Jainworld
Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions
Preface
Publisher's Note
Author’s Note
Mahavira: A Non-Violent Revolutionary
Transfer of Embryo
  Socio-political Conditions
  Vajji's Democracy
  Magadha and Srenika
  Ajatasatru Vajjis
  Princely following of Mahavira
  Social Conditions
  Intellectual Fervour
  Revolutionary push by Mahavira
  Significant Events
  Indra's Offer of Protection
  Five Resolves at Morak Hermitage
  Education Rather than Exposure
  Poisonous Fangs of Canda Kausika
  States of a Digambara
  Association with Gosala
  Candanabala : First Head of Women Disciples
  Final Act of Nirjara
  Attainment of Kaivalya
  First Ganadharas
  Muttanam-Moyaganam
  THE ULTIMATE REALITY
  ONTOLOGY OF ATMAN, THE SELF
  FACT OF THE MATTER
  JOURNEY TO FREEDOM
  ETHICS OF RESPONSIBILITY
  Actions follow the Doer
  Search for Responsibilty and Sramana Line
  Mahavira's Synthesis
  Psychological Approach of Mahavira
  Categories of Karmas
  Duration of Karmic Bondage
  Nature of Bondage
  Mitigation of Bondage
  Fresh Karmas
  Life's activities
  Even good actions bind, if motivated
  Consequences of Karma Theory
  MECHANICS OF CHANGE
  Process of Change and Nine Tattvas
  Essential Tendency of Jiva
  Papa' and ‘Punya' : Both of Binding Nature
  Asrava (Influx)
  Bandha (Bondage)
  Samvara
  Nirjara (Shedding of Accumulated Karmas)
  Moksa (Final Liberation)
  PLURALISTIC REALISM
  THEORY RELATIVITY
  MODUS OPERANDI
  Enlightened Consciousness
  Self, the starting point
  Will and Eagerness
  Upadana-Nimittan
  Bhavana or Anupreksa (Reflection)
  Twelve Vratas of House-holder
  Prayer
  Dhyana (Meditation)
  Lesya (Disposition)
  Code of Conduct for Monks - Modus Operandi
  Austerities (Tapascarya)
  Sanllekhana
  A PATH-WAY OF LIFE
  APPENDICES
  Appendix - A
  Appendix - B
  Appendix - C
  Appendix - D
  Appendix - E
  BIBLIOGRAPHY

ONTOLOGY OF ATMAN, THE SELF

Justice T.U.Mehta

Quality of Self

According to the Jaina seers the essential quality of Jiva (Soul) is pure consciousness - consciousness which does not die even in deep sleep in which the soul does not participate in any of the worldly affairs and remains unaffected by all the pleasures and pains of the world going around him. What is it which remembers the pleasant and unpleasant experiences undergone during sleep ? It is the self, the soul, the �I' consciousness. This �I' consciousness remains steady throughout life. �I', the knower, is pure ago distinguished from empirical ego, being clouded by Karmic forces, begins to think that worldly actions are done by �me'. According to William James, the American Psychologist, the empirical self consists of "entire collection of consciousness, the psychic faculties and dispositions taken concretely." Distinguishing pure self from the empirical one, he says, "It is the thinker which thinks. This is permanent, what the philosophers call soul or the transcendental ego." Thus, when it is said that the soul is pure consciousness, what is revealed is the untainted principal characteristic of soul which, in Jaina terminology, is known as �Niscaya Naya'. However, when it is said that the soul is enjoying its Karmas, and therefore, subjected to mundane existence, what is revealed is its empirical character known as �Vyavahara Naya' in Jaina terminology. �Naya' means view-point, �Niscaya' means ideological and �Vyavahara' means practice. In Jainism the qualities of the self, are expressed in terms of �Niscaya'.

Acarya Kunda-kunda, a leading Jaina saint and scholar, has described the qualities of soul in his famous work �Samaya-sara' -"The soul is the Lord (Prabhu), the �doer' (Kartta), the Enjoyer (Bhokta) and limited to �a body' (Dehamatra) still incorporeal, and ordinarily with Karma. As the potter considers "himself the maker and enjoyer of the clay-pot, so from the practical point of view (Vyavahara-naya) the mundane soul is said to be the doer of things and enjoyer of sense-objects."

Umasvati, another great saint-scholar, in his well known work �Tattvartha-sutra' says that, "consciousness manifests fully in perfect comprehension and apprehension (Jnana and Darsana) but the potentiality of every Jiva is not confined to these alone, because it extends also to perfect bliss and infinite power."

Thus the state of pure consciousness in which the soul remains totally untouched and unaffected by the events of the universe is the state of final liberation called �Moksa'. Such a soul is known as �Siddha'. He is unaffected by good or bad events because he is all knowing. His knowledge comprehends all possible events and happenings -past, present and future. In our little human experience we find that we are not gravely affected emotionally or otherwise, by any event or circumstance, if we already know that the said event is going to take place. Moreover, we also experience that the events for which we have no attachment or desire, do not affects us. The soul having attained the state of �Siddhahood', becomes �all-knowing' and �desireless' and would, therefore, obviously remain unaffected by good or bad happenings of the universe. Thus, the pure consciousness of a liberated soul must be the consciousness of a �Knower' (Jnata) and a �Seer' (Drasta).

 

Avataravada Ruled our

"Dagdhe bije yatha'tyantam, pradurbhavati nankurah. �Karmabije tatha dagdhe na rohati bhavankurah", meaning "Just as a burnt seed cannot sprout, the soul whose seeds of Karmas are totally burnt, cannot reborn again."

Such a soul, bereft of desire, would not think of again taking birth on earth to relieve its pains as thought by some Hindu thinkers. The theory of �Avatara', that is, the descent of the Divine on earth in human form has no place in Jainism. To the Jaina, their Tirthankaras (Path-makers, known otherwise as Prophets) including Mahavira, were not Avataras or Divine. They were, indeed great souls having successfully liberated themselves by their own efforts. They have shared their knowledge with the humanity out of sheer love for it. After attainment of the salvation, they have no emotional attachment to the world, the real cause of the �Rebirth'. As Chandogya Upanisad puts it : �Na sa punaravartate, Na sapunaravartate' that �He does not return back, he does not return back'. A grain, that has already sprouted does not sprout again. Perfect non-activity, in thought, speech and deed, is possible only when one has become �dead' to every concern of life; dead to pleasure and pains, dead to the power and pelf, dead to all so-called intellectual pursuits including social and political reforms. Lao-tse, the great Chinese saint and philosopher, asked us to remain �dead' to all events of life, to adopt an attitude of objective observance and to allow the nature to take its own course, for, according to him, even those trying to meddle with social and political affairs with perfectly altruistic motives of correcting the world, are unnecessarily poking their nose in the unfolding of the universal course. Thus the real �Siddha' is one who has literally died to time. Such a �Siddha' has no reason to take �Avatara' to ameliorate the worldly woes.

 

Proof of Existence

If these are the attributes and characteristic of a soul, it is indeed very pertinent to ask what are the proofs of its existence. Bhagavati-sutra refers to Mahavira as prescribing four means of true knowledge, namely- �Pratyaka' (Direct perception), �Anumana' (Inference), �Upamana' (Analogy) and �Agama' (Scriptures). All these four means are utilised, hereafter in proof of soul's existence.

According to the modern science, every atom of every object possesses electrons, protons and neutrons, which constitute the source of energy. We have seen that this energy is the spirit because it is the motivating force. In a living object this very energy constitutes its �Soul'. Thus no further proof about soul's existence is needed. But this discovery of science was not available to early seers like Mahavira, who therefore came to the conclusion about soul's existence by a process of metapysical reasoning.

Acarya Jinabhadra, a very learned and respected scholar saint, flourished in 5th century A.D. has written the classic named Visesavasyaka-bhasya. It contains the dialogue, between Lord Mahavira and eleven leading Vedic Scholars on different aspects of self and other philosophical theories, which are basic to Jainism. Indrabhuti Gautam, who subsequently become the chief disciple of Lord Mahavira, was a great Vedic Scholar, seeing many persons flocking to listen the first sermon of the Lord, he went to see him along with his own disciples. There the Lord himself disclosed to Indrabhuti, the nature of philosophical doubts regarding the existence or otherwise of �soul' which afflicted him. �Oh, Indrabhuti' ! Mahavira said, "I know that you have doubts about the existence of Jiva (soul). You believe that the existence of Jiva (soul) cannot be proved by any method, as it cannot be directly perceived by any sense-organs. You further argue within yourself that even atoms cannot be seen by naked eyes, but they could be perceived as collectivities. But this cannot be said about the soul. You contend that if one wants to prove the existence of the soul by the process of inference, even that cannot solve the problem because every inference is based on some tangible experience. You say that even scriptural authority is of no use as even they are not uniform in accepting the existence of soul, and even otherwise, scriptural knowledge is nothing but inferential knowledge. According to you even the process of analogy is useless because there is no tangible thing, analogous to soul. Thus it is not possible to prove soul's existence through any of the means of Valid knowledge. So the only conclusion is that the soul does not exist."

Having thus formulated the opposite point of view, the Lord proceeded to resolve the doubts as under :

"Oh Gautam, your doubts about the soul's existence are out of place, and your contention that soul cannot be perceived by senses is also not correct because it can be perceived very directly."

"Sir, how that is so ?" asked Gautam.

"Gautam, just consider what is �Soul'. It is nothing but pure consciousness or knowledge �Vijnanarupa'. If this consciousness exists, soul exists. This consciousness exists in you because, otherwise, there can not be any doubt in your mind about the existence of souls. Hence the very fact of the existence of doubt is the proof of consciousness. Unconscious has no doubts. Thus, there is direct proof of consciousness and hence of soul. If it can thus be directly perceived, it does not require any further proof."

Gautam however, required further proof. He therefore asked : "May be that the �Soul' can be directly perceived as you say, but still further proof is required, because there are some philosophers known as Sunyvadi, not recognising the real existence of even the things which could be perceived by senses and insist upon their proof by other logical methods."

Lord Mahavira said : "We often say �I did' or �I am doing' or �I shall do'. In all these statements of past, present and future, the subjects is �I' even though the action was over, or is being done in the present or is yet to be done in future. This suggests the continuity of �I' consciousness throughout past, present and future. The �ego consciousness' (Ahamrupa Jnana), thus expressed by reference to a constant �I' is a further proof of the existence of soul because that �I' is the �soul' or the �self', is not destroyed by the past, exists in the present and projects existence in future also. This ego consciousness is not the subject matter of any inference, nor does it require any scriptural authority. Even those, ignorant of scriptures, experience this ego consciousness. So this is direct perception and hence direct proof of soul's existence."

"Moreover, Oh Gautam! there cannot be any �knowledge' of the object having no existence at all. So if the �soul' does not exist, who has the consciousness or knowledge of �I', when one says �I did', etc. If you say �I doubt' who is it who is it who doubts ? Every doubt presupposes a doubter. That doubter, that �I', is your own self, your soul. �Ego consciousness' has soul as its object because the question is whose �consciousness' ? Answer is consciousness of �I' which is the object of this consciousness."

Gautam : "Sir, this �ego consciousness' would not be rendered objectless if instead of believing that �soul' or �self' is its object, we take our body as its object. When I say �I am black' or �I am thin;, the ego consciousness �I' is used with reference to our body. So, what is objectionable if we take �I' as referring to our body and not to our �self'."

Mahavira : "If ego consciousnes expressed by the use of �I' has a reference to our body as its object, then even our dead body could be having that ego consciousness and could be referred to as �I'. But that is not so. It follows, therefore, that the object of ego consciousness is not the body. It cannot be said that the �doubter' of your body.

Moreover, consider what is a �doubt'. Every �doubt' is an attribute (Guna) of some object which is its substratum. Every substratum is known by its attributes because attributes and their substratum are mutually reciprocal so that the existence of one can be known by the existence of the other. Therefore, even though the substratum cannot be perceived by our senses its existence can be mentally perceived through our knowledge of its attributes. A doubt can never be an attribute of your body because doubt is always an attribute of consciousness and the body has no consciousness of its own."

"Further, just consider who possesses the power of memory, who remembers the past and the present and who has a comprehension about future. This attribute of memory is not the attribute of body. It is the attribute of �I' consciousness. So when you are doubting the very existence of �I' you are doubting your own self, because, the moment you doubt your own self, you do not exist. But you do exist because you are doubting. So, the doubter of your doubts is your �self', your �soul'. Soul exists because �I' exists and �I' exists because �doubt' exists."

"Again, it is many a times seen that the attributes such as memory, perception, sensation, etc., are absent even when body is present and in a living condition. This proves that these attributes are not of body.'

"It is found that body gets consciousness only in association with soul and without soul, it is dead as wood. Hence consciousness is �soul'."

The dialogue which proceeded further left Indrabhuti Gautam fully convinced about the existence of soul and he became the principal disciple of Mahavira.