Samayasara - by Acharya Kundakunda: The Soul's Characteristic Attributes—Empirical Aspect

jaha paradavvaṃ seḍadi seḍadi hu seḍiyā appaṇo sahāveṇa.
taha paradavvaṃ jāṇadi ṇādā vi saeṇa bhāveṇa..
54

jaha paradavvaṃ seḍadi seḍadi hu seḍiyā appaṇo sahāveṇa.
taha paradavvaṃ passadi jῑvo vi saeṇa bhāveṇa..
55

jaha paradavvaṃ seḍadi seḍadi hu seḍiyā appaṇo sahāveṇa.
taha paradavvaṃ vijahadi ṇādā vi saeṇa bhāveṇa..
56


jaha paradavvaṃ seḍadi seḍadi hu seḍiyā appaṇo sahāveṇa.
taha paradavvaṃ saddahadi sammādiṭṭhῑ sahāveṇa..
57

evaṃ vavahārassa du viṇicchao ṇāṇadaṃsaṇacaritte.
bhaṇido aṇṇesu vi pajjayesu emeva ṇādavvo..
58

(Jaha seḍiyā appaṇo sahāveṇa hu paradavvaṃ seḍadi) The whitening agent whitens another thing (such as a wall), because of its own inherent nature [to impact whiteness], (taha ṇādā vi) so also the knower/soul (saeṇa bhāvena paradavvaṃ jāṇadi) knows the external objects because of its own inherent nature [capability of knowing].

(Jaha seḍiyā appaṇo sahāveṇa hu paradavvaṃ seḍadi) The whitening agent whitens another thing (such as a wall), because of its own inherent nature [to impart whiteness], (taha jῑvo vi) so also the soul (saeṇa bhāvena paradavvaṃ passadi) perceives external objects because of its own inherent nature [capability of perceiving].

(Jaha seḍiyā appaṇo sahāveṇa hu paradavvaṃ seḍadi) The whitening agent whitens another thing (such as a wall), because of its own inherent nature (to impart whiteness), (taha ṇādā vi) so also the knower [soul] (saeṇa bhāvena paradavvaṃ vijahadi) renounces external objects/possessions because of its own inherent nature [capability of renouncing].

(Jaha seḍiyā appaṇo sahāveṇa hu paradavvaṃ seḍadi) The whitening agent whitens another thing (such as a wall) because of its own inherent nature [to impart whiteness], (taha samadiṭṭhῑ) so also the enlightened soul (saeṇa bhāvena paradavvaṃ saddahadi) believes in the external reality/tattavas because of its own inherent nature [capability of right belief].

(Evaṃ du) Thus, (vavahārassa viṇicchao bhaṇido) the triple characteristic attributes of the soul, viz., knowledge, faith and conduct (ṇāṇadaṃsaṇacaritte) have been described, briefly from the empirical/vyavahāra aspect; (aṇṇesu vi pajjayesu emeva ṇādavvo) the other attributes of the soul should be understood similarly.

Annotations:

It has been observed more than once that for the non-absolutist Jains truth/reality is free from all absolutism, that is, neither the ultimate/transcendental (niścaya)/truth nor the empirical (vyavahāra) one is absolute truth. In the above verses, the author discusses the three fundamental attributes of the soul which constitute its nature. First, he discusses the problem of relation between the soul who is the knower/perceiver etc. on the one hand and the objects of knowledge etc., on the other. He then proceeds to refute the absolutists theory of knowledge and finally establishes the non-absolutist Jain views regarding the problem of knowledge.

Relation presupposes both identity and difference and cannot hold between absolutely different or absolutely identical terms. It is not possible, far less necessary, to differentiate absolutely between two terms which are absolutely independent of each other, in respect of their genesis, being, and cognition. Similarly, absolute identity would annul the duality of the terms and make them a singular entity. Thus, a relation is possible if the terms are both identical with as well as different from each other.

The author uses the analogy of a white-washing agent (liquid composition of lime and water), which is commonly used to whitewash the walls of a building, to illustrate the identity-cum-difference between the substratum self and its unalienable characteristic attributes. The first set of verses emphasizes the relation from the ultimate aspect while the second set shows it from the empirical one.

It is a matter of common knowledge that when a whitewashing solution is applied on a wall it transfers its whiteness to the wall. However, the whitener, neither losses its intrinsic nature nor becomes identical with the wall. Thus, the relation between the wall and the whitener is strictly superficial and neither of them stands to lose its own respective intrinsic nature.

Similarly the soul, while knowing an external object, retains its identity as the knower and does not become the object known which remains a non-self. The knower and the known are related to each other in the process of knowledge—as the knower and the known—and the relation, as in the case of the wall and the whitener, is strictly superficial. In the same way the soul retains its identity as the perceiver, the abstainer (renouncer) and the believer of right faith and does not become the object of perception, the renounced possessions, and the objects of right faith (tattvās), respectively.

Jains regard the knowledge, which is an unalienable characteristic attribute of the soul, as an illuminator which lights up the external objects. Just as the light makes the external objects visible without in any way interfering with their intrinsic nature, so also they become known through the process of knowledge but remain internally unaffected. This epistemology of Jains is, however, not acceptable to absolutist philosophies such as Vedānta, Buddhism etc. We shall see, briefly, how the author refutes their views.

The ultimate reality, according to the monist Vedantist, is devoid of all plurality, i.e., the ultimate reality is a singularity and the plurality is only a false appearance. He denounces plurality in the strongest possible terms and holds that it is only a perverted outlook that is responsible for our perception of plurality. Thus, according to him, there can be no relation at all between the perceiver and the object of perception, unless the object is integrated with perception as its internal content. Knowledge/perception is not possible if the knower (consciousness) and the object of perception elect to preserve their autonomy. Since both are derived from a single entity—the primeval Brāhmaṇa—they must be identical.

According to the Buddhists, all existents are fluxional and perish in the succeeding moment. Thus, there is no synchronism between perception and its object because the object must come into contact with the sense and then only the perception and its object because the object must come into contact with the sense and then only the perception can take place. But the object cannot be there to be perceived as it has passed out of existence.

It can be seen that both monism of Vedāntist and nihilism of the Buddhists, merely provide an easy escape and succeed in pushing the problem further without offering any real solution. The logical development of monism must identify the single reality with the knower and must end by condemning the object as māyā or illusion. The fluxism of Buddhists, by denying the reality of all distinctions of perceiver and perceived and by denouncing the duality of both and by reducing both to a single principle of perception/knowledge (jñāna), apparently, gets rid of the problem of explaining the relation between two absolutely different categories. But what happens to knowledge when there is no process of perception? Absence of knowledge must necessarily mean the cessation of the external world. This absurd nihilistic conclusion is positively contradicted by our concrete experience.

Jains believe that all absolutistic conceptions are vitiated by some defect or other and that they all go against the verdicts of experience. The absolutists, however, dismiss the verdicts of experience as untrustworthy. The author has refuted both absolutist theories of knowledge in the above verses, and established the Jain position in accordance with both ultimate and empirical aspects.

Sources

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

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  1. Buddhism
  2. Consciousness
  3. Jñāna
  4. Monism
  5. Soul
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