Yoga-sutras (Ancient and Modern Interpretations)

by Makarand Gopal Newalkar | 2017 | 82,851 words | ISBN-13: 9780893890926

This page relates ‘Nastika Darshana (2): Concept of Nirvana according to Jaina Darshana’ of the English translation of the Yoga-sutras of Patanjali: an ancient Indian tradition spanning over 5000 years old dealing with Yoga:—Meditating the mind on the Atma leading to the realization of self. This study interprets the Yogasutras in light of both ancient and modern commentaries (e.g., Vyasa and Osho) while supporting both Sankhya and Vedanta philosophies.

Part 4b - Nāstika Darśana (2): Concept of Nirvāṇa according to Jaina Darśana

In philosophy, the general concept of bondage is ‘taking the births again and again in various species as a result of the past actions’ and liberation means ‘being free from the cycle of birth and death’. In Jainism, same principle of law of action (karmasiddhānta) is discussed in detail. Along with that principle, Jain philosophers also have developed some new concepts and technical terms.

In Jainism, there are two basic elements-

  1. Jīva–(bodhātmakaḥ jīvaḥ) The soul (jīva) is pure intelligence
  2. Ajīva - (abodhātmakaḥ ajīvaḥ)

Ajīva (the non-soul) is pure non-intelligence. Jīva (Soul) is eternal by nature. Naturally it has some qualities like-eternal knowledge, eternal faith, eternal supremacy and eternal bliss. But, in the state of bondage, all these qualities are not exposed. In the sky, small piece of cloud hides the Sun, similar to that, in the state of bondage, these natural qualities of soul get covered.

The soul wishes to have the conjunction with body influenced by the false intuition (mithyā darśana), attachment (avirati), carelessness (pramada), sin (kaśāya). The body is made up of pudgalas (pudgala is the special term used in Jainism to denote small indivisible atoms). Due to ignorance, the soul wishes conjunction with the body, which is made up of pudgalas. Jīva attracts those pudgalas (or those births) towards himself, which are capable of accomplishing his desire of experiencing the fruits of his past actions. Jīva attracts the pudgalas towards himself and because of his tendency, he is called as kaśāya (sticky substance). As the wet cloth or any oily substance attracts the small particles of dust towards itself, similar to that the pudgals are attracted towards jīva. According to the actions done in the past, the various types of pudgals are attracted towards jīva. The pudgalas attracted towards the jīva are called as karmapudgalas. When karma pudgals flow towards ātmā, it is called as āsrava.

In Jainism, bondages are of two types -

1. Bhavabandha -The state of bondage when ātmā is influenced by the false intuition (mithyādarśana), attachment (avirati), carelessness (pramāda), sin (kaśāya)

2. Dravyabandha -The state when the pudgalas enter the ātmā. Bhavabandha is the cause of Dravyabandha.

Jainism defines Nirvāṇa as:

mithyādarśanādīnā bandhahetunāṃ nirodhe abhinavarmābhāvannirjarāhetusannidhānena arjitasya karmaṇo nirasanādātyantikakarmamokṣaṇaṃ mokṣaḥ | [1]

False perception etc. are the causes of bondage. When they are stopped, there is an entire absence of all future actions and in the presence of nirjara, all past actions are abolished. This state is called as mokṣa where there is absolute release from all actions. In Jainism, mokṣa results from the two causes- samvara and nirjara. Because of samvara, new actions do not arise as the tendency of ātmā attracting the pudgals is abolished and because of nirjara, all the merits and demerits which are gained from the past actions are destroys by the tapas (penance). According to Jain philosophy, similar to the flame of fire, the natural tendency of soul is going out upwards. After the Mokṣa, soul goes upwards beyond the space of this earth. Some Jain philosophers accept that in the Mokṣa state, soul resides in the highest regions, absorbed in bliss with its knowledge unhindered without any pains.

In Jainism, three jewels are explained as the way to attain Nirvāṇa:

samyak darśana-jñāna-cāritrāṇi mokṣamārgaḥ | [2]

Samyak darśana (right perspective), samyak jñāna (right knowledge) and samyak cāritrya (right conduct) are (collectively, not alone) the path which leads to Nirvāṇa

Right faith is having the absolute faith in the teaching of arhat (the teaching includes the knowledge of the system of jīva, ajīva etc. which has been discussed in Jainism) and entire absence of any contrary idea. It is produced either by natural character or by the guru’s instruction.

Right knowledge is having the knowledge of the jīva, ajīva, āsrava etc. which are according to their real nature, undisturbed by any illusion or doubt.

The right knowledge is of five types.

  1. Mati (sensuous cognition)
  2. Śruta (scriptural or verbal knowledge)
  3. Avadhi (definite knowledge)
  4. Manaḥparyāya (extra-ordinary perception) and
  5. Kevala (pure knowledge)

After the destruction of all the actions which lead to bondage, the jīva having faith and having knowledge abstains from all the actions tending to evil courses, which is called as right conduct.

This has been subjected to fivefold division-

  1. Ahimsā (Non-Violence)
  2. Sunṛta (truthful and kind speech)
  3. Asteya (not taking any object without taking anything)
  4. Brahmacarya (abandonment of all of all desires; heavenly or earthly)
  5. Aparigraha (having no desire of any object)

Jainism believes that one who follows the path of the above three jewels would attain mokṣa.

Footnotes and references:


Manu Doshi (Tr.), Tattvārtha Sūtra by Acharya Umasvati, Jaina and Shruta Ratnakar, Ahmedabad, 2007, sūtra X.1 & X.2.


Ibid, 1.1

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