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...
Q. 25. Bhante! Is cloth with a beginning and with an end, etc. 7 (State four forms.)
A. 25. Gautama! Cloth is with a beginning and with an end. The remaining three forms are not relevant.
Q. 26. (As you say,) cloth is with a beginning and with an-end, and not with a beginning and without an end, nor without a beginning and with an end, nor without a beginning and without an end. (In the same way,) are the living beings with a beginning and with an end, etc.? (State four forms.)
A. 26. Gautama! Some are with a beginning and with an end, etc. (State four forms.)
Q. 27. Why is it so?
A. 27. Gautama! The infernals, the sub-humans, the humans and the celestials are, from the standpoint of their going in, and moving out, of these existences, with a beginning and with an end; as to the perfected beings, from the standpoint of their perfected existence, they are with a beginning and without an end4; the would-be liberated are, from the standpoint of their power (labdhi)5, without a beginning and with an end; from the standpoint of the world, the non-would-be-liberated are without a beginning and without an end.
Notes (based on commentary of Abhayadeva Sūri):
4. The liberated souls are stated to be with a beginning but without an end. This has been a source of confusion to some on the ground that if the liberated souls are with a beginning, then, there must be some point in time when the abode of the liberated souls called Siddhaśīlā must have been without a liberated soul. The confusion is uncalled for. The Sūtra leaves no gap when it states that relative to the category of perfected souls, any particular soul which is. perfected is with a beginning, etc.
sāī apajjavasiā siddhā na ya nāma tikālammi
āsi kayāi vi suṇṇā siddhi siddhehiṃ siddhaṃte
savvaṃ sāi sarīraṃ na ya nāma’dimayaṃ deha sabbhāvo
kālā’ṇāittaṇao jahā va rāiṃdiyāīṇaṃ
savvo sāī siddho na yādimo vijjai tahā taṃ ca
siddhī siddhā ya sayā niddiṭṭhā roha pucchāe
The idea is that the perfected soul is with a beginning but without an end. In the past, there was never a time when the Siddhaśīlā has been without a single perfected soul. Time is eternal, so is body, and so are nights and days. There has never been time when there has not been a single body nor time when there have not been nights and days. Still everybody is with a beginning, just as every night and day is with a beginning. Likewise, all the perfected souls are with a beginning. They attain perfection at a point in time before which they had been like ordinary living beings tied to the cycles of births and deaths. There is not a perfected soul who may be without a beginning, and there is not a single perfected soul who may claim that he has been the first to be perfected. Expressions like paḍhama samaya siddhā, anantara siddha, tīrtha siddha, all point to the fact that a perfected soul is with a beginning. As a group, the perfected souls are without a beginning, i.e., they are eternal, but as individuals, all perfected souls are with a beginning.
5. Living beings who are to be liberated in a particular life are in possession of a power called bhavyatva labdhi. This power remains till a particular soul is liberated; then it drops out. So a soul that is to be liberated in a particular life is said to be without a beginning but with an end (anādi sānta).