little knowledge is dangerous, and ignorance (avidya) generates
misconceptions. We have tried to clear some of the fallacies
people have regarding Jainism. Below are few fundamental
questions that arise in the human mind, which have been
WHO AM I?
I am an independent living soul.
WHAT IS A SOUL?
NO one has created this atmadravya or the soul.
It has been in existence from times immemorial. Even after
the death of the body, it continues to exist. This soul
goes on wandering from one body to another; one state of
existence to another; and from under the influence of one
to that of another, as a powerless and dependent entity.
Therefore, this transmigration or wandering has been termed
samsar or the cycle of birth and death.
The soul by means of its various actions and propensities
gathers sinful or blessed karmas. Therefore, the soul is
the doer of Karmas.
The soul is the entity that experiences the effects of Karmas.
The soul that has been bound by Karmas from times immemorial
can also attain moksha or salvation. Only when the soul
becomes absolutely and completely separated from the Karmas,
the body etc. is it deemed to have attained moksha.
These six are termed the six aspects of the soul. The soul
exists. It is permanent and imperishable. It is the doer
of Karmas. It is the one that experiences the effects of
Karmas. It can attain moksha. There is a way to attain moksha
WHAT APPEARED FIRST IN THIS WORLD?
The world has been in existence since infinite time.
HOW IS THE SAMSAR WITHOUT A BEGINNING?
Just as if you look at a circle and cannot determine from
where it has begun or which point on the circle it ends,
in the same way, this universe has been without a beginning.
WHO IS A JAIN?
Some Dharamas in this world bear the names of individuals
or individual Gods and are famous by those names. The Buddha
Dharma is named after the Buddha. The Shaivism is named
after, Lord Shiva the Vaishnavadharma is named after Lord
Vishnu. In the same manner, many other Dharmas in this world
are named after individual prophets or Gods; and are famous
by those names. But the Jain Dharma is not named after any
individual exponent or prophet. It is not named as Rishabh
Dharma after Rishabhdev; or Parshwa Dharma after Parshwanath;
or Mahavir Dharma after Mahavir. Actually the expression
Jain Dharma signifies certain lofty virtues. "Anyone
who has attained an absolute victory over the inner enemies
such as attachments and hatred is called a Jin". The
Dharma that has been expounded by the Jins is called Jainism;
and those who follow the Jin Dharma are called Jains.
Arhat darshan, Syadvad darshan, Anekant darshan, Vitrag
darshan, Jain darshan, Jain Shasan, Jain Dharma are the
other names of Jainism.
Ethics as a philosophical discipline should find answers
to these fundamental questions of human behaviour:
1) How should I live?
2) What sort of person ought I to try to become?
3) What is my duty to others and to myself?
4) What kinds of actions are right and what kinds are wrong?
Mahavira in the line of the 24 Tirthankaras beginning from
Rusabha answered these questions somewhat satisfactorily
from the historical perspective available to him during
599 B. C. to 527 B.C.
1. How should I live?
I should live so as to become ultimately the Paramatman,
the supreme spiritual being. Every soul can attain godhead
when it is perfect. The Jaina ethics is a moksha marga-
Bhagwan Umaswati says, "Samyag-darsana-Jnana-Charitrani
Moksa margah" - Right faith, right knowledge and right
conduct together constitute the path of salvation. These
Triratnas can be achieved fully scrupulously following five
great vows: -
1) Ahimsa 2) Satya 3) Asteya 4) Brahmacharya 5) Aparigraha
The householder should live according to his limitations
and observe the vows as far as possible. But the ascetic
is committed to a strict observance of the vows in letter
2. What sort of person ought I to try to become?
I should try to become a Kevala Jnanin i.e. one
who possesses knowledge par excellence, which is at the
state of complete self-realization when freed from the bondage
of Karma. This last paramarthika stage is punctuated by
a penultimate stage when the seeker possesses avadhi-jnana
(clairvoyance) and manahparyaya (telepathy). Avadhi is concerned
with sense objects in distance place and time whereas manahaparyaya
gives an insight to the psychic events taking place in another's
mind. The Vyavaharika stage of the seeker is testimony to
the presence of ordinary knowledge like Mati and Sruta.
Mati is sense perception and Sruta is knowledge by scriptures.
3. What is my duty to others and to myself?
My duty to others lies in encourage everyone to
keep in view the stage of paramatma and Kevala Jnanin. My
duty to myself is obviously to reach up to the stage of
Paramatman and Kevala Jnanin. The five vows leading to the
attainment of Samyak Charita imply other duties to others
in society. The vows of non-possession or Aparigraha enjoins
all to be content at least with limited possession or Parimita
Parigraha. The home-less holy saint should concentrate his
thought upon his own self-development and perform yoga.
The whole world should be considered as his family (Svadeso
Bhuvana Trayam). All living creatures, men and animals should
claim his affection and attention. Ahimsa is a vow which
enjoins unconditional love to all animate and inanimate
creatures of nature. Ahimsa without satya is of no avail.
Therefore truthfulness to oneself and truthful conduct towards
others are insisted upon. It is these great vows of Satya
Ahimsa that Mahatma Gandhi imbibed within his character
and recommended as possible ingredients of a national character.
4. What kinds of actions are right and what kinds
Those actions are right which strictly pursue
the five great vows. Those actions are wrong which deviate
from these vows.
WHO IS THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE?
No God or any divine power has created the universe and
is ruling over it. The universe is working on account of
the jivas and the Karmas. The Jiva carries out the endeavours
and the karma help the jivas in carrying out these endeavours.
If we do not believe in this doctrine and if we believe
in God is the creator of this universe, many unanswerable
questions arise, such as :
(1) What benefit does God get by being caught in
this mighty dilemma?
(2) Does he create only certain things?
(3) God is said to be merciful. If we believe that God is
the creator of this universe,
does not the question arise why he created
the things that cause sorrows to the
(4) What is the physical form of God with which he carries
out all this work?
(5) How was that form created?
(6) By whom was it created? Etc…
When we think of the answers that can be given to these
questions, we get a peculiar image of God.
(1) If God carries out the task of creation and destruction
without any purpose then it becomes a foolish game.
(2) If he carries out all as a game, he has to be deemed
(3) If the carries out all this work on account of his supreme
grace he would have made all jivas happy and he would have
created things that would have given happiness to all.
(4) It has been said that God is the supreme judge and that
he has created the things that cause sorrow and misery to
punish jivas for their offences.
Apart from these, some other questions also crop up :
(1) If God is creating and ruling over this universe
from where does he carry out
(2) If God has a physical form, who is the creator of this
(3) If God is formless and bodiless how can a formless one
create objects that possess forms?
The substance of all this argument is that God is not the
creator of this universe. If God carries out all these things
in accordance with the Karmas of jivas we have to discard
the doctrine that God is the creator of the universe because
the task of creation is carried out by Karmas. Huge Mountain,
mighty rivers, etc., are created by Karmas.
IS JAIN DHARMA A UNIVERSAL RELIGION?
There is no single founder or a single exponent
or prophet for Jainism; but Jainism has accepted and honoured
him who possessed such virtues as vitragata (the conquest
of the inner enemies), Omniscience, truthfulness and has
accepted such a person for its founder or exponent.
The Jain Dharma comprises such magnificent tatvas as the
principles of Ahimsa or non-violence; the Anekantvad etc,
and those doctrines can help the people of the world to
face and solve all their vexations and agonizing problems.
Therefore, the Jain Dharma can be surely called a Universal
religion or a universally beneficial religion.
Once Shri Devdas Gandhi the son of Mahatma Gandhi happened
to ask the famous British dramatist and thinker. "If
the existence of the other world is reality; if the soul
can transmigrate and be reborn, what kind of existence do
you prefer in the next Janma ?"
Bernard Shaw replied, "I wish to be born as a Jain."
Devadas again said "There are crores of Hindus who
believe in the next Janma and the other world. Leaving them
aside, why do you want to be born as a Jain?"
Bernard Shaw said, "According to the Jain Dharma
there is no single supreme being who is Ishwara or the Paramatma.
Everyone can attain spiritual elevation and become a Paramatma.
Then why should I not try to become a Paramatma?" The
Jain Dharma prescribes the gradual means by which we can
attain that spiritual elevation. The steps prescribed for
the attainment of spiritual perfection are essentially scientific.
In this respect they are unique.