Jainism and Patanjali Yoga (Comparative Study)

by Deepak bagadia | 2016 | 109,819 words

This page relates ‘Conclusion and Discussion’ of the study dealing with the Spiritual Practices of Jainism and Patanjali Yoga in the context of ancient Indian Philosophy (in Sanskrit: Darshana), including extracts from the Yogasutra and the Tattvartha-Sutra. The system of Yoga offers techniques which are scientifically designed for the spiritual development of an individual. Jainism offers ethicical principles and meditation practices to assist with spiritual development.

Chapter 5 - Conclusion and Discussion

1. The idea of writing this Thesis is not to prove how one philosophy is superior to the other, but to move from “mind” to “no mind” and from “efforts” to “effortlessstate of pure silence. We can attain this goal by following any of two or both combined philosophies namely Jainism and Patanjala Yoga, as suggested here. Both have further higher goals as the ultimate aim of our lives. The deep understanding of principles and implementation of techniques from both will help to accelerate the spiritual journey of a common man which starts from vyutthita citta (wandering, distracted mind) and continues towards samahita citta (sattvika, focused and discriminative mind) to the ultimate state (permanent bliss).

Most of the disturbances and distractions in our life are due to fluctuations in our thoughts, feeling and will. Most of the meditative techniques have been emerged out of these important faculties of our personality. Major schools of Yoga viz., jnanayoga, bhaktiyoga, karmayoga, rajayoga and others make use of these faculties to offer various Yogic practices accordingly. Various bhavanas, tapas, mantras and many other spiritual practices in Jainism also are meant for proper coordination of these faculties.

2. Both Jainism and Yoga are practical philosophies. The spiritual knowledge which we gain from various sources, in this case both these philosophies, should be tested, experimented, experienced, challenged and then implemented sparing some time with own self.

3. Jainism aims to reach and to remain in the pure state of soul which is believed to be pure consciousness, beyond any attachment or aversion. The practitioner strives to be just a knower-seer (jnata-drasta). Patanjali has termed this state as original pure form (drastu-svarupa). To reach this common goal, many techniques are prescribed in both the philosophies. The main focus here is meditative practices. For this purpose, Patanjala Yogasutra gives us many citta-prasadana techniques like maitri, karuna, (sutra 1.32) and antarangayoga. In the same way, Jainism also consists of variety of meditative techniques. The Agamas like Acarangasutra, Avasyaksutra, Samayasara and Pravacanasara written in first century by Kundkundacarya include maximum types of meditative practices.

All twenty four Jain Tirthankaras were involved in deep meditation to reach enlightenment. You can find them in different postures of meditation as idols or images. Jain meditation can be broadly categorized to dharmya dhyana and sukla dhyana. There are other meditation techniques which include padastha dhyana, pindastha dhyana, saviriya dhyana, rupastha dhyana, rupaita dhyana. In padastha dhyana a person has to focus on mantra.

Some of the Jain meditative practices like twelve types of attitudes or bhavanas could be blended with the Patanjali’s principles, techniques and various types of sabija. All spiritual practices inspire us to win over the existing attitude of greed with feeling of contentment, inactivity with alertness and to conquer enemies like passions by contemplating on the mental sources like mundane pleasures, form of liberated soul.

One should constantly remember the twelve subjects of reflection. Each bhavana can be made as an object of concentration and contemplated with full awareness as per Patanjali’s sutra desabandhah cittasya dharana. (The mind should be confined to one object only). These reflections according to Tattvarthsutra as explained earlier are meditating on transitoriness, helplessness, trans-migration, loneliness, distinctness, impurity, influx, stoppage, dissociation, transitory of universe, rarity of enlighten-ment and the truth proclaimed by religion.

4. Mantra chanting is a common spiritual practice in all sects of Jainism and to whether monks or householders. Patanjali mentions pranava sadhana similar to mantra chanting with prayerful attitude and with understanding of meanings. Practically, all of Jain mantras are being chanted to have maximum spiritual benefits and most of them also start with “aum”.

5. Most of the great Jain scholars and acaryas during interaction opined that chanting of Navkara mantra (Jain prayer) 108 times have significance of linking it with breath, if our final goal is deeper level of meditation. Patanjali’s sutras on pranayama, the fourth limb also takes us to concentration prior to meditation[1].

6. Patanjali’s many options for purification of citta (cittaprasadana) and meditations include selection of any object for meditation of our own choice. There are various choices and types of objects of contemplation given in Jain scriptures also as explained earlier. Practicing discipline[2] (samyamasadhana) and contemplation of attributes (guna)[3] –subjects of the five sense organs are prescribed in Acarangasutra.

7. Practical applications of principles/doctrines and practices:

[Application of anekantavada in daily life:]—

Jainism explains that the following five causes are always present during our action or activity[4] :

1. Kala (Time)

2. Svabhava (Intrinsic nature)

3. Niyati or bhavitavya (Predestination) nimitta is Instrumental cause, it is of two types:

a) Internal nimitta is karma or prarabdha (destiny)
b) External nimitta is other person or thing

4. Purusartha is self-effort or determination

5. Free will

Even though all five causes are present, an individual should select to reflect on that primary cause which will enhance his spirituality or reduce his kasayas (afflictions) as follows:

After the completion of an activity or action, if the result is positive one, then one should reflect that it was due to the help from others (external nimitta) if the result is a negative one, then one should reflect that “it was my past karma (internal nimitta) that brought the negative result.” However during an action period one should reflect on one's own effort or determination. According to anekantavada, an entity has both a permanent and transient characteristics. When one suffers due to some misfortune, one should reflect on the transient characteristics of an entity that this suffering is temporary. Similar thinking should take place when one acquires good fortune. However, when one is about to do some undesirable activity, he should think that he will acquire bad karma and he will suffer in future due to his bad action.

Similar to the principle of anekantavada of Jainism, Patanjali offers due respect to the opinion and choice of an aspirant and gives him full freedom to choose the object of meditation accordingly.

[Application of doctrine of karma in daily life:]—

Both philosophies have similar doctrines of karma. Maharshi Patanjali talks of a common man, who has three- fold karma i.e. pure, impure and mixed. And in the case of the Yogi, the karma is neither pure nor impure.[5] Such state takes him towards klesakarmanivrtti, a state of kaivalya. Jainism also talks of continuous influx of karma particles and bondages in case of a layman. Through all the spiritual practices, one has to make continuous efforts to experience all these karmas with detached attitude, to repalce papakarma into punyakarma and to eliminate mixed ones and all to progress towards moksa.

So, one should not take call any of his action good or bad, but take them as facts.

8. We had begun this thesis with the understanding of Philosophy for finding answers to basic questions like “Who am I?” Now, with this knowledge of

both these darsanas, we can have following concluding self-communication[6] :

Q. Who am I?

A. I am a symbiosis of physical and spiritual substances.

Q. Why am I here?

A. I am here to realize who I am.

Q. From where did I come?

A. I come from the past karmic influences.

Q. Where am I going?

A. I am moving towards liberation (kaivalya).

Q. How can I get liberated?

A. As per Jainism, our existence fundamentally is beginningless. Enlightened world-view is samyak darsana. Enlightened knowledge is samyak jnana and enightened conduct is samyak caritra. These three together (triratna) is the path to liberation. Sage Patanjali has given astangayoga and related techniques for getting rid of all klesas or desires. Neither suppression nor expression, but the choiceless observation during antarangayoga make it possible and take us towards liberation.

Thus, the destination or the ultimate goal in both the cases is common with different paths to achieve it.

9. According to Jainism, when all the kasayas and desires are dropped, one gets omniscience (kevalajnana) which is perfect innate, pure enlightenment. All other categories out of five types of knowledge are mixture of knowledge and ignorance. Pratibha (intuitional inspiration) or vivekajnana of Patanjali is pure knowledge and comparable with kevalajnana.

10. Though, sage Patanjali has not mentioned directly, but indirectly agrees to the Jain philosophy that it is only human life that one gets opportunity to swim across the ocean of life[7]. So, one can make efforts in human life only. According to Patanjali, human being either by birth or by his own efforts can attain the ultimate state of samadhi.[8] Only human can exhibit equanimity (samatadarsana) i.e. to see outer world same as his own, no intention of harming others, chance to connect with others and does not get involved in sinful activity and has food discipline (aharaviveka).

11. Overall, it was found that the paths given by each philosophy are so exquisite that mutual comparison is not possible. And yet, it was felt while experiencing them that one path is not different from the other and also leads to discover a new one. Patanjala yoga system explains the metaphysical doctrine in relation to the individual as it is laid down by Samkhya doctrine which insists for isolation of purusa from prakrti for liberation.

Though, confluence of both spiritual paths talk of individual upliftment, Jainism emphasizes on upliftment of the whole world (jivasrsti) and Patanjali’s concern is individual salvation while experiencing the whole world (prakrti). So, by combining spiritual practices from both can help the whole community.

In other words, it can be concluded that Yoga practices are for individual development, whereas Jain principles and practices are for spiritual development of whole society. Hence, both an individual and the entire society (vyakti and samasti) will be benifited if both these philosophies (Yoga and Jainism) are implemented in our daily life.

With regular practices, the aspirant tends to accept all the values and virtues to uplift the ethical and moral standard of an individual as well as the society. Both technologies help to prevent ailments at the individual level by managing all types of individual stress and corruption and pollution at all the levels with inculcation of Yogic values of yama-niyama or anuvrata of Jainism practices in our day-to-day life.

12. Most of the people consider Jainism as a religion, so it is difficult to expect people from other religions to accept spiritual practices from Jainism, where as Yoga has become universal and popular since the declaration of International Yoga day on 21st June, 2015 which was celebrated officially by 192 countries of the world. Yoga is a science of inner world of man without background of any faith or particular concept.

In this thesis, we have tried to formulate and give better quality of practices to people with wider approach and universal applicability. Simultaneously, synthesis of both Philosophies would generate a new approach useful in current scenario. A few points lacking in one philosophy will be compensated by relevant points of the other one as it is indicated significantly through this journey that both are complimentary to each other. For example, Pranayamic practices of Yoga are lacking in original literature in Jainism, but the greatest contribution of Jainism to the society is anekantavada and nayavada. Sameway, lots of meditative practices suggested by Jainism could be included in Yoga to accelerate Yogic journey towards the final common goal.

Veda is like a tree, Yoga is like a fruit of it and Yogic spiritual practices are seeds of fruits. Similarly, spiritual practices prescribed in Jain literature are different types of seeds having similar qualities derived from fruits of Agamas which are produced by unique and eternal tree of Jainism. By applying modern biotechnology, if a hybrid of both the seeds is germinated and nurtured, the better quality of seeds as needed for this era would be the expected results.

Footnotes and references:


dhāraṇāsu ca yogyatā manasaḥ | Patanjali Yoga Sutra 2.53


Amarmuni, Acarangasutra - Vol.I , Padma Prakashan, Delhi, 1999, p.83


Ibid, pp.80,81


http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~pluralsm/affiliates/jainism/workshop/Anekantvad (Retrieved on 12.12.2015)


karmāśuklākṛṣṇaṃ yoginastrividhamitareṣāṃ || PYS, 4.7


“Essence of Jainism–Tattvarthasutra” by Jain centre of Greater Boston, Version A1.0, Nov.1998.


Amarmuni, Acharamgasutra, sutra-122, pp.182, 187


bhavapratyayo videhaprakṛtilayānām || Patanjali Yoga Sutra-1.19

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