Spiritual Awakening, Devotion and Meditation: Jaina Perspective (2/2)

Published: 04.07.2008
Updated: 02.07.2015

2.0 Devotion

It is generally recognized that devotion in Jainism is a contradiction in terms, since devotion presupposes the existence of a Being who can actively respond to the aspirations of the devotee, and in Jainism such a conception of Being is inadmissible. It is true to say that Jainism does not uphold the idea of such a Being known as God, but it undoubtedly recognises the Arhat and the Siddha as the divinity-realized souls who may be the objects of devotion.

Devotion, Devotee and Devotional Object

(a) Devotion

Devotion implies the sublime affection, circumscribed by the immaculacy of thought and emotion, towards the divinity-realized souls or towards those who are advanced on the path of divine realization. 21

(b) Devotee

The devotee profoundly knows the object of his devotion, namely, Arhat and Siddha. Every fibre of his being feels the supremacy and sublimity of the object of his devotion to such an extent that when the devotee finds himself confronted with the omniscient and omnipotent God (Arhanta and Siddha), he abruptly and spontaneously proclaims himself to be shameless, 22 ignorant like an obstinate owl 23, child, etc. This is a sort of religious humility, selfdepreciation, self-devaluation and a consciousness of "creaturehood'. 24 This strange and profound mental reaction of calling oneself a creature in the face of that which is transcendent is not a conceptual explanation of the matter but a mode of submergence into nothingness, an attempt to convey the content of the feeling response in the best possible way.

The devotee is so much attracted by the divine consciousness that he expresses his deep yearning for establishing the holy feet of God in his heart forever.17 Intoxicated by the devotional juice, the devotee announces that he keeps God in his heart and so allows Him (God) to cross the ocean of mundane miseries; but after a moment, he reverses the position by saying that God serves as the air inside the leather bag of his heart for crossing the ocean of world. 25

The spirit of utter consecration is manifested when Samantabhadra proclaims that that is intellect which remembers God, that is head which bows down at His feet, that is successful life which lives under His pious shelter, that is speech which sings His praise, that is a sacred man who is engrossed in His devotion, and that is a learned man who bows down at His feet. 26 The devotee who finds all the objects of the world quite impotent to bestow upon him spiritual solace surrenders himself to God (Arhat and Siddha) for putting an end to transmigratory existence and to tribulations and fears. 27

(c) Devotional Object

The object of devotional consciousness is "wholly other' in the sense of its being Anupama, i.e., it is absolutely and intrinsically other than everything that is and can be thought of. 28

It is ""majestic'' in the sense that its infinite characteristics are incapable of being described by us. 29

Notwithstanding the fact of being possessed by the subjective feeling of the status of a creature and the objective feeling of the devotional object being supreme and ""wholly other'', the devotee is led to the singing of the praise of God (Arhanta and Siddha) on account of being captured by the fire of devotion like the deer who resorts to save its child from the clutches of a lion out of love or like a cuckoo (koyala) which sings in autumn merely due to the presence of small mangoes. This refers to the "element of fascination' in the devotional object. 30 Though the object is awe-inspiring on account of its infiniteness, yet it is fascinating and very easily captivates and transports the devotee with strange exultation. The consequence of his emotions is that his vocal cords begin to function automatically in extolling the deity, though in a limited way.

Importance and effects of devotion

According to Kundakunda, he who bows with great devotion at the feet of Jina undermines the root of Sańsāra. 31 Pujyapāda pronounces that the Self by dint of its devotedness towards Arhanta and Siddha can transform itself into the state of Paramātman.32 Vādirājamuni represents that notwithstanding deep intellectual attainments and untainted moral accomplishments the doors of the edifice of liberation are locked by delusion and incapable of being thrown open by the aspirant without applying the key of profound devotion. 33 Since God is incomparable and unlike anything else, our devotional outpourings are incapable of unfolding His being, says Vādirājamuni. Despite this disharmony between our words and His Being, our expressions permeated with the nectar of devotion are capable of bestowing upon us the desired fruits.34

All sorts of mundane pleasantness and super-mundane results follow as a consequence of devotion to God, nay perforce accompany the devotee. Thousands of imperiling disturbances and obstructions disassociate themselves from the devotee. He who has heard God's pious name and has poured his heart and soul into it, has escaped the mountain of distresses. He who unwaveringly and with tears of joy and with jubilant voice adores God relieves himself from diverse heartrending diseases.35 Though God has transcended the duality of praise and censure, yet the singing of His glory sweeps away the filth of vices from the mind of the devotee.36

Samantabhadra points out that just as iron is turned into gold by a mere touch of the pārasa stone, likewise the devotee is transformed into an effulgent personality and his words are reckoned as pregnant with great momentousness.37 According to Vādirājamuni it is by devotion that the obstacles that might baulk the movement of the devotee towards heavenly pleasures and his pilgrimage towards liberation are overthrown; and the devotee gets endowed with such a penetrating intellect that he never encounters any difficulty in memorising the scriptures.38

Samantabhadra exhorts that in his case devotion has resulted in fearlessness and in the dissipation of several diseases, and in making him a magnificent, respectable and virtuous personality.39 Bhakti, according to Dhanańjaya, blesses a devotee with eminence, richness and success.40

Thus, it may be seen that according to Jain conception the effects of devotion are mundane pleasures (in this world and in heaven), super-mundane happiness, abrogation of distress and disturbance, banishment of physical diseases, removal of vices and attainment of virtues, overthrowing of the obstacles, acquisition of penetrating intellect, development of effulgent personality and weighty tongue, wide recognition, achievement of success and riches and, lastly, attainment of fearlessness.

3.0 Dhyāna (Meditation)

Dhyāna represents the concentration of mind on a particular object. The stability of thoughts on one object is recognized as Dhyāna and the passing of mind from one object to another is deemed to be either Bhāvanā or Anuprekşā, or Cintā.41

Dhyāna is the indispensable, integral constituent of ethico-spiritual conduct, and consequently, it is directly related to the actualization of the divine potentialities. It is the clear, and single road by which the aspirant can move straight to the supreme good.

The object of concentration may be profane or holy in character.42 The former is designated as inauspicious concentration (Apraśasta Dhyāna), while the latter is called auspicious concentration (Praśasta Dhyāna). The Praśasta category of Dhyāna has been deemed to be potent enough to make the aspirant realise the emancipated status.43 On the contrary, the Apraśasta one forces the mundane being to experience worldly sufferings.44 Thus those who yearn for liberation should abjure Apraśasta Dhyāna and embrace Praśasta Dhyāna. In dealing with Dhyāna as Tapa, we are completely concerned with the Praśasta type of Dhyāna, since it is singularly relevant to the auspicious and the transcendental living.

The practice of the fourfold virtue of Maitrī (friendship with all creatures), Pramoda (appreciation of the merits of others), Karuņā (compassion for those who are in trouble) and Madhyastha (indifference to those who are irrational), constitute the mental pre-requisite conditions of Dhyāna.45

The aspirant should avoid those places which are inhabited by the vicious, hypocrites, gamblers, drunkards and the like, and should choose a bank of river, an island, a cave, a summit of a mountain and other places of seclusion for practicing spiritual concentration.46 For him, whose mind is immaculate, stable and detached, every posture, every place, and every time is fit for meditation.47

Many places in the body have been enumerated for mental concentration, namely, the two eyes, two ears, the foremost point of the nose, the forehead, the place between the two eyebrows.48

The best kind of Dhyāna is to meditate upon the self by fixing one's mind in it after renouncing all other thoughts.49 The Dravyasańgraha regards the renouncement of bodily activity, mental activity and vocal activity along with one's own absorption in the self as the best meditation.50



Sarvārthasiddhi of Pūjyapāda, VI-24, (Bhāratīya Jňāna Pītha, New Delhi).


Bhaktāmara 15 (Digambara Jaina Pustakalaya, Surat under the title "Pancastotra Sańgraha').


Kalyāņamandira of Kumudacandra, 3 (under the title "Pancastotra Sańgraha').


Idea of the Holy P. 21


Kalyāņamandira 10


Jina śataka of Samatabhadra, (Vīra Sev ā Mandira, Delhi), 113;


Svayambhūstotra: Tattvapradīpikā, 80 (Śri Gaņeśavarņī Digambara Jaina Śodha Saństhāna, Varansai).


Yuktyānuśāsana, of Samantabhadra, 4 (Vīra Sevā Mandira, Delhi)


Ibid. 2


Bhaktāmara 5, 6. Idea of the Hoy, P. 31


Bhāva Pāhuda of Kundakunda, 153, (Pāŧani Digambara Granthamālā, Mārotha under the title of Aşŧapāhuda).


Samādhi śataka of Pūjyapāda, 97, (Vīra Sevā Mandira, Delhi)


Ekī bhāva-Stotra of Vādirāja,13, (Digambara Jaina Pustakalaya, Surat, under the title "Pańcastotra Sańgraha')


Ibid. 21


Ibid. 3


Svayambhū stotra: 57


Jina śataka of Samatabhadra, 60


Ekī bhāva-Stotra of Vādirāja, 23


Jina śataka of Samatabhadra, 47, 114


Vi¾āpahārastotra of Dhanańjaya, 40 (Digambara Jain Pustakalya Surat under the title "Pańcastotra Sańgraha').


Şaŧkhańdāgama Vol. XIII, Page 64, (Jaina Sāhitya Uddhāraka Fund Kāryālaya, Amraoti)


Kārttikeyānuprekşā, 468, (Rājacandra Āśrama, Āgāsa).


Tattvārthasutra of Umāsvāti IX- 29


Sarvārthasiddhi of Pūjyapāda, IX-29


Jňānārava of Śubhacandra, XXII-20.


Ibid. XXVII - 23 to 33, XXVIII-2 to 7


Ibid. XXVIII-21


Ibid - XXX- 13


Kārttikeyānuprekşā, 480, (Rājacandra Āśrama, Āgāsa).


Dravyasańgraha of Nemicandra, 56, (Jaina Vidyā Saństhāna, Śri Mahāvīrajī).

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