The life story of Swami Samantbhadra, who always remained away from worldly fame is practically unknown. It has been a characteristic of the Jain Acharyas that though they wrote splendid works, they did not write anything about their own lives. Whatever little is available, is not sufficient.
He was a prince of the Kadamb dynasty of kings. He was named Shanti Verma in his childhood. He was born in Uragpur town on the bank of the river Kaveri in the Deccan. He was alive till Vikram Samvat 138.
Nothing is known about his family life. He was initiated into the order of Digamber Jain saints at an early age. Then he passed through hard penances and obtained a very deep knowledge of God and Soul.
Besides being a great scholar of Jain Philosophy, he was an incomparable master of Logic, Grammar, Prosody, Poetry and Lexicography. He was possessed of a matchless power of exposition of the holy texts. He shattered the pride of perverted orators of religious thought. He writes :
"I roam about like a lion for exposition of the religious Truth."
The latter Acharyas have remembered him with great respect. He is known as the first writer of verses of adoration. He has imparted strength to lyric poetry. His verses of adoration are full of great logic.
He wrote Apta Mimansa. Tattvanushasan, Yuktanushasn Swaymbhu Stotra,, Jinstuti Shatak, Ratnakarand Shrawkachar Prakrit Vyakaran, Praman Padartha, Karma Prabhrit Tika an Gandh Hasti Mahabhasya (not available).
The present lesson has been written on the basis of the first chapter of Ratnakarand Shrawakachar.
The God, The Scripture And The Monk
Subodh - Where are you going in this garb of a recluse, so early in the morning ?
Prabodh - I am going to the temple to worship God Jinendra. It is the fourteenth day of the month. I offer my homage to the Lord on all the eighth and fourteenth days of the month.
Subodh - Whom do you thus adore ?
Prabodh - I pay homage to the Gods, the scriptures and the saints.
Subodh - What God?
Prabodh - In Jainism a person is not important. It believes in the worship of qualities rather than persons.
Subodh - So what attributes should be there in the God ?
Prabodh - True God is one who is free from worldly attachments, omniscient and a preceptor of the welfare of all. One who has no like or dislike for anybody is unattached. He does not possess the eighteen blemishes of birth, death etc. He does not feel hungry or thirsty. In fact, He is one who has conquered all desires.
Subodh - I have followed what is being free from worldly attachments. But what is omniscience ?
Prabodh - One who knows all, is omniscient. One whose consciousness has developed to the full, one who knows everything - things that happened in the past, are happening and will happen in the future - at one and the same time, is omniscient.
Subodh - So one who is without attachment and aversion and is possessed of perfect knowledge of the universe is a God.
Prabodh - Yes, it is alright. Whatever the precepts of such a person, will always be true and good to all. Since his preachings are beneficial to all he is called the preceptor of welfare of all.
Subodh - Why are his teachings true and good ?
Prabodh- One tells a lie due to ignorance. When one is possessed of perfect knowledge, whatever he says must be correct. When he has no attachment or aversion, why should he utter anything not conducive to the welfare of beings. His teachings as such are true and good.
Subodh- I have known the attributes of true God. What are the scriptures?
Prabodh- The teachings of that God are scriptures. Since he is not attached to worldly affairs, his teachings are also conducive to detachment. The precept that religion lies in attachments is not the teaching of one who is detached. The nature of the fundamental elements has been explained in his teachings. Above all his teachings have no contradictions.
Subodh - What do we gain by reading all this ?
Prabodh - A person is saved from treading wrong paths and gets right direction.
Subodh - This is alright. I have known the nature of God and the scriptures. Guru (monk) is our own teacher. Is it not ?
Prabodh- Our teacher is our pedagog. We should give him due respect, but the monk we worship is the Digamber Jain saint only.
Subodh - So why don't you say that a Digamber Jain monk is the real guru ? It is very simple. One who is naked is called a monk.
Prabodh - You have not followed the whole thing. Monks are all naked, this is true, but nobody becomes a monk by viture of nakedness alone. They possess so many other attributes. They understand the mysteries of the preachings of God.
Subodh- What other attributes belong to them?
Prabodh - They are always busy in contemplation and the study of the self. They have no worldly belongings. As such they are without their worries. They have no desire for sensual joys. Such ascetics are called monks.
Subodh - They must also be very learned.
Prabodh - Of course. None can really adopt asceticism without the knowledge of the self.
Subodh - Do you mean to say that without self-consciousness all the external conduct and observances are useless ?
Prabodh - The root of the matter is to understand the soul and rest in it. Right faith, right knowledge and right conduct and external mode of life according to the scriptures, are the qualities of a true monk.
Subodh - So you are going to offer your homage to these. I shall also accompany you. But tell me what we shall gain therefrom.
Prabodh - You are again talking nonsense. We worship them in order to become like them. They renounced all worldly possessions. How is it proper to beg worldly things from them ?