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Who is a Jain Shravak: 7.1 Purpose of Shravak's Life

Published: 10.02.2020

Four scientists were passing through a wild forest. They encountered a dead lion. One of the scientists claimed, 'It is a skeleton, I can generate its flesh again.' He used his skills to regenerate muscles around the skeleton.

Another scientist said, 'I can start blood circulation.' And he did. The third one through his knowledge produced body organs. Now the fourth scientist said, 'I can inject life into it.' All other scientists asked him to wait till they climb a tree. They all said, 'who knows if the lion kills them after regaining life.' They told the fourth scientist to be careful.

The first three scientists climbed up a tree. The fourth one stood close to the dead body. As soon as the lion regained life, he killed the fourth scientist who had bestowed him with life.

Why do such things happen? Why does an obliging person receive thanklessness? Why does ungratefulness take place instead of gratitude? It is all because of dormant consciousness, when only power is awakened, not the consciousness. Until we awaken the soul and consciousness, our help remains worthless. In other words, good deeds or assistance hurts the doer until the receiver's consciousness is awakened. It occurs when consciousness is not the nucleus. If the consciousness and right faith are the focal point and the spiritual consciousness is awakened, there is no room for negativity. This is the power of right perspective (samyak darshan). In fact, right perspective shifts the view.

jojaisahaivaisadekhe, samyak darshankisahanaani,
 kyonchalenishedhaatmakchintan, hosadavidheyaatmakvaani.
shravakjeevankisaarthakata, navatattvonkeanushilan se,
 khaate-peete, sote-jagate, aavaajutheantarman se.

It means the right faith or perspective is to perceive the truth as it exists and to be positive. The life of a shravak becomes meaningful if he is aware of the nine tattva (fundamentals). Thus, this verse highlights the factors of right perspective. In particular, three factors are discussed here: perception of truth, positive thinking and success.

  1. Perception of the Truth
  2. The first identifying factor of right perspective is the perception of truth. 'Knowing the truth' is the essence of right perspective. 'To observe the truth as it exists' - is right faith. Conversely, perverted faith is - 'Not to observe the truth as it exists, or to observe it in another form.'

    Bhawani Shankarji was an expert Ayurvedic doctor (vaidhy) in Udaipur. He was not only a vaidhy, but also well-versed with the secrets of spirituality and yog. He was very close to us and visited us frequently to have discussions with us. He would often say, 'Muni Nathmalji, I pray to God to give me enough courage to express myself as I am. This is the only wish I have.'

    This is a rare attitude. Generally, everybody wants to project their image magnified than what it actually is. A woman wants to show off her beauty more than she has. She puts on the attractive attire to look beautiful. It's a common desire of human being - 'I should look beautiful and people should accept me as superior person though it may not be true.' To express one's true self demands great practice and it is indeed a virtuous quality. Right perspective helps in developing this quality.

  3. Positive Thinking - The End of Eighteen Paap
  4. Second factor is positive thinking. Development of right faith ceases negative thinking and attitude. With right faith, thoughts and words both become positive. Some people are always endowed with disappointment and negative attitude. Optimism or hope is distant from them, while on the other hand some are full of positive energy in thinking and communication. Thinking good is a sign of optimism and thinking evil is a sign of pessimism.

    Understanding the concept of eighteen paaps (sins) explains a simple form of spirituality in Jain religion. Contemplation on any of the eighteen sins (paaps) leads to negative thinking while control over them leads to positive thinking. Negative thinking comprises sinful imagination, sinful communication, and sinful thinking. Many people come and share their problem of evil thoughts and imagination, and they wish to know the reason. None likes to have evil or sinful thoughts, because it alters the situation. Yet it happens. After all what is the reason? The root of evil thoughts is negative thinking.

  5. Success
  6. The third factor of right perspective is success. A person with right perspective is always successful. It is because he never enters in the realm of negative thinking. Thinking and perspective of such a person is always positive. He does all the good in his life and consequently succeeds without facing any failure. A person with negative thoughts fails by himself. Negativity is the sole factor responsible for his failure.

    Once, a devotee (shravak) came to me and said, 'A man has evil feelings for you.'

    I replied, 'I strongly believe that having ill-thoughts for others may or may not harm to the person to whom it is directed to, but it definitely harms the thinker himself. This strong belief never lets me think of evil thoughts, downfall or harm for anyone.'

    I intensely follow the sutra - aayankadansi ahiyaasae of Jain canonical text Acharang. It means the one, who is fearful for his own evil thinking, words, and deeds, anticipates that such attitude will bring harm and downfall for him. A person with such an outlook can never think of hurting anyone. Therefore, a person with right perspective must awaken his consciousness to refrain himself from negative thinking.

Consequences of Negative Thinking

There is an ancient illustration. Once during his tour, Naradji met a devotee along the way. The follower asked Naradji where he is going. Naradji replied, 'I am going to heaven.' The devotee reminded, 'Naradji! You have promised many times to take me to heaven. But you have not shown me yet.' Naradji asked him to go along. On the way to heaven, they first reached Nandanvan - The Garden of deities. Naradji pointing to a divine tree said, 'Listen! This is Nandanvan. You sit under the tree and wait for an hour until I return after a meeting with Indra, the King of the deities.'

With these instructions, Naradji left. The devotee was mesmerized to see the beauty and smell the fragrance of 'Garden of deities'. After some time, he thought, 'I did not take my morning meal. I am feeling hungry. What can I find here? How blessed I would be if I get some food.' Immediately, delicious food appeared before him. He was amazed to see the food. Its aroma increased his appetite. Overeating made him feel sleepy. As soon as he thought of a bed to sleep, divine and soft bed was ready before him. There was a fragrant breeze all around him and the atmosphere was captivating. Lying down on the bed he started thinking, 'How lucky am I! Whatever I wish for, I get. I have come to heaven all the way from earth. I am quite tired. I will feel relaxed if someone comes to massage my legs.' Without any delay angels appeared and started massaging his body. He was appreciating his luck. In fact, he was sitting under the kalpavriksh (wish-fulfilling tree). Therefore, his wishes were getting fulfilled instantly. He was delightfully enjoying the luxuries of heaven. Suddenly his thoughts took a turn. He imagined his wife. He thought, 'What will happen if my wife comes and sees these charming angels massaging me? She will definitely punch me hard.' And the very next moment, he found his wife before him and she started hitting. He started running to defend himself, while his wife was chasing him. On his return, Naradji saw his devotee and asked the reason behind this spectacle. He explained the entire story. Naradji asked, 'Why did you think negative?' He replied, 'It just happened.'

Negative thoughts always create troubles in our life. Until the moment his mind was engrossed in positive thinking, he was get achieving success. However, arousal of negative thoughts attracted problems.

AcharyaTulsi has written lucidly - kyon chale nishedhaatmak chintan, ho sada vidheyaatmak vaani - our thoughts should be positive not negative. Our thinking pattern and words should both be positive, productive, and active. No negative thoughts should come in our mind. Without right perspective, it's difficult to find a person having positive thoughts. The development of right perspective opens the door of success everywhere.

The Meaningfulness of a Shravak's Life

In this context Gurudev Tulsi writes - The life of a shravak is meaningful if he has deep understanding of the nine fundamentals (jiva etc.). A shravak should contemplate repeatedly on the nine tattvas.

One can ponder over the nine tattvas every day. As it is said,

jaanunjivaajiva main, punyapaapkibaat,
aashravsamvarnirjara, bandh moksha vikhyaat.

i.e. I know jiva (living being), ajiva (non-living being), punya (merit), paap (demerit), aashrav (incoming of karma), samvar (inhibition of karma), nirjara (eradication of karma),  bandh (bondage) and moksha (emancipation).

It should always reflect in his thinking, 'I know nine tattvas'.

Title:  Who is a Jain Shravak?

Acharya MahaPragya


Sadhvi Vishrut Vibha

Publisher:  Adarsh Sahitya Vibhag, JVB
Digital Publishing: 
Amit Kumar Jain

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharang
  2. Ajiva
  3. Ayurvedic
  4. Bandh
  5. Body
  6. Consciousness
  7. Contemplation
  8. Darshan
  9. Gurudev
  10. Indra
  11. Jiva
  12. Karma
  13. Moksha
  14. Nine Tattvas
  15. Nirjara
  16. Paap
  17. Punya
  18. Samvar
  19. Samyak Darshan
  20. Secrets of Spirituality
  21. Shravak
  22. Soul
  23. Sutra
  24. Tattva
  25. Tattvas
  26. Tulsi
  27. Udaipur
  28. Yog
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