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Education for Bliss & Development: 19 ►Knowledge Or Conduct: Which Is First?

Published: 23.05.2018

Knowledge and Conduct are the two sides of a single coin. If there is knowledge but no proper conduct then there is question mark on the significance of the knowledge. If there is proper conduct but no knowledge then "woodworm-type justice" saying is proved. In reality the knowledge which is gained from proper conduct shows the path to the goal. Knowledge-seeking people believe that knowledge is above everything else. Workaholic people neglect knowledge and believe that conduct is the path to salvation. These two ways of thinking are both one-sided. How will work be analysed without knowledge? If there is knowledge but no conduct, then what is the value of this knowledge?

Jain philosophy is multi-sided philosophy. No one is small or big in its sight. This is a demonstration of the society. An ascetic goes asking for asking alms. At this time comparison is done between his knapsack and his pots. Which is more important - his knapsack or his pots? There arises a dispute when anyone is given more importance. How will be the pots used without a knapsack? If there are no pots then what use is the knapsack? They can't be referred to at the same time. Hence a listing will have to be made. Sometimes one can be given importance and at other times the other will get importance. But the angle of usefulness is associated with both of them.

The Practice of Knowledge and Conduct

When there is a comparison between the importance of conduct and knowledge and if knowledge is given the first place, then a question arises that- how will knowledge be attained without doing anything? Who will attest knowledge which isn't proven with work? The question is correct. For solving this problem we have to return to last birth. The learning and analysis from last birth is the knowledge of this birth. Attained knowledge is turned into new analysis and this in turn again increases the knowledge. In this way the order is forwarded.

Till the twelfth element of self-development kshayopashama (specific state of destruction cum subsidence of knowledge obscuring karmas i.e. attainment of rational knowledge) is present. Kshayopashama is a kind of conduct or human purpose. Fulfil this aim of human existence or Dharma and gain knowledge. The limits of studying, revising, recapitulating, deep thinking etc. decides the limit till which knowledge will be fruitful. If the method of studying is calm and relaxed then the knowledge gets proper casing. Therefore till twelfth role of self-development, knowledge and character goes hand in hand. In the thirteenth role, dissipated knowledge is attained. There the methods with hinders gaining knowledge, gaining right view point and any other obstructive work comes to an end. At this point, the distance between knowledge and conduct comes to an end. Thereafter, we do not have to force ourselves to behave properly, rather it comes naturally.

Kshayopashamik knowledge is not stable. It is present today, but it may not be present tomorrow. The circumambulation of conduct and knowledge continues until dissipated knowledge is attained. According to the proverb "kabhinaavgaade me aurkabhigaadanaav me" sometimes knowledge reinforces conduct and sometimes conduct reinforces knowledge.

Faith from Knowledge and Knowledge from Faith

Similar to knowledge and conduct, the relation between knowledge and faith can also not be questioned. Faith enhances knowledge and knowledge enhances faith. It has been told in 'Uttaradhyayan sutra' a Jain holy book that - the desire of salvation makes human achieve religious faith. He leaves the attachment of carnal pleasure, becomes world-weary and abandons his household because of religious faith. There are indications of knowledge in the desire of salvation. There could not even be any curiosity for salvation without knowledge; desire for salvation is further down the road. On the other hand sacrificing the infatuation of carnal pleasure or sacrificing home because of religious faith cannot occur without knowledge.

Residing at the House of Teacher (Guru) and Knowledge

Seminary or schools have direct relation with knowledge. Residing at the teacher house or at the Gurukul provides knowledge and knowledge provides the residence at the school. It's said in the glory of residing at the school -

Naanass hoei bhagi, thiryaron dansve charitte ya.
Dhannaa aavkahae, gurukuivaasam na munchanti.

Knowledge is achieved and firmness comes in attitude and character by staying at the teacher's house. Those people who stay at teacher's house throughout their life are blessed.

There are two meanings of the word 'gurukulvaas-vicinity of teacher and union of religion. There is a consistency in both the meanings in context of confirmation of knowledge, attitude and conduct. The monks go to other areas from monastery but do not leave the teacher's house. No matter how far the kite flies in the sky but thread is in the control of the hands. It's smoothness of the thread which has made a connection between the kite and the person who is flying kite from such a distance. Same applies for student and teacher. No matter how far is the student, he will always get nourishment from teacher. The main reason of this connection is the combination of dedication and affection.

Purpose of Attaining Knowledge

There are almost four hundred monks with us in the years of peace (yogakshem). Three hundred monks are staying outside. From one point of view they are also residing at teacher's place or gurukulvaas. This time there is an unparalleled achievement of knowledge by staying here. There are deep thinking done on each and every formula of proceeds and hypothesis of new words. This has increased the curiosity to know and learn new things. But monks should not forget that knowledge is not the only thing. It is necessary that the purpose of attaining knowledge is attached to the sanctity of conduct. "sudhhaacharpaalno, maanhomaagaadhohethraakhno" - the educational words of Acharya Bhikshu inspires us to be careful in the field of conduct.

"GyankriyabhyanMokshya" - Sanskrit Combination of knowledge and ethics are helpful in salvation. Knowledge has great value but knowledge which does not have ethics cannot help in achieving the desired meaning. A person having less knowledge becomes venerable due to purity of ethics. Similarly, in the area of ethics an ordinary person could become venerable due to strength of knowledge. A little portion of knowledge and ethics with each other makes a person significant. Where knowledge and ethics are both excellent, what is there to say? That is why it is said -

Padhmam naanam taoo daya, evam chitthae savvsanjy.
Annani kirn kaahi, kim vaa naahiee cheypaavang.

First knowledge then ethics- on the basis of these principle sages are ready for actions wisely. They follow the ethics wisely. What ignorant will do? How will he know what is creditable and non creditable for him?

Title: Education for Bliss & Development
Author: Acharya Tulsi
Publisher: Adarsh Sahitya Sangh
Digital Publishing: Amit Kumar Jain

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharya
  2. Acharya Bhikshu
  3. Bhikshu
  4. Dharma
  5. Guru
  6. Gurukul
  7. Jain Philosophy
  8. Karmas
  9. Kshayopashamik
  10. Sanskrit
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