“Mind-blowing” Book, “Deep dive” in Jainism

“I read this book as a part of my studies in Eastern philosophy, in particular, Indian philosophy, and the only term I can come up with is “mind-blowing“. I considered myself an agnostic until I read this book… This book contains within the basis of the Jain religion, as well as many philosophical points which students of Eastern (and in particular Indian) philosophy and religion cannot ignore. Truly the best and most comprehensive text on the subject of Jainism.” A reader’s review on Amazon.

“The translation and commentary are clear and helpful. But this is not an Introduction to Jainism. It’s a DEEP dive.” Jason, one of the readers on goodread.com

Today I will end my series on Jainism with this post. The Paryushana festival for Shwetambara sect of Jains is coming to an end and for Digambara sect it will begin.

Tattvartahsutra is the name of the book the above two readers are referring. As the 2nd reader suggests, this is a deep dive into the philosophy of Jainism. Yes if you need to read one book to know complete science and philosophy of Jainism, this is the book.

This was written by a Jain Monk Acharya Umaswati during the time between 2nd and 5th century (exact time is not known). The first verse summarizes Jainism by saying that right faith, right knowledge, and right conduct collectively is the path of liberation or Moksha.

Right Faith: Samyak Darshan: Believing the self as a soul different from the body.

Right Knowledge: Samyak Gyan: The right knowledge is one by which the person becomes free from attachment and his soul is purified. We can achieve the Right knowledge by a strong faith in the teaching of Arihantas (Enlightened Souls) and through the study of their scriptures.

Right Conduct: Samyak Charitra: Maintaining equanimity of composure in pain and pleasure. No attachment or aversion towards any persons, situations or things.

In Jainism concept, these three are known as Ratnatraya i.e. the three gems

There are ten chapters in the book.

  • The first chapter deals with the process of cognition and details about different types of knowledge.
  • The next three chapters deal with the soul, lower worlds, naraka, and celestial abodes, deva.
  • The fifth chapter discusses Non-soul (Ajiva).
  • The next three chapters deal with the karmas and their manifestations and the inflow, Asrava, good and bad karma i.e. shubha-ashubha karma and the bondage of the karmas.
  • The ninth chapter describes the blocking, Samvara, and shedding of the karmas, Nirjara.
  • The final chapter discusses moksha or the liberation of the soul.

Tattvārtha Sūtra is by common consent the book of books in the Jaina tradition. Acclaimed as an authentic and systematic compendium of the essence of Jainism as taught and settled by Lord Mahavira, and faithfully rooted in the Jaina heritage, it commands the allegiance of the different denominations within the Jaina fold and its authority is definitive and undisputed.

An inspired and encyclopedic achievement of extraordinary scholarship, it is a compact cosmic essay on cognition and conduct, a synthesis of science and ethics in the framework of philosophy. It investigates and catalogues the two basic verities of the world, soul, and substance; it also draws a route map to the goal of liberation.”

~His Excellency Dr. L. M. Singhvi, Ex High Commissioner for India in the United Kingdom

The book is available on Amazon translated into English by Dr. Nathmal Tatia.

Free pdf download is also available at ejainlibrary in Hindi – English – Gujarati.

Other posts on the subject are:

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