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Jaina (Philosophy and Religion)

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Item Code: NAS539
Author: Nagin J. Shah
Language: English
Edition: 1999
ISBN: 8120814908
Pages: 500
Other Details 10.00 X 7.50 inch
Weight 1.13 kg
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Book Description
About the Book

Muni Nyayavijayaji (A.D. 1890-1970), an ideal Jaina monk, was an embodiment of learning and love. His forte was his spiritual and philosophical thinking, and his contribution in the field is both substantial and distinctive. He wrote nearly thirty works in Sanskrit, the more noteworthy among them being nyayakusumanjali, Adhyatma-tattvaloka and Kalyanabharati. Deeply impressed by his erudition, non-sectarian spirit and poetic genius, pandits of Ujjain honoured him, praised his literary excellence and described him as an incarnation of Agvaghosa and Kalidasa.

The present work is the English translation of his original Gujarati work Jaina Dargana' which has run into twelve editions. No one has ever explained the Jaina concepts of nine `reals', six substances, causation, spiritual attitude, spiritualness, non-violence, austerity, God, Karma, non-absolutism, relativity of commandments, etc. as interestingly and lucidly as Nyayavijayaji has done. The work reveals his stupendous scholarship, his positive approach, his non-sectarian outlook, his wisdom and competence in attempting synthesis of conflicting views, his mastery of Indian philosophical and religious thought, his insight into the heart of religion, freshness of his interpretation of old texts, his sensitivity to all aspects of a problem, and his spiritual craving. It attempts to arouse sympathetic responses to the ethical and spiritual aspirations of man. It deals with all the main topics of Jaina metaphysics, ethics, epistemology and logic. It covers a wide variety of problems. It is a fascinating and splendid work of constructive scholarship, and an authentic source of information about Jaina philosophy and religion that will serve as a good reference book for many years to come.

About the Author

Nagin J. Shah, a renowned Sanskritist and eminent scholar of Indian Philosophy, has translated the original Gujarati work into English.


The B.L. Institute of Indology has great pleasure, indeed, in publishing the English translation of Munigri Nyayavijayaji's (A.D. 1890-1970) original Gujarati work entitled laina Dargana' which has run into twelve editions. The work reveals his stupendous scholarship, his positive approach, his non-sectarian outlook, his wisdom and competence in attempting synthesis of conflicting views, his mastery of Indian philosophical and religious thought, his insight into the heart of religion, his sensitivity to all aspects of a problem, and his spiritual craving. It is a comprehensive, competent and authoritative treatise on Jainism. It attempts to arouse sympathetic responses to the ethical and spiritual aspirations of man. The author has made sincere and honest efforts to bring out the true significance of Jaina views on various subjects. We are most thankful to Dr. Nagin J. Shah, an eminent scholar of Indian philosophy, for accepting our invitation to translate the original Gujarati work into English. He has successfully accomplished the task of producing an English version that would closely retain the meaning of the original text and yet be intelligible to the English-speaking readers. He catches the spirit of the original and takes great pains to match it with proper verbal expression. He attempts to be as lucid as possible.

It will be perfectly in place here to say some words about how the BLII was founded. The late revered Jain Acharya Vijay Vallabh Surishwarji Maharaj is well-known throughout India for his humanism, his concern for the upliftment of the human race and his disciplined way of life.

To commemorate the teachings of the great visionary Acharya, a beautiful memorial (Smarak Complex) with a magnificent shrine has come up on the outskirts of Delhi. The Smarak is the brain-child of the late Mahattara Vidushi Sadhvigri Mrigavatiji, herself a great scholar of Jaina Agamas and a true disciple of Acharya Vijay Vallabh Surishwarji Maharaj.

The Bhogilal Leherchand Institute of Indology (BLII) was started through the munificent donations provided by the trusts of the Bhogilal Leherchand family and through Atma Vallabh Jaina Smarak Shikshan Nidhi to sponsor and promote research in Indology and other aspects of Indian culture, objectives dear to revered Acharyagriji. Acharya Vijay Vallabh Maharaj was advised by his guru in his last sermon:

"Temples to God have been built. Now you

must build temples to Saraswati."

The academic programme of the Institute is to initiate, organise and give a fillip to research in Indological subjects in general and Jainology in particular.

This English translation of the original work in Gujarati has been published in accordance with the true spirit of these aims and objectives.

On this occasion, we respectfully remember revered Mahattara Sadhvigri Mrigavatiji Maharaj. It was at her suggestion that this project was undertaken by the management of the Institute. She was deeply impressed by the intrinsic worth of the work. It is really very sad that she is no more to see this publication.

Our thanks are also due to Sri Vinodbhai and Sri Rajkumarji, Trustees of Sri Atma Vallabh Jaina Smarak Shikshan Nidhi, for the deep interest they have shown in this publication. We express our sincere thanks to the Mahattard Sadhvigri Mrigavati Foundation for the financial help for the project.

It is hoped that the publication of this work will be of immense value to the keen students of Jaina philosophy in particular and Indian philosophy in general.


Philosophy (darsana-sastra) imparts us knowledge of Reality. In other words, its subject-matter is Reality. On the other hand, science of religion (dharma-sastra) treats of dharma. Dharma means good conduct and spiritual discipline. Though philosophy and science of religion are different sciences, the subject-matter of the latter is more or less dealt with in the former. It is so because it does not serve the purpose of life to know merely the subject-matter of philosophy alone. As a matter of fact, even after knowing any subject, it is quite necessary for man to know dharma. Why? The reason is that good of life is achieved by the practice of dharma. So it is necessary for all to know and understand dharma in its true nature. From this it is quite clear that the purpose of acquiring knowledge of dharma, the subject-matter of the science of religion, is the highest good (niksreyas). One can practise dharma truly, if one knows rightly as to what dharma is. And if one practises dharma truly, then and then only one can attain ultimate good. But the profounder of each system of Indian philosophy explicitly states at the beginning of his work that the object of his system is the highest good. He explains at the outset as to how his system serves the highest human end, Ultimate Release. So, when it is said that the purpose of the knowledge of philosophy is also the highest good, it means that knowledge of the science of religion and that of philosophy have some special relation. Knowledge of philosophy is useful to make knowledge of science of religion brilliant and sharp. The Yoga philosophy of patanjali can be called philosophy and science of religion as well. Just as it presents a system of philosophy even so it imparts the religious teachings pertaining to non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, continence, non-possession, austerity, scriptural study, meditation on God or any holy personage, etc. Similarly, there are many well-known works on science of religion or science of spiritual evolution, which are fraught with philosophical discussions. So they can be called partly philosophical works. Take, for instance, Dhammasamgaharti by Acarya Haribhadrasiari. As its title suggests, it is a collection of (discussions related to) dharma. In spite of this fact, it mainly contains philosophical discussions. In fact, religious (or spiritual) and philosophical subjects are so closely connected with one another that in a work dealing with religious (or spiritual) subject, the discussions pertaining to philosophical subject naturally and inevitably find their place, and vice versa.

The term ‘darsana’ occurring in the title yaina Dariana' of the original Gujarati work does not yield the sense of philosophy. It is employed in the sense of religious sect (dharma-sampradaya). The title, therefore, means "the work giving information about religious and philosophical thought of a religious sect known as jaina-dharma' ".

The tradition which rightly offers sacred knowledge or pure thought is called sampradaya (sam + pra + daya, meaning that which offers rightly). None should understand that sampradaya in its true sense is only one in the whole world. It is good for the world, if it has as many sampradayas as possible-sampradayas which show pure Path of knowledge and wis-dom. The greater the number of lamps, the more is the light we receive. But when sampradayas are afflicted with narrow outlook, factional tendency and madness, are under the sway of fanaticism, are overpowered by attachment and aversion, and fight with one another, they no longer remain sampradaya, but turn into sampradaha (sam + pra + &Ma, meaning that which burns causing great pains).

We may not mind if there is no sampradaya in the world, but there should be no sampradaha at all in it. And a serious thinker will unhesitatingly state that it does not matter if sampradayas do not impart knowledge of other things; it is enough for worldly and other-worldly happiness if they rightly and nicely teach man the lessons of truthfulness, non-violence, friendliness, benevolence and self-control alone. If they desire to impart knowledge of other things for his intellectual development and pleasure, let them do so gently, affectionately and impartially without any quarrel or bitterness.

In the days of Mahavira and Buddha, Vedic and gramana cultures came into great conflict. These two great sages came out victorious on account of the force of their severe austerities. Some of the great Vedic scholars joined the Order of Mahavira, while some others that of Buddha. Besides Mahavira and Buddha, there were other five great personages among the chief propagators of, ramazza culture. Of them Goialaka's name' repeatedly occurs in the ancient Sramana literature. He was the propounder of the niyativada (predeterminism). According to it, what is destined to happen will certainly happen (yad bhetvyarn tad bhavisyati). Even today, it is found deeply rooted in the hearts of many Indians.

Readers will find in this work (see p. 427 ff.) the brief summary of the revolutionary teachings of Mahavira. The possible points of his programme can be succinctly stated as follows:

To remove blind faith prevailing among the people, to dissipate the atmosphere of violence, to propagate the principle of non-violence and universal friendliness, to effect synthesis of various religions and philosophies through awakening power of discretion and reason, and to disseminate the very important teaching that one's happiness is in one's own hands and that those who seek happiness in wealth, prosperity and pos-session certainly fail to attain it. Real happiness is within us. Mahavira, the great saint, set aside Sanskrit, the language of the elite and pundits, and adopted Prakrit, the language of the people, to propagate his teachings, because thereby he wanted to spread Truth among the people at large. (Buddha followed the same path. There is great similarity between languages and gospels of both Mahavira and Buddha. We notice similar altruistic tendencies and similar teachings of universal good in the ancient Jaina and Buddhist works). Mahavira emphatically declared: 'The greater good a man does to himself and the more he purifies himself, the greater good he can do to others". Some glimpses of his noble teachings which we find in the Agamas, the Jaina canons, are presented in the closing part of this work. From this, readers will have some idea of his revolutionary, dynamic, sublime and elevating nature.

Mahavira was born in 599 B.C. And he died at the age of seventy-two. He was posterior to Pargva, the penultimate Tirthankara of the current time-cycle. The historicity of Pargva is proved by the modern historians and scholars.' The event of Mahavira's death took place two hundred fifty years after Pargva's death. From this we understand that Mahavira, who flourished 2,500 years ago, did not found a new religion but brought to the fore and developed the teachings which his preceding omniscient Tirthaiikaras had already taught. Thus Mahavira was not the founder of Jaina religion; he was rather the propagator of Jaina religion which had been taught by Prargva and other omniscient teachers of his ever present and imperishable Jaina tradition. The actual study of its philosophy convinces us of the fact that this religious tradition or sect (sampradaya) is not a fanatic factional sect but is one which shows the path of universal happiness and the highest good (or which offers sacred knowledge and pure thought). A great Jaina Acarya Haribhadra, a pre-eminently learned brahmaria converted to a Jaina monk, states: yasmad ete mahatiniino bhavavyadhibhisagvardh (Kapila, Buddha and other great saints were emi-nent physicians specialised in the cure of the disease of transmigratory existence). How great must be the peace and poise of his soul when he would have uttered and supported these brilliant words! Though he followed the practice of a particular religious sect (sampradaya) and took prominent part in philosophical discussions, he respected great sages of other sects and never lost sight of the goal of universal love. Whatever be the cultural tradition that led him towards the final goal of non-attachment and awakened in him the feeling of equanimity and universal friendliness, it really deserves our salutation and veneration.

Jaina literature is very, ust and varied. It is rich in the works dealing with all possible subjects. Pointing out the importance of Jaina Sanskrit literature Dr. Hartel, a German scholar, observes: "Now what would Sanskrit Poetry be without the large Sanskrit literature of the Jainas! The more I learn to know it, the more my admiration rises". (Jaina kisana Vol. I, No. 21).

The followers of Jaina religion have been divided into two main branches, viz. Svetambara and Digambara. Apart from some minor differences pertaining to the rituals and monastic practice, the religious and philosophical literature of both the branches is almost unanimous' on all points.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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