It is otherwise possessed by the celestial and infernal souls. The fourth kind, manaḥparyāya-jnana is knowledge about the thoughts of others; it can be acquired by those who have gained self- mastery- The last is kevala-jnana which dawns on the Tirthankaras, or perfect souls.

What is necessary for and relevant to the point at issue is the vital importance of Right Knowledge in the scheme of the path of Liberation, With the attainment of right faith, we should master the system of Jaina philosophy by study of the scriptures and a faithful assimilation of the principles. Every tenet conducive to advancement of the self must be understood correctly and fully, dispelling all doubts and misconceptions. Such knowledge must guide our thoughts and speech. Perfect knowledge is inherent in the soul but is obscured by the Jñānāvaranīya Karma. It is only by subsidence or destruction of that Karma that right knowledge can be gained partially or fully.

Even though the rise of Right Knowledge is simultaneous with the acquisition of Right Faith, yet the Karmas that hinder their rise and progress are different. Mithyātva is common to both but the Darśanāvaraṇīya Karma is the veil that obscures right faith. There is detailed discussion above as to how samyaktva could be acquired. Samyaktva is the breath of right knowledge, the latter grows in its dimensions and brilliance in proportion to the destruction of the Jñānāvaraṇīya Karma. With the entire destruction of their emerges the refulgent knowledge or Omniscience. Just as the sun can shine with full brilliance only with the melting away of all clouds that obscure his light, so also knowledge which is inherent in the soul can become omniscience only when the cloud of the Jñānāvaraṇīya Karma has been vanquished. Samyag darśana is as much the natural attribute of the soul as samyag- jnana. The causal connection between knowledge and faith is to be found in the fact that rational faith presupposes some sort of intellectual enquiry or investigation, notwithstanding the fact that right knowledge is itself dependent on right faith,[18] Knowledge and faith are inter-dependent.

While our senses and the mind can be the media for acquisition of knowledge, the scriptures occupy a significant position in the assimilation of ethical and spiritual knowledge. Their devoted study not only moulds our outlook and character but also effecti­vely shapes our mind to give a direction and meaning to our entire life. The twelve angas and the sutras occupy a special place amongst the scriptures, though there is divergence of opinion about their authenticity between the Śvetāmbaras and the Digambaras. That apart many eminent Acāryas have contributed immense and invaluable literature to enrich the spiritual heritage of Jainism. These scriptures cover the entire gamut of Jaina philosophy couched in a simple style intelligible to the laity.

Jainism posits that with Right Faith, man has to endeavour by austerities and penance to acquire the highest kind of knowledge, omniscience. It can be attained only on the complete destruction of the destructive (ghātī!) Karmas. The relation between right faith and right knowledge is just the same as between a lamp and its light. Even though lamp and light go together, there must be lamp which must have 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 sources of knowledge like the scriptures, the discourses from preceptors and saints are the wick; the pursuit and study with devotion are like lighting the lamp; then only there can be light in the form of knowledge.

From the practical point of view, continuous efforts to know the fundamental truths are necessary: if doubts haunt the mind, they ought to be dispelled by belter understanding, if perversity is there, its root cause must be removed and if vagueness be there, the thoughts and ideas must be clarified by further study and discussion with the learned saints and preceptors.

Amṛtacandra Acarya has indicated that we need eight pillars to construct a sound edifice of Right Knowledge. They are:

  1. grantha or the reading of sacred books. Study of such books with care and faith is the first requisite,
  2. artha is meaning; mechanical study without understanding the meaning serves no purpose. Reading becomes fruitful only when the significance of the words, phrases, and their implications are satisfactorily mastered and digested
  3. ubhaya. Both reading and under­standing of the meaning are essential, they together complete the process and the purport. It is emphasis that mere reading is not enough,
  4. Kala. The time chosen for study must be peaceful and free from disturbance of worries and anxieties. Besides, there must be regularity and punctuality,
  5. vinaya. Humility, reverential attitude towards the scriptures and an inquisitive approach to the subject approach are to be cultivated to develop our devotion to learning,
  6. sopadhāna is propriety of conduct and behaviour. While studying we do come across difficult words and expressions, inexplicable ideas and thoughts. The mind must be receptive and responsive. One sould not draw impatient or hasty conclusions which might lead to improper behaviour
  7. bahumāna. Zeel in the mastery of the subject under study is also essential to sustain interest and continuity,
  8. aninhava. There should be no concealment of knowledge or its sources. The student must keep an open mind and attitude so that narrow considerations do not shut him out from fullness of knowledge.

Thus 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.[19]

In conclusion, we may add that the distinguishing feature of Jaina epistemology (i. e. theory of knowledge) is that in the strictest sense, there is one and only one type of immediate and real knowledge and that is Kevala Jnana. It is because of this that such type of knowledge is also referred to as transcendental and extra-sensory perception. Since the function of the sense organs and the mind are considered to be positive obstructions to knowledge, avadhi-jnana and manaḥparyāya-jñāna are referred to as direct perceptions only in a qualified sense viz., as represe­nting the progressive stages towards and as preparatory steps to direct knowledge, kevala-jnana. Since the ultimate criterion of real knowledge is absence of obstruction and since one of the obstructive factors, the mind is found in avadhi and manaḥpa-ryāya, they are considered as not being capable of giving direct knowledge.[20]

Right Conduct

Right Faith and Right Knowledge, which equip the individual with freedom from delusion and consequently with true knowledge of the fundamental principles clarifying what are worthy of renunciation and realization, require Right Conduct as an integral and crowning constituent of the path of liberation. From the practical point of view, says Kunda Kunda, right conduct consists in the practice or observance of the austerities while from the real point of view, it consists in the observance of penance by being absorbed in the contemplation of the true nature of the self.[21] Nemicandra has expanded the idea when he says that right conduct consists, from the realistic point of view, in checking the external activities of the body, and the speech as also the internal activities of the mind so that all hindrances and veils in the realization of the true nature of the soul are removed. Right Conduct destroys the causes of transmigration. Both the auspicious and inauspicious Karmas, which are foreign to the true nature of the pure soul and are the causes of worldly existence, are destroyed by practice of meditation with concentration. Success in meditation depends upon complete detachment from pleasant and unpleasant objects and thoughts which distract the mind.[22]

From the real point of view, only that person who has renounced the world, who possesses concertation of mind and who knows and divines the true nature of his soul can exhibit Right Conduct. The conduct must be consistent with the attributes of the soul and free from all infirmities and perversions which are foreign to the nature of the soul. The three jewels only in combination constitute the path of liberation and he who acts, knows and realizes himself through himself becomes convinced as to conduct, knowledge and faith,[23]

Jaina philosophers have laid great emphasis on right conduct. Conduct which is inconsistent with right knowledge is wrong conduct or misconduct. Liberation of the soul from bondage can

be achieved only by the fulfilment of the three jewels. If a person well-versed in the scriptures is not self-disciplined and does not practise all the austerities, his knowledge will be of no use. He will be in the position of a donkey which carries sandal wood without the enjoyment of its fragrance. The Karmas have to be destroyed by action. Conduct becomes perfect only when it is in tune with Right Faith and Right Knowledge,

Right Conduct will elevate the soul while subduing the activities of the senses and the mind. It results from purity of thought and self-discipline. Since sins of the body are more harmful than the sins of the mind, the Jaina thinkers have attached very great importance to conduct; because it affects not only the doer but also others. Conduct is the external mani­festation of the will in the form of an act, speech or writing. Since it affects the self and others, it ought to be marked by righteousness, compassion, kindness and freedom from anger, hatred, pride or disgust.

So, the Jaina ethics covers the entire field of human activity, personal as well as social behaviour. Ahimsa or non-violence and love towards all, forms the basis of right conduct. It illumines the self and endows the individual with spiritual strength.

It is a matter of common experience and knowledge that there are differences in the level of mental equipment of individuals. That is why Right Conduct or samyak-cāritra has been conceived of as of two categories: sakala (complete) and vikala (partial). The former involves practice of all the rules of conduct with rigour and higher degree of spiritual sensitivity while the latter involves practice of the same with as much increasing degree of diligence and purity as might be possible. Sakala-cāritra is therefore meant for an ascetic; it is muni-dharma. Vikala-cāritra is for householder.

Since the object of Right Conduct is destruction of Karmas while securing peace of mind and happiness in daily life, the Uttarādhyayana Sutra prescribes certain broad guide-lines for its achievement: i) Sāmāyika is avoidance of everything sinful. It requires everyone to desist from harmful activities. That is the very breath of Jaina ethics and cream of the message of the Tīrthankaras. ii) Chedopasthāpana is initiation of a novice into the essentials, of right conduct. This would involve not only acquainting him with all the rules of conduct but also with the objectives behind them. A superficial understanding of the rules or vows hardly elevates the mind; if the practice of the same is beset with ignorance, there can be no illumination of the mind or purgation of the Karmas. iii) Parihāraviśuddhika is purity produced by observance of austerities. As we shall see in the next chapter, there are a number of austere practices prescribed by Jaina ethics for the ascetics and for the house-holders. Their faithful observance will purify the mind and free the soul from inauspicious Karmas. iv) Sūkṣma samparāya is reduction of desires and passions which are the root causes of our misery and of transmigration. The various vows and austerities are intended to reduce them either by subjugation or eradication, v) Akṣaya yathākhyāta is annihilation of sinfulness according to the precepts of the Arhats. This is an injunction to the ascetics as much as to the beings involved in wordly existence.[24]

The various vows, the ten virtues, the fivefold regulations (samiti), endurance of afflictions (parīṣahas), the three-fold controls (gupti), the austerities and the penances form in brief the regulatory and purificatory doctrines of Jaina ethics and each one of them needs a separate discussion. It is enough to point out that the importance of Right Conduct in the process of self- realization consists in that it is only when right knowledge is translated into spiritual discipline that the path of emancipation becomes smooth.

The integrated nature of the ethico-spiritual disciplines leading to liberation has been fully appreciated by the Jaina philosophers and this is evident from the tri-ratna concept. None of these - right faith, right knowledge or right conduct can be pursued meaningfully and effectively in isolation from each other, for the spiritual principle to be realized in life is neither a theore­tical abstraction nor an easy thing which could be practised merely. The Jainas insist that in the absence of faith the other two do not work. This is quite understandable in view of the fact that modern psychology has clearly indicated that faith has in it the key to any cure.[25]

Love for. truth begets love for spiritual advancement which culminates in the acquisition of full knowledge. inspite of omniscience, the soul does not get freed from the body until all the activities cease. The activities cease only when complete spiritual discipline is attained. Since wrong attitude, perverted knowledge and perverse conduct are the causes of transmigration, emancipation can be attained when the three excellences or the three Jewels manifest themselves on the removal of the obscuring species of Karmas.

Footnotes:
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