Kundakunda was a spiritual saint and a great writer among Digambara Jaina thinkers. He is honored, next to Mahāvīra. Kundakundānvaya is evidence that recognizes him as the head of the Moolasangha, which is also considered one of the earliest congregations of Jaina ascetics named after Kundakunda. Kundakunda as a leader of Moolasangha had also launched the Sarasvati movement around 30 B.C. and initiated or made popularized and reading and writing the scriptures in Śauraseni Prākŗta and in the languages of South India. Kundakunda also composed the Kural in Tamil language.
According to epigraphic records, Kundakunda’s original name was Padmanandi, but he became more popular by the name Kundakunda (E.C. II, 64, 66). In addition, Vakragriva, Elācārya and Gradhapiccha were his other names or epithets. According to Dr. Upadhye, Kundakunda hails from Konakunda near Guntakal. Dr. Hanumanth Rao is of view that the birthplace of Kundakunda is Vijayawada on the ground that there is an ancient inscription in Akkanna Madanna caves. Dr. T.V.G. Shastri Supported the view by saying that exploration on the bank of the river Krishna has revealed some ancient Jain remains attributed to the period before Christ in a village called Kolanukonda, not Konakonda in Anantapur District. The place is located in Guntur district on the opposite side of the city of Vijayawada.Nothing more about his personality is found in the works of Kundakunda except the name of Bhadrabāhu as his Gamakaguru. So many traditional stories of course are found in different Texts of different times that are not much reliable and helpful for deciding the date and period of Kundakunda. For instance, the Punyāśravakātha Kośa, Ārādhanā kātha Kośa, and Jňānaprabodha provide some information about his advent to Pūrva Videha-Ksetra for paying a visit to Srīmandharasvāmi. Devasena in his Darśanasāra (Verse 43) also supports this view.
The date of Acarya Kundakunda is still a vexed problem, which could not be solved in such a way that could be approved by all the scholars. It requires the judicious and unbiased approach with a relative evaluation of the previous scholars’ views and epigraphically records in right perspective.I need not refer to and evaluate all the views established by the scholars like Pt. Nathuram Premi, Dr. Pathak, Muni Kalyanavijiy, Pt. Jugal Kishor Mukhtar, Professor Chakravarty, Dr. A.N. Upadhye, and Pt. Kailash Chandra Shastri. Dr. A.N.Upadhye evaluated all then exiting important views and established the date of Kundakunda at the beginning of the Christian era with two limits in the introduction to the Pravacanasāra (P. xii) as follows: In the light of this long discussion on the age Kundakunda wherein we have merely tried to weigh the probabilities after approaching the problem from various angles and by Page 141 of 555 STUDY NOTES version II thoroughly thrashing the available traditions, we find that the tradition puts his age in the second half of the first century B.C. and the first half of the first century A.D.; the possibility of Satkhandagama being completed before Kundakunda would put him later than the middle of the second century A.D.; and the Merkara copper –plates would show that the later limit of his age would be the middle of the third century A.D. Further the possibilities, in the light of the limitations discussed, that Kundakunda might have been a contemporary of king Shivakandha of the Pallava dynasty and that he, if proved to be the same as Elācārya on more definite grounds, might be the author of Kural, would imply that the age of Kundakunda should be limit, in the light of the circumstantial evidences noted above, to the first two centuries of the Christian era. I am inclined to believe, after this long survey of the available material, that Kundakunda’s age lies at the beginning of the Christian era. After the demise of Dr. Upadhye, the date of Kundakunda was not much discussed. Sometimes back Dr. M.A. Dhaky and Dr. Sagarmal Jain have reviewed the date fixed by Dr. Upadhye and expressed their views on the problem that Kundakunda may be even placed in about eight c. A.D. Most of their arguments are based on the negative and inferential evidence. Prof. Dhaky published his article in the Aspects of Jainology, Vol. 3, pp.187-206, Varanasi, 1991 with the caption “The Date of Kundakundacarya” and Dr. Sagar Mal Jain got his article published in the Sagara Bharati.
The following main works are attributed to Kundakunda: - 1) Şaţkhandāgama tika on three sections known as Parikarma which is not available today, 2) Mūlācāra, 3) ten Bhattis(Bhaktis): - Titthayarabhatti, Siddhabhatti, Sudabhatti, Carittabhati, Aņagārabhatti, Āyariyabhatti, Nivvāņabhatti, Paňcaparametthibhatti, Yogibhatti, 4) Aşţapāhuda- Damsana Pāhuda, Caritta Pāhuda, Sutta Pāhuda, Bodha Pāhuda, Bhāva Pāhuda, Mokkha Pāhuda, Linga Pāhuda, Sila Pāhuda, 5) Bārasa Anuvekkhā, 6) Pancātthikāya Sangraha, 7) Pavayanasāra, 8) Samayasāra, 9) Niyamasāra. These Texts are composed in Śauraseni Prākŗta along with impact of Ardhamāgadhi and Mahārāshtri Prākŗta. We are giving some important points about these Texts
Samayasāra or Samaya Pāhuda is the most popular work in Digambara tradition. It deals with spirituality from śubha Niścayanaya (standpoint) and Vyavahāranaya. It also indicates the status of soul, which is engaged to attain the equanimity, abandoning all sinful acts (Samaria). Thus it is the book of soul. The commentator Jayasena (12th c. A.D.) divided the Samayasāra in his Tātparyavrtti commentary into ten chapters dealing with the subjects in 442 Gathas. The commentator Amrtacandra (10th c. A.D.) added in his Ātmakhyāti Commentary, two independent appendixes namely Syādvādaśikhara and Upayopeyabhavādhikāra with the view to explain the Nayas. According to him, the Samayasāra consists of 415 Gathas.The Samayasāra deals with the spiritual matter, which is called Bhedavijňāna, the knowledge of dissociation with the Karmas. Kundakunda discussed the matter mainly from Śudha Niścayanaya, the real standpoint of view. At the outset, he explained the nature of Svasamaya and Parasamaya in this respect. Svasamaya means the soul that is situated in the state of Darśaņa, Jňāna and Caritra and the Parasamaya is that which stays with the state of Karmas (Gatha 2). In his opinion the Śudha Niścayanaya, will not be helpful for laymen who are not spiritually well determined. It is not in fact for a common people. It is only for those who are about to be detached with worldly affairs. Self-realization in his view is the prime object of a Samsāri Jīva who should properly understand the real nature of self. The author defined the Sva- samaya and Para – samaya at the beginning and opined to create Ekatva (oneness) or Bhedavijňāna (knowledge of differentiation between self-own soul and others) on the basis of Ratnatraya. The aspirant can know the nature of pure soul from Niścayanaya (absolute standpoint) that the soul is absolutely pure, sentient, omniscient and completely distinct from Ajīva (lifeless stuff.). The Vyavahāranaya (empirical standpoints) can only help him to reach the destination as the Mleccha (barbarian) can make understood through his language. One must realize the difference between the soul and the karmic influx.
The soul has its own independent existence. Whenever we get different stages of matter or extrinsic qualities contrary to real nature therein due to its cause is called the nature of soul in the practical standpoint (Vyavahāranaya). In fact the soul keeps infinite spiritual knowledge of all substances by nature but does not involve and absorb in them at all. The inanimate substances can never be of soul. Keeping this view the worldly beings can attain the Nirvāņa, the emancipation from all karmas through his own right efforts.
The main object of Kundakunda is to explain of Śuddhopayoga. Śubhopayoga and Aśubhopayoga in his opinion are the causes of Samsāra. The good (śubha) and Bad (Aśubha), both the Karmas are insignificant as the Karmas in general are hindrances in attainment of liberation. The chain may be made of gold or iron is ultimately a chain, which binds one. The good deeds are definitely causes of influx of meritorious and auspicious Karmic results which assist to attain the liberation; but simultaneously they will have to be left out for the final attainment of liberation. One will have to be completely detached with all sorts of desires for the attainment of Vītarāgatva (Gatha 145-46).
Kundakunda discussed the nature of soul from various points. In his view the worldly beings travel the entire wheel of world through talking interminable births due to their own past Karmas and realize the sorrow and pleasure. These Karmas cover their natural qualities and as a result they get the karmic bindings that create the obstructions for attainment of liberation.
According to Kundakunda, all the souls transform within the ambit of their own quartet (Svacatustaya) related to the nature of matter, space, time, and feeling (Dravya, Ksetra, Kāla, and Bhāva). None can interfere into others Dravya – Ksetra- Kāla, and Bhāva. He then reestablished the traditional Jain view that the soul is his own Kartā (Doer) and Bhoktā (one who experiences both joys and sorrows) – Katta bhoi amutto sarirabhitto anainihano ya, Bhavapahuda, Gatha 148). Likewise, none is the cause if neither of its origin nor its destruction. It is an immortal, eternal, and beyond old age (Ajara), possessed of knowledge, vision and consciousness (Paňcāstikāya, Gātha 109). The power of transformation (Parinamana) is a virtue of only soul (Jīva) and matter (Pudgala) that can be perceived on the stage of world through their different activities. The alone-purified soul does not possess the power of binding to any one. Only passionate feelings contrary to the real nature of soul are responsible for being associated with matter and binding of Karmas. This is considered from practical standpoint (Vyavahāranaya). The soul is neither therefore an action (Kārya) because it is not originated one, nor it is the cause (Karaņa), as it does not originate others. It is in fact the Doer as it is a shelter of Karmas and the Karmas are originated from shelter of doer. This called Kartā-karma Siddhi (Gātha 310-11). There is cause and effect relationship (Nimitta-naimittika Sambandha) between Karmabandha (binding of Karmas) and soul (Jīva).
The Pravacanasāra is another popular text of Kundakunda. It has two commentaries in Sanskrit, one is written by Amrtacandra, which contains 275 Gathas divided into three Śrutaskandhas dealing with Jňāna, Jňeya and Caritra, and the second one is composed by Jayasena, which consists of 311 Gathas, divided into three Adhikāras. Some more commentaries are also available in Hindi, Kannada and other languages.
Dhamma or Sama is the real state of soul. It is pure when it is free from auspicious or inauspicious modes of soul, called Śuddhopayoga. The Śuddhopayoga leads to attainment the Kevalajňāna and liberation from all karmas (Mokşa). The Śubhopayoga consists in devotion to divinity, cultivation of good deeds, observation of fasts and so forth that lead to births in Human or diving categories. Deluding is the most powerful Karma that develops the attachments and aversion caused to Karmic bondage. The object of knowledge is made up of substances endowed with various qualities and modifications. The substance undergoes conditions of permanence, origination and destruction. Substance comprises Jīva and Ajīva that are dealt with in detail in the second chapter. Meditation on the self is the real way to attain salvation. The third chapter deals with code of conduct of ascetic. Nonattachment is pre-requisite for entering the order of monks who should have the aim to reach the stage of total non-attachment some philosophic questions and their criticism have also been made by Kundakunda in the Text.
The Pravacanasāra in included into nātakatrayo but it does not appear as a Nātaka. Its main object is to deal with the conduct of Śramaņas. :Carittama khalu dhammo” is the main theme of the Text (3.75). Its object is to adopt equanimity after entering the order of ascetics and attain liberation (Mokşa), the path to which consists in right faith, right knowledge and right conduct. (Gathas 1-6)
The subject has been dealt with the help of both the Nayas Niścayanaya and Vyavahāranaya, but the Niścayanaya became the prominent one. The entity is made up of substances, quality and modifications. The soul is therefore auspicious or inauspicious when it develops those modifications, and is pure when free from both the substance and modifications. Śuddhopayoga leads to liberation of self from Karmic matter, Śubhopayoga to heaven and the Aśubhopayoga to hellish and other lower destinies. The soul gets freedom from Ghātiyakarmas and becomes omniscient called Svayambhu (Gathas 9-16). In this state, the soul enjoys direct vision and knowledge of all subjects without the sensational stages in his perception without having any mutual contact. This is called direct knowledge (Gāthas 26-29, 53-58). This knowledge bestows the eternal pleasures to the liberated soul.
The Śubhopayoga consists in devotion to divinity, right penances and other merits. As a result of these auspicious Karmas the soul avails the various sensory pleasures that lead to a cause of bondage. The Aśubhopayoga consists in delusion, attachment, cruelty and aversion, which rise to various kinds of Karmic bondage and sorrows. One who understands the nature of Śubhopayoga and Aśubhopayoga is called Dharma as he becomes free from delusion and attachment. (83-92).
The Jňeyadhikāra deals with the nature of substance consisting of three elements origination, destruction and permanence. In the state of permanence, the origination and destruction take place in the substance simultaneously in its different forms of modes. Substance is the same. Thus modes and qualities constitute the substance. They are not separate. They cannot be present elsewhere than in a substance. This relation between them is called non-identity (Anyatva). There is always non-difference in the substance, but there is always difference in view of its modifications. There is nothing – absolute producing or destruction in the world. The soul also gets modes in the form of births and re-births due to bondage of Karmas. The great saint is he who meditates on the highest happiness and completely gets rid of all karmas (Gathas 93-108)
In the Cāritrādhikāra he discusses the types of Caritra, which is the emblem of the Jain ascetic. Non-attachment is a pre-requisite for adopting the asceticism. After taking the initiation from the Guru, he should receive his course of duties consisting of 28 Mulaguņās. There should be no default in observing the Mulaguņās or primary virtues. He should go ahead for having the state of complete detachment from all the worldly affairs. He should take up the scriptural study, which prepares him for self-discipline and self-control. He takes one meal a day, which is not full stomach diet. The monks are endowed with either auspicious or pure manifestation of consciousness. Disciplinary formalities in behavior are not forbidden in Śubhopayoga. Monks of Śubhopayoga have renounced attachment for external and internal attachment. A monk who has abstained from improper conduct, who has ascertained the reality and who is peaceful and perfect in asceticism will soon attain liberation and becomes Siddha. (Gathas 31, 57-60, 71)
In fact the he is of view that one should first abandon the Aśubhopayoga and then should not attach much importance to Śubhopayoga, but always should intent on Śuddhopayoga, which leads to attain the Nirvāņa, the state of complete free from all Karmas. This is the main aim of the novice. The aspirant should enter the order and observe the primary virtues and discipline, cultivate Śubhopayoga and attain Nirvāņa.
Substances (Dravyas), qualities (Guņās) and modifications (Paryāya) are called the object of the knowledge. The substance is endowed with origination, destruction and permanence without leaving the existential character, Soul is a substance; manifestation of consciousness is its quality; and its modifications different types of births. Rupitva is a quality of matter and its modifications are manifold like wood etc. The soul is the knower and essentially an embodiment of knowledge. But this essential knowing ability of the soul is crippled because of its long association with Karmic matter. Kundakunda showed the path of liberation from the Karmic matter.
Paňcāstikāya has two main commentaries in Sanskrit one is of Amrtacandra, which contains 173 Gathas, and the other one is of Jayasena, which informs the 181 Gathas. It is divided into two Śrutaskandhas with a Pithikā in beginning and Culika at the end. This division was made by Kundakunda himself as indicated in the opening of second Śrutaskandha by using the pronoun Tesam which refers to Astikāyas etc. discussed in the first. This Text might have been a collection of traditional Gāthas as indicated by the word Sangaho. Amritcandra called some of them as Siddhānta Sutrāni.
The Text proposes to define the Samaya as the Samavāya or collection of five Astikāyas that manifest their existence through numerous qualities. They are soul (Jīva), matter (Pudgala), principles of motion and rest (Dharma and Adharma), and space (Ākāśa). The five Astikāyas and Anastikāyika Kāla are designated as Dravya (substance consisting of three qualities origination, destruction and permanence). It then discusses the qualities of Jīva comprising mainly Jňāna and Darśana and then follows the discussion about other remaining Dravyas. After having discussed about Dravyas, the author goes to discuss the nature of nine Padārthas including Puņya and Pāāpa and also the path of liberation through Vyavahāranaya and Niścayanaya.
Niyamasāra contains 187 gāthas dealing with the concept of Ratnatraya that is Samyakdarśana (right faith), Samyakjňāna (right Knowledge) and Samyakcaritra (right Conduct). Padmaprabha Maladhārideva (12th-13th c. A.D) is the only commentator who commentated upon the Niyamasāra dividing it into 12 Śrutaskandhas. The commentary is written in Sanskrit language and is named Tātparyavrtti. The Text consists of some traditional Gathas, which are also found in the Mulācāra and other ancient āgama Texts. Niyamasāra means the three jewels-Right, Right knowledge and Right conduct (Ratnatraya) which form the path of liberation. Ratnatraya is the way and the liberation is the result (Gatha 2-3). Ratnatraya is called Niyama and Sāra indicates the Mārga which is devoid of perverted motives like Mithyādarśana, jňāna-Caritra. The Niyama is described from both the standpoints Niścaya and Vyavahāranaya (Gatha 54, 120). Niścayanaya is the direct way for obtaining the liberation while the Vyavahāranaya assists in its achievement.
Right faith consists in believing in Āpta, Āgama, and Tattvas. The Right faith (Samyakdarśana) should be devoid of contrary faith (Gātha 51). There are six dravyas (substances) namely Jīva, Ajīva. Dharma, Adharma, Ākāśa and Kāla. The soul is expected to relinquish all the external objects and pursue its own nature the purity that is called Siddha. Right Knowledge (Samyakjňāna) is free from doubt, perversity and vacillation. It consists in the correct understanding as to what is acceptable (Upādeya) and what is rejectable (Heya) (Gātha 51-52). Right conduct (Samyakcaritra) is to bear the Samatābhāva, the harmonious or full of equanimity temperaments. It is described from both the standpoints. Vyavahāracaritra consists in observing Paňcamahāvratas, Paňcasamitis, Triguptis and the Paňca- Paramesthi Smaraņa (Arihanta, Siddha, Ācārya, Upādhyāya and Sādhu). The observation of Vyavahāracaritra leads the aspirant to Niścayacaritra, which consists the āvaśyakas. The Niścayacaritra can be achieved only through Śuddhopayoga and Bhedavijňāna (discriminating science).
It may be noted here Kundakunda discussed the Samyakcaritra through Niścayanaya. It covers mainly the āvaśyakas , such as Pratikramaņa, Pratyākhyāna, Ālocanā, Kayotsarga, Sāmāyika and Paramabhakti (Gatha 83- 140). The last one is divided into two, Nivrtti and Yogabhakti leading to meditation and self-realization.
Mūlācāro is an authoritative work on the code of conduct of Digambara jain asetics. Vasunandi (11-12th c. A.D.) in his Sanskrit Commentary on the Mūlācāro attributes its authorship to Vattakera and also to Kundakunda as follows: - “ Its Mulacaravivrttau Dadasodhyayah. Kundakundacarya – pranita - mulacarakhyavivrttih. Krtiriyam Vasunandinah sramanasya”. The Vattakera may be his adjective. If so, its authorship goes to Kundakunda. It contains 1252 Gāthas. But the Kannada commentator Meghacandra mentions about 150 additional Gathas and is also of view that Kundakunda composed the Mūlācāro.The Mūlācāro consist of 12 chapters
- Brhatpratyākhyāna – samstāravāstava
- Samksepa Pratyākhyāna
There are eight Pāhudas composed by Kundakunad. They are Aşţapāhuda- Damsana Pāhuda, Caritta Pāhuda, Sutta Pāhuda, Bodha Pāhuda, Bhāva Pāhuda, Mokkha Pāhuda, Linga Pāhuda, Sila Pāhuda. Śrutasāgarasuri wrote a Sanskrit commentary on the first six Pāhudas only. All the Pāhudas in fact are independent and significant works dealing with different important topics. Of these, the Caritta Pāhuda and Bodha Pāhuda are more systematic. The Bhāvapāhuda keeps the importance from technical terms and mythological stories.
Damsana Pāhuda contains 36 gāthas dealing Right faith. The Caritta Pāhuda contains 44 Gāthas discussing about the cultivation of Right conduct and its eight virtues. Sutta Pāhuda (27 Gāthas) is related to the Sutras given by Arhantas and Gaņadharas. A Sutra (the sacred text) is not lost in Samsāra. The Nirgrantha type of asceticism is said to be the best one and the women are forbidden from accepting severe types of penances and asceticism such as nakedness. Bodha Pāhuda (62 Gathas) deals with about eleven topics such as Āyātana (spiritual resorts), Caityagraha (holy edifice), Padimā (image), Darśana (faith), Jinabimba (the idol of Jina), Jinamudrā (the appearance of Jina), Jňāna (knowledge), Deva (the pure soul), Tirtha (the holy resorts), Arahanta (Jina), and Pravrajyā (Asceticism). The last two gāthas are very important from the standpoints of kundakunda’s life and his discipleship of Bhadrabāhu. Bhāva Pāhuda (163 gāthas) is related to the Bhāva (purity of psychic state of mind). The Bhāva is of three types, pure (Śuddha), auspicious (Śubha) and inauspicious (Aśubha) which are called Upayoga. In order to get rid of the Karmas one should reflect on the nature of self, which is embodiment of knowledge and consciousness. Mokkha Pāhuda (106 Gāthas) deals with the Paramātmahood realizing which souls attains liberation. Limga pāhuda (22 gāthas) discusses the appearance of monk and other. Śila Pāhuda (40 Gāthas) deals with the conduct, which is an important factor of spiritual life.
There are twelve types of Bhakti-composed by Kundakunda.
- Titthayabhakti (8 Gathas)
- Siddha Bhakti (12 Gathas)
- Sudabhakti (11 Gathas)
- Caritta Bhakti (10 Gathas)
- Jogi Bhakti (23 Gathas
- Āyariya bhakti (10 Gathas)
- Nibbāna Bhakti (21Gathas)
- Paňcaguru Bhakti (7 gathas)
- Nandisvara Bhakti
- Sānti Bhakti
- Samahi Bhakti
- Ceiya Bhakti
Bārasa Anuvekkhā (91 Gāthas) deals with 12 types of reflection, which are prescribed for the stoppage of Karmic influx. They are:
- Anitya: All are transitory
- Asaraņa: No external things can rescue the soul from death
- Ekatva: the soul is only responsible for the fruits of the Karmas
- Anyatva: External objects are quite separate from the soul
- Samsāra: Soul is wandering in Samsāra
- Loka: This universe is threefold
- Aśuci: Ever thing in this world is impure
- Āśrava: Mithyātva, passions etc. are the causes of karmic influx.
- Samvara: Such religious activities which counteract the karmic influx, should be reflected upon
- Nirjarā The twofold way of shedding the karmic matter should be considered
- Dharma: Pratimas of a householders and 10 Dharmas should be considered
- Bodhidurlabha Anupreksa; enlightenment is rare, so one should reflect on the means of attaining it.
The Rayaņasāro (162 Gathas) deals with the religious duties of laymen and monks. Some scholars are of view that this is not the work of Kundakunda as it has a lot of Apabhrańśa impact, but it is not correct. This happened only due to ignorant copyists. There are many common ideas found in his work. Right faith is the root of the tree of liberation. Inauspicious mental attitude is inclined towards wicked and irreligious ones. Bhakti is every where necessary in religious activities. In order to realize Ātmatattva and Paratattva, study is a sure remedy. Attachment is bondage and non-attachment is liberation. The three jewels stand for Gaņa and Gaccha, the various virtues mean Sangha, and Samaya is the pure Soul. The great monk should not be attached to gana etc., but he should cultivate three jewels with its attendant virtues, so that he will soon attain liberation.
This is the brief introduction to contribution of Kundakunda and his works to the development of Jainism in general and southern India in particular.