Acharanga Bhasyam ► Chapter IV — The Right View ► Preface To Chapter IV ► Preface To Chapter IV

Posted: 07.01.2011


The name of the fourth chapter is 'Right View'. Some people expound that the tolerance of suffering alone is righteousness in the discipline of the Jainas but this cannot be established to be so. In the beginning of the third chapter and also in the beginning of the present chapter, the Cūrṇi has said - righteousness cannot be achieved exclusively by suffering or by a pleasurable way; righteousness is indeed the abandonment of the passions. And the principal condition of righteousness is right view.[1] This chapter occupies a prominent place in the Āchārāṅga Sūtra, as the Cūrṇi  has said - as a lamp placed in the middle of a hall enlightens the entire hall, exactly so this chapter being in the middle of the Āchārāṅga  Sūtra expounds the entire doctrine of conduct.[2]

There are four sections in the present chapter. The topics of this chapter have been described under the following heads in the Niryukti

    1. The doctrine of the right view.
    2. The examination of the view of upholders of heretical doctrines.
    3. Description of faultless austerity. The unenlightened austerity has no universal instrumentality to the achievement of salvation.
    4. A brief statement of self-discipline or self-restraint.

Concisely speaking, there is description of right view in the first section, right knowledge in the second, right austerity in the third, and right conduct in the fourth.[3]

The implication of the word 'right view' can be properly understood only through proper linguistic analysis of the meaning of the word 'right'. The word 'right' has been explained in the Niryukti through seven examples which relate to the various potentialities of an object, with respect to the various aspects of its origin in a proper way:[4 ]

  1. Rightly produced—It is the proper way of doing something. For example, when it is said that the chariot has been made, it means that the chariot has been produced in a proper way with its parts joined rightly. Moreover the mental health of the maker of the chariot, and also the satisfaction with respect to the chariot being done nicely and quickly, of the person for whom the chariot is made are the physical fitness of the act of making the chariot.[5]
  2. Rightly renovated—For example, when the parts of a piece of cloth are properly repaired or renovated, it is a physical act that is properly done.
  3. Rightly intermixed—For example, when milk and sugar are properly mixed in order to make a mixture a good drink for the maker's or also for the drinker's mental satisfaction, it is a case of proper mixture of ingredients. The opposite of it, such as the mixture of sesame seeds and yogurt is an act of improper mixture, because the two ingredients are heterodox elements.
  4. Rightly applied—For example, when a particular type of application is conducive to gain for oneself, it is a case of proper physical application. For example, a medicine for the sick, food for the hungry, drink for the thirsty.
  5. Rightly got rid of—For example, if an article gives pleasure when it is got rid of, it is a case of proper physical abandonment, e.g., when a person is unloaded of a load, it is a case of proper unloading.
  6. Right break-up—For example, if the breaking up of a thing solves any problem, it is a case of right breakage, e.g., when a pot containing yogurt is broken, the problem of the crow is solved. This is a case of proper physical breakage for the crow.
  7. Rightly operated—For example, when something is properly cut it is a case of right cutting, e.g., when a lump of flesh or an abcess is properly operated, it is a case of proper physical act.

The spiritual tightness is threefold—rightness of view, Tightness of knowledge and rightness of conduct.[6]

In the absence of right view, a person, even renouncing his own relatives, does not attain salvation, because he is possessed of wrong view.[7] Srimad Jayacarya has supported this view, even though he conceded a partial fulfill ment of the condition of salvation by person possessed of wrong view.[8] Therefore, one should exert for the attainment of right view. The doctrine of non-violence is a perennial doctrine, which relates to the discipline of conduct. There exists right view as a prelude to this discipline. So long as right faith and right knowledge do not arise with respect to the six classes of living beings, the question of the practice of the doctrine of non-violence does not arise. It has therefore been said: the self-realised Arhats, having comprehended the world of living beings, have propounded this doctrine (4.2)[9] and it is further said: this doctrine of ahiṃsā is the truth; it is truly axiomatic; it is rightly enunciated in the teachings of the Jina (4.4).[10]

The intention of the present chapter is not to prescribe the doctrine of not injuring any living being. The purpose of the chapter is to prove the verity and reality of the doctrine, and identify it with the right view. The implication is that the right conduct is preceded by the right view.

This chapter mentions the opinion of those who supported the commission of violence. Contrarily, it propounds the noble character of the doctrine of non-violence propounded by the Jinas. The doctrine of subtle vibrations caused by passions can also be seen here. The most ancient ascetic discipline and its gradual development have been properly described here. Contemplative reflection on loneliness has also found place in the chapter which also lays down the right direction for the researchers of the truth and inquirers of non-violence.