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Who is a Jain Shravak: 13.1 Path to Bliss

Published: 21.02.2020

In this world, there are two types of human beings -

  1. Those who feel more joy and less sorrow
  2. Those who feel more sorrow and less joy

Does joy and sorrow choose which person to stay with? Who is responsible for it? This is explained very clearly in Shravak Sambodh.

nyunatam nav tattva-vidya ka sahaj sangyaan ho,
aur samyag-drishti samyag gyaan ka sandhaan ho.
bina pratyaakhyaan, shravak bhumi me kaise badhe?
bina akshar-gyaan, jeevan granth ko kaise padhe?

i.e. a shravak must have the knowledge of at least nine tattva along with right knowledge and faith. Reading is not possible without knowledge of alphabets; likewise, without abstinence (pratyaakhyaan) a layman cannot become a shravak.

Joy, Sorrow and Knowledge

The basic prerequisite for being a shravak is to have knowledge of the nine tattvas.

A question may arise how this knowledge can bring about joy or sorrow. There is a strong relation between the two. Charak Sushrut is the main scripture of Ayurveda. A verse from this text illustrates this beautifully:

sukhaartham sarva-bhutaanaam, mattah sarvaah pravrittayah,
gyaanaagyaan-visheshaattu maargaamarg-pravrittayah

All activities are done in the pursuit of happiness. No one does any action for being sorrowful. Man seeks happiness and all his moves are directed towards happiness. The question arises that if he does everything for happiness, then why does he get sorrow? Knowledge and ignorance are the reasons behind it. If one knows the path leading to happiness, he gets happiness by following it. Otherwise, he walks on the path of sorrow because of his ignorance. Therefore, the secret of joy and sorrow is knowledge and ignorance. True knowledge leads to the path of happiness and ignorance to the path of sorrow. If one wants happiness, and follows the path of sorrow, how can he be happy? Path as well as the means, both should be correct to be happy.

A farmer's wife told her son, 'We will go to the fair today. I will make the chapaati (bread) and you churn the curd. If a bit of ghee (clarified butter) comes, then we will put it on the chapaati and eat it.' The son started churning and the mother cooked the chapaati.

The son said, 'I have been churning for such a long time but ghee is not produced. What happened today?' The mother approached and saw two pots kept together, with curd in one and raabari in the other. She astonishingly said, 'How can you get ghee by churning raabari?' His process or path was right but not the means.

When the means of achieving happiness are wrong, how can one achieve it? The selection of path depends upon knowledge. One, who has right knowledge, selects the right path and one who is ignorant, chooses the wrong path. This is important to know whether the selected path leads to happiness or sorrow.

Adjoining Glands of Sorrow and Happiness

One cannot buy happiness or sorrow in this world. Millions of items are available to buy anywhere we go, be it a village, town, city or a metropolis. But, we have never heard, read, or seen, happiness or sorrow available in the market. The source of happiness and sorrow lies within us.

According to physiologist, there are two associated glands in our brains akin to sunrays and shadow. When the gland of happiness is activated through any means, there is only happiness, and when the gland of sorrow awakens, then despite having everything, one is unhappy. I have seen people who are very affluent, yet sorrowful. I have also seen some underprivileged people leading a very content and happy life.

Joy and Sorrow Stay Within

Joy and sorrow, both reside within us. A person who has right knowledge is never sorrowful. Whenever any adverse situation is faced, he overcomes it easily. Just as rain-water does not stay at the top of a hill, it falls. Similarly, for some people sorrows might come, but do not last. Some people see sorrow in petty things, whereas others realize happiness even in sorrowful situations.

A cheapskate once was asked how joy can be felt after sorrow. The intelligent miser said, 'when a guest visits my house and out of courtesy I ask him for tea, which if he accepts, I become very sad and if he says no, I become very happy. This is happiness after sorrow.'

Some people choose sorrows even in happiness. Let's see an illustration. A poor man won one lakh Rupees in the lottery. When his friends got the news, they rushed to congratulate him but they found him disappointed.

They were confused and confirmed if the news they had heard was true. He replied in the affirmative.

'Then why are you disappointed?' friends asked. 'I am very sad.' he replied. Friends asked with surprise, 'Why?'

'I invested two Rupees for two tickets. I got 1 lakh, against one ticket, but lost the other Rupee. Hence, I am very sad.' he explained.

Happiness in Sorrow

The reason for such sorrow is ignorance. In the absence of true understanding one does not enjoy the life and adopts the path of sorrow. Man wants joy but goes on the sorrowful path. This difference is due to wrong knowledge and ignorance. So, the first step is the knowledge of nine realities. One, who is well versed in nine realities, gets the key to happiness. One can extract happiness even from sorrow.

Here are two propositions: Withdrawing sorrows from happiness is ignorance or perverted knowledge and extracting happiness from sorrow is right knowledge. Was BhagawanMahavira ever sad? Human beings, animals and divine beings, all inflicted pain to Mahavira. Did he ever feel sorrow? Did AcharyaBhikshu ever become distressful? Did AcharyaTulsi ever come across grief? Hundreds of posters of Gurudev Tulsi were set on fire in Raipur. Yet, he never became miserable. What could be the secret? They all knew to discover happiness in sorrows.

Jayacharya in his treatise Chaubisi wrote in Mahavira's eulogy - 'jaga uddhaar huve mo thaki re e dube ina kaal'.

When BhagawanMahavira was being tortured by Sangamdev, Mahavira did not curse him. Instead he contemplated: Oh! How strange! On one hand people in the world are trying to uplift themselves because of me and this poor dev is going to downfall by torturing me. Mahavira was compassionate even for him and had no ill feelings for him.

Once, a person told AcharyaBhikshu - 'The one, who sees your face, goes to hell.' This statement may make a person annoyed and aggressive, but AcharyaBhikshu was not dejected at all as he was endowed with right knowledge.

He counter-questioned the person, 'Where does one go when he sees your face?'

The person said, 'Heaven.'

AcharyaBhikshu said, 'That is good for me. I saw your face. Thus, I will go to heaven according to you.'

One who has right knowledge and perspective, transforms adverse situations into favourable ones. This is important, not only for saints and nuns, but also for shravaks and shravikas (women householder). An ideal shravak grasps happiness out of sorrows and converts unfavourable situation to favourable. Every person has evil as well as good inside him. What makes a difference is the perspective?


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. Ayurveda
  2. Chaubisi
  3. Ghee
  4. Gurudev
  5. Jayacharya
  6. Lakh
  7. Mahavira
  8. Nine Tattvas
  9. Raipur
  10. Shravak
  11. Shravaks
  12. Shravikas
  13. Tattva
  14. Tattvas
  15. Tulsi
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