Tattvartha Sutra (with commentary)

by Vijay K. Jain | 2018 | 130,587 words | ISBN-10: 8193272625 | ISBN-13: 9788193272626

This is Foreword by Dr. Chakravarthi Nainar Devakumar of the English translation of the Tattvartha Sutra which represents the essentials of Jainism and Jain dharma and deals with the basics on Karma, Cosmology, Ethics, Celestial beings and Liberation. The Tattvarthasutra is authorative among both Digambara and Shvetambara.

Foreword by Dr. Chakravarthi Nainar Devakumar

Om namo vītarāgāya

[Note: ॐ–‘om’–is a spiritual syllable that is generally chanted before reciting sacred texts or ‘mantra’. In Jainism, it symbolizes the five Supreme Beings–pañca parameṣṭhī. ‘Namo vītarāgāya’ is making obeisance to the Omniscient Supreme Being who has vanquished all attachment (rāga). Such Supreme Being has the most auspicious body–paramaudārika śarīra–and is characterized by the four infinitudes (anantacatuṣṭaya): infinite perception (darśana), infinite knowledge (jñāna), infinite bliss (sukha) and infinite energy (vīrya). He is referred to variously as the ‘Arhat’, ‘Tīrthaṃkara’, ‘Āpta’ and ‘Jina’.]

Brevity is the Soul of the Wit. It is evident in ‘Tattvārthasūtra’ which captures the essence of the Jain dharma in just 357 aphorisms (sūtra) with a total word count of 2314. Its original name was also a single word, viz., ‘Tattvārtha’. This sacred book is the first ever work in Sanskrit in the era of Lord Vardhamāna. It is blissfully musical to recite and an excellent reader in Sanskrit poetry of aphorisms.

What is ‘tattvārtha’? It is to unravel the common and uncommon threads of the intrigues of the functions of the beings in the universe. In this modern era, the use of artificial intelligence will help in better understanding of the interplay of matter and the bio-ware. ‘Tattvārthasūtra’ helps in understanding the origin of the natural intelligence, its trappings in the maze of the universe and its purification from the karmic matter. That substratum which happens to be You and Me, is the cornerstone of the subject.

The first ever commentary of ‘Tattvārthasūtra’ in Sanskrit was by the venerable Svāmī Samantabhadra, a genius par excellence in philosophy, poetry, language and logic, among many other arts. No wonder his commentary called ‘Gandhahastimahābhāṣya’ was so elaborate that its total length was about 84,000 śloka. It dealt with all aspects related to the topic with nuances of logic in depth. The need for an easy reader was felt for a few centuries. Fortunately, another genius in the human form of venerable Ācārya Pūjyapāda Devanandi appeared within three hundred years! The beautiful English book in your hand captures the Sanskrit commentary of this venerable Ācārya who called his work ‘Tattvārthavṛtti’. This commentary in comparison to its forerunner is of 4,000 śloka in length. Its free-flowing style is lucid and easy to comprehend. Each of the word in ‘Tattvārthasūtra’ is defined unequivocally and the grammar employed in each sūtra is elucidated with authoritative references. Wherever required, the commentary cites other sacred texts to substantiate the points and enhances the curiosity of the avid readers. Thus ‘Tattvārthavṛtti’ has gained over the centuries the undisputed authority of Jain philosophy. As evident from its epilogue, the popularity of ‘Tattvārthavṛtti’ grew among the aspirants seeking liberation from the mundane life. They found it to be the handbook of supremely condensed ambrosia of Lord Jinendra’s proclamations and so gave it the honorific title of ‘Sarvārthasiddhi’. In another context, this title is most apt as it is also the divine name of the highest seat of celestial life as mentioned in ‘Tattvārthasūtra’, 4-19 & 4-32. In this supreme celestial life, the lord (ahamindra) achieves everything without any effort (see also Ācārya Jinasena’s ‘Ādipurāṇa’, 11:114).

The divinity of ‘Sarvārthasiddhi’ can be best understood by the fact that palm-leaf manuscripts of this scared text have been a part of libraries of major temples in Tamil Nadu. Kaluppa Bhramappa Nitve, Kolhapur, Maharashtra, brought out the second edition of ‘Sarvārthasiddhi’ in 1917. Prior to the Hindi translation by Pandit Phoolchandra Shastri ji for Bharatiya Jnanpith in 1990, word by word Hindi translation of ‘Sarvārthasiddhi’ was accomplished by Jagrup Sahay, Former District Magistrate and Sub-divisional Judge, Uttar Pradesh and a compendium of three volumes running over 1600 printed pages was published in 1930.

As mentioned by Shri V.K. Jain in his Preface, the first ever English translation of ‘Sarvārthasiddhi’ by Professor S. Appandai Jain was published by the name of ‘Reality’ by Vira Sasana Sangha, Calcutta in 1960. This book received rave reviews from the scholars. Professor Jain hailed from a village called Tiruppanamur in my district in Tamil Nadu. The ‘samādhi’ of venerable Bhaṭṭa Akalanka can be seen in this historical village even today. The name Appandai is the Tamil region-specific title of Lord Pārśvanātha. Professor S.A. Jain’s younger brother took to digambara renunciation as Gajapati Sagar and was successful in the sallekhanā. Lest we forget, let me record the fact that Professor Jain received translation inputs from the illustrious guru, Shri Subbaiyya Sastri of Shravanabelagola Mutt, the famous historical Jain centre in south India. The English translation is a masterpiece in the annals of Jainism with scholarly erudition.

The author Shri V.K. Jain is already famous in the western world thanks to his numerous English translations of sacred texts. He has already published ‘Tattvārthasūtra’ with a brief explanation of each aphorism. Possibly, a lesser known fact about him is that he is a bhāvaliṃgī, i.e., a saint in worldly attire. I dare say that I have not seen another author of Jainism in English with such an exalted spirit.

The book at hand is another masterpiece for more than one reason. It carries brief Hindi translation of the aphorisms and more references from sacred books. It retains the original Sanskrit words from ‘Tattvārthasūtra’ in the body text thus giving an ample opportunity to the readers to enjoy the divine aroma of the sacred ‘Tattvārthasūtra’. I am sure, this book will also enrich the lexicon of English language with the addition of vocabulary from ‘Tattvārthasūtra’. This book will be complementary to ‘Reality’ by Professor Jain.

Both ‘Tattvārthasūtra’ and ‘Sarvārthasiddhi’ elucidate seven-fold path to liberation (mokṣa) and several novel concepts on soul, five-fold knowledge systems, multiverse, biodiversity, syādvāda, co-evolution, etc., and mantra for successful evolution of individual souls. A deeper reading of various aphorisms will provide impetus for modern research in various branches of science, humanities and sociology. As a scientist of over 40 years experience, I believe that Jainism as elucidated in this book is a rich storehouse of seeds of cure for modern ails and contain novel prescriptions for accelerating UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

I am sure, this edition will be a veritable resource book on the exalted Jain philosophy and for those pursuing research in the illustrative fields mentioned above.

–Dr. Chakravarthi Nainar Devakumar

October 19, 2018, Vijayādaśamī
New Delhi

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