The study of Upamiti-Bhava-Prapañca-Kathā reveals that Rebirth and Karma are closely associated and run parallel. They compliment each other and are associated with the ignorant and bondaged soul since beginningless time. Past karmas are responsible for the present state of life and the present karmas will shape the future. Nathmal Tatia remarks, ““Rebirth and karman are the two most important presuppositions of all schools of Indian Philosophy with the solitary exception of the system of Cārvāka. This is but consistent with their spiritual outlook. India is a birthplace of a galaxy of spiritual leaders throughout its history and it is no wonder that her heritage is so rich with speculations about rebirth and karman and the pathways leading to emancipation from them. It is not possible to trace the origin of the doctrines in time.’’39

((Nathmal Tatia, Studies in Jaina Philosophy Pg. 220.)) We have seen that karma is the cause of manifold existence and manifold existence is an effect of the karmas bound by the soul. We shall now study in brief the nature of karma and its relation with “The Worldly Soul’. It is often questioned that how can the material karmas bind the spiritual soul and overpower it and keep it entangled in the worldly sojourn? But the fact is that it is not the karmic matter on its own that binds the soul but due to the impure modifications of the soul and the burning material desires in the soul, the fine particles of karma get attracted to the soul and bind the soul as a result of which the soul experiences pleasures and pain. Just as a person who takes to drugs, alcohol and other intoxicating things and under their influence loses his power of discrimination, so also the soul which is potentially divine is handicapped due to perverse attitude, passions and other causes of bondage. But these karmas cannot make the soul bereft of its inherent characteristics and the karmas cease to make impressions on the soul which is noble in its inclinations and higher on the ladder of spiritual development.401 The karmas that bind the soul are of different nature (prakṛti), duration (sthiti), intensity (anubhāga) and aggregate (pradeṣa).412 All souls have the inherent faculties of Infinite knowledge, Infinite vision, Infinite bliss and Infinite power but these faculties remain obscured by the veil of karmas. Karma in a sense means deed, work or action but in Jaina philosophy it connotes that subtle matter which gets attracted to the deluded souls and conditions them in the worldly sojourn. In the words of H.V. Glasenapp, ““The fine matter which can become karman, fills the entire cosmos. Through the vibrations of the soul, which must necessarily follow when the soul puts into motion the material substrata of its activity, the pudgalas are attracted and are drawn to unite themselves to it; they become karman and enter into union with a jīva, more intimate than that between milk and water, than that between fire and an iron ball. The matter once associated with the soul separates itself into a greater number of particles, the karma-prakritis, with varying effects. Their number and character are conditional upon the conduct of the jīva; if this is good, the jīva assimilates good karman species, he binds good karman; when bad, he binds bad karman. The karman may remain latent in the soul for a time without entering into appearance; but when the right moment arrives it becomes apparent, it realises itself. The duration and intensity of the effect of a karman depends upon the state of mind (adhyavasāya) at the moment of the assimilation. When its efficacy expires it becomes extinguished.’’42

(()) The other schools of Indian Philosophy have used different concepts like Māyā, Avidyā, Prakti, Apūrva, Vāsana, Dharma-dharma, Adṛṣṭa, Saskāra, Bhāgya etc for explaining the phenomenal reality in the world and the consequent inequality in the world.

The Jaina school of thought attributes all material reality and inequality to karma and have developed the karma theory into a very scientific theory and studied it to its minutest details which include the nature of the types and sub-types of karmas, the bondage and fruition of karmas. To sum it up the function of karma is to bind the soul in the wheel of transmigration and condition it in different existences. As long as karmic bondage persists conditioning in manifold existence is inevitable and the intensity of the conditioning of karmic fruition is in accordance with the psychical operation of passions and emotions i.e. if the passions are intense, the conditioning will be inauspicious, severe and painful (papodaya), on the other hand if the passions are moderate and less intense, the conditioning in the worldly sojourn will be a fruit of good fortune (puyodaya). Throughout the journey of “The Worldly Soul’, it is seen that whenever “Good Fortune’ (Puyodaya) accompanied the soul he secured a noble human birth and in its absence he wandered in infernal existences and other lower existences.

The karmas that the souls bind may either be auspicious or inauspicious. Auspicious karmas are those which effect self-realization and release from the worldly sojourn and inauspicious karmas are those which cause the stay in the worldly sojourn and effect the evils of birth, death, old age, disease, poverty, ignorance, misfortune, ill-fame, deprivation and all other evils. It is said that one cannot escape the fruits of karmic bondage that one has bound.433 One also cannot share the fruits of others’ karmas. The karmas are classified into eight major types and one hundred and forty eight sub types.444 These karmas not only veil the true nature of the soul but also defile it and subject it to the wheel of transmigration. The names of eight karmas, their nature and the corresponding characteristics that manifest in the soul, when the karmas are annihilated can be studied from the tabular column given in the next page.

The first four are the Ghāti karmas i.e, they obscure the manifestation of the innate characteristics of the soul namely Infinite knowledge, Infinite vision, Infinite bliss, Infinite power and when they are annihilated the soul becomes omniscient and reveals the truth to mankind and inspires them down the ages to beware of karmas and karmic bondage. They serve as a model to conquer delusion, passions and the karmas. The last four are the Aghāti Karmas ie. they determine the stay of the omniscients and other beings in the world. In the text of Upamiti-Bhava-Prapañca-Kathā the nature and function of Mohanīya Karma has come to life in the form of the character of King Delusion and the other seven karmas are picturised as his seven friends. In fact the Delusion-producing karmas are the most powerful of all the eight karmas and so the author has picturised it as the central figure and has gone to the extent of calling “The Worldly Soul’ as the son of King Delusion. Besides delusion, passions play a very important role in corrupting, defiling and binding the soul, so each has been dealt with individually in each canto of Upamiti-Bhava-Prapañca-Kathā. The four passions and the nine quasi-passions stimulate the binding of karmas and leave their imprints on the soul in the present birth and the following births.45 ((Ibid.))

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Characteristics that manifest


Jñānāvaraīya karma (Knowledge-obscuring (Ananta Jñāna) Karmas)

Obscures Infinite knowledge inherent in the soul



Darṣanāvaraṇīya karma (Vision-obscuring Karma)

Obscures the faculty of Infinite vision

Infinite vision (Ananta Darana)


Mohanīya Karma (Delusion-producing)

Deludes the soul and corrupts its power of discrimination

Infinite faith, pure conduct and bliss (Kāyika Samyaktva)


Antarāya Karma (Power-obscuring)

Obscures the inherent powerof the soul

Infinite power(Ananta Vīrya)


Vedanīya Karma (Feeling-producing)

The soul experiences pleasure and pain in different existences

Infinite happiness (bliss)

(Ananta Sukh)


Āyu Karma (Age defining-Karma)

Determines the duration of stay in a particular existence

Eternal life



Nāma Karma (Form and Structure-defining Karma)

Determines the material diversities of name, form etc.

Formlessness (Amūrta)


Gotra Karma (Status determining Karma)

Determines the status in various existences



Anger sabotages love, conceit sweeps away humility, deceit snatches all the friends and greed swallows all the three i.e., love, humility and friends.465 Anger should be conquered by calmness, conceit should be overcome by humbleness, deceit should be overpowered by simplicity and by practising contentment one should conquer greed. Unrestrained anger and conceit and evergrowing deceit and greed-these four water the tree of rebirth.476 External appearances and robes do not serve the purpose of liberation but liberation from the passions marks the termination of karmas and ends the wanderings in the worldly sojourn.

We have seen in the last chapter how “The Worldly Soul’ nurtured the passions and experienced endless grief in various existences. At times delusion was powerful and at other times the other seven karmas and the passions excruciated “The Worldly Soul’ in the four-fold existences. The causes of birth in four-fold existences mentioned in the Shānāga Sūtra are as follows:

(I) The following activities cause birth in infernal (hellish) existences:-

(1) Indulging in sinful activities on a large scale like setting up multi crore projects, cutting down of forests etc.

(2) Acquiring unmeasured wealth and riches.

(3) Slaughtering of animals.

(4) Consuming meat and other intoxicating drugs.

(II) Birth in animal and plant kingdom is caused by the following activities:-

(1) Practising deceit.

(2) By cheating others.

(3) By spelling untruth.

(4) By not weighing correctly.

(III) The following reasons cause birth in the human kingdom:-

(1) By being simple and gentle by nature.

(2) By being humble by nature.

(3) By being compassionate.

(4) By not being jealous and envious.

(IV) Birth in the celestial kingdom is caused by the following reasons:-

(1) By practising self-restraint passionately.

(2) By practising the vows of a laity.

(3) By taking to austerities ignorantly.

(4) By involuntary annihilation of karmas.48

((Sṭhānāga Sūtra, 4/4/628-631.)) All along while wandering in the worldly sojourn, the soul continues to be passionate and deluded but never tries to know the nature of his true self and the causes of bondage and liberation. The author Acarya Siddhaṛṣi has enumerated the nature of the soul, karman emancipation and the pathway of liberation in a dramatic and striking style which appeals to both the common man and the intellectuals. Besides delusion the four passions, the sensual pleasures of touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing, violence, untruth, stealing, unchastity and attachment to possessions vitiate the soul and cause karmic bondage and conditioning.

The subtle matter that sticks to the bondaged soul is the Dravya Karma and the psychical modifications and dispositions are the Bhāva Karmas that actually cause bondage. The first is a veil on the spiritual soul and the latter is a blemish and spiritual disorder which plays havoc on the soul in the worldly sojourn. The Dravya Karmas have a form and weave a body of karmas called Kārma Śarīra which accompanies the soul in different existences and bears fruit in due course. “The Worldly Soul’ takes different forms and names in different existences which is consistent with the karmic patterns adopted by the person in past existences. One who desires freedom from the worldly sojourn has to necessarily free himself from the karmic bondage by treading on the pathway of liberation.

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  1. Karma Grantha Vol. I and II. []
  2. Ibid. []
  3. Uttarādhyayana Sūtra 4/3. []
  4. Karma Grantha, Vol. I and II. []
  5. Daavaikālika Sūtra 8/38.39. []
  6. Daavaikālika Sūtra 8/40. []