Bhagavati-sutra (Viyaha-pannatti)

by K. C. Lalwani | 1973 | 185,989 words

The English translation of the Bhagavati-sutra which is the fifth Jaina Agama (canonical literature). It is a large encyclopedic work in the form of a dialogue where Mahavira replies to various question. The present form of the Sutra dates to the fifth century A.D. Abhayadeva Suri wrote a vritti (commentary) on the Bhagavati in A.D. 1071. In his J...

Part 5 - On the base of space

Q. 224. Bhante! How many have been stated to be the bases of space?

A. 224. Gautama! Bases of space are stated to be eight. They are: on the base of the sky rests air; on the base of air rests the water; on the base of the ocean rests the earth; the earth is the base for souls of moving and non-moving beings; souls are the base for non-souls; and karma base supports the souls. (Thus) non-souls are embraced by souls, as souls are embraced by karma141.

Q. 225. Bhante! Why bases of space are stated to be eight...till souls are embraced by karma?

A. 225. Gautama! Suppose some one fills a leather bag with air and then ties its open end; then, after tying (the open end), ties fast at the middle; then unties the open end and takes the air out (from this part) and fills this part, from which air has been taken out, by water, and ties it again. Now, he removes the knot at the middle. Oh Gautama! Does the water remain at the upper layer supported by the air?

Bhante! So it does.

—It’s for this, oh Gautama,...till souls are embraced by karma. Or, suppose a man fills a leather bag with air, and ties it fast at his waste; and then he enters into water, unfathomable, limitless, sufficient to drown in man at his full length, water deeper than even this. Then, oh Gautama, does the man remain at the upper layer of the water?

Bhante, so he does.

—It’s for this that the bases of space are stated to be eight,...till souls are embraced by karma.

Notes (based on commentary of Abhayadeva Sūri):

141. The two expressions, ‘non-soul is based on the soul’, and ‘non-soul holds the soul’, may cause a little confusion. If non-soul is based on the soul, how can it hold the soul? In the first expression, non-soul or matter sticks round the soul, making the soul the container of matter. In the second expression, which has a different import, the soul is subject to karma which imparts life-span, race, name, etc., to the soul, thus holding it in bondage. So there is no contradiction.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: