Acharanga Bhasyam: Prelude II

Published: 24.09.2010
Updated: 02.07.2015

Consciousness of Happiness and Sorrow

All living beings aspire to have long life, relish happiness and hate sufferings. Psychologically speaking 'it is a natural tendency among all living beings. That is the natural justification of non-violence.

  • The Lord has said, 'See and ponder over the karma and its fruits. Also reflect on the process of its cessation.'[1]
  • Comprehending the misery of the world, one should avoid its cause - i.e. passion.[2]
  • Deeply reflect and ponder over how dear is happiness to all beings and so is the suffering unpleasant, dreadful and painful to all beings.[3]

The spiritual aspect of happiness and suffering is that all the living beings love happiness and as such, they should not be deprived of it. They hate suffering and so one should not inflict pain on them.

It is quite natural that all of us want to know what suffering is. On this, the Lord has said, 'Karmic bondage is suffering. This makes the soul rotate in the whirlpool of sufferings'.[4] So, he has cautioned against that and has advised us to clearly distinguish between the sprout and the root in relation to suffering.[5]

All the sufferings sprout out from passions.

Violence is also considered to be a cause of suffering. So the wise men have advised, 'Use your parijñā i.e. knowledge and renunciation for the annihilation of suffering. For thisr one needs to shake up his karmic body'.[6]

The Ways and Means for the Annihilation of Karma-body -

  1. Vigilance - The destruction of karma is possible by practicing vigilance.[7]
    A resolute aspirant should not become non-vigilant even for a single moment.[8]
  2. 'Perceiving the self is a must.[9]
  3. Contemplation over solitude - T am alone;' T have nobody belonging to me, nor do I belong to anybody'; 'I am on my own'.[10]
  4. Contemplation over lack of refuge - 'Pondering over the lack of refuge', Oh man! think! None of your relatives shall be able to protect you or offer you a shelter, nor can you protect them or offer them a shelter.[11 ]
  5. Contemplation on fragility - "The body is nourished by food and it is emaciated by hardships'.[12] 'Look! This body is fragile. It was so in the past and it will remain so in future. It is subject to decay; it is unstable, transient, non-eternal, subject to growth and decay, subject to changes'.[13]
  6.  Perception of body - Vigilant indeed is he who is always conscious of the present state of his existence.[14]
  7. Perceiving the structure of the world - The wide awake man perceives the structure of the world. He knows the lower, the upper and the middle regions.[15]
  8. Development of intrinsic perception - The seer should use the articles in a manner different from that of the common people.[16]

    He alone remains steadfast on his own path, who looks at the world quite differently.[17]

  9. Development of an antedote - One should guard himself against greed by means of non-greed.[18]
  10. Abandonment of worldly actions - He who abandons the worldly activities knows and sees the truth.[19]
  11. Contemplation of loathsome nature of body - The external of body is like the internal and the internal is like the external.[20] Inside, one sees the internal apertures of putrid body with the cardinal humours 'secretions' oozing. [21]
  12. Perception of the soul - One who perceives the pure nature of the soul practises the pure discipline. One who practices the pure discipline perceives the pure nature of soul.[22]
  13.  Observation of fear - The person finding violence as the cause of fear should discern from evil.[23]
  14. Perception of salvation - A person, uprooting attachment and hatred by absolute self-restraint and austerities achieves the mission of the self.[24]
  15. Perception of the supreme good - One, who is conversant with the three sciences, knows the supreme good.[25]
  16. Self-engrossment - As fire consumes the worn out wood, in exactly the same way, an ascetic engrossed in meditation and unafflicted by passions shakes, thins and dessicates the karmic body.[26]
  17. Contemplation of the limitation of the life-span - One should contemplate that life-span is limited.[27]
  18. Perception of vibration - You look, this Unverse incessantly vibrates on all sides.[28]
  19. Power of comprehension - The act done due to inclination towards violence or the resolve to harm should be brought to an end by the power of comprehension.[29 ]
  20. Self-restraint or conquest over the senses - Oh man! restrain thyself. Thus thou will get thyself freed from sufferings.[30 ]
  21. Perception of equanimity - The person with the outlook of equanimity is saved from vices.[31]

'All souls are equal'. This is the central theme of ethics and on this basis do's and don'ts are delineated. Just as in the matter of non-violence it is said - Knowing the equality of all beings one should desist from the weapon of violence.[32]

In this Āgama, great vows (mahāvratas) are not explained in due order, but like non-violence, the great vows of truth, non-stealth, celibacy and non-possession also find an important place.

The Lord said -

Truth—O man! You should cultivate only the truthfulness.[33] Be steadfast in Truthfulness.[34]

The wise monk, who is loyal to truthfulness, crosses the domain of death.[35]

Non-Stealth - Attaining of anything that has not been given is stealing.[36] To kill any living being is also taken to be stealing, because the murderer appropriates what does not belong to him while taking the life of a living being.[37]

Celibacy - Continence - The sensual objects are the basic sources (of greed); the basic sources are the sensual objects.[38] Look! these sensual objects are incapable of giving contentment?[39]

What then have you to do with them?[40]

O wise man! Look! this sensual excitement is a deadly source of fear.[41]

Non-possession - One who gets rid of inclinations of possessive-ness and retaining abandons the possessions.[42]

One, who has no passions of 'mine'-ness has seen the path.[43]

Equanimity is considered not only on the basis of renunciation of the external objects of senses but it is also related with the inner-consciousness. There are many ways for the cultivation of equanimity -

  1. Equanimity concerning food - A heroic person endowed with the quality of equality can alone relish sapless food.[44]
  2. Equanimity towards gains and losses - On getting alms, one should not get proud of it.[45] Nor should one lament for lack of gains.[46]
  3. Equanimity towards lovable and non-lovable
  • One should have evenness of mind towards pleasant and unpleasant sounds.[47]
  • For the practiser of discipline, what is discontent and what is pleasure? He should not be subject to either discontentment or pleasantry. Giving up all gaiety, conquering all senses, and guarded in thoughts, words and deeds, he should lead the life of discipline:[48]

By observance of equanimity in practical life, one experiences the lucidity of the soul.[49]

Equanimity means self-engrossment and thoughtless state of life. Only in this situation of thoughtlessness, one can experience lucidity of soul.[50]

In this Āgama, the word 'rūpa' and 'dṛṣṭa' are used to denote the substance. Lord said - 'One should practise detachment from all sorts of 'rūpa' the sensual objects small or big'.[51]

'One should imbibe disgust towards 'dṛṣṭa' i.e. sensibles-sense objects.[52]

'Vairāgya’ i.e. renunciation (freedom from worldly desires) and 'nirveda’ - detachment are the two companions of equanimity. Equanimity is right perception and spiritual 'dharma’ - righteousness. The 'Jinas' have proclaimed the righteousness of equality.[53] By acceptance of this doctrine, the soul emancipates from sufferings and the cycle of death and birth comes to an end. This doctrine of equanimity is twofold: (i) 'saṃvara' - stopping the influx of 'karma' and (ii) 'Nirjarā' - dissolution/ eradication of karma's bondage. 'Saṃvara' results in cessation of the causes of sufferings and nirjarā results in dissolution of 'karma-bandhana' i.e. bondages of karma, thereby eradicating the sufferings.[54]

Lord Mahāvῑra attained clear perception by tearing off the veil of destructive karma. Whatever he perceived through omni-perception he taught the people. Hence the Jaina philosophy is the vision of a perceiver. This is the doctrine of the seer who has abandoned the weapons of violence, and who is the eliminator of destructive karma.[55]

The principal theme of the Ācārāṅga is ethics of conduct. As such it does not go into details of nature of reality of substances. Even then it has reference to soul and non-soul at proper places.

The word ‘jῑva’ i.e. sentient being occurs many times in the text.[56] In metaphysical consideration of jῑva (conscious being) and 'ajῑva' (non-conscious), ajῑva is divided under five heads: dharmāstikāya, adharmāstikāya, ākāsastikāya, kāla and pudgalāstikāya. In the present context is only explanation of pudgala - matter is concerned.

In this Āgama the word pudgala has not been used anywhere, but its qualitative definition is found as - one who knows the sensuous objects comprehensively such as sounds, colours, smells, tastes, and touches, realizes the self, the knowledge, scripture, the doctrine and discipline.[57] Soul is neither sound, nor colour, nor smell, nor taste and soul is formless,[58] whereas matter has form. This division has been elaborated in this Āgama.

The Lord said - Soul is a shapeless existence.[59] One should not indulge in sensuousalities.[60]

In Vedic literature also there is division like objects with shape and objects without shape.[61] In Sāṅkhya philosophy 'puruṣa' i.e. soul is shapeless and prakṛti is with form. Space is an extension of prakṛti. Hence it has a form. In Buddhist philosophy it is said that all the realities are undescribable. As such there is no division of entities having form or having no form.

In our opinion, one may discover all the original seeds of Jain philosophy in the present Āgama. But it may not be possible to get a comprehensive and fully developed philosophical view of the Jains, for which one may have to explore other sources too.


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Jain Vishwa Bharati

Ladnun- 341 306 (Raj.) India © Jain Vishva Bharti

ISBNS 1-7195-74-4

First Edition:2001

Courtesy :
Shree Chhotulal Sethia Charitable Trust Sethia House, 23/24,
Radha Bazar Street, Kolkata-700 001 (INDIA)

Printed by:
Shree Vardhaman Press
Delhi (INDIA)

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Adharmāstikāya
  2. Body
  3. Celibacy
  4. Consciousness
  5. Contemplation
  6. Darśana
  7. Dharmāstikāya
  8. Discipline
  9. Equanimity
  10. Fear
  11. Greed
  12. JAINA
  13. Jain Philosophy
  14. Jaina
  15. Karma
  16. Karmic Body
  17. Kāla
  18. Lord Mahāvῑra
  19. Mahāvratas
  20. Meditation
  21. Nirjarā
  22. Non-violence
  23. Parijñā
  24. Perception Of Body
  25. Prakṛti
  26. Pudgala
  27. Pudgalāstikāya
  28. Soul
  29. Space
  30. Sāṅkhya
  31. Vedic
  32. Violence
  33. Yoga
  34. Ācārāṅga
  35. Āgama
  36. Āyāro
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