4.1 THE ONTOLOGICAL VIEW
The ontological view of Jains is concerned primarily
with the life and existence rather than the creation of the universe and
the conception of God. Jainism, however, cannot be regarded as agnosticism
or metaphysical nihilism. It is to the credit of Jain thinkers that they
constructed a philosophy and theory of reality out of the negative
approach of those who were
protesting against the dogmatism of the Vedas.
Jainism does not deny reality. Jain philosophers adopted
a middle course by propounding a theory that the world consisted of two
eternal, uncreated, coexisting but independent categories of substances:
The conscious (jiva) and the unconscious
(ajiva). They developed the logic that the world is not
altogether unknowable; only one should not be absolutely
certain about one's assertions. Jain philosophers said that moral and
religious values must be brought out of dogmatic slavery.
Wisdom must be proved by reason which, in turn, depends
on the experiences of self and of others. The human experience based on
reason constitutes the data for the discovery of reality.
4.2 CONCEPT OF GODHOOD
Professor Surendranath Dasgupta, the famous philosopher-
historian, has described the concept of Godhood as
"The true God is not the God as the architect of the
universe, nor the God who tides over our economic difficulties or panders
to our vanity by fulfilling our wishes, but it is the God who emerges
within and through our value-sense, pulling us up and through the emergent
ideals and with whom I may feel myself to be united in the deepest bonds
of love. The dominance of value in all its forms presupposes love, for it
is the love for the ideal that leads us to forget our biological
encumbrances. Love is to be distinguished from passion by the fact that
while the latter is initiated biologically, the former is initiated from a
devotedness to the ideal. When a consummating love of this description is
generated, man is raised to Godhood and God to man." (9)
This corresponds to the Jain approach to Godhood. In
Jainism, God is the supreme manifestation of human excellence.
4.3 PESSIMISM vs. OPTIMISM
Jainism is often considered to have a prevailing note of
pessimism about life. This is not true. The tone of
hopefulness pervades all aspects of Jain philosophy. "We
hear much indeed of philosophy", observes Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, "as a call
to transcend the narrowness of egoism and identify
ourselves with something greater than ourselves as the
way of salvation, but this is not in order to escape from the
ineradicable evil of existence but in order to find
ourselves in things that give to existence its only true value." For "in
the man who transcends his narrow self and merges it in the life of the
whole philosophy as truth, religion as devotion and morality as goodness
meet." This is similar to the Jain view of life described earlier.
4.4 THE PROBLEM OF HUMAN PEACE
We are all pilgrims of peace. So far, we have not
succeeded in our quest. No doubt we have discovered science and science
has given us new powers but it has not brought peace. The time has now
come when philosophy and religion should turn their
attention to the problem of peace on earth. Jainism,
owing to its comprehensive and accommodative nature, is well-equipped to
solve the problem of world peace. Jainism preaches multiplicity of
viewpoints (anekantavada) which weans us from too
exclusive occupations and dogmatic suppositions. The
gigantic experiments going on throughout the world need a fuller
understanding of the minds of the leaders of thought,
irrespective of their, social outlook, political
religious creed or nationality. With the complexity and
vastness of the subject matter, the attainment of unanimity remains only
an ideal. Great thinkers have made varied attempts to reach this ideal. It
is essential that people should look at things from as many viewpoints as
possible and reach an acceptable solution to problems.
4.5 TRUTH AND NONVIOLENCE
Jain ethical code is based on two main concepts:
Nonviolence (ahimsa) and truth (satya). These are important not only for
individual uplift but also for social welfare and prosperity. All the
twenty-four Tirthankars preached nonviolence and truth for spiritual
advancement as against sacrificial rituals. Nonviolence is based on
sanctity of life and love for all living beings. Truth purifies the mind.
Speaking pleasant and wholesome truth is nobler than silence.
In modern times, Mahatma Gandhi has demonstrated the
value of these ideals. "I am being led to my religion", he says "through
truth and nonviolence, i.e., love in the broadest sense.... Denial of God
we have known. Denial of truth we have not known. The most ignorant among
mankind have some truth in them. We are all sparks of truth. The sum total
of these sparks is
indescribable, as-yet-unknown-truth which is God. I am
being daily led nearer to it by constant prayer." ...He further says, "To
be sure to such religion, one has to lose oneself in continuous and
continuing service of all life. Realization of truth is impossible without
a complete merging of oneself in, and in identification with, this
limitless ocean of life.
Hence, for me, there is no escape from social service,
there is no happiness on earth beyond or apart from it. Social service
here must be taken to include every department of life. In this scheme,
there is nothing low, nothing high, all is one, though we seem to be
4.6 JAlNISM AS APPLIED INTELLIGENCE
Jainism is neither the satisfaction of intellectual
curiosity (nishchaya) nor the practical pragmatism (vyavhara) alone. It is
a combination of both. Both are essential for an integrated growth of man.
Intellect is significant as a means to better practical moral adjustment.
However, truth cannot be attained by reason alone without practical moral
discipline of the
passions and prejudices which warp human judgement. In
short, Jainism is applied intelligence rather than pure science. It is a
training in modesty rather than twisting the facts for a supposed
explanation. Jainism influences life with deepest insight, widest farsight,
synthetic disinterestedness (vitaraga) and penetrating comprehensiveness
in man's journey towards salvation--the state of soul having infinite
infinite knowledge, infinite bliss and infinite
By developing insight, man acquires the quality of
distinguishing between the real and the unreal, and of
grasping of the ultimate nature of things. By developing farsight, man
acquires the quality of distinguishing the eternal values from transitory
ones and lives his own life for accomplishing the eternal values. The
quality of disinterestedness relieves a person from one-sided dependence.
A comprehensive view helps man penetrate beneath the superficial and
limited sphere, and leads him to the nature of reality.
It is primarily because of these features that Jainism
has maintained its identity and has remained less hostile and more
accommodative to fellow religious communities than some other heterodox
9. Philosophy of Dependent Emergence in Contemporary
Indian Philosophy, edited by S. Radhakrishnan and J. H. Muirhead. p. 285.
George Allen and Unwin Ltd., London, 1958.
10. Contemporary Indian Philosophy; op. cit. p. 21.