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Who is a Jain Shravak: 24.2 Identity of a Shravak

Published: 13.03.2020

Q: Is Devendra Sanat Kumar krishn pakshi or shukl pakshi?

A: Devendra Sanat Kumar is shukl pakshi, not krishn pakshi.

Gautam was satisfied with the answers provided, but another doubt emerged and he asked, 'Oh Lord! According to you Sanat Kumar is bhavy, samyag drishti, pareet sansaari, sulabh bodhi, aaraadhak and charam. I want to know, how did Devendra Sanat Kumar attain these capabilities in his life?'

Bhagawan Mahavira replied, 'Gautam! Devendra Sanat Kumar wishes for the well-being and happiness of monks, nuns, shravaks and shravikas as well as being free from miseries. He is ever compassionate and wishes for their emancipation. He is always alert for their welfare, happiness and emancipation of others. This has enabled development of the above qualities in him!

A question further arises, 'Why was Ganadhar Gautam so curious about Devendra Sanat Kumar?' The answer to this question is available in this following sentence indirectly - 'prashn prakaranagat sahetuk'. Acharya Tulsi indicates towards a chapter of Tamali Baalatapasvi in the third Shatak of the Bhagavati Sutra. Tamali Tapas was born as the God (Indra) in the 1st Heaven. When conflict flared between the Indra (King of God) of the 1st and the 2nd Heaven, they requested Sanat Kumar, the Indra of the 3rd Heaven. He visited them and resolved the conflict. After listening to this incident, Ganadhar Gautam had more questions and Bhagawan answered them all.

The following verse where Gautam is asking the aforementioned questions is significant for enriching the knowledge of metaphysics of a shravak.

prashn saptak har upaasak ke liye adhigamy hain,
kiye Gautam ne vinay se veer-charan pranamy hain.
bhavy hai ki abhavy? samyagdrishti-mithyaadrishti hain?
hai pareet bhav-bhraman, apareet bhav ki srishti hai?
sulabh-durlabh-bodhi Sanatkumar Surapati he prabho!
sahi aaraadhak-viraadhak charim ya acharim vibho!
shuklapakshi-krishnapakshi? prashn ki antim kadi,
samaahit ho khili Gautam-dil-kamal ki paankhadi.
prashn prakaranagat sahetuk samaadhaan mahaan hai,
'Bhagavati' tije shatak Shri Veer ka avdaan hai.

Complete Overview of Human Life

At present, the philosophical world is focused on a new concept -What is human existence? A lot has been written on this subject in the Western world. Jain scriptures discuss it elaborately. Jain literature deals not only with structural and physiological aspects, but also inner aspects. Humans are analyzed based on gati, jaati, indriy, kaay, paryaapti, gunasthaan and inner development. These aspects provide complete picture of human personality. Nowadays many people are pursuing jewelry business as it is a good source of earning. It is easy to know the quality of a diamond, but difficult to know oneself. Earlier children would easily answer questions such as what is his gati and jaati etc. Today the real identity is getting lost in the materialistic world. Acharya Tulsi in the following verse has tried to motivate all to realize their identity.

aise uhaapoh mein shravak ho sanlagn,
svasth chetna mein satat nishchit rahe nimagn.

A shravak should reflect upon the nature of the self, like - Who am I? What am I? etc.

Realization is Essential

Adi Shankaracharya has given deep thought for the self. Jayacharya addressed the self and said, 'jeeta janam sudhaar tun' i.e. 'O Jeet! Rectify your life.' It is essential to address the self and understand oneself. Until and unless one knows and understands the self, it is improbable that one can know the world.

There are two subjects of cognition:

  1. Cognition of the self
  2. Cognition of the world

The problem with cognition is concealment. Cognizing means to go into the deep and remove the veil. Verbal expressions like, 'I am a soul' are not enough. Realization is very essential which demands a lot of penance and removal of concealments.

Magic of Refining

Once, a King invited some artists and asked, 'You are here to create a new art gallery. The artist who makes the best paintings and completes them within six months will be rewarded.' Several skilled artisans arrived with high hopes. The King tested them and only two artists met his requirements. They were assigned to the job. The gallery was divided into two parts and separated with a large curtain. They were directed to complete the given task without glancing at each other's work. Both were working independently. Six months passed by and time was over. Both artists came to the King and said, 'We have completed our task, My Lord. Please come and evaluate our work.'

The King visited the gallery and inspected the work of first painter very keenly. The pictures were very vivid. Pictures can be living or dead. Some pictures repel our eyes and others are attractive. The work of the first painter was very much blooming, vital and wonderful. The King praised the artist in superlatives, patted his back and said, 'Excellent! You are really an expert. You have commissioned a wonderful art gallery. I would like to reward you with a great gift, for I am very pleased with your job.'

The King then visited the second part of the hall. He found nothing there. He looked at the artist and asked, 'Do you at all remember my instructions? I had specifically ordered you to complete your job within the span of six months or be ready for death punishment. You remained careless in following my orders. I guess you do not value life.'

The artist remained silent and went on listening. Finally, he replied, 'My Lord! I am an artist. I know the core of art, but I know the core of life too. He who is unaware of the core of life can never know the core of art. I must live, for my aspiration for life is still prominent. I wish to live, so I did what could sustain my life.'

The King said, 'What did you do then?'

The artist asked the King, 'Have you finished saying what you wanted?'

The King got angry and admonished the artist, 'How dare you speak like this to me? You did not carry out the instructed task, and yet you speaking brazenly to me.'

The artist realized that King's anger had escalated to its height. He indicated to remove the curtain. As the curtain was being removed, the whole hall was resplendent like a bright shining light. The king was surprised, 'What happened, is this magic? All the walls were bare, but now beautiful painting can be seen in every corner. All the walls of the hall are adorned with attractive pictures. How did this occur?' He could not trust his eyes.

Many times, what a person perceives is unbelievable. Judging the situation, his temperament calmed down. The King asked, 'After all what did you do?' He pulled down the curtain. There were no more pictures. The King was surprised again. He came close to the artist, putting hand on his shoulder, king asked, 'O man! What is this? I did not understand your art. In a moment, the wall is full of portraits and at the other moment there is nothing.'

The artist said, 'My Lord! I know the art of polishing. I put all my efforts in refining the wall and casted everything which created this effect. By using this skill, I can turn the hall with pictures or without pictures as per my wish.' 'But what is the secret behind this?' The King asked. 'Oh King! Turn back and see.' The King turned back. The artist said, 'The other artist has put in hard efforts with his brush and colours and created beautiful pictures. I did nothing like that. I spent six months in polishing this wall. The result is when curtain falls down, the wall becomes blank and when curtain is lifted up, pictures are seen. This wall is acting like mirror and reflects the pictures of the front wall.'

The Barrier is a curtain

Our karmas act as a curtain enveloping of the soul. How much karma has covered the soul? One can ask how many paramanu (smallest unit of matter) are present in a finger. The number is infinite. In spite of huge quantities, nothing can be seen because of cover. Physiology claims that millions of germs exist, yet they are out of our physical sight.

When there is a storm, most of us shut the windows and doors to stop the inflow of dust. When sunlight passes through open window we can see the tiny particles of dust floating all over the room. How can we stop this? It implies that our micro world is widespread, but due to veil, it is out of our perception. The existing curtains are Gyaanavaraniy, Darshanaavaraniy and other karmas. They prevent us from cognizing beyond sensory perception. Just remove the curtain and the whole visible world will be exposed to us.

Understanding matter and soul

Understanding of the concept of soul and matter are equally important for both a shravak and an ascetic. A shravak should think, 'I am soul, not the matter then why should I be attached to matter? I know the truth that matter correlates with matter and soul with soul, then being a soul why am I attached to matter or materialistic things?' These are all important questions and thoughts for a shravak. Let us think upon the nature of matter and of soul. We enjoy matter until it has utility and later it becomes worthless.

Once, a poet went to a sugarcane field. Gazing at them, his creative mind began to imagine. The poet's mind analyses the situation and brings forth a new thought. The poet said, 'O Sugarcane! You look appealing. You contain sweet nectar, but I find a drawback in you. Your sugary sap remains intact until you are chewed and squeezed. After being chewed, nothing remains except the peels.'

This is the nature of matter. They give pleasure until they are useful. Thereafter, they become disposable. The food once eaten becomes spoiled. New clothes turn into rags after some time. This is the nature of matter and we must analyse it. Reflection is the greatest cause of detachment.

Knowledge and Calmness

The question is, what is more important - knowledge or calmness (subsidence of passions). In the absence of knowledge, peace cannot be attained. Knowledge causes subsidence. Primarily attempt should be made to gain knowledge. In ancient times, scriptural study was a major part of the daily routine of Jain ascetics. Uttaradhyayan states this as:

padhamam porisi sajjhaayam beeyam jhaanam jhiyaayayi,
taiyaaye bhikkhaayariya chauttham sajjhaayam puno.

Every quarter of the day is well-scheduled. The first quarter of day is set for studies, the second quarter for meditation, the third quarter for alms and consumption of food and the fourth quarter for studies again. In this routine, only one quarter of the day is allotted for tasks essential for body. The other three quarters are set aside for studies and meditation. Analysing this with our lifestyle, the routine appears quite misaligned.

How can knowledge be improved and how passions be subsided? Knowledge is very important. Without it traditions cannot be passed on through generations. Many a times people are suggested to read at least one page of good literature a day. But even that becomes onerous for them as they are too busy with other worldly affairs. Hence, scriptural study gets marginalized.

It is essential for monks and nuns to devote at least three hours a day for scriptural study and meditation. Though they may find themselves busy in other spiritual chores, scriptural study must remain in focus. Gurudev Acharya Tulsi had an extremely busy schedule in his life. Myriads of issues came before him. He would still spend about six hours a day for spiritual study. Why can't we do the same? If we manage time effectively, it is possible. Today is the age of management, but Jain sutras already contain beautiful dictums on management. 'kaale kaalam samaayare' - The work should be done at the right time. A person who despite knowing this sutra does not live a managed life is surprising.

Thus, let us peruse and engage to remove the veil of karma through spiritual studies and meditation. As knowledge increases, the intensity of peace will reach newer pinnacles.


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. Acharya
  2. Acharya Tulsi
  3. Anger
  4. Bhagavati Sutra
  5. Body
  6. Concept of Soul
  7. Devendra
  8. Ganadhar
  9. Gati
  10. Gurudev
  11. Indra
  12. Janam
  13. Jayacharya
  14. Karma
  15. Karmas
  16. Mahavira
  17. Meditation
  18. Paramanu
  19. Samyag Drishti
  20. Shankaracharya
  21. Shravak
  22. Shravaks
  23. Shravikas
  24. Soul
  25. Sutra
  26. Tapas
  27. Tulsi
  28. Uttaradhyayan
  29. Veer
  30. Vinay
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