Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions

Jivaraja Jaina Granthmala, No. 20

General Editorial
Preface to The First Edition
Preface to The Second Edition
Synoptic Philosophy
  Approach to Reality
  The Jaina Theory of the Soul
  Critique of Knowledge
  The Doctrine of Karma in Jaina Philosophy
  The Pathway to Perfection
  In this Our Life
  Men and Gods




Therefore, they need to be worshipped. The Jainas worship the Tirthakaras not because they are gods, nor because they are powerful in any other way, but because they are human, and yet divine, as every one is divine, in his essential nature. The worship of the Tirthakaras is to remind us that they are to be kept a ideals before us in our journey to self-realization. No favours are to be sought by means of worship, nor are they competent to bestow favours on the devotees. The main motive of worship of the Tirthakaras, therefore, is to emulate the example of the perfect beings. if possible, at least to remind us that the way to perfection lies in the way they have shown us. Even this worship of Tirthamkaras arose out of the exigencies of social and religious existence and survival and possibly as a psychological necessity. We find a few temples of Gandhiji today; perhaps, there would be many more. The Buddha has been deified.


Apart from the worship of Tirthakaras, we find a pantheon of gods who are worshipped and from whom favours are sought. The cult of the Yaksini worship and of other are attendant gods may be cited as examples. This type of worship is often attended by the occult practices and the tantric and mantric ceremonialism. Dr. P. B. Desai shows that in Tamilnad Yaksini was allotted an independent status and raised to a superior position which was almost equal to that of the Jina. In some instances the worship of Yaksini appears to have superseded even that of Jina.[10] Padmavati, Yaksini of Parsvanatha, has been elevated to the status of a superior deity with all the ceremonial worship, in Pombuccapura in Mysore area.  These forms of worship must have arisen out of the contact with other competition, faiths and with the purpose of popularizing the Jaina faith in the context of the social and religious competition. The cult of Jvalamalini  with its Tantric accompaniments may be mentioned as another example of this form of worship. The promulgator of this cult was, perhaps, Helacarya of Ponnur. According to the prevailing belief at that time, mastery over spells or Mantravidya was considered as a qualification for superiority. The Jaina Acaryas claimed to be master Mantravadins.[11] Jainism had to compete with the other Hindu creeds. Yaksi form of worship must have been introduced in order to attract the common men towards Jainism, by appealing to the popular forms of worship.


However, such forms of worship are foreign to the Jaina religion. They do not form an organic and constituent features of the Jaina worship. These tendencies have been absorbed and assimilated, in the struggle for existence and survival. We may, here, refer to the inconceivable changes the Buddhist forms of worship have undergone in the various countries of the world, like the Tantric forms of worship in Tibetan Lamaism.


We have still some gods in Jaina cosmogony. They are the devas, the gods living, in heavens like the Bhavanavasi, Vyantaravasi', Jyotiska, and Kalpavasi. But they are part of the Samsara and not really Gods in the sense of superior divine beings. They are just more fortunate beings than men because of their accumulated good Karma. They enjoy better empirical existence than men. But we, humans, can pride ourselves in that the Gods in these worlds cannot reach moksa unless they are reborn as human beings. They are not objects of worship. It is, therefore, necessary for us to know the true nature of man and his place in society in which he lives, moves and has his being.




I. Dignity and freedom of the human individual has been a common principle for all philosophies and faiths, except perhaps for Nietzsche. Marx emphasised the potentiality of man by denying God. Kant exhorted us to treat every human individual as an end in himself and never as a means.  Democracies are based on the equality and dignity of every human individual. In the Mahabharata we are told that there is nothing higher than man.[12]  According to the Jainas, the individual soul, in its pure form is itself divine, and man can attain divinity by his own efforts.


2. In India, the aim of philosophy was atma vidya. atmanam viddhi was the cardinal injunction of the Upanisads.  Yajnyavalkya explains that all worldly objects are of no value apart from the self.[13] Today we have a new Humanism where we are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of man in this world.  Philosophical interest has shifted from nature to God and from God to man. Even the claim of absolute value for science is being questioned.  Man and his values are primary, their primacy has to be acknowledged by any philosophy.[14]


But with all these philosophical interests, the real nature of man has been eluding us. Attempts have been made to know him. But there has not been an agreed conception of man easily to be understood and accepted by the common man.


There were philosophers like Protagoras who reduced man to mere sensations. The Theaetetus describes the Sophist conception of the individual as a complex of changes interacting with other forces, and seeking to satisfy the desires.[15] In English empiricism, Hume denied everything including the human soul, except impressions and ideas. The Human tendency was recently revived by the Cambridge philosophers who brought philosophy, to the brink of extinction.  Perennial problems of philosophy including, the conceptions of soul were dismissed as nonsense. Like the men chained against the walls of the cave in The Republic the empiricists refused to see beyond what they would like to affirm. In ancient Indian thought, Carvakas led us to similar conclusions. It is said that the Buddhists denied a permanent soul. The Buddha was silent about the metaphysical problems. His disciples analysed soul as an aggregate of matter, feelings and sensations. Man is a psychological personality, and when it is analysed away Sunya is realised.


However, soul of man has emerged as a permanent and eternal principle imperishable in nature. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle accsepted soul as pure eternal and imperishable principle. plato talked of the immorality of the soul. In india the outlook in Rigveda is empirical. The Gods were invoked to give cows and prosperity in this world. The idea of a permanent soul has yet to be evolved. In the Upanisads the conception of a permanent soul gained predominance. In the Dialogue between Prajapati and Indra we get a progressive development of tbe definition of the soul in four stages as i) bodily, ii) empirical, iii) transcendental and iv) the absolute [16] 'The next step was to identify the self with the Absolute. As Radhakrishnansays, we may not understand the truth of the saying 'tbat thou art tat tvam asi, but that does not give us a sufficient right to deny it.[17]


The idea of the self has been a fundamental conception in Jaina philosophy. Tbe existence of the soul is a presupposition.  The soul is described from the phenomenal and the noumenal points of view. All things in this world are divided into living and non-living. From the phenomenal point of view, the soul is described as possessing empirical qualities. It is possesed of four pranas. It is the lord, the doer, and the enjoyer of the fruit of Karma. As a potter considers himself a maker and enjoyer of the clay pot, so the mundane soul is the doer of things and the enjoyer of the fruits of Karma. From the noumenal point of view, soul is pure and perfect. It is pure consciousness.  It is unbound, untouched and not other than itself. Man is the jiva bound by matter and it assumes gross physical body. Through the operation of Karma the soul gets entangled in the wheel of Samsara. When it is embodied, it is affected by the environment physical, social and spiritual in different ways.  When it identifies itself with the various functions of the bodily and social environment. William James distinguishes between the self as known or the `me', the empirical ego, and the self as knower or the I. On the same basis, distinction between the states of the soul as Bahiratnamn, Antaratman and Paramatman has been made.


3. Apart from the real nature of man it would be necessary to know him as an individual in his physical and social  environment . As an empirical individual man lives in this life and is influenced by the environment. To some extent he is a product of the environment, at the same time shaping the other selves.  Man cannot be separated from nature. He is a part and parcel of the Interacting forces in nature. In this sense, individual men including the heaven born prophets are products of environment and social heritage. They also contribute to the development of the social life.  This universe is a vale of soul making . There is a cosmic purpose in the incessant struggle of the individuals in this world.  The purpose as translated in human efforts, is the perfection of men.


We have seen that for the attainment of this end, we need not depend on higher entity called God. Efforts of individual men are more important than the forces that work outside man. This brings us to the problem of the human ideals.


4. As a social being, development of man depends on the ends that he places before himself and the means used for the attainment for those ends. The Greeks, as also the Vedic Aryans were full of zeal for life and its beauties. The consummation of life's end was to perfect life. Truth, beauty and goodness were the highest human values. Subjectivism of Protagoras would have led him to ethical relativism. What is good for one man may not be the same for the other. But Protagoras was a teacher of virtues and was accepted as wise man. Still the earlier Sophists ex-pressed nihilistic Views.  Polus, a disciple of Gorgias, admired political power in a tyrant, though evil it may be. Thrasymachus sneered at conventional justice as mere obedience to the wishes of those in  power. The tyrant is the happiest man.[18] So was the philosopher Netzsche fascinated by power.  He preached the philosophy of power. There were others, like Aristippus, who aimed at leisures as the highest end in life.  Pleasure was to be sought by the Carvakas in ancient Indian thought.  Greatest happiness of the greatest number was a modified version of this end.


However from pleasure to virtue is a long way. Socratic formula that virtue is knowledge expressed the basic insight into the synthesis of theory and practice. Plato mentioned four cardinal virtues temperance courage, justice and wisdom. Aristotle distinguished virtues into the practical and the intellectual virtues, Both are necessary for the development of man.


In ancient Indian thought, four cardinal human values have been mentioned. Artha, Kama, Dharma and Moksa are to be realised by man. They represent a hierarchy of human values.  The ultimate ideal is Moksa. It is freedom from the bonds of life.  Moksa as a release from the wheel of Samsara and in its positive aspect as oneness with the Highest was becoming gradually clear in the Upanisads. The state of perfection need not be attained only after shedding off this bodily existence. It is possible to attain such a state in this life only. The conception of Jivanmukti has played an important part in the ancient thought. Kramamukti admits the possibility of Kramamukti. Apart from the highest ideal of moksa, other ideals are to be


progressively realised as various levels of life. Over emphasis of one ideal will lead to a partial development of civilization. All the values are true and need each other. This is the synoptic point of view.