Relation between Right
Belief and Right Knowledge
It is considered desirable
that on attaining right belief one should strive after right knowledge. As
regards the relationship between right belief and right knowledge it has
been specifically stated that although right belief and right knowledge
are contemporaneous, there is yet a clear relation of cause and effect
between them, just as it is between a lamp and its light. It is true that
lamp and light go together, still the lamp precedes the light, and light
cannot be said to precede the lamp. In the same way there is the relation
of cause and effect between right belief and right knowledge, though both
are almost simultaneous. Right knowledge cannot precede right belief, and
from this point of view right knowledge is called the effect and right
belief, the cause.
Nature of Right
Right knowledge has been
described in Jaina scriptures as "that knowledge which reveals the nature
of things neither insufficiently, nor with exaggeration, nor falsely, but
exactly as it is and with certainty". It has also been stated that right
knowledge consists in having full comprehension of the real nature of soul
and non-soul (i.e., matter) and that such knowledge should be free from
samsaya, i.e. doubt, vimoha, i.e., perversity, and vibhrama, i.e.,
vagueness or indefiniteness.
Moreover, Jaina scriptures
always assert that knowledge is perfect when it does not suffer from the
mithyatva, i.e., wrong belief. Mithyatva is the enemy of right knowledge
as it perverts both the understanding and the attitude. That is why all
Jaina thinkers have insisted upon the elimination of wrong belief from
mind. Mithyatva reminds one somewhat of the aviveka, i.e., want of
discrimination of the Samkhya, and the maya, i.e., illusion of the
Buddhist systems of philosophy. Hence Jainism insists that right knowledge
cannot be attained, unless wrong knowledge is banished.
Kinds of Knowledge
When considered with
reference to its means of acquisition, knowledge is of five kinds :
knowledge) is knowledge of the self and non-self acquired by means of
the five senses and the mind. Obviously this kind of knowledge is
limited to things in matter of existence.
knowledge) is derived from the reading or hearing of scriptures. Like
the first kind of knowledge, the sruta-jnana is not limited to the
things in existence but it can comprehend all matters of the present,
past and future as expounded in the scriptures.
knowledge) is knowledge of things in distant time or place. It is
knowledge of the remote or past. It can be acquired by saints who have
attained purity of thought and developed their mental capacity by
austerities. It is otherwise possessed by the celestial and infernal
(Mental knowledge) is direct knowledge of another's mental activity,
that is, about thoughts and feelings of others. It can be acquired by
those who have gained self-mastery or samyama.
knowledge or omniscience) is full or perfect knowledge without the
limitations of time or space, which is the soul's characteristic in its
pure and undefinable condition. It draws on the Tirthankaras and perfect
Pillars of Right
Like right belief, right
knowledge also has got eight pillars or requirements:
Grantha, that is correct
use of words. It means that reading, writing and pronouncing of every
letter and word should be done correctly. It also denotes that books
must be studied with care and faith.
Artha, that is meaning.
It indicates that reading should be directed towards understanding the
meaning and full significance of words, phrases and text. It suggests
that mere mechanical study without understanding the meaning serves no
Grantha-artha, that is
combination of grantha and artha. It stresses that both reading and
understanding of the meaning are essential as they together complete the
process and the purport. It is emphasized that mere reading is not
Kala, that is observance
of regularity and propriety of time. It means that improper and
unsuitable occasions should be avoided. Again, the time chosen for study
must be peaceful and free from disturbance due to worries and anxieties.
Vinaya, that is reverent
attitude. It is laid down that humility and respect towards the
scriptures should be cultivated to develop our devotion to learning.
Sopadhanata, that is
propriety. While studying we do come across difficult expressions and
inexplicable ideas. But in such cases one should not draw hasty
conclusions which might lead to improper behaviour.
Bahumana, that is zeal.
It is pointed out that zeal in the mastery of the subject under study is
also essential to sustain interest and continuity.
Anihnava, that is without
concealment of knowledge or of its sources. It is suggested that one
must keep an open mind and attitude so that narrow considerations do not
shut one out from fullness of knowledge.
Thus, the right knowledge
can be acquired by pursuit with devotion by reading sacred scriptures,
understanding their full meaning and significance in proper time and with
punctuality, imbued with zeal, proper behaviour and open mind.
In conclusion, it can be
specifically maintained that both right belief and right knowledge are
very closely associated with each other just as the association between a
lamp and its light. Even though lamp and light go together, there must be
a lamp which must oil and wick before it could be lighted. Similarly,
before right knowledge can be gained, there must be the inexhaustible
piety and urge for knowledge which is the oil; the source of knowledge
like the scripture, the discourses from preceptors and saints are the
wick; the pursuit and study with devotion are like the lighting of the
lamp; then only there can be light in the form of knowledge.
After right belief and
right knowledge, the third, but the most important path to the goal of
moksha, i.e. salvation is right conduct. In Jainism utmost importance is
attached to the right conduct because right belief and right knowledge
equip the individual with freedom from delusion and consequently equip him
with true knowledge of the fundamental principles clarifying what are
worthy renunciation and realization and ultimately lead to right conduct
as an integral and crowning constituent of the path of salvation. That is
why conduct which is inconsistent with right knowledge is considered as
wrong conduct or misconduct. Hence conduct becomes perfect only when it is
in tune with right belief and right knowledge. It is, therefore, enough to
point out that the importance of right conduct in the process of
self-realization consists in the fact that it is only when right knowledge
based on right belief is translated into practical and spiritual
discipline that the path of emancipation of soul from the cycle of births
and deaths becomes smooth. It is clear that in accordance with Jaina
philosophy right conduct presupposes the presence of right knowledge which
presupposes the existence of right belief. Therefore the Jaina scriptures
have enjoined upon the persons who have secured right belief and right
knowledge to observe the rules of right conduct, as the destruction of
karmic matter associated with the soul can be accomplished only through
the practice of right conduct.
Right Conduct includes the
rules of discipline which
restrain all censurable
movements of mind, speech and body,
weaken and destroy all
passionate activity and
lead to non-attachment
Further, right Conduct has
been conceived of two kinds or categories according to the degree of
intensity of the actual practice of rules of behavior laid down under
right conduct. These two kinds are (i) Sakala-charitra, i.e., complete or
perfect or unqualified conduct; and (ii) Vikala- charitra, i.e., partial
or imperfect or qualified conduct.
Out of these two kinds of
right conduct, the former, i.e., the sakala-charitra involves the practice
of all the rules of conduct with vigor and higher degree of spiritual
sensitivity while the latter, that is, the vikala-charitra, involves the
practice of the same with as much increasing degree of diligence, severity
and purity as might be possible.
Further, it may be noted
that (i) Sakala-chritra is meant for and observed by ascetics who have
renounced worldly ties, and is also known as muni-dharma; and (ii) Vikala-
charitras is meant for and observed by laymen who are still entangled in
the world and, is also known as sravaka-dharma, i.e., the householder's
The several rules of
conduct prescribed both for laymen and ascetics constitute the ethics of
Jainism. As such they are discussed in detail in the next chapter on
`Ethics of Jainism".