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The Mirror Of The Self: [19] Sources Of Transcendental Consciousness In Jain Literature

Published: 24.02.2009
An Important Question

In the Goraksh technique of meditation, there are enumerated nine centres of concentration:[1]

    1. Adhar Chakra
    2. Swadhisthan
    3. Manipur
    4. Hritpadma (Anahat)
    5. Vishuddhi
    6. Ghantikamool
    7. Lambika Sthan
    8. Ajna Chakra
    9. Shunya Sthan

The question arises as to while these centres find mention in Hatha Yoga and Tantra Shastra, there does not seem to be any reference to them in Jain literature. Because of the disappearance of the technique of meditation in the Jain tradition, an answer to this question was never sought. Acharyas such as Haribhadra Suri, Shubhchandra, Hemchandra, incorporated Hatha Yoga in their yoga-books, but never looked for the psychic centres available in Jain literature. Inconsequence, the Jain sadhaks could not make much progress in the discovery and realisation of transcendental knowledge. As a matter of fact, right information about the body was no longer available and il was not properly appreciated. We got stuck up with the word, 'soul'.

In the historical perspective, it was the exaggerated concept of spiritualism or the soul-element, which stood in the way of proper appreciation of the body. A discriminative approach highlighted the distinction between the soul and the body, but many points Of advantage resulting from their union were ignored. The knowledge of a person endowed with a body is not exclusively related to the soul; it is related both to the body and the soul. Acharya Malayagiri adequately expressed this truth. He said, "The omniscient perceives and knows through all the regions of the body and the soul, but a man of limited intelligence, a product of his body-determining karman, in the absence of omniscience, knows and perceives things through conditioned sense-organs.

Karan: Psychic Centres

A man has four kinds of karans (operations of mechanism) available to him - mental, verbal, physical and karmic.[2] Inauspicious karan lead to sorrow, and auspicious ones communicate joy.[3]

In Swetambar literature, the connotations of the word karan were lost. However, in Digambar literature the tradition of meaning relating to it is available even today. This tradition provides us very important information about chakras or the psychic centres.

One of the meanings of the word karan is 'pure consciousness'. The second meaning is 'the purity of body and mind, etc., brought about by the purity of consciousness'. The part of the body, which becomes purified, in other words, the part of the body, which becomes karan, grows to be the conductor of transcendental knowledge [4]. From this point of view, there are many regions and structures of clairvoyance in our body.[5] In fact, it is these structures, which are known as chakras or the psychic centres.

Fundamental Basis Of The Theory Of Chakras

In Swetambar literature, the fundamental basis of the theory of chakras is partial clairvoyance (deshavadhi jnana).

In Gommatasara, there are mentioned three kinds of clairvoyance - partial clairvoyance (deshavadhi), super clairvoyance (paramavadhi) and full clairvoyance (sarvavadhi)[6] In Pragyapana, there are mentioned two kinds - partial and full.[7] Nandi Sutra does not mention these, though it speaks of super clairvoyance (paramavadhi)[8] In all, it enumerates six kinds of clairvoyance[9], the first being 'accompanying clairvoyance' (anugamik), which itself is of two kinds - antagata (internal) and madhvagata (central).[10] This subject has not been treated in any other Agama. It seems that Devardhigani has purloined a whole section from Gyanapravad Purva. Looked at from this angle, the chief source of Nandi Sutra can only be Gyanapravad Purva; it cannot be Sthanang, Samvayang, Bhagwati, etc. Of the 14 purvas, Gyanapravad is the fifth. The only subject treated in this vast volume is clairvoyance.[11]

This section of Nandi Sutra resolves one question recurring time and again. It is said that Tantra Shastra and Hatha Yoga portray chakras, but these find no mention in Jain literature. As a matter of fact, this is not true.

Antagata (Internal) Clairvoyance

Nandi Sutra does not mention partial clairvoyance (desha­vadhi) and full clairvoyance (sarvavadhi); it nevertheless contains an elaborate exposition of these. Antagata serves as a pointer to partial clairvoyance and madhyagata to full clairvoyance. Antagata clairvoyance is of three kinds:

    1. Frontal
    2. Occipetal
    3. Lateral

Antagata: Analysis Of Meaning

The author of the Churni and Haribhadra Suri have given various connotations of the word, antagata:

    1. It is located deep inside the gross body and is, therefore, called antagata.
    2. Being spardhaka,[12] it is found in the inmost parts of the self and is therefore called antagata.
    3. It is capable of direct experience through some part of the gross body, and is therefore called antagata [13]

Madhyagata (Central) Clairvoyance

Being a factor in the purification of the central catalytic parts of the gross body and also for the purification of all the regions of the soul or because of possessing knowledge in all directions, this clairvoyance is called 'central'[14]

Antagata (Internal): Madhyagata (Central)

    • When the forward chakras or psychic centres are awakened, it leads to frontal-internal clairvoyance by which knowledge of things in front of a person is gained.
    • When the psychic centres at the back get activated, it leads to hind-internal clairvoyance by which is gained knowledge of things at the back.
    • When the lateral psychic centres get activated, it leads to lateral-internal clairvoyance by which is gained knowledge of things on the sides.
    • When the central psychic centres get awakened, it leads to central clairvoyance by which is gained knowledge of things all round, i.e., in front, at the back and at the sides at once.[15]


We thus conclude that the psychic centres are situated all over the body. The rays of transcendental knowledge break forth from every psychic centre, which gets awakened in the course of meditational practice. If the whole body is awakened, these rays burst forth from the entire body. Clairvoyance resulting from the activation of one or several psychic centres is called partial clairvoyance (deshavadhi); that which springs from the activation of the entire organism, is called total or full clairvoyance (sarvavadhi).

Kinds Of Clairvoyance

Nandi Sutra gives us six kinds of clairvoyance:[16]

  1. Accompanying (anugamika)
  2. Non-accompanying (ananugamika)
  3. Increasing (vardhamana)
  4. Decreasing (hiyamana)
  5. Transient (pratipatti)
  6. Non-transient (apratipatti)

In Shatkandagam, 13 kinds of clairvoyance are men­tioned:[17]

  1. Deshavdhi (partial)
  2. Parmavadhi (super)
  3. Sarvavadhi (full)
  4. Hiyamana (decreasing)
  5. Vardhamana (increasing)
  6. Avasthita (non-fluctuating)
  7. Anavasthita (fluctuating)
  8. Anugami (accompanying)
  9. Ananugami (non-accompanying)
  10. Pratipatti (transient)
  11. Apratipatti (non-transient)
  12. Ekakshetra (pertaining to one region)
  13. Anekakshetra (pertaining to many regions)

Important Distinctions

In the present context, two very important distinctions are Ekakshetra and Anekakshetra. That in which one part of the soul­-body (a psychic centre) becomes karan (i.e., receptive), is Ekakshetra[18] (partial) clairvoyance; that in which the whole body becomes receptive, is Anekakshetra (full) clairvoyance.[19]

Although the capacity for clairvoyance is displayed by all regions of the soul, still it is through the part of the body which becomes receptive, that clairvoyance manifests itself. Only that part of the body, which has become karan (receptive), can be the medium of such manifestation. In Nandi Sutra is to be found a discussion on the possibility of perceiving, of being enlightened, through one, as well as through all the parts of the body.[20]

In Ekakshhetra clairvoyance, one particular psychic centre can be awakened, or two, three, four or five psychic centres can be simultaneously awakened.[21]

Psychic Centres: Shapes

The psychic centres can appear in many shapes. Unlike the shape of the sense organs, which is specified, that of the psychic centres is not specified, but space-points of the body which become karan, i.e., 'receptive', may assume many shapes.[22] The names and direction of certain shapes are given,[23] such as Shrivatsa, Kalash, Shankha, Swastika, Nandyavarta, etc. The author of Dhavala, by using the word, 'etc.', points towards the existence of other auspicious structures.[24]

In Tantra Shastra and Hatha-Yoga, the word kamal ('lotus'), has been used for the chakras. Acharya Nemichandra has described Guna-Pratyaya Avadhijnana ('clairvoyance produced by merit') as originating from signs, such as that of the conch-shell.[25] The commentator, while expounding 'etc.', has referred to the words, padma ('the lotus'), vajra (a kind of weapon), swastika (a benedictory or auspicious mark), matsya ('fish'), kalash ('pot'), etc.[26] In Jain literature is to be found a belief in ashta mangal (eight auspicious signs).[27] It may be conjectured that the bodily signs of clairvoyance and the ashta mangals have something in common.

Auspicious And Inauspicious Shapes

Auspicious shapes like shrivatsa, etc., are found above the navel in both man and beast. According to Acharya Vira Sena, auspicious psychic centres do not exist in the lower parts.[28] Thus, the psychic centres situated below the navel are inauspicious. Their shapes are like the chameleon, etc. which are of inauspicious shape. Acharya Virasena says that Shatkhandagam contains no aphorisms on this subject, but he got it from the traditions of the gurus.[29]

A change can also be effected in the formations of the psychic centres. On a man achieving right vision, the inauspicious structures on the navel disappear and auspicious structures are created above the navel. Similarly, following the loss of right vision, the auspicious structures above the navel disappear and inauspicious structures appear below it.[30]

An Important Subject

From the viewpoint of spiritual practice, the subject of the psychic centres is highly important. According to Jain philosophy, the soul permeates the entire body, but intensity of awareness is not the same in all parts of the body. In certain parts consciousness is very intensive; in other parts it is rarefied. For transcendental knowledge, development of powers and the experiencing of bliss, the activation of the intensive regions of consciousness (the psychic centres) is very important. From this point of view, the subject is worthy of most careful study.


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3rd Edition 1995

Jain Vishva Bharati Institute
Ladnun -341 306 (Rajasthan)

Muni Dhananjay Kumar (Hindi)
Muni Mahendra Kumar (English)

Translated by:
Late Prof. R.K. Seth

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharya
  2. Acharya Nemichandra
  3. Acharya Virasena
  4. Acharyas
  5. Agama
  6. Avasthita
  7. Body
  8. Chakra
  9. Chakras
  10. Clairvoyance
  11. Concentration
  12. Consciousness
  13. Digambar
  14. Gommatasara
  15. Haribhadra
  16. Haribhadra Suri
  17. Hatha Yoga
  18. Hatha-Yoga
  19. Jain Philosophy
  20. Jiva
  21. Jnana
  22. Karman
  23. Meditation
  24. Nandi sutra
  25. Omniscient
  26. Psychic Centre
  27. Psychic Centres
  28. Purva
  29. Purvas
  30. Sadhaks
  31. Shastra
  32. Soul
  33. Sutra
  34. Swastika
  35. Swetambar
  36. Tantra
  37. Vardhamana
  38. Virasena
  39. Yoga
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