The scientific analysis of life and What every Jain must know

Essentials of Jain philosophy - simplified | Dr. T.K. Jain, jain.tk@gmail.com

The scientific analysis of life and What every Jain must know

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Read the following sections only if you believe in the following ideas : -- 1. Rebirth 2. Existence of soul 3. Aura sorrounds our body 4. Our liberation (freedom from the birth-rebirt cycle) is in our own hand and through our own actions we can liberate ourselves 5. Our thoughts and actions have a direct impact on our existence and future. Mahaveer used the local language of his time so that knowledge can reach to every person. His sermons were the simplest to understand and would be accessible to every creature. It may surprise you that even animals and birds could understand his sermons (it is mentioned that animals also used to attend his sermons). Today’s Jain saints use all the Jain stotra in old Prakrit language – which is not understood by people. The result is that

most of the Jains don’t understand what is Jain religion all about. In one of my previous colleges, I was asked to recite Navkar Mahamantra (Namaskar or Navkar means greetings, and it is the most important recitation in Jain philosophy). When I spoke Navkar Mantra’s hindi version, people were surprised. They said that they used to listen Navkar Mahamantra year after year, but for the first time they understood its meaning. The meaning of Navkar Mahamantra is as under : I worship all those persons who have conquered their enemies (enemies here means attachment, jealousy, hatred, love, and other such feelings) I worship all those persons, who have attained eight Sidhhis (Siddhi means attaining perfection and self control on

things like your speech, your thinking, your actions). I worship all those who are imparting true knowledge to others and who are a source of ultimate knowledge and wisdom for others I worship all those who established religion in proper format and have established proper systems for the propagation of religion (religion here means the path of attainment of Nirvana / Moksha – which helps you to reach your soul). I worship all saints in this world. Saints here means all those who are devoted to self realization and follow right path for self realization These five worships are very beneficial to everyone and will remove my ill thoughts and ill attachments and enable well being all around for everyone.

I wish that every person should understand Jain philosophy. For those who claim that they are Jain, it is necessary that they should understand Jain philosophy and should try to follow it a bit – even if they can follow it one percent. I will start with an incident. A German Scholar liked Jain religion and its scientific narrations. He wanted to understand many practical aspects of Jain religion. He used to search for visitors from India, and whenever any person with surname Jain would come Germany, he would approach that person to understand the practical aspects of Jain religion. He would get disappointed every time. Every person would reply “I am a Jain by birth, but I don’t know anything about Jainism and have never practiced all these.”. It is a disappointing fact that most of the people

who put Jain as surname, don’t understand the rich heritage that Jain religion carries and the great contribution it can make to their life. Jain religion believes in soul and in rebirth. There is no God in Jain religion. You cannot ask for any materialistic possession from any Jain god / goddess. The ultimate goal of life is Nirvana (Moksha) and Jain religion gives you the path to attain that state. Most of what Mahaveer said was complied about 1000 years after his departure by his followers. This was put as Aagam (the most important original literature of Jain philosophy). Most of the knowledge of Aagam is for Saints (as it is so difficult that it cannot be practiced by an ordinary person). Thus Aagam were never meant for common people. But for the common

people, Mahaveer had introduced very simple practices, which have turned into rituals over a period of time. It is important that we must understand their meaning in our own language and try to practice them in the way we can understand. The basic purpose is to follow what Mahaveer said us to do and not just recite something, which we cannot understand. Aavashyak Sutra (necessary steps) contain important practices, which are followed by Jain Saints. Most of the Jain followers also try to adopt these practices in their lives. I shall mention a few of these here :  Samayika  Pratikraman  Vandana and Hymn about twenty four tirthankara  Kayotsarga

 Pratyakhan Samayika : it is done for 48 minutes. Samayika means equanimity. It is a feeling of equality towards every living being. Samayika means that we have same feelings towards every being. We don’t have love or hatred or jealousy or repulsion towards any being. Samayika is done twice, once in the morning – just after sunrise and once in the evening – just before sunset. During Samayika, a person tries to develop calmness and a feeling of equanimity towards every living being on the Earth. Pratikraman: Literally it means to return back. Thus it is an exercise of repentence and to return back to our original status. It is done twice – once just before sunrise and once just after sunset. It is done for

one hour. During Pratikraman, we try to recall our ill thoughts or ill actions and repent for them and try to return back to our pure state of mind. If we have done something due to our attachment, we try to recall all those actions and try to purify our selves from those actions and try to revert ourselves back to pure state of mind. Vandana : Vandana is worship. There is no provision of seeking any materialistic thing from the God in Jain philosophy. So the question arises – why should we do worship. Worship is done so that we may have the virtues that the Tirthankars and Saints had in themselves. Vandana is done with a purpose to seek the virtues, wisdom, knowledge and right path. Worship is just offering respect to our ideal persons. Worship here doesn’t have

to do with seeking materialistic pleasures. Lord Mahaveer didn’t promote any temples. However, it is a good practice if a person goes to temple daily and offers his worship to Tirthankars. This will enable him to change faster . However, it would not be appropriate (in my personal opinion – you may differ) to offer flowers or other such things before God or to light a Dipak (Lord Mahaveer prohibited Jains to use fire unnecessarily). Kayotsarga : - Kayotsarga is the most fundamental in Jain philosophy and it is being practiced for thousands of years. All the Jain Tirthankars used this method for attaining Nirvana. Kayotsarga is different from Shawasan (deep relaxation). Kayotsarga has following sequence : -

Relax the body and detach yourself from the body – understand it that your soul is different from your body. Relax your breathing Relax your mind (mind cannot relax unless body is relaxed and breathing is also relaxed) Relax your ideas and ultimately rest in your soul. Lord Bahubali did Kayotsarga for one year standing in a forest (now it seems difficult to understand how he did it – but at that time, there were many techniques for control of body, breathing and one’s aura – which do not exist today, there are stories of saints doing Kayotsarga and no wild animal would even touch them due to their aura). In fact the earlier methods of Kayotsarga have been lost with the passage of time. In today’s time, you can do

Kayotsarga as sitting or sleeping posture or for a short time you may do it standing also. In ancient times, it used to be done in standing posture by the Jain monks. This method is used only among Jain Monks. Jain philosophy says that calm body will enable you to have calm breathing. Calm breathing will enable you to calm down your mind. Calm mind will enable you to reach your soul. You may do this for as much time as convenient to you – start with a few minutes and increase to one hour or more. It is believed that we can first control our body, then we can control our breathing and then we can control our mind and our ideas and then we can reach a status of enlightenment – being with our soul and ultimately through our will, we can attain Kevalya Gyan (Moksha), which is the ultimate state, beyond which we will

be free from the cycle of birth and rebirth. We are in the cycle of birth and rebirth due to our own attachment and our own desires, when we free ourselves from our attachments, we are able to liberate ourselves (because basically, the soul is free and it is our own folly that we have attached ourselves with the materialistic world and wish to enjoy ourselves in this world – thus we end up in the chain of birth and rebirth – which is an endless process). Pratyakhyan : it literally means to give up. In this method a person gives up everything and tries to detach from the materialistic world. There are many types of methods in this. The easiest of all is Nokarsi – where a person doesn’t eat or drink anything till 1.5 hours after sunrise. People often do Upvas (not eating anything

for 24 hours, in Chowihar, people don’t drink also during these 24 hours), similarly in Bela, people don’t eat for 48 hours and in Tela, people don’t eat for 72 hours. A few persons do Athai (doing continuous 8 Upwas – remaining without food for 8 days continuously). Ayambil is one type of fasting in which a person eats only once in a day – that too of only one type of grain – there are different grains fixed for different days for that purpose. A few persons do Maskhaman (fasting for one month) or Varshitap (fasting for one year – in such a way that one day there is fast and next day the person can eat some food and so on) also – but let us now focus on the most important thing- the most important thing is that as a result of this exercise, you should develop detachment from your worldly existence. By remaining hungry,

you can evolve your will power for detachment and try to focus on the ultimate goal of life i.e. liberation or Moksha. Without this exercise, these practices will be fruitless. Detachment is a slow process and therefore you have to try it again and again. As per Jain philosophy, attachment is more difficult to get rid of in comparison to hatred, although both must be avoided. Jain philosophy lays special emphasis on what we eat and drink and how we do it. There are living beings everywhere including air, fire and water. Therefore we have to minimize our eating and drinking. We have to eat less (Jain philosophy says that we must eat at least 25% less than our regular appetite). We must eat such food, which causes minimum sufferings to the living beings. Therefore non-veg food is prohibited.

Similarly, roots are also prohibited. A person can eat or drink only during day time – not during night time, because as per Jain philosophy, during night there are many living beings, which take birth only during night and disappear during day time and therefore eating and drinking during night is prohibited. Jain philosophy doesn’t approve of eating honey, or liquor or other such material, which involves either sufferings to other living beings or which have been prepared to alter our consciousness. Jain philosophy is based on the basic principle that the ultimate goal of a being should be liberation and therefore all the actions and ideas must be evaluated in that reference. Since liberation of soul is more important than any thing else, the practices have been evolved which helps in liberation. The three most important tools

that help us in liberation are : 1. Knowledge (gyan) 2. Philosophical understanding and vision (darshan) 3. Character and our actions (charitra). Jain saints are supposed to lead a life of austerity. If they make any mistake or become consumtion oriented or deviate from their path, there are stringent selfpunitive actions that thay they have to perform. Generally they cannot use vehicle, they cannot use modern gadgets, and they cannot indulge into modern luxuries or comforts. They have to keep minimum basic things with them (which are prescribed) and they have to walk barefoot. They travel from one place to another – they are not allowed to settle or reside at one place. They have to devote some time in spreading knowledge among people and in Jain philosophy, spreading

right knowledge (how to get liberation) is a great task. Aacharang Sutra (the first Agam) gives detailed description of how a Jain saint has to lead his / her life. Jains believe that there is continuous Ashrav and Nirjara (Ashrav means that we have attachment and therefore we acquire Karma Pudgal – which ultimately create rebirth chain for us) (Nirjara means that through our efforts, actions, thinking and self control, we can detach ourselves from our actions and thus we may get rid of the Karma which have attached us). There are detailed methods and descriptions of Leshya (auro which surrounds us) and how we can purify our leshya. The most important aspect is our own willingness – if we truly desire - we can achieve it – though continuous efforts.

I apologise to all those who believe that I have written something wrong. I sincerely admit that I am not an expert in this subject and whatever I have written is based on the practices that I have observed during my childhood in my home (from my mother) and I haven’t taken any formal training in this subject. I sincerely acknowledge the great contribution of all Jain saints and scholars in their respective roles and I don’t have even a fraction of knowledge in comparison to them. I seek forgiveness from everyone and forgive everyone for any misinterpretation or misstatement in the process.

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