Jain Science and Spirituality

by Medhavi Jain | 2020 | 61,419 words

This essay studies the elements of Jainism and investigates how Jain science and philosophy can give the world answers to through science and spirituality. Instead of interpreting it as a confined, strict philosophy, it is shown that Jainism represents a path towards self-awakening through self-improvement....

asadabhidhanama anrtam
  (—Tattvarthadhigamasutra 7.9)

‘To speak what is not true is falsehood’[1] . However the way this statement appears simple to one, it is not. For life throws complicated situations in front of one, where even a seeker of truth may stagger and this is the beauty as well as the solidarity of human life; where what matters the most is one’s intent.

Sage Patanjali’s yoga sutras depict that there are eight stages of yoga to be followed–yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi. However today the mostly practiced and most renowned methods are only the asanas and the pranayama. As the main reason of spread of yoga, today, is to provide a healthy and balanced lifestyle; for nowadays humans are struggling to get the same.

Man has been in war with his own mind since time immemorial. Books have been written, discussions and arguments have been made, even wars have been fought amongst nations due to the mind’s control over humans; it indicates that mind is the most difficult of the enemies which can be converted into best of friends. When it is in its worst form it doesn’t let one sit in peace. Which leads to internal conflicts. However healthy eating habits and exercise may help one in having a peaceful relationship with one’s own mind.

When we talk about yoga,

‘So as to rehearse yama and niyama, discipline and self-restraint, a specific nature of psyche is required. Frequently we see that when we attempt to rehearse discipline and self-restraint, we make increasingly mental issues in our mind and personality.’[2]

Asana help us in dealing with them.

Often people bear this wrong belief that religious studies or practices will solve their inner turmoil caused by the mind but what they do not understand is that to study religious texts or to understand them; one needs a certain type of inclination and genuine interest. Where in today’s world religions have been taught in a way that they convey the message of denying what one loves.

This not only misguides people but also conditions their minds.

‘If we somehow managed to take insights of patients in mental emergency clinics, we would locate that a large portion of them are religious, for self-restraint and selfdiscipline, split the identity. Hence, before you endeavour to rehearse selfrestraint and self-discipline, you should likewise set yourself up.’[3]

One may understand the above statement in the following way–self-discipline and selfcontrol, split the personality if they are imposed on someone.

However if the same comes from deep within it only enhances the beauty of one’s spiritual journey for this path is not meant for everyone.

‘You have no capacity to grapple with the mind, yet you grapple with it, in this manner creating a pattern of enmity towards yourself.’[4]

Yoga helps one in preparing to win over one’s own mind in a healthy way.

The beauty of Indian philosophies is that they associate each moment of human life with the bigger purpose.

Be it normal chores of one’s life, bigger decisions associated with one’s profession or moving ahead onto the path of selfpurification.

‘The most noteworthy objective in yoga is achievement of kaivalya. Eventually, all profound practices and parts of yoga lead to that state.’[5]

However in context of having spiritual insights and seeking one’s own truth,

‘There are the same number of methods for achieving the objective as there are people on the planet. If we try to pursue and trust that each way is applicable to ourselves, we will never accomplish the ultimate experience.’[6]

Just like there are many roads to reach a destination, some are known and some are yet to be discovered. The fact about innumerable paths indicates that yoga leads one towards freedom, where each yogi/seeker is free to find his/her own path as per their ability.

If one may ponder over the concept of non-violence rationally only for a few minutes, one will conclude that,

‘There is no compelling reason to put any religious meaning on the word 'ahimsa'. It is a procedure of restraint, mindfulness, and consciousness of everything that is around you. Mahatma Gandhi was a living example of this regulation.’[7]

It is a simple universal law that the way one loves his life dearly, every other being on the planet too.

adattanam steyam
  —(Tattvarthadhigamasutra 7.10)

‘Taking anything that is not given is stealing’[8] . There are innumerable things we do in our lives without even giving them a thought if they come under taking permission from their possessor. When we talk about non-stealing in an ethical context, it indicates the peak of the same.

For example: if a mango tree is located in one’s neighbour’s front yard with its branches, full of mangoes, spread into one’s boundaries, nowadays no one considers it necessary to ask the owner of that tree if one can pluck the mangoes from the same.

However this too is a matter of consideration that one is supposed to ask humbly even from the tree before taking its fruits.

‘Non-stealing is easy to understand: not taking what does not belong to you, not only for social or moral reasons, but to avoid psychological and karmic repercussions. If you truly need something and it is truly essential, somehow it will come to you.’[9]

In today’s world brahmacarya is taken only as abstinence from sexual activities. However it is not so.

Brahmacarya is the combination of two words: ‘Brahman, ‘pure consciousness’ and carya, ‘one who moves’. Therefore, it means ‘one who lives in constant awareness of Brahman’; one whose awareness is absorbed in pure consciousness, whose mind is above all the duality of male and female, who sees the atman in all.’[10]

The soul that is beyond the boundaries of genders, is same for all, irrespective of the body it occupies.

We can find many examples around us where we see a person leading quite a normal, or abnormal, life, we meet the same after a few months or years and we find him/her as a totally transformed person.


‘A profound encounter can happen at any minute and you must be set up to support it on each dimension. It isn't simply something which happens to the soul and leaves the body and mind unaffected.’[11]

Spiritual experiences have the ability to shake one’s older beliefs; when one has a clear insight of a divine source of immense energy lying idle within, one transforms for sure. And surprisingly spiritual experiences are not the legacy of someone who is indulged into religious practices and rituals, they can happen to anyone, anytime, at any place. Though they happen at the level of soul but they then have the strength to influence the mind and eventually the body as well.

One is wrong if one considers yoga as mere a form of exercise and if more, a method of acquiring mental and physical discipline.

‘When Hemachandra gave to his treatise on the rules of conduct of laymen and ascetics the name of yogashastra he expected to pass on that it secured the entire religious endeavouring–what in Western terms may be rendered as a walking in righteousness all the days of one's life.’[12]

Every minute, every action, every thought and eventually one’s whole life is yoga.

When we talk about nonviolence surprisingly like yoga it, too, is considered that only physically not harming any being is ahimsa. However when one dives deeper into its concept one realises that ahimsa, too, covers one’s whole life, where one is expected to be nonviolent in each of one’s doing.

In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra’s,

‘The first yama is ahimsa, or non-violence: to remain passive in any situation, without the desire to harm anyone, either physically, emotionally, psychologically or psychically.’[13]

For example: even holding grudge against someone in one’s mind, with or without a valid reason falls under the category of violence.

Each of our actions, takes place in an abstract form, in the mind first and layout of its future gets designed there only at the time of its birth. The same travels to our speech and then actions to take a physical shape.

Hence in yoga it is suggested to align all the three, i.e. mind, speech and actions.

‘There are three forms of self-control (gupti): i) curbing of activity of speech (vag-gupti); ii) curbing of activity of body (kaya-gupti);iii) curbing of activity of mind (manogupti)’[14]

Beautifully all Indian philosophies tally at some point or the other. The yama in

Patanjali’s yogasutra and the anuvrata for a Jain layman are exactly the same.

‘The anuvratas are: ahimsa, satya, asteya, brahmacharya, and aprigraha.’[15]

And so do the yama.

The discussions about ahimsa and its heights, portray many challenges in front of the human race. One of them is–is it fair to kill animals for human use?

And is it fair to kill a bigger animal rather than a smaller one, for it would serve many people at one time?

‘The dispute that it is smarter to kill one higher creature than to decimate an exceptionally incredible number of lower types of life is disproved by the clarification that the carcass will unavoidably be brimming with minute life forms called nigodas.’[16]

The point of ahimsa is clear and simple that no animal should be killed in any circumstance. However if one has to; intent matters the most, which eventually draws the map of karma; for example: to save one’s life.

Hence even speaking the truth is useless if it leads to killing of a living being.

‘The abstention from lie uttered out of passion or hatred, and from truth, as well on the off chance that it incites the obliteration of a living being.’[17]

It all depends on the circumstances in which the truth, or the untruth, has been spoken.

Footnotes and references:


Tatia Nathmal. That Which Is (TWI). English Translation of Umasvati’s Tattvarthadhigamasutra. Yale University Press. London. pp. 174


Muktibodhananda Swami. Hatha Yoga Pradipika (HYP). Yoga Publications Trust, Munger, Bihar, India. 2012. pp. 5


Ibid. pp. 5


HYP. pp. 6


HYP. pp. 29


HYP. pp. 29


HYP. pp. 57


TWI. pp. 174


HYP. pp. 57,58


HYP. pp. 58


HYP. pp. 59


Williams R. Jaina Yoga (JY). Motilal Banarasidass Publishers Private Limited. Delhi. 1998. Introduction


HYP. pp. 57


JY. pp. 32


JY. pp. 55


JY. pp. 65


JY. pp. 71

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