Six fundamental truths -
Atmasiddhi Shastra - Its Composition
At Nadiad in Kaira District, Shrimadji wrote out his famous Atmasiddhi in the form of a poetic dialogue in 142 verses, at the suggestion and request of Shri Sobhagyabhai, in the gathering darkness of the night when Shri Ambalalbhai stood with a lantern in his hand while the composition was on. The prose version by the name "A letter about six fundamental truths" could not be easily memorized by the aspirants and hence, Shri Sobhagyabhai requested Shrimadji to put the matter in verse.
This succinct and accurate composition is a masterpiece in philosophical literature. The author has, in a simple form of question and answer, explained the gist of Jainism and of all true religion namely the six fundamental truths, that the soul exists, that it is eternal, that it is the author of its activities, that therefore is responsible for the results of its activities, that it aspires for liberation and that this is achieved by following a right kind of religion.
Shrimadji instructed Shri Ambalalbhai to make out four copies of the manuscript and give one copy each, to his close and deserving disciples namely, Shri Sobhagyabhai, Shri Ambalalbhai himself, Shri Lalluji Maharaj and lastly to Shri Zaveri Maneklal Ghelabhai. He instructed to Shri Lalluji to study and reflect upon the Atmasiddhi in solitude and not to make it a subject of collective reading or public discourse.
A Short Summary of Atmasiddhi Shastra
A Short Summary of Atmasiddhi Shastra
In the first 44 verses the subject is introduced - The truth that without Self-knowledge, the worldly pains cannot be completely removed is clearly demonstrated, the mechanical attachment to the path of sacrificial activities and the theoretical parrotlike dry as bone repetition of the different natures of the soul and the body as found in the theoretical academicians of the Vedanta system are declared as two major obstacles in the path of the aspirant for Self-realization.
The special characteristics of the persons who belong to the above two lines of thinking are described and all this is done to remove these drawbacks from all aspirants for soul-saving knowledge and experience.
Then, the way to remove these defects or to keep them miles away from the spiritual pilgrim, the resort to the advice of an enlightened Self-realized Guru is advised and advocated. All the authentic scriptures helpful to the spiritual pilgrim should be studied and followed under the guidance of such a Guru. Then only truth can be grasped and right experience of reality can obtained.
The importance and impelling need of a living enlightened Guru is repeatedly emphasized in order to keep clear of the pride, conceit and ignorance. Humility is declared as the root of true religion and therefore a disciple is advised to serve his Master without any reservation. On the other hand, one should not pose to be a Guru without developing proper qualities in himself. An unmerited Guru degenerates into a bad type of a worldly person, and he leads his followers to deep darkness and bondage.
According to Shrimadji, only a truly enlightened Guru deserves to be a spiritual guide. To follow others is a sheer waste of time.
Later on, the doubts of the aspirant regarding the six fundamental truths, are posed and considered and conclusively replied so as to dispel them for ever and to help the disciple to see the truth in its purity.
Regarding the nature of the soul it is said that as it is quite different from the body, no bodily sense organ can perceive the soul. The unreasonable obduracy to try to see the soul by any or all of the physical sense organs results from the attachment of the soul to the living body. Philosophically the soul and the body are two absolutely separate entities like the sword and its scabbard. The soul is neither a body nor its senses, nor breath.
The soul is the source of organic unity of a living being. The soul is the all-knower, always the subject and co-ordinator of the information collected through the senses. The soul is conscious, knowing and blissful in nature. The conscious and unconscious differ in kind and not in degree. Hence the unconscious cannot probe the conscious. But the conscious is a quite powerful light to understand the unconscious. Hence, the superiority of the conscious over the unconscious.
Such a soul eternally exists, it has no beginning and no end. The body which is composed, has an end but the unique soul is neither composed nor decomposed.
Though the soul and body are two different realities both are found to be cooperating in a living organism. One helps or hinders the other. All creation and dissolution can be understood by the conscious soul but the conscious soul can be known only by itself and by no other physical or visible means. Hence, the talk of the source and decay of the soul is unmeaning.
Shrimadji confirms the belief in births and rebirths.
An unconscious body cannot act by itself. If an animal moves, it can only do so as directed by the conscious soul living in it. Hence, the soul is the author of all activities. It is not the nature of the soul always to act, though no activity without it, it can cease to act also. Metaphysically the soul has no reason to act and so it is unattached to the body, but in worldly practical life we see the soul propelling the living body to various activities to suit its motives formed by its association with and attachment to the body.
Further Shrimadji has elaborated the Jain doctrine of Karma and its various categories, and has shown that no principle of God is needed to explain animal and human activities. Activities naturally being the fruits enjoined with them and no divine force is needed for this arrangement.
He uses a fine logic to show that, as doing good or bad actions results in enjoying good or bad rewards, not doing them is the way to be free from their results. The first path leads to bondage, the second to liberation. To say that only a conscious soul can initiate activity, does not mean that it must always act and as doing something brings some result, not doing it should bring the opposite result. If activity, good or bad, will lead one to bondage, keeping away from it should lead one to its opposite namely release.
The great Tirthankaras have reached the state of non-attachment to all bodily forms, hence, they are eternally free. Release is the fruit of retirement from action. In the Siddha state, the soul is absolutely separated from all Karmas and so this is the state of complete release. In this state the real nature of the soul is experienced for ever.
The soul's long standing infatuation to bodily forms is removed by the enlightening knowledge and guidance of the true Guru just like dispelling a long standing enveloping darkness by a ray of light. By attachment, avarice and ignorance, the soul binds itself, removing them with the help of his Guru and the scriptures it obtains release. Wrong perception of truth is removed by right understanding of the scriptures under the guidance of an enlightened Guru.
The wrong habits of behavior can be removed by a spirit of non-attachment to worldly life. This is the correct remedy of the soul's ills.
By anger one binds actions and by forgiveness he loosens the knots of actions and becomes free himself. Hence, forgiveness is declared by Shrimad Rajchandra as the gateway to liberation. Forgiveness destroys bondage to actions. Whoever, high or low, follows this path of liberation will certainly attain the goal.
This path, in brief, consists in quelling down the excitements of anger, honor or pride, delusion and greed, in harboring the desire for liberation and none else, in feeling uneasiness in worldly activities, in developing compassion towards all living beings and in feeling sympathy for all aspirants for liberation and in praying and working for their release.
Whoever possesses these qualities is on the correct path and he will certainly be liberated. By following this path one sharpens his spiritual insight, purifies his being, loosens his attachment with the body and burns his actions in the fire of his spiritual consciousness, gains power and light and in the end releases himself and becomes a guide to others for similar work. At this stage the released soul is neither acting nor it is bothered with the fruits of action. This is the essence of every good religion and this is the only accepted path soul's liberation.
Towards the end, in nine verses Shrimadji has described the effect of this soul-saving knowledge on the disciple and the disciple pays his grateful homage to his Guru for his help and advice.
In the final fifteen verses, the whole subject is brought to its natural close. It is shown that this work contains the fundamentals of all six systems of Indian philosophy too.
Thus Atmasiddhi is the quintessence of the truths of all scriptures.