Narach Philosophy

JAINISM AND OTHER SYSTEMS OF RELIGION


We have explained that the whole range of Jaina thought is outside the scope of Vaisnavism, and so there is nothing in common between them. But we have pointed out that Vishnu is regarded as the sole supreme Creator of the universe, and so he is the creator of Prakrti, the creator of Jainism, itself. It is in this special sense that the two systems can meet. Further, we have explained that as pure Vedanta is monistic in respect of God, so is pure Sankhya in respect of Nature or Prakrti; and this is a further point of contact between them.

Corresponding to this we find little connection between Vaisnavism and Jainism in the Sacred Books; and it is only in a later development that "we find divisions of Jainas into Vaisnavas and non-Vaisnavas".

Jainism, Saivism and Brahmism: We have already examined the connection between Saivism and Jainism, and Saivism and Brahmism, and shown the points of contact and conflict between them.

Jainism and Buddhism: We have shown that Jainism and Buddhism are but two divisions of the same system of thought, and the connection between them has already been explained.

Jaina Tantra: The idea of the Tantra extends from the Mind to the senses of knowledge and action, and of Jainism from the senses of knowledge to the senses of action. Hence Jainism must have its own Tantra like other systems of religion. Only, as the Jaina idea does not extend to the character of the Mind, with its union of Purusha and Prakrti in the creation of life, we should not expect to find in the Jaina Tantra a close physical association of gods and goddesses as in other systems. Jainism holds that either there is no place for Purusha or, if he exists, he is only a spectator of the work of Prakti. Hence Sakti (Prakrti) should be worshipped as a goddess in the Jaina Tantra; and gods should be represented either as recumbent or inert as in the corresponding case of Buddhism and Saivism.

The Jainas are enjoined to maintain that gods and goddesses exist and Mahavira, the celebrated founder of this religion, is pictured as surrounded by them. But the true Jaina is required to abstain from all sexual association with women. Thus we do not find in the Jaina Tantra the same intimate association with women as in the Hindu and Buddhist counterparts. "Goddesses are praised in hymns and represented in temples, but do not receive worship and there is no foul ritual".

Hindu, Buddhist, and Jaina Goddesses: We have explained that Saivism, Buddhism, and Jainism meet in. the region of the senses of knowledge, holding more or less that God is a mere spectator of the work of Prakrti. Hence we should find a number of goddesses common to all these religions. On the other hand there is no common ground between Vaisnavism and Jainism, except that the former is monistic in regard to the supreme Purusha, and the latter in regard to Prakrti, and so the supreme Prakti of the Jainas may, in some cases, be identified with that of Vishnu; for the latter, created out of Vishnu is still his Prakrti in the fullest sense, and possesses all the creative power that the Sankhya would assign to it. Thus, while we might expect to find a number of goddesses common to Saivism, Buddhism, and Jainism, there would be only a few instances where a Vaisnava goddess is identified with a Jaina one.

Thus we find that Tara is a great Buddhist goddess as well as a Jaina Sakti. Padma is the name of the mother of an Arhat as well as of a Matr or divine mother of the Hindus. Devi is identified with Savitri, the wife of Brahma, as well as Durga, the consort of Siva, and she is also the mother of a Jaina Arhat. Similarly Kalika is a form of Durga or Kali, and an attendant of the fourth Arhat; (Santa is the name of a Hindu Sakti and a goddess who executes the commands of the seventh Arhat; and Gaumukhi is an attendant of the first Jaina Arhat as well as a Sakti of Saiva and Buddhist Tantra and Ambika, one of the chief goddesses of the Jainas, is identified with Parvati, the consort of Mahadeva. But in none of these cases, connected with the Jaina deities, do we get the same close association of the male and the female as in the Saiva or Buddhist Tantra. Indeed except in some instances, where the goddess is a Sakti, she is conceived of either as a mother or an attendant of a Jaina Arhat, not his wife. Further we notice that, while a number of Saktis of Siva are common to the Jainas, the Saktis of Vishnu are, for the most part, different. Laksmi, the consort of Vishnu, is, indeed, called Padma, the mother of an Arhat; but it may be of interest to note that Padma is not the name of Laksmi; the latter is only so called because she is said to bear a lotus (Padma) in her hand.