Jain Philosophy (2) 22 – Shad Sthänaka (Six Fundamental Truths)

Jain Philosophy (2) 22 – Shad Sthänaka (Six Fundamental Truths)

Chapter 22 – Shad Sthänaka (Six Fundamental Truths)


A true religion helps to liberate the Soul from the worldly cycle of birth and death. The entire Jain philosophy revolves around Right Faith (Samyag_darshan, Samyaktva, Samyag_drashti, Samakit).  Right faith is in fact its basis.  Without right faith, efforts to attain Moksha are in vain. No one has achieved, no one is achieving and no one will achieve Moksha without the right faith. Unconditional faith in these six fundamental truths is helpful in attaining right faith. These six truths provide the field for the cultivation and stabilization of Right Faith in reality and its true nature and they are known as Sthänaka.

The six fundamental truths (six fundamental aspects) relating to the soul are:

  • Soul exists
  • Soul is eternal
  • Soul is the doer of actions (Karma)
  • Soul enjoys or suffers the consequences of actions (Karma)
  • Liberation exists
  • Path for the soul’s liberation exists

Of the 12 original Ägams, the last was Drashtiväda.  It had five parts. One of them was called Purva. There were 14 Purvas in all.  The 7th was named as Ätma_praväd. These six fundamentals were supposed to be part of that Purva.  Those Purvas have of course been lost forever, but a description of these six aspects is found in several Jain Scriptures including Sanmati_tarka of Ächärya Siddhasen Diwäkar who lived most probably in the second century A.D.

The great Jain Ächärya Shri Haribhadra wrote 1444 great Jain canonical books and one of them is “Samyaktva Saptatikä”. In this book, he describes 67 possible characteristics of a person who has the right faith. Based on this canonical book, the great Jain Upädhyäy Shri Yashovijayaji, about 350 years ago, wrote “Samakit Nä 67 Bol Ni Sajhäya” in Gujarati describing the same 67 characteristics in a poetry format.  The last six characteristics of these 67 characteristics describe the six fundamental truths. In addition, there are numerous works by great Jain saints and scholars on this subject.

Shrimad Räjchandra, the well_known religious philosopher of the last century and the spiritual guide of Mahätmä Gandhi wrote in Gujarati one of the great Jain works, Ätmasiddhi_shästra, which describes these six fundamental truths in a poetry format. Preceding this, he wrote a letter explaining the six fundamentals to his principal follower, Laghuräj_swämi (also known as Shri Lalluji Mahäräj), which is included in this chapter.

These six truths also include a critical appreciation of the Six Systems of philosophy. Buddhists believe that there is no soul at all or if there is one, then it is only a momentary soul. Jains believe that the soul exists and it is eternal.  The Sänkhya System believes in the soul, which is totally inactive and all activities are attributed to Prakriti (nature). Jains believe that there cannot be enjoyment or suffering without any activities.  To the Vedäntins, who hold that the soul neither does anything nor it enjoys or suffers from actions.  Jains believe that the soul does actions and therefore it cannot escape the results of the actions.  Other Vedäntins say that the soul was never bound and so no question of its achieving Liberation arises. Jains believe that since the soul is attached to karma (actions) from endless past, non_attachment from them is a stage to be obtained by conscious effort for Liberation, only true and lasting happiness. The Chärväks do not believe in a permanent soul or into its actions and Liberation from them and hence it is not in the proper way to Liberation. Jains believe that since the first five truths are established, the sixth also follows them. If Self Liberation is meaningful then the method for it or the way to it must be equally meaningful.

From Jain Scripture:

If these are the attributes and characteristic of a soul, it is indeed very pertinent to ask what the proof of existence of a soul is.  The Bhagavati_Sutra refers to Bhagawän Mahävir as prescribing four means of true knowledge, namely – ‘Pratyaksha’ (Direct perception), ‘Anumäna’ (Inference), ‘Upamän’ (Analogy) and ‘Ägam’ (Scriptures). These four means are utilized hereafter in proof of the soul’s existence.

Ächärya Jinabhadra, a very learned and respected scholar saint, flourished in the 5th century A.D. has written the classic named Vishesh_ävashyak Bhäsya. It contains the dialogue between Bhagawän Mahävir and eleven leading Vedic Scholars on different aspects of self and other philosophical theories, which are basic to Jainism.

Eleven Doubts of the eleven Vedic Scholars:

Indrabhuti Gautam had a doubt regarding the soul.  His doubt was this: “In this universe, is there an entity called Ätmä (the Soul) which is independent and eternal?”

Agnibhuti Gautam, another scholar, had a doubt regarding Karma. His doubt was whether everything that happens is only the soul’s doing or according to Karma. Is there such an entity as Karma?

Väyubhuti Gautam had this doubt: “Is this body itself the soul or is the soul different from the body?”

Vyakta had a doubt regarding the five elements.  His doubt was this: “There are the five material elements, namely Prithvi (earth), Ap (water), Tejas (fire), Väyu (air) and Äkäsha (space). Are these real or unreal and illusory like a dream?”

Sudharmä’s doubt was this: “Is the soul in the next birth the same kind as in this birth or different?”

Mandit, another Brahmin, had a doubt regarding bondage. His doubt was this: “Is the soul forever pure, enlightened and free from bondage by means of proper endeavors?”

Mauryaputra had a doubt regarding celestial beings.  His doubt was this: “Is there a place called Heaven at all?”

In the same manner, Akampit had a doubt regarding the existence of hell.

Achalbhrätä had a doubt regarding Punya or good actions. His doubt was this: “Why should we believe in both good luck and bad luck? Let there be just one.”

Metärya had a doubt regarding the existence of the next birth.

The last scholar Prabhäs had a doubt regarding salvation, Moksha. His doubt was this: “Is there a definite state called Moksha?  Does the soul attain a state of eternal, boundless and pure happiness?  Is the Jiva (soul) completely destroyed or annihilated after its Samsär is completed?”

The doubts, resolved by Bhagawän Mahävir, echo the subject relating to the six fundamental truths.

Indrabhuti Gautam, who subsequently becomes the chief disciple of Bhagawän Mahävir, was a great Vedic Scholar. Seeing many people flocking to listen to the first sermon of the Bhagawän, he went to see him along with his own disciples.  There the Bhagawän himself disclosed to Indrabhuti the nature of philosophical doubts regarding the existence of ‘soul’, which afflicted him. ‘Oh, Indrabhuti!’, Bhagawän Mahävir said, “I know that you have doubts about the existence of Jiva (soul).  You believe that the existence of Jiva (soul) cannot be proven by any method as it cannot be directly perceived by any sense organs.  You further argue within yourself that even atoms cannot be seen by naked eyes, but they could be perceived as collectivities. However, this cannot be said about the soul.  You contend that if one wants to prove the existence of the soul by the process of inference even that cannot solve the problem because every inference is based on some tangible experience.  You say that even scriptural authority is of no use as they are not uniform in accepting the existence of the soul, and even otherwise, scriptural knowledge is nothing but inferential knowledge.  According to you, even the process of analogy is useless because there is no tangible thing analogous to the soul.  Thus, it is not possible to prove the soul’s existence through any of the means of valid knowledge. So the only conclusion is that the soul does not exist.”

Having thus formulated the opposite point of view, the Bhagawän proceeded to resolve the doubts as under:

“Oh Gautam, your doubts about the soul’s existence are out of place, and your contention that the soul cannot be perceived by senses is also not correct because it can be perceived very directly.”

“Sir, how is that so?” asked Gautam.

“Gautam, just consider what is ‘Soul’.  It is nothing but pure consciousness or knowledge ‘Vijnänarupa’. If this consciousness exists, soul exists. This consciousness exists in you because; otherwise, there cannot be any doubt in your mind about the existence of soul. Hence, the very fact of the existence of doubt is proof of consciousness. Unconscious has no doubts. Thus, there is direct proof of consciousness and hence of the soul. If it can thus be directly perceived, it does not require any further proof.”

Gautam, however, required further proof.  He therefore asked: “It may be that the ‘Soul’ can be directly perceived as you say, but still further proof is required. As there are some philosophers known as Shunyavädi, not recognizing the real existence of even the things which could be perceived by senses and they insist upon their proof by other logical methods.”

Bhagawän Mahävir said: “We often say ‘I did’ or ‘I am doing’ or ‘I shall do’. In all these statements of past, present and future, the subjects is ‘I’ even though the action is over, is being done in the present or is yet to be done in future.  This suggests the continuity of ‘I’ consciousness throughout past, present and future. The ‘ego consciousness’ (Ahamrupa Jnän), thus expressed by reference to a constant ‘I’ is a further proof of the existence of the soul because that ‘I’ is the ‘soul’ or the ‘self’, was not destroyed by the past, exists in the present and also projects existence in the future also.  This ego consciousness is not the subject matter of any inference nor does it require any scriptural authority. Even those ignorant of scriptures experience this ego consciousness.  So this is direct perception and hence direct proof of the soul’s existence.”

“Moreover, Oh Gautam! There cannot be any ‘knowledge’ of the object having no existence at all. Therefore, if the ‘soul’ does not exist, who has the consciousness or knowledge of ‘I’ when one says ‘I did’. ‘I doubt’, etc. Who is it that doubts?  Every doubt presupposes a doubter. That doubter, that ‘I’, is your own self, your soul.  ‘Ego consciousness’ has soul as its object because the question is whose ‘consciousness’? The answer is consciousness of ‘I’ which is the object of this consciousness.”

Gautam: “Sir, this ‘ego consciousness’ would not be rendered objectless if instead of believing that ‘soul’ or ‘self’ is its object, we take our body as its object. When I say ‘I am black’ or ‘I am thin; the ego consciousness ‘I’ is used with reference to our body. So, what is objectionable if we take ‘I’ as referring to our body and not to our ‘self’?”

Bhagawän Mahävir: “If ego consciousness expressed by the use of ‘I’ has a reference to our body as its object, then even our dead body could be having that ego consciousness and could be referred to as ‘I’. That is not so.  It follows, therefore, that the object of ego consciousness is not the body.  It cannot be said that the ‘doubter’ is your body.

Moreover, consider what a ‘doubt’ is.  Every ‘doubt’ is an attribute (Guna) of some object, which is its substratum. Every substratum is known by its attributes because attributes and their substratum are mutually reciprocal so that the existence of one can be known by the existence of the other.  Therefore, even though the substratum cannot be perceived by our senses, its existence can be mentally perceived through our knowledge of its attributes. A doubt can never be an attribute of your body because doubt is always an attribute of consciousness and the body has no consciousness of its own.”

“Further, just consider who possesses the power of memory, who remembers the past and the present and who has a comprehension about the future.  This attribute of memory is not the attribute of body. It is the attribute of ‘I’ consciousness. Therefore, when you doubt the very existence of ‘I’, you doubt your own self. Because, the moment you doubt your own self, you doubt your own existence. However, you do exist.  Therefore, the doubter of your doubts is your ‘self’, your ‘soul’. Soul exists because ‘I’ exists and ‘I’ exists because ‘doubt’ exists.”

“Again, it is many a times seen that the attributes such as memory, perception, sensation etc. are absent even when the body is present and in a living condition. This proves that these attributes are not of the body.’

“It is found that the body gets consciousness only in association with the soul and without the soul, it is dead as wood. Hence consciousness is ‘soul’.”

The dialogue, which proceeded further, left Indrabhuti Gautam fully convinced about the existence of soul and he became the principal disciple of Bhagawän Mahävir.

Similarly, Bhagawän Mahävir completely removed the doubts of the other ten Brahmin scholars and they all became his disciples.  These eleven are called Ganadhars as they were appointed as the first heads of different groups of monks.  Bhagawän Mahävir survived all of them except the first Ganadhar Indrabhuti Gautam and the fifth one, Sudharmä. It is significant that all these first principal disciples were Brahmins of great repute and learning which shows that the silent ideological revolution had already started in the intelligentsia of the time.

Six Fundamentals by Shrimad Räjchandra:

The letter by Shrimad Räjchandra on the six fundamental truths explains the subject in a concise manner yet in simple language.

Shri Lalluji Mahäräj, being sick in Surat, requested Samädhi (Yogic concentration, state of non_attachment, absorbed in Soul) Maran (death) from Shrimad.  In reply, Shrimad wrote the famous letter of the six fundamental truths, and inspired Lalluji Mahäräj not to fear death. This letter is the theme of which “Ätmasiddhi_shästra” is the development.  Shri Lalluji Mahäräj appreciates this letter as follows:

“This letter has helped us to remove all our stray ideas and wandering thoughts, and has removed our doubts, confirmed our faith in the fundamentals of Jainism and the nature and development of soul.”

The letter is as follows:

With intense devotion, I bow to the true Guide, the bestower of unique refuge.

Those enlightened, who have attained true knowledge of Self, have described the following six fundamentals as the supreme abode of right faith.

Soul Exists – First fundamental:

‘There is an existence of the soul’.  As there is an existence of physical objects like pot, cloth, etc, so is the existence of soul. As the properties of pot, cloth, etc. are the evidence of their existence, so the obvious property of consciousness to manifest itself as well as others is the evidence of the existence of soul.

Soul is Eternal – Second fundamental:

‘The soul is eternal’. A pot or a cloth stays as such for some time; but the soul stays forever. The pot and cloth are composed of some materials, but the soul is a substance on its own because it is not possible to produce a soul.  Consciousness cannot arise out of any composition, so it is not a product.  Because the soul is not created, it is nonperishable. As what cannot be produced cannot merge into anything else.

Soul is the Doer of its Action – Third fundamental:

“The soul is the doer (Kartä)’.  All objects are associated with purposeful activity. All of them are seen with some or the other process that causes alterations. The soul also is imbibed with activity.  Having the actuation, it is Kartä.  The omniscient Bhagawäns have described three types of such actuation. In the absolute state when the soul stays tuned to its pure nature, it is the Kartä of that nature; in normal practice (which can be experienced; which comes in close contact), it is the Kartä of material Karma; and nominally, it is the Kartä of physical objects like buildings, towns, etc.

Soul Bears Consequences of its Action – Fourth fundamental:

‘Soul bears consequences’. (Soul is Bhoktä) All activities are fruitful. It is the obvious experience that whatever is done has its consequences.  Consumption of poison or sugar and contact with fire or snow do not fail to produce their respective consequences. Similarly, if the soul indulges in defiled or undefiled state, that state too is bound to be fruitful and it produces consequences. Thus being Kartä, (doer) soul is Bhoktä and it bears the consequences as well.

Soul Can Be Liberated – Fifth fundamental:

‘There is liberation’. Soul has been described above as being Kartä of material Karma and being subject to their consequences.  Those Karma can, however, be terminated as well; because even if prevailing defilement etc. are very acute, they can be reduced by discontinuance of practice, by avoiding contact and by calming them down.  They are reducible and can be destroyed. The state of bondage thus being destructible, the pure state of soul devoid of all bondage is the state of liberation.

Means to Achieve Liberation – Sixth fundamental:

‘There are means to achieve liberation’. If bondage of Karma simply continues to occur, its cessation can never be visualized.  There are, however, factors like right faith, right knowledge, right conduct, conviction, staying tuned to soul, detachment, devotion etc. that are manifestly opposites of the bondage of Karma.  By the intensity of these means, the bondage gets loose, gets pacified and can be destroyed.  Therefore, knowledge, faith, restraint etc.  are the means for attaining liberation.

These six fundamentals, which are termed by the blessed enlightened as the supreme abode of right faith, have been narrated here in brief.  The soul that is closer to liberation would easily find them accurate and entirely convincing.  Consideration of these aspects in all perspectives would lead to the rise of discernment within.  The supreme entity has pronounced these six fundamentals as beyond all doubts.  Discernment arising from these six aspects can be helpful to the soul in comprehending its true Self.

The enlightened entities have laid down the teaching of these six aspects for removing the sense of ego and attachment of the worldly soul that arises from its dreaming state, which has been prevailing since time without beginning.  If the soul realizes that its true nature is beyond that state, it would easily gain awareness and obtain right faith. By gaining right faith, it would attain liberation in the sense of realizing its true Self.  The sense of exultation, grief or other interaction would not occur to it from any perishable, impure or such other impact. That awareness would lead it to experience, from close proximity, its own natural purity, perfection, imperishability and boundless joy.

It has been accustomed to identity itself with unnatural states. It would now gain a clear, visible, vivid, manifest experience of being completely distinct from such states. The interaction with the perishable or such other objects would not be viewed by it with the sense of desirability or undesirability. It would feel gratified with the knowledge and experience of its own true Self as being the abode of perfect greatness, free from any affliction of birth, old age, death, disease etc. All the people, who are convinced of the soul, by the appropriate description of these six fundamentals by the supreme entities, have realized their true state. In the past, such people have gotten free from worries, disease, afflictions and all other interactions; presently such people do get free and the same will happen in the future.

Let our highly devoted obeisance be to the enlightened entities who have laid down the path to abide at ease within the true self that can forever end the affliction of birth, old age and death. The true nature of the soul can arise by daily and continuous adoration of their innate compassion.  Lotus like feet of such enlightened may always stay within our hearts.

It is not possible to define the attributes of the enlightened, the adoption of whose instructions easily leads to the manifestation of true Self as evidenced by these six fundamentals. By such manifestation, the soul gains fearlessness that arises from the attainment of everlasting bliss.

By their innate compassion, the enlightened entities have conferred the supreme disposition without desiring any thing whatsoever and yet have never conceived that so and so is my pupil or is mine because he is my devotee.  Repeated obeisance with intense devotion is to such enlightened entities.

Such entities have laid down devotion for the true Guide solely for the benefit of Pupils. They have prescribed devotion so that the tendency of pupils may stay towards the state of the Guide’s soul, self_indulgence may come to an end by witnessing their unprecedented attributes and the true Self may be easily visualized.  Our all time obeisance will be to that devotion and to those enlightened entities.

Omniscience has of course not been presently manifested. It has, however, been clearly known as a potentiality from the words of the enlightened entities. Omniscience exists as a matter of faith, as a state to be contemplated and a state to be aspired; and from the absolute point of view, it is prevalent within. Repeated obeisance with supreme devotion is to the benevolence of the enlightened entity, by whose grace this soul easily got worthy of attaining omniscience that manifests the unobstructed bliss.









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