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Who is a Jain Shravak: 25.1 Outlook of a Shravak

Published: 14.03.2020

There are two kinds of lives - individual life and social life. At individual level man is free to live his life as he so desires. The question is - how to live in a society? What sort of behavior should an individual have while living in a group or community? Quality of social life is directly related to peace of mind which can be attained if a person lives a balanced lifestyle within a group or society. If a person does not know how to lead a good life among a group of people, he will feel restless. This can result in loss of appetite and insomnia. Mind is occupied by negative thoughts and emotions leading to instability. Mind creates negative images and prejudices. Therefore, art of living is the greatest art. The Aagam, Uttaradhyayan, states, 'If one gets an opportunity to do so, then one should live in a qualitative society and under the guidance of a qualitative mentor. If you do not find such, then stay alone.'

gunaahiyam va gunao samam va, ekko vi paavaai vivajjaaye.

The option of living alone is possible only under special conditions. Most of us will have to live in a society. Therefore, the first need for everyone is to seek a Guru or a group wherein they can live in peace. The maxim of peace is anekant, which is explained in Shravak Sambodh -

asti-naasti, anitya-nitya, anek-ek vikalp hain.
sam-visham ya vaachy aur avaaachy bhi avikalp hain.
yon virodhi yugal se syaadvaad ka aasvaad len.
anekant svaroop ka avabodh aprativaad len.
chaturbhangi saadi-saant, anaadyanant svayam gadhen.
dravy, kshetr, sakaal bhaav chatushtayi pratipad padhen.

i.e. according to anekant the opposite pairs such as asti - naasti (existance-non-existance), anitya-nitya (eternal-non-eternal), anekek (many-one), sam-visham (similar-dissimilar) and vaachy-avaachy (expressible-inexpressible) can stay together without opposing other. Similarly, four-fold combinations and dravya, kshetr, kaal, and bhaav are various perspectives to explain any object or situation.

How Should the Perspective Be?

What perspective a shravak should have after realizing his existence and recognizing his personality? The aforementioned verse presents an answer to this question. Perspective is a part of one's personality. One-sided or insistent perspective is a symbol of frustrated mentality. Anekant is one of the fundamental doctrines of Jain Philosophy. Acceptance of the existence of multiple attributes in a single object or thought is anekant. Anekant accepts each object accommodating both similar and contradictory attributes. Anekant is both philosophically as well as pragmatically important. Acharya Siddhasen has expressed the pragmatic aspect of anekant through the following couplet -

jen vina logass vi vavhaaro savvaha na nivvadai,
tassa bhuvanekkaguruno namo anegaantavaayassa.

i.e. 'I bow down to only one Guru - anekantavaad, without which no worldly interaction is possible.'

Efficacy of Anekant

A dialogue among people of diverse thoughts and opposing political parties is an experiment of anekant. Anekant can play an important role in bringing harmony in the corporate world, social organizations, family and religious communities. Unilateral viewpoint is the progenitor of stress, whereas anekant helps to release and avoid stress.

Five opposing pairs of views are listed as - existence and non-existence, temporary and permanent, many and one, identical and dissimilar, expressible and inexpressible. Acharya Tulsi, the author of Shravak Sambodh, through these fundamental pairs, has put forth the co-existence of many opposite pairs.

The first pair implies that each object exists from its own substantial, spatial, temporal and qualitative viewpoint. The moment, in which it exists with reference to the self, it does not exist with reference to others substance, space, time and quality (attribute), in the very same moment. Let's take an example of a golden chain. From a substantial viewpoint, it is a golden chain and not other metals. From a spatial viewpoint, say it is made in Mumbai and not in Delhi. As per temporal viewpoint, it is made in 2008 and not at any other time. Qualitative viewpoint says, it has its own unique attributes of gold. Thus, it exists with reference to the self from the four aforementioned viewpoints, but at the same time does not exist from other various viewpoints

From the substantial viewpoint, each entity is eternal because the substance remains the same, only form changes. From the modal viewpoint, the same object is non-eternal with many modes because of transformation of states of the substance. Any two entities are identical from the view point of substance only. As an example, American and Indian men are same considered from the perspective of humanity. When the substance is marginalized, opposite attributes are reflected in the same object. However, only one attribute can be expressed through words at a time. Multiple attributes cannot become the subject of words simultaneously. Therefore, contradictory pairs can be expressed only through Syaadvaad (doctrine of epistemological relativism).

In this way, the aforementioned five pairs can be understood.

Chaturbhangi (Four-Fold Combinations) and Anekant

A variety of Chaturbhangi (fourfold combination) are discussed in Jain Aagams. They are formed using the concept of anekant. Using bi-particulate terms, four-fold combinations can be framed in the following way -

  1. Saadi-saant - The entity which has both beginning and end.
  2. Saadi-anant - The entity which has the beginning, but no end.
  3. Anaadi-saant - The entity which has no beginning but has an end.
  4. Anaadyanant - The entity which has neither beginning nor end.

There are four applied forms of anekant - substance (dravy), space (kshetr), time (kaal), and quality (bhaav). The eminent scientist, Albert Einstein introduced space and time to understand an object. Bhagawan Mahavira propounded the aforementioned four. On this basis, all entities, living and non-living can be known in totality. Anekant is the fundamental basis of contradictory pairs, the four-fold statements and the four perspectives.

Panchasheel and Anekant

Co-existence of contradictory pairs within the same substance is possible. Pandit Nehru had introduced the principles of Panchasheel, and co-existence was one of them. He upheld the same principle of anekant that people of divergent viewpoints can live together harmoniously which was then considered unimaginable. There was a view that either of capitalism or communism could survive.

Let's look at an incidence from the epic Ramayana: Once princess Bhavini was annoyed and went to sleep in the Kopaghar. During that era, there was a room in the palace where a member of the royal family would go to when he or she became angry and wanted convey it to others. The King went there and asked the princess, 'What happened? Why are you here?' The Princess did not reveal the cause of her anger immediately.

Reassuring her, the King asked her again, 'Something is surely wrong!'

The Princess then said, 'Either I will stay here or Rekhala! Both of us cannot live here together.'

The king asked, 'What is his fault?'

'He is not at fault.' replied the Princess.

'Then what is the problem?'

The Princess replied, 'I have just told you my wish. Either he or I will stay.'

Both were unable to reside together due to their opposing natures. Co-existence of the people with contradictory nature has been problematic in all times. Therefore, the belief, that either capitalism or communism should prevail was prevalent. Only one could sustain, both could not co-exist.

Pandit Nehru, the prevailing prime minister of India, explicated the principle of co-existence. The world was astonished with the notion of people having harmony with contradictory viewpoints. This was quite a novel idea. How did the idea of Panchasheel arise? To analyze this, we have to understand the thoughts of Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, the President of India. He was a politician as well as a philosopher. Once, he delivered a heartwarming talk on the occasion of Mahavira Jayanti in Delhi. He said, 'Our democracy is working on the basis of anekant, the doctrine propounded by Mahavira'. Dr. Radhakrishnan elaborated further, 'Co-existence, independence, equality, and relativity - all these are the doctrines of democracy and of anekant as well.'

It can be said endorsed that Bhagawan Mahavira first elucidated the doctrine of anekant - that, two different attributes can co-exist simultaneously; two contrary thoughts can be in unison. How long will they remain? No definite duration. It's not a matter of a few days. Since time immemorial, they have been in perennial coexistence; they co-exist at present and will continue to co-exist in the same way in the future.

Eternal and Non-eternal

Two attributes - eternal and non-eternal, exist in any object. Each substance consists of three attributes - dhruvatv (permanence), utpaad (origination) and vinaash (cessation). Bhagawan Mahavira, in response to Gautam's query of nature of reality propounded these three terms. Origination, cessation and permanence - these tripartite are known as tripadi. Origination means having the nature of production or construction. Cessation means - having the nature of destruction. Every object in this world has the nature of origination and cessation. This process of origination and cessation is related to permanence. Permanence means stable or having an eternal nature. Each object is eternal in respect of its nature. Origination and cessation are its modes. Modes keep changing, but its main substance is constant.

According to Jain philosophy, substance is the substratum of attributes and modes. Attribute is defined as the inherent intrinsic nature of an object and mode is defined as its transforming quality. A shravak, who understands the principle of transformation of substances, attributes and modes, can understand the science of universe. It is essential for a scholar of a Jain Philosophy to have an in-depth knowledge of the tripadi (trinity) of substance, attribute, mode and the tripadi of origination, cessation and permanence. On this basis, knowledge of metaphysics persists. Acharya Tulsi has expressed it in the following verse:

pratikshan utpaad-vyaya, par mula men dhruva tattva hai,
uppanne vigame dhuve va' tripadika ka satva hai.
dravya gun paryaaya-parinati-prakriya jo seekh le,
prakriti ka vigyaan, shravak-gyaan ki vanika phale.

i.e. science behind every existence is that origination and destruction of each entity is occurring at every moment but its quality of permanence is maintained. Substance is steady whereas modes are transforming. It is the essence of 'tripadika'. A shravak must know it.

Base of Identity

Jiva (soul) is an eternal reality. Its existence is eternal - was in the past, is at present and will be in the future. It remains as jiva for eternity. Only its states keep changing. Birth and death are a perfect example of transformation. Each living being of this universe takes birth. This is origination. Eventually, the living being will die. This is cessation. After death, the cycle of rebirth begins anew. Consequently, it can be said, the existence of jiva continues after death and before rebirth. Jiva is an eternal substance and birth and death are its changing modes.

Acharya Tulsi narrates the concept of substance and mode beautifully through the example of gold. A person ordered for a gold bangle. When the bangle became old, he got it melted and constructed a ring and other ornaments. Even after these changes, gold retained its original characteristics. Likewise, in the cycle of life and death, the soul remains eternal. This concept is explained intelligibly in the verse below through the principle of anekant:

chakra udbhav- maran ka, par sada shaashvat jiva hai,
svarn-kankan mudrika ka udaaharan sajiva hai.
har virodhi yugal ka saapeksh sah-astitva hai,
pramukhata ya gaunata hi vyakti ka vyaktitva hai.

An object has infinite attributes - this philosophy is accepted by other philosophers also. However, anekant extends further. It says that infinite pairs of opposite attributes can coexist in an object. These attributes justify their existence relatively (from various perspectives). For example, person 'B' may be senior to 'C' but simultaneously 'B' may be junior to 'A'. Similarly, many other contradictory attributes are possible in a single entity. It is considered essential to have an opposition party along with the ruling one in a democratic political system, otherwise democracy is impossible. Co-existence of opposing parties is possible only on the basis of anekant. 'You exist and I too' -this is the language of anekant.

Question arises as to what the foundation of identification and acceptance of existence is, of various opposite attributes in an object. This question has been answered logically by Acharya Tulsi. He asserts that the contradictory nature of a substance can be identified by relegating some of its base characteristics into prominence whilst subordinating the rest. It means by focusing on the attribute we wish to highlight whilst discounting the other existing attributes. In the aforementioned example, when we are talking about the 'senior' attribute of 'B', he is junior to 'A' is being ignored.

If all the members of any society, family or a community become the heads, there cannot be a good management. It is necessary to establish one person as the head of the family or institute for maintaining good management. Similarly, there is no difficulty in identifying the nature of any substance on the basis of highlighting the intended characteristic.


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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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Aagam
  2. Aagams
  3. Acharya
  4. Acharya Tulsi
  5. Albert Einstein
  6. Anekant
  7. Anger
  8. Bhaav
  9. Chakra
  10. Delhi
  11. Dhruva
  12. Dravya
  13. Einstein
  14. Gun
  15. Guru
  16. Jain Philosophy
  17. Jayanti
  18. Jiva
  19. Kaal
  20. Mahavira
  21. Mahavira Jayanti
  22. Mumbai
  23. Pandit
  24. Prakriti
  25. Ramayana
  26. Science
  27. Shravak
  28. Soul
  29. Space
  30. Tattva
  31. Tulsi
  32. Uttaradhyayan
  33. Virodhi
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