Jainism – a way of life
(STAGES OF SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT)
Jains believe that one has to climb through the spiritual ladder in order to achieve final nirvāna. Every one starts from a bottom point and makes a gradual upward journey to the top. A person may start from a point where he does not believe in good spiritual values and may hold perverse views about the life and the religion. However, he/she may gradually change and start believing in something far greater and meritorious. This will be a point where his upward journey takes off. He may again fall back to the lower level if he is not careful. The following 14 steps or stages give proper insight into man’s attitude and possible downfall or progress he may make towards the path of nirvāna.
It must be noted that more emphasis is given on the bhāva ie person’s feelings and intentions. These bring stronger karma reactions. As for example accidental killing and intentional killing produce different types of karmas. Killing with intention (bhāva) leads to a worst type of karma bondage. This may happen due to diluding karma (moha). Diluding karma are most dangerous ones which when present on the soul, makes man do more karmic activities thus resulting in a spiral acceleration of the bondage.
The 14 stages are as follows.
1 Perversity of view/attitude. This is the lowest stage. (Mithyadrushti)
2 Momentary taste of the right vision (Sasvadan Samyag Drishti). In a way this is not a stage but a point where one arrives temporarily. A person falling from fourth stage arrives here and then falls back to the first stage. Any one climbing up from the first step does not come here.
3 Mixed stage of right and false attitude.(Misra). This is a stage of indifference towards right belief. A person arrives here whilst falling from the fourth stage and stays here for a very limited period. From here person may go back to the fourth stage or fall further and go down..
4 Knowledge, clear vision, but no practice (Avirat Samyag Drushti). Due to lack of will power person may fall to the lower stage. One can go up as well as down from this stage depending upon the karma activity.
5 Partial observation of vows (Desh virati). Good lay people (Shrāvakas and Shrāvikās) adopt minor vows and practise partial self-control. This is the highest stage possible for a layperson. (Some people reject this interpretation).
6 A person renounces the world completely but some negligence due to attachment is left there. The original name for this stage is Pramatta Saynyati.
7 No inertia. (Apramatta). A person takes all vows and he practises self-control. This is a stage from where soul purifies by reducing three kashayas ie ego, illusion and anger. There are better chances of making steady upward journey but again a slight carelessness (pramād) may cause downfall.
8 Purification+ peace. (Apurva karan or Nivrutti badar) In fourth stage man may achieve right faith but here, on the eighth stage, man may achieve right conduct. The soul may go to the ninth stage from here or it may take one of the two different routes from here. One is called the route of suppression of karmas and the other one is called the route of annihilation of karmas. If the soul takes the first route it goes up to the 11th stage and if it takes the second route it goes to the 10th and then straight to 12th stage. Thus the eighth stage is an important stage and therefore it is called unprecedented (apurva) stage.
9 The stage of high degree of suppression or annihilation of karma (Anivrutti badar). One can again go to a lower stage from here if karma-bondage continues due to possibility of passions coming back.
10 Only subtle deluding karma in the form of greed remains in this stage. Again, one can go to either 11th stage or directly on to the 12th stage from here. (Sukshma Samparaya)
11 Subtle greed (mohaniya karma) gets subsided here (Upshanta Mohaniya) but may return and cause downfall (to 10th or even lower stages 6th, 5th, 4th or 1st stage). This stage is reached because of suppression and not because of annihilation of karmas. Suppression is like dirt settling in the water. Water may look pure but the dirt is still there. That is why one can go down from here.
12 Mohaniya karma destroyed (Kshin Mohaniya). This is attained by annihilation of karmas. One can reach here directly from No. 10. (Not from No 11 because one goes down from 11th to 10th and then it rises up to this stage directly). At the end of this stage, just before entering stage No 13, the soul becomes omniscient. In No 13 all ghati karmas are destroyed.
13 All ghati karmas are destroyed in this stage and omniscience attained. =(Sayogi kevali)
14 All vibrations (yoga) stopped (Ayogi kevali). Here remaining four aghati karmas are destroyed (Shaileshikaran). …NIRVĀNA
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