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Doctrine of Karman in Jain Philosophy

PREFACE TO THE GERMAN EDITION by Dr. Helmuth von Glasenapp
The contents of first volume of the Karmagranthas.
PREFACE TO THE ENGLISH EDITION by Dr. Helmuth von Glasenapp
TRANSLATOR'S NOTE
  INTRODUCTION
  THE KARMAN IN ITSELF
  THE KARMAN IN THEIR RELATION TO THE SOUL AND TO ONE ANOTHER
  THE QUALITIES OF THE SOUL
  STATES OF EXISTENCE AND CLASSES OF BEINGS
  THE CAUSES OF THE KARMAN AND THE MEANS FOR ITS ANNIHILATION
  THE WAY OF SALVATION
  THE 14 GUNASTHANAKAS
  THE STATE OF THE RELEASED

PREFACE TO THE GERMAN EDITION by Dr. Helmuth von Glasenapp


 

 

The Karmaprakrti

The Karmaprakrti gives, in 475 Gathas, the detailed account of a portion of the karman doctrine. It was compiled by Sivasarmasuri, who indicates as his source the chapter of the Agrayaniyapurva of the Drstivada called "Karmaprakrti". The KP has often been commented upon. The most celebrated commentary is the Tika by Malayagiri; besides that, there exist a Vrtti by Yasovijaya, who lived in the 17th century, an anonymous Curni, and a Tippana by Nemicandra.2

 

The relations of the karman works to one another and to other books of Jain literature are still in need of thorough examination, which, is must be admitted, can only be made possible when other works of this description will yet have been published. That Devendra was acquainted with the Karmaprakrti and the Pancasamgraha is been from Kg. II 144a:

"Devendrasurina likhitam karmaprakrti-pancasamgraha-brhacchataka-disastrebhyah". Concerning his dependence on the commentaries of Malayagiri nothing for the moment can be said: there are, however, in many different places literal reminiscences of the writing of the latter; but as both have made use of still older authors, it cannot be decided to what extent he leans upon him, or how far both go back to a common source.

 

Candramahattara and Sivasarman indicate as their source the twelfth Anga, the Drstivada, 3 an indication which is also found in other parts of the Jain literature 1*. As the Purvas are said to have been, partially at least, in existence up till the year 1000 after Vira 2, the karman doctrine must have been, at the latest, completely developed at that time. The question now arises, whether this very complicated doctrine had already existed before that time or not, i.e. whether it is the product of a comparatively recent speculation, or had been already in its essential points contained in the sacred writings. A final judgment regarding this can only be arrived at through a comparison of the ideas developed in the karman works with those of the entire cannon. I have not made such an examination. Nevertheless, as far as I could see, the most important karman doctrines are contained actually in the Siddhanta, of which any one can easily convince himself, if he but superficially consults the Sthananga-Sutra, Bhagavati Sutra, Aupapatika-Sutra 3 and Uttaradhyayana-Sutra 4. Many of the passages concerning karman appearing in these works contain only generalities; many, however give so many details that through them we may arrive at the result that already at the time of the canon the karman was developed in a high degree. That not only the principal points but many details of the karman theory are contained in the Angas and Upangas 5 is proved by the numerous passages from the sacred writings which are quoted by the commentators and which often refer to quite things.

 

Further, the fact that the karman writings go beyond that which has been laid down in the canon, but do not contradict it, follows already from the reason that they have not invoked upon themselves the reproach of heterodoxy. For, with a religious community that zealously guards the purity of their doctrine, as do the Jains, any important deviation would not have remained unreproved. As with the canon, so also all karman works are in accord in all things of prime importance; in some details, however, wherein the sacred writing does not make any distinct declaration and leaves free rein to speculation, they differ from one another to the extent that in some details two or more views are exposed. There are two schools in particular who are opposing one another on many by-issue 1: the Agamikas and the karmagranthikas. The former, the chief exponent of whom is Malayagiri, derive their ideas from a tradition which is dependent upon the Purvas. The Karmagranthikas and their spokesman Devendrasuri, however, lean on the authority of older works on the karman, portions of which are even to-day in existence in Jain monastic libraries, but about which, nevertheless, nothing distinct is as yet known. For this attempt at a first complete, although not exhaustive, account of the karman doctrine, works of the two schools have been used. This could be done without hesitation, because the differences between the two schools are quite unimportant in regard to the system as a whole, and in a preponderating majority are of an altogether trifling nature; in their proper place there will be pointed out the most conspicuous of these differences.

 

The leading works, on which this account is based are the six Karmagranthas, in addition to which the two other works have been consulted for comparison and for supplementary material; the ideas reproduced by us are therefore, within certain limitations, practically in their entirety of Devendrasuri. The Karmagranthas recommended themselves before all other writings in so far as they demonstrate the karman doctrine in the clearest manner, and because of their most methodical arrangement. For similar reasons they appear to be those most highly estimated by the present-day Jains, as is proved by their frequent occurrence in manuscripts and in translations into the vernacular languages.

 

In order to afford the uninitiated an insight also into the essential principles and arrangement of the Karmagranthas, I append the following observations relating to them, commencing with a Survey of the contents of the Karmagranthas.2