Jaina Sutras, Part II (SBE45), tr. by Hermann Jacobi, , at sacred-texts.com
Four things of paramount value are difficult to obtain here by a living being: human birth, instruction in the Law, belief in it, and energy in self-control. (1)
I. The universe is peopled by manifold creatures, who are, in this Samsâra, born in different families and castes for having done various actions. (2)
Sometimes they go to the world of the gods, sometimes to the hells, sometimes they become Asuras in accordance with their actions. (3)
Sometimes they become Kshattriyas, or Kandâlas and Bukkasas, or worms and moths, or (insects called) Kunthu 1 and ants. (4)
Thus living beings of sinful actions, who are born again and again in ever-recurring births, are not disgusted with the Samsâra, but they are like warriors (never tired of the battle of life). (5)
Living beings bewildered through the influence of their actions, distressed and suffering pains, undergo misery in non-human births. (6)
But by the cessation of Karman, perchance, living
beings will reach in due time a pure state and be born as men. (7)
II. And though they be born with a human body, it will be difficult for them to hear the Law, having heard which they will do penances, combat their passions and abstain from killing living beings. (8)
III. And though, by chance, they may hear the Law, it will be difficult for them to believe in it; many who are shown the right way, stray from it. (9)
IV. And though they have heard the Law and believe in it, it is difficult for them to fulfill it strenuously; many who approve of the religion, do not adopt it. (10)
Having been born as a man, having heard the Law, believing in it, and fulfilling it strenuously, an ascetic should restrain himself and shake off sinfulness. (11)
The pious obtain purity, and the pure stand firmly in the Law: (the soul afterwards) reaches the highest Nirvâna, being like unto a fire fed with ghee. (12)
Leave off the causes of sin, acquire fame through patience! (A man who acts up to this) will rise to the upper regions after having left this body of clay. (13)
The Yakshas who are gifted with various virtues, (live in the heavenly regions, situated) one above the other, shining forth like the great luminaries, and hoping never to descend thence. (14)
Intent on enjoying divine pleasures and changing their form at will, they live in the upper Kalpa heavens many centuries of former 1 years. (15)
The Yakshas, having remained there according to their merit, descend thence at the expiration of their life and are born as men.
Men are of ten kinds. (16)
Fields and houses, gold, cattle, slaves and servants: where these four goods, the causes of pleasure, are present, in such families he is born 1. (17)
He will have friends and relations, be of good family, of fine complexion, healthy, wise, noble, famous, and powerful. (18)
After having enjoyed, at their proper time, the unrivalled pleasures of human life, he will obtain true knowledge by his pure religious merit acquired in a former life. (19)
Perceiving that the four requisites are difficult to obtain, he will apply himself to self-control, and when by penances he has shaken off the remnant of Karman, he will become an eternal Siddha. (20)
Thus I say.
15:1 About the Kunthu see below, Thirty-sixth Lecture, v. 138 and note.
16:1 One 'former' (pûrva) year consists of 7,560 millions of common years. The idea that years were longer when the world was still young, is apparently suggested by the experience which everybody will have made, that a year seemed to us an enormously long time when we were young, and the same space of time p. 17 appears to us shorter and shorter as we advance in life. A similar analogy with our life has probably caused the belief in the four ages of the world, shared by the Hindus and the ancients. For does not childhood to most of us appear the happiest period of our life, and youth better still than the time of full-grown manhood? As in retrospect our life appears to us, so primitive man imagines the life of the world to have been: the first age was the best and the longest, and the following ages grew worse and worse, and became shorter at the same time. This primitive conceit was by the ancients combined with the conceit of the year, so that the four ages were compared with the four seasons of the year. Something similar seems to have happened in India, where, however, there are three or six seasons. For the Gainas seem to have originally divided one Eon into six minor periods. Now the year was frequently compared to a wheel, and this second metaphor was worked out by the Gainas. They named the six minor periods aras, literally spokes of a wheel, and divided the whole Eon into one descending part (of the wheel), avasarpinî, and one rising part, utsarpinî. These Avasarpinîs and Utsarpinîs are probably a later improvement, and the Eon originally contained but six Aras. But if there were indeed twelve Aras from the beginning, they must have been suggested by the twelve months of the year.
17:1 This is the first of the ten kinds of men mentioned above; the remaining nine are enumerated in the following verse.