THE FRUIT OF APPRAISAL
The Jain method of meditation, new-named "Preksha";
A vibrant whole, independently working!
One who enquires with unflagging zeal,
Spontaneouslyfinds Prekshals honey--juice.
Q.The idea of rediscovering ancient elements of Jainism suggested itself during
the course of the editing of the Agamas. Many valuable elements of
dhyana-sadhana scattered in the Jain Agamas were collected. These elements were
evaluated and an elaborate tradition of meditation was re-established. Was this
tradition of meditation known as "preksha" even in ancient times or it was you
who gave it a new name?
Ans. We soon came across certain maxims of the Jain method of meditation on
which research was going on and for which intense efforts were being made. The
experiments in meditation conducted on the basis of these maxims proved-
successful. Thereupon a conviction grew that this method can be useful for
everyone. As regards nomenclature, one fact is quite clear that the ancient Jain
method of sadhana incorporates both ‘sanwar’ (i.e. mind-control or the
subjugation of passions), and 'nirjara’ (decay of, or freedom from past sanskars).
Dhyana is concerned with both. It is at once mind-control and dissolution of
past impressions par excellence. There is the mention of an Agmic experiment by
the name of sanwar-dhyana-yoga. This name could be acceptable even today.
However, new experimentation seemed to recommend newness in nomenclature too.
The determination of the title ‘preksha’ was done after a great deal of thought.
The thinking behind it was as follows:
The method of sadhana is meant to make manifest the nature of the soul-constant
alertness, irresistible power and spontaneous joy (veetaragta: total freedom
from passions). The soul becomes manifest through meditation on the nature of
the soul. "Observe the soul through the soul!" In this maxim the importance of
meditation on the soul is emphasized. The observation of the soul is nothing but
knowing and understanding it. The first characteristic of the soul is awareness.
Awareness is a condition of knowing and seeing. Knowledge and observation mean
knowing and seeing. A meditation apart from knowledge and vision, may relate to
any other subject, but not to the soul. On this basis, the new method could be
given two names---‘vipassana’ and ‘preksha’. Both these names are used in
The name ‘vipsassana’, is very much prevalent among the Buddhists. In recent
years, vipassana shivirs have been held from time to time. In a way, the word
‘vipassana’ has come to denote the Buddhist method of meditation. So it was
thought proper to name the Jain method of meditation as ‘preksha’. Today this
method is well-known by the title of ‘preksha dhyana’. Its fundamental source is
Acharang Sutra. Other sources are the remaining Agamas, books written after the
Agamas, and a collection of experiences and results of experiments in meditation
performed during the long period of 2,500 years since Lord Mahavir. It was after
a comprehensive appraisal of these sources, that the present technique of
sadhana, its title and nature, have been evolved.
Q.The technique of sadhana that you have evolved is based upon old elements
scattered in the Agamas. During this long period of 2,500 years, old beliefs
have changed a good deal. Many new scientific approaches are available to us
today. In view of this, will it not be sheer conservatism to follow an ancient
tradition? Is it not possible to harmonize it with new elements?
Ans. In order to make preksha dhyana system complete in itself, use has been
made of modem scientific insights. Unless a method is in consonance with the
scientific temper, it cannot prove very useful at present. Because modern man
has developed a scientific outlook, it is becoming more and more difficult to
recognize any element that is unscientific in its nature. Under these
circumstances, if adequate use is not made in the development of a meditation
technique of the latest discoveries in the field of physiology and psychology,
that technique is likely to be dismissed as outdated and unscientific. Although
there is nothing wrong in a technique being old, yet why should an ancient
technique be deprived of contact with the new? Along with ancient elements, we
have also made use of new facts and experiences. Thus, this technique, though
old, is also new. Both the ancient and modern viewpoints have been harmonized in
Some people think that the advent of science has rendered sadhana or
spirituality obsolete. However, our view is entirely different. We believe that
sadhana, in union with science, can illumine many mysteries. Ancient books were
consulted with a. view to determine the form of preksha. There is a mention of
special psychic centres in the old texts. Their number is variously given as
five, seven or nine. But according to modern books on physiology, psychic
centers number about 700. How are these centres related to one another? How
helpful can they be in the direction of character transformation?. Facts like
these can be known very precisely and made use of. Similarly, science can
furnish authentic information about the endocrine system, bio-electricity,
chemical changes taking place in the body, etc. Two years of experimentation.
have also established the fact that the method of preksha is beneficial from all
the three viewpoints-physical, mental and.spiritual. There is nothing dogmatic
about this technique. The new elements have been assimilated in it with as much
ease as the old. Viewed thus, it is our own creation. Yet there is nothing
imaginary about it and,-therefore; it is an expression of our ancient tradition,
and is now being presented in a new way in a new environment. We firmly believe
that newer experiments in the future would lend to it a unique distinction