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Monthly Archives:August 2016

The Science behind the Jain way of life

The foundation of Jain philosophy is Nonviolence or rather TOTAL Non Violence towards any living being howsoever small it might be. This philosophy guides the conduct of the followers of Jain philosophy. I have no hesitation to say that this need not be a Jain philosophy only, but this should be a philosophy of every human being. In order to live this philosophy the conduct of true followers of Jainism differs from the other Non Jains.

  • Not eating of Non Veg Food
  • Not eating of root vegetables
  • Other Non Eatables
  • Eating before the sun set known as Chauvihar
  • Fasting (with water only or in some cases without water & other penance )

“The basic foundation of Jain food is non-violence. First of all, we should only take such food, which involves least possible injury. The question of killing five-sensed beings doesn’t arise at all; we should avoid injury to mobile beings also. It is necessary to avoid destruction of even one sensed beings as far as possible. Jain-food-conduct has been determined keeping all these things in view.”

Jain Scholar Dr. Hukam Chand Bharill.

Jain Way of Life

  • Non eating of Non Veg Food:

This is obvious as it entails killing of animals/ other living beings.

Eggs are also non eatables. Eggs are the progeny of five-sensed beings. Food produced out of eggs is clearly flesh food. Some people argue that a vegetarian egg cannot give birth to a child; it is lifeless. This statement is untrue because it is a product of the sexual organ of the hen. So not only is it impure, but it also increases in size after birth and does not become rotten. Therefore, it is alive, though it may not possess the capacity to evolve from, but in no way can it be treated as lifeless.

Some people say that the milk of a cow or goat is also part of the body. However, there is a vast difference between milk and eggs. This understanding is incorrect because an egg is the progeny of a hen, similarly milk is not the progeny of the cow. By taking milk out of the body of a cow or goat, no harm is done to their lives; whereas by use of the egg the creature inside the egg is killed. If the milk producing cow or goat is not milked at the proper time, agony is caused to it.

The fundamental principle is whether killing/harm is caused to the living being.

  • Non eating of root vegetables:

There are is millions of small lives in root vegetables. Those who have attended school laboratory should be aware that while viewing Onion or Potato slices in the microscope, one can easily see the micro living beings. Root vegetables (tuber-roots) are totally forbidden as uneatable for 2 reasons. The first being that vegetables grown underground are the depository of countless of small creatures. The second reason being the uproot of such vegetables has definitely results in the destruction of plants and trees.

  • Other Non Eatables:

According to Jain texts, a śrāvaka (householder) shouldn’t consume the four maha-vigai – wine, flesh, butter and honey; and the five udumbara fruits (the five udumbara trees are Gular, Anjeera, Banyan, Peepal, and Pakar, all belonging to the fig class). Honey is forbidden, as its collection would amount to violence against the bees.

Mushrooms, fungus and yeasts are forbidden because they are parasites, grow in non-hygienic environments and may harbour other life forms.

Even chocolates and many other ready-made food items do contain the above stated non eatables. Those who are conscious about following this pure way of life must check the contents of these ready-made foods.

Many a times the food contains gelatine powder and the manufactures put up the Green Mark assuming that no living beings are used during manufacturing however the gelatine powder itself is made up of;

“Gelatine is a mixture of peptides and proteins produced by partial hydrolysis of collagen extracted from the skin, bones, and connective tissues of animals such as domesticated cattle, chicken, pigs and fish.” Wikipedia.

  • Eating before the sun set known as Chauvihar

There are microbes which hide during the sunshine. They reappear once the sun sets. They enter our food chain and preparations after the sunset. We all can see micro and small living being appears after the sunset if we are out in the open. Similar living beings are all there in the atmosphere after the sunset, some are seen and some cannot be seen by naked eyes.  The principle of Non Violence is at play when Jains do Chauvihar and do not eat after the sunset.

You can see the video to know more. You Tube Video by Dr Raksha Shah on Chauvihar

  • Fasting and Other Practices:

Fasting is one of the 12 types of penance according to Jainism. The soul sheds its KARMAs known as Nirjara, in two ways:

Akam Nirjara: By getting its fruits (good or bad) as the Karma comes into play. This is the natural course of Nirjara. We have no choice.

Sakam Nirjara: By pre-poning the fruits by doing penance.  This is by our choice.

Akam Nirjara can be compared with repayment of debt as per repayment schedule, while Sakam Nirjara can be compared with prepayment of debt by choice.

All penance practices performed by Jains, if done with the proper frame of mind and understanding, are the forms of Sakam Nirjara.

These are some of the usual practices performed the by Jains around us. So when the next time you see any Jains doing any of the above practices you are now aware about the logic/science and purpose behind the same.

(Note: Some of the content of this post is taken from “Vegetarian Food and Jain Conduct” by Dr. Hukam Chand Bharill )

Sunil Gandhi

A (Very) Short Course on Jainism

Jains will celebrate Paryushan, their most prominent festival from today till the 15th of Sep 2016. When the world is facing severe degradation of Morale and widespread violence, Jainism, one of the most ancient or perhaps the oldest philosophy of extreme Non-Violence is worth knowing and practicing by everybody.

The word “Jain” is derived from the Sanskrit word jina (conqueror). A human being who has conquered all inner passions like attachment, desire, anger, pride, greed, etc. is called Jina. Followers of the path practiced and preached by the jinas are known as Jains

Jains believe that Jainism is eternal.

Ancient history of India reveals that there were three major religions in India. They were Brahaminism, Buddhism and Jainism (Nirgranthas). Latest research and excavation at Mohenjodaro and Harappa has shown that Jainism existed before five thousand years ago.

“There is nothing wonderful in my saying that Jainism was in existence long before the Vedas were composed.”

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan – Ex-President, India

There is a belief that Lord Mahavira founded the Jain religion. This is a wrong belief. The lord Mahavira was the 24th Tirthankara of the present set of Tirthankaras. There are an infinite number of sets of these Tirthankaras as per the Jain philosophy. As the world is eternal so is the Jain philosophy/science/principles.

Jain Knowledge:

Agamas are the original texts of Jainism based on the discourse of the tirthankara. The discourse delivered in a samavasarana (divine preaching hall) is called Śhrut Jnāna and comprises eleven Angas and fourteen purvas. The discourse is recorded by Ganadharas (chief disciples), and is composed of twelve angas (departments). It is generally represented by a tree with twelve branches. This forms the basis of the Jaina Agamas or canons. These are believed to have originated from Rishabhdev, the first Jain Tirthankara of the present set.

The earliest versions of Jain Agamas known were written in the Ardhamagadhi Prakrit language. Agama is a Sanskrit word which signifies the ‘coming’ of a body of doctrine, by means of transmission through a lineage of authoritative teachers.

Time-Kaal:

The Jainas divide the whole span of time into two equally spanned cycles, namely, Utsarpini and Avasarpini. During Utsarpini, there is a gradual ascendancy in moral and physical state of the universe, while during Avasarpini, the case is just reversed, i.e. the gradual descent of moral and physical state of universe. Each of these two is subdivided into six aras, each extending from over crores of years to twenty-two thousands of years. This time-cycle goes on endlessly and humans like us rise to be Tirthankaras (Jina) at regular intervals. They, themselves, practice the eternal principles of Jainism and attain omniscience (Kevaljnan) and preach and expound us the same.

Jain_Cosmic_Time_Cycle

(Source: Jainpedia.org)

The present time is Avsarpani – 5th ara. This ara will last for 21000 years and in 2016 2540 years have already been elapsed.

Karma & GOD as per Jain science:

God as per the Jain philosophy is pure form of the SOUL. Every soul can become God i.e. liberated from the cycles of the body. Jains do not believe God as creator or manager of the universe. Every soul is governed by its own Karma. Every soul is surrounded with invisible Karman Varganas. These are matter scattered around us i.e  SOUL.  Karmas are the derivatives of Karman particles.  Karman particles are non-living matter scattered all around us and all over the universe. They are very fine particles that cannot be seen even with a microscope.  A cluster of innumerable Karman particles is called Karman Vargana.   When you act with passions like attachment, anger, greed, ego, or deceitfulness (4 Kashays), Karman Varganas are attracted towards your soul.  Karman Varganas that are attached to your soul are called karmas.

At the time of bondage of karmas to the soul, four characteristics of karmas are decided. They are: 1) Prakriti (nature).2) Pradesh (quantity).3) Sthiti (duration).4) Anubhag (intensity). The nature and quantity of karmas depend on the vigor of the activities, while the duration and intensity of karmas depend upon the intensity of the desires behind the activities. When a soul sheds all its Karma, it becomes Karma-less and this status of the soul is known as Moksha.   Know how a soul attracts Karma and How to a soul get rid of our Karmas  & How a soul can avoid attracting Karma. 

The following three doctrines of Jainism constitute the path to liberation i.e. Moksha:

  1. Right View (samyak darśana)–Belief in substances like soul (Ātman) and non-soul without delusions.
  2. Right Knowledge (samyak jnana)–Knowledge of the substances (tattvas) without any doubt or misapprehension.
  3. Right Conduct (samyak charitra)–Being free from attachment, a right believer does not commithi (injury).

Jain principles are about the science of the Souls; whether one calls it a religion or a way of life or anything else.

Jainism believes that every living being is a combination of a body and a soul. The body is nothing but the culmination of the Karmas soul had attracted.

The only purpose of the soul is to get liberated (attain Moksha) from the bondage of the Karmas to get rid from the cycles of life and death. Compassion towards every soul is the central theme of the Jain philosophy in order to achieve the Moksha.

All Jain practices are guided by compassion towards other tiniest living beings.

Jainism & Buddhism:

Though there are many similarities but there is confusion about the differences in Jainism and Buddhism. The major differences as per the Jainworld.com are:

Nature of Religion

Buddhism belongs to the category of ‘Founded Religion’ as it was founded by a specific person viz.. Lord Gautama Buddha, at a particular period of time i.e.. in the sixth century B.C. But this cannot be said about Jainism which is a traditional religion continuously existing in India from remote Past.

Concept of Soul

Jainism is an atmavadi religion in the sense that it is based on the existence of soul and that it deals, in detail, with various aspects, conditions and progress of the soul till it reaches its highest position after getting liberated from the bondage of karmas. But Buddhism holds completely contrary views. Buddhism is, therefore, termed as anatmavadi; religion i.e., a religion which does not give any importance to the soul. According to Buddhism, soul is not a permanent thing and that it will wither away in due course.

Principles of Ahimsa

Even though Buddhism and Jainism are regarded as religions based on the fundamental principle of Ahimsa still there is a significant difference in the treatment and application of the principle of Ahimsa in actual practice by both religions. Buddhism deals with the principle of Ahimsa in a limited way in the sense that it enjoins upon its followers not to commit Ahimsa themselves only. That is why a Buddhist can eat fish caught by others. But Jainism not only considers the principle of Ahimsa in all its aspects, but also makes it obligatory on its followers to abstain from committing Ahimsa in nine possible ways. In other words, it is expected of a devout Jaina that he should not commit Ahimsa through manas (i.e., mind), vachana (i.e., speech) and kaya (i.e., body) and each through the manner of krta (i.e., personally committed), karita (i.e., commissioned through others) and anumodita (i.e., giving consent for commitment by others).

Practice of Penance

It is true that both Jainism and Buddhism are considered as ascetic religions as they attach prominence to the ascetic way of life and to the practice of penance. But there is a great difference in the extent of practice of penance in both religions. Jainism always lays utmost stress on the strict observance of the practice of asceticism in all possible ways. In fact, Jaina asceticism is considered as most difficult in the world and for its proper observance in practice, elaborate rules and regulations have been laid down giving rise to what is known as monastic jurisprudence. But Buddhism has shown a complete aversion to extreme asceticism and in its place, it has laid down madhyam-marga i.e.. the ‘Middle Path’ lying between complete laxity and extreme asceticity.

I think the detailing of the science of the soul mentioned in the Jain texts is unparalleled.

Prominent People’s Views on Jain Philosophy:

“In conclusion let me assert my conviction that Jainism is an original system, quite distinct and independent from all others; and that therefore it is of great importance for the study of philosophical thoughts and religious life in ancient India.”

– Dr. Herman Jacobi, Imminent German Ideologist. Jainism Scholar

“Jainism is of a very high order. Its important teachings are based upon science. The more the scientific knowledge advances the more that Jain teaching will be proven.”

– L. P. Tessetori, Italy

“I adore so greatly the principles of the Jain religion, that I would like to be reborn in a Jain community.”

– George Bernard Shaw

“The Jains have written great masterpieces only for the benefit of the world.”

– Dr. Hertel, Germany

“I say with conviction that the doctrine for which the name of Lord Mahavir is glorified nowadays is the doctrine of Ahimsa. If anyone has practiced to the fullest extent and has propagated most the doctrine of Ahimsa, it was Lord Mahavira.”

– Mahatma Gandhi

“I am not Rama. I have no desire for material things. Like Jina I want to establish peace within myself.”

– Yoga Vasishta, Chapter 15, Sloka 8 the saying of Rama

“Mahavira proclaimed in India that religion is a reality and not a mere social convention. It is really true that salvation cannot be had by merely observing external ceremonies. Religion cannot make any difference between man and man.”

– Dr. Rabindranath Tagore

“We learn from scriptures (Sashtras) and commentaries that Jainism is existing from beginning-less time. This fact is indisputable and free from difference of opinion. There is much historical evidence on this point.”

– Lokamanya Bala Gangadhar Tilak

“Jainism has contributed to the world the sublime doctrine of Ahimsa. No other religion has emphasized the importance of Ahimsa and carried its practice to the extent that Jainism has done. Jainism deserves to become the universal religion because of its Ahimsa doctrine.”

– Justice Ranglekar, Bombay High Court

“Truly speaking, Jainism is an independent and original religion, for it is neither Hinduism nor Vedic religion, but of course it is an aspect of Indian life, culture, and philosophy.”

– Shri Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister, India

Ideologist and biographer of Moghul Emperor Akbar, Vincent Smith notes: “Akbar’s action in abstaining almost wholly from meat and in issuing stringent prohibitions, resembling those of Asoka, restricting to the narrowest limit the destruction of animal life, certainly was taken in obedience to the doctrine of his Jaina teachers.”

If one wants to know about the principles of the science of the Jain philosophy, one book that covers it all is:  Tattvarth Sutra. The place to get it free is Jain Library, where more than 8500 books on Jainism available for free.

Next Post:

The Science behind te Jain way of life

Sunil Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi’s Spiritual Guru

Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred his name couple of times during his Independence Day speech today. For those who wish to know more about Shrimad Rajchandra, Spiritual Guru of Mahatma Gandhi here I have reproduced some of the questions Mahatma Gandhi had asked Shrimad Rajchandra and answers given by him.   

_______________________________________________________________

 It is remarkable that Mahatma Gandhi had grown a close intimacy with Kavi Rajchandraji. Mahatmaji had expressed this experience of his life in very impressive language. He writes,

“Tolstoy, Ruskin and Rajchandbhai  the three great personalities have influenced me much. Tolstoy through his book and correspondence Ruskin by his ” UNTO THIS LAST!” and Rajchandbhai by his close contact.

When I had grown up doubts about Hinduism, it was Rajchandbhai who helped me (to remain firm in my belief). In the month of July 1891, when I returned from England and reached Bombay, that I first met Rajchandbhai. Dr. Pranjivandas introducing him to me, as a Kavi (Poet), said, that inspite of being a poet, he is a partner with us in business. He is very wise, a ‘SHATAVADHANI’ also.

I was simply amazed to hear this and out of curiosity read out to him a big list of words from various languages, which I had written beforehand for my convenience. After hearing me, Rajchandbhai repeated those words exactly in the same order as I read them.

I was satisfied and wondered (at this extraordinary feat of memory). Indeed I had a great regard and impression about his faculty of memory. The wonder is that the Kavi had no knowledge of English and he was only 25 years old at the time. A student only of vernacular (normal) classes, yet he developed his wisdom and knowledge such that commanded respect from all ! My acquaintance with Kavi continued for long, as a ” Gnyani” he was!

QUESTIONS ANSWERED

While Mahatma Gandhi was in South Africa, he came into the contact of the Christian Missionaries and had religious and philosophical discussions with them. As a result he had to face a mental storm which arose in his mind . He at once wrote to Kavi Rajchandra and sought his help to clear the doubtful points, which were troubling his mind. He put no less than 27 questions to the Kavi, which were duly answered.  Four are reproduced below:

  1. SOUL AND ITS FUNCTION

Q.- What is a soul and what are its functions ? Do the Karmas bound it ?

A.-Just as the pot, table etc. are material substances, similarly a soul is a conscious substance. But pots, tables etc. all material substances are transient impermanent. They cannot remain static in their nature through aall the ages : past, present and future. While on the other hand, soul retains all its characteristics, because it is permanent and eternal. ‘ Eternal ‘ is that substance which is not created by the processes of integration and disintegration.

There is nothing to show that soul has been created by any such processes. We may make thousands sorts of combinations and permutation (alteration) of material objects, but it is impossible to create consciousness. It is a thing of common experience that if a particular characteristic is wanting in a substance, it cannot be created in it by undergoing it through innumerable processes of combination and permutation. Thus material objects, like pots, tables, etc. which are devoid of consciousness, can never be made to yield it in whatever way they are changed or processed. All these things will result in producing objects of the same materialistic order. It is thus established that soul which is characterized by the wise as a conscious substance, cannot be created from material objects like earth, water, air, and space, etc. The particular characteristic of soul is consciousness.

Where it is not found, or which is devoid of it, that, of course, is a material substance. Animate and inanimate these two are eternal entities. Besides the above, there are other methods also for the eternity and immortality of soul. If you just ponder deep you yourself can well realize the permanence of soul. There is no harm or objection, rather it carries you to truth, to accept the fact that the feelings of pleasure & pain, the desire of getting free from them, thoughts and inspiration etc. are all experiences due to the existence of soul and that soul is primarily a conscious entity.

Since such conscious feeling, willing and knowing are always present in soul, therefore, it is eternal. For a clear understanding of such philosophical questions, it is advisable for you to first read the Shaddarshana-samuchchaya which is being sent to you.

The soul in its pure conscious state, i. e. in the state of its self-realization, is the creator of its own inherent characteristics of knowledge, perception and samadhii. e. spiritual equanimity. But in the state of its ignorance the soul becomes a creator of emotions like anger, conceit, deceit, greed etc. which are all foreign to it. Not only this much, under the influence of these emotions, soul through its instrumentality also becomes a creator of things like pot, table, etc.

To put it more expressively, though soul is not the creator of the substratums of earth from which pots, etc. are prepared, yet it becomes a creator of processes which give new modifications to it. This latter state and functioning of soul is called ‘Karma’ i.e. action in Jainism, and ‘ Bhranti’ i.e. illusion in the Vedanta. Other systems of Philosophy also refer to this state of soul by similar sort of terms. But solemn and serene thinking reveals the truth that in reality the soul is neither a creator of pot etc., nor of the emotions of anger, conceit etc. In fact, it is a creator of its own conscious characteristics of feelings, willing and knowing.

The Karmas (actions) which are done in ignorance of one’s own self, though in the beginning are merely seeds, yet at the time of maturity they turn into trees laden with heavy fruits. It is thus self-evident that the soul itself has to bear the fruits of its actions just as by giving a touch to fire you first feel its heat and then pain follows, similar is the state of the mundane soul.

It also by coming in contact with earthly objects by its sensuous organs, first gives rise to emotions of greed, anger and deceit etc. and then as its fruits has to suffer the pangs of birth, death and old age. Please ponder well over these problems with a detached mind and if you have any doubts please rewrite to me. It is the detached mind, which gives strength for abstinence and control and ultimately leads the soul to Nirvana.

  1. THE NATURE OF GOD & CREATION OF UNIVERSE.

Q.-What is God ? Is He the creator of the universe ?

A.-I. Just see you and we, are all mundane beings bound with Karmas, i.e. our souls are in bondage of foreign matter and foreign impulses. The natural state of self with its intrinsic glory free from all karmas, aloof from all impurities and bondages is godhood. God is endowed with the fullness of peace, bliss and knowledge. This godhood is the inherent nature of self, but due to ignorance born of the bondage of karmas one is unable to have a vision thereof.

However when one realizes the truth that self is altogether aloof from body and its limitations the dire fruits of actions, and this self is introspected by mind, then by and by one begins to realize its inner glory of omniscience etc. If you just make a minute survey of the value of all things around you, you will find that there is nothing to excel in the glory of your self. Thus we are led to conclude that ‘God ‘ is a synonym of self. For this reason I have a firm conviction that God is self and self is God: God has no abode outside the self.

God is not the creator of the universe. All the elements of nature such as atom, space etc. are eternal and uncreated. They have got their own substratum. They cannot be created from substances other than themselves. Perchance if one says that God has created them, this also does not look sound, because if God is a conscious being or consciousness is taken to be His characteristic, then how can atoms, and space etc. be conceived to have been born from Him ?

It is quite impossible for the insentient to come out of the sentient. If we regard God also to be insentient, then it will become devoid of all its glory of peace, bliss and knowledge. just as it is impossible for material things to come out of God, similarly the conscious beings called Jivas cannot be born out of Him.

If God is taken to be sentient-cum-insentient, then we will have to con. tent ourselves with universe by calling it to be God, because universe consists both of sentients and insentients. Perchance while admitting atoms, space etc. to be realities independent of God, you may assert that God is the giver of fruits of our actions, but this pro, position also will equally fail. On this part it would be advisable to consult ” Shaddarshan.-Samuchchaya ” which has dealt this topic at length.

  1. NATURE OF MOKSA.

Q.-What is Moksa (salvation) ?

A.-Moksa or salivation is the absolute liberation of self from anger, conceit, greed and other nescient propensities, which bind the soul with earthly coils and other limitations. There is a natural urge in life to be free from all bandages and limitations. A close consideration of this urge makes the truth of the above saying of the wisemen to be self evident.

  1. POSSIBILITY OF MOKSA.

Q.-It is possible for an embodied soul to know precisely whether he would attain Moksa or not ?

A.-Just as a man, whose hands have been tightly bound down with a rope, on being slowly and slowly loosened, feels a great relaxation from bondage and begins to perceive as if the rope has ceased to exist or exert any influence, similarly the soul which is bound down with various kinds of nescient emotions, on being slowly and slowly released from them, beings to feel the glory of salvation.

The more and more the streaks of these emotions fade away, the more and more the soul shines in its luster untarnished with ignorance. As soon as there is a complete extinction of these nescient forces, soul even though it may be delineated by body it blooms out in its full splendor with a consciousness of freedom all round. Thus the soul though residing, in this body enjoys the blessings of salvation.

 

Gandhi Shrimad

Read all 27 questions and answers.

Sunil Gandhi