A study of the philosophy of Jainism

by Deepa Baruah | 2017 | 46,858 words

This page describes the Means of liberation (the three jewels) 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.f - Means of liberation (the three jewels)

For the attainment of liberation, the Jainas prescribe that right-faith (samyag-darśana), right-knowledge (samyag-jñāna) and right-conduct (samyagcāritra). These three together constitute the way to liberation. These three are called the three jewels in Jainism. These three are not different paths or ways but constitute one co-ordinate path. That means, for the attainment of liberation all the three must be practised simultaneously.

(i) Samyag- darśana:

Samyag-darśana means real, firm and final conviction in the reality of the seven essential principles of Jainism. Right-faith or belief does not mean blind faith, but one must follow the path with correct understanding, reason and wisdom. Umasvāmi defines right-faith as the belief or respect towards truth.

One who has right-faith should be free from three types of superstitious belief and eight types of pride. The three types of superstitious beliefs are: (i) belief in worldly things; (ii) belief in gods and goddesses and (iii) belief in the teachings of falser ascetics. The eight kinds of prides are: (i) caste; (ii) family; (iii) power; (iv) personality; (v) penance; (vi) accomplishments; (vii) learning and (viii) worship. There are ten sources from which a jīva attains right-faith. These are: (i) one’s own nature; (ii) teachings; (iii) command; (iv) study of the holy texts; (v) suggestion; (vi) understanding the meaning of the sacred lore; (vii) detailed exposition; (viii) observance; (ix) brief exposition and (x) law.

Right-faith is the cause of right knowledge and right-conduct. Without right-faith, right-knowledge and right-conduct cannot be attained. Right-faith is of two types, viz., (i) natural and (ii) learnt. The first one arises naturally without the advices of others, while the second one arises through the advices of others.

(ii) Samyag-jñāna:

Samyag-jñāna means the knowledge of all categories accepted by the Jainas, viz., the self and the others. This knowledge is freed from doubts, illusion and uncertainty. With the attainment of right-faith, knowledge is also attained, because right-faith and right-knowledge arise simultaneously, like the appearance of a lamp and its light. When a person attaints the knowledge of truth, he realizes the nature of virtue and vice, and then he can know what vow should perform.

Right-knowledge is of five kinds, viz., (i) mati or knowledge attained by the means of senses and mind;(ii) śruta or knowledge attained through reading or hearing of scriptures; (iii) avadhi or knowledge attained by direct perception;(iv) manaḥparyāya or knowledge of the thought of other people and (v) kevala or the highest and unlimited knowledge.

(iii) Samyag-cāritra:

Samyag-cāritra means doing whatever is right, good and proper. It is devoid of all kinds of bad karmans. It represents the rules of moral discipline which controls good behavior and constitutes the right activities of mind, body and speech. It consists of five kinds of vratas. These are: ahiṃsā or vow of non-injury; sūnṛta or vow of truth; asteya or vow of non-stealing; brahmacarya or vow of chastity and aparigraha or vow of detachment from worldly concerns. (i) Ahiṃsā—the vow of ahiṃsā means the avoidance of injuring of any kinds of movable and immovable beings. (ii) Sūnṛta—the vow of sūnṛta means a kind, salutary and truthful speech. That truthful speech is not truthful which unkind i.e. hurt to others in their heart. (iii) Asteyaasteya means never stealing the things of others, if it is not given by the others happily. In everybodies life, all the things are external, if the things are being destroyed, and then man’s feels sorrowness. (iv) Brahmacarya—the vow of brahmacarya means the abandonment of all desires, heavenly or earthly by thought, word etc. (v) Aparigraha—the vow of aparigraha means when one completely free form all kinds of worldly things. The self can follow right-conduct only when it is equipped with right-faith and right-knowledge. That means, right-faith and right-knowledge all together guide the self for right conduct. One who is devoid of right-faith cannot have rightknowledge; one who is devoid of right-knowledge cannot have right-conduct; and again one who is devoid of right-conduct cannot attain liberation. So, being rightfaith, right-knowledge and right-conduct together, the self attains liberation. Thus, these three jewels are the means of the path of liberation.

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