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BONDAGE AND LIBERATION (JAINISM)

BONDAGE AND LIBERATION (JAINISM)

BONDAGE AND LIBERATION (JAINISM): Karma is the link which unites the soul to the body. Ignorance of truth and four passions— anger (krodha), greed (lobha), pride (mana) and delusion (Maya) which are called kasaya or sticky substances where karmic particles stick, attract the flow of karmic matter towards the soul.

The state when karmic particles actually begin to flow towards the soul to bind it is called Asrava or flow. The state when these particles actually infiltrate into the soul and bind it is called Bandha or bondage. The ideal bondage (bhava-bandha) of the soul takes place as soon as it has bad disposition and the material bondage (dravya-bandha) takes place when there is actual influx of karma into the soul. In bondage, the karmic matter unites with the soul by intimate interpenetration, just as water unites with milk or fire unites with the red-hot iron ball. It is for this reason that we find life and consciousness in every part of the body. By the possession and practice of right faith, knowledge and conduct, the influx of fresh karma is stopped. This state is called samvara or stoppage. Then, the already existing karma must be exhausted. This state is called Nirjara or wearing out. When the last particle of karma has been exhausted ‘the partnership between soul and matter is dissolved’, and the soul shines in its intrinsic nature of infinite faith, knowledge, bliss and power. This state is called Moksa or liberation. Here Kevala -jnana or omniscience is attained. The liberated soul transcends Samsara and goes straight to siddha –shila at the top of the world and dwells there in eternal knowledge and bliss. Bondage, therefore, means union of the soul with matter and consequently liberation means separation of matter from the soul. We, conscious living souls, find ourselves bound to karmic matter and the end of our life is to remove this karmic dross and regain our intrinsic nature. Hence Jainism is primarily an ethical teaching and its aim is the perfection of the soul. Asrava or the flow of matter towards the soul is the cause of bondage and samvara or the stoppage of this flow is the cause of liberation. Everything else in Jainism is said to be the elaboration of this fundamental teaching. These five states together with the Jiva and the Ajiva make the seven principles of  Jainism. Sometimes virtue (punya) and vice (papa) are added to these seven to make up the nine categories of Jainism.

                             Passions attract the flow of karmic matter into the souls. And passions are due to ignorance. So ignorance is the real cause of bondage. Here Jainism agrees with Sankhya, Buddhism and Vedanta. Now, ignorance can be removed only by knowledge. So  right knowledge is the cause of liberation. This right knowledge is produced by faith in the teachings of the omniscient Tirthankaras. Hence faith is necessary. And it is right conduct which perfects knowledge since theory without practice is empty and practice without theory is blind. Right knowledge dawns when all the karmas are destroyed by right conduct. Hence  right faith, right conduct and right knowledge all the three together form the path of liberation which is the joint effect of these three. Right faith (samyak darshana), knowledge (jnana) and conduct (charitra) are the three Jewels (tri-ratna) of Jainism. They are inseparably bound up and perfection of one goes with the perfection of the other two.

 

      ETHICS AND RELIGION

 

The   Jaina Sangha or community contains monks and nuns, and lay-brothers and lay-sisters. In Buddhism the clergy and the laity were not organically connected and the former were emphasized at the expense of the latter. In Jainism the two are organically related and the difference between them is only one of degree and not of kind. Laymen are afforded opportunities to rise to the spiritual height of the monks by easy steps. There is only one fundamental five-fold spiritual discipline in Jainism. In the case of monkdom it is extremely strict, rigid and puritanic, while in the case of lay life it is modified. The five vows of the clergy are called ‘Great Vows’ (Maha-vrata), while those of the laity are called ‘Small Vows’ (anu-vrata). These five vows are:

  1. Ahimsa or non-injury in thought, word and deed, including negative abstention from inflicting positive injury to any being, as well as positive help to any suffering creature;
  2. Satya or truth in thought, word and deed;
  3. Asteya or not to steal, i.e., not to take by thought, word or action, anything to which one is not entitled;
  4. Brahmacharya or abstention from self-indulgence by thought, speech or action; and;
  5. Aparigraha or renunciation by thought, word and deed.

In the case of the monks, these are to be followed very rigorously. But in the case of the laymen, they are modified and diluted. For example, Brahmacharya is restricted to chastity and Aparigraha to contentment. Jainism like Buddhism is a religion without God. The Jainas are sometimes called ‘nastikas’ or heretics. If nastikas means one who denies the spirit, the ethical conduct and the life beyond, the Charvaka is the only system in Indian Philosophy which can be called nastika.  Jainism, like Buddhism and in a sense even more than Buddhism, is intensely spiritual and ethical. The Jainas, therefore, are not atheistic in this sense. Denial of God does not necessarily mean atheism in Indian Philosophy. Otherwise, the Sankhya and the Mimamsa which do not believe in the existence of God, would not have been called orthodox. The word ‘nastika’  therefore, is used for him who denies the authority of the Veda. In this sense Jainism like Buddhism is nastika. Moreover, though Jainism denies God, it does not deny godhead. Every liberated soul is a god. The Tirthankaras who were mortal beings like us, but obtained liberation through personal efforts, are always there to inspire us. We are all potential Jinas , for what man has done man can do. Jainism is a religion of self-help. There is no necessity of bringing in God to explain creation, for the world was never created. Production, destruction and permanence characterize all substances. Things have creation and dissolution because of their modes. Strictly speaking, there is no room for devotion in Jainism. The fire of asceticism must burn all emotions and desires to ashes. But the common Jaina due to the weakness of man has not been able to rise to this strict logic and has, under the influence of Brahmanism, deified the Tirthankaras, has built temples for them, has worshipped their idols, and has shown the same devotion to them as other Hindu orthodox people have shown to their gods.

           GENERAL ESTIMATE

 

While criticizing the doctrines of Syadvada and Anekantavada, we have pointed out in detail that the doctrine of relativism cannot be logically sustained without Absolutism and that Absolutism remains implied in Jainism as the necessary implication of  its logic in spite of its superficial protests. The same bias against Absolutism is responsible for the pluralism of souls and material elements. Though the Jivas are intrinsically all alike and all possess infinite faith, knowledge, bliss and power, yet they must exist separately. All the material elements are reduced to one category of Pudgala and all of them and even their atoms are all declared to be qualitative alike. When Jainism has rejected all qualitative differences in souls as well as in atoms, why should it inconsistently stick to numerical differences which are only nominal and not real?  No attempt is made to synthesize Jiva and Pudgala, spirit and matter, subject and object, into a higher unity. It is very important here to remember that while Sankhya maintains absolute distinction between Prakrti and Purusa which never really come into contact, Jainism does not take this distinction as absolute. Spirit and matter are really united. Jiva and Pudgala imply each other. They are always found together. But the problem before Jainism is: How can spirit and matter really unite? Spirit is regarded as possessing pure consciousness, pure bliss, pure power, pure faith. Matter is regarded as unconscious, lifeless and a dangerous obstruction. Karma is supposed to be the link which binds the soul to matter. Karma is due to passions. Passions are due to ignorance. Now the question is: How can the soul which is pure consciousness and power be really tinged with ignorance, passions and karma? If ignorance and karma are inseparable from the soul, liberation is impossible; if ignorance and karma are external to the soul, bondage is impossible. The Jainas have no real answer to this question. No realistic pluralism can give a satisfactory answer to this question. Jainism says that experience tells us that we never find spirit and matter as separate entities. They are always presented to us as mixed up and interacting.  So the union of spirit and matter is to be regarded as beginningless. But if spirit is really tied to a real and   beginningless matter, the Jainas should give up all hopes of liberation, for that which is beginningless   and real, cannot be removed. Why not frankly admit that all this show is due to beginningless Avidya? Why not regard spirit and matter as the two aspects of the same reality which ultimately transcends them both? Nobody denies relativity and plurality in this empirical world. The only thing is that this relativity and plurality is not the final truth. It may be actual but not real. If Kevala-jnana is a reality, if the inherent nature of the spirit is pure consciousness and pure bliss, if ignorance is the root-cause of bondage, if the union of the soul  with matter is beginningless, if relativity and plurality are the necessities of empirical life, then Jainism has necessarily to accept the Absolute in order to avoid the contradictions which its bias in favour of common sense realism and relativistic pluralism has made it subject to.

                  SECTS OF JAINISM

 

Jainism is divided into two sects called Shvetambara or ‘white-clad’ and Digambara or ‘sky-clad’   or nude. Both follow the teachings of the Jina. The differences between them do not affect the fundamental philosophical doctrines. The differences are only in some minor details of faith and practice. The Digambaras are more rigorous and puritanic, while the Shvetambaras are more accommodating. The rule of being white-clad or nude is, it is important to remember, only for the highest monks and not for the laymen nor for the inferior monks. According to the Shvetambaras, the highest monks should wear white robes, while according to the Digambaras; they should give up even clothes. The Digambaras maintain that the perfect saint (Kevali) needs no food and that women cannot obtain liberation (without being born as men in next life), and that the original canon of Mahavira teachings is lost, while the Shvetambaras reject these views.