A study of the philosophy of Jainism

by Deepa Baruah | 2017 | 46,858 words

This page describes the Nature of liberation (moksha) from the study of the philosophy of Jainism: one of the oldest religions in India having its own metaphysics, philosophy and ethics. Jainism is regarded as an ethical system where non-violence features as an important ethical value.

Chapter V.d - Nature of liberation (mokṣa)

It has been seen from our foregoing discussion that the self is associated with the karma-matter in the state of bondage. The nature of liberation can be realized only when the cause of bondage has been uprooted. So, liberation must mean the complete stoppage and dissociation of the self from the karma-matter. Both stoppage and dissociation are the two reasons for the attainment of mokṣa or liberation. The self attains its real nature of infinite vision, infinite knowledge, infinite power and infinite bliss after the destruction of all the karma-particles. It has already been mentioned that nescience, passions, yoga etc. are the causes of bondage. Due to yoga or activity of the self, the karma-matter enters into the body of the self. Then, the self is affected by some passions like anger; pride etc. and absorbs these karma-matters into its innumerable parts. This absorption of the karmaparticles by the self is known as bondage. For the attainment of liberation, the influx of new karma-particles into the self is to be stopped, and this stage is called samvara. After that, the karma-particles which have already entered into the self are to be destroyed; this stage is called nirjarā. When the self is fully freed from these karma-particles, it realizes its own real nature, i.e., endless vision, endless knowledge, endless power and endless bliss. This is the stage of liberation.

Prabhācandra’s view:

According to Prabhācandra, the four infinite qualities, i.e., endless vision, endless knowledge, endless power and endless bliss are the nature of liberation. Because, these four qualities are the real nature of the self attainment of which leads the self to liberation. The Jainas refer to the Vaiśeṣikas who do not agree with them. They hold that the self possesses nine special qualities, viz., buddhi (intellect), (ii) sukha (pleasure), duḥkha (pain), icchā (desire), dveṣa (aversion), prayatna (volition), dharma (merit), adharma (demerit) and saṃskarā (impression). When these nine qualities are destroyed, the self attains liberation. By an inference, it is proved that all of these qualities are destroyed together, because each one is related to each other, just like, a lamp which is put out when there is no oil in the lamp. Oil and lamp is related to each other. In the same way, intellect, pleasure, pain etc. are destroyed. True knowledge of the self ultimately leads to liberation. It destroys false identification of the self with the body. When the false knowledge is destroyed by true knowledge, then the body, mind and speech are freed from all kinds of passions. After that, the self is freed from all kinds of errors. This is the stage of liberation, according to the Vaiśeṣikas.

But Prabhācandra does not agree with the Vaiśeṣikas. He critically refutes the Vaiśeṣika’s point of view about liberation. He says that intellect, volition etc. are not separate from the self. If all of these qualities are destroyed, then the self would be destroyed. But it is not possible. The body is only destroyed, the self remains the same, just as when light is put out the whole room becomes dark, but the light is not destroyed. He also holds that the karmans are not only destroyed by samyak-jñāna but also by samyak-darśana and samyak-cāritra, because these three are the means of liberation. For all kinds of false knowledge are destroyed by these three jewels, together called samyak-darśana-jñāna-cāritra.

Prabhācandra holds that the liberated self realizes its four infinite qualities which are very intrinsic to its nature. The liberated self is omniscient; all the objects of the world being revealed to it. The liberated self is endowed with eight kinds of qualities which are found through eight kinds of karmans. That means, by the destruction of jñānāvaraṇīya-karman arises perfect-knowledge;by the destruction of darśanāvaraṇīya-karman arises perfect-vision; by the destruction of mohanīyakarman arises perfect-bliss and by the destruction of antarāya-karman arises perfect-power; by the destruction of vedanīya-karman arises non-disturbance; fineness arises from the destruction of nāma-karman;heaviness and lightness arise from the destruction of gotra-karman and capability to enter anywhere arises from the destruction of āyus-karman. The former four qualities are found in jīvanmukta, while the latter four qualities are found in parammukta.

Prabhācandra also hold that the liberated self is freed from all kinds of sorrows, miseries etc. It possesses boundless happiness, because consciousness is the quality of the self and the self is freed from all kinds of karmans. That means, all kinds of karmans, which are the obstacles in the way of the self’s liberation all destroyed. Therefore, the liberation means that the self possesses infinite knowledge, infinite vision, infinite bliss and infinite power in the state of consciousness.

There is a difference between the two sects of Jainism regarding the concept of liberation between men and women. According to the Śvetāmbaras, women also have the capability to perform all kinds of austerities to attain liberation. But the Digambaras do not agree with the Śvetambaras. According to them, women cannot attain liberation. Because, they are inferior to men in strength and cannot perform all kinds of austerities required for attaining liberation. For the attainment of liberation, one has to take up the life of a monk through renunciation. Common people who live the life of a house-holder are incapable of attaining liberation. Thus, women are incapable of attaining liberation, because they live like a house-holder.

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