Article: Upāṅgas

Contributed by Nalini Balbir

Upāṅga 3 – understanding living and non-living

This painting from a manuscript depicts examples of plants and two-sensed beings. Throughout the cycle of birth, a soul takes birth in different types of body according to the karma that has stuck to it. Beings can be classed according to their senses.

Plants and two-sensed beings
Image by British Library © CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)

Employing the question-and-answer format, the third Upāṅga is divided into nine sections – pratipattis. The Jīvājīvābhigama deals with the animate and the inanimate, more with the former than with the latter. Living beings are considered from all possible angles, such as beings classified:

  • as going through the cycle of rebirths and those who are fully liberated
  • according to the number of senses they have, ranging from one to five
  • depending on their mode of rebirth – hell-beings, animals or plants, humans, gods
  • according to their capacities of cognition, self-control, salvation, activity, colours of their soulsleśyā – and other parameters.

Upāṅga 4 – encyclopaedia of Jain philosophy

The PrajñāpanāEnunciation – is ‘a master-piece of Jaina philosophy’ (Kapadia 1941: 139). The fourth Upāṅga goes with the fifth Aṅga, the Vyākhyā-prajñapti, which incorporates some parts of it. Cross-references in the two works are an additional sign of their connection. It also shares a lot of content with the Ṣaṭkhaṇḍāgama, one of the fundamental scriptures of the Digambara canon.

The fourth Upāṅga is organised into 36 sections called padas, defined by a heading term that is highly technical. This table mostly reproduces the translations given in Nagin J. Shah’s English introduction to Muni Puṇyavijaya’s 1972 edition of the Prajñāpanā.

Titles of the Prajñāpanā’s 36 sections

Section number

Section title

English meaning

1

Prajñāpanā

Classes of living substance and non-living substance

2

Sthāna

Dwelling places of living beings

3

Bahu-vaktavyatā

Relative numerical strength of living beings and of non-living substances

4

Sthiti

Lifespan of living beings

5

Viśeṣa

Classes and modes of living and non-living substances

6

Vyutkrānti

Transmigration of a living being from one class to another

7

Ucchvāsa

Breathing of living beings

8

Saṃjñā

Signs or instincts of living beings

9

Yoni

Birthplaces of different classes of living beings

10

Carama

Discussion of the caramaacarama features of all substances
This refers to the positions of substances, whether they are parts or totalities and thus can be defined only in relative terms.

11

Bhāṣā

On spoken language (Poddar 2010)

12

Śarīra

Bodies of living beings

13

Pariṇāma

On transformation (or change)

14

Kaṣāya

On passions

15

Indriya

On sense-organs

16

Prayoga

Activity of the soul

17

Leśyā

Colour indexes to temperament

18

Kāya-sthiti

Period of continuous persistence of one mode – ‘the minimum and maximum periods for which one individual substance can continuously belong to a particular class from among so many possible in its case’ (Nagin Shah, page 355).

19

Samyaktva

Religious faith

20

Antakriyā

Activity that causes the end of the present birth, whether it leads to another birth or to final liberation

21

Avagāhana-sthāna

Bodily structure and size

22

Kriyā

On the notion of activity and its various understandings from different perspectives, in Jainism and in other schools. Effect of activity, quality of activity – right or wrong and so on

23

Karma

Categories of karma

24

Karma-bandha

Formation of karma

25

Karma-veda

Feeling of karmas

26

Veda-bandha

Binding as sensation

27

Veda-vedaka

Sensation

28

Āhāra

On feeding

29

Upayoga

Cognitive activity of living beings

30

Darśanatā

Seeing

31

Saṃjñā

Faculty of consciousness

32

Ssaṃyama

Grades of moral discipline

33

Avadhi

Clairvoyance

34

Pravicāraṇā

Sexual behaviour

35

Vedanā

Feelings

36

Samudghāta

‘Explosive annihilation of karmas’ (Schubring 1962: 100)

Upāṅgas 5, 6 and 7 – cosmological works

This manuscript painting depicts the mountain ranges of Niṣadha and Nīlavanta, which mark the northern and southern boundaries of Mahāvideha. Part of the central continent of Jambū-dvīpa in the middle world, Mahāvideha has 32 provinces.

Niṣadha and Nīlavanta mountain ranges
Image by British Library © CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)

The titles of the fifth, sixth and seventh Upāṅgas suggest they deal with the topics they specify, as follows:

  • Sūrya-prajñaptiExplanations of the Sun
  • Candra-prajñaptiExplanations of the Moon
  • Jambūdvīpa-prajñaptiExplanations of the Jambū-dvīpa.

But this is not the case. The moon and the sun are both explored in the first two works, which are almost identical. The third scripture does, however, discuss the central continent of the Jain universe.

The fifth Upāṅga – the Sūrya-prajñapti – has been regarded as an ancient work of importance for the history of the development of Indian astronomy. It contrasts the view of ‘some’ people with the true teaching – ‘on the contrary, we say so’ (Schubring 1962: 100). The most detailed analysis of its highly technical contents is provided in Schubring 1962: 101–103. Among its topics are the:

  • sun’s movements
  • amount of space the sun illuminates
  • length of the shadow
  • notions relating to the lunar calendar – bright and dark half of the month depending on the phase of the moon, lunar days, types of years – solar or lunar – and so on.

The second part of the work details the particulars of stars and constellations.

Called theJambūdvīpa-prajñapti, the seventh Upāṅga can be regarded as the first of a long tradition of Śvetāmbara scriptures describing the Jain universe, particularly of its central continent, the Jambū-dvīpa. It is divided into seven chapters:

Chapters of the Jambūdvīpa-prajñapti

Chapter number

Chapter contents

1

General description of Jambū-dvīpa, where the land of Bharata is located.

2

Time in Bharata:

For example in the third period of the descending cycle, those who maintain law and order are the patriarchs – kulakaras. The last of them, Nābhi, has a son Ṛṣabha, who becomes a Jina. His life is narrated in terms close to those in the Kalpa-sūtra. An important passage describes the collection of physical remains after the Jina’s death and the construction of a kind of memorial.

3

Description of the land of Bharata and the life story of King Bharata, the first universal monarch – cakravartin. His progressive conquest of the world is narrated at length. The king acquires the 14 jewels – ratna – and the nine treasures – nidhi – that are typical of this status.

4

Descriptions of other parts of Jambū-dvīpa, such as:

  • mountain ranges
  • lakes
  • rivers
  • forests
  • Mount Meru and its three terraces.

5

How a newborn Tīrthaṃkara is honoured by deities, especially the goddesses of the directions – dik-kumārīs. The report of the groups of deities who come for the event is similar to the retinue of god Sūryābha as described in the second Upānga, the Rāja-praśnīya (Alsdorf 1947).

6

Statistical survey of the geographical details of Jambū-dvīpa.

7

Astronomical matters, such as details of:

  • suns
  • moons
  • divisions of time
  • constellations
  • names of planets.
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