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Svasti - Essays in Honour of Prof. Hampa Nagarajaiah: The Historical Development of Jaina Yoga System and Impacts of Other Yoga-Systems on it

Published: 11.01.2011
Updated: 30.07.2015


The Historical Development of Jaina Yoga System and Impacts of Other Yoga-Systems on it

A Comparative and Critical Study

Jainism, like the other religions of Indian origin attaches supreme importance to Yoga and dhyāna (meditation) as a means to spiritual advancement and emancipation. According to the Uttarādhyayanasūtra, one can know the real nature of self through right knowledge, one can have faith on it through right vision or right attitude. Similarly one can have control over it through right conduct, but the purification of the self can only be achieved through right tapas.[1] As per Janism tapas (penance) has two supreme wings, which are known as dhyāna (meditation or concentration) and kāyotsarga i.e. non-attachment towards one’s own body as well as all worldly belongings. Jainas believe that emancipation, which is the ultimate goal of our life, can only be achieved by śukla-dhyāna, which is the state of pure self-awareness or knowership. Thus according to Jainism emancipation can only be achieved by dhyāna, which is also the seventh step of Patañjali’s Yoga system. Thus we can say that dhyāna and Yoga are the essential factors of Jaina religious practices. All the images of Jaina Tīrthaṅkaras are only in meditative posture and not any other posture.

Sofar as the development of Jaina Yoga studies in our times in India and abroad is concerned, Nathamal Tatia and Pandit Sukhalalji have devoted a full chapter on Jaina Yoga and meditation, in their works Samadarśī Haribhadra and Studies in Jaina philosophy, respectively. R. Williams has written a book entitled Jaina Yoga, but in this book he mainly discussed the Jaina ethics and moral code and little about Jaina Yoga. For him Jaina Yoga means the Jaina path of emancipation. In present days some works in Hindi on Jaina Yoga have also been written, among which the first and foremost are Jaina Yoga and Preksa meditation of Muni Nathamal, the late Ācārya Mahāprajña. Dr. A.B. Dige’s Ph.D. thesis on Jaina Yoga also has been published by the P.V. Research Institute, Varanasi. In recent days two Ph.D. thesis, Meditation and Yoga in Jaina sadhana and Historical development of Jaina Meditation from Mahavira to Mahaprajna written by two Jaina nuns under my guidance have also been published. I have also written a work on Jaina Tantrika-Sadhana in Hindi in which I have shown the historical development and impact of other Yoga systems on Jaina Yoga, meditation and Jaina rituals. Some works on Haribhadrasūri and his Yoga system are also written and published in these days.

If we want to know the brief historical account of the development of Jaina Yoga, its meditational methods, and the impacts of other Indian Yoga systems on it, we should divide the development of the JainaYoga system into the following five stages:

  1. Pre-canonical age (before 6th century B.C)
  2. Canonical age (5th century B.C. to 5th century A.D)
  3. Post-canonical age (6th century A.D. to 12th century A.D)
  4. Age of Tantra and Rituals (13th to 19th century A.D)
  5. Modern age (20th century)

1. Pre-canonical age

The concepts of Yoga and meditation are as early as Indian culture itself. From the earliest period, we find two types of evidences regarding Yoga and meditation: 1) sculptural evidences and 2) literary evidences. For the first phase of Yoga and meditation, both types of evidences are available. But it is very difficult to say that these evidences support the Jaina method of Yoga and meditation. We can only say that this earliest phase of Yoga and meditation belongs to Sramanic culture of which Jainism, Buddhism, Ājīvikas, Sāṃkhya, Yoga as well as some other minor Sramanic trends are the offspring. For this reason every Indian system of dhyāna and Yoga has the right to claim it, as its own. Due to this some Jaina scholars also made the claims that these evidences belong to their own tradition. The earliest sculptural traces regarding Yoga and meditation are found from the Mohenjodaro and Harappa. In the excavation of Mohenjodaro and Harappa some seals are found, in which Yogis have been shown as sitting or standing in the meditational posture.[2]

It proves that in that period meditative and yogic practices prevailed. The culture of Mohenjodaro and Harappa may be called the earliest state of the Sramanic culture of India. It is clear that while the Vedic tradition was engaged in performing the yajñas or sacrifices, the Sramanic tradition was taking interest in yogic and meditative practices. I am of the opinion that this early Sramanic tradition, in due course of time had been divided into various branches such as Jainism, Buddhism, Sāṃkhya - Yoga and Ājīvika along with some other minor sects. Though the Upanishadic trend of that period had tried to make a synthesis between the Sramanic and Vedic traditions, yet it was mostly dominated by the Sramanic tradition, The Sāṃkhya and Yoga systems may also be the result of this synthesis. But we must be aware of the fact that in them Sramanic features are dominating.

Impact of other systems on Jaina Yoga in this period

In the first phase i.e. in the pre-canonical age it is very difficult to trace the impact of other systems of Yoga on Jaina Yoga, because in this period we do not find any information about any of the organized schools of yogic and meditational practices, except that of Rāmaputta, from whom Lord Buddha had learned some methods of meditation. It is interesting to know that he was also mentioned in some Jaina canonical texts, such as Sūtrakṛtāṅga, Antakṛddaśāṅga and Ṛṣibhāṣita.[3] I believe that Vipassana and Preksha meditations of that period may basically belong to Rāmaputta in their original forms.

2. Canonical age

Traditionally it is believed that Jaina Yoga and meditative practices originated from Ṛṣabhadeva, the first Tīrthaṃkara. But so far as the historical evidences are concerned, the earliest mention of yogic practices and meditation was found in early Jaina canonical works such as Ācārāṅga, Sūtrakṛtāṅga and Ṛṣibhāṣita. In Upadhānaśruta (Āc., chap. 9), we have the records of those yogic and meditative practices, which were followed by Lord Mahāvīra himself, in which we find a specific method of meditation.[4] In Sūtrakṛtāṅga (chap. 6) Preksa meditation was also mentioned. There Lord Mahāvīra was presented as the best meditator or seer, who knew the real nature of religious practices, steadiness of mind and prekṣā (self-awareness).[5] In Sūtrakṛtāṅga (chap. 8) it is also mentioned that for the emancipation the ultimate means are dhyāna, yoga and titikṣā (tolerance).[6] The Yoga and meditational practices at their end can be completed by giving up the attachment towards one’s own body (8/26), which is known in Jainism as kāyotsarga.

In this second phase, which is known as canonical age, some common features can be seen between Patañjali’s eightfold Yoga system and the Jaina Yoga system. Patañjali’s system has the following steps of Yogic practices:

  1. Yama (vows)
  2. Niyama (supporting vows)
  3. Āsana (bodily postures)
  4. Prāṇāyāma (controlling of respiration)
  5. Pratyāhāra (controlling of sense organs)
  6. Dhāraṇā (controlling of mental activities)
  7. Dhyāna (concentration of mind) and
  8. Samādhi (equanimity of mind or cessation of mind).

In Jaina canonical works we also find these eight limbs of Yogic Sādhanā, but with different names. The Sthānakavāsī Ācārya Ātmarām has made a comparative study of these eight limbs of with the Jaina system in his book Jaina āgamoṃ meṃ aṣṭānga yoga.

1. According to him, the five yamas are also acceptable to Jainas in the name of the five mahāvratas:

1. Ahiṃsā (Non-violence), 2. Satya (Truthfulness), 3. Asteya (Non-stealing) 4. Brahmacarya (Celibacy) and 5. Aparigraha (Non-possession).

2. Niyama. In Patañjali’s Yogasūtra the five niyamas are:

1. Śauca (piousness), 2. Santoṣa (Satisfaction), 3. Tapas (penance), 4. Svādhyāya (Study of scriptures), and 5. Īśvara praṇidhāna (meditation of the nature of god or pure self). In Jaina scriptures they can be recognized under some different names. In the Bhagavatīsūtra, Lord Mahāvīra explains to Somila that his life style is of six types i.e. 1. Tapas, 2. Niyama, 3. Saṃyama, 4. Svādhyāya, 5. Dhyāna, 6. Āvaśyaka (Observance of essential duties with self –awareness).[7] Saṃyama corresponds to saṃtoṣa and īśvarapraṇidhāna to dhyāna, whereas the names are the same in other cases. In Isibhāsiyāiṃ (chap. 1) we find the mention of śauca, though by śauca Jainas do not mean bodily purity, but give stress on mental purity i.e. the piousness of the heart. Jainism as well as the Yogasūtra both accept that these niyamas are the supporter of the yamas or mahāvratas. We can also say that the twenty-five bhāvanās of the five mahāvratas or the thirty-two yogasaṃgrahas of Jainism can also be considered as similar to the niyamas.

3. Āsana.

Many of the āsanas (bodily postures) are accepted in Jainism in the name of kāyakleśatapa, the sixth kind of external tapas. In Jaina scriptures (Bhagavatī, Aupapātika and Daśāśrutaskandha) we also find the names of various types of bodily postures.[8] It is also said that Lord Mahāvīra attained kevalajñāna in goduhāsana.[9]

4. Prāṇāyāma.

Regarding this limb we do not find any clear instructions in Jaina canonical works. Only in the commentary of the Āvaśyakasūtra it is mentioned that one should observe the meditation (kāyotsarga) of one thousand respirations at the occasion of yearly penitential retreat (pratikramaṇa), in the same way five hundred respirations meditation at fourth monthly penitential retreat, two hundred and fifty respirations meditation at the time of forthnightly, one hundred at daily and fifty at the time of nightly pratikramaṇa.[10] In my opinion this is the same as ānāpāna-sati of Vipassana meditation of Buddhism and śvāsaprekṣā meditation of Ācārya Mahāprajña. I do no find any reference of kumbhaka, pūraka and recaka prāṇāyāma in early Jaina canonical texts, though in the later period Śubhacandra and Hemacandra have mentioned the various types of prāṇāyāmas in the Jñānārṇava and in the Yogaśāstra respectively.[11]

5. Pratyāhāra

means to have the control over one’s sense organs. This limb has been widely discussed in the Jaina canon in the name of pratisaṃlīnatā as a sixth kind of external austerity. In various Jaina scriptures this fifth limb of Yoga has been described in the name of indriya-saṃyama. Uttarādhyayanasūtra (chap. 30) discusses it in detail,[12] and there are many references in various Jaina canonical works.

6. Dhāraṇā.

Though in the works of Jaina logic, the fourth kind of matijñāna is known as dhāraṇā, the concept of “retention” in Jaina logic is somehow different from Patañjali’s Yoga system, where it means concentration of mind, while in Jainism it means retention of the experience. Patañjali’s conception of dhāraṇā is somehow similar to the Jaina concept of dhyāna.

7. Dhyāna.

In the Jaina tradition dhyāna generally means the concentration of mind on some object or mental image. According to it our thought and its instrument, the mind, are restless. The regulation and concentration of these is called dhyāna. Though Jainism accepts four kinds of dhyāna: (1) Ārta-dhyāna, concentration of the mind on the fulfillment of worldly desires, (2) Raudra-dhyāna, concentration of thought on violent activities, (3) Dharma-dhyāna, concentration of mind on auspicious thoughts or for the well being of one’s own self as well as of others, (4) Śukla-dhyāna where the mind gradually shortens its field of concentration and at last becomes steady and motionless or nirvikalpa.[13]

8. Samādhi.

According to Patañjali samādhi is the motionless state of mind, body and speech. In other words it is the state of trance in which the connection of self with the outer world is broken.

In Jainism Patanjali’s three internal limbs of Yoga, such as dhāraṇā, dhyāna and samādhi are attached to the Jaina concept of meditation. Dhāraṇā and dhyāna may be summed up in various stage of dharma-dhyāna and samādhi in śukla-dhyāna. In an other way, we can also find Patañjali’s dhāraṇā and dhyāna in the Jaina concept of dhyāna and samādhi into the Jain concept of kāyotsarga. In Patañjali’s Yoga system, dhāraṇā, dhyāna and samādhi are considered as internal limbs of yogic Sādhanā and being internal limbs, they are not independent from each other. But they have some connective link: without dhāraṇā, dhyāna is not possible and without dhyāna, samādhi is not possible.

In the canonical age Jaina Sādhanā centered around the threefold or fourfold path of emancipation i.e. right faith, right knowledge, right conduct and right austerity. Because they considered right conduct and right austerity as one, Umāsvāti and some other Jaina teachers prescribed the threefold path of emancipation. This threefold path of emancipation is generally acceptable in Hinduism and Buddhism. In Hinduism it is also acceptable as bhakti-yoga, jñāna-yoga and karma-yoga, and in Buddhism as śīla, samādhi and prajñā. We can compare right knowledge with jñāna-yoga of the Gītā and prajñā of Buddhism Buddhism, similarly right faith with bhakti-yoga of the Gītā and samyak-samādhi of Buddhism and right conduct with karma-yoga of Gītā and śīla of Buddhism.[14]

But here we must be aware of the fact that whereas some Hindu thinkers hold that the cultivation of any one of these three constituents is sufficient to attain emancipation, Jaina thinkers do not agree with them. They hold that the absence of any one of these makes emancipation impossible. Thus Jainism believes in the synthesis of these three Yogas.

Here it is to be noted that this threefold path of Jainism can be summed up in the practice of Sāmāyika or Samatva Yoga. For Jainas, Samatva Yoga is the excellent blend of right faith, right knowledge and right conduct. The Uttarādhyayanasūtra says:

nādaṃsaṇissa nāṇaṃ, nāṇeṇa viṇā na honti caraṇaguṇā
aguṇissa natthi mokkho, natthi amukkassa nivvāṇaṃ

Knowledge is impossible without a right view-point or faith and without right knowledge, right conduct is not possible, without right conduct, liberation remains unattainable. Thus all the three are needed for the attainment of emancipation.

Samatva Yoga the fundamental Yoga of Jainism

Sāmāyika or Samatva Yoga is the principal concept of Jainism. It is the first and foremost among the six essential duties of a monk as well as of a house-holder. Pkt. sāmāiya is translated into English in various ways such as observance of equanimity, viewing all the living beings as one’s own self, conception of equality, harmonious state of one’s behavior, integration of personality as well as righteousness of the activities of mind, body and speech. Āc. Kundakunda also used the term samāhi, in the sense of sāmāyika where it means a tensionless state of consciousness or state of self-absorption. In general sense the word sāmāyika means a particular religious practice through which one can attain equanimity of mind. It is an end as well as a means in itself. As a means it is a practice for attaining equanimity while as end it is the state in which the self is completely free from the flickering of alternative desires and wishes, excitements and emotional disorders. It is the state of self-absorption or resting in one’s own self. In the Āvaśyakaniryukti it is said that sāmāyika is nothing but one’s own self in its pure form. Thus, from the transcendental point of view, sāmāyika means realisation of own self in its real nature.[15] It is the state in which one is completely free from attachment and aversion. In the same work various synonyms of sāmāyika are also mentioned: equanimity, equality, righteousness, state of self-absorption, purity, peace, welfare and happiness.[16] In the Anuyogadvārasūtra, Āvaśyakaniryukti and Kundakunda’s Niyamasāra, sāmāyika is explained in various ways. It is said that one who, by giving up the movement of uttering words, realized himself with non-attachment, is said to have supreme equanimity. He, who is detached from all injurious or inauspicious actions, observes threefold control of body, mind and speech and restrains his sense, is said to have attained equanimity. One who behaves equally as one’s own self towards all living beings mobile and immobile, is said to have equanimity. Further, it is said that one who observes self-control, vows and austerities, one in whom attachment and aversion do not cause any disturbance or tension and one who always refrains from indulgence, sorrow and ennui, is said to have attained equanimity or sāmāyika.[17]

This practice of equanimity is equated with religion itself. In the Ācārāṅga, it is said that all the worthy people preach religion as equanimity, Thus, for the Jainas, the observance of religious life is nothing but the practices for the attainment of equanimity. According to them, it is the essence of all types of religious activities and they all are prescribed only to attain it. Not only in Jainism but in Hinduism also, we find various references in support of equanimity. The Gītā defines Yoga as equanimity.[18] Similarly, in the Bhāgavata Purāṇa it is said that the observance of equanimity is the worship of the Lord.

The whole framework of Jaina Sādhanā has been built on the foundation of sāmāyika, i.e. the practice for equanimity. All the religious tenets are made for it. Haribhadrasūri maintains that one who observes equanimity or samabhava will surely attain emancipation, whether he is a Bauddha or the follower of any other religion.[19] It is said in Jaina religious texts that one who observes hard penances and austerities such as eating once in a month or two as well as one who makes donations of crores of golden coins every day, cannot attain emancipation or liberation unless he attains equanimity.[20] It is only through the attainment of equanimity of mind that one can attain emancipation. Āc. Kundakunda says: “What is the use of residing in forest, mortification of body, observance of various fasts, study of scriptures and keeping silence etc. to a saint, who is devoid of equanimity?” (Niyamasāra 124).

Now we come to the next question: how can one attain this equanimity of mind? Mere verbal saying that I shall observe the equanimity of mind and refrain from all types of injurious activities does not have any meaning unless we seriously practice it in our life.

For this, first of all, one should know what are the causes which disturb our equanimity of mind and then make an endeavor to eradicate them.

It is very easy to say that one should observe the equanimity of mind. But in practice it is very difficult to attain it. As our mental faculty is always in grip of attachment and aversion, whatever we think or do is always motivated by either attachment or aversion. Because the vectors of attachment and aversion are solely responsible for the disturbance of mental equanimity, so the practice to attain equanimity depends on the eradication of attachment and aversion. So long as we do not eradicate the attachment and aversion, we are unable to attain equanimity or Samatva Yoga.

Impacts of other Yoga systems on Jaina Yoga in this period.

So far as the impact of other Yoga systems on Jaina Yoga is concerned, in the second phase, the canonical period, different schools of thought have taken a definite shape with their particular names. In this period we do find in the Jaina Yoga system various similarities with that of Buddhism and Patañjali. Pandit Sukhalalji in his introduction of Tattvārthasūtra has discussed these common features in detail. But according to these similarities or common features it is very difficult to prove one’s impact on the another, though it can be generally accepted that these systems have a common source, from which they are developed and this common source was the Indian Sramanic tradition. In the later times, particularly in the Sūtra-age we do find some common features in Patañjali’s Yogasūtra and Umāsvāti’s Tattvārthasūtra, but being named and explained differently, they cannot be used to prove an impact of one on the other. Though Pt. Sukhalalji has given 21 common points of conceptual similarity between TS and Yoga darśana,[21] yet these common features conceptually denote only the same meaning, but their names are totally different, except for some of them. Due to this difference we cannot say that one system has borrowed these from the other. It shows only the common source of them. In this canonical age Jainism has its own method of meditation and it is fully accepted as that by which the ultimate end of emancipation can be achieved. In Jaina canonical works as well as in the Dhyānaśataka of Jinabhadra the meditation was considered of four kinds. In these four types of meditations the first two ārta and raudra) were considered as the cause of bondage and the last two (dharma and śukla) were considered as the cause of emancipation. So far as I know this classification in four types is only the contribution of Jaina ācāryas. We do not find it in any other Indian Yoga system and so we can conclude that it is very difficult to show one’s impact on the other.

Similarly Samatva Yoga, which is a key concept of Jaina Yoga, is also a common feature of Buddhism and Hinduism in general and of the Gītā in particular. But we cannot say that Jainism has borrowed it from Hinduism, because it was propounded in Ācārāṅga which is earlier than the Gītā.

3. Post-canonical age.

This period is very important for the development of Jaina Yoga for two reasons: 1) in this period many Yoga works are written in the Jaina tradition, 2) this is the period in which the impact of other Yoga systems on Jaina Yoga can be clearly seen. Despite scattered references, Jaina canonical works cannot solely be considered as works of Jaina Yoga literature, The first work on the Jaina system of meditation is Jinabhadragaṇi’s Dhyānaśataka (6th century A.D.). This work is fully devoted to the Jaina way of meditation and totally based on Jaina canonical works such as Sthānāṅga and some others. The Sthānāṅga deals with four kinds of dhyānas and their sub-classes along with (i) their objects (ii) their signs (lakṣaṇa), (iii) their conditions (ālambana), (iv) their reflexions (bhāvanā). But this description of dhyānas is fully at par with canonical works, except some details such as the sub-kinds of meditation, time of meditation, examples of meditation, qualities of a meditator, results of the meditation etc.[22] In this work Jinabhadra deals with first two inauspicious dhyānas in short, and the last two auspicious ones in detail, because according to him the first two dhyānas are the causes of bondage, while the last two are the means of emancipation so that only they can be accepted as a limbs of Yoga Sādhanā.

After Jinabhadragaṇi, Haribhadra was the first Jaina ācārya who made a very valuable contribution for the reconstruction of Jaina Yoga system and the comparative study of Jaina Yoga system with that of other Yoga systems. He has composed four important works on the subject: Yogaviṃśikā, Yogaśataka, Yogabindu and Yogadṛṣṭisamuccaya. It is Haribhadrasūri who has for the first time changed the definition of the word Yoga in Jaina traditions: in the canonical period the word Yoga is considered as a cause of bondage.[23] But Haribhadra changed this definition and said that that which joins to the emancipation is Yoga. According to him all spiritual and religious activities that lead to final emancipation are Yoga.[24] Haribhadra in all his Yoga works commonly opines that all religious and spiritual activities that lead to emancipation are to be considered as Yoga. It is to be noted that in his Yoga works he explained the Yoga in different ways.

First in his Yogaviṃśikā, he explained the five kinds of Yoga (i) practice of proper posture (sthāna-yoga); (ii) correct utterance of sound (ūrṇa-yoga); (iii) proper understanding of the meaning of canonical works (artha); and (iv) concentration of mind on a particular object such as Jina image etc. (ālambana) and (v) concentration of thoughts on abstract qualities of Jina or Self (anālambana). This fifth stage may also be considered as the thoughtless state of the self (nirvikalpa-daśā).[26] Among these five kinds of Yoga, the first two constitute the external aspect of Yoga Sādhanā and the last three the internal aspect of Yoga Sādhanā. In other words the first two are Karma-Yoga and the last three are Jñāna-Yoga.

In the Yogabindu Haribhadra describes another five kinds of Yoga: (i) spiritual-vision (adhyātma-yoga); (ii) contemplation (bhāvanā-yoga); (iii) meditation (dhyāna-yoga); (iv) mental equanimity (samatā-yoga) and (v) cessation of all activities of mind, speech and body (vṛtti-saṃkṣaya).[27] In his Yogadṛṣṭisamuccaya Haribhadra explains only three types of Yoga: (i) willingness for the self realization or yogic Sādhanā (icchā-yoga), (ii) the follow up of scriptural orders (śāstra-yoga) and (iii) development of one’s spiritual powers and annihilation of spiritual inertia (sāmarthya-yoga).[27] These three facets of Yoga propounded in the Yogadṛṣṭisamuccaya may be compared with the three jewels of Jainism, i.e. right vision, right knowledge and right conduct, because these three jewels are considered in Jainism as a mokṣamārga, “path of emancipation” and so they are Yoga. Here one thing is to be noted: though Haribhadra differs regarding the various kinds or stages of Yoga in his different works, he unanimously accepts that Yoga is that which unites to emancipation.

In this period after Haribhadra there are two other Jaina ācāryas, namely Śubhacandra (11th century), a Digambara who wrote the Jñānārṇava, and Hemacandra (12th century), a Śvetāmbara who wrote the Yogaśāstra. Their contribution in the field of Jaina Yoga is remarkable. For yogic Sādhanā Śubhacandra prescribes the fourfold virtues of maitrī (friendship with all beings), pramoda (appreciation of the merits of others), karuṇā (sympathy towards the needy persons) and madhyastha (equanimity or indifference towards unruly), as the prerequisite of the auspicious meditation.[28] Here, it is to be noted that these four reflexions are also accepted in Buddhism and in Patañjali’s Yogasūtra. Secondly while discussing dharmadhyāna he mentions four types of it: piṇḍastha, padastha, rūpastha, rūpātīta, along with five types of dhāraṇās i.e., pārthivī, āgneyī, vāyavī (śvasanā), vāruṇī and tattvarūpavatī. [29] Here it to be noted these four types of dhyānas and five types of dhāraṇās are only available in Buddhist and Hindu tantric literature and not in early Jaina literature.

Though Hemacandra in his Yogaśāstra generally deals with three jewels of Jainism i.e. right knowledge, right vision and right conduct, he has given more stress on right conduct. While dealing with meditational methods he also elaborately discusses the piṇḍastha, padastha, rūpastha, rūpātīta-dhyāna along with above mentioned dharmas.[30] But in this regards scholars are of the opinion that he borrowed these ideas from Śubhacandra’s work which is earlier than the Yogaśāstra.[31]

In short: first Śubhacandra borrowed these types of dhyāna and dharma from Hindu Tantra and then Hemacandra followed Śubhacandra. Thus we can say that in this period the impact of other systems of Yoga Sādhanā on Jaina Yoga can be seen easily.

The impact of other Yoga systems on Jainism in this period-

The Dhyānaśataka is the first Yoga work of this period in which we do not find any impact of other Yoga systems on it, because this work only deals with the four types of meditation according to the Jaina canonical works. In this period the impacts of other Yoga systems on Jaina Yoga appears in the works of Haribhadra, Śubhacandra and Hemacandra.

The impact of the Brahmanic tradition is seen in Haribhadra’s Yoga works. But one thing is cristal-clear that he remained completely faithful to the Jaina tradition, while dealing with Jaina Yoga in his different Yoga works. In the Yogavāsiṣṭha we find the three stages of Yoga Sādhanā: (i) total devotion (ii) mental peace and (iii) total cessation of the activities of mind and body. In the Yogadṛṣṭisamuccaya Haribhadra also mentions three Yogas (see above) on the basis of three jewels of Jainism. Icchā-yoga is similar to total devotion and sāmarthya-yoga to the other two states of the Yogavāsiṣṭha. Among the five types of Yoga mentioned in the Yogabindu (see above), adhyātma-yoga was accepted in other Yoga systems as mahā-yoga. The concepts of bhāvanā (contemplation) and dhyāna are also present in the Hindu Yoga system, The samatā-yoga (equanimity) and vṛttisaṃkṣaya-yoga (cessation of the activities) are presented in the Yogavāsiṣṭha as well as in laya-yoga. The four types of Yogas mentioned in Haribhadra’s Yogaviṃśikā (see above) also have correspondences in other Yoga systems, as we have seen for āsana. Similarly ūrṇa is accepted in Hindu Yoga system as mantra-yoga or japa-yoga, ālambana as bhakti-yoga and anālambana as laya-yoga. In the same way Haribhadra’s eight yogadṛṣṭis are also arranged on the basis of the eight Yoga limbs of Patañjali. Though Haribhadra accepted these various concepts from Buddhist and Hindu tantric systems, yet his peculiarity is that he arranged them according to the Jaina tradition. The concepts of piṇḍastha etc. (see above) came in Jaina works such as the Jñānārṇava and the Yogaśāstra are due to the impact of Hindu Tantrism. Both Śubhacandra and Hemacandra also deal with the eight limbs of Patañjali’s Yogasūtra in detail. And so we must accept that these two ācāryas are mostly influenced by Patañjali’s Yogasūtra and other Hindu tantric works.

Age of Rituals and Tantra Impact (13th Century - 19th century)

The four centuries after Hemacandra and before Yaśovijaya, i.e. from 13th to 16th century, can be considered as a dark age of Jaina Yoga. In this period Jaina Yoga, which was originally spiritual in nature, was completely shoved into the background and Tantra along with its rituals became prime. The ultimate goal of yogic realization became the worldly achievements instead of being emancipation. Thus the spiritual goal was completely forgotten and material welfare took its place. Though in these centuries some commentaries of Jaina canonical and other works have been written, the dominating feature of this age was the works on Tantra, mantra and rituals which were written in large numbers by the Jaina ācāryas.

The spiritual nature of Jaina Yoga was revived by Yaśovijaya (17th century). He wrote commentaries on the Yoga works of Haribhadra along with some original Yoga works such as Adhyātmasāra, Jñānasāra, Adhyātmopaniṣad, and also a commentary on Patañjali’s Yogasūtra. Another spiritual Jaina thinker of this age was Anandaghana, who also revived the Jaina spirituality and Yoga Sādhanā through his Padas and songs written in praise of the 24 Tīrthaṃkaras. The works of Yaśovijaya and Anandaghana are fully influenced by Haribhadra. Yet some impact of Patañjali, Rāja-Yoga and Haṭha-Yoga can also be seen on them.

Modern age (20th century)

So far as modern age is concerned we have tremendous changes and developments in the practice of Jaina Yoga. In this age the attraction of common men towards Yoga and meditation is much developed as a way for tension-relaxation. It was a chance that Shri S.N. Goyanka returned to India from Burma and revived the old Vipassana meditation of Buddhism in India, which was in early times also practiced in Jainism. Ācārya Mahāprajña for the first time learned it from Goyankaji and on the basis of his own knowledge of Jaina scriptures and Patañjali’s Yogasūtra rearranged this method of meditation in the name of Preksha-dhyana. Preksha meditation is the dominating feature of Jaina Yoga of our age. Though some other ācāryas of different Jaina sects tried to evolve their own method of meditation and Yoga, in them nothing is new, except a blend of Preksha and Vipassana. Here it is to be noted that Preksha meditation of our age is also a blend of Vipassana of Buddhism and Patañjali’s Aṣṭāṅga Yoga and HaṭhaYoga with some modern psychological concepts.

To summarize the present essay we can say that in the first phase, i.e. before Mahavira, Jaina Yoga and meditational methods were in vogue. But we could not differentiate it from the early Sramanic trends, due to the absence of literary and other evidences. In the second phase, i.e. the Jaina canonical period, except prāṇāyāma,the other seven limbs of Patañjali’s Yogasūtra were also be practiced in Jainism by Jaina monks and nuns, but we have no evidence to conclude about the direction of the possible borrowing. In my opinion both have borrowed from the common Indian Sramanic tradition, of which they are the branches. In the third and fourth periods Jainas borrowed various ritualistic methods of Jaina Yoga and meditation from Hindu and Buddhist Tantric practices. In these two periods the impacts of other traditions on Jaina Yoga and meditation can easily be seen. At present Jaina Yoga and meditative practices have been revived and the common Jainas have an awareness towards it, but it is clear that the present systems of Jaina Yoga and meditation are fully evolved on the basis of Vipassana meditation and B Pataājali’s Aṣṭāṅga Yoga along with some modern psychological and physiological studies.

At last, I would like to conclude my paper by quoting a beautiful verse of the Sāmāyika-pāṭha of Ācārya Amitagati:

sattveṣu maitrīṃ guṇiṣu pramodam
kliṣṭeṣu jīveṣu kṛpāparatvam
madhyasthabhavaṃ viparītavṛttau
sadā mamātmā vidadhātu deva.

Oh Lord! I should be friendly to all the creatures of the world and feel delight in meeting the various people. I should always be helpful to those who are in miserable conditions and tolerant to my opponents.


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SVASTI - Essays in Honour of

Prof. Hampa Nagarajaiah
for his 75th birthday 7.10.2010

Editor: Prof. Dr. Nalini Balbir.

Publisher: Dr. M. Byregowda
K.S. Muddappa Smaraka Trust
Krishnapuradoddi #119, 3rd Cross,
8th Main, Hampinagara
Bangalore - 560 104 Karnataka
Ph: 080-23409512

Edition: 2010

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  1. Ahiṃsā
  2. Aparigraha
  3. Artha
  4. Asteya
  5. Aupapātika
  6. Aura
  7. Bhāvanā
  8. Bhāvanās
  9. Body
  10. Brahmacarya
  11. Buddha
  12. Buddhism
  13. Celibacy
  14. Concentration
  15. Consciousness
  16. Contemplation
  17. Darśana
  18. Daśāśrutaskandha
  19. Deva
  20. Dharma
  21. Dharmadhyāna
  22. Dhyāna
  23. Dhāraṇā
  24. Digambara
  25. Equanimity
  26. Harappa
  27. Haribhadra
  28. Hemacandra
  29. Hinduism
  30. JAINA
  31. Jaina
  32. Jaina Canon
  33. Jainism
  34. Jina
  35. Jinabhadra
  36. Karuṇā
  37. Kevalajñāna
  38. Kumbhaka
  39. Kundakunda
  40. Kāyotsarga
  41. Ladnun
  42. Lakṣaṇa
  43. Mahavira
  44. Mahāvratas
  45. Mahāvīra
  46. Mantra
  47. Matijñāna
  48. Meditation
  49. Muni
  50. N. Tatia
  51. Niyama
  52. Niyamasāra
  53. Non-violence
  54. Pandit
  55. Patanjali
  56. Pratikramaṇa
  57. Pratisaṃlīnatā
  58. Praṇidhāna
  59. Preksa
  60. Preksa meditation
  61. Preksha
  62. Preksha Meditation
  63. Prekṣā
  64. Prāṇāyāma
  65. Purāṇa
  66. Recaka
  67. Sadhana
  68. Sagarmal Jain
  69. Samatva
  70. Satya
  71. Sramanic
  72. Sthānakavāsī
  73. Svādhyāya
  74. Sādhanā
  75. Sāmāyika
  76. Sāṃkhya
  77. Sūtrakṛtāṅga
  78. Tantra
  79. Tapas
  80. Tattvārthasūtra
  81. Three Jewels
  82. Titikṣā
  83. Tolerance
  84. Tīrthaṃkara
  85. Tīrthaṅkaras
  86. Umāsvāti
  87. Uttarādhyayana
  88. Varanasi
  89. Vedic
  90. Yoga
  91. samādhi
  92. Ācārya
  93. Ācārya Mahāprajña
  94. Ācāryas
  95. Ācārāṅga
  96. Ājīvika
  97. Āsana
  98. Āvaśyaka
  99. ācāryas
  100. āsana
  101. Śvetāmbara
  102. Ṛṣabhadeva
  103. Ṛṣibhāṣita
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