SAMATVA YOG: THE FUNDAMENTAL TEACHING OF JAINISM
Ours is the age of tremendous growth of knowledge and scientific discoveries. Paradoxically, we can also call it the age of anxiety and mental stress and tension. We know more about the atom than the values needed for a meaningful and peaceful life. We are living in a state of chaos.
Today what is needed for man is mental peace and the capacity for complete integration with his own personality and with his social environment. This can be achieved through the practice of SAMATVA i.e. mental equanimity or calm disposition. The theory of Samatva yog has been preached in Bharat more than two thousand years ago by Vardhaman Mahavir, the 24th Jain Tirthankar.
The concept of samatva is the core of Jainism. It pivots the ethics of Jainism. Roughly translated, we can term it an excellent blend of equality, equilibrium, harmony, integration and rightness. It means a balanced state of mind, undisturbed by all kinds of sorrows and emotional excitements, pleasures and pains and achievements and disappointments.
To achieve Samatva, a Jain has been advised to practise meditation or dhyana sadhana. It is the central practice of spirituality in Jainism. Dhyana sadhana in Jainism aims to reach and remain in a state of ‘pure self-awareness’. It is also seen as realizing the Self, taking the soul to complete freedom, beyond any craving, aversion and/or attachment.
Jain meditation or Dhyana is broadly categorized into two groups- the auspicious (Dharma dhyana and Shukla dhyana) and the inauspicious (Artha dhyana and Raudra dhyana). The 20th century brought in some innovations and modernist methods of Jain dhyana mainly by the monks and nuns i.e. Sadhus-Sadhvis and laymen i.e. the shraavaks and shraavikaas of the Shvetambar sect of Jainism.
The Jains believe meditation to be a core spiritual practice in one’s life. All the 24 Tirthankars practised deep meditation and attained Kevala gyan or enlightenment. In iconographic representations, they are all shown in meditative postures. There are various common postures for Jain meditation- padmasana, ardhapadmasana, vajrasana, sukhasana, kayotsarga and shavasana. The 24 Tirthankars are shown either seated i.e. padmasana or standing i.e. kayotsarga.
The Jain form of meditation is also called Saamaayika. The word Saamaayika means being in the moment of continuous real-time. It is also a method by which one can develop an attitude of harmony and respect towards other humans, animals and nature. Saamaayika basically means total state of equanimity or samatva. Samatva is the first step in saamaayika and complete purity of the soul is the end result of saamaayika.
During saamaayika, a person sits down at one place, isolating himself from daily household, social, business and other activities. The time is spent reading holy scriptures i.e. svaadhyaaya, praying, reciting the Nammokara Mantra, silent meditation etc. There are specific clothes to be worn during saamaayika i.e. only white colored cotton clothes ( Unfortunately, this rule is NOT followed in present time). A muhapatti is used to cover the mouth. Saamaayika can be done any time of the day but the duration is specific i.e. 48 minutes or one muhoorat. Two more saamaayikas can be done in multiples of 48 minutes.