|Period||2nd to 5th century|
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Tattvartha Sutra (also known as Tattvarth-adhigama-sutra) is an ancient Jain text written by Acharya Umaswati, sometime between the 2nd- and 5th-century AD. It is the first Jain scripture written in the Sanskrit language. Tattvartha Sutra is also known in Jainism as the Moksha-shastra (Scripture describing the path of liberation).
The Tattvartha Sutra is regarded as one of the earliest, most authoritative book on Jainism, and the only text authoritative in both the Digambara and Śvētāmbara sects. Its importance in Jainism is comparable with that of the Brahma Sutras and Yoga Sutras of Patanjali in Hinduism. It is a text in sutra or aphorisms, and presents the complete Jainism philosophy in 350 sutras in 10 chapters. The term Tattvartha is composed of the Sanskrit words tattva "things, realities" and artha "true nature".
The text begins with an invocation:
I bow to the Lord, the promulgator of the path to liberation, the destroyer of mountains of karmas and the knower of the whole of reality, so that I may realize these qualities.
The first verse of Tattvārthsūtra, "सम्यग्दर्शनज्ञानचारित्राणि मोक्षमार्ग:" summarizes the Jaina path to liberation. It means that the Ratnatraya (three jewels: right view, right knowledge and right conduct) collectively constitutes the path to liberation or moksha.
Its ten chapters are:-
- Faith and Knowledge
- The Category of the Living
- The Lower World and the Middle World
- The Celestial Beings
- The Category of the Non-Living
- Influx of Karma
- The Five Vows
- Bondage of Karma
- Stoppage and Shedding of Karma
The first chapter deals with the process of cognition and details about different types of knowledge. The next three chapters deal with the Jīva (soul), lower worlds, naraka, and celestial abodes, deva. The fifth chapter discusses the Non-soul (ajīva). The next three chapters deal with the karmas and their manifestations and the influx, asrava, good and bad karma, shubha-ashubha karma and the bondage of the karmas. The ninth chapter describes the blocking, samvara and shedding of the karmas, nirjara. The final chapter discusses moksha or the liberation of the soul.
Seven categories of truth
The theology in Tattvartha Sutra presents seven categories of truth in sutra 1.4:
- Souls exist
- Non-sentient matter exists
- Karmic particles exist that inflow to each soul
- Karmic particles bind to the soul (which transmigrate with rebirth)
- Karmic particles inflow can be stopped
- Karmic particles can fall away from soul
- Complete release of karmic particles leads to liberation from worldly bondage
Umaswami categorizes the types of knowledge to be empirical, attained through one's sense of perception. He adds that knowledge is also acquired through literature, clairvoyance, and omniscience. In chapter 2, Umaswati presents sutras on soul. He asserts that soul is distinguished by suppression of deluding karma, or elimination of eight types of karmas, or partial presence of destructive karmas, or arising of eight types of new karmas, or those that are innate to the soul, or a combination of these. In chapter 3 through 6, Umaswati presents sutras for his first three categories of truth.
In chapter 7, Umaswati presents the Jaina vows and explains their value in stopping karmic particle inflow to the soul. The vows, translates Nathmal Tatia, are ahimsa (abstinence from violence), anirta (abstinence from falsehood), asteya (abstinence from stealing), brahmacharya (abstinence from carnality), and aparigraha (abstinence from possessiveness).
Karma and rebirths
Umaswati, in chapter 8 of Tattvartha Sutra presents his sutras on how karma affects rebirths. He asserts that accumulated karma in life determine the length of life and realm of rebirth for each soul in each of four states – infernal beings, plants and animals, human beings and as gods. Further, states Umaswati, karma also affects the body, the shape, the characteristics as well as the status of the soul within the same species, such as Ucchi (upper) or Nicchi (lower) status. The accumulated and new karma are material particles, states Umaswati, which stick to the soul and these travel with the soul from one life to the next as bondage, where each ripens. Once ripened, the karmic particles fall off, states Umaswati.
Shedding karma and liberation
The chapter 9 of Tattvartha Sutra by Umaswati describe how karmic particles can be stopped from attaching to the soul and how these can be shed. He asserts that gupti (curbing activity), dharma (virtues such as forbearance, modesty, purity, truthfulness, self-restraint, austerity, renunciation), contemplation, endurance in hardship (he lists twenty two hardships including hunger, thirst, cold, heat, nakedness, injury, lack of gain, illness, praise, disrespect), and with good character towards others (he lists five – equanimity, reinitiation, non-injury (Ahimsa), slight passion and fair conduct), a soul stops karmic accumulations. External austerities such as fasting, reduced diet and isolated habitation, while internal austerities such as expiation, reverence, service, renunciation and meditation, according to Umaswati, along with respectful service to teachers and ailing ascetics help shed karma.
The state of liberation is presented in Chapter 10 by Umaswati. It is achieved when deluding and obstructive karmas have been destroyed. This leads to the state of quietism and potentiality, and the soul then moves to the end of the universe, states Umaswati.
The Tattvartha Sutra is regarded as one of the earliest, most authoritative book on Jainism, and the only text authoritative in both the Digambara and Śvētāmbara sects, and its importance in Jainism is comparable with that of the Brahma Sutras and Yoga Sutras of Patanjali in Hinduism.
Commentaries and Translations
It has the largest number of Jaina bhashyas or commentaries in different Indian languages from the fifth century onward. The most famous and oldest commentary on the Tattvārthasūtra is Sarvārthasiddhi of Ācārya Pujyapada (sixth century CE). Sarvārthasiddhi along with Akalanka's c. 780 CE Rajavartika and Vijayananda's Slokavarttika (9th century) form the central texts of Digambara monastic students.
The text is in sutra form. The word Sutra (Sanskrit: सूत्र) means "string, thread". The root of the word is siv, that which sews and holds things together. In the context of Indian literature, Sutra means a distilled collection of syllables and words, any form or manual of "aphorism, rule, direction" hanging together like threads with which the "teachings of ritual, philosophy, grammar or any field of knowledge" can be woven.
The distilled nature of sutra texts leave them open to varying interpretations. The Tattvartha sutra have been variously translated. The first verse of Tattvartha Sutra has been translated as follows, for example:
"The enlightened darsana (world view), enlightened knowledge and enlightened conduct are the path to liberation" – Translated by Nathmal Tatia
"Right faith, right knowledge and right conduct constitute the path to liberation" – Translated by Vijay Jain— Umaswati, Tattvartha Sutra 1.1
- Paul Dundas (2006). Patrick Olivelle, ed. Between the Empires : Society in India 300 BCE to 400 CE. Oxford University Press. pp. 395–396. ISBN 978-0-19-977507-1.
- Walter Slaje (2008), Śāstrārambha: Inquiries Into the Preamble in Sanskrit, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, pp. 35 with footnote 23, ISBN 978-3-447-05645-8
- "Tattvārtha Sūtra". encyclopedia.com.
- Dundas, Paul (2003). Jains. Routledge. p. 86. ISBN 9781134501656.
- Jain 2011, p. vi.
- Jaini, p. 82
- K. V. Mardia (1990). The Scientific Foundations of Jainism. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 103. ISBN 978-81-208-0658-0.
Quote: Thus, there is a vast literature available but it seems that Tattvartha Sutra of Umasvati can be regarded as the main philosophical text of the religion and is recognized as authoritative by all Jains."
- Jain 2011, p. 72.
- Umāsvāti 1994, p. 131.
- Cort 2001, p. 16-17.
- Jain, S.A. (1992). Reality (Second ed.). Jwalamalini Trust.
- Jain 2011, p. 1.
- Jain 2011, p. 2.
- Jain 2011, p. xi.
- Umāsvāti 1994, p. xviii-xx, 2-3, 6.
- Umāsvāti 1994, pp. 12-15.
- Umāsvāti 1994, pp. 33-62.
- Umāsvāti 1994, pp. 7-168.
- Umāsvāti 1994, pp. 169-170.
- Umāsvāti 1994, pp. 195-199.
- Jain 2011, p. 118-119.
- Umāsvāti 1994, pp. 200-203.
- Jain 2011, p. 121-124.
- Umāsvāti 1994, pp. 213-248.
- Jain 2011, p. 126-145.
- Umāsvāti 1994, pp. 250-263.
- Jain 2011, p. 146-151.
- Jaini, p. 81
- Jones & Ryan 2007, pp. 439-440.
- Banerjee, Satya Ranjan (2005). Prolegomena to Prakritica et Jainica. p. 151.
- M Winternitz (2010 Reprint), A History of Indian Literature, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120802643, pages 249
- Monier Williams, Sanskrit English Dictionary, Oxford University Press, Entry for Sutra, page 1241
- MacGregor, Geddes (1989). Dictionary of Religion and Philosophy (1st ed.). New York: Paragon House. ISBN 1557780196.
- Umāsvāti 1994, pp. 5-6.
- Matthew R. Dasti; Edwin F. Bryant, eds. (2014), Free Will, Agency, and Selfhood in Indian Philosophy, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-992274-1
- Jain, Vijay K. (2011), Acharya Umasvami's Tattvārthsūtra, Vikalp Printers, ISBN 978-81-903639-2-1,
- Harry Oldmeadow, ed. (2007), Light from the East: Eastern Wisdom for the Modern West, World Wisodm, ISBN 978-1-933316-22-2
- Cort, John E. (2001), Jains in the World : Religious Values and Ideology in India, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-513234-3
- Jaini, Padmanabh S. (1998), The Jaina path of purification, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 81-208-1578-5
- Jones, Constance; Ryan, James D. (2007), Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Infobase Publishing, ISBN 978-0816054589
- Umāsvāti, Umaswami (1994), That which is (Translator: Nathmal Tatia), Rowman & Littlefield, ISBN 978-0-06-068985-8
- Umāsvāti; Devanandī; Siddhasenagaṇi (1994). Nathmal Tatia, ed. That which is: Tattvārtha Sūtra. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-0-06-068985-8. Retrieved 27 December 2012.