Samayasara - by Acharya Kundakunda ► [0] ► Preface

Posted: 27.04.2010

The ancient philosophical treatises which deal with the topic of deeper metaphysical and epistemological expositions have a very important place in the studies of Jain philosophy. Ācārya Kundakunda's Samayasāra can be considered as one of the most important of such treatises, as far as the Jain authors are concerned. It has the same value in Jain tradition as the treatises/scriptures like Bhrama Sutra in the Vaidika tradition and Visuddhimaggo in the Buddhist tradition. In short, we can say that for anyone to understand the essence of Jain philosophy, Samayasāra has to be studied.

The Samayasāra is a typical classical text in Śauraseni Prākṛt language in a very pithy style. Its main topic is the Self (SAMAYA) which is in fact the very core of the Jain philosophy. The speciality of the work is that it depicts the nature of the Self mainly from the transcendental standpoint (niścaya naya). The whole stress in on knowing the Self in its pure form and to identify one's own soul with this immaculate and transcendental reality. For comprehending this, the author, Ācārya Kundakunda, has vividly described all the the nine tattvas (categories of truth) which are the foundation of Jain philosophy.

The present work which is a valuable contribution of my worldly father, Shri Jethalal S. Zaveri (popularly known as 'Jethabhai') to the world of scholarship. Already there exists an English translation of the Samayasāra by Prof. A Chakravarti, with commentary based on Amritacandra's Ātmakhyāti and published by Bhāratīya Jñānapīṭha. There are also several other editions of Samayasāra with Hindi translatin, including the one, in which the Samaya-pramukha is Ācārya Vidyānanda Munirāja and the editor is Pt. Balabhadra Jain, and published by Jaina Vidyā Saṃsthāna, Shrimahavirajī (Raj.) in 1997 (third edition), which has been made the base for the text and parenthesis in our version. A question may arise to the need of a new version like this. The answer is that although all versions already available are scholarly and excellent in their own persepctives, what is novel in our version is an effort to explain the spiritualistic (ādhyātmika) phenomenon with the help of certain modern scientific concepts of physics and biology so as to make clear the abstract concepts and also to make them more comprehensible through the modern terminology of science. It is the need of the hour to present the eternal message of Adhyatma in modern terminology if it is to be made more palatable and pragmatically useful. Ācārya Tulsi and Ācārya Mahāprajña, in 1989-90, had developed a novel concept of the development of "ādhyātmika-vaijñānika-vyaktitva" for reconciliation between ādhyātma and vijñāna. We (my worldly father and myself) have, in our book Neuroscience and Karma, made clear the issue of utility of science in comprehending ādhyātma. There we have observed:

"In India, science has never been able to completely subjugate the religious sensitivities unlike the Western countries. Mysticism and transcendence remain as important as (sometimes even more) rationality, logic and sensible perceptions. Here, man's personality is not entirely denatured by the scientific objectivity nor has sacredness been taken away by its rationality. In fact, science, inspite of its spectacular achievements, has never been able to attract religious personalities and never had a chance to become a new religion here, as it did in the West.

On the other hand, dogmatic beliefs and the very definiteness of the answers given by religious scholars cause scientific-minded modern young men to view them with suspicion and skepticism if not with utter disbelief. It is essential to satisfy the skeptic by scientific methodology and convince them about the superiority of wisdom above superfluous knowledge.

Science will not, because it cannot, answer all the questions of great interest to human mind and for human welfare. But science has made tremendous progress during the last hundred years in the fields of psychology, endocrinology and neuroscience. Neuro-scientists have carefully and precisely mapped out centres of pain and pleasure, besides identifying the limbic system in the brain which is the seat of our emotions. Discovery of the centres of anger and aggression by electric stimulation has clarified hitherto mysterious significance of self-generated anger in canonical literature. In short, science can show us methods and methodology for expanding and elucidating the secrets of much ancient wisdom contained in the sacred canons. In other words, the synthesis of the ancient wisdom and modern scientific knowledge can help us to integrate the spiritual insight with the scientific approach for creating a spiritual-cum-scientific personality."[1]

In 1993, Jethabhai accepted Santhara (fasting-unto-death) and attained Samadhi maraṇa after successfully accomplishing 41 days' Santhara. He had himself completed the computerization of the manuscript and left for me to complete it wherever something was needed. I, however, owing to my certain other responsibilities and pre-occupation, could not complete my task till 2008. In my Chaturmas (fixed stay) at Ladnun, I could apply myself to this work, mainly due to the insistance of Dr. Samani Mangal Pragya, Vice-chancellor of Jain Vishva Bharati University, and now I find myself free from the 'debt' on accomplishment of the work.

The sanctifying blessing of Gurudev Ācārya Śrī Mahāprajña, which is the fountain-head of inspiration and power, has played a vital role in accomplishing such critical work. For this, Jethabhai and myself would ever remain indebted to His Holiness Gurudeva.

Again, by writing the 'Blessings' to the book, Gurudeva has showered the nectar of compassion on me. For this, I pay my most humble gratitude towards His Holiness Gurudeva.

In timely finishing of the publication, many heads and hands have given their full assistance. To enumerate a few, my collegue-saints Muni Amrit Kumar and Muni Abhijit Kumar, Dr. Samani Chaitanya Pragya, Head of Deptt. of Jainology & Comparitive Religion & Philosophy, Jain Vishva Bharati University, and Dr. Anil Dhar, Dy. Director, MS Anekant Shodhpeeth, J.V.B.U., have helped me in proof-reading, which is, of course, a very tedious task. Shri Nimai Charan Tripathi has shown his expertise in dexterously managing the resetting of the book in the computer. Again, Muni Abhijit Kumar and Rajesh Chhajer have taken pains in preparing the 'Index', which is also not an easy task. I express my humble thanks to all of them.

I also express my thanks to Dr. Samaṇi Mangal Pragya, the Vice-chancellor, JVBU, to include this work in the University publication.

- Muni Mahendra Kumar

Footnotes:
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