3.7 JAIN ETHICS - PATH TO SALVATION (MOKSHA
The keynote of Jainism rings with
harmony between self and one's
Its central theme is not based on a
Rather, it considers religion as a
science of ethical practice. It conceives the human body not as a
toy-machine to play with, but as a chariot on which the soul rides towards
salvation. In the scheme of Jain system, life on earth is not merely
sorrowful. It is on probation to conduct
itself to successively higher and higher forms of existence. The conduct
present life should be aimed at the
attainment of a permanent state of being from which there is no return.
Every soul can attain godhood, i.e., supreme spiritual individuality by
realizing its intrinsic purity and
In his conduct, an individual can be
guided by the examples of five benevolent personalities (panch parameshthi).
Supreme human beings (arahantas)
pure souls (siddhas)
master teachers (acharyas)
scholarly monks (upadhyayas)
Aranantas are persons who have destroyed
four types of karmas, mentioned above, and have attained omniscience.
Siddhas are souls that are completely
free from karmic bondage and have attained salvation.
The first step in the process of
self-realization is to discard superstitious beliefs and to adopt a
rational and judicious attitude in life. Jainism lays down a definitive
course of practical moral discipline, contemplation of the highest truth
and reorientation of life in light of these for attaining
In common with other Indian systems, it
prescribes a path to salvation (moksha marg), which consists of the three
jewels (ratnatraya) of Jainism:
proper perception (samyak darshan)
proper knowledge (samyak jnana)
proper conduct (samyak charitya)
The three jewels are, obviously,
necessary for a successful life. This threefold discipline helps us
realize our own
intrinsic purity. The three jewels must
collectively to ensure salvation.
Individually, they are
incomplete and insufficient because they
are mutually dependent. In isolation, perception or knowledge or conduct
conflicts or tensions and vitiates the
Collectively. the three jewels produce
harmony, contentment and blissfulness with the progressive march of the
soul to the higher planes.
Proper perception creates awareness of
reality, proper knowledge impels the person to action and proper conduct
leads him to the attainment of the desired objective.