Hetrodox philosophy: Jainism, Buddhism and Ajivikas

Jain philosophy

  • Like the Charvakas, the Jains too do not believe in the Vedas, but they admit the existence of a soul.
  • They also agree with the orthodox tradition that suffering (pain) can be stopped by controlling the mind and by seeking right knowledge and perception and by observing the right conduct.
  • The Jaina philosophy was first propounded by the Rishabha Deva.
  • The names of Ajit Nath and Aristanemi are also mentioned with Rishabha Deva.
  • There were 24 tirthankaras who actually established the ‘Jaina darshan.
  • The first tirthankar realised that the source of Jaina philosophy was Adinath.
  • The 24th and the last tirthankar was named Vardhaman Mahavira who gave great impetus to Jainism. Mahavira was born in 599 BC.
  • He left worldly life at the age of thirty and led a very hard life to gain true knowledge.
  • After he attained Truth, he was called Mahavira and he strongly believed in the importance of celibacy or brahamcharya.

Jain Theory of Reality: 7 Kinds of Fundamental Elements

  • The Jainas believe that the natural and supernatural things of the universe can be traced back to seven fundamental elements.
  • They are jiva, ajivaa, astikaya, bandha, samvara, nirjana, and moksa.
  • Substances like body which exist and envelope (like a cover) are astïkaya.
  • Anastikayas like ‘time’ have no body at all.
  • The substance is the basis of attributes (qualities). The attributes that we find in a substance are known as dharmas.
  • The Jainas believe that things or substance have attributes. These attributes also change with the change of kala (time).
  • From their point of view, the attributes of a substance are essential, and eternal or unchangeable. Without essential attributes, a thing cannot exist. So they are always present in everything.
  • For example, consciousness (chetana) is the essence of the soul; desire, happiness and sorrow are its changeable attributes.

Philosophy of  the Buddhism

  • Gautama Buddha, who founded the Buddhist philosophy, was born in 563 BC at Lumbini, a village near Kapilavastu in the foothills of Nepal.
  • A the age of29, Gautama Buddha renounced family life to find a solution to the world’s continuous sorrow of death, sickness, poverty, etc.
  • He went to the forests and meditated there for six years. Thereafter, he went to Bodh Gaya (in Bihar) and meditated under a pipal tree.
  • It was at this place that he attained enlightenment and came to be known as the Buddha. He then travelled a lot to spread his message and helped people find the path of liberation or freedom.
  • Gautama’s three main disciples known as Upali, Ananda and Mahakashyap remembered his teachings and passed them on to his followers.
  • It is believed that soon after the Buddha’s death a council was called at Rajagriha where Upali recited the Vinaya Pitaka (rules of the order) and Ananda recited the Sutta Pitaka (Buddha’s sermons or doctrines and ethics).
  • Sometime later the Abhidhamma Pitaka consisting of the Buddhist philosophy came into existence.

Main Characteristics

  • Buddha presented simple principles of life and practical ethics that people could follow easily.
  • He considered the world as full of misery. Man’s duty is to seek liberation from this painful world.
  • He strongly criticised blind faith in the traditional scriptures like the Vedas.
  • Buddha’s teachings are very practical and suggest how to attain peace of mind and ultimate liberation from this material world.

Realization of Four Noble Truths

1.Suffering in human life

  • When Buddha saw human beings suffering from sickness, pain and death, he concluded that there was definitely suffering in human life.
  • There is pain with birth. Separation from the pleasant is also painful.
  • All the passions that remain unfulfilled are painful.
  • Pain also comes when objects of sensuous pleasure are lost. Thus, life is all pain.

2.Cause of suffering

  • It is desire that motivates the cycle of birth and death.
  • Therefore, desire is the fundamental cause of suffering.

3.Cessation of suffering

  • Tells that when passion, desire and love of life are totally destroyed, pain stops.
  • This Truth leads to the end of sorrow, which causes pain in human life.
  • It involves destruction of ego (aham or ahamkara), attachment, jealousy, doubt and sorrow.
  • That state of mind is the state of freedom from desire, pain and any kind of attachment.
  • It is the state of complete peace, leading to nirvana.

4.Path of Liberation

  • Starting with pessimism, the Buddhist philosophy leads to optimism.
  • Although there is a constant suffering in human life, it can be ended finally.
  • Buddha suggests that the way or the path leading to liberation is eight-fold, through which one

can attain nirvana.

Eight-fold Path to Liberation (Nirvana)

(i) Right Vision

  • One can attain right vision by removing ignorance.
  • Ignorance creates a wrong idea of the relationship between the world and the self.
  • It is on account of wrong understanding of man that he takes the non-permanent world as permanent.
  • Thus, the right view of the world and its objects is the right vision.

(ii) Right Resolve

  • It is the strong will-power to destroy thoughts and desires that harm others.
  • It includes sacrifice, sympathy and kindness towards others.

(iii) Right Speech

  • Man should control his speech by right resolve.
  • It means to avoid false or unpleasant words by criticizing others.

(iv) Right Conduct

  • It is to avoid activities which harm life.
  • It means to be away from theft, excessive eating, the use of artificial means of beauty, jewellery, comfortable beds, gold etc.

(v) Right Means of Livelihood

  • Right livelihood means to earn one’s bread and butter by right means.
  • It is never right to earn money by unfair means like fraud, bribery, theft, etc.

(vi) Right Effort

  • It is also necessary to avoid bad feelings and bad impressions.
  • It includes self-control, stopping or negation of sensuality and bad thoughts, and awakening of good thoughts.

(vii) Right Mindfulness

  • It means to keep one’s body, heart and mind in their real form.
  • Bad thoughts occupy the mind when their form is forgotten.
  • When actions take place according to the bad thoughts, one has to experience pain.

(viii) Right Concentration

  • If a person pursues the above seven Rights, he will be able to concentrate properly and rightly.
  • One can attain nirvana by right concentration (meditation).
  • Except for Charvaka school, realisation of soul has been the common goal of all philosophical schools of India.

Ajivika Philosophy

  • A related philosophy which some classify under the heterodox sytem is Ajivika Philosophy.
  • The Ājīvikas may simply have been a more loosely-organized group of wandering ascetics (shramanas or sannyasins).
  • Some of its prominent figures were Makkhali Gosala and Sanjaya Belatthaputta.
  • This was an ascetic movement of the Mahajanapada period in the Indian subcontinent.

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