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of Sramana System
Brahmanas were dominant in society during the period of the Nigantha
Nataputta and the Buddha. Their ritualism was represented by the
priest who "vigorously claimed that the welfare and, indeed,
the very existence of the world, including even the gods, depended
upon the maintenance of their systems of sacrifice, which grew to
immense size and complexity."1 Their "rites and ceremonies
multiplied and absorbed man's mind to a degree unparalleled in the
history of the world and literature occupied itself with the
description or discussion of the dreary ceremonial."2
Brahmanical religious system had its beginning in early Vedic
literature. The term Brahmana is derived from the root brh
to grow, expand, evolve, develop, swell the spirit or soul.3 The
priests, who were the custodians of such prayers, assumed a very
high degree of spiritual supremacy in Vedic society and were
considered to be the very progeny of Prajapati, the creator - God (Brahmano
viprasya Prajapaterva a patymiti Brahmano). For the sole purpose
of preserving spiritual leadership the Brahmanas evolved a system of
very elaborate sacrifices. These sacrifices were considered to be
eternal and even the creation of the world was believed to be the
result of a sacrifice. The rites were performed both to gain worldly
enjoyment and to injure one's enemies.
later Vedic literature the value of the actual sacrifices was
transferred to their symbolic representation and to meditation on
them.4 Later on, Upanisadic thinkers observed that the nature of
soul could be described only in negative terms; the atman
was said to be neither this nor that (neti
neti), and was regarded as free from sin, old age, death, grief,
hunger, and thirst. Its desires were true. Its cognitions were true.
A man who knows such atman gets all his desires and all worlds.5 The
soul or Brahman pervaded all objects of the universe. The universe
has come out of Brahman.
"we find the simple faith and devotion of the Vedic hymns, on
the one hand, being sup planted by the growth of a complex system of
sacrificial rites, and on the other, bending their course towards a
mon otheistic or philosophic knowledge of the ultimate reality of
social outlook and the goal of life of the Vedic system were based
on the caste system. The so-called Sudras, the lower community, were
considered ineligible to perform spiritual rites.7
prevailed, at that time, another stream of cultural current which
was quite independent of the Brahmanical or Vedic current and,
probably older than it.
word Sramana is derived
from "Sram" to exert effort, labour, or to perform
austerity, but is mixed in meaning with Sam
a wandered, recluse8. One who performs acts of mortification or
austerity is called Sramana (Sramayati
Sramana cultural system was based on equality. According to it, a
being is himself responsible for his own deeds. Salvation,
therefore, can be obtained by anybody. The cycle of rebirth to which
every individual was subjected was viewed as the cause and
substratum of misery. The goal of every person was to evolve a way
to escape from the cycle of rebirth. Each school of Sramanas
preached its own way of salvation. But they all agreed in one
respect, namely, in discounting ritual as a means of emancipation
and establishing a path of moral, mental and spiritual development
as the only means of escaping from the misery of sam
the Vedic cultural system differs from Sramana cultural system in
three respects; viz. (a) attitude to society, (b) goal of life, and
(c) outlook towards living creatures. Consequently, both these cults
were so opposed to each other that Panini and Patanjali referred to
them as having Sasvat-virodha
origin of the Saramana cultural system
are two principal theories in regard to the origin of the Sramana
cult : according to one (i) It is more or less a protest against the
orthodox Vedic cult, and, according to the other (ii) It is of an
independent origion. The first theory, though supported by
Winternitz, Rhys David, E. Leunman etc., is no longer accepted by
the majority of Jain scholars.12
the survey of various theories about the origin of the Sramana
cultural system Deo came to the conclusion that each of them
stresses a particular aspect, such as, (i) Ksatriya protest, (ii)
Organised sophistic wanderers, (iii) The qualities of the
Brahmacarin, (iv) Copy of the Brahmanical rules for sanyasa, and (v)
The existence of Magadhan religion in the eastern part of India. All
these factors, he says, "helped the formation of the great
wandering community of the Sramanas.
But Deo places greater emphasis on the Ksatriya protest against the
Brahmanical sacrifices. He says "The Sramanas did reveal anti-Brahmanical
feelings as they were dissatisfied with the degenerated Brahmin
this conclusion is not altogether correct, since we find very strong
evidence, both literary and archeological, which proves, beyond
doubt, that the Sramana cultural system as practised by the Jainas
or the so-called Vratyas14
of Vedic literature, existed prior to Brahmanism. The great
antiquity of the Sramana religious system has received less
attention from scholars due to the fact that in historical times the
Brahmana cult appeared to be more influential and widespread. The
emergence of the Sramana cultural system at this time was only a
revival of an ancient religious system. This gaining of influence
had been made possible through protests against the ritualism of the
Brahmanas. That is why some scholars assumed the origin of Sramana
cultural system to be a result of the protest against the
Sramanas (Samana in Pali) are classified in various ways. The Sutta
Nipata refers to four kinds, viz. the Maggajinas,
Maggadesakas or Maggadesins,
Maggajivinas, and the Maggadusins15.
Disputes arose among them16 and a number of philosophical schools
had already arisen by the time of the Buddha. These schools are
generally designated as Ditthi17.
The sixty-two wrong views (Micchaditthi) referred to by the Buddha
in the Brahmajalasutta
represent the teachings of such schools.
the same work, Sramanas are called disputatious (vadasila18), and
are classified under three headings, viz. Titthiyas,
Ajivikas, and the Niganthas.
These were recognised as rivals of Buddhism. The Tamil tradition
also observed the same classification, viz. Anuvadins
(Pakudha Keccayana's sect), Ajivikas,
and the Jainas19.
Thananga20, a Svetambara
Jain canonical work, gives as many as five divisions of the Samana
class, viz. Nigantha, Sakka,
Tavasa, Geruya, and Ajiva.
Here Sakka means the Buddhist, and Ajiva means the Ajivika, the
followers of Makkhali Gosalaka. No accounts are found regarding the
Geruya who wore red clothes and Tavasa who were Jatadhari and lived
in forest21. The Ajivakas are no more. Only the Niganthas and the
Buddhists have survived the vicissitudes of history.
features of the Sramanas
Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms defines Sramana as follows:
"Ascetics of all kinds: the Samanai or Samanaoi or Germanai of
the Greeks, perhaps identical also with the Tungusian Samana or
Sramana." Further it presents the common features of Sramana:
"He must keep well the truth, guard well every uprising (of
desires), be uncontaminated by outward attractions, be merciful to
all and impure to none, be not allotted to joy nor harrowed by
distress, and able to bear whatever may come."
Buddha also says that to be Acelaka (naked) is not the only
characteristic of a real Samana. According to him the real Sramana
is he who has got rid of covetousness, ignorance, and mastered the
four Bhavanas, viz. Friendliness, Compassion, sympathetic joy and
equanimity22. At another place he says : "The real Samana is he
who has acquired a perfectly purified conduct in speech, thought and
mode of living, by controlling the sense organs, moderation in
eating, being intent on vigilence, being possessed of mindfulness,
and clear consciousness, remote lodging in forests to get rid of
doubt, getting rid of the five hindrances and being aloof from
pleasures of the senses he enters on the four meditations one by
these references indicate clearly that the Sramana is characterised
in Buddhist literature, as an ordinary monk belonging to any sect
except perhaps to Brahmanas. Aiya-swami Shastri24 collected some
common features of such religious communities from Tamil literature
which are as follows:--
They challenged the authority of the Vedas.
They admitted into their church all members of the community
irrespective of their social rank and religious career (Varna and
They observed a set of ethical principles.
They practised a detatched life with a view to liberating themselves
from worldly life etc.
They could take to a life of renunciation (pravrajya) on reaching
Deo25 refers to some of the features of monastic conduct which were
common to all these communities. They are as follows :--
The members of such groups gave up worldly life, and severing all
contact with the society, they wandered as homeless persons.
Being least dependent on society, they maintained themselves by
Having no home, they led a wandering life, staying, however, at one
place in the rainy season in order to avoid injury to living beings.
Lastly, they seemed to acknowledge no cast barriers, and hence
consisted of various elements of the society.
Samavayanga refers to the
ten types of conduct which should be followed by the Samanas. They
are as follows: ksanti, mukti,
arjava, mardava, laghava, satya, samyama, tapa, tyaga and brahmacariyavasa.
At another place, some other types of conduct has been mentioned,
sruta, bhaktipana, anjalipragraha, dana, nimantrana, abhyutthana,
krtikarma, vaiyavrtya, samavasarana-sammilana, samnisadya, and
the Anguttara Nikaya28
the Buddha mentions three pursuits for a Bhikku: (i) training in the
higher morality, (ii) higher thought, and (iii) higher insight. He
then says that a monk must follow these pursuits with keeness;
otherwise his presence in the order will be like that of an ass in a
herd of cattle.
in Buddhist literature
Buddhist literature all ascetics or wandering sects are referred to
by the name Samana. Sometimes they are also designaed Titthiya,
Paribbajaka, Acelaka, Mundasavaka, Tedandika, Magandika, Aviruddhaka,
Jatilaka, Gotamaka, Maggadesin, Maggadusin. The sixty-two wrong
views (Micchaditthi) of the Brahmajala
Sutta29 and three hundred and sixty-three views of the Sutrakrtanga
refer to a great number of such sects. Some of these may be vedic,
while others were teachings of moral sects of the Samanas.
a list of ascetics which includes the Carakas, Paribrajakas,
Vrddha-sravakas, Gautamas, and Nirgranthas. A similar list is given
in the Saddharmapundarika32
where it is stated that Bodhisattva does not associate himself with
of the Samanas
all these numerous communities of ascetics the Sramanas always
figure prominently in Jaina and Buddhist literatures. Upadhye says:
"All intellectual activities in ancient India were not confined
only to Brahmanas: there was not only Brahmanical literature, but
there was also the Paribbajaka, Sramana, or ascetic literature.
These two representatives of intellectual and spiritual life in
ancient India are well recognised by the phrase Samana-Brahmana
in Buddhist sacred texts, by reference to Sramana
Brahmana in Buddhist inscriptions, and further by Megasthenes
distinction between Brahmanai and Samanai33".
in Jaina and Buddhist literature
Samanas in Jaina and Buddhist literature are represented as
"worker" (from Sram,
to strive) in spiritual life who attain salvation through their own
efforts. They are accorded high honour both within their circles and
without. The Mahavagga
refers to Samana who is
honoured by the bhikkhus. Pali literature mentions usually, besides
the buddha, the well-known six Samanas, the so-called heretical
teachers of outstanding position in the community.
the term Samana is used
in Pali literature, as an adjective showing respect towards the
designated teacher. The Buddha himself is called Mahasamana,
and his followers Sakyaputtiya
Samanas34. So the followers of the Nigantha Nataputta are
designated the Samana
Nigantha or, to be exact, the Niganthanama
in Jaina and Buddhist literature
literature, specially the Pali Canon, uses a compound designation "Samana-Brahmana"
to denote a religious sect that is opposed to the caste superiority
of the Brahmana community and its ritualism. Likewise, the Jaina
literature also mentions Samana-Mahanah36
W. Rhys Davids rightly says that Samana connotes both asceticism and
inward peace, He is of the view that "Samana-Brahmana should
therefore mean, a man of anv birth who by his saintliness, by his
renunciation of the world, and by his reputation as a religious
thinker, had acquired a position of a quasi-Brahmana and was looked
up to by the people with as much respect as they looked up to a
Brahmana by birth38. Jaina literature also gives the same
connotation to this term39."
the term Samana-Brahmana
is also used in Pali literature for the followers of the Brahmana
community. The Brahmajalasutta and some other suttas refer to them
as kecit Samana Brahmana.
And in some places it is used for any follower of any sect as
mentioned in the course of the sixty-two wrong views (micchaditthi).
Thus the term Samana-Brahmana
is used, in Buddhist literature, in a very loose sense40. I,
therefore, examined the views attributed to Samana-Brahmana and
found that the teachings of Nigantha Nataputta are also represented
origin of Samana-Brahmana
is unknown, but we can trace it from the works of Panini (prior to
Buddha41) and Patanjali (second century B. C.) which mention a
perpetual enmity (sasvata-virodha) between a snake and mongooses (ahinakulavat)
to illustrate the compound formation of Samana-Brahmana.42 The
edicts of Asoka also mention them; but the term in Brahmana-Samana,
and not Samana-Brahmana43.
reason of this variation in Asokan edicts, according to Sukumara
Dutta, is that "The legends were composed by those who
themeselves belonged to the Samana class and wished to give it
precedence, while the Brahmana is put first in the edict because the
Brahmanical society was perhaps demographically more extensive in
Asoka's empire. The accom@ plishments of this elite, the
Samana-Brahmana, are described from the Buddhist point of view in
reason for the relative positions of the two component parts of the
and Brahmana-Samana may
be adduced by reference to the antiquity of the Samana cultural
system and the subsequent growth in importance of the Brahmana
cultural system. The earlier appellation Samana
Brahmana gives precedence to Samanas most probably because
Samana cultural system was the more ancient system. The change in
precedence in the term Brahmana-Samana
might have been due to the waxing influence of the Brahmana
religious system which resulted in relegating the Samanas to a less
important position in the religious life of India.
leaders of Sramanism were referred to in Buddhist literature as
"Heretical Teachers". These contemporary teachers
"were doubtless, like the Buddha himself, inspired by the wave
of dissatisfaction with the system of orthodox Brahmanism." six
such teachers are mentioned in the Pali Canon:--
(ii) Makkhali Gosala.
(iv) Pakudha Kaccayana.
Sanjaya Belatthiputta, and
(vi) Nigantha Natputta.
the Samannaphala Sutta
each of these teachers is highly commended as a leader of an order (ganino
ganacariyo). Each has been described as being well-known (nata),
famous (yasassino), the
founder of a sect (titthakara),
respected as a saint by many people (sadhusammata
bahu-janassa), a homeless wanderer of long standing (cirapabbajita),
and advanced in years (vayonupatta46).
Barua47 thinks of them as philosophers or theologians in the modern
sense. But in the sixth century B. C. there were controversial
theories which are said to have been propagated in various ways by
the Acaryas who belonged to the Brahmana as well as the Sramana
Samannaphala Sutta deals
with the doctrines of these heretical teachers in detail. It may be
noted here that these doctrines are `to be treated very cautiously;
for it is evident that the authors had but a limited knowledge of
the teachings of the heretics, and what knowledge they had warped by
king Ajatasattu expressed his desires to know some-thing about
spiritual matters, his six ministers, the followers of the six
heretical teachers one, after another, suggested that the king
should meet their Acaryas and clear his doubts. Ajatasattu then paid
a visit to them and questioned them thus: "The fruits of
various worldly trades and professions are obvious. But is it
possible to show that any appreciable benefit can be derived from
Samannaphalm) in this very life ?" The answers given by
them could not satisfy Ajatasattu. It was then suggested to him that
he should ask the Buddha to answer the question. Hence, the Buddha
is said to have solved his problem in a authoritative way.
Canon refers to the teachings of Purana Kassapa and others in
several Suttas. Although all such passages are stereo-typed, they
seem to give a fairly comprehensive summary of atleast the
impressions which their teachings had made on the Buddhists. While
we have no sufficient sources from which their accuracy can be
verified, except, of course, in the case of Nigantha Nataputta, we
are fortunate that the meagre references in the Pali Canon are the
only means by which we know about the existence of two of the six
teacher upheld the view that there is neither merit nor demerit in
any sort of action. He says, "He who performs an act or caused
an act to be performed.. (karato kho karayato pana atimapayato), he
who destroys life, the thief, the house-breaker, the plunderer.. the
highway robber, the adulterer and the liar, commits no sin. Even if
with a razor-sharp discus a man reduces all life on earth to a
single heap of flesh, he commits so sin. If he comes down to the
south bank of the Ganges, slaying, maiming, torturing, and causing
others to be slain, maimed, or tortured, he commits no sin, neither
does sin approach him. Likewise if a man goes down the north bank of
the Ganges, giving alms, and sacrificing and causing alms to be
given and sacrifices to be performed, he acquires no merit, neither
does merit approach him. om liberality, self-control, abstinence,
and honesty derived neither merit nor the approach of merit50."
doctrine is based on Akiriyavada, the theory of non-action,
according to which the soul does not act and the body alone acts.
According to Barua it is Adhiccasamuppannikavada
(i. e. things happen fortuitiously without any cause or
condition51). Jain Commentator Silanka considers the doctrine of
Purana Kassapa as similar to the one which obtained in the Sankhya
system52. But Nalinaksa Dutt observes that "it would be wide of
the mark if we say Kassapa's teaching is the same as that of Sankhya,
though it holds that Purusa is only an onlooker, an inactive agent,
the functioning factor being the Prakrti53". As a matter of
fact, Kassapa's teaching is so peculiar that we cannot find any
similarity to the six Indian philosphies
the Samyutta Nikaya54 and
Anguttara Nikaya55 he is
mentioned as an Ahetuvadin,
which appellation is applied to Makkhali Gosala in the Samannaphala
Sutta. He is also reported to have claimed omniscience56.
gives some biographical data on Purana Kassapa. He says that Kassapa
came to be known by his name from the fact that is birth completed (Purna)
one hundred slaves in a certain household. Owing to this fact he was
never found fault with, even when he failed to do his work
satisfactorily. In spite of this, he was dissatisfied and fled from
his master's house. He then had his clothes stolen and went about
gives another account. It says that when the heretical teachers were
unable to prevent the Buddha's miraculous power, then ran away.
While fleeing Purana Kassapa came across one of his followers
carrying a vessel and a rope. Purana took them and on the of river
near Savatthi he tied the vessel round his neck. He threw himself
into the river and committed suicide58.
Makkhali Gosala was a follower of jainism of the Parsvanatha
tradition. As he was not appointed a Ganadhara in Nigantha
Nataputta's order, he left the Jain Sangha and founded another sect
called Ajivikas59. He too was a naked ascetic.
was prophet of Niyativada
(fatalism), according to which "There is neither cause nor
basis for the sins of living beings; they become pure without cause
or basis. There is no deed performed either by oneself or by others
which can affect one's future births, no human action, no strength,
no courage, no human endurance or human prowess can affect one's
destiny in this life. All beings, all that have breath, all that are
born, all that have life, are without power, strength, or virtue,
but are developed by destiny, chance and nature, and experience joy
and sorrow in the six levels for existence. Salvation, in his
opinion, can be attained only by death and existence which are
unalterably fixed (niyata).
Suffering and happiness,, therefore, do not depend on any cause or
Majjhima Nikaya61 calls
this ahetukaditthi or akiriyaditthi, while the Sutrakrtanga (1.127) Darsanasara62
and Gomattasara Jivakanda63
of Jainas designate it as ajnanavada.
Buddha considered Makkhali as the most dangerous of the heretical
teachers. He says: "I know not of any other single person
fraught with such loss of many folk, such discomfort, such sorrow to
devas and men, as Makkhali, the infatuate"64. "Buddha also
considered his view as the meanest one as would appear from the
as the hair blanket is reckoned the meanest of all woven garments
even so, of all the teachings of recluses, that of Makkhali is the
the Digha Nikaya
Commentary66, Buddhaghosa shows how he was called Makkhali
Gosala. He says that he was once employed as a servant. One day
while carrying an oil pot along a muddy road, he slipped and fell
through carelessness, Hence he is named Makkhali.
He was called Gosala because he was born in a cow-shed. Panini67
describes him as Maskarin
(one who carries a bamboo staff). Uvasaga
Dasao calls him Makkhaliputta68.
Kambali was a meterialist who denied the existence of good or bad
deeds. According to him, "There is no merit in almsgiving,
sacrifice or offering; no result or ripening of good or evil deeds.
There is no passing from this world69 to the next. No benefit
accrues from the service of mother or father. There is no afterlife,
and there are no ascetics or Brahmanas who have reached perfection
on the right path, and who, having known and experienced this world
and the world beyond, publish (their knowledge). Man is formed of
the four elements; when he dies earth returns to the aggregate of
earth, water to water, fire to fire, and air to air, while the
senses vanish into space. Four men with the bier take up the corpse;
they gossip (about the dead man) as far as the burning ground70
(where) his bones turn the colour of a dove's wing, and his
sacrifices end in ashes. They are fools who preach alms-giving, and
those who maintain the existence (of immaterial categories) speak
vain and nonsense. When the body dies both the fool and the sage
alike are cut off from life and perish. They do not survive after
philosophy can be compared with the philosophy of Carvaka.
In the Brahmajala Sutta
it is classified as Ucchedavada
(the doctrine of anihilation after death) or Tam
Jivam tam sariram (the doctrine of identity of the soul and
body). In the Mahabodhi
Jataka, it is said, that Ajita was born, in a previous birth, as
one of the five heretical councillors to the king of Varanasi. Then,
too, he preached the doctrine of Ucchedavada.
He was called Kesakambali because he wore a blanket of human hair,
which is described as being the most miserable garment. It was cold
in cold weather, and hot in the hot, foul smelling and uncouth72.
to Pakudha Kaccayana, the seven elementary categories are neither
made nor ordered, neither caused nor constructed; they are barren,
as firm as mountains, as stable as pillars. They neither move nor
develop; they do not injure one another, and one has no effect on
the joy and sorrow of another. What are the seven? Earth, Water,
Fire, Air, joy and Sorrow, with life as the seventh...No man slays
or causes to slay, hears or causes to hear, knows or causes to know.
Even if a man cleaves another's head with a sharp sword, he does not
take life, for the sword-cut merely passes through the seven
the Brahmjala Sutta this
theory is classified as both Akiriyavada
According to Pakudha, good or bad deeds do not affect the elements
which are eternal. Like Ucchedavada,
this teaching is also criticised in Buddhist literature.
says that Pakudha Kaccayana avoided the use of cold water, using
always hot water. When hot water was no available, he did not wash.
If he crossed a stream he would consider it as a sin, and would make
expiation by constructing a mound of earth74.
Belatthiputta was the preacher of Ajnavada
or Agnosticism. He says that if "you asked me, "Is there
another world?" and if I believed that there was, I should tell
you so. But that is not what I say. I do not say that is so; nor do
I say that it is not so75."
is said that the Elders Sariputta and Moggalana were disciples of
Sanjaya before they were converted to Buddhism76. Moggalana and
Sanjaya are mentioned as Jaina Munis in Jaina literature77.
jaina doctrine of Syadvada
is said to have been influenced by the teachings of Sanjaya.
According to Malalaseker, "It is probable that Sanjaya
suspended his judgements only with regard to those questions, the
answers to which must always remain a matter of speculation. It my
be that he wished to impress on his followers the fact that the
final answer to these questions lay beyond the domain of
speculation, and that he wished to divert their attention from
fruitless inquiry and direct it towards the preservation of mental
equanimity78". But as a matter of fact Sanjays's teachings are
based on indeterminable characters, while the Syadvada has a
definite answer. That is why the Jaina philosophers criticised
Sanjaya's theory79. We can, however, say that whether Sanjaya was a
Jaina muni or not, his teachings seem to be influenced to some
extent by the Jaina doctrines. The sutrakratanga does not mention
his name in this context. Sanjaya's view is criticised in Pali
literature as an Amaravikkhepavad
a theory of eel-wrigglers80).
the Samannaphala Sutta,
Nigantha Nata-Putta is introduced as the teacher of Catuyamasamvara.
"A Nigantha is surrounded by the barrier of four-fold
restraint. How is he surrounded ?...He practises restraint with
regard to water, he avoids all sin, by avoiding sin his sins are
washed away, and he is filled with the sense of all sins are washed
away, and he is filled with the sense of all sins avoided81...So
surrounded by the barrier of fourfold restraint his mind is
perfected, controlled, and firm82.
pointed out by Jacobi this reference to the teaching of Nataputta is
very obscure83. Catuyamasamvara
as mentioned in the Samannaphala
Sutta84 consists of the four characteristics of the Jainas. The
belonging to the Parsvanatha tradition, is found else-where in the
Pali Canon itself.
response to the Buddha's question Asibandhakaputta Gamani said that
the Nigantha Nataputta preached thus to his followers or Savakas: a
slayer of living creature (panam
atipateti), a stealer of a thing (not given to him) (adinnam
adiyati), a subject of sensual passion wrongly (kamesu
miccha carati), and one who tells a lie (musa
bhanati) are all condemned.85
are mentioned the four causes of sin. In the Anguttara
aa the five ways of falling into sin, according to Nigantha
Nataputta, are outlined. They are: destruction of animates (panatipati
hoti staking what is not given (adinnadayi
hoti), passionate enjoyment of evil (abrahmacari
hoti), speaking a lie (musavadi
hoti), and living on liquor and drink (suramerayamajjappamadatthayi
these references are neither correctly recorded nor in order. The Nikayas
appear to have confused between the Vratas of Parsvanatha and
Mahavira. The Parigraha
(attachment to the mundane affairs), a fourth cause of sins
according to the Parsvanatha tradition, included the passionate
enjoyment, was not mentioned in the Nikayas,
while the Abrahmacarya,
separated from Parigraha
by Nigantha Nataputta, is mentioned there.
is the fundamental principle of the Jainas which is recorded in the
Pali Canon. The Niganthas do not use cold water as living being
exist therein.87 They take a vow not to go beyond a limited area, so
that the possibility of destroying life while moving about is
reduced to a minimum.88 The Kayadanda
(Physical deeds) is more blamable than Manodanda
(mental deeds) in their oppinion.89 Intention (bhava
or manodanda) is the main source of violence, and if the injury
is caused by the body intentionally (bhavena),
it will be considered more blamble. Meat-eating is completely
prohibited in jainism. It is said that while Siha
Senapati served meat to Buddha and his followers, the Nlganthas
had protested and criticised such activities.90
or nudity (acelakatva or Digambaratva)
with a mind controlled and restrained from all sorts of attachment
and the practice of severe austerities with right knowledge are the
main sources of omniscience and salvation.91 Pali literature too
records the Jaina claim to the omniscience of Nigantha nataputta.92
The Pali Canon is also familiar with the rudiments of Syadvada
and Navatattvas. Buddhist
philosophical literature which developed later establishes and
refutes the more advanced Jaina doctrines about epistemology and
foregoing is a brief description of the leaders of Sramanism as
recorded in Pali literature. From this somewhat scanty data it is
clear that their teachings can be grouped under two main headings:--
Ajivikism as taught by
Purana Kassapa, Makkhali Gosala, and Pakudha Kaccayana and
Jainism as taught by
Parsvanatha and Nigantha Nataputta.
doctrine of Sanjaya Belatthiputta does not fall into either of the
above categories. But as Nalinaksa Dutt has shown, Sanjaya's
teachings are "only a stepping stone to that of Buddha93."
We shall now take into consideration the interrelationship among the
three prominent religious systems" Jainism, Ajivikism, and
Gosala, the founder of the Ajivika sect, was a follower of Jainism,
before he founded his separate school.94 It is, therefore, not
unnatural for his teachings to be influenced by Jainism. Ajivikas
and Jainas share a set of common monastic rules. Both were normally
naked and both followed the same method of eating.95 That is the
reason why the Pali literature could not make a clear distinction
between the Niganthas and
the Ajivikas. The Sutta
Nipata96 distinguishes the Ajivikas from other sects, whereas
the Majjhima Nikaya97
includes all the heretical teachers in the general category of Ajivikas.
in his Dhammapada
Commentary98 describes an ascetic who knocks at the doors of all
the sects including the Ajivikas
and the Niganthas. But
the same work refers indiscriminately to Nagga-samana, Ajivika
and Acelaka99. Similarly
the Divyavadana100, in
the story of Asoka, seems
to use the term Ajivika
and Japanese Buddhist literature classes the Ashibikas, (i. e. Ajivikas)
with the Nikendabaras or Nirgranthas
as practising severe penance. "They both hold that the penalty
for sinful life must sooner or later be paid so that the life to
come may be free for enjoyment. Thus their practices were ascetic.
Fasting, silence, immovability and burning themselves upto the neck
were their expressions of penance.101
identifies the Ashibikas
with the Digambara Jainas.
In support of his theory, he refers to Halayudha102
which "enumerates a large number of names of the two divisions,
the Svetambaras and Digambaras...The latter are also known as the Ajiva,
which is only a shorter form of Ajivika..It is evident now, from
what has been said, that the terms Niggantha
and Ajivika denote the
two Jaina orders which are known to us as Svetambaras
further suggestion is that the term Nirgrantha
implied only a Svetambara
Jaina. This conclusion is not supported by any evidence. The verse
quoted by Hoernle does not contain exactly synonymous words. It
mentions the names of various schools. Basham remarks in this
connection that the evidence of both Halayudha and Yadava, including
the Nirgrantha in the
same category as the Nagnata,
should be adequate to disprove the theory. The term was obviously
used for a Jaina of any type104.
was always used with reference to Digambaras in the earlier works.
Its application to Svetambaras
was a later development subsequent to their breaking away from the
original school of Jainism in the early centuries B. C.
the commentator of the Sutrakrtanga,
says: "They are the Ajivikas
who follow the doctrine of Gosala, or Botikas (i. e.
Digambara.105"). On the basis of this reference Hoernle righty
concluded that the later Ajivikas merged with the Digambara Jainas.
He says "Silanka states that the reference is to the Ajivikas
or Digambaras. Seeing that, in his comment on another passage of the
same work, he identifies the Ajivikas
with the Terasiyas
It follows that in silanka's view the followers of Gosala, the
Ajivikas, the Terasikas, and the Digambaras were the same class of
too, appears to support this view when he says that the Ajivika
survived in Madras, Mysore and Andhra until the 14th century A. D.,
and that the original atheism of Makkhali Gosala merged with that of
the Digambara Jainas.107
as a matter of fact Silanka could not make a clear statement that
Ajivikas and Digambaras were the same. It seems that on the basis of
nakedness, Halayudha Silanka etc. referred to the words which have
the same meaning.108
both Jainism and Buddhism were taught within the same geographical
area during the same historical period, a high degree of mutual
ideological influence was inevitable. The wandering of the Buddha
for six years in search of enlightenment also would have brought him
into contact with Jainistic dogmas.
ideas are found to be common to both Jainism and Buddhism. Buddhism
is based on the Four Noble Truths (Cattari
ariyasaccani), viz. the Truth of suffering (Dukkhasacca),
the Truth of the Arising of Suffering (Dukkha-samudayasacca),
and the Truth of the Path leading to the Annihilation of Suffering (Dukkha-nirodhagamani-patipada-ariyasacca).
Jainism, too, teaches substantially the same doctrines. During the
twelve meditations (Dvadasanupreksa)
a Nigantha thinks of the nature of the world and soul. In this way
he tries to abstain from attachment to anything so that he could
attain the state of Vitaragatva
(freedom from all desires). Avidya
(ignorance), as in Buddhism, is the root cause of Karmic bondage,
and release is possible through Right Vision (Samyagdarsana),
Right Knowledge (Samyagjnana),
and Right Conduct (Samyagcaritra109).
extols the four meditations (Bhavana),
viz. Metta (Friendship) Karuna
(delight), and Upekkha
(Indifference110). The Jain Scripture declares that these should be
meditated upon by everybody (Maitripramodakarunyamadhyasthani
ca satvagunadhikaklisyamanavinayesu). They are realizable
through concentration (yogakkhamani
nibbanam ajjhagamam), and are free from ageing (ajaram)
Salvation can be attained with the cessation of the chain of
causation. Nibbana, in Jainism, is a condition of the pure soul,
free from all bondage of karmas, peaceful, enlightened and
eternal111. Both religions believe that every being experiences
fruits of his good and bad deeds in the present or future life and
rebirth continues till the attainment of salvation.
(Ahimsa) is also a common
feature of both Jainism and Buddhism. Buddhism, like Jainism,
stipulates that its adherents should abstain from all forms of
violence (Himsa). But Jainism appears more strict in this respect.
The eating of flesh, which is not altogether forbidden in Buddhism,
is completely forbidden in Jainism. In other words, non-violence is
the foundation of Jain religion and philosophy. Syadvada
and Nayavada, the spirit
of reconciliation, is an integral part of its theme.
Jainism and Buddhism hold that the Universe came into being without
the intervention of the creator-God. Worshiping of the images of
their sages is a common feature in both religions.
regards the dissimalirities between them, they are so fundamental
that any positive influence of Jainism on Buddhism or vi
ce versa in difficult to establish. Buddhism does not believe in
soul, whereas Jainism regards it as an essential part of human
personality and its purity is essential for the attainment of
salvation. According to Buddhism, a thing which comes into being
perishes in the next moment. All the psychical factors like feeling,
cognition, names and concepts are discrete and momentary. The first
moment is regarded as the material cause (upadana)
and the second the effect (upadeya).
The combined stream of Upadna
and Upadeyna give rise to
the false notion of a permanent self.
the other hand, Jainism, in spite of admitting the obvious
psycho-physical changes, adheres to the belief that both jiva
(soul) and ajiva (matter)
are eternal. It maintains that only the modes (paryayas)
of a substance are subject to change while the substance with its
essential quality (guna)
is unchanging and abiding. The Buddhist theory of flux has been,
therefore, criticised bitterly by the Jain philosophers.
two religions resort to a common terminology. For instance, the word
nigantha is used for
Jainism in both scriptures. Buddhism also regards "sabbaganthappahina"112
as the nature of Nibbana,
Pudgala is used only in these two religions but with different
meanings. In Jainism it means as inanimate thing, while Buddhism
gives it the sense of Atma
or Jiva. Likewise, Arhat,
Buddha, Asava, samvara, Sammaditthi (samyagdrasti or Samyagjnana)
Micchaditthi. Tisarana, Naraka, etc. are common to both the
to the Pali Canon, the Buddha himself had a more favourable
impression of Nigantha
Nataputta and Jainism than of any other contemporary teacher or
teaching,113 though he condemned the Niganthas at a number of
places,114 Apart from the fact that they arose from the same social
milieu, the emphasis they both laid on ethical principles and on the
empirical testing of truth seems to have made them mutually
respectful to each other.
foregoing discussion has brought us to the conclusion that the
Sramana cultural system led by the Jainas existed perhaps prior to
Brahmana cult and that most of the leaders of different sects of
that time were influenced by the Jaina dogmas. Jocobi came to the
following conclusion on the interrelationship of these religious
preceding four Tirth nkaras
(Makkhali Gosala, Purana Kassapa and others) appear to have adopted
some or other doctrines or practices of the Jaina system, probably
from the Jainas themselves...Here it appears that Jaina ideas and
practices must have been current at the time of Mahavira and
independently of him. This combined with other arguments, leads us
to the opinion that the Nirgranthas (Jainas) were really in
existence long before Mahavira, who was the reformer of the already
Eliot, Sir Charles, Hinduism
and Buddhism, Vol. l. p. 53.
Williams, S. M., Sanskrit-English
Dictionary (s. v. Brahmana),
See the Upanisad
and Vedanga literature.
Chaup. Viii. 7. 1.
Dasgupta, S. N., A
History of Indian Philosophy, Vol. l. p. 22.
Rgveda, 10. 90.
A. i. 167; D.
iii. 16; S. i. 45 Dhp.
Dictionary (Williams), s. v. Sramana,
Samacariya samano ti vuccati, Dhp.
388. Cf. Samita papatta Samana, DhA.
Mahabhasya, 2. 4.
Position of Jainism, Ahimsa and Jainism, Bombay, 1959-60.
Deo, S. V., History of
Jaina monachism, p. 56; also see R. Garbe, Philosophy
of Ancient India, p. 12.: Jainism,
Mrs. N. R. Guseva. P. 4-18.
Vratya asidiyamana eva sa Prajapatim samaisyat...... Atharavaveda,
15. 1-4; The Pali literature (Theraga
tha) also refers Vratyas. Confer; Ananda Guruge, Vidyodaya
Lipi, Colombo, 1962, p, 71, where arguments are adduced to porve
that Vratyas of an Eastern Indian were the survivals of Indus Valley
Caturo Samana na pancamatthi te te avikaromi Sakkhaputtho.
Maggajino maggadesiko ca, magge jivati yo ca maggadusin, Sn. 83-4.
Yama assa vadam parihanamahu, apahatam panhavimanskesu.
Paridevati saccati hinavado, upaccago mam'ti anutthunanti. Sn.
827; Ete vivada samanesu jata, Sn.
54, 151, 786 etc.
Ye kec'ime titthiya vadasila, ajivika va yadi va Nigantha.
Pannaya tam natitaranti sabbe, thito vajantam viya sighagamim. Sn.
Shastry, N. Aiyasvami, Sramanas
or non-Brahmanical Sects, The
Cultural Heritage of India, Vol. l. p. 389 ff.
p. 949, 342 b.
Cf. yato, kho, Kassapa, bhikkhu averam avyapajjam mettacittam
bhaveti, asavanam khaya anasavam cetovimuttim pannavimuttim dittheva
dhamme sayam sacchikatva upasampajja viharati, ayam vucati, Kassapa,
bhikkhu, Samano ti, D. i.
Hirottappam, parisuddho kayasamacaro.........M.
i. 271; D. i. 170.
Op. Cit. Vol. l.
p. 386 ff. 25.
Op. Cit. p. 45.
Samvayanga, 10. l.
v. i., Parajika.
A. i. 229.
The sixty two Micchaditthis
as mentioned in the Brahmajalsutta
are as follows in chief eight heads : viz. Sassatavadin,
Ekaccasassatavadika, Antanantika, Amaravikkhepika,
Adhiccassamuppannika, Uddhamaghatin, Ucchedavadin and the
refers to 363 view under four main sects, viz. Kriyavada, Akriyavada,
Ajnanavada and Vinayavada, 1.1 12 ff.
Lefmana, Vol. l. p. 380; Mahavastu,
(Kern), pp. 275-6.
intro. p. 13.
See the Buddhist literature; Sn.,
Uvasaga. pp. 108,
Dialogues of Buddha,
ll. intro., p. 165,
Cf. D. i. 5; ii.
150; A. i. 110, 173, sq; Iti.
64 : Sn. 189 : V.
Upadhyaya, B. D., Sanskrit
Sahitya ka Itihasa, p. 148.
Mahabhasya. 2. 4.
Kalasi Rock. Edict, lll; Girinara Rock Edict, IV, VIII, etc.
Buddhist Monks and
Monasteries of India, p. 49; The
Buddha and Five Year After Centuries. p. 3.
History and Doctrines
of the Ajivikas, p. 10.
D. i. 49.
Philosophy, pp. 275.
History and Doctrines
of Ajivikas. p. 10.
Purana Kassapa, Makkhali Gosala, and Sanjaya Belatthiputta
are referred to in Jaina Literature.
Karato kho karayato......panam atimapayato...natthi punnassa
agamo. D. i. 52.
Sukr. l. l. 12. 15. v. p. 209.
Buddhism, Vol. l. p. 35.
S. iii 69; V. 126.
iii. 383; also see J. v.
DhA; Cf. Divyavdana,
Pratiharyasutra, pp. 100.
D. i. 53.
i. 513; Milindapanha,
63. l. Cf. Sukr.
2. 1. 345.
A. i. 33.
DA. i. 166 f.
5. l. 154.
N'tthi ayam loko ti paraloke thitassa pi ayam loko n'atthi,
n'atthi paraloke ti idha loke thitassa pi paraloko n'atthi. Sabbe
tattha tattha'eva ucchijanti ti dasseti, Sum.
Vil. i. p. 165.
Op. Cit. P. 166.
see Uttaradhyayana (SBB),
was also a name of Jaina clan:, Sukr 7-8
N'atthi......dinnam, n'atthi yittham, n'atthi hutam, ......ucchijjanti
vinassanti, na hontiparam marana. (Digha, I, p. 55. A remarkable
parallel to this passage is to be found in the Sutrakrtanga
(II. i. 9 Fol. 375 FF. i. SBE.
XIV. II. i. 15-17; History
and doctrines of Ajivikas--Basham.
DA. i. 144; MA.
Satt' ime......kaya akata akata-vidha animmita animmata
vanjha kutattha esika-tthayi-tthita. Te na injanti na viparinamanti
na annam-annam vyaba-dhenti n' alam annaannassa sukhaya va dukkhaya
va sukkha-dukkhaya va. Katame satta ? Pathavi-kayo apo-kayo tejokayo
vayokayo sukhe dukhe jive-sattme......Tattha n'tthi hanta va ghateta
va sotta va Saveta va vinnata va vinnapeta va. Yo pi tinhena
satthena sisam chindati na koci kinci jivita voropeti, Sattannam
yeva kayanam antarena sattha-vivaram anupatati. D.
i. 56. Compare with the Sutrakrtanga
1. 1. 10, fol. 280 ff. SBE. XIV, i. 20-4. History
and doctrines of Ajivikas, p. 16.
DA. i. 144.
"Atthi paro loko ?" ti iti ce tam pucchasi, "atthi
paro loko" ti iti ce me assa, "atthi paro loko" ti te
mam vyakareyyam. Evam pi me no. Tatha ti pi me no. Annatha ti pi me
no. No ti pi me no. No no ti pi me no....D.
V. i. 42, 391.
Rustah Sriviranathasya tapasvi Maudgalayanah. Sisyah
Sriparsvanathasya vidadhe Buddhadarsanam. Suddodanasutam Buddham
DPPN, p. 1000.
Tarhyastiti na bhanami, nastiti ca na bhanami, yadapi ce
bhanami, tadapi na bhanamiti darsanamastviti kascit, so `pi papiyan......Astasahasri,
Sabbavariyuto ti sabbena papavaranena yutto. Sabbavaridhuto
ti sabbena papavaranena dhutapapo. Sabbavariphuttho ti sabbena
papavaranena phuttho...... Catatto ti kotippattacitto. Sum.
Vil. i. p. 168.
Nigantho catuyam asamvarasamvuto hoti. Kathanca... Nigantha
sabbavarivarito ca hoti, sabbavaridhuto ca. sabbaphutto ca. evam kho,
Maharaja, Nigantho...... Ayam vuccati, Maharaja, Nigantho gatatto ca
yatatto ca thitatto ca ti. D.
Jaina Sutras, pt
11. SBE. xiv. intro. pp.
D. i. 58.
A. iii, 276-7.
Milinda Panha, 259
FF. Sum. Vil. i. 168.
A. ii. 199. 89.
M. i. 374. F.
V. i. 233. F.; A.
iv. 179 F, See also the Telovada
M. ii, 31, A.
i. 220. F.
M. ii, 31; A.
Buddhism, Vol. l. p. 40.
Buddhism (s. v. Ajivika),
M. i. 238
Ye keci `ime titthiya vadasila Ajivika va yadiva nigantha.
Pannaya tam natitaranti sabbe thito vajantam. viya sighagamin. 321.
ibid. pp. 390.
100. p. 427.
Sugiura, Hindu Logic
as preserved in China and Japan, Philadephia, 1900, p. also see
ERE. i. p. 269.
ii. 189; Vaijayanti, Ed., Oppert. p. 202, v. 16.
ERE. i. pp. 266-7.
History and Doctrines
of Ajivikas, p. 184. See, Jaina
Sahitya ka Itihasa : Purvapithika,
pp. 463 for refutaton of the theory of Hoernle.
Te Gosalakamatanusarina Ajivikadayah (sic) Botika va. SuKr.
Com. i. 3. 3. 14, fol. 92. Eke ye parasparopakararahitam
darsanamayantam ayahsatakakalpah, te ca Gosalakamatanusarina Ajivika
Digambara va, ibid., 3.
3. 8. v. p. 91.
ERE: i. p. 262.
Buddhism, pp. 332 f.
Varahamihira in his Brhajjataka
(15. 1.) also refers to the Ajivikas. For a full discussion of this
reference see Ajaya Mitra Shastri, Barahamihira's
reference to the Ajivikas, J.
O. I. Vol. xii, p. 44-50.
Samyagdarsanajnanacaritrani moksamargah, Tsu. 1. l; Cf. Majjhima
Nikaya, Sammaditthi Sutta.
Majjhima Nikaya, Mahamalunkya
Bandhahetvabhavanirijarabhyam krtsnakarmavipramokso moksah, Tsu.
10. 2; SS. p. I.
Gataddhino visokassa, vippamuttassa sabbadhi.
Sabbaganthappahinassa, parilaho na vijjati. DhP.
M. i. 03; ii. 214
The Buddha condemned the Niganthas
as unworthy in ten respects : they were without faiths, unrighteous,
without fear and shame, they chose wicked men as friends, extolled
themselves and disparaged others, were greedy of present gain,
obstinate, untrustworthy, sinful in their thoughts and held wrong
views., A. v. 156.
IA. IX. 162;
quoted by Kamata Prasada, Bhagawana
Mahavira, p. 263 fn. 4.
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