The Essence of Samaysar

May, 2022 by Yash K Jain
Today when I have sat down to write the essence of Samaysar, I am scared. What kind of Pandit do I take myself to be? As if I know everything about Samaysar? Have I learnt enough to be able to teach others? I know very well that I am not some kind of expert on Samaysar. At time like this I recall the words of Pandit Todarmalji which he wrote in the preface to Moksha Marg Prakashak wherein he questions himself on the same grounds and then answers by saying that just as a lamp can be used to light other lamps, his objective is to enable others who do not know even that much what he knows. Trouble is I cannot compare myself to Pandit Todarmalji either, so my fears are not answered. Then I take solace by saying that I might not be even a lamp to illuminate the path and I might just be a glow worm but even that glow worm indicates the existence of light in total darkness. For those who are noticing the existence of darkness all around them in the subject of spirituality in current times, this effort of mine may serve to indicate that presence of light which they may not have seen at all in their life. Even that may serve them quite beneficially so that they may recognise the characteristics of light when they see it. Thus, it would be easier for them to recognise illumination and follow its path. With such encouraging words to myself I proceed to make my attempt. The readers are also advised to ignore my mistakes in the same spirit and filter the real essence of this attempt for their own benefit. The main reason why I venture to write today is based upon my own experience quite some time back. Although I was quite proficient in Hindi (so I thought) but when I came across Samaysar and tried to read it, I could not make head or tail out of it. The language was entirely different from the Hindi that I knew and words like dravya-guna-paryaya or utpad-vyavya-dhrovya did not make any sense. Although there is much better support available today thanks to information technology for people to understand the subject, but one of the biggest problems in the quest of knowledge is the language. While there is no dearth of books in Hindi explaining the spirituality, there is a certain lack of them in English. Hence my objective in this effort is to make a layman familiar with the subject of Samaysar who wishes to learn but unable to do so because of the ferocious words which they encounter and give up. I hope to simplify as much as I can. How much I will be able to succeed remains to be seen. In any case I know that I shall be a beneficiary since in this process I would also learn.

In the last fifty years, a definite revolution has taken place in the way Jains have been practicing Jainism. Today Jains are familiar with the name of Samaysar even though they may not have read it. A significant percentage may be reading and following it also. Prior to this one could have hardly heard the name of Samaysar from Jains leave apart familiarity. The overall emphasis was more on bhakti and fasting. The credit to this revolutionary change in unequivocal terms can be given to Shri Kanji Swamy who single handily changed the outlook of Jains from mere bhakti to spirituality. It was definitely a most fortunate moment when Samaysar came to his hands which changed his outlook completely. Not only did he practice it in his lifestyle, but he also preached it continuously for over 40 years, to those who were willing to listen. No doubt this laid the seeds of spirituality in the generations to follow. Whatever little I have understood of Samaysar can be attributed to him, thanks to enormous amount of literature generated by his followers to assist others. Therefore, with deep gratitude I offer my obeisance to him for illuminating the path so clearly.

The main reason why people find it difficult to understand Samaysar is that despite being in Hindi, there are considerable number of words which are not common in vocabulary of daily use. Such words are part of the subject of spirituality of Jainism and cannot be dispensed with. We cannot translate each into an English equivalent. Just for example the term Moksha is commonly used implying salvation. But really speaking there is no English equivalent of it since Moksha does not exist in Western philosophy. The Moksha as known by Jains is unknown in the western world and in fact even in India since the definitions of salvation in Indian philosophies differ widely. The Moksha of Jains is not the same as that of Buddhists wherein there is no soul in salvation hence the implications are different. Hence for those desirous of learning Samaysar and other Jain scriptures, it is necessary to get used to Jain terminology and develop the vocabulary using Jain terms. Here in writing this paper, I have tried to explain such terms as far as possible and then continued to use them since there is no alternative.

Samaysar was incarnated somewhere around 49 A.D. from the pen of Acharya Kund Kund. The word incarnated is deliberately used here to represent the appearance of Samaysar in scripture form. Acharya Amrit Chandra who wrote commentary on Samaysar himself starts Samaysar by saying that now the Sutra is incarnated. This is to highlight the fact that Samaysar in spirit form was existent since the time of Mahaveer Bhagwan as part of his divine sermon. The manifestation into script form happened with the nimitta of Acharya Kund Kund in 49th A.D. The word Sutra also has considerable importance. Consider the period 2000 years back when there were no paper nor pens. Further Munis had very limited time or resources to indulge in writing. The words used to be engraved on dried palm leaf serving as paper. Naturally one did not use too many words. Sutras represent those sentences wherein the letters were deliberately minimized. Thus, Acharya Kund Kund wrote Samaysar in 415 Gatha sutras in Prakrit language which was the common language of conversation of those times.

Ancestral Lineage of Samaysar:

More than 2500 years back Bhagwan Mahaveer gave the divine sermon of the Jin Dharma which was converted in to scripture of twelve Ang (Dwadashang) comprising of entire sruta gyan (scriptural knowledge). However, in about 500 years most of it was lost since there were no means for writing and very little remained in oral form. At this stage the first efforts for protecting the remaining knowledge into written scriptural form were carried out. One was by Acharya Dharsen who had knowledge of Maha Karma Prakriti named fourth Prabhrat of 5th Vastu of Agrayani Poorva which itself is second of the fourteen poorvas. The poorvas form the fourth Adhikar of the five Adhikars   of the twelfth Drishtivad Ang of Dwadashang scripture. The second scripture was part of the fifth Gyanapravad poorva of Drishtivad Ang, whose 3rd Prabhrat of 10th Vastu was known to Gunabhadracharya. These two chains of scripture are termed two Sruta Skandhs. Of the second sruta skandh stream the Samay Prabhrat was known to Kundakundacharya who wrote several books e.g.  Samaysar, Pravchansar, Niyamsar, Panchastikaya, Ashtapahud etc. From the first stream of sruta skandh the Shatkhandagam, Dhavala etc. form scriptures were generated. From the second stream the Kashyay Pahud, Samaysar etc. scriptures are produced. Thus, the lineage of the Samaysar is traced to the Dwashang scripture. In fact, KundKundacharya starts Samaysar by stating that he will now incarnate the Samaysar which has been stated by Sruta Kevalis in his very first Gatha. Thus, he himself does not take any credit for it, which is the most admirable attitude of the Jain Acharyas wherein they do not tell anything about themselves, and all the credit is passed on to Bhagwan Mahaveer only.

About 900 years after Acharya Kund Kund Amritchandracharya wrote the Sanskrit commentary on Samaysar which included 278 kalash shlokas. These kalash are meant as offerings to adorn the Gathas of Samaysar. In the words of Shri Kanji Swamy, Amritchandracharya functioned as Ganadhar who understood the sermon of Kund Kundacharya who himself was equivalent to Bhagwan Mahaveer and translated into words his intent beautifully. Another commentary was written by Acharya Jayasen 200 years later which also added to the glory of Samaysar. Although many people have written subsequent commentaries but the most notable of them is by Pandit Jaychandraji Chhabra which was written in 18th century in Hindi language. In the last 50 years or so, Samaysar has been well publicised and commented upon thanks to elaborate pravachans of Shri Kanji Swamy.

The word ‘Samaysar’ implies the words Samaya + Saar wherein the first word samaya stands for soul and saar implies the essence which is free of impurity. Thus, Samaysar is pure soul substance which is the goal of life of any Mumukshu (person desirous of attaining Moksha). Here we do not talk of enjoyments of life nor riches or pleasures since all those are momentary sensual pleasures. The only real objective of life is Moksha who denotes eternal bliss and knowledge for the soul. That Moksha is attained when soul gets purified totally shedding all the impurities of karmas. That pure state is called Samaysar which is the apt title for this scripture.

Organisation of Samaysar:

Samaysar has been written in the form of Nine Adhikars (9 chapters) preceded by Poorva Rang chapter which could be aptly termed as Abstract for the Samaysar. Kundkundacharya had visualised Samaysar as a drama which is unfolded in front of the audience wherein different characters based upon the life of Jiva, the mundane being perform. According to the roles being enacted the corresponding kind of bhavas are generated demonstrating the influence of karmas on the psychic of the Jiva. These chapters denote those phases in the life of the Jiva which are produced when he attains knowledge of self and progresses to get rid of karmas by means of the jewel trio of right belief- right knowledge- right conduct.

Before one proceeds to read Samaysar, it is important to know the Tatvas (elements) as described by Jain philosophy. There are seven Tatvas namely Jiva, Ajiva, Asrava, bandha, samvar, nirjara, Moksha. By true nature Jiva is pure but in worldly state he is transmigrating in four types of Gatis (births) namely Narak, Manushya, Tiryanch and Deva. Since eternal times he is influenced by Mithyatva karma due to which he is deluded and treats his body as soul without recognising his own nature. Eight types of karmas accompany him and influence him in different manner. These are Mithyatva, Gyanavaraniya, Darshanavaraniya, Antaraya, Ayu, Gotra, Naam and Vedaniya. The first four are called Ghatiya karmas since they influence the qualities of Jiva like knowledge, vision, belief, strength etc. The other four are aghatiya which influence the kind of body he possesses and provide for his happiness or unhappiness etc. So long as the Jiva is deluded with Mithyatva he cannot progress on the path of salvation in spite of having knowledge of things or powerful body etc. Only when he realises the nature of reality, his Mithyatva is overcome then he is said to be Samyak Drishti (having right belief) and he has experienced the true nature of soul. Then only his journey on the path of Moksha begins which is the ultimate goal of a Jiva i.e., to attain the true natural state which is Siddhahood. The seven tatvas represent the different states of the Jiva which he undergoes under the influence of karmas. Without differentiating knowledge between self and Ajiva i.e., pudgala (matter) he believes body to be self. His ignorance and delusion cause the influx of karma particles which attach themselves to his soul state. This is known as Asrava. The bondage of karmas is described as Bandh. When the Jiva has realised his true nature and attempts harder to experience his soul and remove the bondage of karmas, the process of stoppage of influx of karmas is called Samvar. With the practice of penances, the Jiva can shed his karmas which is called Nirjara. Finally with removal of all the karmas the Jiva attains Moksha the state of keval gyan and keval darshan. This describes the seven tatvas very briefly. Now the same are also described as nine Padarths wherein the punya-pap are added. Actually, they are just elaboration of bandh into its constituents.

Now with this background, the chapters of Samyasar can be briefly examined as follows:

1) Poorva Rang In this abstract of Samaysar, Acharya announces his intention of describing true nature of soul which the Jiva has never known nor experienced. In fact, he directly plunges into description of soul without any further ado. In a sense this abstract gives gist of Samaysar for those who do not want to read more. Another important thing in this abstract is the identification of tools of understanding. Jain dharma is of the nature of Anekant wherein a thing is multifaceted. While a Jiva is really a soul which is non corporeal and sentient, in worldly state he is having body and is father, brother, son etc. These are differentiated by means of the language of Naya (aspect). The Jiva is called pure soul from aspect of Nishchaya naya (real sense) while he may be described as Manushya (human) from aspect of Vyavahara naya (practical sense). The Poorva rang chapter focuses on this aspect in some detail to lay down the language that shall be used to describe the Jiva. This language is known as syadvad which is unique to Jainism and very essential for right understanding of the dharma. In fact all other religions suffer from flaw of Ekant (singularity) due to this shortcoming. (It is advised to read this subject in some detail before attempting Samaysar. One of the books recommended for this purpose is Moksha Marg Prakashak).

2) Jiva-Ajiva Adhikar- As the name suggests this chapter describes the relationship between Jiva and Ajiva which are generated out of ignorance of Jiva. Only with differentiating knowledge can one overcome this delusion.

3) Karta-Karma Adhikar Although karta and karma do not form part of seven tatvas or nine pardarth, Acharya has included this chapter to resolve the ignorance of Jiva. He believes himself to be doer of things and deeds as his karma. Acharya demolishes this relationship altogether telling that Jiva is doer of his own bhavas only and nothing else. That bhava only is his karma. The bhava of gyani is of the form of knowledge only while bhava of agyani is of the form of ignorance only.

4) Punya-Pap Adhikar This chapter demolishes another common delusion of Jiva. They believe that punya leads to moksha while pap leads to transmigration in four gatis. Acharya describe them as shackles of gold or iron but nevertheless they are shackles which bind the Jiva. Only those who realise them as one can progress on the path of Moksha.

5) Asrava Adhikar- After removing basic ignorance, now Acharya progresses to describe the form of Asrava, its constituents and its effect on the nature of Jiva.

6) Samvar Adhikar- Prevention of Asrava only is samvar which begins with the differentiating knowledge and progresses by the efforts made by Jiva to remain within his own nature. Thus, the meditation process leads to samvar.

7) Nirjara Adhikar The process of enhancing the purity of Jiva is Nirjara. Once the Jiva is detached from the sensual subjects and pleasures, his karmas on fruition do not bond with new karmas and even previously bonded karmas can be made to fructify earlier with weaker intensity. In this way karmas are made to shed.

8) Bandh Adhikar- In this chapter Acharya again demolishes the misconceptions of Jiva towards others. One may think that he can harm or protect someone else but in reality, he can do neither. The other suffers the consequences of his own karmas. The disposition of one with respect to others or things is the cause to bondage and not actually the deed.

9) Moksha Adhikar- The ragas(desires) and the nature of soul have a bondage which can be penetrated by means of a chisel of knowledge. Therefore, knowledge is the only tool for purification of soul. Even indulgence in penances can be harmful since one may get deviated from the real objective. Hence the objective is remaining immersed within the self by knowing the self.

10) Sarva Vishuddha Gyan Adhikar- With the elimination of all karmas the pure knowledge appears like the purified gold. This chapter specifically deals with conclusion of the journey of the Jiva. Further the flaws of other philosophies are highlighted to remove the doubts the reader may have regarding the form of reality. Similarly, it is also made clear that adoption of dravya ling (nakedness) alone is not Moksha, it is the oneness which one needs to renunciate with respect to body.

In this way the overview above provided a brief glimpse of the contents of various chapters of Samaysar. With this preparation now we can proceed towards a little deeper study of Samaysar. One more thing. In this composition, I have not differentiated between gathas of Kundakundacharya, commentary by Amritchandracharya or Bhavartha (meaning) written by Pandit Jaichandraji Chhabra. Which means that while describing essence of a specific gatha, the most suitable connotation is provided taken from the gatha, commentary or the meaning. No translation has been attempted here. In any case all gathas are referred here which enables the reader to know where he is at a given moment and correlate it with the textbooks. I hope that in this mode, it would enable readers to get a quick feeling of the subject and they could enrich it further by studying other books.

This article has been taken from blog of ykjain.

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About Author

Yash K Jain

Yash K Jain is retired director of Retired Director LEOS, ISRO INDIA, staying in Bangalore. He has done M.E.(Electronics) from Indian Institute of Science Bangalore 1971. Joined ISRO and have been involved in several space programs from Aryabhata, to IRS, INSAT, to Moon mission. He is interested in Jainism, Jain philosophy, scientific aspects of Jainism.

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