Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions
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
  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
  Process of Change and Nine Tattvas
  Essential Tendency of Jiva
  Papa' and ‘Punya' : Both of Binding Nature
  Asrava (Influx)
  Bandha (Bondage)
  Nirjara (Shedding of Accumulated Karmas)
  Moksa (Final Liberation)
  Enlightened Consciousness
  Self, the starting point
  Will and Eagerness
  Bhavana or Anupreksa (Reflection)
  Twelve Vratas of House-holder
  Dhyana (Meditation)
  Lesya (Disposition)
  Code of Conduct for Monks - Modus Operandi
  Austerities (Tapascarya)
  Appendix - A
  Appendix - B
  Appendix - C
  Appendix - D
  Appendix - E


Justice T.U.Mehta

The significance of these nine tattvas, which comprehend the whole process of bondage and freedom of the soul and hence these also constitute the foundation and metaphysical structure of Jaina Philosophy, will be dealt in later chapters. Thus, if one proceeds with the belief in these Tattvas, his Darsana is Samyag or Right.

(2) Samyag Jnana - With this �Samyag Darsana' one proceeds further, through scriptures tries to know more about these Tattvas, their role in life and way to proceed onwards on the path to salvation. This is the stage of acquiring proper knowledge.

There has been a good deal of debate on the question whether �Darsana' precedes knowledge or vice a versa. In my humble view, this debate is fruitless and merely academic because both are interdependent. Without Darsana there would be no Jnana, the greater the acquisition of Jnana, the greater is the Darsana. An analogy of a blind and a lame-man, caught in a forest-fire, and who wanted to get at a safe place is quite apt. If both cooperated and the blind agreed to carry the lame and the lame agreed to show the path, both of them could carry themselves safely out of fire. Want of proper Darsana amounts to blindness and want of proper Jnana amounts to lameness. Darsana desires to get oust of the fire of this worldly existence but cannot do so, so long as Jnana, lame, without proper Darsana, does not co-operate and is ready to show the details of the path. It is thus clear that proper Darsana and proper Jnana are supplementary to each other.

Regarding Jnana the Jaina philosophers have their own peculiar approach. To them, since the knower (Jnata) is the �self', the Jnana acquired by self is always �direct'. The word used is �Pratyaksa'(direct), i.e., without any medium. In ordinary sense, by �direct', knowledge we mean, the knowledge acquired directly through senses or through our mind and reasoning. But to Jaina philosophers, this knowledge, acquired through our senses and mind is indirect. Because the main characteristic of Atman (soul) being pure and illuminating consciousness, its direct knowledge means �knowing' the things without any medium whatever. This �illuminating consciousness' of the soul is called �Sva-para-prakasa', i.e., illuminating itself (Sva) as well as all other objects (Para). This is why senses and mind are treated, in the ultimate analysis, as obstacles to the realization of �Kevala-jnana'. Omniscience is the purest form of knowledge. Therefore, the goal of every process of Yoga is to transcend the limitations of mind and body both. The basic difference between oriental and occidental thinkers is that while the orientals have gone deeper than the mind in the process of exploring the self (soul), the occidentals have mostly stopped at the mind process.


Five Categories of Jnana

Jainas have categorised Jnana(knowledge) into five categories - Matisrutavadhi-manah- paryaya-kevalin Jnanam, i.e., Mati (Sensory), Sruta (Scriptural), Avadhi (Clairvoyance), Manah-paryaya (Telepathy) and Kevala (Omniscience). We shall now discuss each of them in short and show how the soul proceeds to attain the last and the highest category of knowledge, i.e., Kevala-jnana (Omniscience).

Jaina scholars have treated this subject very minutely but here I have given only broad aspects of the basic principles of the Jaina Epistemology. First, Jainas have classified knowledge into two categories, i.e., Indirect and Direct. Of the above five varieties, first two (Mati and Sruta) are Indirect (Paroksa) kind of knowledge as these are attained through the activity of Senses and Mind (Manas). The remaining three (Avadhi, Manah-paryaya and Kevala) varities of knowledge are instances of direct knowledge. These three are considered direct perception because they are acquired by the self independently of the Senses and Mind, as Umasvati has put it - Adye-paroksam Pratyaksamanyat.

(a) Mati-jnana (Sensory knowledge) - It is the knowledge obtained through senses and mind (Tadindriyanindriya Nimittam). Thus what we see by eyes, hear by ears, taste by tongue as also what we remember, infer and all knowledge acquire through logic and reasoning fall within the classification of Mati. Jaina scholars have gone much deeper in discussing psychological analysis to show the process of acquiring Mati-jnana. There are four stages of Mati-jnana--Avagrahehavayadharana, i.e., Avagraha (Sensation), Iha (Speculation), Avaya (Judgement) and Dharana (Retention). Avagraha means contact-awareness, e.g., if we touch something in darkness, we become aware of the fact that we have touched something, though we do not know what that thing is. However that touch sets us thinking as to what it is. We try to know whether we have touched a rope or a serpent, and we reason out that it cannot be serpent. This stage is called Iha (Speculation). Then we proceed further, make further inquiry and finally conclude that it is nothing else but a rope. This is called Avaya (Judgement). The conclusion, thus arrived at, is retained rather permanently in memory. This is Dharana (retention). All these stages of perception apply as much to the knowledge of a metaphysical doctrine as to a physical object such as a rope.

Prof. Gopalan opines that Jainas conception of four stages of sensory perception bears similarity with the analysis given by modern psychologists in this regard. To quote his words-"It may be pointed out that the four stages of perception analysed by the Jaina philosophers are comparable to the analysis given by modern psychologists. The psychological insight of the Jaina-philosophers is extremely significant of their carefully and deeply analysing concepts relating to human mind."

(b) Sruta-jnana (Srciptural Knowledge) - This knowledge is derived from the scriptures and the persons learned in scriptures. Samskrta word �Sru' means �to hear'. Sruta means �heard'. Earlier Indian tradition was to hear and remember the scriptural doctrines, recorded at a subsequent stage. The preachings and sermons of Tirthankaras (Jaina Prophets) were subsequently recorded by their direct and immediate disciples who came in their personal contact. These writings are called �Angas'. So the knowledge contained in these �Angas' is called Anga-pravista-sruta meaning recorded in Angas. But the subsequent writings by those who followed, are known as Anga-bahya-sruta meaning recorded outside the Angas. These are the two main classifications of Sruta. There are many sub-classifications, which we shall not touch.

Sruta is essentially the product of Mati, for the obvious reason that application of mind, logic and reasoning are essential for acquiring Sruta. As Umasvati puts it, "Srutam Matipurvam" means Sruta is the product of Mati. Since Mati is the product of sense awareness, it mostly relates to present objects but Sruta can comprehend past, present and future, and is mainly the product of mind "Srutamanindriyasya". Sruta is obviously more mature and determinative. Mati is subjective to the person who acquires it while Sruta has many cognizers. These are the main distinctive features of both these categories of �indirect knowledge'.

The other three categories of knowledge are direct. Soul can perceive them without the help of mind or sense-organs. The soul acquires these knowledge on the Karmic coverings, clouding its faculty of knowledge, being removed. These coverings are called Jnanavaranya Karmas, i.e., the karmas clouding the faculty of knowledge. We shall discuss it in the chapter on Karmas. Here the point to be noted is that when karmas, which cloud soul's faculty of knowledge, are removed it beings to exhibit gradually the rest of the three categories of direct knowledge.

(c) Avadhi-jnana - It enables the �self' to know all tangible objects within a limited compass of space even though these objects are concealed from eye sight. Avadhi means limit. This knowledge does not go beyond a limited space.

(d) Manah-paryaya Jnana is the knowledge by which the �self' can read the mind of others.

(e) Kevala Jnana is boundless and unlimited. It is perfect in all respects (Paripurna), complete (Samagra), unique (Asadharapa), absolute (Nirapeksa), pure (Visuddha), all comprehensive (Sarva-bhava-jnapaka). Its object is this and the other world (Lokaloka Visaya) and with cognizance of infinite variations and modes of objects (Ananta Paryaya) - (Sarvadravya Paryayesu Kevalasya). Thus this is the stage of omniscience having no limitations of time and space. Such a soul is generally identified as �Sarvajna' but the Jainas have preferred the terminology of �Kevala-jnana' to convey the same meaning namely, knower of everything. The question is whether the expression �Kevala-jnani' is used to suggest the knowledge of past, present and future, irrespective of spiritual and temporal distance or to suggest a philosophical insight, capable of seeing through not only the ideological and theoretical position but also all the different variations and modes which an object or a proposition is expected to undergo under different situations and circumstances. Pt. Sukhalalji, a great modern Jaina Scholar is of the opinion that the expression �Kevala-jnana' is used in the later sense and not in the former sense. According to him the expression conveys philosophical insight which misses no aspect while assessing a thing or a thought. He emphasies that the famous proposition of Acaranga-sutra, "Je Egain Janai Se Savvam Janai", meaning "one who knows one (Atman), knows everything" goes to show that one who properly knows the real nature of the soul, automatically knows all its different manifestations, variations and modes and it is in this sense that the quality of omniscience is attributes to a �Kevala-jnani'. This modern interpretation may not be acceptable to old thinkers. However, the fact remains that the insistence that Darsana and Jnana both must by �Samyag' i.e., proper, points to the perfection which is not hindered by any prejudice or predilection. This seems to be more in line with the thinking of Sukhalalji.

It is emphasised that this categorization of knowledge is not imaginary. We do come across the people who possess Avadhi and Manah-paryaya-jnana. It shows that every soul has the potentiality of achieving the highest omniscience provided in is able to totally annihilate its Karmas. It prompts and encourages every soul to undergo ethical discipline if it wants to achieve the highest type of knowledge.

We have seen how during the journey to freedom the soul passes through the cycle of births and rebirths and is thus getting experience of worldly objects and enriches itself with the knowledge of Reality.

(3) Samyag Caritra - However, this knowledge cannot reach its perfection unless it is followed by action, because thought without action is disease. Knowledge can become real and Samyag only when it is �experienced'. A bare academic knowledge is, according to the thinking of all shades of Indian philosophers, mere information. One �knows' fully only when one experiences the thing which is to be known. Mere academic knowledge is philosophy, but when that knowledge is converted into actual action it becomes religion in practice. Western philosophers like Nietzche and Schopenhauer were mere philosophers. They did not and could not live what they preached. General tendency of the Western philosophers is to divorce philosophy from religion. In India such an approach is absolutely rejected. To an Indian mind no philosophy is worth anything unless it is lived in actual life. Here lies the importance of the distinction between Pratyaksa (direct) and Paroksa (indirect) knowledge discussed above. Philosophy which is not practiced in life, is not directly perceived and experienced by the self and hence it remains confined to mind. It belongs to the category of Mati or Sruta and has no status better than a mere �information'.

It is for this reason that the third jewel Caritra assumes importance. If this Caritra, i.e., the action in life, building of ones character as per Darsana and Jnana, is Samyag, i.e.,proper, one is surely on the path of Moksa-liberation. To achieve this, Mahavira has prescribed five ethical principles, namely-Ahimsa (Non-violence), Satya (Truth), Asteya (Non-stealing), Brahmacarya (Celibacy) and Aparigraha (Non-possession). What is the comprehensiveness of these principles and what is the technique to observe them would be the subject matter of a different discussion. If would, however, be sufficient to note here that unless the first two jewels are followed by the third, our journey to freedom would always remain incomplete.