|The satisfaction experienced by members of the Jain community in the preparation and presentation of JDoN led to the unanimous acceptance of a proposal to sponsor the translation into contemporary English of the Tattvartha Sutra, a major Jain scriptural work. Written by the great Jain philosopher-monk Acharya Umasvati/Umasvami in the second century AD in the ancient classical language of Sanskrit, it encapsulates the religious, ethical and philosophical contents of the Jain scriptures. This text is accepted as authoritative by all Jain sectarian traditions, and many great Jain thinkers and Acharyas have written commentaries on this work.In 1990, scholars and leaders of all four Jain sectarian traditions unanimously accepted the format of the translation, which incorporates verses found in both the Shvetambara and Digambara manuscripts. Dr Nathmal Tatia was chosen to translate and annotate this text, which was completed after four years of work.
‘That Which Is’ was published in 1994 as part of The Sacred Literature Series of the International Sacred Literature Trust in association with Harper Collins. The IoJ is a Trustee on Board of International Sacred Literature Trust, which was established to promote understanding and open discussion between and within faiths throughout the world. IoJ has also made available the professionally recited Sanskrit sutras from the book.
IoJ will continue to publish Jain scriptures in the ISLT series.
‘That Which Is’, known as the ‘Tattvārtha Sūtra’ to Jains, is recognised by all four Jaina traditions as the earliest, most authoritative and comprehensive summary of their religion and is introduced below by Dr L M Singhvi’s Foreword in the book itself.The translator, Late Dr Nathmal Tatia was the Research Director of the Jain Vishva Bharti, an Institute of Oriental Studies at Ladnu Rajasthan, India. Chief Advisor for the translation was Dr Padmanabh S Jaini Professor of South & South East Asian Studies University of California, Berkeley.Dr Singhvi’s Foreword:I consider it a great privilege to write the foreword to the International Sacred Literature Trust’s publication of Tattvārtha Sūtra, an ancient magnum opus which is deeply revered and sanctified in the Jaina tradition.The roots of our human civilization are to be found in the sacred texts of different faith traditions. An enlightened awareness of those sacred texts will enable the world of today and of tomorrow to communicate across geographical, political, ethnic and religious frontiers. The far sighted objectives and inspiration of the International Sacred Literature Trust represent an idea whose time has now come in the long march of history. It is an idea which has been integral to the vision of seers, sages and savants in India through the ages and is central to the world view of contemporary India. Quintessentially, that idea is rooted in the universally shared sense of the sacred which enables us, as William Blake put it in his “Auguries of Innocence”: “to see a world in a grain of sand, and heaven in a wild flower/ Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour.”That idea unfolds itself in the compassionate, rational and symbiotic Jaina ethics of tolerance, interdependence and reciprocity, and in the basic pluralist postulates which preserve unity in diversity without undermining the identity of the whole or of the part. The Jaina tradition is an important tributary of this mainstream idea which found sanctuary in the heritage of India and which appears as the motif in the mosaic of Indian culture. Tatvfartha Siitra vivifies that motif through its analysis of phenomena and categories of truth and in its teachings of non-violence, non-absolutism and restrain in acquisition.
Tattvārtha Sūtra is bv common consent the book of books in the Jaina tradition. Acclaimed as an authentic and systematic compendium of the essence of Jainism as taught and settled by Lord Mahavira, and faithfully rooted in the Jaina heritage, it commands the allegiance of the different denominations within the Jaina fold and its authority is definitive and undisputed. An inspired and encyclopaedic achievement of extraordinary scholarship, it is a compact cosmic essay on cognition and conduct, a synthesis of science and ethics in the framework of philosophy. It investigates and catalogues the two basic verities of the world, soul and substance; it also draws a route map to the goal of liberation. Many of its perception and some of its precepts were reflected in some measures in other contemporary schools of philosophy including among others the Vaiśesika, Nyāya, Yoga and Buddhist systems.
In his work, Umāsvāti encompasses an enriching awareness of other schools of thought without disputatious pedantry or dogmatism. It is remarkable that both the Śvetāmbara and the Digambara sects of Jainism claim and count the author as belonging to their respective branches. While Umāsvāti’s date, tradition and biographical details are shrouded in obscurity and have formed the subject matter of considerable scholarly debate, there is a broad consensus on the conceptual content and the interpretation of the sutras. The leading commentaries used in the present translation, Bhāîya and Sarvārthasiddhi, disclose certain textual variations between the two main sects, but those differences are, to my mind, minimal and marginal, of style rather than substance. These two great commentaries, together with the further two based on the Sarvārthasiddhi, Rājavārtika and Ślokavārtika, and the Tattvārtha Sūtra itself, constitute the most precious treasure of Jaina sacred literature. They illumine the constellation of Jaina concepts and precepts in the larger solar system of Indian philosophy, the soul of which is in the quest of the spirit and in the spirit of the quest.
I pay tribute to Dr Nathmal Tatia, an illustrious and eminent Jaina scholar and a living legend in the field of Jaina studies. His translation and annotation is at once simple, elegant, authentic, lucid and faithful. With the aid of Ms Kerry Brown and the scholarly advice of Professor Padmanabh Jaini, Muni Mahendrakumarji and Dr Kumarpal Desai, he has brought to this superb translation of Tattvārtha Sūtra a profound sense of wholesome synthesis as well as accuracy, consistency and clarity. The result is a unique contribution to the sacred literature of the world which has been happily facilitated by the indefatigable co ordinating efforts of Mr Nemu Chandaria. I welcome the publication of Tattvārtha Sūtra under the aegis of the International Sacred Literature Trust and Institute of Jainology and wish the entire interfaith enterprise of the ISLT godspeed and success. Perhaps no enterprise deserves it more or can confer greater benefit upon humanity in its quest for peace, tranquillity and equanimity.
His Excellency Dr L. M. Singhvi