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 ï¿½I'
consciousness. This ï¿½I' consciousness remains steady throughout life. ï¿½I',
the knower, is pure ago distinguished from empirical ego, being clouded by
Karmic forces, begins to think that worldly actions are done by ï¿½me'.
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 ï¿½Niscaya 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 ï¿½Vyavahara
Naya' in Jaina terminology. ï¿½Naya' means view-point, ï¿½Niscaya' means
ideological and ï¿½Vyavahara' means practice. In Jainism the qualities of
the self, are expressed in terms of ï¿½Niscaya'.
Acarya Kunda-kunda, a leading Jaina saint and scholar,
has described the qualities of soul in his famous work ï¿½Samaya-sara' -"The
soul is the Lord (Prabhu), the ï¿½doer' (Kartta), the Enjoyer (Bhokta) and
limited to ï¿½a 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 ï¿½Tattvartha-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 ï¿½Moksa'. Such a soul is known as ï¿½Siddha'.
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 ï¿½Siddhahood',
becomes ï¿½all-knowing' and ï¿½desireless' 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
ï¿½Knower' (Jnata) and a ï¿½Seer' (Drasta).
Avataravada Ruled our
"Dagdhe bije yatha'tyantam, pradurbhavati nankurah.
ï¿½Karmabije 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 ï¿½Avatara', 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 ï¿½Rebirth'. As Chandogya Upanisad puts it :
ï¿½Na sa punaravartate, Na sapunaravartate' that ï¿½He 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 ï¿½dead' 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 ï¿½dead' 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 ï¿½Siddha' is
one who has literally died to time. Such a ï¿½Siddha' has no reason to take
ï¿½Avatara' 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- ï¿½Pratyaka' (Direct perception), ï¿½Anumana'
(Inference), ï¿½Upamana' (Analogy) and ï¿½Agama' (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 ï¿½Soul'. 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 ï¿½soul' which afflicted him. ï¿½Oh,
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 ï¿½Soul'. It is nothing
but pure consciousness or knowledge ï¿½Vijnanarupa'. 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 ï¿½Soul' 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
Lord Mahavira said : "We often say ï¿½I did' or ï¿½I am
doing' or ï¿½I shall do'. In all these statements of past, present and
future, the subjects is ï¿½I' 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 ï¿½I' consciousness throughout past, present and future. The
ï¿½ego consciousness' (Ahamrupa Jnana), thus expressed by reference to a
constant ï¿½I' is a further proof of the existence of soul because that ï¿½I'
is the ï¿½soul' or the ï¿½self', 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
"Moreover, Oh Gautam! there cannot be any ï¿½knowledge'
of the object having no existence at all. So if the ï¿½soul' does not exist,
who has the consciousness or knowledge of ï¿½I', when one says ï¿½I did', etc.
If you say ï¿½I doubt' who is it who is it who doubts ? Every doubt
presupposes a doubter. That doubter, that ï¿½I', is your own self, your
soul. ï¿½Ego consciousness' has soul as its object because the question is
whose ï¿½consciousness' ? Answer is consciousness of ï¿½I' which is the object
of this consciousness."
Gautam : "Sir, this ï¿½ego consciousness' would
not be rendered objectless if instead of believing that ï¿½soul' or ï¿½self'
is its object, we take our body as its object. When I say ï¿½I am black' or
ï¿½I am thin;, the ego consciousness ï¿½I' is used with reference to our body.
So, what is objectionable if we take ï¿½I' as referring to our body and not
to our ï¿½self'."
Mahavira : "If ego consciousnes expressed by the
use of ï¿½I' 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
ï¿½I'. But that is not so. It follows, therefore, that the object of ego
consciousness is not the body. It cannot be said that the ï¿½doubter' of
Moreover, consider what is a ï¿½doubt'. Every ï¿½doubt' 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 ï¿½I' consciousness. So when you are doubting the very
existence of ï¿½I' 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 ï¿½self', your ï¿½soul'. Soul
exists because ï¿½I' exists and ï¿½I' exists because ï¿½doubt' 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 ï¿½soul'."
The dialogue which proceeded further left Indrabhuti
Gautam fully convinced about the existence of soul and he became the
principal disciple of Mahavira.