Compendium of Jainism ► X ►The Nine Padarthas or Fundamental Truths

Posted: 30.10.2015

The key-note of Jaina metaphysics consists in its emphasis that the universe is reality comprising the two substances Jīva and Ajiva, that is, the living beings and the non-living beings or the matter. Ajiva is a comprehensive substance which is subdivided into pudgala, dharma, adharma, ākāśa and kala. The Jiva and the Ajiva together, as already explained, from the basis of the seven principles. A thorough understanding of the seven principles is the pre-requisite of Right Knowledge and Right Faith, Since the soul is associated with Karma from times immemorial, a knowledge of the real Self, of the processes of liberation and of the nature of the ultimate goal to be realised is indispensable for a successful living leading to liberation. Many souls migrate from one life to another because of the erroneous identification of the soul with the non-soul which generates numerous illusory attach­ments with the surrounding objects and persons.

A person deluded by wrong knowledge claims kinship with all material objects and becomes oblivious to the real nature of his self The pure qualities of his soul become obscured. The process of the inflow or influx of Karmic matter into the soul and its bondage have been discussed under the scheme of Seven Principles in Jaina philosophy. If Papa (sin) and Puṇya (merit) are added to the seven principles, we have the nine Padārthas.

Thus it has been stated by Kundakunda that Jīva, Ajiva. Puṇya, Papa, Āśrava, Saṁvara, Nirjarā, Bandha and Mokṣa are the nine Padārthas.[1] It is difficult to find a precise equivalent for the word Padārthas, though Mrs. Stevenson has designated the nine Padārthas as "The Nine Categories of Fundamental Truths."[2]

While dealing with the seven principles, reference has been made to auspicious and inauspicious thought as the originators of Karma. Puṇya and Papa are the two kinds of Karmas which are generated by good and bad thoughts respectively. Puṇya results from activities of such thoughts as are good, or occasioned by a happy state of mind. Papa results from activities which are caused by delusions of different kinds, anger and hatred. They are respe­ctively the causes of auspicious or inauspicious Karmas. Puṇya is the result of auspicious thoughts of the mind while Papa is the result of the inauspicious thoughts; both the kinds of thoughts, being pudgala in nature, assume the form of Karmas. The fruits of these Karmas which flow into the soul are experienced through the senses or the life as pleasure or pain. Even though the soul has no form,' due to the viscosity and dryness of the Karmas, the Papa and Puṇya get absorbed into the Karmic matter binding the soul. That is how the new bondage of auspicious and inauspicious Karmas takes place.[3]

Since every kind of Karm is of two kinds viz. Bhava Karma and Dravya Karma, Puṇya and Papa Karmas are also of two kinds.

The influx of Puṇya Karma takes place when the thought- activities are actuated by love, compassion and purity. One who has devotion towards the Arhats, the Siddhas and the saints and respect the teachers will have the proper kind of affection or love. That man can be called compassionate who feels sympathy for the thirsty, the hungry, the afflicted and the miserable. Such thought- activities result in Puṇya.

The causes of inauspicious Karmas are due to the disturbances of the mind by anger, pride, infatuation and greed. That person who has a cunning face, indulging in sensuality and speaking ill of others or scandalising others incurs Papa. Hence on account of indulgence in snsual pleasures, distressed and angry state of mind and wicked propensities, three kinds of Leśyās of the bad type are formed.

In common with all other religions which recognise the theory of merit (Puṇya) and demerit (Papa) the ethical doctrines of Jainism have laid down that thoughts and actions which are conducive to the wellbeing of others or of oneself are meritorious and that those which are transgressions of the prescribed code result in demerit or Papa.

Puṇya has been defined as that which purifies the soul or tends towards its purification. It is Karma (pudgala) in nature; its fruits being pleasure and happiness in the material world, it is also a helpful means to attain spiritual progress. It is the righteous thoughts and deeds that assist in the formation of right faith, cultivation of self-restraint and development of inner power. Most of the worldly possessions like wealth, power and health are the fruits of Puṇya. It is Puṇya that trains the mind to conform to religion.

The observance of the five vows, austerities and other religious practices leads to auspicious thoughts (bhava puṇya) and auspicious deeds (dravya puṇya). Various kinds of charities are recognised as being conducive to merit. Performance of charity is an item of daily duties enjoined on a house-holder. Dana, gift or charity of food, medicine, accessories (upakaraṇa) and shelter is enjoyed by the sacred books. While giving charity, the donor must have a pure mind, a pure body and pure speech. He must take into account the fitness of the done for receiving the charity. His attitude must be free from ill-will, dejection and condescension. His mind should be joyful and free from desire for worldly rewards. Accessories refer to articles like clothes, bowls to mendicants and peacock bunches to ascetics. Apart from the four kinds of charity, there are other charities like imparting learning, giving protection to the helpless etc. Special significance is attached to expenditure of one's wealth for giving in charity idols of Jinas, construction of temples, distribution of sacred books to the deserving, alms to the members of religious orders and to the laity.

Nine kinds of Puṇya are mentioned by Muni Suśila Kumar viz. food (giving of food), drink (giving of water to the thirsty), shelter, bedding, clothes, entertaining good thoughts, sweet speech, physical service to others and salutation.[4] Special preference in giving charity, and rendering services is to be given to the Jaina ascetics and to the followers of the Jaina faith.

Fruits of Puṇya are of various kinds: birth in higher states of existence, birth in a respectable family, freedom from want, possession of all kinds of wealth, sound body with beauty and impressive personality, freedom from diseases of any kind and birth that ensures spiritual progress.

Papa or demerit is that which brings misery or unhappiness to oneself as a result of one's thought, speech or action. All sentient beings feel the pain of their sins. There are thirteen kinds of activity; sinning

  1. for one's interest,
  2. without personal interest,
  3. by slaying,
  4. through accident,
  5. by an error of sight,
  6. by lying
  7. by taking what is not freely given,
  8. by mere conceit,
  9. through pride,
  10. through bad treatment of one's friends,
  11. through deceit,
  12. through greed, and
  13. actions referring to religious life.[5]

In addition to the afore­said activities, thirst for hoarding and accumulating property, engaged in protecting what is acquired by greed, enmity and hatred towards others, sensuality and sexual craze, engaging in conflicts, quarrels and wars etc., blaming and scandalizing others, irritability and wrong belief etc., also attract inauspicious Karmas. Committing breach of any of the five vows, and acting under any of the passions result in sinful consequences. The duration of the inauspicious Karmas depends upon the intensity of the passions. It is the sins that obscure the qualities of the soul and produce deformity of mind and body in the next life even.

The first twelve kinds of activities are self-explanatory. The thirteenth kind of activity has reference to religious life. A monk who controls himself for the benefit of his soul, walks carefully to avoid harm to creatures, is gentle in his speech, careful in religious exercises, leads a chaste life, guards himself against all evils, does not incure sin and acquires such Karma as will be destroyed after sometime.

Persons acquire merit if they abstain from undertakings and possessions, practise righteousness, are of good character and morals, abstain from killing and commission of wicked actions causing pain to others. Monks and other revered persons who observe all vows fall in this category.

In everyday life, people love merit (Puṇya) because it brings in pleasure and worldly happiness; they hate demerit (Papa) because it is the cause of pain. Really speaking, pleasure and worldly happiness is not welcome because every moment of sense- gratification enhances our craze for further enjoyment. A gold fetter binds a person as much as an iron one. Similarly auspicious or inauspicious Karma arising as a result of good or bad deeds binds the soul.[6] From the real point of view, both merit and demerit lead the soul into cycles of births and rebirths, though they may bring about different states of birth or differing environments of happiness and misery.

A wise right believer should therefore refrain from accumulating Karmas of either kind and should have an eye on liberation of the soul by contemplating on its real qualities. In the lower stages of spiritual development, the mind and senses would be easily attracted towards pleasures and inclined towards performance of good deeds to earn merit. Yet constant devotion towards the Tirthankaras, engaging oneself in the service of the saints, study of scriptures and adopting an attitude of introspection repenting for wrong acts etc. will gradually prepare the mind for spiritual advancement. A seeker after liberation should know that both good and bad deeds produce Karmas that bind the soul he should therefore cultivate an attitude of detachment with right knowledge and faith, and free himself from the operation a Karmas.

The importance of clear knowledge of the true teaching of the nine fundamental truths lies in the fact that it paves the way for liberation. A spontaneous comprehension of the true nature of the soul and the damage that both merit and demerit do to it will wean the individual from their influences and turn attention towards higher considerations of the self. A firm conviction in this law of cause and effect will assist the individual in subduing all passions like love, hatred, delusion, pride, etc. Right knowledge depends upon devotion to these truths. Wrong or perverted knowledge and belief lead to wrong paths which are far away from the path of liberation. These nine principles establish the undoubted responsibility of the individual for what he is and what he is going to be. Spiritual evolution is a conscious and deliberate process and has to be pursued with unstinted devotion.

Any one pondering over the nine Padārthas will realise how important it is to know that the pure soul is subjected to all the travails of transmigration due to its attachment with the Karma and how by right knowledge and belief one can prevent the accumulation of new Karmas and destroy the old and new ones by following the path of liberation. They solve the riddles of life and point out that the key to the attainment of perfection lies within each individual.

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