Philosophical Foundations Of Jainism (An Introduction): [20] Samasyā Aur Mukti (Problems And Their Solutions)

Published: 28.08.2008
Updated: 02.07.2015

It is true that we have innumerable problems in this world. However, before we think of their solution, we must first find out what does a problem mean or what is the ultimate problem. According to Jain philosophy, the ultimate problem is known as 'āśrava' (influx of Karmas) and the solution is 'śaṃvara' (stoppage of the influx of Karmas). Let us dwell upon them. Every person has a particular world-view (dṛṣṭikoṇa) which may either be right or perverted. When we consider the sequence of problems, we find that:—

There is a chain of catalist factors, which creates the problems, individually or in combinations. The first is 'mithyā dṛṣṭikoṇa' (perverted world-view). It, in turn, triggers multiplication of problems. The second in the chain is 'Tṛṣṇā' (cravings for worldly desires); it is a kind of thirst which, when we try to quench it, becomes more and more intense. We go on aspiring for new objects of consumption, their list becomes endless.

This insatiable thirst for indulgence and various objects of pleasure is illustrated by a parable in the Jain Literature:

A wood-cutter used to go everyday to a forest and manufacture coal by burning the wood. Once, it was a very hot day of summer. He worked in the sun and stood beside the furnace. In the afternoon, he got thirsty. He had only a little quantity of water left with him, which he drank away, but he could not satiate himself. He thought, "If I will remain awake, I would feel myself more thirsty, and hence, let me sleep sown." Thinking so, he went to sleep, during which he had a dream. He saw that he was thirsty, standing near a very vast tank. In the dream, he drank all the water from the tank, and still could not quench his thirst. Further, in the quest of water, he rambled everywhere and drank away all the water of all the rivers and tanks he came across, still he remained thirsty. Thereafter, he went into search of water, and saw a small pool which was nearly dried up, but still there was some mud in it. He threw dry straws of grass in the mud to make them wet and then tried to squeeze water from the wet straws into this mouth to quench his thirst.

Now the question is: Is it possible to quench the thirst which does not get quenched even after drinking all water of all the rivers and tanks, by a few drops of water? Obviously not.

In the same way a perverted world-view generates so much desires in the mind of a person that even the objects of the whole world cannot quench his thirst. It is the second thing in the chain - the cravings or tṛṣṇā.

The tṛṣṇā, in turn, gives rise to the third member in the chain - 'pramāda' (remissness) which creates mental disorder—'unmād' i.e., violent outburst or infatuation; it includes intoxication. Under its influence, man cannot know or see or hear inspite of knowing, seeing or hearing. It creates a quite strange condition which stupifies one and makes him extremely engrossed in the sensuality.

The pramāda, in turn, gives rise to the fourth member of the chain, viz., kaṣāya or āveśa i.e., passions or impulses. They madden man all the more and he may lose his temper and get enraged over even trivial matters, or become conceited, or indulge in deceit and fraud, or create a feeling of jealousy and malice or contempt in him towards others, and so on. They follow each other like a big family of vices and negative emotional drives.

They produce the fifth member of the chain, viz., agitation of mind, speech and body. This in itself is a very great problem. Man is then unable to see his own self (soul).

When man ceases to see (and know) his own self, myriads of problems crop up, and there is an endless chain of problems. Although the problem of poverty, housing, clothing etc. are there, but they are in fact not the main problems, they are rather the offshoots of the main problems. The root causes and the subsidiary causes are to be distinguished. When we go into deep analysis, the root cause is only one—man cannot see (or know) his own soul, his own basic identity. The above five causes viz.,—

1. Perverted world-view - mithyā  dṛṣṭikoṇa

2. Unrestrained desires—asaṃyama

3. Remissness - pramāda

4. Passions (kaṣāya)

5. Agitation (of mind, speech and body)

form the basis of the root cause viz., self-ignorance.

According to Jain philosophy, the above five āśrava are the fundamental problems. They constitute, in fact, sufferings in the worldly existence. The vicious circle of worldly sufferings is due to the above chain of problems. Unless it is broken, we cannot resolve the social, mental and even economic problems we are facing.

Let us ponder over one of the economic problems.

It is a common sight that many among the wealthy class of people are dishonest and immoral in their dealings. Why is it so, when they already have all the worldly resources at their disposal? The question arises: For a rich person, when there is not provocation or compulsion due to which a poor or unprivileged person suffers and which forces him to abandon the path of honesty, then why should he become dishonest? On the contrary, a poor cannot become so immoral as a dishonest rich. So poverty is not the reason for this problem. It is the greed. The problem of greed is a major one. Unfortunately, instead of addressing this problem, only the problem of poverty is tried to solve; and we see that the problem is not resolving; poverty exists; some people are becoming too rich, while some are rendered too poor. The mountain and the pit are formed simultaneously. Again, a question arises: Can this disparity be dissolved? I think it is not impossible, but untill we pay attention to the problems at root, we can not hope for the solution.

The Jain philosophy prescribes a single-point solution to this problem. You can sort out such problems through the theory of the influx of Karmas and inhibition (saṃvara) thereof. The redemption from the ill effects of Karmas lies in the five-fold strategy of saṃvara as follows:—

(1) 'Samyak dṛṣṭikoṇa' (Right world-view): Attainment of the right world-view is necessarily accompanied with the development of the spiritual qualities like compassion, peace of mind, spirit of renunciation, i.e., detachment from the material objects of consumption etc., which would lead one to become free from tṛṣṇā.

(2) Reduction in greedness, which would lead to apramāda.

(3) Non-remissness, which enhances one's alertness.

(4) Freedom from passions means curbing of vices such as anger, conceit, deceit, greed, feeling of enmity, fear etc. Such a person is also free from jealousy, for jealousy is mainly due to greed for material possessions and pleasures. Ultimately, this would lead to the fifth saṃvara.

(5) The ultimate stage is stoppage of all agitations - mental, vocal and physical. It creates peace of mind and cultivates the habit to perceive the self.

Conclusively, we can say that five āśravas are the problems and five saṃvaras are the solutions.

The Jain Acharyas have combined the three attributes - samyak jñāna (right knowledge), samyak darśan (right vision), samyak cāritra (right conduct) into 'Ratnatrayī' (trinity of gems), which is the grand path to reach the ultimate emancipation. It means—first have knowledge, then have faith in it, and then observe right conduct - put into practice what is right. This trinity also constitutes the path of solutions to the problems.

Samyak darśana (right world-view) means 'experiencing' the truth. It is much more than mere 'knowing'. In absence of "inner experience of truth, the knowledge is incomplete.

The right world-view means—first to develop faith in the truth, which is known through the inner knowledge and then experience it or have a direct perception of it.

The third attribute is samyak ācaraṇa. It means putting into practice the truth you have realized by right knowledge and inner experience. The three jewels together pave the path towards the ultimate emancipation, which is freedom from the karma saṃskāras, passions and the cessation of all Asravas i.e., the influx of Karmas.

Jain philosophy maintains that it would be rather a one-sided statement to say that emancipation is achieved only after the last death. He who does not achieve freedom from passions in one's life-time cannot attain mukti even after the death. That is why the present moment is very valuable. There are two ways to achieve the state of mukti: first is 'saṃvara' (stoppage of influx) of Karmas and second is nirjarā (dissociation of Karmas). Through nirjarā, one tries to exhaust the bondages incurred in the past, and simultaneously through saṃvara, one does not indulge oneself in actions creating new bondage, and ultimately, through these two means of cleansing the soul, one reaches the purest state which is "mukti". One of the media of saṃvara and nirjarā is the practice of 'dhyāna' (meditation). In 'Prekṣā Dhyāna', the Jain system of meditation, the practitioner tries to live only in the present. In this state of mind, there is neither any thought nor any dilemma; the chetanā becomes free even from any 'bhāva' (emotions). The soul absorbed in meditation makes a very strong and effective effort to shed off the sanskāras.

Lord Mahāvīra, therefore, stressed that—"Go to the basic cause of all your problems and destroy them. When you achieve the state of saṃvara, all your problems will automatically fade out."

The path shown by Jainism not only helps to sort out problems related to the spirital domain, it can also be an effective method to solve our social, economic and political problems. The key to solution is that the problems are contained at their grass root level.

An incident of Tolstoy's life is useful to understand this point: Once a beggar approached Tolstoy, and begged money. Tolstoy said him, "It is not good to beg; you should do labour yourself and earn your bread." The beggar said, "Sir! I don't have any means to do labour." Tolstoy, instead of giving bread or money to the beggar, gave him some equipment like an axe by using which he started earning his daily bread and gave up begging.

Sources

This is an edited version of the author's work:
Jain I Darshan ke Mool Sutra
Translated by Prof. M. P. Lele under the guidance of Muni Mahendra Kumar ji and Muni Dulahraj ji, Senior disciples of Acharya Mahprajna.

© Adarsh Sahitya Sangh. New Delhi

Published by:
Kamlesh Chaturvedi
Adarsh Sahitya Sangh
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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharyas
  2. Anger
  3. Apramāda
  4. Body
  5. Conceit
  6. Cāritra
  7. Darśan
  8. Darśana
  9. Deceit
  10. Fear
  11. Greed
  12. Jain Philosophy
  13. Jainism
  14. Jñāna
  15. Karma
  16. Karmas
  17. Kaṣāya
  18. Mahāvīra
  19. Meditation
  20. Mukti
  21. Nirjarā
  22. Pramāda
  23. Samyak Darśana
  24. Saṃvara
  25. Soul
  26. Three Jewels
  27. āśrava
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