In the Jaina Text BHAGVATISUTRA, Gautama puzzled by the NATURE OF THE SOUL, asks Mahavira, “What is the NATURE OF THE SOUL ?” and Mahavira replies : “EQUANIMITY”. Gautama, then asks :”What is the ultimate goal of the soul ? ” Mahavira replies :”The ultimate goal of the soul is also EQUANIMITY”.
EQUANIMITY ——treating everyone as equal ——- is the foundation of Jaina Philosophy and ethics. Acharya Kundkunda, in his text —-SAMYASARA, supports this view, and he uses the term SAMAYA or SAMYASARA for the SOUL or ATMAN. In the Prakrit language, the term SAMAYA is equivalent to the Sanskrit words SAMAH and YAH, meaning one who has the quality of EQUANIMITY—–that is SAMATVA. That which has the quality of SAMATVA, as its essential nature is called SAMYASARA. Hence, SAMYASARA or EQUANIMITY is the synonym for SOUL. The two are identical.
The pure nature of the soul is sullied and its inherent EQUANIMITY is disturbed, when it comes into contact with the body. This contact —– between body and soul —-allows the inflow of karmic matter. In the lived world, misery and unhappiness arise because the soul loses its EQUANIMITY. No one can escape the effects of one’s deeds. To escape existential suffering, the soul has to be brought back to its pristine nature. None, but the individual himself can help himself get out of misery. A right ethical conduct, austere living and respecting the equality of all beings can restore the true nature of the soul.
The ACARANGA SUTRA states :”Man, thou art thy own friend, why wishest thou for a friend beyond thyself ?”