Tuesday, November 26, 2013


The practice of meditation has been the core of every religious tradition. In Jainism meditation has been the central practice since a long stretch of time. Meditation or Dhyana is regarded as the supreme penance out of the 12 types of penances. It requires higher purity and detachment from the external things to reach the highest form of meditation called Shukla Dhyana or Perfect Meditation. In the end of Shukla Dhyana the practitioner attains Absolute Knowledge, Absolute Perception, and experiences Absolute Bliss. In Jainism, such state of a soul is called Kevala Gyana and Kevala Darshana. But in order to achieve this state of perfect purity the seeker has to go through the 14 Stages of Spiritual Development.  In the entire practice, the practitioner strives to be just a Knower & Seer.

Before the seeker begins his practice he should have the Right Knowledge of reality. In other words, he should be familiar and should have faith on the principles like Anekantvada, Soul and Matter, Substance and its modes. Thus the seeker realizes his goal and the way to achieve it. 

Meditation begins with Right Knowledge, the knowledge of Soul, Matter (Atoms), and other four substances like Medium of Motion, Medium of Rest, Space and Time. All the six substances should be understood with their Permanence, Emergence and Cessation attributes.  After knowing this and having faith in these core principles of Jainism the seeker realizes his/her real self and distinguishes his /her real self from the non-self substances. The truth is, one’s own soul is completely independent from all other souls as well as from other substances like Matter, Motion, Rest, Space and Time. Every soul is independent and every atom is independent. All the six substances are independent from each other. The truth is multi-dimensional. It is impossible to express the truth in one view point.  

The basic attribute of a soul is Cognitive Function. Every substance has its own attributes and they have intrinsic relation. For example, the attributes of matter are Color, Sound, Touch, Form, Taste, Smell and Material Energy. The attributes of a soul are Knowledge, Perception, Bliss and Spiritual Energy. The soul is fully conscious, formless, all knowing and all perceiving substance. There are infinite souls in the cosmos and all are independent from each other. 

Together, the knowing and perceiving capability of each soul is called Cognitive Function or Upayoga. Knowing both the Special and General attributes of a substance is called the Cognitive Function of a soul. The Cognitive Function can also be termed as attention or Psyche. It is the basic attribute of a soul and the self realization can be gained by being in tune with it. 

In Jainism, constant vigilance means meditation. The seeker or the true sage strives to keep his/her cognition (Upayoga) on the true nature of the soul. In every moment the seeker tries not to give up the contemplation of, “I am an independent soul, I was never born and am never going to cease, I am formless, eternal, possessing the qualities of Infinite Knowledge and Perception. I am free from this body; I have no smell nor color, no weight nor form.” 

There is mention of three types of regulations in Jainism. The three regulations are also known as Three Guptis. These are, Regulation of Mind, Regulation of Speech, and Regulation of Bodily activity. The practice of three regulations is the first step for the seeker. To reach the higher stages of meditation the seeker must master the three regulations. The three regulations cannot be practiced fully without taking the Five Great Vows. Thus the monk who has taken five vows becomes potentially viable for righteous meditation. The mundane being who hasn’t taken the five vows can still practice Samayika. Samayika is a term used for a short period meditation. In Samayika one stops his/her daily activities for 48 minutes, sits motionless and concentrates upon the pure nature of a soul. 

To remain vigil, it is important to reduce the bodily activities as well as the activities of mind and speech. At this point when all these three kind of activities ceases the seeker can feel the consciousness (chetana). In the higher stages of meditation such feeling and bliss can be felt even while walking, taking meal, or doing some bodily activity. It is written in the scriptures that Lord Mahavir, the 24th Jain Tirthankara was always vigil even while walking or having meal. He was ceaselessly conscious at every moment of the day and night, total vigilance in the sixth step, and Samadhi, the seventh step of the meditative path. 

Changing the lifestyle is very important in order to reach the higher stages of meditation. Taking up the five vows helps in changing lifestyle. The monk who has taken the great five vows easily gets rid of the activity of mind, speech and body, but only when if he/she has the true knowledge and faith and has only goal of attaining liberation. On the other hand the one who lives mundane life and has all sensual pleasures finds difficult to practice meditation for a longer duration because the mundane thoughts keeps coming in the mind and the concentration on the soul becomes difficult. So, changing the lifestyle, with true knowledge, under the guidance of a true spiritual guru, plays an important role in spiritual progress. Though there are 12 types of minor vows for the mundane beings. Practicing these vows the mundane soul can progress towards purity and in the end becomes able to take up five great vows.

a picture depicts a Jain Layman practicing Samayik

According to Jainism, we all are always in meditation wherever our cognition is focused, whether it is virtuous or non-virtuous. To pay attention or to focus the cognition to particular object, or thoughts is meditation. There are four types of meditation, Wrathful, Sorrowful, Righteous and Spiritual Meditation. The first two are non-virtuous meditations because they cause karma bondage; the latter two are virtuous meditations as they prevent the influx of karma particles as well as destroy all karma. 

Dharma Dhyana or Virtuous Meditation is the root of Spiritual Meditation (Shukla Dhyana) and Omniscience. In Virtuous Meditation one strives to keep his/her cognition fixed on the pure form of the soul and also tries to minimize mental choices and volitions. When choices and volitions arise then the meditation shifts to Sorrowful or Wrathful, thus binds karma. To think about mundane world, bodily pleasure or hurting someone is Sorrowful and Wrathful meditation. 

Shukla Dhyana or Spiritual Meditation is the result of Dharma Dhyana. The aspirant starts practicing Dharma Dhyana when he/she renounces the world. The aim of Dharma Dhyana is to achieve the stage of Shukla Dhyana. Shukla Dhyana occurs in the end of the 12th stage when the soul destroys the Conduct Deluding Karma (Charitra Mohaniya Karma) and gains unprecedented stability and bliss. Now this stability of spiritual meditation never ceases and takes the soul to the second stage of Shukla Dhyana and here the soul destroys the remaining three karma namely Knowledge Obscuring, Perception Obscuring and Destructing Karma and enters the state of Kevala or Omniscience. Omniscience or Kevala, in other words can be defined as constant spiritual awareness. Shukla Dhyana, after it starts helps the practitioner destroy all the four destructive karma within 48 minutes. 

In Dharma Dhyana the aspirant strived to be constant aware about his/her true self. The aspirant was constant vigil and very careful on his activities of mind, speech and body. The more vigil he remained the more purity he gained and the karma became weak. As a result permanence awareness and bliss manifested within that is called Shukla Dhyana. In Dharma Dhyana the monk feels the soul and its pure bliss in broken parts but in Shukla Dhyana, the bliss, experience becomes intact, unbroken and whole and keeps feeling the infinite bliss, infinite knowledge and infinite perception forever.  


A Jain Tirthankara in Kayotsarga posture

Kayotsarga and Dhyana (Meditation) are the most important austerities. Kayotsarga means steadiness of the mind, speech and body. Once the activities of mind, body and speech ceases the soul can be experienced. Kayotsarga is the first step of meditation. It is important to have these three types of bodily activities to be ceased before the pure consciousness can be felt. Kayotsarga is very important for the beginners. Kayotsarga is related with body while meditation is related with soul. Kayotsarga is one kind of yogic posture and can be practiced in sitting, laying or standing posture. After practicing kayotsarga and stopping all kind of physical activities, meditation becomes easy to practice and there comes moments in which the true soul and pure bliss can be felt. 

Jainism acknowledges that the soul advances to its liberated stage in various steps, called Gunasthan or “The Stages of Spiritual Development”. Through these fourteen stages of development, the soul gradually frees itself, firstly from the worst, then from the less bad and finally from all kinds of karma, and manifests the innate qualities of knowledge, belief and conduct in a more and more perfect form.  Here we will take a glance at each stage of spiritual development. Dharma Dhyana or Righteous Meditation plays an important role in climbing each stage and the external austerities like fasting, giving up tasty food etc helps in supporting meditation. The goal is to reach the highest type of meditation (Shukla Dhyana) and liberation. 

1. The stage of wrong believer: the lowest stage with ignorance, delusion, and with intense attachments and aversions. This is the normal condition of all souls involved in the mundane world and is the starting point of spiritual evolution.

2. The stage of one who has a slight taste of right belief: Indifference to reality with occasional vague memory of spiritual insight.

3. The stage of mixed belief: Fleeting moments of curiosity towards understanding reality.

4. The stage of one who has true belief but has not yet self-discipline: Awareness of reality with trust developed in the right view, combined with willingness to practice self-discipline. The soul may be able to subdue the four passions namely anger, pride, deceit and greed.

5. The stage of partial self-control: At this stage the right view and discipline starts to develop. The soul now begins to observe some of the rules of right conduct with a view to perfect itself. With the discipline of introductory or minor vows, the soul starts on the process of climbing spiritual ladder.

6. The stage of complete self-discipline, although sometimes brought into wavering through negligence: Major vows taken up with firm resolve to control passions. There may be failures due to lack of full control over passions and carelessness.

7. The stage of self-control without negligence: At this stage the self discipline and knowledge develops more. Intense practice of vows assisted in better self-control and virtually replaced carelessness with spiritual vigilance and vigor.

8. The stage of one in whom the passions are still occurring in a gross form: The stage of one in whom the passions are still occurring in a gross form. Closer to perfect self-control over actions, higher control over mind, thought and passions with the soul ready for reduction of the effects of conduct-deluding karma.

9. The stage of higher control over removal of passions and elimination of conduct-deluding karma begins.

10. The stage of one in whom the passions occur in a subtle form but complete elimination of all passions except for subtle degree of attachment.

11. The stage of one who has suppressed every passion but still does not possess omniscience. Suppressed passions and lingering conduct-deluding karma may rise to drag the soul to lower stages; fleeting experiences of equanimity.

12. The stage of who has annihilated every passion. This is the point of no return. All passions as well as conduct-deluding karma are eliminated. Permanent internal peace achieved. No new bondage from this point onwards.

13. The stage of omniscience with physical body. The all Destructive karma eliminated and Arihant stage reached. The perfected soul is still trapped in the physical body due to presence of remaining Non-Destructive Karma. The Lord Arihant now preaches others the path of liberation and helps seekers showing the path to cross the ocean of rebirths and reach the safe shore.

14. The stage of omniscience without physical body. Siddha Stage reached and the purest soul after destroying the remaining non-destructive karmas attains Nirvana and reaches the abode of the liberated soul. Now the soul is free from the cycle of births and deaths and enjoys infinite bliss. 

Meditation simply means vigilance on the true nature of the soul. In the Uttradhyayana Sutra, Lord Mahavir tells his chief disciple, Indrabhuti Gautama to be vigil in every moment on the meditative path. Lord Mahavira tells Gautama not to show laxity even for a moment. The true seeker never show laxity and always remains absorbed in his/her true nature of the soul. There are 12 types of austerities described in the Jain texts. The first 6 are external austerities and the rest 6 are internal. It is true that the external austerities are very important in stabilizing the internal austerities. Meditation has been categorized within internal austerities. The most important thing before starting meditation is Right Knowledge of the self-soul and rest of the substance of this universe. The seeker should always strive to be vigil in every step. Vigilance prevents karma influx and also destroys previously bounded karma.

-Rahul Zota
 Bhuj, India

Monday, January 21, 2013


previous part

Upayoga is a particular term used in Jainism to describe functioning of the soul. Consciousness is the basic quality of a soul. A substance without qualities is not possible to exist. There is indestructible relation between a substance and its essential qualities. Knowing is the function of consciousness and is only possible in the conscious substance. Such conscious substance is the soul. Thus the quality of knowing is only possible in the soul. No matter how tasty is the sweet but its taste cannot be known by the dish or the spoon. No matter how scented is the flower, its fragrance cannot be smelled by the vase. The functioning conscious that comprehends the special attributes of a substance is Knowledge and the functioning conscious that comprehends the general attributes of a substance is Perception.

Such knowing and perceiving capability can be found only soul substance. That is only thing which differentiates the soul from matter. If we see from evolutionary aspect then Perception occurs first and knowledge occurs second. From the perspective of importance, it’s knowledge that comes first.

The Jain definition of Perception is similar to the word ‘Pereehtein’ used in Psychology. After general comprehension of an object, what the soul knows later about the object’s color etc is knowledge. In short, Perception of an object is like appearance without any kind of other information whereas knowledge brings the rest of information like its color, odor, constituents, its position in space etc. Knowledge is the superior thing in knowing and perceiving because it is knowledge only that brings the real thing, like learning about the scriptures, realizing about the soul.

By which the soul comprehends or acts to gain information about objects is called Upayoga or Cognitive Function. Acharya Umaswati has defined Upayoga as the soul’s basic attribute. Knowledge and Perception are two types of Upayoga. When the Upayoga is with shape then it is called Knowledge and when it is without any shape then it is called Perception.

Our soul’s cognitive function is always functioning since beginningless time and it is always variable, i.e., it never remains fixed or focused on a single object. Keeping it focused on a single object means we have mastered over meditation. The mundane souls (trapped in the four destructive karma) can focus their Upayoga on a single object for maximum 48 minutes. For Arihantas or the Omniscient (who are free from the four destructive karma or from all the eight types of karma) have Gnanopayoga (the functioning consciousness as knowledge) at first Samaya and Darshanopayoga (the functioning consciousness as perception) at second Samaya. Samaya, according to Jainism is the smallest amount of time and its value is 1 -800 second. Both Darshanopayoga and Gnanopayoga for omniscient is always active on any object. They don’t need to concentrate, whereas the non-omniscient souls have to give up concentration at least after 48 minutes.

The cognitive function of a soul can be fixed on a single object at a tme. The Upayoga working on two different objects at a same time is never possible. It is because of the infinite energy attribute of the soul that Upayog functions. To operate infinite gnanopayoga and darshanopayoga, it requires infinite energy, and it  is one of the basic attributes of the soul. 

Here, for the worldly souls, the knowledge obscuring karma obsures the absolute knowledge attribute of the soul, and the perception obscuring karma obscures the absolute perception attribute of the soul. There are many circumstances that makes the functioning of the soul impure and causes the karmic atoms to bind. Also in the functioning of the soul in its fully extent the power obstructing karma obstructs the power (infinite vigor or infinite energy) attribute of the soul. Because the infinite energy is required to fully function the gnanopayoga and darshanopayoga.

The more the functioning soul stays away from attachment-aversion and delusion the more it gets closer to pure upayoga. In order to get rid of endless misery and the cycle of rebirths and deaths, the worldly soul should try to keep its upayoga in learning the scriptures, paying homage to the spiritual masters and meditation. Attachment-aversion, and delusion are the results of the delusion karma and that adds more dirt to the pure upayoga. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013



Knowledge is the basic attribute of a soul. To know the knowable is the attribute of knowledge. The soul knows the knowable objects not just by comprehension and knowledge but also by the functioning capacity of knowledge.

In Jainism, the cognitive function of a soul is translated as ‘Upayoga’. ‘Upa’ means to go near, and ‘yoga’ means the functioning of knowledge-perception. That means the functioning consciousness through which the soul gets oriented towards the act of knowing and perceiving is Upayoga. It is actually Upayoga through which the seeker realizes and differentiates the soul being independent from the body. That is why the Jain seers have said Upayoga as basic attribute of the soul.

Upayoga is of two types, Knowledge and Perception. Knowledge means by which the soul knows the special attributes of the subject. Perception means by which the soul knows the general attributes of the subject. The functioning consciousness with both knowledge and perception is known as ‘Gnanopyoga’ and ‘Darshanopayoga’ respectively. Here, Gnanopayoga can be translated as ‘the functioning consciousness as knowledge’ and Darshanopayoga can be translated as ‘the functioning consciousness as perception’.  Knowledge, Perception, Power and Bliss are the four basic qualities of a soul. Despite infinite energy (power), without Upayoga the soul is unable to comprehend the object. Infinite energy here operates the knowing, perceiving capacity as well as bliss of the soul. That is why the functioning consciousness with knowledge and perception is termed as Upayoga.

Upayoga is ever functioning attribute of a soul. Not any soul is without Upayoga for even a moment. Upayoga is always functioning in every soul, although the subject changes with time. The change of subject is regarded as Emergence, Cessation and Permanence of Upayoga. That means when Upayoga is functioning on some particular object then it is called Emergence, when it changes and functions towards a new object then the previous object’s functioning is called Cessation. The continuity of Upayoga between the changes is called Permanence. The maximum time of functioning of Upayoga on any object is 48 minutes for any mundane soul.  The alternate term of Upayoga is ‘Chitta’ or psyche.

next part

Friday, January 4, 2013


After the soul of king Nami had descended from the celestial world, and had been born as a man, he put an end to the influence of delusion, and remembered his previous birth.

Remembering his previous birth, king Nami became a self-initiated monk in the true Law, and placing his son on the throne he retired from the worldly life.

After having enjoyed, in the company of the beautiful ladies of his seraglio, excellent pleasures which match those of the heavens, king Nami became enlightened and gave up his pleasures. Having given up the town and country of Mithila, his army, seraglio, and all his retinue, the venerable man retired from the world and resorted to a lonely place seeking omniscience.

When the royal Seer Nami retired from the worldly life, at the occasion of his renunciation there was uproar in Mithila.

To the royal Seer who had reached the excellent stage of spiritual meditation, Indra, the celestial being dressed as a Brahmin, in order to examine monk Nami’s true abandonment addressed the following words:

“Why is now Mithila full of uproar? Dreadful noises are heard from palaces and houses?”

On hearing this, the monk Nami, pursuing his reasons and arguments, answered Indra thus:

“In Mithila is the sacred tree Manorama (Kind Nami), full of leaves, flowers, and fruits, which sheds a cool shadow; this tree is always a favorite resort of many birds (people of the town).”

“Now, as this sacred tree Manorama is shaken by the storm, the birds, suffering, destitute of refuge, and miserable, scream aloud.”

 On hearing this, Indra, pursuing his reasons and arguments, answered monk Nami thus:

"This is fire and storm, your palace is on fire! Reverend Sir, why do you not look after your seraglio?"

Nami answered

“Happy are we, happy live we who call nothing our own; when Mithila is on fire, nothing is burned that belongs to me.”

To a monk who has left his sons and wives, and who has ceased to act, nothing pleasant can occur, nor anything unpleasant.

“There is much happiness for the sage, for the houseless monk, who is free from all ties, and knows himself to be single and unconnected (with the rest of the world).”

Indra answered

"Erect a wall, gates, and battlements; dig a moat; then you will be called a true Kshatriya (the warrior)."

Nami answered

“Making Faith his fortress, Penance and Self-control the bolt (of its gate), Patience its strong wall, so that guarded in three ways  it is impregnable; making Zeal his bow, its string Carefulness in walking (iriya), and its top (where the string is fastened) Content, he should bend (this bow) with Truth, piercing with the arrow, Penance, (the foe's) mail, karma--(in this way) a sage will be the victor in battle and get rid of the cycle of birth and death.”

Indra answered

"Build palaces, excellent houses, and turrets; thus you will be a Kshatriya."

Nami answered

“He, who builds his house on the road, will certainly get into trouble; wherever he wants to go, there he may take up his lodgings.”

Indra answered

"Punishing thieves and robbers, cut-purses and burglars, you should establish public safety; thus you will be a true Kshatriya."

Nami answered

“Men frequently apply punishment wrongly: the innocent are put in prison, and the perpetrator of the crime is set at liberty.”

Indra answered

"O king, bring into subjection all princes who do not acknowledge you; thus you will be a true Kshatriya."

Nami answered

“Though a man should conquer thousands and thousands of valiant (foes), greater will be his victory if he conquers nobody but himself. Fight with your Self; why fight with external foes? He, who conquers himself through himself, will obtain happiness.”

“The five senses, anger, pride, delusion, and greed -- difficult to conquer is one's self; but when that is conquered, everything is conquered”

Indra answered

"Offer great sacrifices, feed Sramanas and Brhmanas, give alms, enjoy yourself, and offer sacrifices: thus you will be a true Kshatriya."

Nami answered

“Though a man should give, every month, thousands and thousands of cows, better will be he who controls himself, though he give no alms.”

Indra answered

"You have left the dreadful âsrama (that of the householder) and are wanting to enter another; (remain what you were), O king, and be content with observing the Pôsaha-days."

Nami answered

“If an ignorant man should eat but a blade of Kusa-grass every month, (the merit of his penance) will not equal the sixteenth part of his who possesses the Law as it has been taught.”

Indra answered

"Multiply your gold and silver, your jewels and pearls, your copper, fine robes, and carriages, and your treasury; then you will be a true Kshatriya."

Nami answered

“If there were numberless mountains of gold and silver, as big as Kailâsa, they would not satisfy a greedy man; for his avidity is boundless like space. Knowing that the earth with its crops of rice and barley, with its gold and cattle that all this put together will not satisfy one single man, one should practice austerities.”

Indra answered

"A miracle! O king, you give up those wonderful pleasures, in search of imaginary objects; your very hope will cause your ruin."

Nami answered

“Pleasures are the thorn that rankles, pleasures are poison, pleasures are like a venomous snake; he who is desirous of pleasures will not get them, and will come to a bad end at last. He will sink through anger; he will go down through pride; delusion will block up his path; through greed he will incur dangers in both worlds.”

Throwing off the guise of a Brahmin, and making visible his true form, Indra saluted him respectfully and praised him with these sweet words:

"Bravo! You have conquered anger; bravo! You have vanquished pride; bravo! You have banished delusion; bravo! You have subdued greed.

"Bravo for your simplicity, O saint! Bravo for your humility, O saint! Bravo for your perfect patience! Bravo for your perfect liberation!

"Here (on earth) you are the highest man, Reverend sir, and hereafter you will be the highest; exempt from all blemishes you will reach Perfection, a higher state than which there is none in this world."

Thus praising the monk, Indra in perfect faith kept his right side towards him and paid reverence to him, again and again.

Thus act the enlightened, the wise, the clever ones; they turn away from pleasures, as did Nami, the royal Seer.

Source: Shree Uttradhyayana Sootra
Translation By: Dr. Hermann Jacobi