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BUDDHISM

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tsPilaniGoa

Life of Buddha:
Before the enlightenment Buddha was called Gothama or Siddhartha.
Traditionally it is maintained that Buddha was born at Kapilavastu and
his father was a ruler of a principality. Thus Buddha too had a royal
descent.
The date of his birth is generally taken as 563 B.C. He was married to
Yashodara and had a son.
Gothama had been reflecting the vanities of life and upon the tragedy
of death, disease and old age which afflict mankind. This was
represented in the story of his meeting an old man a sick man and a
corpse in succession.
Those instances were followed by meeting a hermit who had
completely renounced the world.
These instances of life led him to decide that he would free himself
from all worldly ties and strive his utmost to discover the way of lifes
unending misery.
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To search for true meaning in life Gotama left his palace by night and
went to a forest. There he practiced absolute penance for six years in
search of truth.
However, not able achieve his goal of enlightenment through severe
penance, he began a fresh course of self-discipline characterized by
less severity.
Gotama in his second attempt was successful and he become fully
enlightened (Buddha) and reached, as it is expressed, the end of
cravings.
He did not remain content with this personal illumination, but decided
to teach the way to the others too. He gave his first sermon at Sarnath
and converted many people into his way of life, and it is here that he
developed the Four Noble Truths.
He died in the year 483 B.C. Buddha is undoubtedly one of the great
religious teachers of the world. in the third century B.C. the famous
emperor, Ashoka become a Buddhist. It is commonly believed that
through the impetus Ashoka gave to it, Buddhism began to spread not
only in parts of India but also beyond it.
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Distinctive features of Buddhism:


1. The four pillars of Karma-Samsara-jnana-mukti are most clearly
defined and accepted by Buddhism. The doctrine of Yoga was
not only adopted but was perfected by Buddhism.
2. Buddhism generally remains atheistic and maintains silence
about the existence of God.
3. A follower of Buddha becomes Buddha and does not worship
Buddha or any supernatural power.
4. The most distinctive feature of Buddhism is that everything is
momentary, life is painful and there is soullessness.
5. There are three vows to be taken, for somone to be initiated
into Buddhism. 1. Buddham Sharanam gacchami, 2. Dharmam
Sharanam gacchami and 3. Sangham Sharanam gacchami.
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6. Reason is accepted as the sole guide in matters of religion, and


not any authority of any scripture.
7. Buddhism never had any caste system. Lord Buddha was totally
opposed to caste.
8. The four noble truths sum up most systematically the whole
teaching of Buddhism.
9. The highest end of life is the attainment of Nirvana.
10. Buddhism advocates middle path, for it avoids the extremes of
both asceticism and worldliness.
11. Buddhism is the most successful missionary religion of India it is
now an international religion.

Buddhist Scared books:


Buddhism in due course established universities at Nalanda,
Vikramashila and Taxila. Though Buddha himself did not write
anything in the course of time, especially as universities
developed, there was the need for a more organized set of
literature and scriptures. Many of these Buddhist writings are
found in Tibetan texts, Chinese translations etc.
In the third Buddhist council held at Pataliputra at about 241
B.C. Buddhist sacred books were canonized. These canonized
books are known as Tripitakas or Three baskets. They are:
a. Vinayapitaka: It contains the teaching of the Buddha regarding
the rules of conduct of monks.
b. Suttapitaka: It contains the doctrine of Buddha and a number of
his dialogues.
c. Abhidharam pitaka: It contains philosophical matter and creed.
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Teachings of Buddhism:
The major teachings of Buddhism can be seen under three
philosophical tenets:
1) Momentariness, 2) Universal Suffering, and 3) Soullessness.
The doctrine of momentariness is most fundamental doctrine in
Buddhism. It means that nothing in the world, not even the Jiva
can be considered as substantial. Nothing in the world has any
permanent nature of its own. Everything in the world is in a
state of flux.
From this it also follows that every pleasant moment is bound to
die out. Hence Buddha argues that pain will be inevitable if we
put our reliance on things, because they are momentary and in a
state of constant change. Soul too has no permanent state, but it
is a stream of ever-flowing mental events.
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The whole teaching of Buddhism is included in the doctrine of


Four Noble Truths. They are:
1.
2.
3.
4.

There is suffering.
There is the cause of suffering.
There is the cessation of suffering.
There is a path leading to the cessation of suffering.

1. There is suffering:
It is interesting to note that no Indian religious thought has
denied the existence of suffering, and a consequent need for
release from this suffering. Buddhism gives reason for this
suffering in terms of its doctrine of momentariness and nonsubstantiality of things.
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2. There is the cause of suffering.


There is suffering, Buddha argues, because there is the cause of suffering, for
nothing can take place without a cause. The cause of suffering has been argued
with the twelve links of Dependent Origination or pratitya-Samutpada. The
twelve links of miserable earthly existence are:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.

Avidhya ignorance
Samskara Mental volitions, mental actions
Vijnana consciousness
Nama-rupa Name and form
Sadayatana the six senses
Sparsha contact of the senses
Vedana sensations as a result of this contact. It also includes feelings.
Trashna craving for pleasures of senses.
Upadhana clinging to the senses
Bhava Desire to be born
Jati Birth
Jara-marana old age and death
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Buddha argues that though this world is full of sufferings, it


can be overcome, and therefore there is the cessation of
suffering.
3. There is the cessation of suffering.
Buddhism argues that though life is full of suffering there is an
end to it. According to Buddhism Nirvana is the ultimate aim
of human striving. It can be said to be a state without pain,
without desire and without any prospect of rebirth. Perhaps it
can be described as a permanent state which is wholly
indescribable, because it is completely transcendental.

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4. There is a path leading to the cessation of suffering.


Since Nirvana is achievable, which Buddha himself achieved,
there must be a path towards this state. Hence Buddhism
advocates the Eightfold path:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.

Right view
Right resolve
Right speech
Right conduct
Right livelihood
Right effort
Right mindfulness
Right concentration
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Man and Soul-less-ness in Buddhism


(Anatta vada, atta = soul in Pali)
NIRVANA
In Buddhism everything is momentary.
Hence there is no substantial man or his soul. When Buddha
was asked about soul he kept silent. For he did not accept the
annihilation of the soul doctrine nor its absolute existence or
eternity as in Christianity.
According to Buddhism man has an illusion about himself
that:
He thinks that he is his body and calls himself me or mine.
He also thinks that he owns his own sensation.
Again, man continues to think that this psycho-physical duality
is his nature or the me or mine.
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Buddhism argues that this illusion of me or mine vanishes


with reflection.
Reflection will tell him that he is a stream of passing events.
Thus we see that an individual is only an aggregate of the
psycho-physical stream.
if there is no permanent self then how does Buddhism
account for rebirths? Buddhism argues that the changes in
man are insensible and continuous from one moment to
another moment (For instance the flame of a candle). And the
successive changes what remains is just a pattern.
For instance a stocking is said to be the same even when in
due course during its repair all the threads in it are replaced.
The same is true of the jiva in transmigration. The continuity
of the pattern remains.
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However the question of whether Buddha denied a permanent soul


or he denied only the existence of the empirical self continues to
remain a tall question.
The term nirvana simply means a flame blown out, and once it is
blown out it does not remain in any other shape or form. Perhaps it
is an idle metaphysical question for Buddha, and his own negative
way is perhaps final:
You teach the Atta, but I teach what Atta is not.
You know the Atta, but I only know what the Atta is not.
Therefore you are always talking about the Atta, but I only speak of
anatta.

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According to Buddhism life is full of suffering. And this cessation of


suffering is known as nirvana.
Literally nirvana means to blow out.
It is the cessation of all those states which constitutes ones individuality.
Thus one cannot talk of individuality after attaining nirvana.
According to Buddhism nirvana is attainable even in this life, which is
known as jivanmukti.
This jivanmukti means an attainment of absolute peace, wisdom and
virtue. Any further metaphysical speculation cannot but disturb this
peace. Nirvana is also a state of mind in this life in which state a
jivanmukta enjoys perfect peace.
Buddha himself argues for nirvana:
As a flame, blown out by the wind, disappears and cannot be named, even
so the seeker, when released, from name and body disappears and cannot
be named.
Again,
a monk whose mind is thus released cannot be followed and tracked out
even by the gods.
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The concept of the jivanmukta supports the view that nirvana need
not mean annihilation of the self. But the truth is that Lord Buddha
was not genuinely interested in any metaphysical enquiry. He only
wanted an end to this endless chain of rebirths by reaching nirvana
which is a state of painlessness. Any engagement with metaphysical
pre-occupation for Lord Buddha meant restlessness, doubt and
uncertainty. And this would mean a denial of peace. Hence nirvana
means extinction of any and every trace of name and form (namarupa).
Even in the case of the two major sects of Buddhism, the Mahayana
and the Hinayana, nirvana is understood as the following:
Nirvana is inexpressible, has no origin and is unchangeable.
Nirvana has to be realized by oneself alone, without making reference
to any spiritual agency.
Personal self is lost in nirvana.
Nirvana means tranquility.
It means barring out rebirths.
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Life after death:


Those who overcome all desires and get their ego dissolved by
withdrawing from the world and by obtaining knowledge through
Samadhi may enter nirvana, but however a vast majority of people
remain outside the realm of nirvana.
How would Buddha account for such people, after having denied both
the nihilist (absolutely denied the soul) and the eternalist (argues for
the eternity of the soul).
Buddha argues that there is the notion of individuality, a psychophysical complex (nama-rupa) which continuous from birth to birth.
However interestingly Buddhism argues that this individuality is not the
same when it is born again or It is neither same nor different. There is a
pattern that continuous. Hence there is an endless chain of continuity
in the interminable chain of rebirths.

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Jainism

Jainism:
Jainism is a very old non-Vedic religion and some of its features
go back to the times of Indus Valley Civilization.
In all probability it arose in the late Vedic Period and was only
revived by Vardhamana better known as Mahavira or the
Great hero in the sixth century BC.
Jaina tradition itself makes it clear by not considering him as a
founder but as a Path-finder or as Tirthamkaras.
Mahavira is believed to have been the 24th Tirthamkara.
Some even mistakenly believed it to be a sect of Buddhism, but
it is really different and much older than Buddhism.
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Vardhamana was born in a princely family about 540 B.C. and died
in 468 B.C.
After renouncing his household life at 30 years old, he wandered
about leading a life of abstinence and meditation. His spiritual
journey made him a jina or spiritual conqueror a word from
which the term Jainism is derived.
Hence, Jainism means the religion of the followers of Jina.
Although Jainism has spread widely, unlike that of Buddhism, it is
limited to India.
Jainism is much orthodox in its dealings and continues to hold the
old customs, institutions and doctrines.
The two major sects of Jainism are Svetambaras and Digambaras.
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Jainas are mostly traders. The Jainas have survived all


these years, while Buddhism has almost disappeared
from the land of its origin.
The main reason is that the Jains have nothing to
oppose Brahmanism.
They do not admit caste, but accept Brahmin priesthood
at many of their functions.
The Pancha mahavrata (five great vows) of Jianism
(Satya, Asteya, brahmacharya, Ahimsa, and a-parigraha)
has been fully adopted by Hinduism, though not with
the same rigour. Even inter-marriages are also accepted
among Jains and Hindus.

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Teachings:
The distinguishing feature of Jainism is its belief in the eternal
and independent existence of spirit and matter, or more
correctly, the animate and the inanimate, respectively called
Jiva and ajiva.
By spirit here we mean to understand only the individual self,
and not the supreme soul as in the Upanishads.
Jainism argues that even material entities have their own souls.
Jainism does not believe in any universal Spirit or God.

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Jiva:
It is conceived as an eternal substance.
Knowledge is its very essence. However Jainism holds that,
empirical knowledge, in its diverse forms, is a manifestation of
knowledge under limitations caused by the ajiva or the
inanimate nature. The eyes for example, are viewed here not as
an aid to seeing, but as a check put upon the absolute sight of
the soul.
The ultimate aim of life is conceived as casting off these
limitations completely so that the soul may regain and reveal its
true nature of omniscience (knowledge). Thus Jainism argues
that there is no perception in the ordinary sense, but only a
mystic or direct intuition of all things. This absolute and
comprehensive knowledge is termed as Kevala-jnana.
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Like Hnduism, Jainism also believes in the theory of


transmigration, but there are differences. Hinduism believes
that it is God who allots rewards and punishments to all beings
according to their karma.
However Jains, who do not believe in a supreme God, declare
that karma operates by itself. In Jainism karma is due to the fact
of ajivas finding their way into the soul and soiling its nature.
Jivas in their empirical condition are divided into higher and
lower classes, according to the number of sense organs they are
believed to possess. For example plants have only one sense
organ of touch, while highest are in men, who in addition to the
five senses, are also endowed with mind or manas and are
rational.
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Ajiva:
The ajiva is devoid of consciousness of life.
Ajiva literally means without a soul and therefore, they cannot
accumulate any karmas. They have no birth, death, pleasure,
or pain. Examples of Ajivas are any material things, like a book,
box, train etc.
Jain philosophy divides ajivas into five categories, they are:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Motion (Dharma)
Rest (adharma)
Space (akasha)
Time (kala)
Matter (Pudgala)
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Special features of Jainism:


1. It is one of the oldest non-Aryan religion of India.
2. It is non-Vedic in the sense that it does not recognize the Veda as its
religious scripture. It does not admit cast discrimination and is
opposed to Rgvedic religion. It accepts moksha and but not heavenly
abode as the highest human end.
3. It accepts the four pillars of karma-samsara-jnana-mukti as its creed.
4. It is wholly atheistic, but intensively a spiritual form of religion.
5. As there is no place for God in its system, so Jainism regards the world
as eternal in its on-goings.
6. Ahimsa is the central teaching of Jainism (ahimsa parmo dharmah),
and it accounts for the moral conduct of Jaina seekers and Sadhus.
7. From the viewpoint of essence, Jainism is dualistic, because it admits
the distinction between the two entities of Jiva and Ajiva.
8. Jaina concept of the soul is very distinctive because it admits a spatial
dimension to it.
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Religious Scriptures:
There are two sects of Jain religious scriptures, they are: 14
Purvas and 11 Angas. However it is believed that all 14
Purvas have been transmitted orally to the next generation
but in due course they have been lost.
Hence 11 Angas form the main Jaina religious literature.
Besides, there are 22 Upangas, 10 Pakinnakas, 6 Chedas, 4
Mula-sutras and 2 other sutras. Among the 11 Angas the
Acharanga formulates the rules of conduct of the monks,
and Sutrakrtanga describes the Jaina rites and points out
its distinctive features.

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The view of God in Jainism:


Jainism regards the world as eternal. Hence naturally there is no
room for any supernatural entity who can be the creator, sustainer
and destroyer of the world. Hence, there is no God in Jainism.
For Jainism each soul in his pristine nature is alone and solitary. He
does not need any help from other souls, and does not give any
help to others. Thus there is no room for worship. Consequently
each soul in bondage is said to be an architect of his own soul.
Either he can work out his own destiny for liberation or sink
deeper into bondage.
Not only that Jainism has no place for God in its system, but has
advanced very powerful arguments against the existence of God.
However in spite of its atheistic thinking Jaina temples are full of
idols, especially of Lord Mahavira.
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It is important to note that Jainas have a great deal of bhakti


towards the idol of Lord Mahavira. According to them the mere
sight of the Tirthankara serves as a reminder for them to lead
a life in such a way as to win ones own release. Jainism argues
that the desire for liberation or release lies in dormant form in
each man and the sight of the idol makes this desire for release
awakened in the believers. Hence, an idol is a support in
meditation and its sustaining aid.
Thus, the Jaina view about God is most consistent with its
beliefs and tenets. Gurus and religious scriptures are only
guides towards winning its nirvana. However this is not pure
humanism, because the goal to be achieved is wholly spiritual,
hence one may call it a spiritual humanism.

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Concept of a person in Jainism:


According to Jainism the soul or spirit has both eternal and noneternal elements in it. It is eternal with regard to its substance, but
non-eternal with regard to its modes. Again the soul is without any
pain or sorrow in its eternal state, but suffers on account of its
identification with body of its karmic matter. Hence man is essentially
a pure spirit, but now in bondage due to his/her karman in countless
past lives.
As pure spirit it is finite knowledge, has unhindered intuition of all
things, finite power and faultless ethical conduct. But karman works as
a block and has covered his knowledge, perception and ethical
conduct. The worst thing is that the karmic matter and soul get so
much mixed up that the embodied soul behaves like a material thing.
Thus in Jainism a person is understood as an embodied spirit, a
combination of karmic matter and soul. And he/she is caught up in the
endless cycle of births and deaths, which really means that he is
condemned to a life of suffering, evil and bondage.
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Ultimate destiny or Liberation:


Jainism argues that the karmas soils the soul, and these karmas
have to be eradicated.
It argues that there are old karmas in the soul as well as fresh
ones that one acquires in the process of everyday life.
Jainism argues that for the stoppage of fresh karmas and
eradication of past karmas, a method of psycho-physical discipline
has to be adopted, and certain moral austerities have to be
enforced.
For stopping the inflow of fresh karmas, tapas has to be adopted
and it also supposed to burn away the accumulation of past
karmas.
Hence the pancha-mahavratha (Satya, asteya, brahmacarya,
aparigraha and ahimsa) has to be adopted for a devotee to attain
liberation.
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For achieving mental control there are three ratnas:


samyagdarshana (right faith), samyagjnana (right
knowledge), and samyakcharitra(right conduct) are to be
cultivated.
Samyag-darshana (right faith): means trust in the Tirthankaras,
ones Guru and the knowledge imparted by the Guru. It also
means conviction of and a proper attitude to Jainism in general.
Samyag-jnana (right knowledge): It is the understanding of
various doctrines and the scriptures.
Samyag-charitra (right conduct): Right conduct is the natural
outcome of right faith and right knowledge. This also means
strict observance of five vows (pancha-mahavratha).
Cultivating the pancha-mahavratha is absolutely necessary for
ultimate destiny in Jainism.
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Another step for attainment of liberation is tapas or austerities.


Tapas largely means the mortification of the body.
Tapas is both internal and external. External tapas means
observing the fast, eating tasteless food, and also causing certain
pains to the body.
Internal tapas means doing penances, and feeling remorse for
the evil actions and making a decision to improve every day.
Tapas also includes faith in elders, saints and scripture.
However tapas has to be followed up in observing the five vows
involved in pancha-mahavratha
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Pancha-mahavratha are:
Ahimsa (non-injury): It is the most distinctive moral view in
Jainism. Even in Buddhism it is not as strictly carried out as in
Jainism. Killing means separating the body from the subtle
body. It mean also the inflicting the pain to any organism
whatsoever. As the Jains believe that all particles of matter are
inhabited by souls, so they take great measures against
destroying life in water, air and earth. Ahimsa also means
respect for life, whether in your person or in any living beings.
However kings and rulers do no wrong if they have to fight
their battles in defending their countries and their welfare.
Satya: It means cultivation of moral excellence. It has to be
observed in thought, word and deed. One should speak out
the truth, should speak to create pleasantness.
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Asteya (Non-stealing): It generally means respecting the


ownership of things not belonging to oneself.
Aparigraha (non-possession): A monk or nun renounces the
world and possesses nothing which one can call as ones own it
also means non-attachment of worldly objects and things.
However in the case of a laity certain possessions are mandatory,
thus here it would mean honest living and avoidance of avarice.
Brahmacharya (Celibacy): It is a stage where one remains
unmarried and avoids all forms of sexual relations. It is an attempt
to surrender oneself completely to the knowing of the interior
meaning of oneself by denying the family life.
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The world:
Anekantvada and Syadavada
According to Jainism the world is eternal and real.
It is not interested in the improvement of this world order,
because Jainism mostly concerns with conquest of the self and
not of the world. Jainism, keeping to its doctrine of selfconquest and self-culture, does not advise its adherents to get
involved in worldly pleasures.
It taught respect for life, and the greatest respect for humans,
who are the highest of organisms.
Buddhism argues that everything is momentary, however in
Jainism things are both momentary and substantial and they
argue it with the doctrine of anekantvada (many-ends doctrine).
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Hence, Jainism explains reality in terms of the doctrine of manyends or the doctrine of may be (Syadavada). According to Jainism
each truth can be represented in different ways, each as a possibility
and probability. Each proposition is true in the context of certain
conditions, and according to Jainism it cannot hold good otherwise.
Hence, from this point of view we can argue that, a thing:
1. Is
2. Is not
3. Is and is not
4. Is inexpressible
5. Is and is inexpressible
6. Is not and is inexpressible
7. Is, is not and is inexpressible
This doctrine argues that our knowledge of reality is relative and we
can make many statements regarding the validity of a phenomena.
For example we can say that: a jar, is a jar, and a jar is not a table.
On this basis this is and is not the rest of the arguments are
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based.

Life after death:


Two things may happen to a person after death. If a person has practiced
tapas (austerities), pancha-mahavrata (five vows) etc. under a guru then
that person may attain the pristine glory of Omniscience (knowledge).
One becomes immortal and no more enters into the life of rebirths.
But those do not strive for a greater life will continue to transmigrate
from one birth to another, in an endless chain.
Jainas were the first to have maintained carefully the doctrine of karmasamsara-jnana-mukti.
Jainism argues that there is no way out of the cycle of Karmavada except
by attaining liberation.
The important thing to repeat and emphasize is that a person can alone
work out his or her liberation through his own efforts. There is no
possibility of making prayers to any supernatural agency for ones
release.
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