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Samayasara - by Acharya Kundakunda: Preamble/Introduction

1.  Perfection and purity is integral to every soul: Every soul is an uncreated entity and exists in its own right from the eternal past but not in its pure and perfect state but the worldly state of existence which is a hiatus from the perfect state. Although degradation or fall has no beginning, the end of the degradation and the realization of the pure state (Self) is very clearly envisaged.

The Indian philosophers, in general, and Jains in particular, have always been conscious of the intrinsic potentiality of perfection of the soul and the possibility of realization of self-perfection. Indian thinkers are also unanimous that purity and perfection are integral to every soul and realization is not a new creation in the sense of emergence of an absolutely unprecedented state.

2.  Worldly status is an evil: Again, the Indian philosophers are unanimous that the worldly embodied state of the soul is an evil and must be got rid of. The soul must realize itself. There is no ambiguity or controversy on this point. They, also, agree upon the existence of a fundamental condition that sustains the worldly state and prevents the spiritual aspirant from reaching the ultimate goal and objective. This primal and most fundamental condition of worldly existence, punctuated by birth and death in unbroken succession is Delusion or Perverted Belief which accepts the evil for the good and rejects the good for the evil, masquerading as good. Under the influence of this overpowering defect, the soul identifies itself with the psycho-physical organism and the external environment. It develops love and hatred, sympathy and antipathy, desire and aversion for whatever is found to be conducive or otherwise to the temporary well-being of its embodied existence.

This perversion which is the root of all evils is that the Self does not distinguish itself from the material body which envelops it, and therefore, develops an inordinate love for what is pleasant and useful to the body and hatred for what is thought to be harmful and unpleasant. The embodied existence necessarily generates a powerful possessive impulse and compels the soul to acquire the pleasant and useful things of the world. In empirical terms, the delusion forces the soul to go towards the darkness instead of enlightenment, to foster ignorance or perverted knowledge instead of truth, and the cycle of rebirths lasts as long as the delusion lasts. The common aim of all the Indian philosophical systems being realization of the pure self, they show the means of eradicating the delusion and perverted belief. In order to do this, the basic requirement is to possess the spiritual conviction regarding its pure state. Once the soul is convinced about and firmly believes in the real nature of the self, it turns back and treads upon the right path.

3. Pure and Perfect Self: Inspite of the above mentioned unanimity/agreement, there are radical differences in the soul's conceptions of the different philosophies. Consequently, there are corresponding differences in the expositions of the process of liberation from the worldly state (bondage), as well as the ultimate nature of the pure and perfect self. The most significant difference is between the absolutist philosophies—Vedānta, Sāṃkhya etc. and the non-absolutist Jains. The former may, again be divided into two groups (i) Monists who stress upon the unity of the reality and hold the aspect of plurality as illusory, that is holding a single immutable and eternal unitary principle called Brahma, as the substratum ground of all other conscious egos and (ii) Pluralists who hold the multiplicity of conscious egos as the primary fact and accept the existence of infinite number of ubiquitous, eternal and i immutable conscious principles, called puruṣas, side by side with an unconscious everevolving substance called prakṛti. On the other side are non-absolutist Jains who believe in infinite number of conscious principles called jῑvas side by side with unconscious karmic matter. Both jῑva and matter are mutable. Worldly state of existence (bondage) is intimate association of soul with matter, while the liberated state is the pure consciousness (jῑva) which is free from all associations with matter. Each jῑva is numerically different from all others but otherwise identical to them in all respects, i.e., it maintains its individuality even in the liberated unembodied state.

According to the law of anekānta (non-absolutism), the soul is both eternal as well as changing, that is, the substance is eternal while its modes are varying even in the state of emancipation. Thus according to this law, the state of emancipation is but an ultimate modification of the worldly state of existence. It should be remembered, however, that while the modification in the worldly state is infinitely variable, that in the state of emancipation is uniform. The most important thing is that the soul does not lose its qualities of consciousness/awareness, (i.e., it does not become bereft of qualities or nirguṇa) after self-realization nor does it lose its individual identity to merge into the unitary principle.

In the pure and perfect state each soul is identically endowed with:

  1. Ananta/kevala jñāna: pure and total knowledge/direct experience of the entire reality.
  2. Ananta/kevala darśana: pure and perfect intuition
  3. Ātmika suklia: self generated blissfulness
  4. Ananta vῑrya: unobstructed infinite spiritual energy
  5. Predilection for total truth/reality
  6. Eternal freedom from migration
  7. Disembodied existence: total formlessness
  8. Total parity with other liberated souls

The most important feature of this chapter (verses 9.7 to 9.13) is to provide a reliable, systematic method by which pure consciousness can be separated, isolated, purified and directly experienced in the most fundamental state. The instrument or the tool which separates the Self from the non-self (bondage) is called Prajñā i.e., discretionary wisdom.

To fully and properly understand the above-mentioned method of separation, purification and realization of the Pure Supreme Self, the analogy of the recovery and refining/purifying gold from the ores, will be found to be useful. In both cases, the significant step in the process, is the precise knowledge of the impurities which contaminate the purity.

In the case of gold, impurities are found to exist at two levels. Firstly, there is the crude and visible ore which is mixed up with the precious metal in a comparatively, superficial manner. In the common commercial practice, gold is recovered from the ore by process of separation which may be a combination of melting and chemical refining. The gold, thus recovered is then ready for most commercial applications.

The purity of the gold thus recovered, may be 99.00 to 99.99 percent depending upon the refining efficiency of the process used and is generally marketed as such. For most practical uses, this purity is good enough and the gold is called pure or standard gold. But chemically this gold is not pure gold and its properties will be nearly but not exactly identical to those of pure gold. The impurities which remain are difficult to identify and even more difficult to separate because they consist of minute atoms of other elements usually copper, iron etc—inextricably combined with the atoms of gold. In most practical applications, the impurities are not only ignored but in many cases, such as making ornaments etc. further impurities are deliberately added to increase the mechanical strength of the precious metal. And so, empirically, this gold is accepted as pure gold.

In the case of the soul (Self) also, the impurities exist at two levels. Firstly, there is the gross physical body which is comparatively, easily identified as an alien, because its characteristic attributes viz. colour, smell etc. are recognized as physical or material attributes. The series of physical states is, also, not difficult to identify as being different from psychical. A regular practice of total, relaxation with proper technique (kāyotsarga) accompanied with self-meditation (concentrated perception in which the body and the soul are mentally separated) would result in a real experience in which the two are distinguished as separate entities.

Thus, pure psychic states—knowledge, awareness—and pure physical states—hardness/softness, visibility—are not as difficult to identify as those dispositions which are produced by the interaction of the soul and its bondage of karma. For example, the states of anger, cruelty, fear, hate etc. are neither pure psychic states nor pure physical ones. They are psychological distortions produced in the soul by the fruition of deluding karma. And from the empirical aspect, they are accepted as psychical states, as in the case of standard gold. But the transcendentally pure soul is totally free from anger etc., establishing that they are not pure attributes or nature (svabhāva) of the pure soul, but distortions (vibhāva) produced by the interaction of the soul and the karma. The process of purification and self-realization is complete only when the impure emotions and passions are first identified as non-self and then separated from the Self by the method described in the verses 3.6 to 3.13.

In this chapter the following technical terms need to be expounded:

1. Bhedvijñāna—(special) ability to discriminate. As stated above, the soul, under the influence of delusion, identifies itself with the physical shell which envelops it. That is, it is unable to distinguish and separate itself from the body which is patently contrary to the ultimate truth. This error continues as long as the delusion lasts. The soul is, in course of time, impelled by an innate psychic force to revise and reverse its false belief and it begins to sense a distinction between the characteristics of the Self and the Non-self. It enters a course of spiritual discipline, and ultimately, enlightenment dawns upon it and it acquires the ability to clearly distinguish itself from the body. This dawn of enlightenment or the ability to differentiate is called bhedavijñāna.

2. Prajñā-Discriminative Wisdom. Prajñā broadly means profound and mature spiritual ability to directly experience the fundamental state of the Self. It is a faculty by which conscious­ness is aware of itself in its pure form, completely isolated from other objects of perception, thought or feeling. Thus it is an efficient and reliable instrument or tool for separating the Self and the Non-self. It implies a rare combination of discretion, maturity, extensive learning, searching profundity and spiritual discernment.

In English language, the nearest equivalent term appears to be wisdom or discriminative or discretary wisdom or sagacity. Yet there is some difference, viz., while prajñā is used to emphasize spiritual faculty, wisdom and sagacity are considered to be intellectual qualities, We shall, in this work, translate prajñā as wisdom or discriminatory wisdom.


Samayasara - by Acharya Kundakunda Publishers:
Jain Vishva Bharati University First Edition: 2009

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Ananta
  2. Anekānta
  3. Anger
  4. Body
  5. Brahma
  6. Consciousness
  7. Darśana
  8. Discipline
  9. Environment
  10. Fear
  11. Jñāna
  12. Karma
  13. Karmic matter
  14. Kevala Darśana
  15. Kevala jñāna
  16. Kāyotsarga
  17. Non-absolutism
  18. Prakṛti
  19. Soul
  20. Svabhāva
  21. Sāṃkhya
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