Acharanga Bhasyam: Sūtras 26-41 : The Knowledge Of The Highest Good

Published: 20.12.2010
Updated: 02.07.2015

3.26 jātiṃ ca vuḍḍhiṃ ca ihajja! pāse.

Look O noble one, at birth and old age.

Bhāṣyaṃ Sūtra 26

Mahāvīra said to Gautama: 'O noble one! here - in this life - look to birth and aging. 'Birth' means assumption of new life and 'aging' means old age. At the time of birth, the child resumes a new life, whereas in the state of decay, he grows old and meets death. In both these states, he suffers from misery, and on that account, his memory of the sequence of events is wiped out. As has been said -

"The intense suffering at the time of birth and death stupefies the person so deeply that he is incapable of remembering his past life."[1]

3.27 bhūtehiṃ jāṇa paḍileha sātaṃ.

You should know the karmic bondage and fruition and also look at pleasure and pain of all beings.

Bhāṣyaṃ  Sūtra 27

Karma is suffering. What is the cause of karma? For investigating this problem, one must first of all comprehend the nature of karma. How does the karmic bondage take place, how does the fruition of karma occur? This should be properly understood. Thereafter, one should search out the process of annihilation of the inflow which is the source of karma, and of karma itself.[2]

3.28 tamhā tivijjo paramaṃtiṇaccā, samattadaṃsī ṇa kareti pāvaṃ.

Therefore, the person with the outlook of equality, conversant with the three sciences, should know the highest good and desist from evil.

Bhāsyam Sūtra 28

The highest good means the innate nature[3] of the soul, or the state of emancipation.[4] So long as the soul does not contemplate upon the supreme self-nature of the soul, it cannot be freed of misery and suffering.

On the knowledge of the innate nature of the soul, the person conversant with the three sciences comes to possess the outlook of equality or the right view. Such person does not perpetrate any evil. He does not do what is conducive to the increase in the karmic inflow and the karma. The three sciences are: (i) knowledge of past life, (ii) knowledge of birth and death and (iii) knowledge of the destruction of the inflow.[5]

    3.29 ummuṃca pāsaṃ iha macciehiṃ.

    You should get rid of the snare due to association with people, that is, the bond of affection.

    Bhāsyam Sūtra 29

    O man! you should get rid of the snare produced by association with worldly human beings. ‘Snare' means bondage. The attachment and the like are the snares. It is said in the Uttarādhyayana that the snare of affection is terrible indeed![6]

    3.30 āraṃbhajīvī u bhayāṇupassī.

    The person indulging in violence experiences fear.

    Bhāṣyaṃ Sūtra 30

    For the sake of covetable objects, a person indulges in violence. The person who lives on violence experiences fear. It is self-evident that in a person engaged in acts of intense violence and intense possessiveness, the fear ending in bondage, torture, privation and ultimately death arises.

    3.31 kāmesu giddhā ṇicayaṃ kareṃti, saṃsiccamāṇā puṇareṃti gabbhaṃ.

    A person clinging to desires accumulates possessions. Being nourished by his attachment to possessions, he transmigrates again and again.

    Bhāsyam Sūtra 31

    Accumulation is twofold - accumulation of precious objects like gold and the accumulation of karma. The fundamental cause of such accumulation is the greed for sensual objects. Both these types of accumulation are produced in the state of infatuation. The persons who live in this state which is the cause of accumulation are nourished by that condition. They acquire new birth. This is just like the sprouting of seeds sprinkled by dense clouds.

    3.32 avi se hāsamāsajja, haṃtā ṇaṃdīti mannati. alaṃ bālassa saṃgeṇaṃ, veraṃ vaḍḍheti appaṇo..

    For the sake of entertainment and mirth the attached person kills living beings and derives pleasure. What does the ignorant person gain from such entertainment? He only intensifies his passion of enmity by such indulgence.

    Bhāsyam Sūtra32

    There naturally arises mental stress due to the passions. For the alleviation of such stress, one engages in memory making. Among such indulgences some are inspired by violence. For instance, children throw up frogs in the sky again and again and feel amused as they are falling down. Some young people arrange fights between cocks, rams, and hares for entertainment. They also clap by setting dogs against hares to kill them. Keeping in view such mentality of the people, the Sūtra says that the ignorant person considers it an occasion for merry[7]-making while in fact he is engaged in killing creatures. What does the ignorant person gain[8] from such entertainment, which only augments his inimical dispositions?[9]

    The entertainment of merry-making is a kind of mental excitement due to shame, fear etc. according to the Vṛtti.[10]

      3.33 taṃhā tivijjo paramaṃti ṇaccā, āyaṃkadaṃsī ṇa kareti pāvaṃ.

      Therefore, the person finding violence as the cause of fear, conversant with the three sciences, should discern violence as the cause of fear, know the highest good, and desist from evil.

      Bhāṣyaṃ  Sūtra 33

      And, therefore, the person conversant with the three sciences, knowing the highest good[11] and discerning violence as the cause of fear, does not commit any kind of evil that augments the inflow of violence. Just as the perception of the highest good is the means to the elimination of violence, exactly so the perception of violence as the cause of fear is the means of desisting from it. Unless and until there is not the perception of the highest good, one cannot perceive fear in violence, and so long as there is no perception of fear in violence, there cannot be the perception of the highest good. Only on the presence of both (viz; perception of highest good and perception of fear in violence), the abstinence from the inflow of violence is possible.[12]

        3.34 aggaṃ ca mūlaṃ ca vigiṃca dhīre.

        O wise one! discriminate between the sprout and the root.

        Bhāsyam Sūtra 34

        O wise man! distinguish[13] between the sprout and the root. The vision of Lord Mahāvīra did not cognize the sprout alone or root alone, but comprehended both. Here the distinction between the sprout and the root requires clarification. In the Uttarādhyayana, it is said that attachment and hatred are the seed of karma.[14] This shows that attachment and hatred are the root and karma which is conditioned by them is the sprout. In the Daśāśrutaskandha,[15] the deluding karma is given as the root and other karmas as the sprouts. One should recognize the attachment and hatred and the other karmas. Not only the deluding karma should be recognized, but other karmas too. Both the standpoints are thus comprehended.

          3.35 palicchiṃdiyā ṇaṃ ṇikkammadaṃsī.

          A person uproots attachment and hatred by means of self-restraint and austerities and achieves the vision of the self.

          Bhasyam Sutra 35

          One of the meanings of karma is the activity of thought, word and deed. The soul is bereft of karma by self-nature or natural inclination. But under the sway of attachment and hatred, it is bound by karma. By putting an end to attachment and hatred by means of self-restraint and austerities, he perceives the pure nature of the self and achieves the vision of self and emancipation.[16]

          3.36 esa maraṇā pamuccai.

          Such person is freed from death.

          Bhāsyam Sūtra 36

          The perceiver of the pure nature of the self is freed from death. Man hankers after immortality. The perception of the pure nature of the self is the-means thereof (i.e. immortality).

          3.37 se hu diṭṭhapahe muṇī.

          The monk who has perceived the self has perceived the way to emancipation.

          Bhasyam Sutra 37

          The sage who has distinguished between the sprout and the root has perceived the pure self. He has indeed seen the path leading to the cessation of the cause of the inflow of karma and the karma, as also the release from the suffering.

          3.38 loyaṃsī paramadaṃsī vivittajīvī uvasaṃte.
          saite sahite sayā jae kālakaṃkhī pariwae..

          One who has seen the highest good in this world leads a circumspect life. He is calm, guarded, tolerant and ever wakeful. He leads his monastic career in this way till the end of his life.

          Bhāsyam Sūtra 38

          The spiritual discipline accepted and followed by the wise person for leading a holy life has been shown by a set of seven Sūtras:

          1. Such person has perceived the summum bonum (supreme truth). In other words, he has seen the innate state of the self or has realised the conscious nature of the self.
          2. He leads a discriminating life, that is free from attachment and hatred or a solitary life. Only the person who has perceived the supreme truth is capable of leading a discriminating life.
          3. Such a tranquillized person is capable of calming down his senses and mind.
          4. A self-guarded[17] person has concentrated on the aim and purpose of life.
          5. He is tolerant[18] - capable of endurance.
          6. He is always restrained, that is, possessed of self-restraint.
          7. He is aware of mortality—he is not perturbed by death, because he perceives it with detachment, neither being afraid nor being curious (towards death).

            3.39 bahuṃ ca khalu pāva-kammaṃ pagaḍaṃ.

            The soul has committed a great many deeds in the past.

            Bhāsyam Sūtra 39

            One should lead a disciplined monastic career till the end of his life. The implication is, he should live the life of a wandering ascetic properly enduring heat and cold unto his last breath. Why should one lead an ascetic life for such long time? To this question, the Sūtra replies - in the past, one had committed very many evil deeds which could not be rooted out in a short time. A long time (i.e. persistent exertion) is necessary for the elimination of the past karma.

            3.40 saccaṃsi dhitiṃ kuwaha.

            Be steadfast in the truth.

            Bhāsyam Sūtra 40

            Here 'truth' stands for what is (1) real, (2) really existent, (3) ultimately real, (4) fact, (5) universal law, (6) exposition of the real, (7) restraint, (8) uprightness in word, thought and deed, i.e., congruence between thought and deed, (9) truthful speech, (10) non-deprecatory speech, (11) practical utterance, (12) right observance of the vow undertaken.

            [1] Real - What is constituted of origination, cessation and permanence is real.[19] Here the word 'real' is related with the truth which is existence-based.

            [2] Really existent - The transcendental stand-point. According to the Uttarādh-yayana Sūtra, "The (nine) categories of truth are really existent."[20]

            [3] Ultimately real—The actual nature of substance. If someone maintains - 'only the ultimately real in the form of consciousness is true' or 'only the ultimately real in the form of non-consciousness is true', it is not consistent. 'Both consciousness and non-consciousness are ultimately real'—this is consistent.

            (6) Exposition of the real—Assertion of the actual truth, e.g. soul exists, the next world exists.

            [7] Restraint—According to the Ācārāṅga Vṛtti,[21] the meaning of truth is 'restraint'.

            [8] Uprightness in word, thought and deed—According to the Sthānāṅga Sūtra, there are four kinds of truth - (i) uprightness in deed, (ii) uprightness in thought (iii) uprightness in word, (iv) congruence between deed, speech
            and thought.[22]

            [11] Practical utterence.

            Here practical speech deserves special consideration. Truth in its various forms is expressed in popular language. The Sthānāṅga Sūtra mentions ten varieties of practical truths:

            1. Words used in different countries. For instance, we find Niru in Kannada and Tanni in Tamil for water.
            2. Popular usage, e.g. lotus and frog are designated in Sanskrit as Pankaja and dardura. Although both are pankaja i.e., grown in mud.
            3. Symbolic truth - For instance, in chess there are 32 pieces called king, horse, minister, etc.
            4. Nominal truth—For example, a begger is sometimes named as Lakṣmīpati, a man of fortune.
            5. Apparent truth—For instance, a man in female role in theatres.
            6. Relative truth—For instance, designation of an object as cold or hot, although there is none absolutely hot or cold.
            7. Popular truth—for instance, we say the road goes to a certain village. Although, in fact, road does not go any where but it is only the traveller who goes.
            8. Modal truth - A real can be expressed in language only through a particular mode, there being many other modes that are unspoken.
            9. Association truth - For instance, a person possessed of a stick is called a "stick person" because of his association with a stick.
            10. Metaphorical truth - For instance, the eyes of a lady are compared with a lotus only metaphorically.[23]

            [12] Right observance of the vow undertaken—According to Ācārāṅga Cūrṇi, truth is the right observance of the vow undertaken.[24]

            In the present context, the word truth has been used in two senses, viz., universal law and restraint. For example:

            1. There is karma.
            2. The result of karma must be experienced.
            3. Change may be brought about in the fruition of the past karma by bringing it up prematurely.
            4. Restraint is the means to the premature fruition, and the like, of karma.

            The first three examples satisfy the connotation of truth as universal law and the last explains restraint as the connotation of truth.

            Steadfastness is absolutely necessary for the elimination of karma. Only the person steadfast in truth is capable of eliminating the karma that was earned in the past.

            See Sūtras 3.65-66.

              3.41 etthovarae mehāvī savvaṃ pāva-kammaṃ jhoseti.

              The intelligent person, desisting from violence, eliminates all evil deeds.

              Bhāsyam Sūtra 41

              The person desisting from violence, that is, a person who is self-restrained or detached,[25] eliminates all evil karmas. Self-restraint is the means of the elimination of evil karmas, which is the principal topic of this Sūtra.

              The person who practices self-restraint,[26] that is, who is engrossed in self-restraint eliminates the evil karma. This is the alternative meaning given in the Vṛtti.


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              Jain Vishwa Bharati

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

              ISBNS 1-7195-74-4

              First Edition:2001

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              Page glossary
              Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
              1. Bhāva
              2. Consciousness
              3. Cūrṇi
              4. Daśāśrutaskandha
              5. Discipline
              6. Fear
              7. Gautama
              8. Greed
              9. Karma
              10. Karmas
              11. Mahāvīra
              12. Sanskrit
              13. Soul
              14. Sutra
              15. Sādhanā
              16. Sūtra
              17. Tamil
              18. Uttarādhyayana
              19. Violence
              20. Vṛtti
              21. Ācārāṅga
              22. Āyāro
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