From Religious Books:

Twelve Contemplations (ANUPREKSHA)
Based on Acharya Hem Chandra's YOGASHASTRA

by Manish Modi, Bombay, India

 

Self-restraint, conscientiousness, virtue, contemplation, endurance of suffering and proper conduct lead to stoppage of karma. Penance leads to both, stoppage and shedding of karma.

- Acharya Umaswati in TATTVAARTH SUTRA

 

Our life is a sustained pursuit of happiness. The key to happiness is equanimity (SAAMYA) &endash; the quality of remaining calm under a variety of circumstances. Equanimity is attained through non-attachment (NIRMAMATVA). Eliminating aversion is not enough for attaining equanimity. To attain equanimity, one has to give up attachment as well. Further, equanimity is imbibed through twelve contemplations (DWAADASHA ANUPREKSHA). Acharya Hem Chandra presents this concept in the following words:

SAAMYA SYAT NIRMAMATVEN TATKRITE BHAAVANA SHRAYET

ANITYATAASHARANABHAVAMEKATVAMANYATAAM


ASHAUCHAMAASHRAVAVIDHIM SAMVARAM KARMANIRJARAAM

DHARMASWAKHYAATATAAM LOKAM DWAADASHIM BODHIBHAAVANAAM

Equanimity comes from non-attachment which, in turn, is cultivated through contemplation on the following twelve facets of reality:

1. Impermanence

2. Helplessness

3. Transmigration

4. Solitariness

5. Distinctness

6. Impurity of body

7. Influx of karma

8. Stoppage of karmic influx

9. Shedding of karma

10. Auspiciousness of virtuous conduct

11. Nature of the universe

12. Difficulty in attaining enlightenment

These twelve contemplations help us realize the aspects of reality relating to our worldly existence. Thus they help us to accept the reality and learn to face the trials and tribulations of our mundane life. Consequently, we attain contentment and happiness in life. They also put us on the path to liberation. According to the Jain theory of karma, our activities of body, speech and mind (YOGA) and passions of anger, pride, deceit and greed lead to influx and bondage of karmas. Contemplations help us to regulate our physical and mental activities, and to minimize our passions. Thus contemplations cause the stoppage of karmic influx (SAMVAR).

The first three facets of reality, impermanence, helplessness and transmigration, relate to the nature of the universe; the next three facets, solitariness, distinctness and impurity of body, describe the relationship between the body and the soul; the next three, influx, stoppage and shedding of karmic matter, describe the relationship between soul and karma; while the last three present the concepts of religion.

 

Acharya Hem Chandra describes the twelve contemplations in detail in the following couplets:

1. Impermanence:

Nothing in this universe is permanent; such is the nature of the universe. This is presented by Acharya Hem Chandra in the following three couplets:

YATPRAATASTANN MADHYAAHNE YANMADHYAAHNE NA TANNISHI

NIREEKSHYATE BHAVEASMIN H I PADAARTHAANAAMANITYATA

What is seen in the morning is not visible in the afternoon. What we see in the afternoon is not visible at night. Everybody observes that all substances in the universe are impermanent.

SHAREERAM DEHINAAM SARV-PURUSHAARTH-NIBANDHANAM

PRACHAND-PAVANODDHOOT-GHANAAGHAN-VINASHVRAM

The bodies of all living beings enable them to perform various worldly activities. However, the body of a living being perishes too, like the clouds that are blown across the skies by strong gusts of wind.

KALLOL-CHAPALA LAKSHMEEH SANGAMAAH SWAPNASANNIBHAAH

VAATYA-VYTIKAROTKSHIPTATOOL TULYAM CHA YAUVANAM

Wealth is inconstant, always moving like the waves on the surface of water; the presence of our loved ones is also temporary; and youth is as transient as the open flame of a lamp exposed to the wind.

The concept of impermanence implies that we suffer from the constraints of time. It intimates that old age and death are inevitable. Wealth, means of comfort and the company of loved ones are also impermanent. Death is bound to separate us from all these. Reflecting on these facts comprises contemplation pertaining to impermanence.

ITYANITYAM JAGADVRITTAM STHIRCHITTAH PRATIKSHANAM

TRISHNAAKRISHNAAHIMANTRAAYA NIRMAMATVAAYA CHINTAYET

Hence we must incessantly ponder over the impermanence of everything in order to overcome the venomous snake of possessiveness and to imbibe the feelings of non-attachment.

2. Helplessness:

INDROPENDRAADAYOPYETE YANMRITYORYAANTI GOCHARAM

AHO TADANTAKAATANKE KAH SHARANYAH SHAREERINAAM?

Even the most powerful humans and heavenly beings cannot escape death. Who can protect a living being from death? Even gods and goddesses cannot protect us from it.

PITURMAATUH SWASURBHRAATUSTANAYAANAAM CHA PASHYATAAM

ATRAANO NEEYATE JANTUH KARMABHIRYAMASADMANI

Ultimately, in spite of the presence of parents, family members and relatives, death whisks us away. No one can protect us at that time. In reality, all living beings assume various incarnations in accordance with their own karmas.

SHOCHANTI SWAJANAANATAM NEEYAMAANAAN SWAKARMABHIH

NESHYAMAANAM TU SHOCHANTI NAATMAANAM MOODHHABUDHAYAH

Deluded persons, who do not understand the nature of reality, grieve at the death of loved ones but do not stop to think that their own death is imminent.

SAMSAARE DUKKHADAAVAAGNI JWALAJJWAALAKARAALITE

VANE MRIGAARBHAKASYEV SHARANAM NAASTI DEHINAH

Just as a young deer engulfed in a wildfire is helpless, so is a living being, engulfed in suffering and misery in this world.

Such is the nature of reality! The most intelligent and powerful men cannot conquer death. Death is certain. The greatest physicians and surgeons cannot prevent it. Rather than worrying about it, we must realize the impermanence of this world and accept the realities of life.

3. Transmigration:

SHROTRIYAH SHWAPACHAH SWAMI PATTIRBRHMA KRIMISHCHA SAH

SAMSAARE NAATYATE NATWAT SAMSAARI HANT CHESHTATE

Lamentably, the world is like a stage where, in various incarnations, a worldly soul assumes various roles such as that of a scholar, an undertaker, a servant and an insect.

NA YAATI KATAMAAM YONI KATAMAAM VA NA MUNCHATI

SAMSAARI KARMASAMBANDHAADAVAKRAYA KUTEEMIV

Souls in transmigration, impelled by karmic forces, take just about any life form. Our bodies are like houses for our souls, rented for different periods of time. We go through endless cycles of birth and death, going essentially nowhere.

Our worldly existence is full of grief. We cannot change this aspect of reality regarding our worldly existence. Hence it is vital to rid our souls of karmas. This can be achieved through equanimity &endash; by accepting material pleasures and pain as part of life and maintaining a composed mental state.

4. Solitariness:

EIK UTPADYATE JANTUREK EIV VIPADYATE

KARMAANYANUBHAVATYEKAH PRACHITAANI BHAVAANTARE

Each individual is born alone and dies alone. The self is responsible for one's thoughts, actions and deeds and shall suffer the consequences thereof.

ANYAISTENAARJITAM VITTAM BHOOYAH SAMBHOOYA BHAJYATE

SA TVEKO NARAKAKRODE KLISHYATE NIJAKARMABHIH

We may indulge in passions and earn large sums of money through unfair means, and our family members and dependents may reap the benefits of our earnings. Nevertheless, only we ourselves are responsible for our improper thoughts and deeds.

Every individual soul is independent and entirely responsible for its actions. The self is lonely in this respect. Our relationships arise from our physical existence and not from our souls. In the vast ocean of transmigration, each soul has to swim alone. This is the essence of the contemplation on solitariness.

5. Distinctness:

YATRAANYATVAM SHAREERASYA VAISAADRISHYAACHCHHAREERINAH

DHAN-BANDHU-SAHAAYAANAAM TATRAANYATVAM NA DURVACHAM

Soul is invisible, permanent and abstract while body is material and perishable. Thus the body and soul are different, distinct and separate. Soul does not perish upon the death of a living being while the body does. In view of these facts, wealth, parents, friends, relatives and servants that appear to support us are different from the soul.

YO DEH-DHAN-BANDHUBHYO BHINNAMAATMAANMEEKSHATE

KVA SHOKASHANKUNA TASYA HANTAATANKAH PRATANYATE

If we realize that our souls are separate from relations and worldly possessions, then we will not be disquieted by their loss.

This concept of distinctness implies that the soul is distinct from the body, relatives and material wealth. In reality, it is also distinct from activities that cause the bondage of karma because such activities are aberrations of the innate attributes of soul. We should not feel that our souls are being hurt when our bodies are hurt. We should understand that a material loss is insignificant because it is not a loss of spirit. The day we realize this distinction and begin to distinguish between our soul and worldly attachments, we will attain peace of mind and genuine happiness.

6. Impurity of body:

RASAASRIGMAANSAMEDOSTHIMAJJAASHUKRAANTRAVARCHASAAM

ASHUCHEENAM PADAM KAAY SHUCHITVAM TASYA TAT KUTAH?

The physiological processes in the body convert food into substances like blood, muscles, bone and excretory matter. Thus the body is home to various waste products. In this sense the body is unclean.

NAVASROTAH SHRAVADAVISRARASANIH SYANDAPICHCHHILE

DEHEPI SHAUCHSANKALPO MAHANMOHAVIJRIMBHITAM

The various organs of the body discharge waste products. It is a consequence of deep delusion that we consider our bodies to be pure.

No amount of bathing and cleansing can give the body a lasting cleanliness. We have the feeling of 'mineness' and so we improperly feel attachment to the body. The proper attitude consists in considering the body as a vehicle for spiritual advancement.

7. Influx of karma:

The soul is like a boat. Activities generating attachment/aversion serve to fill this boat with karmic materials. This is the process of influx of karmic matter.

MANOVAAKKAAYAKARMAANI YOGAAH KARM SHUBHAASHUBHAM

YADAASHRAVANTI JANTOONAAMAASHRAVAASTEN KEERTITAAH

Activities of mind, speech and body are known as YOGA. YOGA, under the influence of past karmas, causes the influx of merit (good karma) and demerit (bad karma).

This faculty comes into play on account of the embodied state of a worldly soul. It should be pointed out that in the final analysis all karmic influx is undesirable.

MAITRYAADIVASITAM CHET KARMA SOOTE SHUBHAATMAKAM

KASHAAY-VISHAYAAKRAANTAM VITANOTYASHUBHAM MANAH

Feelings of friendship ( ) for all, appreciation ( ) of the virtues of others, compassion ( ) for all living beings and indifference ( ) towards those who have opposing views causes the influx of good karma. Indulgence in the passions of anger, pride, deceit and greed brings bad karma.

8. Stoppage of karmic influx:

SARVESHAAMAASRAVAANAAM TU NIRODHAH SAMVARAH SMRITAH

SA PUNARBHIDYATE DWEDHA DRAVYABHAAVAVIBHEDATAH

The stoppage of all karmic inflow, good as well as bad, is known as SAMVAR. Stoppage of karmic influx is of two kinds: physical and abstract.

YAH KARMAPUDGALAADAANACHCHHEDAH SA DRAVYASAMVARAH

BHAVAHETUKRIYA-TYAAGAH SA PUNARBHAAVASAMVARAH

The stoppage of flow of material karmas is physical SAMVAR and cessation of mental activities causing the physical influx is called abstract SAMVAR. Both kinds of stoppage can be total or partial. It should be pointed out that total stoppage of karmic influx is possible only for omniscient AYOG KEVALIs who are beyond YOGA.

Feelings of desire, attachment and aversion bring karmic particles towards a soul. In the absence of such feelings, no karmas approach the soul. This is complete stoppage of influx. As pointed out in the beginning, the twelve contemplations lead to stoppage of influx of karmic particles.

9. Shedding of karma:

SAMSAARABEEJABHOOTAANAAM KARMANAAM JARANAADIH

NIRJARAA SA SMRITA DWEDHA SAKAAMAAKAAMAVARJITA

Separation of karmic particles, the root cause of transmigration, from the soul is known as shedding of karmas. It is of two kinds: intentional (SAKAAM) and inadvertent (AKAAM).

JNEYA SAKAAMA YAMINAAM AKAAMA TVANYADEHINAAM

KARMANA FALVATPAAKO YADUPAAYAAT SWATOPI HI

According to the Jain theory of karma, the karmic particles are shed by a soul after fruition. This kind of shedding of karma is inadvertent (AKAAM). It serves little purpose. It is intentional (SAKAAM) shedding of karmic matter which is purposeful. Intentional shedding of karmas is brought about through the practice of austerities. Internal and external penances (TAPAH) are instrumental in intentional shedding of karma.

10. Auspiciousness of virtuous conduct (DHARM):

SWAAKHYAATAH KHALU DHARMOYAM BHAGAWADBHIRJINOTTAMAIH

YAN SAMAALAMBAMAANO HI NA MAJJED BHAVASAAGARE

The auspicious path of virtues (DHARM ) propounded by venerable JINs, who have conquered their passions, enables souls to cross the ocean of worldly miseries.

SANYAMAH SOONRITAM SHAUCHAM BRAHMAAKINCHANTA TAPAH

KSHAANTIRMAARDAVAMRIJUTA MUKTISHCHA DASHADHA SA TU

This tenfold virtuous conduct consists of self-control (SANYAM), truth (SATYA), cleanliness of thoughts and feelings (SHAUCH), purity of body and mind (BRAHMACHARYA), non-attachment (AKINCHAN), penance (TAPAH), forgiveness (KSHAMA), modesty (MAARDAV), straightforwardness (RIJUTA) and non-possessiveness (NIRLOBHATA).

DHARMAPRABHAVTAH KALPADRUMAADYA DADATEEPSITAM

GOCHAAREPI NA TE YATSYURDHARMAADHISHTHITAATMNAAM

Virtuous conduct (DHARM) is like the mythical tree that fulfills one's wishes (KALPAVRIKSHA) and leads individuals to the ultimate goal &endash; genuine happiness and salvation.

APAARE VYASANAAMBHODHAU PATANTAM PAATI DEHINAM

SADA SAVIDHAVATRYEK-BANDHURDHARMOTIVATSALAH

Virtuous conduct (DHARM) prevent individuals from falling deep into misery. It is like a truly compassionate friend who never forsakes us.

DHARMO NARAKAPAATAAL-PAATAADAVATI DEHINAH

DHARMO NIRUPAMAM YACHCHHATYAPI SARVAJNAVAIBHAVAM

Virtuous conduct (DHARM) rescues worldly beings from the grievous hellish existence. It helps individuals to attain the supreme state of omniscience.

11. Nature of the universe:

KATISTHAKARAVAISHAAKH-STHAANAKASYA-NARAAKRITIM

DRAVYAIH POORNAM SMARELLOKAM STHITYUTPATTI-VYAYAATMAKAIH

Jains traditionally hold the view that the physical universe is in the shape of a man standing with his legs apart and with his hands on the hips. The universe consists of entities that evolve continuously according to their intrinsic attributes. New phases appear (UTPAAD) and old ones disappear (VYAYA) but the basic entity remains unchanged (DHRAUVYA).

NISHPAADITO NA KENAAPI NA DHRITAH KENACHICHCH SAH

SWAYAMSIDDHO NIRADHAARO GAGANE KIMTVAVASTHITAH

The universe has not been created by any human or superhuman being. It is not being supported by anyone. As indicated above, the universe evolves according to its intrinsic attributes. Regardless of the shape of the universe, this Jain concept of evolution of universe is uniquely significant.

12. Difficulty in attaining enlightenment:

MAANUSHYAMAARYADESHASHCHA JAATIH SARVAAKSHAPAATAVAM

AYUSHCHA PRAAPYATE TATRA KATHANCHITKARMALAAGHAVAAT


PRAAPTESHU PUNYATAH SHRIDDHA-KATHAKASHRAVANESHWAPI

TATVANISHCHAYAROOPAM TAD BODHIRATNAM SUDURLABHAM

According to Jainism, of all living beings, only humans have the most control over their lives. Hence only humans have the ability to attain enlightenment. A soul has to acquire a human life, properly developed senses and a long life to attain enlightenment. Additionally, one has to have favorable environment and circumstances such as proper attitude, education and support. All these result from one's good karma, past as well as present. Moreover, one has to be unbiased and open-minded in order to embrace rationalism. This shows that rational perception and knowledge are hard to attain.

 

Importance of the twelve contemplations:

BHAAVANAABHIRAVISHRAANTAMITI BHAAVITAMAANASAH

NIRMAMAH SARVABHAAVESHU SAMATVAMAVALAMBATE

Those who perform these twelve contemplations incessantly, rid themselves of attachment to the material world and attain equanimity. This is the key to contentment and happiness in life.

 

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Religion (as it is commonly practiced) is like a cart being pulled by people having blind faith, which is driven by rich people, and, which is ridden by religious leaders.

- Dr. Rajesh Agrawal, in the Hindi article 'Kar ki Bachat bhi, Punya ke Bhagidaar bhi '
(Tax-saving Plus Influx of Beneficial Karma)

 

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