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Freeindia > Great Indian Scriptures > Vedas

The Vedas are the oldest literature of the world and are the source of all religion, philosophy, culture, learning and science. There are four Vedas - Rgveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda and Atharvaveda. Vedas are considered to be words that are heard or revealed through the utterances of the preceptors ( guru ) which are listened to by the disciples ( sisya ). Besides there is a strong tradition of the spoken words of the Vedas to be remembered and reproduced orally. Because of this earliest oral tradition continuing even now when the Vedas are available in the written form, the Vedas are still known to be Sruti - ' that which is heard '. The fourfold division of the Vedas is based on the division of work in Yajnas on the part of the four main functions performed by the four functionaries ( Rtvija ) :

(1)The collection of the Mantras which are used for invocating and praising the gods in the Yajna by the Hota, on the part of the Yajamana who performs the Yajna himself or gets it performed by a proxy ( Purohita ), constitutes Rgveda

(2)The collection of Mantras used in Yajna by the expert of its technique - known as Adhvaryu - for the ( technically ) proper performance of the Yajna makes the Yajurveda

(3)The collection of singable Mantras ( having musical quality ) sung loudly by the Udgata in the Yajna constitutes Samaveda

(4)Such extra Mantras which are not used in the three Vedas mentioned, which must nevertheless be known to the presiding priest who is known as Brahma, have been kept separately and the collection of all such Mantras is known as the Atharvaveda

The Vedas contain, on the whole, the praises of the various gods. The portion of mantras containing praises which are chanted as hymns, their collection is known as Samhita. Rgveda contains Richas ( mantras those are called Rca ) which are bound in poetic metres. In Yajurveda there are both poetic and prose passages and particularly latter are indicative of instructions about the yajna. They are mantras connected with the yajnas - yajus. Samaveda contains such mantras which are sung melodiously, and in the Atharvaveda there are mantras of various kinds which are connnected with various sciences and leamings of various sorts. Mantras have along with each one of them attached the name of its Rishi, god ( Devata ) and the particular metre ( Chanda ). Rishi is one who realized the mantra in his Samadhi or wisdom ( Prajna ). Devata of the mantra is one whose praise is found in the mantra. The main purpose of the Vedas is to accomplish the performance of Yajnas.

The works, which give details about the performance of Yajna, are known as the Brahmana Grantha(s). This is the portion of the Vedas which is connected with ritual activity ( Karma Kanda ). Two other portions of the Vedas are connected with Upasana Kanda ( devotion ) and Jnana Kanda ( enlightened perception or philosophy ) and are known as Aranyaka ( forest works ) and Upanisad representing Vedanta ( that is the end or the purpose-containing portion ). Six studies auxiliary to the study of the Vedas are :

(1)Siksa ( linguistics )

(2)Kalpa ( geometry of Vedi-construction and rules and regulations of Yajna )

(3)Vyakarana ( grammar )

(4)Nirukta ( etymology )

(5)Chanda ( prosody )

(6)Jyotisa ( astrology and astronomy )

They are called as the Vedanga(s) ( Organs of the Vedas ). Freeindia > Great Indian Scriptures > Puranas

The works ( books ) of the Vedic tradition which contain accounts of creation, gods, demons, men, kings, great beings ( Mahatmas ), sages and seers of yore written are known as Purana. They deal with the five main subjects :

(1)Creation ( sarga )

(2)Development and Annihilation ( Pratisarga )

(3)Dynasties of kings such as those of the Sun-clan ( Surya Vamsa ) and of the Moon-clan (Chandra Vamsa)

(4)Changing leaders of human beings and their times ( Manvantara ) and the characterisations of them through succession ( Vamsanucarita )

We find an emphasis on the worship of Brahma ( Creator God ), Visnu ( The God that preserves ), Siva ( The God responsible for destruction ), Surya ( Sun ), Ganesa ( The elephant headed god known to be the remover of obstructions ), and Sakti ( The goddess ) in the Puranas. It is well known that there are 18 Puranas : Brahma Purana, Padma Purana, Visnu Purana, Vayu Purana or Siva Purana, Bhagavata Purana, Narada Purana, Markandeya Purana, Agni Purana, Bhavisya Purana, Brahma-vaivarta Purana, Linga Purana, Varaha Purana, Skanda Purana, Vamana Purana, Kama Purana, Matsya Purana, Garuda Purana and Brahmanda Purana.

Vyasa, the son of Rishi Parasara, is said to be the author of them all. Vyasa trained his disciple Romaharshana ( or Lomaharshana ), belonging to the Suta class, in the narration and explanation of the Purana who distinguished himself as Purana-Kathavacaka ( History teller ) Suta Ji. This expertise of the Puranas and their narration was learnt from him by his son Ugrasrava. Both, the father ( Sutaji ) and his son ( Ugrashrava ) made a narration of all the 18 Puranas to an assembly of thousands of Rishis like Shaunaka etc. gathered together in the jungle named Naimisaranya on the occasion of the incidence of a grand Yajna. The six disciples of Lomaharshana and many of the disciples of those disciples carried forward the tradition of propagation of the Puranas. The Puranas available to us in the present form might have been edited and re-written in the course of time, as their editions ( and explanation ) available now have variations depending on the influence of the Saiva, Sakta and Vaisnava sects on them. Freeindia > Great Indian Scriptures > Upanisads

The meaning of upanisad ( upa + ni + sat ) is to go near the Real and to know it. Those almost end portions of the Vedas, Brahmana granthas and Aranyakas in which there is discussion and demonstration on the topics such as soul, God, salvation and the like and thereby the spiritual matters are philosophically explained are known as Upanisad(s). Out of a total of 108 or even more Upanishads, the principal and authentic ones are: Isa, Kena, Katha, Prasna, Mundaka, Mandukya, Aitareya, Taittiriya, Chandogya, Brhadaranyaka, Svetasvatara, and Kausitaki. Out of these Isopanisad is the fortieth chapter of the Yajurveda and the others also are parts of one or the other Vedas through connection and medium of one or the other Brahmanagrantha and Aranyaka. Kena and Chandogya belong to the Samaveda; Katha, Taittiriya, Brhadaranyaka and Svetasvatara pertain to Yajurveda; Prasna, Mundaka and Mandukya are connected with the Atharvaveda and Aitareya and Kausitaki fall in the tradition of Rgveda. In the Upanishads is a mention of a distinction between transcendental or spiritual knowledge ( Para Vidya ) and mundane or materialistic knowledge ( Apara Vidya ) and the knowledge with which every Upanisad, in the main, deals is the spiritual knowledge. Freeindia > Great Indian Scriptures > Ramayana

India has its two grand epic poems : Ramayana and Mahabharata, which are known to be historical books. In the epic Ramayana composed by Muni Valmiki in Sanskrit language there is a complete description of the story of Sri Rama. There, through the character of the excellent human being Sri Rama and the characters of the persons of his family and those who came in contact with them, a beautiful and grand spectacle of the high values upheld by the Indian culture have been depicted. For the other languages of India, Ramayana has served as an essential subsistence. The story of Rama described by Valmiki in Ramayana has been presented by Tulsidas, by writing Rama Charitamanasa, in the Avadhi language and that way made it available to most ordinary persons at their homes. Krttivasa Ramayana in Bengali language, MadhavaKandali Ramayana in Assamese, Kamba Ramayana in Tamil are the very few which are being mentioned here. In other languages too, various versions of Ramayana have been produced from time to time. Adhyatma Ramayana and a Ramayana by Guru Govind Singh too are famous. Even in tribal languages also, with local variations, story of Sri Rama is prevalent. Every corner of India is replete with Rama. Rama's story is woven in the folk songs as well. Freeindia > Great Indian Scriptures > Bharata (Mahabharata)
Bharata (Mahabharata)

It is the grand epic poem composed by Krsna Dvaipayana Vyasa in which through the story of the struggle between the Pandavas and the Kauravas and that of the victory of Pandavas as a medium of narration, the eternal message of the establishment of righteousness ( Dharma ) and the downfall or the defeat of Adharma has been conveyed. Apart from Srimadbhagavad Gita - the very famous dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna - as its small part, Mahabharata is a great store house of life's hundreds of stories of all sorts, and based on the incidents, characters and narrations of it innumerable works of literature in many languages of India have been created and composed. Apart from the main story of the Kauravas and Pandavas, through hundreds of its substories uncounted aspects of human life and related with them inumerable situations, problems and their solutions, arguments and principles have all been interwoven, as if, on a very very big canvas by a very competent painter. We have a saying put at the very beginning of the Mahabharata ' what is not in Bharata that is not anywhere else ' ( Yanna Bharate tannaabharate ). Comparing Ramayana and Mahabharata it can be said that the former is a simple, understandable, clear and neat story and Mahabharata is very complex and involved intermixture of life-stories that make it quite complicated, as it shows all the ups and downs of life in all their aspects; yet both these epic poems - the excellent varieties of literature as they are - they both propound the same ideals of higher life as upheld by the culture of India. Freeindia > Great Indian Scriptures > Bhagavad Gita
Bhagavad Gita

In the battle-field of Kurukshetra, in Mahabharata,the precept which was advanced towards the infatuated Arjuna by Krishna is found recorded in Srlmadbhagavadgita. It is part of the Bhisma Parva of Mahabharata. In this the immortality of soul and the principle of disinterested action ( Niskama Karma ) have been propounded. In it has been effected a beautiful harmonization of the Karmayoga ( meditative unattached way of action ), Bhaktiyoga ( Yoga of devotion ). Raja Yoga or Dhyana Yoga ( Yoga of concentration ) and Jnana Yoga ( Yoga of Truth-realization ). Gita is divided into 18 chapters and contains 700 verses ( shloka ). Vedanta Philosophy which is based on the studies of the Vedas and Upanishads alongwith Brahmasutra regards Gita as the third source of its study, making thereby Gita as one of the Prasthanatrayi ( Three basic points of departure ). The connection of the Upanishads and Gita is so close that it is said that the Upanishads are the cows, Gita is the milk which Krishna milches from them for Arjuna. Freeindia > Great Indian Scriptures > Saddarshana
Saddarshana (True Philosophy)

Darsana Sastra ( Philosophy ) is the discipline of intellectual and spiritual endeavor undertaken for teh realisation of truth. Philosophy ( Darsana ), in the words of Sankaracarya, is ' self-realization ( Atmasvarupa Saksatkara ) as the absolute reality ( Parama Sat ) through listening or studying ( sravana ), reasoning ( manana ) and contemplation ( nididhyasana ).' In the works of Darsana Sastra there is an understanding of the mundane and super mundane nature of Nature, Soul and God and the deciding of the goal of life accordingly. The goal of life according to eight philosophical schools is Moksa or ' self-realization ' which is interpreted though differently in accordance with each one's special viewpoint. Six of them fall into the Vedic tradition and they are : Nyaya, Vaisesika, Sankhya, Yoga, Purva Mmamsa and Uttara Mimarnsa or Vedanta. The remaining two are Jain and Buddhist philosophies which also are inspired basically by the same Bharatiya philosophic tradition and value system. Freeindia > Great Indian Scriptures > Saddarshana

Six systems of Vedic philosophy Philosophy is a worldview, as represented by the Sanskrit darshana, derived from the verbal root drish, "to see". The (six philosophical views) are nyaya (logic), vaisesika (atomic theory), sankhya (analysis of matter and spirit), yoga (the discipline of self-realization), karma-mimamsa (science of fruitive work) and vedanta (science of God realization).

Nyaya Darshana

1. Knowledge

The Nyaya Viewpoint takes for granted that we possess knowledge of the world about us. It has in general a common sense view of knowledge, accepting that in general the information we obtain through sense experience is reliable. Nyaya is not news from nowhere. Nyaya theory takes for granted that the world is more or less as we perceive it. While accepting that defects in the sense organs, merely partial perception of something and the influence of fear, anticipation and other mental conditions can lead to misapprehension as to what is actually being perceived, Nyaya regards perception as in general a sound means of cognition, which discloses things to us as they really are.


An Analysis of the Aspects of Reality.

The founder of vaisesika philosophy is the sage Kanaada, who was also known as Uluka. So this system is sometimes called aulukya. Kanada wrote the first systematic work of this philosophy, Vaisesika-sutra. This work is divided into ten cantos, each canto containing two sections. Prasastapada wrote a commentary on this sutra entitled Svartha Dharma Samgraha that is so famous that it is called bhashya, which means simply "commentary." In Indian philosophical discourse, whenever the word bhasya is used by itself without further specification, it is understood to refer to this commentary. Two well-known explications of Prasastapada's work are Udayana's Kirana-vali and Sridhara's Nyayakandali. The significant feature of this system is the introduction of a special category of reality called uniqueness (visesa). Thus, this system is known as vaisesika. Freeindia > Great Indian Scriptures > Saddarshana
saamkhya darshana.

The Sanskrit word "saamkhya" has a variety of meanings related to the concepts of enumeration, calculation and discrimination. The name of the viewpoint could be derived from its emphasis on the need to discriminate between the spirit, purushha and matter (literally "nature" prakrti), or from the extensive use by saamkhya philosophers of lists which enumerate the stages of cosmic evolution and their products. It would be equally appropriate to designate the saamkhya the Evolutionist Viewpoint, since the concept of evolution plays a crucial role in saamkhya thought.

The traditional founder of the saamkhya viewpoint was Kapila, who is believed to have lived well before the rise of Buddhism.

Nontheistic Dualism

Sankhya philosophy, considered by some to be the oldest of all the philosophical schools, was systematized by an ancient thinker named Kapila (different from the Devahuti-putra Kapila of the Srimad-Bhagavatam whose sankhya system does not exclude God).


Self-discipline for self-realization.

The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj, which means "to unite." The yoga system provides a methodology for linking up individual consciousness with the Supreme Consciousness. There are various schools of yoga, among which bhakti-yoga, jnana-yoga, karma-yoga, and kundalini-yoga are especially well known. The yoga system that is counted as one of the six systems of Vedic philosophy is the patanjala-yoga. Freeindia > Great Indian Scriptures > Saddarshana
Karma Mimamsa

Elevation through the performance of duty.

The word karma refers to any action that results in a reaction, whether it be good or bad. The word Mimamsa means to analyze and understand thoroughly. The philosophical systems of karma-mimamsa and vedanta are closely related to each other and are in some ways complimentary. Karma-mimamsa may be understood as a stepping stone to vedanta. It examines the teachings of the Veda in the light of karma-kanda rituals, whereas vedanta examines the same teachings in the light of transcendental knowledge. The karma-mimamsa system is called purva-mimamsa, which means the earlier study of the Veda, and vedanta is called uttara-mimamsa, which means the later study of the Veda. Karma-mimamsa is to be taken up by householders, and vedanta is reserved for wise men who have graduated from household life and taken up the renounced order (sannyasa).


The word vedanta is normally read as a combination of two words: veda and anta, end. The upanishads are sometimes called vedanta since they are seen as the end and the fulfilment of the Veda. The Vedanta Viewpoint is a family of philosophical schools which take up the issues discussed in the upanishads; the nature of the self, the relation of the Ultimate Self to Ultimate Reality, Atman to Brahman,the status of the world given inexperience, the relation of the world we experience to Brahman.

The conclusion of the Vedic revelation

Karma-mimamsa philosophy arose from the earlier study of the ritualistic portions of the Vedas, and so it is also known as purva-mimamsa, "the prior deliberation." Vedanta is called uttara-mimamsa, "the higher deliberation", and also as brahma-mimamsa, "deliberation on Brahman, the Absolute Truth." Freeindia > Great Indian Scriptures > Jaina Agamas And Indian Culture
Jaina Agamas And Indian Culture

The Place of the Agamas in Cultural History of Language and Literature apart from art and architecture constitute the most important records of the cultural history of a country. Hence, the study of the Agamas is bound to reveal the most important observations of Jainism and its contribution to Indian culture.

As we all know, the collective term given by the Jainas to their Sacred literature is called Agamas written in Prakrt just as the Buddhist Pitakas in Pali and the Brahmanical Vedas in Sanskrit. The Jaina Agamas like the Buddhist Pitakas contain the sermons of their founders. They were later on codified by their trusted disciples into the languages of the people just for the larger benefit of the masses. Thus the original Sacred Books of both the Jainas and the Buddhist were written in Prakrt, i.e., Ardhamagadhi and Pali respectively. Being missionaries, their mission was to interest not only the intellectuals but the common people and hence they used the language of the common man. The Jaina Agamas accord a very respectable position to Ardhamagadhi by calling it not only the language of the Aryans but also of the celestial gods. The Buddhist Trpitakas enjoin upon their followers to use the local dialect of the people for the propagation of their sacred teachings. This was nothing but a legitimate protest against the touch-me-not attitude of the Vedic scholars who would never descend down from their ivory tower of Sanskrit language and on the other hand they would look down upon the us of these languages of the people for imparting religious instructions. Prakrt and Pali were declared to be the languages of the outcasts or Mlechchhas. This shows their regard for maintaining the so-called cultural purity by the priestly order to ensure their monopoly for ever. To be impartial, we cannot deny that there was some amount of animosity among the Jainas and the Buddhist scholars against the use of Sanskrit language at least at the critical stages which is amply reflected in the painful sight of some of Pali and Prakrt scholars maintaining linguistic isolationism as a result of which they remained unaware of the Indian heritage as depicted in Sanskrit language and literature. The Bhikkhus of the Hinayana cults of Buddhism in Burma and Ceylon are examples of such isolationism. Similarly, many eminent scholars of Sanskrit of that age remained unaware of the growth and development of ideas in the field of Pali and Prakrt languages. The cause of this linguistic animosity was also unhealthy religious rivalries which are demonstrated into the literature of the 7th and 8th centuries A.D. All these factors went to retard the growth of cultural synthesis in India at least for some time.

In this respect, the Jaina tradition has been rather liberal. Down from the days of Arya Raksit (2nd Century of Vikram Samvat) and Uma Swami (3rd Century of V.S. , there has been equal interest in Prakrt and Sanskrit so much so that both these languages became the common and combined treasures of the Jaina. Naya, the Jainas have adopted other regional languages also like Kannada and Tamil in South India, Gujarati and Marathi in Western India and even Hindi in Central India for the propagation of their religious teachings or literary pursuits. Freeindia > Great Indian Scriptures > Jaina Agamas And Indian Culture
Pt. Sukhalalji has divided the entire extent of Jaina philosophical literature broadly into four periods beginning with the Agamic period. Not withstanding the differences in the two tradition of Digambaras and Svetambaras, the Jainas generally agree that the Agamas constitute the inspired wisdom of Lord Mahavir, when he attained perfection and Omniscience. The sermons were later on codified by his chief disciples called Ganadharas. According to the Jaina tradition, there are only two types of persons, who are qualified to know the secrets of religion - the Omniscient (Kevalin) who directly perceive everything of all places and of all times. Then lectures of sermons by the Kevalins themselves. They are called Sruta Kevalins. Acarya Yati Vrsabha has given the chronological account of the Missionary (Acarya) tradition of 683 years after the Nirvana of Lord Mahavir having 3 Kevalins, 5 Sruta Kevalins, 20 different orders of Acaryas.

According to the Svetambara tradition, the last compilation of the Agamas had been done at Valabhi after 980 years of the death of Lord Mahavir at the time of Devardhi, however the compilations of some of the Agamas were done at Pataliputra also which was after 250 years of Lord Mahavirís death. The Agamic literature is vast and stupendous, comprising of 12 Angas, 12 Upangas, 4 Mulas, 2 Chulikas Sutras, 6 Cheda Sutras, 10 Prakirnakas etc. The commentation on these Agamas are called Niryukrtis and Bhasyas, which are in poetry style and those in prose style are called Curnis. Available Niryuktis, are said to be compositions of Bhadrabahu, the Second, which contain subtle philosophical discussion on the problems of existence of soul, analysis of knowledge and meaning etc. The Bhasyas contain the fuller accounts of all subjects. Sanghadas Gani and Jinabhadra are the two famous Bhasyakaras. Jinabhadra was a versatile genius, who has written practically on all subject under the sun. Sanghadas Gani has limited himself to the task of dealing with the problems of epistemology and the ethics of the Jain Sadhus. Among the Curnikaras, Jinadasa Mahattara is a notable figure. Curnis are shorter commentaries in prose on the pattern of Jatakas. In Sanskrit, the oldest commentaries of the Agamas is of Acarya Haribhadra (757-857 V.S.) next to whom are Silanka Suri (8th Cent. V.S.) and Sandhacarya, Abhayadeva and Malladhari Hemacandra and last but not the least Malayagiri. All these scholars wrote their commentaries in Sanskrit and Prakrt but they were so vast and deep that shorter commentaries in the languages of the people was considered essential. Hence, we find the composition of many primers and Beginner in regional languages like Taba in Gujarati. Acarya Dharma Singh is said to be an important author of such Beginners and Primers.

According to the Digambara tradition, all the old Agamas are said to have lost except the 12th called Drstivada. They regard Bhadrabahu as the last Sruta Kevali, with him out of 14 Purvas, 4 were lost. After Bhadrabahu, the different Acaryas became the teachers of 11 Angas and 10 Purvas and the process of disintegration continued up till 683 years after Mahavirís Nirvana. An important Acarya named Dharasena initiated his two most, able disciples, named Puspadanta and Bhutabali into the Agamas, who later on compiled the Sermons in the form of a monumental epics of religion called, Sat-khanda-gama in Prakrt. A contemporary of Acarya Gunabhadra compiled Kasayas-Pahuda upon which Yati Brsabha wrote a commentary in Prakrt after he learnt it from Arya Mansku and Nagahasti. There are quite a few commentaries on these two monumental treasures-Satkhandagama and Kasaya-pahuda. The last of the commentaries on Satkhandagama called Dhavala is by Virasena, which comprises 72 thousand verses. The commentary on Kasaya-pahuda, called Jayadhavala is equally monumental having 20 thousand verses written by Virasena and 40 thousand added by his disciple Jinasena. The final portion of the Satkhandagama is called Mahabandha which has 41 thousand verses. This has been composed by Bhutabali himself. Fortunately, all those three monumental Agamas are treasured at Mudabidri's temple library. Acarya Nemichand Siddhanta Sastri Chakravarti of the 10th century was supposed to be an authority on these three Agamas. He had composed Gommatasara and Labdhisara to give the essences of these Agamas. Todaramala has written commentaries upon Gommatasara and Labdhisara in Bhasa. Acarya Kunda-kunda's Samayasara, Pravacanasara, Niyamasara and Pancastikaya-sara are in acknowledged Prakrt works which are regarded as good as the Agamas by the Jainas. Jainacarya Umaswati wrote Tattvartha-Sutra, which is regarded as the Veritable Bible of the Jainas by both the sects. The legend of the propagation of Jaina religion rests with the Tirthanakars and their disciples called eleven Ganadharas, who are said to have converted a community of 4411 Sramanas from whom the entire Jaina community has grown. Freeindia > Great Indian Scriptures > Jaina Agamas And Indian Culture
The Contribution of the Agamas

The Validity of Scriptural Knowledge - Except the Carvakas, all systems of Indian Philosophy admit the validity of scriptural knowledge. In the Vedic tradition, the Vedas which are regarded as impersonal, constitute the highest authority of religion. In the tradition of the Sramanic culture of Buddhism and Jainism, the authority of scriptures rests with their prophets, who are supposed to be Omniscient as well above all desires and aversions. In the Jaina tradition, the validity of the scripture is accorded at par with direct perception since the scriptural knowledge is knowledge gained by the Omniscient being, who has directly perceived the reality. Thus scriptural knowledge is also definite and indubious like the omniscient knowledge. This is admitted by Samantabhadra in his Apta-Mimamsa. It should also be noted that the knowledge and practice of Scriptures (Agamas) also leads to the attainment of Kevala-jnana, so as to the knower of the Srutas are called Sruta-kevalin. Anybody and everybody cannot be Sruta. In order to be a Sruta, he must fulfill the conditions of becoming desireless (Vitaraga) and he must destroy the Karmas which obscure the real nature of Sruta. Only then, such a Scriptural knowledge serves like the bliss.

According to the Vedic tradition, the Vedas manifest their own validity. Words used by us, according to them, denote things that can be cognised by other means of knowledge, and, if we cannot know them through other means, then those who utter them must be of unquestionable authority. So non-Vedic utterances cannot possess any inherent validity. According to Prabhakara, such non-Verbal knowledge is of the nature of inference because only the verbal cognition of the Vedas is strictly verbal. The Vedic thinkers adopt the doctrine of impersonate authorship perhaps to maintain is infallibility, because a person is liable to many defects. However, in order to prove the impersonal authorship of the Vedas, the Vedic thinkers; especially the Mimamsakas introduce a mystical theory of the eternality of the Vedas. They hold that the relationship between the word and its meaning is natural and not created by conversion. The purpose of the Mimasmsakas in rejecting the authorship of the Vedas to Gods is because God, who is incorporeal, has no organs of speech and hence he cannot utter words, and if He assumes the human form, then He is subject to all the limitations of material existence and hence his utterances will not be authoritative. Then there is no tradition of divine or human authorship of the Vedas. If it is said that the Vedas are human compositions because names of saints and seers occur, it may be said that the hymns deal with the eternal phenomena of nature and the names of persons have only symbolical significance and not any historical significance.

In tracing their Agamas to the utterances of Lord Mahavir, the Jainas have a more secured position. Firstly, since Mahavir is Omniscient (Kevalin) what he says must be true. Since, he is above desires (Vitaraga), what he says is free from any subjective prejudices. Lastly, since he is compassionate, what he says is for the benefits of the people. Thus the Jaina theory of scriptures as the sermons of Lord Mahavir is more intelligible rational. the adherence of one's faith in the personality of Lord Mahavir gives a religious color. Lastly, such a theory of scriptures having its source in the personality of a realized man raises the dignity and status of man to the status of God. Omniscience is not divine but human. It requires a Sadhana. Thus the Jaina doctrine of Agamas sets up everything in real and historical context, while the explanation of the impersonality of the Vedas is rather vague and ambiguous. However, it looses at one place-by treating the Vedic authorship as impersonal, it implies that it is perhaps very-very old and ancient because a person is after all a historical event. Here the Jaina reply is that since the truth contained in the Agamas are one, eternal and permanent, it is as old as anything. The objects of the knowledge are the one and the same for all. Hence their cognition is neither new nor old. Hence, there is an argument in the teaching of all Arhats. In this sense, the teachings are eternal and universal and hence impersonal. Thus, the line of demarcation between personal and impersonal authorship of the scripture give way to a reconciliation. A prophetic utterance, in the sense, it is eternal and universal, is impersonal; however, since it comes from the mouth of a historical person, it is personal. Freeindia > Great Indian Scriptures > Jaina Agamas And Indian Culture
Agama and its Interpretation - The statement of a trust-worthy person is said to be Agama. Otherwise, words themselves are inert, lifeless and even ambiguous. Hence, the validity of Sabda rests with the person who uses them. Hence the interpretation of the Agamas depend both upon the Speaker and also upon the Audience. So far, the speakership of the Agamas is concerned, it is held to be the direct sermons of the Omniscient Lord, which have been compiled and codified by their chief disciples called Ganadhara. So far the interpretation of the Agamas from the point of view of the audience is concerned, it should be clearly noted that a certain amount of intellectual ability and moral preparation is needed for the appropriate grasp of the subject matter. In absence of such a preparation, the same Agama admits of different and even conflicting interpretations about one and the same subject, like the different interpretations of the Brahma-Sutra and the Bhagavad-Gita. The Jaina Agamas are the sermons of the Tirthankaras which have been correctly reported by the Sruta-kevalin and the Ganadhara, who are also supposed to be Sruta-kevalin and the Ganadhara, who are also supposed to be omniscient and also above all desires of love and hate, hence the validity of the Jaina Agamas is doubly raised because both the Source as well as the Course of the Agamas are pure.

The Place of Samayika - There are three distinctive contributions of Jainism to Indian Culture - Equality (Sama), Self-control (Sama) and Dignity of labor (Srama). Equality or Samayika is said to be the heart of Jainism. In the Jaina religious scripture, Dvadasang or in the 14th Purva, the place of Samayika is the first and foremost among the six daily duties. Without the practice of Samayika or equality, there is no hope for any religious or spiritual realization. When a householder accepts the Jaina religion, he solemnly pledges to abide by the principle of equality. The whole of Visesavasyaka-bhasya of Jinabhadra Gani is an exposition of this principle of Samayika. The three jewels of Jainism, i.e. Right Faith, Right Knowledge and Right Conduct depend upon the principle of equality. The Gita calls it the inner poise or the evenness of mind (Samatvam), or equal mindedness (Sama Cittatvam or Samata) and such a man who attains this is called seer with an equal eye (Samadarsinah or Sarvatra-sama-darsana). This principle of equality must be reflected both in thought and action. In thought it is the principle of Anekanta, in action it is the principle of Ahimsa.

(a) Anekanta - Anekanta is the application of the principle of equality in the sphere of thought. Thus it is not a philosophy but a philosophical standpoint just as there is the Advaitic standpoint of Sankara and the standpoint of the Middle path of the Buddhists. Anekanta literally means non-absolution. Though the Anekanta Period in Jaina philosophical literature comes after the end of the Agamic period, the genesis of the Anekantic idea is already present in the Agamic literature. The famous Bhagavati Sutra refers to the important and interesting dreams that Lord Mahavira had just before attained Keval-jnana. In one of the dreams, there is reference to 'multi-faced' or 'multi-colored' (citra-vicitra) wings of Pansakholi which symbolizes the multi-faced reality. Freeindia > Great Indian Scriptures > Jaina Agamas And Indian Culture
The Buddhist also have their doctrine of Vibhajyavada or 'conditional expressions', which means that they discard one-sided view (ekansavada). However, the Buddhists believed in Vibhajyavada to a limited extent, where as the Jainas believe it to the full extent, so that it was finally developed into the Theory of Non-absolutism (Anekantavada). In Buddhism, Vibhajya means division and Vibhajya Vyakarniya means answering a question by diving. While the Buddhists attribute the divergent attributes at the same time with regard to two different things, the genius of the Jainas is reflected in attributing the different attributes in the one and the same subject, of course, the contexts are different. This leads to the organon of Sapta-bhangi and the multi-valued logic of Syadvada. Even in the Vedas and Upanisads, the description of the reality is in terms of contradictory attributes, like real and unreal, mobile and immobile. Nasadiya Sukta, therefore, avoids to describe the reality either as real or unreal. Thus Anekanta seems to be a dynamic of thought-reconciliation, through which we find an attempt at synthesis between apparently contradictory attributes of eternality and non-eternity of the world or finiteness or infiniteness of the Jiva or difference or non-difference between the body and the soul. Anekanta however, should not be understood to mean that reality is contradictory. It simply means that it has innumerable number of aspects and attributes which can be thoroughly comprehended only when we can put all of them together. This is ideal of perfection, which can be attained only when we become an omniscient. However, we can have the knowledge of one or other aspect if we are free from prejudice and bias. Thus, on the one hand it has its ideal of finality of knowledge, in reality it aims at aspectal knowledge or naya. As a corollary, we have to be cautious in our speech. Lord Mahavira explained every problem with the help of Siyavaya or Syadvada. Absolutism in speech and language is as bad as absolutism in thought. The Agamic stress on Anekanta and Syadvada is due to its great adherence to Ahimsa. Anekantavada or Syadvada is extension of the principle of Ahimsa on intellectual level. Jainas think that without non-violence in thought, non-violence in practice is impossible.

(b) Ahimsa - Ahimsa follows as a logical corollary from the principle of Equality (Samya) of souls. The inequalities of physical and mental abilities are only accidental and they are due to the Karmas. How, since 'life is dear to all and since everything has hot life', we have to accept the principle of Ahimsa as an important means of spiritual realization. To the Sramanic cult of Jainism, the means are as important as the ends. Our end is no doubt self-realization or Moksa. Now, this self-realization is impossible without the love of self and this love of self is nothing other than Ahimsa, since self resides in everything. Jainism looks upon the whole world as filled with life. Nothing is fallow or sterile, nothing is dead and inert. What to speak of living beings, even plants and every portion of matter have got life. Hence, respect for life is a spiritual act, it is a law of our being. If we forget it, life becomes well nigh impossible. 'As we feel our pain, so we must feel the pain of others', says the Acaranga. The same truth is stated in Dasvaikalika where it is clearly said that 'all beings desire to live, none want to die'. All our religions accept Ahimsa as a virtue but Jainas have worked out a complete philosophy of non-violence, hence here Ahimsa is more due to rational consideration than emotional as we find in Buddhism and Christianity. The Jaina Ahimsa, embraced the whole universe and is not restricted to humanity. There we can find that Advaita Vedanta and others admit oneness of soul and practically removes the ground of mistrust and violence, which are the result of duality.

Nivarttaka Dharma - Ahimsa together with Aparigraha constitute the ethical wholeness of self-control or self-restraint in social relationship, self-control is the foundation of a higher moral life as in individual life, it is the basis of higher spiritual life. Except for the Mimamsakas, who believe in heaven etc. all the Vedic and non-Vedic systems adopt Moksa as the Summum Bonum of life, which is a state of cessation of the wheels of existence. It is happiness (Sreya) rather than pleasure (Preya) which is the goal of life. Thus self-purification (Atma-suddhi) and not the acquisition of any earthly or heavenly pleasures, which is the aim of life. The obstacles in the forms of delusion, ignorance and craving must be rooted out by practicing the different vows or Vratas, throughout life. Hence, the agency is emphasized. In short, all these constitute the Nivarttaka Dharma or world-withdrawing religion, which is said to be the heart of Jainism. It is bound to be individualistic, world-withdrawing and self-negating. Emphasis on renunciation, asceticism, penances etc. in the account of Sadhana given in the Acaranga is literally soul-stirring. Like Buddha, Mahavira also presented a gloomy picture of the world. 'The living world is afflicted, miserable' - thus begins the second lecture of the first book of Acaranga. Freeindia > Great Indian Scriptures > Tripitaka

The Buddhist Canon is traditionally divided into different parts, as expressed in the word Tripitaka, which has the meaning "Three baskets", i.e. the sutras, sastras and the vinaya.

The three divisions of the Tipitaka are:

Vinaya Pitaka

The collection of texts concerning the rules of conduct governing the daily affairs within the Sangha -- the community of bhikkhus (ordained monks) and bhikkhunis (ordained nuns). Far more than merely a list of rules, the Vinaya Pitaka also includes the stories behind the origin of each rule, providing a detailed account of the Buddha's solution to the question of how to maintain communal harmony within a large and diverse spiritual community.

Sutta Pitaka

The collection of discourses, attributed to the Buddha and a few of his closest disciples, containing all the central teachings of Theravada Buddhism. (Over 500 sutta translations are available here.)

Abhidhamma Pitaka

The collection of texts in which the underlying doctrinal principles presented in the Sutta Pitaka are reworked and reorganized into a systematic framework that can be applied to an investigation into the nature of mind and matter.

Pali Canon, is the collection of primary Pali language texts which form the doctrinal foundation of Theravada Buddhism. Freeindia > Great Indian Scriptures > Sri Guru Granth Sahib
Sri Guru Granth Sahib

The Guru Granth Sahib (also known as the Adi Granth) is truely unique among the world's great criptures. It is considered the Supreme Spiritual Authority and Head of the Sikh religion, rather than any living person. It is also the only scripture of it's kind which not only contains the works of it's own religious founders but also writings of people from other faiths. The living Guru of the Sikhs, the book is held in great reverence by Sikhs and treated with the utmost respect. Sikhism rejects idol worship, so the Guru Granth Sahib is not worshipped as an idol, but rather emphasis is placed on respect of the book for the writings which appear within. Guru Granth Sahib is a collection of devotional hymns and poetry which proclaims God, lays stress on meditation on the True Guru (God), and lays down moral and ethical rules for development of the soul, spiritual salvation and unity with God.

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Published on: 2003-01-31 (33153 reads)

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