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Acharanga Bhasyam: Preface To Chapter VIII

Published: 29.04.2011
Updated: 02.07.2015

The caption of this chapter is 'Liberation'. In this chapter, the process of liberation from worldly relationship is explained. This is the reason why this chapter is called liberation. There are eight sections in it. Their topics are as follows:

  1. Avoiding the association with heretics.
  2. Avoiding unexpectable food etc.
  3. Deliverance from doubt.
  4. Deliverance from outfit and body, and practising the approved course of death.
  5. Sickness and fasting.
  6. Loneliness and fasting unto death in mobile state.
  7. Intensive penance and fasting unto death in motionless state.
  8. Fasting unto preceeded by attenuation of passions.[1]

In connection with linguistic analysis of words, the liberation, in essence, is two kinds - partial liberation and complete liberation. The associa-tion with karmic matter is bondage and separation from bondage is liberation. At the stage of worldly life, the liberation is partial; in disembodied liberation, it is complete.

In the time of Lord Mahāvῑra, there were plenty of religious orders. Many religious teachers and religious men were wandering all over the country nourishing their doctrines and practising their disciplines. There were free meetings and discussions. The discipline of nirgraṅthas (bondless ascetics) was very strict and difficult. The discipline of other religious teachers were comparatively easier. There would be easy attraction towards them for the newly initiated disciples, seeking easy life. In the milieu of different doctrines, many disciples were alsp felt confounded. In the context of such situation, the Sūtra mentions avoiding of heretics. A monk must keep away from situations, where there is violence, theft and false doctrines.

With reference to the false doctrines, the Sūtra mentioned a many. Those doctrines were devoted to absolutistic views, and, therefore, the religion of those thinkers was not well-explained and well-propounded.[2] It follows from this that only such religion was well-explained and well-propounded which stood for rightly oriented standpoint or non-absolutism.

In the present scripture, the Lord is qualified by the attribute—'one possessed of instantanious wisdom'. The attribute 'omniscient' is not found here. In the Sutrakṛtāṅga, the attributes: possessed of instantanious wisdom,[3] benign wisdom,[4] great wisdom[5] are available, but not the attribute 'omniscient'. The doctrine of omniscience is an integral part of the Jaina doctrine. It appears that it was established in later times. In the Sutrakṛtāṅga, the second Aṅga of Jaina Āgama., the word kevali (possessed of pure and complete knowledge) is used.[6] There the expression—'possessor of infinite knowledge,[7] possessor of infinite intuition,[8] possessor of infinite vision'[9] - are also available. This shows that the notion of omniscience was embodied in the ancient scripture, but it was firmly established in later time.

In the modern Jaina epistemology, the class of extra-sensory perception comprise clairvoyance, mind-reading and omniscience. The word 'prajña' indicates extra-sensory perception. In modern Jaina epistemology, there is no mention of this word. Therefore, it can be surmised that the earlier notion of omniscience was expressed by the expression 'one possessed of instantaneous wisdom', while the notion of omniscience was a later development. In the ninth chapter, the word chadmastha, that is, one possessed of the cover of ignorance is found mentioned.[10] Even a person in the twelfth stage of spiritual development, who has destroyed all passions, is possessed of the cover of ignorance. The destruction of the state of ignorance is achieved at the thirteenth stage of spiritual development. And therefore it appears that the acceptance of the doctrine of omniscience was clearly made in the Ācārāṅga. A detailed exposition of the concept of omniscience was made in elaborate Jaina epistemology. In the present chapter, the reconciliation of the ascetic disciplines with the clothing and without clothing is found. There were four kinds of monks with respect to their clothing - the monks who possessed three pieces of cloth, two pieces, one piece and no clothing. All these monks were followers of dispensation of the Jina. One should practise equanimity with respect to the issue of clothing. This comprehensive attitude appears to be the seed of reconciliation.

In the present chapter, the well-ordered discipline of meeting death in meditation is expounded. This is a peculiar aspect of the Jaina ascetic discipline. Lord Mahāvīra knew the heart of the science of living as well as the heart of the science of dying in meditation.

This chapter as propounding these very deep topics is as unfathomable as the ocean.


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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. Aṅga
  2. Body
  3. Chadmastha
  4. Clairvoyance
  5. Discipline
  6. Equanimity
  7. Fasting
  8. JAINA
  9. Jaina
  10. Jina
  11. Karmic matter
  12. Kevali
  13. Lord Mahāvῑra
  14. Mahāvīra
  15. Meditation
  16. Niryukti
  17. Non-absolutism
  18. Science
  19. Science Of Living
  20. Sūtra
  21. Violence
  22. Ācārāṅga
  23. Āgama
  24. Āyāro
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