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MAHAVIR - THE TWENTY-FOURTH TlRTHANKAR

 

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JAIN PHILOSOPHY

 

 

3.7 JAIN ETHICS - PATH TO SALVATION (MOKSHA MARG)

The keynote of Jainism rings with

religious toleranc

ethical purity

spiritual contentment

harmony between self and one's environment

Its central theme is not based on a theoretical science.

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 of the

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 perfection.

In his conduct, an individual can be guided by the examples of five benevolent personalities (panch parameshthi). These are:

Supreme human beings (arahantas)

pure souls (siddhas)

master teachers (acharyas)

scholarly monks (upadhyayas)

ascetics (sadhus)

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

ultimate reality.

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 be cultivated

collectively to ensure salvation. Individually, they are

incomplete and insufficient because they are mutually dependent. In isolation, perception or knowledge or conduct causes

conflicts or tensions and vitiates the environment.

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.