Kundakunda on the Modal Modification of Omniscient Jīvas

Published: 24.10.2017
Updated: 06.11.2017


The whole of Jaina theoretical and practical enterprise is based on the notions of perfection and perfectibility. Even though perfection is not attainable in our time and place, its attainability is supported by the lives of the many omniscients (kevalin), perfect beings of the past and present,[1] who reached perfection by way of progress through their individual efforts. Their perfection is expressed as the full manifestation of their essential qualities (guṇa), namely, consciousness (cetanā), energy (vīrya), and bliss (sukha), achieved by the complete release of destructive (ghātiyā) karmans that used to hinder them. They attained perfection while still embodied in a human form, the only bodily state in which jīvas are capable of completely actualizing their potential in the sense of fully perfecting themselves. The achievement of perfection is, thus, not synonymus with the release from saṃsāra and a kevalin attains liberation (mokṣa) only once all non-destructive karmans that determine bodily existence run out as well. However, the nondestructive types of karman do not in any way impede the perfect operation of kevalin's qualities. Moreover, the achievement of kevala is irreversible, meaning that perfection lasts forever from the moment it is accomplished (cf. Jaini 2001a: 102, 105-6).[2]

With reference to the Jaina author Kundakunda, the present paper strives to understand the ontological nature of omniscience (kevala-jñāna) as the perfect mode (paryāya) of cetanā.[3]

The main issue that the paper will address is whether cetanā of a kevalin continues to modally change or whether Kundakunda allows for some existents that are wholly devoid of modal modification. Being perfect, kevala-jñāna indicates a reaching of a certain modal manifestation of cetanā that cannot be surpassed, and since the Jaina doctrine, as indicated above, denies the possibility of a digression from a perfect to a less-than-perfect level, kevala-jñāna once reached is forever. In the sense of not being able to be bettered or worsened, that is, not being able to undergo qualitative change as a cognitive faculty,[4] it is unchangeable, stable, permanent. An anticipated implication of a mechanism with such a clearly marked interminable pinnacle would be that kevala-jñāna is a state rather than a process, representing a single everlasting mode of cetanā. That would, however, contradict and, thereby, compromise Kundakunda's general ontological descriptions of the dynamics of all substances (dravya) as being characterized by a coordinated relationship between permanence and change rather than a subordinate relationship between the two on the one hand or a complete absence of either one or the other on the other hand. The Pravacana-sāra I.10 and II.4 read:[5]

ṇatthi viṇā pariṇāmaṃ attho atthaṃ viṇeha pariṇāmo /

davvaguṇapajjayattho attho atthittanivvatto //

There is no object without modification, there is here no modification without an object. The object, being substance, quality, and mode, is developed from existence.[6]

sabbhāvo hi sahāvo guṇehiṃ saha pajjaehiṃ cittehiṃ /

davvassa savvakālaṃ uppādavvayadhuvattehiṃ //

The nature of existence is indeed the own-nature of substance with qualities [and] its own variegated modes, at all times with coming forth, passing away, and continuity.[7]

According to these statements, every object (artha) undergoes modification (pariṇāma) in the form of continuously arising (utpāda) and passing (vyaya) modes, a characteristic that is to the same degree as permanence imprinted in the very nature of existence (sad-bhāva). If one were to insist on the universality of this permanence-in-change ontology, the reasoning that the cetanā of a kevalin no longer undergoes modal change would have to be incorrect. As an existent object, kevalin's jīva is by definition a substance that possesses qualities and modes, with the latter being variegated (citra) and in constant flux.

Are the perfect cognitive functions of a kevalin, then, static or dynamic? The same question applies to the other qualities of kevalins, that is, vīrya and sukha, which like the quality of cetanā perform perfectly without the possibility of improvement or digression. The present paper will analyze the quality of cetanā only, for the most part discussing kevala-jñāna, which Kundakunda mentions most frequently, and to a lesser extent perfect perception (kevaladarśana), the other component of the two-fold application (upayoga)[8] of cetanā. However, a similar course of analysis could also be applied to the other essential qualities of perfect jīvas. The objective of this paper, then, represents one aspect of a broader endeavor to grasp the meaning of perfection in an ontological model that accepts permanence and change as coexisting and equally real.

The paper will consult four of Kundakunda's texts, that is, the Pañcāstikāya-sāra (Paṃcatthiya-saṃgaha), the Pravacana-sāra (Pavayaṇa-sāra), the Niyama-sāra, and the Samaya-sāra. Throughout the analysis, these texts will not be considered as reflecting a single unified thought of Kundakunda and the diversity between them will be highlighted. Concerning the topic at hand, the discrepancy between some of the texts is, in fact, quite significant. As will be further elaborated later on, the texts propose two rather divergent definitions of kevala-jñāna with respect to the object(s) of cognition. One suggests that a kevalin cognizes all objects and the other that the actual object of perfect cognition is only one's self (ātman).[9] This is one of the reasons why Kundakunda's thought is particularly interesting with regard to the issue that will be addressed. The paper will investigate whether the noted divergence between

Kundakunda's definitions of kevala-jñāna in any way affects its ontological status in relation to the issue of change.

Apart from that, Kundakunda also seems a suitable choice to study with respect to the outlined problem since he is one of the early Jaina thinkers that understand kevala-darśana and kevalajñāna to be two aspects of the application of cetanā that function simultaneously rather than successively.[10] For example, in his Niyama-sāra 159, he says:

jugavaṃ vaṭṭai ṇāṇaṃ kevalaṇāṇissa daṃsaṇaṃ ca tahā /

diṇayarapayāsatāpaṃ jaha vaṭṭai taha muṇeyavvaṃ //

It should be known that just as light and heat of the sun exist [simultaneously], so jñāna and darśana of one who is endowed with omniscient knowledge exist simultaneously.[11]

Jayandra Soni explains that if the operation of kevala-darśana and kevala-jñāna was successive, a kevalin "would always be deprived of one or the other of these qualities, even though both qualities are in a perfected, unhindered condition" (Soni 1991: 83, cf. Singh 1974: 62-7). This characteristic of the simultaneous (yugapad) existence of the two perfect cognitive functions in an omniscient being (kevala-jñānin) distinguishes the extraordinary, perfect operation of cetanā from its ordinary, imperfect operation where jñāna is preceded by darśana. The simultaneity of the two cognitive operations is very significant for the purpose of this paper, since it does away with the possible explanation that the dynamics present in the perfect cetanā are that of kevala-darśana and kevala-jñāna functioning separately, one after another, taking turns, in the sense of one perfectly capturing the objects of its cognitive grasp for a moment, upon which the other one takes over, and so forth. In short, the issue that this paper is concerned with is whether, while simultaneously functioning with kevala-darśana and regardless of what object it is grasping, kevala-jñāna can still fit some type of a permanence-in-change ontological model, keeping in line with the seemingly universal statements that Kundakunda's texts propound. Although there exist several studies on the topic of kevala-jñāna in Jainism, it seems that none so far have addressed this particular issue in detail.[12]


The present paper will approach the outlined problem by looking at what possible ontological models of kevala-jñāna even present themselves in Kundakunda's texts and then by exploring whether change has any place in them. As was already noted, kevala-jñāna as a perfect cognitive process cannot suffer any qualitative change, from which follows that if change is to be an integral part of kevala-jñāna, if will need to be change of a different kind. Various possibilities for this will be explored. To systematize the analysis of Kundakunda's accounts of kevala-jñāna in order to examine which possible ontological models might be construed on their basis, they will be looked at in two groups they roughly fall into: (1) those with respect to what object(s) a kevalin cognizes, which are principally epistemological in nature and (2) those with respect to the nature of kevala-jñāna itself, where epistemological descriptions are commonly accompanied by ontological accounts.

As already noted, with regard to the objects that kevala-jñāna grasps, Kundakunda's texts propose two different interpretations, with the second not quite opposing but rather subsuming the first. The first (1a) description defines kevala-jñāna as the knowledge of everything and the second (1b) as the knowledge of the self, which is mistakenly understood as the knowledge of everything from the vyavahāra-naya, that is, the ordinary or worldly point of view. The first (1a) understanding of kevala-jñāna can be found particularly prominently in the Pañcāstikāyasāra and the Pravacana-sāra. For example in the Pañcāstikāya-sāra 151, Kundakunda says:

kammassabhāveṇa ya savvaṇhū savvalogadarasī ya /


With the nonexistence of karmans, [one is] all-knowing and perceiving all cosmos


Once the karmic veil that sullies the cognitive functions is lifted, one becomes all-knowing (sarvajña) and perceiving all cosmos (sarva-loka-darśin).  In the Pravacana-sāra I.21, the "all" that a kevalin knows is articulated as "all dravyas and paryāyas" (sarva-dravya-paryāya), which are immediate (pratyakṣa), that is, cognized directly:

pariṇamado khalu ṇāṇaṃ paccakkhā savvadavvapajjāyā /


For one who is transforming into knowledge, all substances and modes are immediate


According to this interpretation, a kevalin then directly, without the interference of the senses or any other karmic factors,[15] knows every single dravya and every one of their paryāyas in the whole of cosmos (loka). How precisely does this work? For one, such cognition does not occur gradually. As noted, Kundakunda understands the perfect functioning of cetanā to operate in the form of the simultaneous activity of kevala-darśana and kevala-jñāna. Perfection is, therefore, not gradually accumulated but rather experienced in full. Every dravya and every paryāya must be cognized in every single moment. Furthermore, Kundakunda does not understand the simultaneous operation of kevala-darśana and kevala-jñāna in the sense of them functioning together in each moment in time, knowing all dravyas with all of their current paryāyas in one particular moment and then all dravyas with all of their subsequent paryāyas in the next. Even though simultaneously grasping the whole of reality in each particular moment, this type of cognition would inevitably arrive at partial knowledge only, omitting an infinity of past and future paryāyas of all dravyas in each instance. Insisting on the simultaneity of knowing every single dravya with all the paryāyas that ever were, are, and will be, Kundakunda extends perfect cognition from the present into the past and the future, remarking in the Pravacana-sāra I.48:

jo ṇa vijāṇadi jugavaṃ atthe tikkālige tihuvaṇatthe /

ṇāduṃ tassa ṇa sakkaṃ sapajjayaṃ davvam egaṃ vā //

He who does not simultaneously know the objects in the three times, located in the three worlds is not able to know even a single dravya with [its] paryāyas.[16]

It should be underlined that kevalin's cognition is not omnipresent only temporally in all the three times (traikālika) but also spatially, for it extends, as Kundakunda says, to all of the three worlds (tribhuvana), that is, the upper, middle, and lower parts of cosmos. One whose cognition is not pervasive in both of the manners stated, says Kundakunda, is not able to properly know even a single dravya with its paryāyas. Whoever does not know all, cannot even know one. In order to follow through with such an unconditional statement, he must add that, in fact, as he highlights in the Pravacana-sāra I.23, kevalin's cognition extends also beyond cosmos:

ādā ṇāṇapamāṇaṃ ṇāṇaṃ ṇeyappamāṇam uddiṭṭhaṃ /

ṇeyaṃ loyāloyaṃ tamhā ṇāṇaṃ tu savvagayaṃ //

The self is described as having the extent of knowledge [and] knowledge the extent of the knowable. The knowable is the loka and aloka, therefore knowledge is allpervading.[17]

The stretch of kevalin's cognition is, thus, entirely unbounded. All-pervading (sarva-gata), it reaches objects infinitely far away in space and time. Yet, it equally well also grasps objects that are nearby, the closest of those being the kevalin itself.

The next step after illuminating the scope and nature of the cognized content according to the first (1a) definition is to investigate what kind of ontological interpretations of the cognitive process based on this definition are conceivable and whether it is possible to incorporate change into them. Since kevala-jñāna as a cognitive faculty has been demonstrated to be qualitatively stable and since this part of the analysis revolves around cognitive content, it seems appropriate to examine cognitive content itself with regard to the possible dynamic nature of kevala-jñāna. Could the change in kevala-jñāna come from the cognized content rather than from the cognitive faculty?

Since Kundakunda insists on the temporal and spatial omnipresence of kevalin's knowledge, it seems that there is not much room for the inclusion of change in the cognitive content. Precisely because knowledge is co-extensive with the knowable (jñeya-pramāṇa), as Kundakunda says in the above-mentioned Pravacana-sāra I.23, changes in the knowable - once it is all known - cannot affect the process of knowing. Even though the objects that kevala-jñāna cognizes are themselves incessantly modally changing, the past, present, and future paryāyas are all grasped at the same time. This means that the cognitive content pertaining to kevala-jñāna does not qualitatively change in the sense of a kevalin perfectly cognizing an altered modal variation of reality in different moments in time. Since future paryāyas are already known, it cannot be so that the kevalin's perfect cognition could continue adjusting to the momentary modal changes in the constellation of reality. Any such change would indicate a lack of complete knowledge, impairing perfection.[18] Such all-inclusive cognitive content of kevala-jñāna, furthermore, cannot quantitatively change in the sense of a kevalin cognizing less at a certain moment in time and more at another.[19] In line with the definition of kevala-jñāna as simultaneous and omnipresent knowledge of all dravyas and paryāyas, the cognitive content is, then, qualitatively and quantitatively invariable. This means that if kevala-jñāna is to be characterized by change, the change cannot come from the cognitive content as defined here.

The other (1b) definition of kevala-jñāna with respect to the cognitive object is kevala-jñāna as perfect knowledge of the self. As has already been indicated, Kundakunda does not simply reject the first definition of kevala-jñāna as knowledge of all dravyas and paryāyas by introducing a novel one. He rather subsumes the first definition under the second by relating it to the worldly frame of reference. The two-tiered definition is found in an articulate form in the Niyama-sāra. In Niyama-sāra 158, Kundakunda says:

jāṇadi passadi savvaṃ vavahāraṇaeṇa kevalī bhagavaṃ /

kevalaṇāṇī jāṇadi passadi ṇiyameṇa appāṇaṃ //

From the worldly point of view, a venerable kevalin knows and perceives all, (but) invariably one endowed with perfect knowledge knows and perceives one's self.[20]

So whereas from the worldly point of view, a kevalin is thought to cognize all dravyas and paryāyas, the cognized object is actually one's self, and kevala-jñāna, therefore, incurvatus in se. The Samaya-sāra mainly speaks about the relationship between the self and karmic matter, while hardly even mentioning the other substances. Such definitions as were noted to feature in the Pañcāstikāya-sāra and the Pravacana-sāra are absent and the focus is directed to knowing the self. The Samaya-sāra 14 describes the self as the object of cognition from the pure point of view (śuddha-naya) in the following way:

jo passadi appāṇaṃ abaddhapuṭṭhaṃ aṇaṇṇayaṃ ṇiyadaṃ /

avisesam asaṃjuttaṃ taṃ suddhaṇayaṃ vijāṇīhi //

Recognize him who perceives the self to be unbound and untouched, without another, constant, without difference, and uncombined as one with a pure view.[21]

The thought continues in the Samaya-sāra 15:

jo passadi appāṇaṃ abaddhapuṭṭhaṃ aṇaṇṇam avisesaṃ /

apadesasuttamajjhaṃ passadi jiṇasāsaṇaṃ savvaṃ //

He who perceives the self to be unbound and untouched, without another, and without difference, perceives the whole doctrine of the jinas, which is the core of the scriptures.

In contrast to the previous principle of the necessity of knowing all so as to even know one, now knowing one, or rather, the one, becomes knowing all.

From an ontological perspective, it is important to investigate whether this difference in the definition of cognitive content unlocks any opportunities for integrating change into the operation of kevala-jñāna. The cognitive object is one and the same self, constant (niyata) and without difference (aviśeṣa) in perfection. The main issue that this paper revolves around, that is, whether the perfected self has one or many paryāyas, has not yet been resolved, but the answer to it is at this point of discussion quite irrelevant. Since kevalin's cognition simultaneously grasps all past, present, and future paryāyas, their number does not make a difference. Even if there was an infinite number of past paryāyas, a single present paryāya, and no future paryāyas, all that are knowable would be known. Nor does it matter whether all knowable paryāyas belong to only one dravya as is the case with the second (1b) definition currently examined, or an infinity of them as was the case with the first (1a) definition.[22] Whatever the focus, all there was, is, and will be within that focus is cognized and it is owing to this all-pervasive character of perfect cognition that also in the case of cognizing only a single dravya of the self, cognitive content is both quantitatively and qualitatively stable.

Both definitions that describe kevala-jñāna with regard to its cognitive object, then, affirm that the changing dynamics of kevala-jñāna cannot originate in the content of its cognition, it being qualitatively and quantitatively steady. Earlier, it was also affirmed that kevala-jñāna itself as perfect knowledge cannot qualitatively change, that impossibility belonging to the very nature of perfection as it is conceived in Jainism. Is there an alternative ontological model that would tolerate the qualitative stability of kevala-jñāna and the qualitative and quantitative stability of its content, yet still permit some sort of dynamics?


In order to explore the possible solutions to this question, it is important to examine the second (2) set of descriptions of kevala-jñāna that were mentioned, namely, the definitions that touch on the nature of kevala-jñāna itself and in addition provide the ontological bases for the epistemologies they introduce. A significant example (2a) of such a definition is found in the Niyama-sāra 10-15, which describes how the perfect modes of cetanā come about and what their nature is. Kundakunda says:

jīvo uvaogamao uvaogo ṇāṇadaṃsaṇo hoī /

ṇāṇuvaogo duviho sahāvaṇāṇaṃ vibhāvaṇāṇaṃ tti //

kevalam iṃdiyarahiyaṃ asahāyaṃ taṃ sahāvaṇāṇaṃ tti /


taha daṃsaṇauvaogo sasahāvedaraviyappado duviho /

kevalam iṃdiyarahiyaṃ asahāyaṃ taṃ sahāvam idi bhaṇidaṃ //


pajjāo duviyappo saparāvekkho ya ṇiravekkho //

ṇāraṇārayatiriyasurā pajjāyā te vibhāvam idi bhaṇidā /

kammopādhivivajjiyapajjāyā te sahāvam idi bhaṇidā //

Jīva is made of upayoga. Upayoga is towards jñāna and darśana. Jñāna-upayoga is of two kinds - innately produced jñāna and non-innately produced jñāna. Innately produced jñāna is perfect, unassisted by senses, and independent. [...] In that manner darśana-upayoga is also of two kinds, with a variety of the innate and the other. It is said that the innate one is perfect, unassisted by senses, and independent. [...] A mode has two varieties - dependent on itself and others and independent. Human, hellish, subhuman, and heavenly [states] are said to be non-innately produced modes. Modes that are free from the limitations of karman are said to be innately produced.

It was already during the course of the discussion about the first (1a) definition that the direct nature of kevala-jñāna was remarked upon. Kevala-jñāna was described as the immediate type of cognition, meaning that it arises without any interference of karmic factors.[23] According to the criterium of whether the modal manifestations of darśana and jñāna occur in dependence on or independently of (nirapekṣa, asahāya) external factors, the above-cited Niyama-sāra 10- 15 distinguishes between darśana and jñāna arising from their own-nature (svabhāva), that is, innately, and darśana and jñāna arising in dependence on external factors (vibhāva), that is, non-innately. Innately produced darśana and jñāna are kevala-darśana and kevala-jñāna, and these are free from the limitations of karman (karma-upādhi-vivarjita). Could this definition help in figuring out the ontology of kevala-darśana and kevala-jñāna? Does an innately produced mode indicate a specific kind of ontology and does it necessarily mean a singular mode in opposition to the manifold character of non-innately produced modes? The Niyama-sāra and the Pravacana-sāra provide two examples of modal dynamics with regard to innately produced modes that may prove productive for the issue at stake. The first (2b) relates to the substance of matter (pudgala) and the second (2c) to the substance of time (kāla). In a section where Kundakunda speaks about pudgala as existing in the form of basic particles (paramāṇu) and aggregates (skandha) thereof, the above-noted division between svabhāva and vibhāva paryāyas recurs. He describes the modification of basic particles, which possess the guṇas of colour, taste, smell, and touch, as innately produced and that of pudgala in the aggregate form (skandha-svarūpa) as non-innately produced. In the Niyama-sāra 28 he says:

aṇṇaṇirāvekkho jo pariṇāmo so sahāvapajjāvo /

khaṃdhasarūveṇa puṇo pariṇāmo so vihāvapajjāyo //

Modification [of basic particles] that is independent of the other is an innately produced mode. However, modification in the aggregate form is a non-innately produced mode.

This means that like perfected jīvas, basic material particles also have only innately produced modes that arise independently of the other (anya-nirapekṣa), that is, external factors. What is significant to note with the example of pudgala is that the modes of material particles are, according to the Pravacana-sāra, unambiguously plural in number in the case of at least one guṇa, that is, the guṇa of touch (sparśa). What is more, they are qualitatively changing. In the second śruta-skandha of the Pravacana-sāra, basic particles are described as qualitatively changing along the guṇa of touch in the degrees of dryness (rūkṣatva) and cohesiveness (snigdhatva) and it is precisely these modal modifications that enable basic particles to join into aggregates.[24] The Pravacana-sāra II.73 explains:

ṇiddhā vā lukkhā vā aṇupariṇāmā samā va visamā vā /

samado durādhigā jadi bajjhanti hi ādiparihīṇā //

The cohesive and dry transformations of particles, either even or odd, join when in a state of two degrees more than even [...].[25]

This is a very interesting example of modal modification, which topples the idea that an innately produced paryāya must be single only. Paryāyas of material particles are produced innately, yet they are many. From this follows, that also paryāyas of kevala-jñāna could potentially be many. Another point that the example of the modal modification of material particles establishes is that innately produced modes can be qualitatively changing, meaning that qualitative change is not always dependent on the presence of an external factor. This, however, is also a feature in which the modal modification of material particles deviates from the case of kevala-jñāna, which is qualitatively stable. The case of material particles (2b), thus, proves useful for the issue of the dynamics of perfect jīvas but only to a certain extent.

Shortly after the description of pudgala in the above-cited Niyama-sāra 28, Kundakunda  moves on to explain the nature of the immaterial inanimate substances of space (ākāśa), medium of motion (dharma), medium of rest (adharma), and kāla. In the Niyama-sāra 33, he says the following (2c) with regard to their modal dynamics:


dhammādicaoseṇaṃ sahāuguṇapajjayā hoṃti //


The four [substances] of dharma etc. [= adharma, ākāśa, and kāla] have innately produced modes and attributes.

Like the perfect jīvas and basic material particles, the four immaterial inanimate substances also have innately produced paryāyas. Further descriptions of the nature of the independent modal modification of these substances are very scarce in all of the texts analyzed here, with the exception of those concerning the substance of kāla.[26] Kundakunda describes the modal dynamics of kāla by referring to basic material particles. In the second śruta-skandha of the Pravacana-sāra, he explains that a single basic material particle gives measure to a single space-point (pradeśa).[27] In the Pravacana-sāra II.46 and II.47, he utilizes this definition to clarify the modal character of kāla:

samao du appadeso padesamettassa davvajādassa /

vadivadado so vaṭṭadi padesam āgāsadavvassa //

vadivadado taṃ desaṃ tassama samao tado paro puvvo /

jo attho so kālo samao uppaṇṇapaddhaṃsī //

A moment is without space-points. It occurs while that substance the measure of which is a space-point [i.e. material particle] crosses a space-point of the substance of space. A moment is equivalent to the crossing of the space-point. The object which is before and after that is kāla. A moment is originated and passing away.[28]

This account very much agrees with the descriptions of the general dynamics of substances that were mentioned at the beginning of the paper. Kāla is the substance that persists throughout the origination (utpanna) and passing away (pradhvaṃsa) of its paryāyas, which are referred to as moments (samaya). Each samaya lasts as long as a single material particle takes to cross a single space-point. According to this criterium, which is the only one stated, samayas as the paryāyas of kāla are matching. In this correspondance, the samayas of kāla differ from the multifarious paryāyas of the guṇa of touch belonging to basic material particles. With it, the possibility of an existence of a dravya with a succession of paryāyas that are innately produced but do not undergo qualitative change, is established. The changing character of kāla would in this case not refer to a change in kind or amount. It would rather indicate the coming and going of the particular elements of the modal sequence and these elements would - despite the continuous progression of their coming and going - remain qualitatively identical to one another. Might such also be the ontology of perfect jīvas?


At the beginning of this paper, a series of qualitatively different paryāyas of perfect cetanā was excluded as impossible from the moment of the attainment of perfection. Throughout the discussion, which discarded the possibility of change in the perfect cetanā arising from cognitive content, the alternative to a series of qualitatively different paryāyas proposed was either a single everlasting perfect paryāya or a series of paryāyas that would not suffer qualitative but another type of change. As pointed out, in the case of the first, the dynamic nature of jīvas' cognitive functions would be concluded with the attainment of perfection. Despite the changing of everything else, kevalins would be characterized by staticity only. In the case of the second, however, modal dynamics of jīvas' cognitive functions would not simply stop when reaching perfection but rather take on a different character than before. By drawing parallels with the modal modification of kāla, a possible ontological model for the perfect cognition of jīvas, retaining both permanence and change, emerged. According to this model, modal change of perfect cognition would stand for a momentary arising of qualitatively identical modes of kevala-jñāna and kevala-darśana.[29] Such a model would match the general ontological descriptions of reality as marked by both permanence and change, as well as facilitate the everlasting perfection of kevalins.

In the Pravacana-sāra, however, Kundakunda's ontological account of kevalins seems to depart from the general ontological descriptions that the accounts of kāla are so perfectly accommodating. For example, the Pravacana-sāra I.17 says:

bhaṃgavihīṇo ya bhavo saṃbhavaparivajjido viṇāso hi /

vijjadi tass' eva puṇo ṭhidisaṃbhavaṇāsasamavāyo //

In the case of him [i.e. a kevalin] becoming is without destruction and decay devoid of production. Moreover, he is the coming together of stability, production, and loss.

Such a description is a turning upside down of his statement in the Pravacana-sāra II.8, where he - employing the same terminology - says exactly the opposite about existents in general:

ṇa bhavo bhaṃgavihīṇo bhaṃgo vā ṇatthi saṃbhavavihīṇo /


Becoming is not without destruction and neither is destruction without production.


Whereas in the case of all existing entities, becoming (bhava) is accompanied by destruction (bhaṅga) and destruction by production (saṃbhava), in the special case of kevalins becoming is without destruction and decay (vināśa) without production. Thus, kevalins represent a point of the coming together (samavāya) of stability (sthiti), production (saṃbhava), and loss (nāśa). What could such a statement indicate? At no point does Kundakunda reduce the ontology of kevalins to absolute permanence only. It seems that he merely plays around with the same terminology that he uses to illustrate the general ontological dynamics, drawing attention to the fact that in the case of kevalins the ordinary relations between paryāyas start to crumble. Why does he do that?

A reason for it may be to highlight the ontologically unique nature of kevala or more specifically, the exceptional modal condition of kevalins. The fact that on their path to perfection jīvas qualitatively change from being imperfect to perfect is an aspect in which the ontological condition of jīvas fundamentally differs from that of all the other substances. It differs from basic material particles, since these are always qualitatively changing. Yet, it also differs from the substance of kāla, even though they might eventually both comprise of a series of identical paryāyas. The paryāyas of kāla, which were interpreted as qualitatively identical to one another, always were, are, and will be innately produced and qualitatively identical, whereas among jīvas, only kevalins possess modes that come about without any external influence and no longer suffer qualitative change. Perhaps Kundakunda, then, utilizes the above-noted wordplay to draw attention to the divide between the modal condition before and after the jīvas' attainment of perfection and the exceptional ontological event that is the transition from one to the other. If the ontology of the perfect condition of cetanā were to consist of a series of qualitatively identical paryāyas, this series may, indeed, be described as one where becoming occurs, yet iswithout destruction, since the arising of any new mode would not impair the perfection of their predecessor, and likewise, it may also be described as one where destruction is not accompanied by production, since the decay of any old mode - qualitatively speaking - would not bring about anything new. Due to the attainment of perfection, the old modal relations would converge but not collapse into an immutable existence. This model of the dynamic, yet unique nature of the perfect cognitive functions of jīvas which preserves the universal character of Jaina ontology seems more credible than the alternative static model which disrupts it. 


NS - Niyama-sāra

PañS - Pañcāstikāya-sāra

PS - Pravacana-sāra

SS - Samaya-sāra


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