14 March 2010

Jainism And World Peace : Prof. Prithvi Raj Jain

It is cruel irony of fate that we find the present world most complex and dangerous. Undoubtedly the modern science in its long life of one hundred and fifty years has been able to conquer the dreadful forces and many of the hidden secrets of nature. But it has at the same time terribly failed to overcome the passions and prejudices that human flesh is heir to and which work more havoc that the destructive arms ever invented so far. Material machinery has practically overpowered us and we have become aware of the absolute ruin and carnage which atomic carfare can bring in. The wolf in man is becoming evident in every sphere of life.
The war-worm world is lacking in spiritual values, which are the most precious heritage of each and every great religion aiming at serving the humanity and uplifting the divine in man. The only ray of hope at this crucial period of atomic nuclear energy and even attempted conquest over space is that no none can publicly claim or sincerely believe the total extermination of humanity as a part of our culture and civilization. Fortunately the human society has been having amidst itself from time to time. Mahavira or Buddha, Krishna or Christ, Gandhi or Vinoba, the selfless divine souls who have left no pains to show us the path leading to peace, harmony and happiness. Our main duty as pacifists and representatives of various religious thoughts is to find out how to prevent war and contribute to world peace. Late Shri K. T. Shah has rightly maintained: "The very conquest man has made by his intelligence over the brute forces of nature-his science and inventions-are employed to make man more savage that the beasts of jungle, more noxious than the most poisonous plant or vermin to his fellows."
The cardinal doctrine on which the edifice of Jainism rests from times immemorial is Ahimsa or non-violence. In Prashna-Vyakarana, it has been called Bhagavati. Jainism believes that weapons are in no way effective answer to weapons. Lord Mahavira has emphatically declared in Acharanga Sutra that one weapon is stronger than and superior to the other, but the path of Ahimsa or peace remains unsurpassed. Real peace can only be established by creating good-will in an individual soul towards other fellow beings on the basis of equality and sanctity of life. Various Governments may create the atmosphere of absence of war but not of the existence of peace. Inviolability of the individual self in all the forms is basic contribution of Jainism. When we begin to believe that all life is sacred, our attitude towards living beings is changed and we hen desire to live and let live. To injure or harm others is to harm or exploit oneself. Jaina Agamas say that one abhors those who give pain to these living bodies or we feel ashamed of seeing others doing sins. Fire cannot be out with fire. For this purpose it is our duty to stop adding fuel to the flames. Jaina scriptures say that blood-stained cloth cannot be washed off with blood, we need water for that. To achieve world pleace, we have to stop the race of armaments and have unbiased faith Samyag Darshna in the effective force of Ahimsa. Greek philosopher Pythagoras once said: "Fix on the course of life which is the most excellent, and custom will render it the most delightful.’ Jainism believes that force from above evokes fraud from below. Violence should be more terrible that that of opponent if it wants to succeed. Who can claim final and absolute victory in the race of armaments? Like Arjuna the nations believing in violent means shall have to declare, "Nor do we know which for us is better whether we conquer them or they conquer us." Ahimsa teaches us that recourse to armed force is not only infallible sign of the brute in man, but that war neither profits victor nor vanished.
Only a few nations can afford to compete in armament race, but all the nations can easily afford to arm themselves morally. The famous scholar, A. J. Toynbee writes in his "Study of History"- "The truth seems to be that the sword which has once drunk blood cannot be permanently restrained from drinking blood again any more than tiger which has once tasted human flesh can be prevented from becoming a maneater."
Ahimsa as preached by Jaina Tirthankaras is effectively helpful in establishing world peace in another way as well. One of the outcomes of Jaina Ahimsa is that it emphasizes the intellectual aspect of non-injury. It expects us not to injure, disregard or abhor the views of others. The philosophy of Syadvada or non-Absolutism, a special feature of Jaina Ahimsa, tries to harmonize all conflicting interests, sees unity in diversity, rejects absolute arbitrary claims and puts forward most important synthesis of all the divergent and seemingly contradictory doctrines. According to Acharanga Niryukti noncontrol or wrong use of the mind, speech and body is mental violence or Bhava-weapon. Jainism holds that we should endeavor to find out truth in whatever form and wherever it exists. Perhaps Broadly has explained syadvada in his own way when he says that there is truth in every idea, however false, there is reality in every existence, however slight.
In the adoption of this philosophy of Anekanta in finding out solution of our day-to-day problems endangering world peace and creating ill-will and disharmony in our mutual relations, we can easily march forward out established goal. Invasions and battles, persecution and conquest either for political ends or fanatical theocracy have created hatred, greed, conflict and misunderstanding. To get rid of these passions which are major factors in disturbing the peaceful co-existence of various nations, philosophy of Non-Absolutism teaches us to be tolerant, charitable, unbiased, selfless, sympathetic and synthetic. Who can deny the importance of these qualities so essential for creating good-will and faith among all the national of the world?
If the causes of the wars, battles, and strifes are analyzed, we come to conclude that our ever-increasing material wants, self interests, greed, mutual hatred, and individual as well as national selfishness are the main factors. We seldom find fault with ourselves and usually assume that shoe is on the other leg we believe and criticize the society and state for our miseries and troubles. Jainism believes that individual reform is golden path leading to social reform. Our individual passions and evils have their reflection on society. Hence ethical code asks us to examine, reform and morally uplift ourselves without waiting other for lead. If we are individually peaceful within, peace without is certain and sure. Consequently the five famous main vows of Ahimsa, truth, non-possession or limited possession needs special attention. It encourages non-attachment to worldly things and promotes the growth of equitable social order by voluntarily limiting one’s own possessions. It also avoids unnecessary hoarding which has become menace in the present capitalistic age. In a book named Atmanushasana, it is stated that masses of wealth cannot be accumulated by honest means of livelihood. Has anyone ever seen rivers flooded with pure water? Lord Mahavira says that greed goes on increasing as we go on gaining. Hence Jainism expects its followers to control and check their daily needs and lead pure, honest life.
Thus Jaina ethic trains good dutiful and morally conscious citizens who can help in maintaining world peace. If ethical code is followed, the heavy work of a state is facilitated and crores of rupees can be saved for other welfare activities. Jainism asks us to subdue our passions nd always act with mindfulness and caution. The negligence of these ethical rules results in individual and national crimes. Does it probe that by neglecting ethical rules of life men are let loose with the result that the demon of destruction stalks this land of human beings? By stressing on pure, simple and honest household life, Jainism paves the way for world peace.
It is an admitted fact these days that vegetarian diet is the first step towards world peace. Jainism has been preaching and practicing vegetarianism from the hoary past. Jaina sages were the first to propagate vegetarian diet.
Besides these Jaina ascetics lead life of purity, celebacy, simplicity, selfless service and perfect austerity. They have nothing to claim of their own and all the living beings are their friends parexcellence. Their high moral and pure character can appeal to the masses a great deal.
People of various religions and different countries should unite at this crucial juncture of world history and carry on ceaseless propaganda to save the humanity from its extinction. It is fundamentally essential that we try our best to revitalize religious and moral principles common to all the religious sects of the world. If pacifists all over the world stand up and unite together with an iron will to ensure peace and harmony, heaven can be established without fail on this very earth. Religious and moral disarmament need precede physical one. Jainism expects every individual to inculcate in him amity towards all beings, serene joy towards the good, compassion for the miserable and detachment towards the opponent.

07 March 2010

Purity of conscious : Acharya Mahaprajna

Likewise, the body and the universe have been deemed to be related in Philosophy. In simple language we can use the terms man and the world. The latter is a totality comprising not only man but also other beings and material objects.Every man is related to the world. In order to understand a single individual the whole world will have to be understood and vice versa. They are so internally related and interactive that one cannot be interpreted without the other. Even if an atom is to be understood, the whole world will have to be understood. Mahavira said, he who knows one, knows all and he who knows all, knows every one. No one can be known without knowing all. Externally, all appear separate, but internally all are interrelated. I have a piece of cloth in my hand. Even though very small, it is related to the whole world. Space is associated with it, which is related to another part and that to the third and so on. It is a whole series. A quiver in this piece of cloth creates vibrations in the whole world.Two doctrines were prevalent in the whole world of philosophy - dualism and monism. The former posited two elements, the animate and inanimate. Both are independent. The latter posited only one element, viz. the animate. The other does not exist. In reality, the two doctrines cannot be separated. Anekantvad (the doctrine of non-absolutism or manifold aspects) has viewed them together and that is why it has properly explained both man and the world. If we interpret man for our own convenience, for making right individuals and the right world, for making conduct and behaviour right, it implies the development of individual consciousness. If we interpret the world, it will imply the development of group or collective consciousness.Political ideologues tried to develop socialism and communism. The motive was not bad; in fact it was sublime and compassionate. But one thing was forgotten. They tried to develop collective or group consciousness and forgot to look after individual consciousness. As a result, the noble aim sought was defeated, purity was lost, fraudulence and deceit went on flourishing and the rot spread to the whole society.Development of individual consciousness is vitally important. Anuvrat's code of conduct is a code to develop individual consciousness. It is said that anuvrat does not address itself to the development of group or social consciousness. Particularly people in western countries keep telling that while they are working for the good of society, we are doing it for the good of individuals.

BHAVANAS

Bhavanas means reflections or contemplation. We are always thinking of something or another which may be near us or could even be as far away as the other end of the world. This thinking may cause happiness, sorrow, anger, greed, jealousy, and egoism, etc. And, depending upon how we react we attract various types of karmas to our souls. No prudent person would like to attract bad karma and at certain stages any karma at all. But it is not as easy as turning off a light switch. To minimize the bondage of karmas, the Jina have taught us to observe sixteen Bhavanas. Of them the following four can easily be practiced by householders while the rest may be observed once we become more serious about spiritual uplift.
Maitri Bhavana (Thinking of being a Friend)
Pramod Bhavana (Thinking of Appreciation)
Karuna Bhavana (Thinking of Compassion)
Madhyastha Bhavana (Think to staying neutral or uninvolved)
Let us understand how these bhavanas play important roles in our lives, how they can keep us away from bad karmas, and ultimately how they can improve our overall chances to uplift our souls.
Maitri Bhavana (Thinking of a Friendship)Lord Mahävira said that we must be a friend to all living beings. The feeling of friendship brings love and respect for others. It also initiates a feeling of brotherhood among all and in turn leaves no room for harm, deceit or quarrelsomeness with anybody. If we contemplate on Maitri Bhavana our thoughts, words, and actions will not be harsh and we will not hurt anybody. On the contrary, we will support and protect everybody. Friendship will lead us to be tolerant, forgiving and caring for one another. It can be seen that if we develop a friendship with all living beings, we will avoid bad karma.
Pramod Bhavana (Thinking of Appreciation)In this bhavana we admire the success of our friends, spiritual leaders and Arihants. One of the most destructive forces in our lives is jealousy. However, friendship combined by admiration, destroys jealousy. As jealousy subsides, negative impulses are turned into positive ones, and in time you will be at peace.
Karuna Bhavna (Thinking of Compassion)Instead of succeeding, many of our friends may be getting into trouble for things they should not be doing and even those who are successful may be accumulating vices such as greed and ego. If such is the case then, they are not on the right path and may be weak, helpless, and in distress. At a time like this you should contemplate on the karuna Bhavana and show compassion towards them instead of disgusted towards them or hating them. Show them a right path with patience, tolerance, and forgiveness and offer them needed support. In this way not only will you be avoiding bad karma, but so will your friends.
Madhyastha Bhavana (Think of staying neutral or uninvolved) Life appears to be nothing but involvements. Sometimes life works out favorable and sometimes it does not. So instead of getting disappointed, angry, or more involved, you should contemplate onMadhyastha Bhavana which leads to feeling that ‘I did my best to resolve the situation.’ If someone does not want to understand, then leave them alone without getting further involved. You should simply hope that one of these days they may understand and change. By observing Madhyastha Bhavana you will remain in equanimity instead of provoking turmoil in your mind. When your mind stays neutral and uninvolved it keeps karma away.
In short, you can avoid influx of bad karma and stay in peace while living in worldly life by developing a friendship towards all living beings, admiring their success, holding their hands when they are in distress, and leaving them alone at times when they do not understand what is right or wrong. So until it becomes the natural way of life to observe the above bhavanas, one should contemplate on them as many times as needed. If there is a goal, then there is an achievement!
(There are Twelve More Bhavnas which are not discussed here at this point)

KALCHAKRA

Jains believe that time is infinite, without any beginning or end. Time is divided into infinite equal time cycles (Kalchakras). Every time cycle is further sub-divided in two equal halves. The first half is the progressive cycle or ascending order, called Utsarpini. The other half is the regressive cycle or the descending order, called Avasarpini.
Every Utsarpini and Avasarpini is divided into six unequal periods called �r�s. During the Utsarpini half cycle, progress, development, happiness, strength, age, body, religious trends, etc. go from the worst conditions to the best. During the Avasarpini half cycle, progress, evelopment, happiness, strength, age, body, religious trends, etc. go from the best conditions to the worst. Presently, we are in the fifth Ara of the Avasarpini phase. When the Avasarpini phase ends the Utsarpini phase begins. This k�lchakra repeats again and continues forever.
The six aras are:
(1) Sukham Sukham Kal (very good).
(2) Sukham Kal (good).
(3) Sukham Dukham Kal (good bad).
(4) Dukham Sukham Kal (bad good).
(5) Dukham Kal (bad).
(6) Dukham Dukham Kal (very bad).
1) Sukham Sukham Kal:
This is a time of absolute happiness. During this phase people are very tall and live for a very long period of time. Children are born as twins, a boy and a girl. All the needs and desires of the people are fulfilled by ten different kinds of Kalpavriksha (wish-giving trees).
The trees provide places to live, clothes, pots and pans, good food, fruits and sweets, harmonious music, jewelry, beautiful flowers, radiant lamps, and a bright light at night. There is no killing, crime, or vice.
2) Sukham Kal - This is the phase of happiness, but it is not absolute.
The wish-giving trees still continue to provide for the people�s needs, but the people are not as tall and do not live as long.
3) Sukham Dukham Kal - This is a phase consisting of more happiness than misery. During this period the kalpvrikshas do not consistently provide what is desired. Towards the end of this period in the current time cycle Rushabhdev became the first Tirthankar. He realized that
things were going to get worse. So he taught the people useful arts including, sewing, farming, and cooking which will enable them to depend upon themselves. He also introduced a political system and became the first king. This era came to an end three years and eight months after the nirvana of Rushabhdev. The first Chakravarti Bharat, Bahubali also known for his strength, and Brahmi who devised eighteen different alphabets were Rushabhdeva�s children.
4) Dukham Sukham Kal - This is a phase of more misery, sorrow, and suffering than happiness. The other twenty-three Tirthankaras and eleven Chakravarties were born during this era which came to an end three years and eight months after Lord Mah�vir's nirv�n.
5) Dukham Kal - This ara is currently prevailing. It is an ara of unhappiness which began a little over 2,500 years ago and will last for a total of 21,000 years. No one born during this period will gain salvation in their present life, because no one will observe true religion. It is said that by the end of this ara, the Jain religion will be lost.
6) Dukham Dukham Kal - This is a time of absolute misery and unhappiness. During this time people will experience nothing but suffering. There will be no trace of religious activities. The life
spans of people will be very short, exceeding no more than twenty years. Most people will be non-vegetarian and the social structure will be destroyed. The weather will become extreme, the days will be very hot, and the nights will be very cold. At the end of this ara, a period of Utsarpini will start and the time wheel will take an upward swing. There will be days of rain which will provide nourishment so that seeds can once again grow. Miseries will diminish and happiness
will increase until absolute happiness is once again reached.

GATI (State of Existence of life)

What are different kinds of existence of life?Why is someone born in different kind existence of life? Can we predetermine our next existence?Why should one be born as human?If we look around us, we see not only men and women, boys and girls, butalso cats, dogs, birds, bugs and plants, etc. It can be seen that thereare various forms of living beings in this universe. Nothing ispermanent because every minute someone dies and someone is born. Thismakes us wonder what happens to those who die and who decides what oneshould be born as. Jainism explains that, as a result, of karmasassociated with their souls, living beings have been going through thecycle of birth and death since times immemorial. Unless the soul getsrid of its karmas, it will never be free. When a living being dies itcan be reborn into one of four destinies. These four destinies or Gatisare as follows:(1) Human beings.(2) Heavenly beings.(3) Tiryancha beings.(4) Infernal beings.Present science is inconclusive about the life after death or so calledrebirth. But Jinas, however, have explained that there is life afterdeath and it is you and no one else who decides what will happen to youafter your death. No God or super power decides your future. Your pastand current deeds trigger the accumulation of the karmas, which inturn, govern what you will be reborn as. Let us learn about thesedestinies.(1) Human Beings: As human beings we have been endowed with the ability to think and wecan differentiate right from wrong. We can decide what is good for usand what is not. We also have the capacity to control our mind andactivities. We can learn about the wholesome religious principles ofJainism and put them into practice by adopting appropriate vows andrestraints. We can also renounce worldly life for the monkshood whichcan lead to liberation or salvation from the worldly life (Samsar).(2) Heavenly Beings: As a heavenly being one has, of course, superior physical capabilities,various supernatural powers, and access to all luxuries. Heavenly lifeis transient and when it comes to an end, heavenly beings feel veryunhappy. They cannot adopt restraints or renounce their lives to becomemonks or nuns. Therefore, certainly their is no salvation in heavenlylife and such beings will have to be reborn as human beings in order toattain liberation.(3) Tiryanch Beings: As a tiryancha (being born as an animal like lion, elephant, bird,plant, etc.) one is considered to be a lower form of life. Animals andbirds may be able to think, but not nearly as well as humans, and theydo not have the ability to differentiate right from wrong. There is agreat degree of suffering and dependency in their lives. Only animalsand birds having minds may be able to observe a lower levels ofrestraint, while the rest of the tiryancha passively undergo thesuffering destined for them. A life of this type is not analogous to alife aimed at attaining salvation.(4) Infernal Beings: As an infernal being (living in hell), one has to continuously suffer.Most of the time infernal beings fight among themselves, and cause moresuffering to one another. Such a life is, therefore, absolutelyunsuitable for spiritual pursuit.Thus, it is clear that out of these four Gatis or destinies only humanlife is suitable for spiritual pursuit and freedom from the cycle ofbirth and death. Let us now consider what leads to birth in thedifferent destinies.Those who enjoy excessive violence, lying, stealing, and sensuouspleasure or are too possessive, angry, egoistic, greedy, deceptive, orintensely attached to worldly life are likely to be re-born as infernalbeings in hell.Those who are simple and disciplined, observe vows and restraints,behave well, have good character, have faith in true teachers, attemptto gain true knowledge, and follow a good moral life are generallyre-born as heavenly beings.Those who are selfish, cause trouble, or wish evil onto others arelikely to be re-born as Tiryancha.Those who are simple, straightforward, and admirers of the truth, haveonly a slight attachment, have a controlled level of anger, greed, ordeceptiveness, and try to follow religious teachers are generallyre-born as humans.Conclusively, we are the masters of our own destiny of existence of lifeand we should not blame anyone or anything else for our destiny. Let usbe inspired to lead a spiritual life without delay, so that we may bereborn as human beings and may continue to tread on the path ofliberation.

PRATIKRAMAN

The soul, in its pure form, has infinite perception, infinite knowledge,infinite vigor, and is non-attached. These attributes are not seen in aworldly soul because it is soiled with karmas. By following religiousprinciples principals and activities, we overcome our karmas and upliftour souls to liberation. There are various kinds of religiousactivities, sometimes called rituals, and among them Pratikraman is themost important ritual. During pratikraman we repent for ournon-meritorious activities on a daily basis. We realize our mistakesand ask for forgiveness which helps us to minimize the intensity of thekarma?s bondage. Pratikraman is a combination of six avshyakas(essential rituals). The six Avshyakas are:1) Samayik - a state of total equanimity2) Chauvisantho - worshipping the twenty-four Tirthankars3) Vandana - offering salutations to sadhus (monks) and sadhvis (nuns)4) Pratikraman - realizing what we have done wrong and annotating onit5) Kayotsagga - meditation of the soul6) Pratyakhyan - renunciation1) SamayikIn samayik, we stay in equanimity for forty-eight minutes. Duringsamayik not only do we give up all worldly affairs, but we also stayaway from attachment and aversion. This activity helps us to purify ourpassions and desires. To perform samayik, we put on simple, whiteclothes, and occupy a quiet place. While in samayik, we recite theNavkar Mantra, read scriptures, perform meditation, etc. Our samayikgives us a glimpse at the life of sadhus who live in samayik all oftheir life. It directly encourages us to lead the life of a sadhu orsadhvi.2) ChauvisanthoChauvisantho means adoration of the twenty-four Tirthankaras. Byreciting it, we show our respect for the twenty-four Tirthankaras.While reciting this, we are reminded of how victorious these Jinas, whoovercome inner enemies like anger, ego, greed, deceit, etc., were andsuch activity also and encourages us to be like them. It is also calledChaturvinshatistava.3) VandanaDuring vandana, we bow down to monks and nuns and express our reverenceto them. They are our current religious guides, and preceptors. Whilebowing down, we become humble, and thus, help ourselves to overcome egoand anger. It also inspires us to become like them. (If there is nomonk or nun then we bow down in the North-East direction to Arihantaswho are currently living far away from here.)4) PratikramanPratikraman is the combination of two words, Pra meaning return andatikraman meaning violation. Literally, it means returning fromviolations. As Jain householders, we are supposed to observe twelveminor vows. During Pratikraman we review our activities for anyviolations that may have occurred among these vows. In this way, weask for forgiveness for our actions, purify our souls, and improve ourfuture activities. If we have not taken these vows then we should wishthat there will come a day when we can take those vows. Pratikraman isusually done twice a day; once in the morning, Raisi (morning)Pratikraman and once in the late evening Devasi (evening) Pratikraman.Those who are unable to perform daily pratikraman should do a Pakshik(fortnightly) Pratikraman. There are some who somehow can not find eventhat much time, they should do a Choumasi (quarterly) Pratikraman,every four months. However, if someone can not even do that, then theyshould do Samvatsari (yearly) Pratikraman, considered a must for everyJain. By repenting during the pratikraman, you lessen the bondage ofkarma to your soul and avoid committing the same sins in the future. Ifwe do not repent for our deeds at least once a year, then the bondageof karmas to the soul becomes severe and even harder to shed off. Inall truth, one should perform pratikraman as soon as one realizes he orshe has committed a sin.5) KayotsaggaThe word kayotsargga is made up of two words Kaya meaning body andutsarga meaning to give up. Kayotsagga means to give up one?s physicalcomfort and body movements, thus staying steady, either in a standingor other posture, and concentrating upon the true nature of the soul asbeing separate from the body. This is a form of meditation and bypracticing pure kayotsargga we slowly gain control over our mental,verbal, and physical activities.6) PratyakhyanThis is a formal renunciation of certain activities, which reduces tostops the inflow of karmas. This activity helps us to learn to controlour desires and prepares us for a much bigger renunciation.