The Path of Arhat : Dhayana ( meditation )

June, 2022 by Justice T.U.Mehta
Dhyana and Lesya occupy very prominent place in Jaina thinking. The Jaina approach to Dhyana is purely psychological. It is understood by Jainas in its very comprehensive sense, namely, the engagement of the mind in a particular thought. Human mind never remains empty even for a moment. It remains constantly engaged, thinking of good or bad things whether necessary or not, and whether they are of our immediate concern or not. The Jaina thinkers have taken account of this fact and have analysed the condition of human mind into four categories, namely — 1. Artta Dhyana, 2. Raudra Dhyana, 3. Dharma Dhyana and 4. Sukla Dhyana. The first two are inauspicious and the latter two are auspicious. These four categories cover all the conditions of mind. The first two, being the cause the cause of the worldly transmigration, are evil-dhyana while Dharma and Sukla lead to liberation and are noble-dhyana.

(1) Artta Dhyana – ‘Artta’ means pain. When our painful experiences catch hold of our mental condition, we are undergoing the state of Artta Dhyana. There are four broad classifications of this type of Dhyana as follows —

(i) Anista-samyoga, i.e., when we are put in the circumstances which we do not consider good for us.

(ii) Ista-viyoga, i.e., when we are deprived of good and congenial circumstances.

(iii) Roga-cinta, i.e., when we are worried of physical disease or pain.

(iv) Nidana, i.e., when we worry to attain an objective which is difficult to obtain.

In all these four conditions we remain worried and feel unhappy and our mind remains engaged with the painful ideas about the prevailing circumstances.

(2) Raudra Dhyana – ‘Raudra’ means cruel, harsh. When the mind is either full of anger, hatred, malice, and violence or is scheming evil designs, we are passing through Raudra Dhyana. When we are in this condition, we enjoy the activities which are immoral. All mental activities to grab power and wealth, sexual enjoyment and anti-social acts fall within this classification.

(i) The first type of Raudra dhyana called ‘himsanandi’, means taking delight in killing, crushing or destroying the living beings either by self or through other. It includes skill in violent actions.

(ii) Mrsanandi Raudra dhyana includes falsehood, composing deceptive literature for one’s own pleasure, collecting wealth by deceit and deceiving the simple-minded.

(iii) Cauryanandi Raudra dhyana includes not only the act of theft but also preaching dexterity in theft.

(iv) Visayanandi Raudra dhyana includes desire to take possession of all good things of the world and thinking of fighting ferociously for attainment of the objects of enjoyment.

Both the above referred dhyanas are spiritually degrading the self. Most of us remain permanently engaged in these two Dhyanas with the result that we are not able to make any progress spiritually. Next two Dhyanas are of the superior variety and help us to progress further in our journey to freedom.

(3) Dharma Dhyana – The word ‘Dharma’ is used in Jaina terminology in a sense wider than ‘religion’. What is ‘Dharma’? Answer is ‘Vatthu Sahavo Dhammo’, i.e., the intrinsic nature of a thing is its ‘Dharma’. So long as a thing remains within the limits of its intrinsic nature, and does not transgress these limits, it remains within its own ‘Dharma’. Life’s problems arise when we transgress these limits and encroach upon the foreign fields. Working on these principles, it the ‘Jiva’, i.e., the self, forgetting its own intrinsic nature, tries to encroach upon the field of ‘Ajiva’, it invites trouble. But if it concentrates its attention on its own self, tries to analyse its nature and focuses its activities on its upliftment, it enters into the field of ‘Dharma Dhyana’. Thus, if we fix our attention and activities in studying the views expressed by enlightened souls, and try to find out how far we can put these views in actual practice, it would be a type of Dharma Dhyana which is called ‘Ajnana-vacaya’. When we contemplate how the true character of the self is clouded by its contact with kasayas such as anger, pride, etc., and how the self can be made free from this contact, we are in ‘Apayavicaya’ Dharma dhyana. When we think how the accumulated karmas can be shed, we are in the Dharma-dhyana which is called, ‘Vipaka-vicaya’. When we contemplate about the nature of this universe (Loka) and its functioning, it is called ‘Loka-samsthana-vicaya’ Dharma Dhyana.

Dharma Dhyana takes our mind away from Artta and Raudra which are degrading the spirit, and which result only in earning further karmas which bind the spirit. Dharma-dhyana not only takes us to the field of metaphysics and logic, but also constitutes the best type of Satsanga as it engages our mind in closet company with the great seers who have realized the Truth.

Sukla Dhyana – ‘Sukla’ means ‘white or pure’. This is the highest type of meditation where in the karmic bondages are made free and the soul remains totally engrossed in itself only. Seers say that it is not possible to give complete idea of this type of meditation as the bliss which one experiences by it is beyond description. However, they have classified this type of meditation into four categories – (i) Prthakatva-vitarka-savicara, (ii) Ekatva-vitarka-vicara, (iii) Suksma-kriya-pratipatti, (iv) Samucchinna-kriya-nivrtti or Vyuparata-kriya-nivrtti. These are different stages of advancement in meditation. In the first one the mind contemplates the different modes of the self and the forces of Pudgala and analyses them. Since the mind is moving from one idea to the other, it is called ‘Prthakatva’ and ‘Vitarka’. This process goes on but during the process this movement in the thinking the concentration is only on finding out the true character of the self, and therefore the whole process tends to make the mind steady.

After it becomes steady it concentrates only on one object namely the self. This is the second stage of ‘Ekatva-vitarka’. When the mind becomes thus steady, complete peace and bliss prevails because at that stage all the bondages of kasayas get destroyed and there is nothing which would disturb its steadiness and peace. The mind, remaining peaceful and steady in this manner, reaches the stage of ‘Kevala-jnana’ pure knowledge.

In the third stage there is only a nominal though subtle connection with body and when even that is broken the final stage of the state of a ‘Siddha’ comes which is a bodiless existence of the soul possessing all knowledge and all bliss.

This is how the great masters have described the process of meditation. An ordinary human being is roaming between first three categories of meditation. It is considered that the last one is very difficult of being achieved and it involves the entire process of spiritual progress which we have already described while discussing various ‘Gunasthanas’.

What is the type of bliss which one achieves in Sukla dhyana? We cannot describe the same, but Acarya Hemacandra, a great master’s in yoga, says as under in his famous work ‘Yoga-sastra’

Moksostu mastu yadi va paramanandastu vedayte sa khalu.

Yasminnikhila sukhani pratibhasante na kincidiva.

“Whether salvation is there or not, the absolute Bliss which is experienced (in Sukla-dhyana) cannot be surpasses in the least by all pleasurable thing of the universe.”

[Article is excerpt from chapter 12, Modus Operandi, of the book “The Path of Arhat A Religious Democracy” by Justice T.U.Mehta]

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About Author

Justice T.U.Mehta

Professionally the author took the graduation in Economics and Law from the University of Bombay and was the Chief Justice of H.P. High-Court when he retired.  Though law is the subject of his professional interest, his real interest lies in the study of philosophy, metaphysics, and comparative religion. Having been greatly impressed by Marxian Dialectics during his academic career, his thinking was shaped and oriented by the writings of Swami Viveka nandji and Mahatma Gandhiji. His interest in Jaina philosophy deepened by the writings of Shrimad Rajchandraji, and Shri Rajneeshji. Seeing the perfectly logical and rational approach of Jaina philosophy he was induced to express some fundamental principles of Jainism in his book “The Path of Arhat a Religious Democracy”

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