Doctrine of Conditional Origination
Some Buddhist scholars claim that the doctrine of
conditional origination is not the doctrine of causation which implies an
element of continuity. The doctrine of simply means that ´┐ŻB' in its
origination conditioned by ´┐Żor' dependent on ´┐ŻA'. In other words, ´┐ŻB' is
originated rather on the extinction of ´┐ŻA' but being conditioned by the
existence of ´┐ŻA'. The Buddhist logic is that if ´┐ŻA' and ´┐ŻB' are taken as
identical, that leads us to eternalism (Sasvatavada). But Buddhism is
based on the theory of transitoriness and so would not admit of any
principle of eternalism. On the other hand, if ´┐ŻA' and ´┐ŻB' are taken as
totally different identities, that takes us to nihilism (Ucchedavada)
which is also an extreme view. So Buddhism discards both the extremes and
accepts the middle course by evolving the doctrine of ´┐Żconditioned
origination or dependent origination'. Thus denying the eternity of soul (Jiva),
the Buddhists justify the theory of karma and rebirth explaining that when
the soul is reborn it attains the status of ´┐ŻB' but is conditioned by the
karmas earned by the previous link ´┐ŻA'.
In my humble view this whole exercise of ´┐Żconditioned
origination' involves a strained logic to save the theory of
transitoriness of the soul. Element of permanence, which is attributed to
the soul by all systems of metaphysical thoughts in India, is capable of
explaining various universal phenomena exhibiting a sort of continuity
amidst the complexity of enormous changes. Buddhism indirectly accepts
this position when it asserts that ´┐ŻB' is originated being ´┐Żconditioned'
by ´┐ŻA'. Why ´┐ŻB' should be ´┐Żconditioned' by ´┐ŻA' if these is nothing common
between the two ? Things having nothing in common which would either
attract or repel the other, can never get ´┐Żconditioned' by each other. And
if there is some ´┐Żcommon' element in two things which has the conditioning
influence over to each other, that conditioning influence supplies the
element of permanence. Such an element of permanence is called ´┐ŻJiva' by
the Jainas and ´┐ŻBrahma' by the Vedantists.
Jaina philosophers, have should the problem by their
theory of Nayavada. They say that purely from theoretical standpoint the
´┐ŻJiva' is permanent. It was never die. This is called ´┐ŻNiscaya naya' (Real
view-point). However, from the practical point of view when ´┐ŻJiva' in
association with ´┐ŻKarmas' takes ´┐Żbirth' and then ´┐Żappears' to die with the
body of its ´┐Żbirth', it ´┐Żappears' to be transitory. So when we say that
soul is transitory, what we assert is a practical or empirical standpoint
which is known as ´┐ŻVyavahara naya'.
Buddhist theory of transitoriness of soul has led it to
the doctrine of ´┐ŻNirvana' which literally means ´┐Żextinction'. The root
´┐ŻVa' means to blow; prefix ´┐ŻNir' means ´┐Żout' or ´┐Żoff'. So, literally
´┐ŻNirvana' means ´┐Żblowing out'. Logically, therefore, Nirvana means end of
Jainas do not believe that Jiva cease to exist on
attainment of Siddhahood. Since karmas are destroyed, Siddhahood,
according to Jainas, is the bodiless existence of soul. This is the state
of formless Brahma (Nirakara-Brahma) of the Vedantist.
It, therefore, appears that in their search of
Madhyama-Marga (Middle course) the Buddhists have carried their doctrine
of transitoriness (Ksanikavada) to the extreme by applying it even to the
existence of soul. This gives an impression of Anatmavada (denial of the
existence of soul).
Jaina approach on this aspect appears to be more
logical and scientific. Dr. S. Radhakrishna interestingly observes, in
this connection, as under :
"It is impossible to think Buddha recognized nothing
permanent in this rush of the world, no resting place in the
universal turmoil where man's troubled heart can find
peace. However, much Buddha tried to refuse to reply the question of
ultimate reality which lay beyond the categories of the phenomenal world,
he did not seem to have any doubt about it. There is an unborn,
unoriginated, an unmade, an uncompounded; were there not. Oh mendicants,
there would be no escape from the world of the born, the originated, the
made and the compounded." (Udana, VIII.3)
Buddhism passed through three great phases of its
developments, known as Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana.
The word ´┐ŻYana' means vehicle, ´┐ŻHinayana' means ´┐ŻLittle
vehicle'. It was so called by the ´┐ŻMahayanists' because it preaches
salvation of oneself, the individual soul only. It insists upon the
necessity of monastic life. According to it ones personality is illusory.
It emphasizes non-selfhood (Nairatmyata) of existence.
Literally it means ´┐Żgreat vehicle' which is so called
because it teaches the salvation of all. thus, it is more social in
outlook. It is predominantly devotional and metaphysical in its character.
It means ´┐Żdiamond vehicle' or the ´┐Żadamant way' so
called because like the irresistible vajra it annihilates all obstacles to
the Nirvana by highly esoteric Yogic exercises and development of
Some common characteristics of Jaina and Buddhist
We have already pointed out the agreement and
disagreements between these two Sramanic ideologies. Following are the
main common characteristics between the two --
(1) Both are ascetic in nature. Both believe in
´┐ŻNivrtti-dharma' as distinguished from ´┐ŻPravrtti-dharma' of the Vedas.
Hence both believe in asceticism or Path of renunciation.
(2) Self reliance - Both believe that liberation of
self from bondage is in its own hands.
(3) Denial of any super-power as the final arbitrator
of our destiny.
(4) There are infinite souls each striving for its own
(5) Non-souls cannot be called Maya. They are as real
(6) Both believe that Vedas are not of divine origin
and cannot be taken as final and absolute authority.
(7) Outright rejection of caste distinction by both. It
is Karma and not birth which can decide a social class to which one
belongs. All souls have equal potentiality to be liberated.
(8) Non-recognition of four Asramas in life by
Buddhists and partly even by Jainas who put great emphasis on total
renunciation and austerities.
(9) Rejection of Avatarvada by both.
(10) Tirthankaras and Buddhas were born as human and
attained total liberation by their own efforts.
(11) The words of Tirthankaras and Buddhas provide
proper guidance but to gain liberation one has to exert himself, without
any favours from above.
(12) Shedding of karmas by avoiding desires and
attachment is the only path of salvation.
(13) Rituals and ceremonies are of no help in case the
inner development is wanting.
(14) Non-violence (Ahimsa) in every field of life is
the guiding principle.