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Who is a Jain Shravak: 25.2 Outlook of a Shravak

Published: 15.03.2020

Infinite Contradictory Pairs

Existence and non-existence are both contradictory attributes. If you are to ask a Jain philosopher, showing a book - 'is this a book or not?' They will reply - 'Is this a book and at the same time, it is not a book.'

Posing the next question, 'Is this book permanent or temporary?' The response will be, 'It is permanent as well temporary.' From the viewpoint of atom (paramaanu), this book is permanent. These atoms have not been created and have been in existence since time immemorial, however in the form of a book they are temporary. By analyzing each attribute of an object in this way, we can know that infinite attributes and infinite contradictory pairs remain in unison.

An adult was sitting in a room. A young man said to him, 'Why is there darkness in your room. How will you work?' The experienced person replied, 'There is enough light to see. It's not dark.' One person says that there is light and the other says that there is darkness. The young man says again, 'I have a letter written in a very small script and the letter has to be read. The light here is not enough to read it. Come out in sunlight.' From this point of view, there is darkness. 'There is light' - this statement is relative too. Otherwise, how can it be seen that there was a person in the room?

Party and Anti-Party

Two contradictory ideas or attributes can exist together. Can people with diverse ideologies not live together? It is a subject of consideration and discussion. A pair of infinite contradictory attributes can exist simultaneously together. Why can't people with contradictory ideas live together? Can people with divergent thoughts not co-exist in an institute, parliament or legislative assembly? They do exist and work there.

Once, Lal Krishna Advani came to Ladnun. We were having conversation in the presence of Acharya Tulsi. I said to Mr. Advani, 'You are in the parliament, but that is an incorrect term to use. There is a ruling party, which is an appropriate term, and you are in vipaksh (opposition). This word means enemy. If you use this word, then how can you behave cordially with the other party? Advani Ji asked, 'Which word should be used in place of vipaksh?' We suggested, 'Use 'pratipaksh' in place of vipaksh.' It would be a novel interpretation of the essence of anekant. There is no party which does not have its opposition, similar to night which is the antidote of day. This is owing to the fact that these two concepts are complementary. Without its antidote, an entity loses its stability. This is essential. If we use the word 'pratipaksh', we will get a fresh perspective. pratipaksh party does not exist to be in opposition only, instead it should also support the ruling party.'

Advani Ji replied, 'It is really a good concept.' Truly, he started using this word. In Delhi, a letter was received from Vajpayee Ji. At the end of the letter, he wrote as - sent by 'neta pratipaksh. This term became popular in media as well and is accepted and used widely today.

Both the ruling party and opposition party can exist in harmony. A person can feel both coolness and warmness simultaneously. How can we measure coolness and warmth? Difference is of degree. Upon reaching one's tolerance, they will feel cold or warm.

Once, in the evening I was walking with Mahashraman's support. I said, 'Your hand is cold.' Mahashraman replied, 'Your hands are warm.' I said, 'I have had my meal, so my body is radiating heat. You are fasting, so your hands are cold.'

Cold and hot are relative. If a person with cooler hands would have touched my hands, he would find it warmer and vice-versa. These contradictory forms coexist. We should try to apply this principle practically. We should develop the view that despite having different natures, we can peacefully coexist.

Anekant: To Understand the Hellish Suffering

Some souls suffer in hell and go through rigorous pains. Aagams state that suffering in hell is of two kinds -

  1. Due to region
  2. Due to parasparodeerit vedana (caused by each other)

One region of hell is extremely hot like desert regions and the other is extremely cold like Polar Regions. Another suffering which arises is due to the conflict between the hellish beings.

Umasvati has written in Tattvartha Sutra - Hellish beings having the right view (samyak drishti) do not trouble and create further pain to others. Hellish beings with wrong views (mithya drishti) suffer pain of the region and in addition multiply their suffering manifold by fighting amongst each other. Do all beings in hell suffer equally or not? From the viewpoint of anekant, the suffering arising due to region is same for all, whereas suffering arising by conflict amongst the hellish beings differs from one another.

Hellish beings with right perspective do not fight each other as they believe that they are there because of their wrong deeds, so why to invite new karmas. Otherwise, they will have to suffer more. They live with each other peacefully in a friendly manner. Other beings do not understand this and blame each other for their current state. They fight inordinately such that they ultimately increase their sufferings. Where has this suffering come from? It arises due to region, people, time and feelings. Sufferings due to location can be the same, but sufferings arising due to emotions differ. The latter is comparable to calling and inviting the pain. One must remember the maxim that, 'mithyaadrishtayah parasparodeerit vedana - the hellish beings endowed with wrong faith inflict pain to others.

Collective Life and Perspective

Let us discuss within the context of communal lifestyle. Let's say a few people live together under the same circumstances. When the weather is cold or hot, the sensation of coolness or heat is same for all. In winter, if they start fighting then body is shivering due to the cold, but their temperament is hot. People having positive attitude will not suffer much, keep themselves relaxed and the surrounding atmosphere will be calm. Thus, no conflict will arise. Clashes on petty issues are caused by a fanatical attitude. Many conflicting situations are probably created intentionally without any valid reason to justify it. We come across many instances. People themselves admit that they are probably making a mountain out of a molehill. I firmly believe that often conflicts occur over minor and trivial issues. For example, while distribution of goods in the family if one object was not distributed, one person gets an extra tree, vessels etc. Major issues are always evident; there remain ample reasons for conflicts. Even history bears witness to the fact that big battles have often been an outcome of small conflicts and issues.

Sometimes even insignificant harsh words and actions of a person hurt others and create immense stress and struggle among people. If our perception is in the right direction, then we do not easily get angry and are able to control our emotions, whereas if our perception is wrong, we cannot control our emotions and get angry, creating further troubles.

Definition of Right View (Samyak Drishti)

One who knows and understands the concept of jiva and ajiva (living and non-living) is endowed with right view. Those who don't know the nine realities (tattva) are away from the truth. Acharya Tulsi gave a new spiritual definition of right view - anyone who finds happiness in sorrow is a person with right view and one who finds sorrow even in happiness is a person with wrong view.

The following incident took place in Bhiwani. Some people visited Acharya

Tulsi. He asked them, 'Tell me! What has brought you here?' The people were straightforward, 'Gurudev! We would like to have a debate on the scriptures (shaastraarth) with you.' Acharya replied, 'This tradition of debate is now outdated. It is an old tradition. Why would you like to do it now?'

'No, we want to have a debate', they replied.

Acharya Tulsi said, 'First we need to appoint a mediator, an arbitrator and then organize people to speak for and against the topic. It is complicated. You should reconsider.' The people were adamant. Acharya then asked, 'What do you want to achieve by this debate?'

They bluntly said, 'We want to prove that we have defeated Acharya Tulsi.'

The objective was inflammatory, but Acharya Tulsi remained calm. Acharya Tulsi responded, 'Kindly don't go through so much trouble to defeat me. Please go to the local market square and declare that you have been victorious over me. I accept my loss to you and you can say so too, on my behalf to everyone.'

How is it possible that someone can proclaim without any debate that one has lost and the other has won? Generally, when you ask someone, 'Why have you done this? Why have you displayed such magnitude of anger?' Then they would reply, 'I did not start this. They started and I had to respond accordingly.' These are the commonly used words - 'Had they not instigated me, I would not have done this.'

This is the way of thinking. If we wish to live in peace then let us correct our view, then we should subside our aggressiveness in desires and develop the habit to feel joy even in the worst of conditions. If this art of living is assimilated, we can lead a very peaceful life in the society.

There are several examples before us. These are mantras to resolve conflicts, but when can this actually happen? From the metaphysical viewpoint, it happens when higher gunasthaan (stage of spiritual development) is attained - right world-view is developed. From a conventional and spiritual viewpoint, one who experiences happiness even in miserable conditions possesses samyak drishti and one who tends to experience misery even in favourable situations is a person of perverse view.

Turn the Direction of Thinking

If we analyze human nature, we will find that a large number of people experience misery in favorable conditions. They do not look at the positive side. They are in search of shortcomings only. Let's divert the direction of thinking. For the peace of mind, one must have the right perspective. Try to calm down the infinitely recursive anger (anantaanubandhi krodh) and extract happiness out of sorrow. If the art of living is mastered, then man can live happily and peacefully in a collective or communal life.

Let us understand the verses of Shravak Sambodh from both metaphysical and conventional viewpoints. Contradictory pairs can co-exist. People with opposite nature and opposite thoughts can live harmoniously with each other without disturbing peace of mind. If this conventional form is understood properly, life can attain purity par excellence.


Title:  Who is a Jain Shravak?

Acharya MahaPragya


Sadhvi Vishrut Vibha

Publisher:  Adarsh Sahitya Vibhag, JVB
Digital Publishing: 
Amit Kumar Jain

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Aagams
  2. Acharya
  3. Acharya Tulsi
  4. Ajiva
  5. Anekant
  6. Anger
  7. Bhiwani
  8. Body
  9. Delhi
  10. Fasting
  11. Jiva
  12. Karmas
  13. Krishna
  14. Krodh
  15. Ladnun
  16. Lal Krishna Advani
  17. Mahashraman
  18. Mithya Drishti
  19. Shravak
  20. Sutra
  21. Tattva
  22. Tattvartha Sutra
  23. Tolerance
  24. Tulsi
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