Importance of Knowledge

In the branch of knowledge, Information has no intrinsic value; ability becomes knowledge only if correct.

Lord Mahavir’s path is unique and elaborate. Nothing is out of his arch sight. He said what he saw. There are only two possibilities in life: Death and Salvation. Death is the transition of energy into the world. All living beings are trapped in its shadow. To get out of this wretchedness and to be situated in bliss is Moksha. Moksha, as indicated by Lord Mahavir, means Paramatmapada. The way he showed to get it was neat and clear. God intended to lead all the world’s beings to the path of Salvation so that no shadow of sorrow would ever fall on them. For this, he thought deeply and described the path that would be easy and accessible for all living beings, and he travelled on it and attained pure knowledge.

Jainism is thus enlightenment and meditation, but not all living beings can progress immediately on this path, so Gandhara Bhagwant directed Panchachara. These five practices are simple and accessible to all living beings. A person who faithfully follows these five precepts sooner or later comes to Mokshamarga. Panchakarma can elevate the seeker to Siddhipada. Thus, the Panchachara is the highway of Jainism which ends at Siddhashila. Panchara is like Purvachara for one whose heart is full of Siddhipada. So, the author has discussed this in detail in his ‘Jain Aachaar Mimaasa.’

The five Aachaars important in Jainism are philosophy, knowledge, character, and penance. Some time ago, we talked about philosophy. In reality, vision is the source of knowledge. Usually, the first darshan descends, leading to a general understanding of the subject and faith in the subject, but only advances on the path of Salvation by acquiring special knowledge. Only Jainism in the world has described the separation of vision and expertise. All other religions have considered them as equivalent to each other. Learning is essential for the traveller on the path of Salvation. There is no need to be afraid when it comes to enlightenment. It is optional to read or study a lot to follow knowledge. For that, proper understanding is required.

Jainism does not consider the knowledge that does not lead to Mokshamarga and wanders in the world as false knowledge. In Jainism, blank knowledge has no value. Knowledge is considered knowledge only if it is accurate—all other is only information. Jainism does not call a man a wise man who goes around carrying bundles of data. Also, it is said in the Agamas that knowledge that does not result in virtu-restraint, which does not result in character behaviour after attaining knowledge, is useless. It’s just a matter of emphasis. Enlightenment is the conduit for the triumph of truth.

According to Jainism, knowledge is not outside. The soul itself is the embodiment of knowledge, but due to the coverings of knowledge, the soul is reduced to ignorance. The actual command is exposed to the understanding that lies in the soul. There is nothing new to be gained in learning, but knowledge is about removing the coverings lying around the soul’s flame – “the veils.” This is the subtlety of Jainism. An enlightenment seeker must understand this and move on to other practices.”

Jainism calls enlightenment knowledge. Jainism calls for understanding that explains what is to be known, what is to be obtained, and what is to be given up in the world and shows how to act towards that attainment. Knowledge is of great importance in the path of Dharma because one who works without knowing the thing in its proper form goes astray. Most of the religions of the world are Aachaar Pradhan meaning action oriented. Aachaar is considered the first religion, but Jainism considers knowledge essential for the worship of Aachaar. Hence Jainism has sutras. Jnana Kriyabhyan Moksha: i.e., knowledge and conduct (action) is necessary to attain Moksha.

Conduct has the potential to lead to achievement but conduct without knowledge is like an activity without understanding, like a drifting ship without direction in the ocean. He travels a lot but has yet to reach his destination. He who is clear about the goal of life should continue his journey with the goal in mind in the light of knowledge. Knowledge is fundamental in the path of religion. The ability gives direction to conduct and provides life to achieve. Thus, enlightenment becomes indispensable in Mokshamarga. Gnanachara can also be called Satya darshan because it recognizes the thing in its proper form.

Enlightenment requires four things. One is the purification of knowledge. The second is concentration. The third thing is to be fixed in oneself, and the fourth is to dignify others truthfully. In this way, the knowledge of Jainism becomes an essential prerequisite for the path to Salvation.

Dr. Sejal Shah (Ph.D.)