Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions

The doubt regarding the existence of the soul

Dont Despair: Remember Soul
The Second Ganadhara
The Third Ganadhara
The Fourth Ganadhara
  The Fifth Ganadhara
  The Sixth Ganadhara
  The Seventh Ganadhara
  The Eighth Ganadhara
  The Ninth Ganadhara
  The Tenth Ganadhara
  The Eleventh Ganadhara

The doubt regarding the existence of the soul

Shri Amar Muni

Bhagavan Shri Mahavir Paramatma, the Lord of the three worlds, lived his final life in this world two thousand five hundred years ago. He embodied the spirit of renunciation even from his birth and he also knew for certain that in this last birth he would attain salvation (Moksa) at the end; yet, he renounced worldly life and accepted life-long vows of non- violence etc. He became an Anagar (Ascetic) at the age of thirty on the 10th day of the dark fortnight of Margashirsh (Kartik according to the Gujarati calculations). On that day he adopted Sadhu-dharma and became a Muni, impelled by his extraordinary spiritual awareness. But what was the reason for this? The foremost duty of any human being is to adopt the path of sinless conduct (Charitra-dharma) and only this path can lead human beings to 'Moksa.' As soon as he became a Muni, he attained the fourth knowledge (Atma Pratyaksha = direct perception of others' minds) Manah-paryay-Jnan (an extraordinary power of perceiving the mental processes of other Panchendriya Jivas i.e. jivas with five senses). As a rule every Tirthankar even while in the mother's womb possesses three kinds of knowledge, namely Mati-jnan (perception by senses); Shruta-jnan (knowledge of scriptures and Avadhi-jnan (extrasensory perception). The fourth kind of perception Manah-paryay-jnan, arises in him when he renounces wordly relations and possessions and accepts the vows of asceticism.

After accepting the Charitra-dharma, Lord Mahavir carried out the severest spiritual austerities and penances for twelve and a half years. Moreover, he always used to remain in Kayotsarg (a standing, steady posture of the body for deep meditation). During that period he endured terrible impediments caused by human beings, animals and celestial beings, the severe hardships of cold and heat etc. How long did he sleep during those twelve and a half years? Not a minute of lying down on the ground but simply drowsing,

that too, during the whole period of twelve years only for one Muhurt, i.e. for 48 minutes. Oh! What an extraordinary kind of awareness!

What an extraordinary spiritual yearning! The poet says:

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"Throughout the twelve and a half years the loftiest Lord Mahavir did not at all lie down on the ground (earth). (The poet) Padmavijay bows to the feet of Lord Mahavir, the greatest of the Vitarags (those who have conquered all internal enemies like attachments, hatred, etc.,) who attained Kevaljnan (infinite perception) by means of severe penances.

The Lord whose pure and perfect soul had attained absolute purity, possessed such virtues as complete freedom from illusion, total indifference to dependence on and relation with animate and inanimate objects, complete non-indulgence in worldly pleasures, absolute purity, total absence of bondage. He had an absolute restraint over the senses and the mind, total freedom from all attachments and hatred. Owing to the absence of even the least affection, his senses turned inwards to the absolute, unadulterated form of the soul, and he developed extreme spiritual awareness and equanimity. He attained Kevaljnan (i.e. omniscience) on the evening of the 10th day of the bright fortnight of Vaishakh on the bank of the river Rijuvaluka; and thus he attained a complete perception of the entire cosmos comprising Lokakash and Alokakash and all other objects.

What are the objects that can be perceived by one who has attained omniscience (Kevaljnan) ? Now, the Lord became omniscient and he therefore, could clearly and directly see all souls and all Pudgals (inanimate material substances); and all their infinite modifications (transformations), recurring through all the three phases of time. He could perceive the whole cosmos, of the past, the present, and the future, simultaneously. He could see and know directly just as one can see myrobalan fruit, placed on his palm, all the infinite souls that attained salvation in the beginningless past and all the countless souls that will attain salvation in the infinite future which are outnumbered by the existing souls in a Nigod (the Sadharan Vanaspatya-Kay), infinite times. Although souls attaining salvation are countless and infinite in number, they are very few in comparison with the Nigod souls. The souls in the Nigod will ever remain infinite- fold more in proportion to the liberated souls. In each and every soul there exist countless subtle molecular parts (pradeshas) and on each of them infinite Karmic multitudes (Karma-skandhas) are stuck. In each of these Karma-skandhas there are infinite number of Karmic subtle atoms (Paramanus). Each such atom has undergone an infinite number of Bhavas (modifications) in the infinite time. The modifications exist in all states and in all times. According to this mathematical calculation all souls (conscious animate beings) and Ajivas (inert, inanimate substances) possess such infinite number of modifications. The omniscience Bhagavan Lord Mahavir Paramatma visualizes and knows all these modifications and transformations in their forms both, common and uncommon (individual). The omniscients (Kevaljnanis) perceive directly the distinctive nature of the minutest karmas and also of the pure and liberated formless souls as well as the peculiar and polluted natures of the souls bound by subtle karma. Only those who firmly believe in these peculiarities, as visualized by the omniscients can have deep interest in carrying out His commands and in rendering worship and devotion to Him.

What the poet says about this is quite proper:

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After attaining omniscience of the above-mentioned nature, Bhagavan Lord Mahavir Swami arrived at the Mahasen Garden, near the City of Apapa. The divine beings constructed a magnificent Samavasaran (a preaching platform) with three castles. The divine beings, human beings and animals arrived there. Indra himself entreats the Paramatman to deliver a religious sermon.

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Indra, the King of gods arrived at the Samavasaran; offered his heartfelt salutations to Him and worshipped Him with overflowing devotion. He said, "O Lord! You have crossed the ocean of world. Guide us also to cross that boundless ocean; lift us out of it. Kindly bestow upon us the benefaction of being delighted and elevated spiritually by your enlightened and nectarlike utterances that can bring us the supreme serenity and felicity."

Visualize this situation as if it existed before you, with a devout heart. Imagine that we have reached this samavasaran. Imagine that we are also witnessing that magnificent spectacle, that Almighty Lord, and that we are also bathing in that boundless ocean of felicity and serenity. If we imagine ourselves there, we can visualize all that as if it is occurring before our eyes, and we are thus benefitted immensely. We can destroy our Karmas and our souls will attain purity and elevation.

The Eleven Brahmins -- The future Ganadhars- A certain wealthy brahmin by name Somil had arranged a Yajna (a sacrifice) in the city of Apapa. He had invited eleven learned brahmins who had mastered the Vedas and who were well-versed in fourteen Vidyas or intellectual accomplishments. Each of them had hundreds of pupils with him. Everyone of the brahmins presumed himself to be an omniscient but their knowledge was incomplete since each of them had doubts regarding different doctrines which arose from the contradictory statements in the Vedas. However, strangely enough they committed the mistake of presuming themselves to be omniscients. What was the cause for this blunder? They had acquired knowledge of various Vidyas with extraordinary industry and diligence. They had attained mastery over many Shastras (Scriptural Texts). They had a profound self-confidence. Yet they had not understood the derivation and the full meaning of the word Sarvajnata or omniscience or they had only a vague idea of what it meant; so, they believed that they were omniscient.

The Eleven Doubts of the eleven brahmins:

  1. Indrabhuti Gautam had a doubt regarding the soul. His doubt was this: "In this universe, is there an entity called Atma (the Soul) which is independent and eternal?"

  2. Agnibhuti Gautam, another scholar, had a doubt regarding Karma His doubt was whether everything that happened was only the soul's doing or according to karma Is there such an entity as Karma?

  3. Vayubhuti Gautam had this doubt: "Is this body itself the soul or is the soul different from the body?" These three Brahmins were brothers and each of them had five hundred pupils.

  4. The scholar by name Vyakta had a doubt regarding the five elements. His doubt was this: "There are the five material elements, namely Prithvi (earth), Ap (water), Tejas (fire), Vayu (air) and Akash (Vacuum-space). Are these real or unreal and illusory like a dream?"

  5. Sudharma's doubt was this: "Is the soul in the next birth the same kind as in this birth or different?" These two scholars had five hundred pupils each.

  6. Mandit, another brahmin, had a doubt regarding bondage. His doubt was this: "Is the soul for ever pure, enlightened and free from that bondage by means of proper endeavours?"

  7. Mauryaputra had a doubt regarding celestial beings. His doubt was this: "Is there a place called Heaven at all?" Each of these two scholars had three hundred and fifty pupils.

  8. In the same manner, Akampit had a doubt regarding the existence of hell.

  9. Achalbhrata had a doubt regarding punya or good actions. His doubt was this: "Why should we believe in both good d luck and bad luck? Let there be one."

  10. Metarya had a doubt regarding the existence of the next birth and

  11. The scholar by name Prabhas had a doubt regarding salvation, Moksa His doubt was this: "Is there a definite state called Moksa? Does the soul attain a state of eternal, boundless and pure happiness? Is the jiva completely destroyed or annihilated after its samsar is completed?"


Each of these scholars had three hundred pupils. The Eleven Ganadars and their Doubts:


Name of the Ganadhar

His doubt






His doubt was regarding the existence of soul.




His doubt was regarding Karmas.




His doubt was whether the body itself is the jiva or whether it is different from jiva.




His doubt was whether the five elements were real or unreal like a dream.




His doubt was whether the jiva will be of the same kind or of a different kind in the next birth.






His doubt was regarding bondage.






His doubt was regarding the existence of Heaven.




His doubt was whether hell was real.






His doubt was regarding the existence of good luck and bad luck.




His doubt was regarding the existence of the next birth.




His doubt was regarding Moksa




These eleven Brahmins and their pupils numbering 4400 were participating in the Yajna (ceremony). From what people were saying and from their movements, they understood that some omniscient one had arrived there.

The Pride of Indrabhuti: On the other side, the brahmins noticed celestial beings descending from the sky to earth. They could not contain their joy and elation. They exclaimed triumphantly, "Oh! Look up! How tremendously efficacious our Yajna is. It has compelled even deities to come down to earth." But when Indrabhuti noticed that those deities were not coming to the Yajna and that they were proceeding in the sky further without stopping and descending there, he was greatly disappointed. He thought with disappointment "Ah! these heavenly beings are ignorant. Why have they fallen into this illusion? Neglecting the sacred waters of the Ganga, like crows, they are proceeding to drink foul and polluted water somewhere else! Who has become a new Sarvajna?" Note the strangeness of this situation: It is surprising that Indrabhuti who did not even know who had become a new omniscient presumed himself to be a Sarvajna, i.e. an omniscient one. Not only this; when we cannot attain something that is good and beneficial we condemn it just as the fox who could not reach the grapes saying, "The grapes are sour." Jealousy is a bugbear. Indrabhuti thinks, "Oh! only a fool can be deceived by hypocrites but these are celestial beings. They are called Vibudhs (those who have attained awakening) and even they have been deceived. But no! These deities may not be really heavenly beings. They must be pretenders like that false sarvajna " They are false deities just as he is a false sarvajna He tried to explain the situation to himself thus and yet he could not forget the new omniscient one. He could not bear to hear the name of another Sarvajna apart from himself. It is astonishing that he forgot the ten Brahmin sarvajnas accompanying him.

That was an age in which great scholars had scriptural knowledge at the tip of their tongue. Here, by means of strenuous efforts, Indrabhuti had attained mastery over various branches of Vidyas, knowledge, and had defeated reputed scholars. In spite of that, under the pride born of Mithyatva (false faith) he became angry and thought: "Only one sun exists in the world. Only one sword can exist in a scabbard. Only one lion can stay in a cave. In the same manner, there can be only one sarvajna i.e. one omniscient in the world. I cannot bear with the idea that there can be another Sarvajna." How full of resentment he was! What a pitiable intolerance! He did not tolerate even the existence of another omniscient one. Of course, he was aware of the fact that there were with him ten learned Brahmins who deemed themselves to be omniscient, but he did not give them any importance. Why did he ignore them? Say, those ten brahmins deemed Indrabhuti to be superior to them and venerable. They used to follow him as their leader. So it means that man thirsts only for prestige and honour. After a person falls into the snares of honour and prestige, if he himself cannot get honour, he will be greatly disappointed; and even if the opponent possesses infinite virtues, he would not feel happy; and he would not treat him with friendliness or love. On the contrary, he would be troubled by jealousy and hatred.

The glorification of the Lord by the people: Preparation for a debate by Indrabhuti.

People were returning from the Samavasaran after having offered their salutations to Lord Mahavir. Indrabhuti sarcastically asks them: "Have you come after seeing that sarvajna? What kind of sarvajna is he?" The Lord was countless times more radiant and more beautiful than the heavenly beings residing in the heaven called Anuttarviman (the uppermost heaven). The trumpets called Devdundubhis blown by the divine beings, the shower of divine flowers, the whisks, Ashta-Pratiharya i.e. the eight splendid paraphernalia such as the sublime and radiant halo of light-- all had been witnessed by the people. The Lord's voice possessed the thirty-five sublime virtues. They were returning after being delighted with the sight of those splendid things. Therefore, their hearts were over-flowing with joy, and they had been fascinated by the sight. How could they describe in words all that splendour? So the people said: "Even if all the inhabitants in the three worlds keep enumerating the infinite virtues of the supreme Lord for countless millennia, his virtues will ever remain beyond comprehension. If mathematical calculation could go beyond parardha, and if the life span (of one who takes up such calculation) is endless, then only all the virtues of the Lord can be completely enumerated." How could Indrabhuti tolerate this praise of the Lord? He felt shocked and said: "Oh! He has deceived these people also. I will not delay even a moment. I will at once go to Him and expose his arrogance and deception by defeating him in a debate with him. The wind which has blown away mighty elephants will not find it difficult to blow away a small flake of cotton. When I have routed the greatest scholars of the world, how could he escape from me? When I have crushed the oil out of every grain of sesame, how could this grain escape my notice? No worry, it is a very easy thing for me to defeat him. When I have defeated countless scholars and created a famine (scarcity) of scholars, in which village had this scholar hidden himself all these days? Whatever it may be, I shall have to go there."

Thinking thus, he made preparations to see the Lord. But Agnibhuti came to know of it and said, "where is the need for your going there? Is it necessary to send the 'Airavat', i.e. the elephant of Indra to pull out a lotus strand? Kindly remain here. I will go and defeat him. "Indrabhuti said, "Oh! Not only you, but any pupil of mine can defeat him but I cannot bear to hear another person being glorified as an omnicient one. Therefore, I myself will go. I cannot have peace of mind until I defeat him. A woman might have safeguarded her chastity for one hundred years but if she loses her chastity once, she is no more chaste. In the same manner, if there exists even one single disputant who is not conquered by me, it is a blow to my honour and prestige."

Indrabhuti got ready to meet the Lord. He marked a dozen 'Tilaks, auspicious marks on his body, head and forehead etc. He put on radiant silk garments and also wore a sacred thread made of pure gold. He set off followed by his five hundred pupils. Some carried a mendicant's bowl in their hands; some carried holy 'Durva' grass in their hands. Indrabhuti was bubbling with self-confidence. "Is there any branch of vidya (knowledge) which I have not mastered? I have studied and mastered grammar, literature, logic, the Vedas, astrology etc. In all these branches of knowledge I have worked indefatigably. The scholars of the territory of Lat Desh ran away defeated by me. I heaped disgrace on the Dravidian scholars. The scholars of Telang were utterly crushed like sesame by me. I simply crushed the scholars of Gurjara beyond recognition". What is all this? Was it a sort of self- assessment or a preparation to submit to the unexpected show of the omnicients genius? Indrabhuti went thinking thus and he reached the divine samavasaran and stood before the Lord.

Indrabhuti is shocked at the sight of the Lord:

When he looked up, what did he see? He saw unrivalled, unparalleled, extra-ordinary, peerless, matchless, inestimable, incomputable supreme Lord Mahavir, the last Tirthankar and the supreme spiritual head of the three worlds shining resplendent with his incomparable, unique and indescribable and unimaginable beauty and splendour. Indras were waving 'Chamars' (a sort of whisks). The heavenly nymphs kept watching him with unwinking eyes. Indrabhuti was astonished at the very sight of this Lord He thought, "Who is he?" He tried to recognise him. "Can he be Lord Vishnu? No, Lord Vishnu has a blue complexion but this one has a radiant and golden complexion. His body is shining like gold. Can he be Brahma? But Brahma is old while this one is young. Can he be Lord Shankar? But Shankar smears his body with holy ash; and has a cobra around his hand and neck. But this one does not have those things. Can he be the Meru mountain? No: The Meru mountain is hard whereas his body is tender and soft like butter-mass. He cannot be even the sun because the sun burns the eyes of those who see it whereas the sight of this one brings coolness to the eyes of the beholders. Perhaps this may be the moon. Of course, the light of the moon is pleasant and bright but he cannot be the moon. The moon has a black spot on it while he is utterly spotless. Then who can he be?" Indrabhuti tried his best to find out who the man was and for this purpose he reviewed mentally all the religions, philosophies and scriptures he had mastered. Then he at once found out that he must be the twenty-fourth Tirthankar glorified by the Jains, one who was free from all vices and defects and one who embodied infinite virtues. Of course, he did find out who he was; but he was confounded. "Oh! Have I to carry out a debate with him?"

Mithyatva or False Faith is a Common Thing:--

Indrabhuti of course recognised the Lord. So it was time for him to accept him as an authority. Then why delay? What was the cause for a delay in getting rid of false faith? By good luck, he met the Lord Tirthankar but he could not understand him fully until his mind acquired the proper mental attitude. If a man owing to any error of the previous birth is bound by the Mithyatva mohaniya karma, what would be his condition when that karma ripens and produces its effects? When does a man have to go far to gather this Mithyatva mohaniya karma? If one doubts the words of the omniscient one, if one disbelieves the unshakeable words of the Paramatma under the pretext of the change of place and time and scientific developments, the Mithyatva will at once cling to the soul. We should not lose faith in our dharma, and comdemn it, fascinated by the apparent attraction of Mithyatva, and its arguments. If we condemn or undermine the Sangha or sadhus or the fellow- members of our faith and if we condemn and criticise adversely austerities and the spirit of renunciation, we gather this karma.