Jaina Thinkers: Śrīmad Rājacandra, Kānji Swāmi, Pt. Todarmala (2/2)

Posted: 02.07.2008
Updated on: 02.07.2015

3.0 KĀNJI SWĀMI (1889 A.D. - 1980 A.D.)

Kānji Swāmi was born in a Sthanakavasi family at umrala a small village in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat in A.D. 1889. His mother was Ujambā and father was Moticanda. He was intelligent and firm. He was learning Jainism right from childhood and had yearnings of vairāgya- freedom from worldly things.

Experiencing profound approach and unusual consciousness from within at the age of 11, while looking at a muni walking alone with supreme confidence of his freedom from worldly life, he felt muni had a wonderful state of mind,. At such a tender age his mind was attracted to a state, which will be absolutely far from worldly attachments. Experiencing deepest recesses of mind, he was not satisfied with knowledge of words. His search was different. He was missing SAT- truth.

He was orphaned at early age and then joined his father’s shop. He was simple and honest and his expression was frank, innocent and fearless. He was always touched by religious matters specially Vairagya i.e. freedom from worldly things.

Always engaged in reading religious books, he found out means to be free. He wanted to take initiation, in spite of his brother and relative’s efforts to find him a life partner.

He then searched for a Guru and ultimately after a long search he renounced the world and accepted the life of a Jaina saint, at the hands of Śrī Hirācandaji in A.D. 1913 in Sthānakavāsi sect. He studied Swetāmbara āgamas with criticisms. He practiced an absolute code of conduct for munis.

He was a great believer in self- effort for achieving salvation. Nothing else could help, he believed and this was his mission. He never believed that salvation would be achieved only when Kevali would have seen it in his infinite knowledge of the ultimate. He firmly believed and said for those who are engaged in personal effort to source salvation that there are not many lives to live. The kevali in his supreme knowledge has never seen many lives for such persons who are simply engrossed in personal endeavors. So for such persons gain in terms of good life is not an incentive for liberation. They continuously strive for salvation. Their efforts remain supreme.

Finding for truth once came in his hands Samayasāra in A.D. 1921 a great book of Kundakunda that gave him great joy. He experienced enormous pleasure in his heart after he read the whole book. It was a great turn in his life. Thus, Samayasāra became his guiding book through which he expounds the spirituality and philosophy through out his life.

His inner self told him that real path is the Digambara. He therefore changed and left Sthānakavāsi sect, in A.D. 1934 being aware of difficulties ahead. He became a Digambara lay follower.

He said at that time that Jainism does not belong to any sect it is a religion of the soul. When one realizes the magnanimity of the self and one’s interest in non-self objects vanishes, one fixes one’s attention on the pure nature of the self and thereby attains samyag darsana. His life was prone only to his own soul. His daily routine of life basically was in his own studies, his own knowledge meditation and the deep introspection of the scriptures.

Kānji Swāmi has given discourses on the following books:

Satkhandāgama part 1, Samayasāra, Pravacanasāra Paňcāstikāya, Aştapāhudas, Parmātmaprakāśa, Niyamsāra, Purusārthasiddhiupāya, Moksa Mārga Prakāśaka and others.

Listening to him many took initiation in Jaina monk order. Many people assumed Digambara faith. Songadha (Saurashtra) was his main place where these activities were conducted. He died in A.D. 1980

3.1 His Views

Kanji swami’s philosophy could be considered mainly as a revolt against the ritualistic aspect prevalent in the Jaina religion in his times. In and around him he observed that the gurus were mainly emphasizing only the ritualistic aspect devoid of right faith, right knowledge and right conduct. He also found that Jaina teachers of his times gave sole importance to the material karmas and considered that the soul is mere puppet in the hands of those karmas. Hence the vision of the individual was shifted from the modifications of the perfect consciousness to the modifications of the karmic matter. He therefore raised his voice against this and by theorizing the philosophy of Kundakunda he propounded the revolutionary view of Krama Baddha Paryāya (sequence bound modifications). He therefore argues that the material karmas cannot modify the changes in the soul i.e. in consciousness. Further arguing he says that no substance can in any way bring about the changes in another substance. Soul is neither puppet nor the master of the karmas. No two substances affect each other- neither pudgala especially neither karma pudgala nor souls affect each other. No real bondage, no real salvation i.e. no efforts for salvation takes place. The effect takes place in solely due to the upādana kārana or the material cause; the nimitta or the instrumental has nothing to do with the bringing about the effect.

He even said ‘getting attached to tīrthańkara nāma karma needs to be left out. There is no misery to the soul at all even when the body suffers intensely in its various parts’. The path of salvation is not achieved by merely keeping balance of mind with an understanding that one should not mourn unhappiness since this will bring new karmas. Even the five vows, penances bring puňya but not the salvation.

He used to live a highly saintly life of Sthānakavāsi sādhus with perfect celibacy. Despite achieving highest heaven, the soul has come back to this world so what remains to be done now? Such was the subject of his deep meditation and study and he felt that the true path was something different. Formal ceremonies are not the path of salvation. The real path lies in self-experience of the soul.


The exponent of “standpoint” was the great Jaina reformer Kundakunda. He belonged to the Digambara tradition of Jainism. Kundakunda’s spirituality is reflected in his famous work Page 156 of 555 STUDY NOTES version II Samayasāra. This work expounds the nature and working of consciousness and the nonconscious matter and the co-relation between them the Niścaya-Vyavahāra are the two spiritual perspective of understanding the self (samaya) in its pure nature and in its bound nature respectively. From the Niścaya perspective the soul is pure and at no point it is in bondage.

“The defining characteristic of the jiva is that it knows - that is its essence. Jīva and jňāna, self or knower and knowledge are not different, they are identical; the knower is essentially one with knowledge.”7

“It is the self, which can know anything because it is only the self, which has knowledge as its swabhāva. Moreover, because of this it does not do anything in order to know- it has no need to act in order to obtain knowledge, knowledge is its condition”.8

And what it knows is precisely itself. Thus knowledge is not a matter of knowing something beyond or external to the self but of realizing or knowing one’s own true nature. This was a total revolution by Kundakunda. He completely internalized the spirit of true religion; that is one has to know one is free and not bound. He completely broke the kartā bhāva.

Pratikramaņa (repentance for past misconduct), pursuit of the good, rejecting the evil, concentration, abstinence from attachment to external objects, self-censure, confessing before the master and purification by expiation, these are eight kinds constitute the pot of poison”.9

“Non-repentance for past misconduct, non-pursuit of the good, non-rejection of evil, nonconcentration, non-abstinence from attachments to external objects, non-self-censure, nonconfessing before the masters and non-purification by expiation, these eight kinds constitute the pot of nectar”

In case of an empirical self, the uncontrolled rush of emotions must be kept under restraint. For achieving this purpose, the eight kinds of disciplines, Pratikramaņa etc become necessary and desirable. Since they promote the achievement of the good, they must be said to constitute the pot of nectar. Whereas the lack of eight-fold discipline must constitute the opposite, that is, the pot of poison since there is a free vent to evil. The ordinary description is reversed in the last two verses by the author. He is talking of the transcendental self, which is quite beyond the region of good and evil. Hence, the question of discipline and non-discipline is meaningless. And hence in the case of the supremely pure state of the self, to talk of Pratikramaņa, etc, is to drag it down to the empirical level and to postulate the possibility of occurrence of impure emotions, which ought to be disciplined and controlled. Kundakunda considers the various kinds of moral discipline to be avoided and calls them pot of poison. When the self is absorbed in its own pure nature by attaining the yogic Samādhi, there is a full stop to the series of impure psychic states which are characteristics of the empirical self. Hence, there is no necessity to practice the various kinds of disciplines. The very absence of those disciplinary practices produces spiritual peace that passes understanding. It is that stage that there is the pot of nectar. Such a spiritual peace necessarily implies spiritual bliss, which is the characteristic of the supreme self.

3.3 Legacy

Kānji swāmi brought in fore front the philosophy of Kundakunda. He had attracted a lot of followers who went on publishing his commentaries on Samayasāra, Pravacanasāra, etc. Having build temples, etc in Songadha from where he conducted the activities he went on preaching the doctrine of Krama Baddha paryāya. Yet he did not choose any one to carry forward his mission. Because he believed that every Paryāya is Swanirmita. Today the followers have established a huge sect known as Kānji pantha. A group of followers have started regarding him as a future tīrthańkara.

4.0 Pandit Banarasidasa

In the true tradition of ancient Jain Saints and scholars, Pandit Todarmalji, too, did not pay any attention towards writing anything about his life history. Therefore, nothing definite can be said on the dates of his birth, death and life span. However, on the basis of the available circumstantial and other evidence Dr. Hukamchand Bharilla in his research treatise " Pandit Todarmal - life and work" established his year of birth to be 1719-20 A.D. and the year of his passing away 1766 A.D. with a life-span of only 47 years. He was borne in Jaipur (India). His father was Shri Jogidasji Khandelwal of Godika Gotra (Jain subcaste) and Rambha Bai his mother. He was married and had two sons, Harishchandra and Gumaniram. Shri Gumaniram was a great revolutionary genius. He received ordinary education in the spiritual Terā Panthi Style of Jaipur, but his deep scholarship was mainly due to hard work and genius. He was a great intellectual having sharpness of understanding and a studious nature. He was well- versed in Prākŗta, Sanskrit, Hindi and Kannad languages.About his scholarship Pandit Raimalji wrote in his letter of invitation for the Indra-dhwaja Vidhana (Ritual), in the year l764, "It is very difficult to find a man of his intellect these days. All the doubts about religious matters are removed after meeting him". About his knowledge and studies, he himself writes in Mokśa Mārga Prakāsa, "I have studied Samayasāra Pancāstikāya, Pravacanasāra, Niyamsāra, Gomattasāra, Labdhisāra, Trilokasāra, Tattvārthasutra, with commentaries; Kshapanasāra, Purusārtha Siddhyupāya, Asthapāhud, Atmānusāsana and many other scriptures describing the conduct of monks and householders, and Purānas containing stories of great personalities according to my own understanding and knowledge". In his short life- span, he wrote, in all, twelve books, big and small which is about a lac verses in measure and about five thousand pages. Some of these are commentaries of popular sacred books while others are independent works of his own. These are found both in prose and poetry.


  8. W.Johnson, Harmless Souls, p. 276
  9. A. Cakravarti, op.cit, 9.306
10. ibid, 9.307


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