FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


The mind of human beings has throughout the ages been conditioned by the external environment, made up of superstition, education, cultural discipline, theories and dogmas and such other things because of which the mind is not allowed to flourish in its own nature in total freedom. The result is that the human mind is enchained by divisions and conflicts, so much so, that it has almost lost its wholesome vision of totality and indivisible truth.

 

A 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 adequately answered.


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 and spirit.

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 are wrong?
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
      jivas ?
(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 a child.
(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
      these actions?
(2) If God has a physical form, who is the creator of this fore?
(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.