Love In Jainism - Message From Acharya Mahaprajna

Published: 13.10.2006
Updated: 13.02.2008

THUS SPOKE MAHAVIR

Jo sahassam sahassaanam
Samgaame dujjae jine
Egam jinejja appaanam
Esa se paramo jao

One who vanquishes millions of warriors in an invincible war still loses out to another who has conquered his mind and senses - as the latter is the ultimate victory.

According to Jain philosophy, non-violence, sociability, compassion and peaceful co-existence are the forms of love par excellence. In the context of worldly affairs, the meaning of the word ‘love’ is the feeling of attachment to and affection for the body or material objects. A person unites himself or herself with another person only with the thread of love. Without physical love, the institution of family cannot come into existence: the mother cannot care for her child, nor can the organization become strong. There is no doubt that love imposes its sense of unity on what is otherwise perceived as duality.

Yet bodily love often becomes a cause of conflict and malice among people. This kind of love does not belong to the ‘pure category,’ but, because it is inevitable for sustenance of life, it falls under the category of “mine-ness” (mamatva) or possessiveness.

Bhagwan Mahavir has classified ‘possession’ into three types:

  1. Love for body
  2. Love for material objects
  3. Possession of Karmic Sanskars (imprints of past actions on consciousness).

The first two kinds of love fall into the category of ‘mamatva.’ There is a concomitance between mamatva and fear. The apprehension that ‘something wrong may happen to the body’ or ‘that whatever I have may be lost’ generates tension, which continues to lurk over man knowingly or unknowingly. Therefore, in the category of mamatva, love is a mixture of both happiness and suffering.

Spiritual love necessarily implies submission and total absorption of the self into the ideal. There is extensive discussion about it in the Jain system of meditation and also in the Jain poems composed in the form of eulogy and devotion. The following verse from the Kalyan Mandir (one of the most famous eulogistic Jain poems) may be cited as a self-explanatory proof for it:

“O Lord! When you are in my heart, all my bondages get shattered, all my problems get solved just as the snakes at once run away from the tree of Sandalwood with the arrival of the peacocks.”

One can only feel but cannot describe how much the heart of a devotee is replete with bliss and affection.

No individual with self-consciousness would like to become a peon, slave or a servant. In the Jain tradition, high-esteem is given more importance than humility. High esteem is towards one’s ideal.

Humility is an explicit form of love. High esteem is an implicit form of love. An individual with devotion surrenders himself to the Ideal by dissolving his ego. There is a natural awakening of the feelings of submission in an individual who has an unshakable faith in his religion or his ideal. Love for religion and love for the ideal are sublime and spiritual. The wider the horizon of affection, the more is the development of consciousness and this ultimately leads one to the path of supreme welfare and real truth. “Anuragat viragah” - detachment is born out of affection. This saying points to this reality. The path of affection born out of worldly attachments leads towards materialism, while pure consciousness is the destination of love that arises from the dissolution of delusion. The affection born out of delusion creates illusion in human beings. Very often, people give utmost importance only to material objects, wealth and sexual lust. The affection for religion takes root only when delusion wanes. Although materialistic attachment is inevitable for sustenance of life, the affection for religion is imperative for truthful life.

One special characteristic has been mentioned for a Shravak (devotee) of Lord Mahavir: ”Atthiminjapemaanuraagaratta” (Bhagavati, 2/94):

The devotees’ affection for religion penetrates their bones and marrow. For absolute love and total submission, it is imperative that bones and marrow should be saturated with affection. Genuine love becomes deeply cultivated and gets transformed into Sanskar i.e., it is deeply imprinted on the mind. Only love that becomes deeply rooted penetrates the bones and marrow. Just as love born out of worldly attachment may penetrate the bone and marrow, so may spiritual love. One may ask: If love is dominated with worldly attachment, then how can worldly attachment and renunciation be made compatible?

We can trace out the source of compatibility between worldly attachment and renunciation by keeping in view the philosophy of Anekant. Both renunciation and attachment are relative. When there is attachment towards materialism, detachment towards consciousness is created. When attachment towards consciousness exists, detachment towards materialism becomes natural.

Love that is defined by bodily attachment generates problems. It can lead a person towards a criminal life. At present many kinds of crimes are increasing due to this lust for physical attachment. On the other hand, spiritual love solves our problems and uplifts our consciousness. Renunciation of worldly attachment and sublimation are Jain practices that help solve the intricate problems caused by attachment to physical pleasure. Sublimation has the potential to bring down the graph of social crimes and open new dimensions for spiritual development.

Sources
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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Anekant
  2. Bhagwan Mahavir
  3. Body
  4. Consciousness
  5. Fear
  6. JVB
  7. JVB New Jersey
  8. Jain Philosophy
  9. Mahavir
  10. Mandir
  11. Meditation
  12. Non-violence
  13. Sanskar
  14. Shravak
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