'The Ganadbarvad is a philosophical work in which there are profound discussions of eleven salient doctrines. In each of the discussions, one vital Tattva is taken up; and Lord Mahavir discusses it in great detail and clears the doubt of each Ganadhar with the result that each Ganadhar is fully convinced of the truth of the Lord's argument and becomes his disciple. The eleven Ganadhars are: 1) Indrabhuti - his doubt is regarding the existence of the soul; 2) Agnibhuti - his doubt is regarding Karmas; 3) Vayubhuti - his doubt is whether the body itself is the jiva or whether it is different from the Jiva; 4) Vyakta - his doubt is whether the five material elements are real or unreal; 5) Sudharma - his doubt is whether the jiva will be of the same kind or different in the next birth; 6) Mandit - his doubt is regarding bondage; 7) Mauryaputra - his doubt is regarding the existence of heaven; 8) Akampit - his doubt is whether hell is real; 9) Achalbhrata - his doubt is regarding the existence of Punya and Papa; 10) Metarya - his doubt is regarding the existence of the other world; 11) Prabhas - his doubt is regarding Moksa.
The doubts of the eleven Ganadhars are of a crucial nature and Lord Mahavir by means of convincing arguments and logical discussions of vital principles clears the doubts of the Ganadhars and inspires them to become his followers. This is the subject matter of the book.
As a work dealing with profound philosophical discussions, it resembles the great Dialogues of Plato; in its style and in the techniques of communication employed. The author of The Ganadharvad, the Revered Gurumaharaj, Acharya Sri Bhuvanbhanusurishvarji Maharaj, is a scriptural scholar of outstanding excellence and astounding mastery. His greatness as a writer is evident from the fact that he expounds and establishes, in the clearest terms possible, the most difficult and complicated metaphysical and philosophical concepts and doctrines. His examples and illustrations are so clear, so lucid, so pointed and so appropriate that they enable even lay readers to comprehend clearly and correctly the subtleties and complexities of the philosophical and metaphysical theories discussed. Hegel says: "Logic might have been defined as the science of thought and of its laws and characteristic forms. But thought as thought constitutes only the general medium, or qualifying circumstance, which renders the idea distinctively logical. If we identify the idea with thought, thought must not be taken in the sense of a method or form but in the sense of the self-developing totality of its laws and peculiar terms. These laws are the work of thought itself and not a fact which it finds and must submit to." This definition of logic given by the great German philosopher helps us to understand the incisive intellectual analysis of abstract theories that we find in the book. The great Guru Maharaj presents the arguments of the Lord in an absolutely logical and therefore, convincing manner.
Jainism is not, as some make it out to be, a modern religion which, in their view, arose, not as a natural philosophical growth but as a reaction against the corruptions that had crept into the Vedic religion. Of course, Jainism rejects the authority of the Vedas and dismisses some systems of philosophy as founded on Ekantavad, a single point of view.
All the great Jain scholars who have written on Jainism concede that the Anekantavad (the multiple point of view) expounded by Jain philosophers and methods of acquiring knowledge. The Syadvad or the Saptabhangi developed by the Jain thinkers, views reality from seven points of view, namely:
In some aspect it is existent (Real) (Syat nasti)
In some aspect it is non-existent (Unreal) (Syat nasti)
In some aspect it is existent and non-existent (Syat asti nasti)
In some aspect it is inexpressible (Syat avaktavyah)
In some aspect it is existent and is inexpressible (Syat asti ca avaktavyah)
In some aspect it is non-existent and is inexpressible (Syat asti ca nasti ca avaktavyah)
This method of looking at reality from the seven points of view, according to Jain philosophers helps us to acquire a composite and complete view of the reality. The Jain philosophical enquiry is based on this method and so it is absolutely logical. Prof. Hiriyanna says, "The Jainas think that reality is so complex in its structure that while everyone of these views is true as far as it goes none is completely so." So, Jain thinkers try to describe reality from seven points of view known as Saptabhangi. Moreover, Jain philosophers believe that we must view reality not only in a relative sense but also in relation to Material, Place, Time and State. This philosophical method of enquiry called Saptabhangi is a remarkable contribution of the Jain philosophers to the development of our philosophic awareness. The great Guru Maharaj, the author of the book, presents the arguments from the Anekantavad point of view and establishes various theories and doctrines. "To understand the exact Significance of this doctrine, it is necessary to know the conditions, under which it was formulated. There was then, on the one hand, the Upanishadic view that being alone was true; and on the other, the view, also mentioned in the Upanishads, but with disapproval that non-being was the ultimate truth. Both these views, according to Jainism are only partially true and each becomes a dogma as soon as it is understood to represent the whole truth about reality"- Prof. Hiriyanna.
In the shivir held in the summer vacation in 1963 A.C. at Abu-Achalgad College - the participants including those of the previous shivir requested Acharyadev Vijay Bhuvanbhanu- surishvarji Maharaj to preach and expound the essentials of the Jain philosophy of higher level. The Revered Acharyadev in order to fulfil their desire compiled the Ganadbaravad from Jain Agamas in which the discussions between Bhagavan Mahavir and eleven Brahmin scholars are described in detail. The discussions relate to souls, karmas, the next birth, the bondages, the reality of the world, heaven, hell and salvation etc. The Gurudev explained and preached all these ideas to the students in a lucid and interesting manner. The Ganadbaravad was published as a part of the Gujarati book Jain Dharmano Saral Parichay (An Easy Introduction to the Jain Dharma). Later, a Hindi version of the book was also published. Now, its English version is being published under the title "The Essentials of Bhagavan Mahavir's Philosophy."
Some may desire to know what is the need and importance of the Ganadharavad? The answer to this question is that now-a-days such illogical beliefs as the following are prevalent, and they have to be corrected :
(1) Some believe that there is no such independent substance called the soul different from the body; because from birth to death what is concretely perceptible is the body, and so they say: "Why should we then believe in the invisible soul when all actions and events are going on ceaselessly as if without the soul?" They may ask the question:
"How do happiness and sorrow arise?" and their answer to this question is that everything occurs by chance.
(2) Another belief of these people is that there is no such thing as the next birth, because no dead man has returned from the other world and given any information about it; nor has anyone shown any affection for his previous relatives.
(3) A third belief of these people is that such entities as Karmas, destiny and fortune do not exist because they are not visible. Moreover, many religious-minded people, though earning good fortune are seen to be afflicted with worries.
Then where is the question of the existence of good fortune?
(5) Their fifth belief is that the world which is full of unevenness and strangeness is unreal and void like a dream.
But that all these beliefs are false and illusory can be comprehended from the discussions that took place between the Tirthankar Bhagavan Mahavir Swami and the eleven Brahmin scholars relating to souls, Karmas, body itself possessing consciousness, illusoriness of the whole world, heaven, hell, salvation etc. Hence we feel that if these discussions founded on reasoning are presented before them, their false beliefs would be dispelled, and they would be impressed with the truth of philosophy. Here, we give some valuable opinions of some great men and some ideas occurring in the ancient scriptures.
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