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THE PATH OF ARHAT

Justice T.U.Mehta

Life's activities

If self, in its journies through different lives, cannot remain without some activity, and if our activities are prone to generate various types of karmas, what should one be advised to do : can he stop his activities ? If he cannot, how can he escape the earning of fresh karmas, because every activity in this Samsara would bring in fresh karmic bondages, and one can hardly expect to be totally free from the cycle of births and deaths.

The legitimacy of these questions is beyond doubt. Key to the solution is, however, found in the enquiry as to what is that which attracts the karmic Pudgalas ? We have already noticed that our deeds are prompted by our intentions known as ‘Bhavas', and that the duration and the intensity of our karmas depend mainly upon the intensity of the feelings, ‘Bhavas', with which they are done. It follows that if we do a particular act objectively, honestly, and without being subjectively involved in the fruits there of, our Bhavas (feelings) in doing the same the neutralized and the bondage of such karmas, if any, becomes superficial. Life is action and so action is unavoidable so long as life persists. But action without attachment is as good as ‘no-action' - a situation which is known as ‘Akarma' in ‘Gita'. ‘Sthitaprajna' of Gita is the ideal of human beings in action. None of the Indian systems of philosophical thoughts has shunned the duties which one owes to his family, his society or his nation or to the humanity at large. What is shunned is doing the same with expectations. Almost all the Tirthankaras (Prophets) of Jainas hailed from the warrior class called Ksartiyas. Many of them were Cakravartins (emperors) who had fought bitter wars. But when they retired they could achieve their goal of total liberation. They could not have achieved this had they not remained detached while rulings as Cakravartins, as also while fighting wars. King Janaka, the father of Sita supplies the brilliant example of how one can even rule a kingdom without attachment. Action without attachment is, therefore, not unknown to Indian culture. Hence the Jainism, like other Indian philosophical systems, does not insist that renunciation of the worldly affairs is a sine quanon of liberation from Karmic bondage.