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 1 - On respirations (ucchvāsa)

Q. 3. Bhante! We know about the respirations (ucchvāsa) in and out, inhale and exhale, of living beings with two, three, four and five organs of senses, and we perceive them; but we know not, nor perceive, of the respirations in and out, inhale and exhale, of the earth-bodies...till flora-bodies, beings with one sense organ. Bhante! Do these have respirations in and out? Do they inhale and exhale1?

A. 3. Oh Gautama! These beings too have respirations in and out, they inhale and exhale.

Q. 4. Bhante! What sort of matter do these take through their respirations, what sort of matter do they inhale and exhale?

A. 4. Oh Gautama! From the standpoint of substance, matter with infinite spaces; from the standpoint of place, matter from innumerable regions; from the standpoint of time, matter in any situation; and from the standpoint of bhāva, matter with colour, smell, taste and touch—such matter they inhale and exhale in their respirations.

Q. 5. Bhante! From the standpoint of bhāva, these inhale and exhale in their respirations matter that has colour. Now, do all matter-particles so inhaled and exhaled have the same colour?

A. 5. Refer to chapter on ‘Intake’ (in the Paṇṇavaṇā Sūtra)2...till from five directions.

Q. 6. Bhante! What sort of matter do the infernal beings take in and out through their respirations? What do they inhale and exhale?

A. 6. As aforesaid...till, as a rule, inhale and exhale, take through their respirations, from six directions.

7. About all one-organ beings, it needs be stated, with obstruction and without obstruction; and in case the latter, as a rule, from six directions. (In other words, as a rule, they inhale and exhale matter-particles from all the six directions; but in case of obstruction, they sometimes inhale and exhale from three directions, sometimes from four directions and sometimes from five)3.

[more on respirations]:

Q. 8. Bhante! Do air-bodies take in and out through their respirations (ucchvāsa), inhale and exhale, only air-bodies4?

A. 8. Yes, Gautama, air-bodies...till exhale, (only air-bodies).

Q. 9. Bhante! Do air-bodies die and are born again and again several hundred-thousand times as air-bodies?

A. 9. Yes, Gautama,...till are (so) born5.

Q. 10. Bhante! Do they die of touch, or without touch?

A. 10. Gautama! (They die) of touch, not without touch.

Q. 11. Bhante! (Do they) go out with body, or without body?

A. 11. Gautama! To some extent, (they) go out with body, and to some extent, without body.

Q. 12. Bhante! Why do you say that to some extent (they) go out with body and to some extent, without body?

A. 12. Gautama! Air-bodies are stated to have four types of bodies They are: assimilative, fluid, caloric and kārmaṇ. The assimilative and the fluid they discard, and the caloric and the kārmaṇ they take with them. Hence, Gautama, it is said that to some extent they go out with body and to some extent without body.

Notes (based on commentary of Abhayadeva Sūri):

1. The question acquires relevance from the fact that respiratory action of the one-organ beings is difficult to know or detect. Even among the more developed animal forms, say frog, for a long period after birth, their physical mechanism shows no sign of respiratory action. The doubt becomes most relevant in case of the least developed among the animal forms who are without movement.

2. It is stated in the Sūtra that matter taken through respiration may take two, three, four, even five colours. Black colour itself may have several hues from very light black till very deep black.

3. The one-organ beings reside in such dark, shady or covered nooks and corners that they are rarely free from obstruction. This handicap normally does not exist in the case of other living beings.

4. The question is relevant. Other beings inhale and exhale what is air. But when air-bodies do the same, do they inhale air-bodies? And if one air-body inhales another air-body, and a second air-body inhales a third, and so on, then, who inhales and who is inhaled? This leads to a fallacy.

The solution is that what the air-bodies inhale and exhale are not air-bodies but non-live air. Since the air inhaled and exhaled by the air-bodies is without life, the former stands in no need to inhale and exhale.

5. The question is about the number of times spent by each living being with one organ of sense in that form of existence over the up and down phases of the time-cycle. It is stated that the total number of times each living being with one organ of sense spends over the up and down phases of the time-cycle is just ‘innumerable’ for the earth-bodies, water-bodies, fire-bodies and air-bodies, but ‘infinite’ for flora-bodies.

As we have it :

asaṃkhosappiṇīossappiṇīu egiṃdiyāṇa cauṇham tā ceva u cṇaṃtā vaṇassaīe u boddhavvā

[The physical existence of the earth-bodies, water-bodies, fire-bodies and air-bodies runs over innumerable number of up and down phases of the time-cycle; that of flora-bodies runs over infinite number of up and down phases.]

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