29.12.2015 ►Cause of Sorrow : Ignorance

Published: 29.04.2016

Acharya Mahapragya Blog

(This post a translated part of Acharya shree’s book: Sukh Ka Stotra Kahan)

A group of students sat under the tutelage of an Acharya. Dashvaikalik Sutra was being studied.The group came upon a sentence- “पढमं नाणं तओ दया” - first knowledge, then compassion/non-violence or in other words a righteous conduct. Hearing this, a student asked “Gurudev! We have heard ‘first dharm, or duty is conduct' and Mahaveer  is giving importance to knowledge over conduct. How is the validity of both statements possible?”

Acharya replied that the darshan of Mahaveer is along this line -धम्मे दुविहै पण्णते सुय धम्मे चरित धम्मे, meaning the first kind of dharm  is to hear  and the other kind is to have the right conduct.

To explain further, in the absence of self-knowledge, conduct cannot be thought of. Jain darshan says ‘नाणस्स सारं आयरो.’ That is, the crux of knowledge is conduct. For lemon concentration to exist, lemon needs to exist in the first place. Similarly for a good conduct to truly exist, self-knowledge  needs to be present in the first place.

Sorrow and Ignorance

Ignorance is a huge trouble.All sorrows are caused by ignorance or agyana. If ignorance were absent from the world, sorrow could not have existed. Oldage and disease are two sorrows at the physical level. Stress, depression etc. are sorrows at the mental level.Pragyaparadh (literally translated as crime of awareness) is an emotional disease  which, according to Ayurveda, triggers the imbalance of vata, pitta and kapha; and thus, is one of the causes for diseases. It is defined as an inauspicious karma done by a person whose dhi (ie intellect), smriti (ie memory) and dhriti are destroyed.In other words, when rajoguna and tamoguna[1] veil a person’s innate self-knowledge, then he/she gets into the mode of pragyaparadh and this becomes instrumental for the birth of any kind of disease in the mind-body complex.

The simple question arises - what is ignorance? Who is the ignorant one?One definition of ignorance is - the one who is not fully established in knowledge. In other words, whoever is not enlightened is ignorant.

Another definition which comes from the teacher Yashovijayji is - ‘हेयोपादेयविज्ञानं नो चेेत् व्यर्थ: श्रम: श्रु तौ’ That is, if the discrimination between हेय (ie the changing) and उपादेय (ie the permanent) does not arise then it is useless to work hard on the heard (ie the heard knowledge from the masters). In other words, the one who does not realize what is changing (world, body and thoughts) and  what is  permanent is ignorant.

Aamantran & Nimantran

Aamantran (ie informal invitation) is a type of invitation which one can decline while a nimantran (ie formal invitation) makes it mandatory for the invitee to accept it.

Old age and disease are either informally invited or formally invited. Naturally occuring diseases and senility are results of informal invitations. Formal invitations are made when the knowledge of the changing and permanent is absent.Senility before seventy years of age is an example of a formally invited problem.

A sanskrit verse says it succinctly –

निमंत्रित स्याद वार्घक्यं रोग अपि निमंत्रिता:
अनिमंत्रण विज्ञानं ज्ञानं प्रहुर्बधा इदम् |

Meaning, senility comes invited;disease comes invited, too.
Uninvited science is called knowledge in the wise ones.

The question arises, why would someone invite senility and diseases? The answer is that the invitation happens unconsciously, due to the presence of ignorance. Even untimely death is a result of ignorance.Destiny decides birth but diseases, senility and death are decided by man, himself. Due to ignorance, these are formally invited into our lives.

Ignorance Of Proper Diet:A Cause Of Early Oldness

According to Agam, before seventy years of age, a man is not old.Till forty, a man is young.A man whose age is in between 40 to 70 years is considered as middle aged. The beginning of senility, thus, is 70 years. But we see even men of 50 getting old.

One of the reasons of early senility is ignorance of right diet and intake of excess food. Sthanag Sutra mentions excess intake of food as one of the causes of diseases and untimely death.When a person consumes excess food, the amount of enzymes available is less in proportion to the excess food; thus causing putrefaction of it in the stomach, causing heaviness in the head, waning the intellect’s purity and dwindling of mental and physical strength.Old age, thus, comes sooner.

These days, ignorance of diet is speaking out loud. The ones who cook food and the ones who consume it, both are unaware of the principles of a healthy, proper diet. The wheat flatbread (ie phulke) is one example. People think a phulka should be soft and look good. The fibrous component of wheat is removed and then used for cooking despite the fact that this component has vitamin D.

Another example is of salt. According to nutrition science, 2 gms of common salt is sufficient In a normal diet course this amount is provided for but people consume more than this amount in the form of namkeen, kachori etc. How much salt will the kidney filter? Doctors say, daily intake of excess salt becomes an invitation to kidney disease and high blood pressure. If the essential organs such as heart, liver, kidney and lungs stay strong, a person can live a healthy life for a long time. Experts say that the ability of these organs to work is 300 years and a man due to his ignorance is not able to keep them working even for 100 years.

Ignorance Of Behavior or Conduct

Living a life of anger, stress, frustration and getting frustrated frequently are formal invitations to an untimely death.The reason many people live like this is because of ignorance of basic truths.

According to tarkshastra, there are three definitions of ignorance - doubt, viparya (or wrongly understood knowledge) and not knowing. A person can be forgiven if he does not know and does something wrong but wrong knowledge or viparya is very dangerous. It is well known that for good relations to be maintained, soft behaviour is necessary but people still behave bitterly. Speaking soft words can solve a problem but still bitter words are spoken. People have this false notion or viparya that the one who listens silently to bitter words is weak.When a reaction of a person to someone is like a stone thrown in response to a brick, then he/she will be celebrated. But if he/she listens quietly, people will ask him/her if they are devoid of sentiments or are they made of mud.

This is ignorance of behavior. Because of this one creates sorrow at every step. Root of all sorrows is considering the impermanent as permanent. The one who realizes that his situation in life, the world around him is just a coincidence and that all this is changing, is the one who becomes free of sorrows. When one doesn’t  realize this truth, he/she starts seeing the world around him/her as their own and then gets attached to it. In such a case, sorrow is inevitable as unreal objects are assumed to be real and the permanent, real soul is falsely assumed to be unreal.

A villager was travelling in a train.He had a box of ghee which he hung on the chain. The train stopped. The T.T came and asked who hung this box here. The villager replied- “this is not dalda, this is the miracle of desi ghee. ”Everybody laughed.

The one who is ignorant, becomes an object of laughter. Only one who removes ignorance can save themselves from sorrow. The clearer this truth reigns in our heart, the possibility of sorrow will become lesser.


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