PRAYER AND DHYAN
Since Jainism firmly believes in the doctrine
of karma and puts sole reliance on the development of the spiritual force by
one's own personal efforts, and further exhorts its followers to develop
Asarana-bhavana (none other can refuge or save us), the question that naturally
arises is, what is the place of prayers in Jainism? Since the Jains do not
believe in God or in the existence of any outside Divinity controlling our fate,
any idea of prayer would be irrelevant to them for two main reasons.
1) The soul which has been emancipated and
became Siddha has no desires or motivations left. Its character is purely that
of a knower and a seer. If, prayers could please Siddha then some prayers could
also displease Siddha. In the same sense if Siddha could bestow favours or
frowns then attributing such human frailties to a Siddha (liberated soul) is to
deny soul's liberation.
2) Once we accept the doctrine of karma, all
results must be sought in that doctrine and therefore unless the prayers are
adjusted in the karma doctrine, they remain totally non-productive.
However, it would be totally wrong to say that
prayers have no place in Jain philosophy. Jains do not consider prayers as a
means of seeking favours from Siddha or even Arihants. True Jain prayers are
nothing but the appreciation and adoration of the virtues possessed by the
liberated or Arihants and the expression of ardent desire to achieve these
virtues in one's own actual life. It is for this reason that Jain scriptures
have actually enumerated the virtues of different categories of souls such as
Arihanta, Siddha, Acarya, Upadhyaya and Sadhu.
It is basic to the Jain belief that the
Tirthankaras (prophets) and their teachings are only to point out to us the way
to achieve liberation. But how to acquire liberation and how to put these
teachings into the practice, is entirely left to us. We achieve only to the
extent to which we exert. However, the path shown by those who have achieved
liberation must be studied with utmost respect and sincerity, because it is the
proven path, which they have actually taken during their lives and have obtained
the results. We feel very thankful to these great souls for providing us such
useful guidance. Therefore, in prayer we express our gratitude, extol and
enumerate their virtues and wish that such virtues might also develop in our
life. Such prayers constantly reminds us what made them great and in turn help
us to develope such virtues in us. In Jain philosophy, this is the process of
interesting to note that the most outstanding Jain prayer, known as Navakara
Mantra, is not refered to any individual personal or sect and asks for nothing
in return. It does nothing more than offering sincere veneration to those souls,
which are already liberated or are on the path of liberation.
Namo Arihantanam -- I bow down to all
Namo Siddhanam -- I bow down to all Siddhas.
Namo Ayariyanam -- I bow down to all Acharyas.
Namo Uvajjhayanam -- I bow down to Upadhyayas.
Namo Loe Savvasahunam -- I bow down to all the
Sadhus and Sadhvis.
Arihantas are those blessed souls who have
successfully shed off all the ghati karmas, which blur the potency of the soul.
Siddhas are those souls who have achieved the final liberation and have attained
a bodyless state of pure bliss. Acharyas are those merciful souls who teach us
about the path to salvation and Upadhyayas and Sadhus and Sadhvis are those
saints who are themselves on the path to salvation and are striving for the
These five are called Pancha-paramesthi, five
types of great souls, those who have been liberated and those who are on the
path of liberation. A Jain bows down to them all, not necessarily because they
have followed or are following a particular type of religion but because they
have already attained what was worth attaining or because they are striving to
attain what is worth attaining.
As Acarya Hemcandra puts it :
"Bhava bijankura-janana ragadyah ksayamupagata
Brahma va Visnurva Haro Jino va namastasmai."
meaning, "I bow down to him whose all passions
like attachment and malice, which sow the seeds of birth and rebirth, have been
destroyed. It doesn't matter whether he is Brahma, Visnu, Sankara or Jina."
The Jains have built big and beautiful temples
and are adoring, elegant and serene marble idols of Tirthankaras. Idol-worship
has its own rights and Jains seem to have adopted the same at a subsequent stage
because Jain scriptures have not recorded that Lord Mahavira at any time
worshipped an Idol. (Some sects of Jain do not believe in Idol-worship.) In fact
the whole emphasis of Jain doctrines is on the Atman (soul) which has no form.
It would, however, undoubtedly follow that adoring the idols by jewelry and
other ornaments and taking out processions of idols etc. have no philosophical
background or justification - except perhaps expressing devotion. Attribution of
ornamental glitter to one who is a Vitaraga is a gross negation of all that for
which Jainism stands, and amounts to crude perversion of basic doctrines of
Thus, prayers or bhakti are differently
perceived by the Jains but they do occupy a prominent place in Jain thinking.
Dhyana occupy very prominent place in Jain
Philosophy. The Jain approach to Dhyana is purely psychological. It is
understood by Jains in its very comprehensive sense, namely, the engagement of
the mind in a particular thought. The human mind never remains thoughtless even
for a moment. It remains constantly engaged, thinking of good or bad things
whether necessary or not, and whether they are of our immediate concern or not.
The Jain thinkers have taken account of this fact, and have analysed the
condition of the human mind into four categories, namely:
The first two are inauspicious and the latter
two are auspicious. These four categories cover all the conditions of mind. The
first two, being the cause of the worldly transmigration, are evil-dhyana while
Dharma and Sukla lead to liberation and are noble-dhyana.
1) Artta Dhyana - Artta means pain.
When our painful experiences get hold of our mental condition we are undergoing
the state of Artta Dhyana. There are four broad sub-classifications of this type
of Dhyana as follows:
i) Anista-samyoga Artta Dhyana. This happens
when we are put in unhappy circumstances or relationship and we keep thinking
ii) Ista-viyoga Artta Dhyana. This happens
when there is a loss of happy relationship or situation and we keep thinking
iii) Roga-chinta Artta Dhyana. This happens
when we keep thinking or worry about physical disease or pain.
iv) Nidana Artta Dhyana, This happens when
we keep thinking or worry about the objectives which are difficult to obtain.
In all these four conditions we remain worried
and feel unhappy and our mind remains sad, which in turn brings more bad karmas.
2) Raudra Dhyana - Raudra means cruel,
harsh. When the mind is either full of anger, hatred, and malice and violent
mind is thinking of evil actions, we are passing through Raudra Dhyana. Under
such thoughts we enjoy the activities which are immoral. All mental activities
to grab power and wealth, sexual enjoyment and anti-social acts fall within this
classification. There are four sub-classifications of this as follows:
i) Himsanandi Raudra dhyana means thinking
delightfully about killing, crushing or destroying the living beings either by
self or through other.
ii) Mrsanandi Raudra dhyana means thinking
delightfully about lying, composing deceptive literature, and collecting
wealth by deceptive means.
iii) Chauryanandi Raudra dhyana means
thinking delightfully about the act of theft and also preaching dexterity in
iv) Visayanandi Raudra dhyana means thinking
delightfully to satisfy desires including being possessive and thinking of
fighting ferociously to attain the objects of enjoyment.
Both the above-referred dhyanas are
spiritually degrading the self by attracting bad vibrations and karmas. Most of
us remain permanently engaged in these two Dhyanas with the result that we are
not able to make any progress spiritually.
Next two Dhyanas are of the superior variety
and help us to progress further in our journey to freedom.
3) Dharma Dhyana - The word Dharma is
used in Jain terminology in a sense wider than religion. What is Dharma? Answer
is ‘Vatthu Sahavo Dhammo’, i.e., the intrinsic nature of a thing is its Dharma.
So long as a thing remains within the limits of its intrinsic nature, and does
not transgress these limits, it remains within its own Dharma. Life's problems
arise when we transgress these limits and encroach upon the foreign fields.
Therefore, when the self forgets its own intrinsic nature, and tries to encroach
upon the field of Ajiva, it invites trouble. But if it concentrates its
attention on its own self, tries to analyze its nature and focuses its
activities on its upliftment, it enters into the field of Dharma Dhyana. There
are four sub-classifications of this, as follows:
Ajna (Agna)-vichaya Dharma dhyana:
Meditating about the flowless and reliable nature of the views expressed by
Apaya-vichaya Dharma dhyana: Meditating
about the how the true character of the self is clouded by its contact with
kasayas such as anger, pride etc.
Vipaka-vichaya Dharma dhyana: Meditating on
the nature of results of various karmas.
Loka-samsthana-vicaya Dharma Dhyana:
Meditating on the nature of universe (Loka).
Dharma Dhyana takes our mind away from Artta
and Raudra Dhyana, which cause the accumulation of the karmas, which are the
degrading forces to the self. Dharma-dhyana not only takes us to the field of
metaphysics and logic, but also constitutes the best type of Satsanga, which
leads us to right path to realize the Truth.
4) Sukla Dhyana - ‘Sukla’ means ‘white
or pure’. In Dharma-Dyan, the mind concentrates upon the general features of
worldly esistance while in Shukl-Dhyan; the mind gradually shortens the field of
cocentration. The mind now concentrates on upon atom and becomes staedy and
motionless. And on the attainment of omniscience, the functions of the mind are
completely annihilated. The Shukla-dhyan has four types. The function of first
two types is to collect and concentrate the mind on the minuest possible entity.
When one has achieved perfection in this and has lost all attraction for the
worldly things, one attains pure and perfect enlightenmemnt. The functions of
mind are now no more there. There is now no more conceptual thinking. The
function of dhyan at this time is not the concentration of thought because there
is now no thought. The soul is now omniscient. The dhyan is now utilized for the
purpose of stopping the activities of sense organ of speech and body. Last two
types of shukls-dhyana do this. The last type of sukla-dhyana is iimediately
followed by emancipation.
This is the highest type of meditation where
the karmic bondages get destroyed and the soul remains totally engrossed in
self-realization. The Seers say that it is not possible to give the complete
picture of this type of meditation because the bliss which one experiences
during this meditation is beyond the description. However they have classified
this type of meditation into four progressive categories:
Prthakatva-vitarka-savichara sukla dhyana
Ekatva-vitarka-vichara sukla dhyana
Suksma-kriya-pratipatti sukla dhyana
Vyuparata-kriya-nivrtti sukla dhyana
In Prthakatva-vitarka-savicara the mind
contemplates the different modes of the self and the forces of Pudgala. Since
the mind is moving from one idea to the other, it is called Prthakatva-vitarka.
During this process, one finds out the true character of the self and therefore
the whole process tends to make the mind steady. This stage of meditation is
observed when the soul is in gunasthanak 8 to 11. After it becomes steady it
concentrates only on one object namely the self. This is the second stage of
Ekatva-vitarka. In this stage the mind becomes steady, and complete peace and
bliss prevails because all the bondage of kasayas get destroyed. The soul,
remaining peaceful and steady in this manner, reaches the stage of Kevala-jnana,
pure knowledge. The soul in this stage reaches to 12th gunasthanak
and by the end of it it reaches to 13th gunasthanak. In the third
stage, the soul has only subtle connection with body. This stage is the
beginning of the 14th Gunasthanak. In the final stage, even the
soul's subtle connection with the body is broken. By the end of this stage the
soul gets liberated and becomes ‘Siddha’. The duration of the stages three and
four is a verry short period just enough to say short a, e, I, ru, lu. The
siddha is a bodyless existence of the soul possessing all knowledge and all
This is how the great masters have described
the process of meditation leading to the liberation. An ordinary human being is
roaming between first three categories of meditation. The last category of
meditation is very difficult to achieve which involves the process of spiritual
progress. But if successful the liberation is in the hand.