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Soul and Karma –

Soul or spirit is the basis of entire Jaina philosophical development. Jainism believes that the soul is an independent entity responsible for its actions, performed through the medium of the body that envelops it as long as it stays in its worldly existence, and their inevitable retribution – good or bad, pleasurable or painful – in accordance with the quality of its actions. The soul is abstract, formless and manifests itself through its embodiment. Further it believes that such an independent soul is forced to suffer or enjoy the sufferings or enjoyments, that come its way, because it is kept in bondage by the karma. According to the Jaina thought the reason for this bondage and worldly wandering is the karma–matter that associates with it as a result of the actions of its bodily encumbrance. It is the karma that is responsible for the worldly transmigration and repeated births and deaths in various classes like heavenly gods, hellish denizens, human beings and sub–human creatures.

Karma –

Karma is a much talked about word that has universal circulation. It has its application in all walks of life in all parts of the world. Not only Indian religious philosophies but also the western ones have given importance to karma by referring to itas good deeds and bad deeds. However, most philosophies do not go beyond action as its meaning. It is the Jaina philosophy that has given it a much wider meaning. In Jaina philosophy the word karma has two connotations – 1. The action and 2. The karma–matter.

The Karma Theory –

The Jaina theory of ‘Karma and its inevitable retribution’ is nothing new as many religious philosophies, including the western ones have talked about it. When Gosvāmī Tulasīdāsa says in his epic ‘Rāmacaritamānasa’ “Jo jas karahi so tas phal cākhā‘, he means the same thing as the western proverb “As you sow, so you reap”. However, Jaina Karma Theory is unique in its evolution to mathematical precision. This chapter brings out this perfection of the ‘Karma Theory’ as seen and propounded by the Lords Tīrthaṅkaras and propagated by the masters and preceptors over time. ‘Karma’ is important, from the spiritual point of view, because it is a constant companion to all worldly souls and unless this association between the karma and the soul is completely and irresidually ended Mokṣa (liberation : the ultimate goal) remains unattainable. In the Jaina parlance, the term ‘Karma’ has two meanings – 1. Any mental, verbal or physical action and 2. The karma–matter (matter of the Karma pudgala pudgala vargaṇā) that comes in contact with the soul and sticks to it as a result of this action. This needs certain getting used to and this chapter endeavours to clarify this aspect.

The Importance Of Karma Theory –

Famous Jaina spiritual master of the eighth century AD, Ācārya Haribhadrasūri, has said in his equally famous work ‘Samarāicca Kahā` that ‘everyone gets the fruits of one’s earlier performed actions; in his pleasurable and painful experiences the others are just means and not the substantive causes’. This is one truth that truly states the essence of ‘Karma Theory’, which if properly understood and appreciated may save us from many a trouble and misery. Most of the times we make the mistake of taking the agents as the principals and consider them as out friends and foes when they become the means of our pleasurable and painful experiences. If we develop the right perspective and take the agents as such, we can also develop the truly detached disposition and consequent victory over the delusion that causes attachment and aversion. A proper understanding and appreciation of ‘Karma Theory’ can, in this way, become the means of breaking the bondage of delusion with its attendant attachment, aversions and passions – anger, pride, guile and greed – and pave the way for not only a harmonious life but also for the ultimate goal of liberation.

The Place Of Jaina Karma Theory In The Indian Philosophical Field–

Jainism has contributed many unique features to the Indian religious philosophical field. Just like theories of absolute Non–violence and Non–absolutism, propounded by the Lords Tīrthaṅkaras. Karmavāda is yet another major contribution of Jaina philosophy to the field of Indian religious philosophies.

Generally, it is believed that Jainism is a philosophy that is based on the Karma Theory. Although this belief is not incorrect but it is not wholly true as well. To say that Jainism is based on the theory of karma only is a misrepresentation of facts. According to Ācārya Siddhasena Divākara, it is a philosophy based on five theories namely Kālavāda (Theory of time), Svabhāvavāda (Theory of nature), Niyativāda (Theory of destiny), Pūrvakṛtavāda (Theory of earlier action)and Puruṣārthavāda (Theory of endeavour). However, the reason for this misplaced belief is that the literature related to Karma Theory has, over time, occupied so much space that the other four theories, taken together, have been unable to get even a hundredth of its coverage.

The Available Literature On Karma Theory –

Though all primary (Aṅga) and subsidiary (Aṅgabāhya) canonical works mention karma and its impact on the soul, none of them can be said to be wholly devoted to the theory of karma alone. The professors and preceptors of Karmavāda are unanimous in holding the view that the theory of karma originated from the eighth pre–canon (Pūrva) called ‘Karmapravāda Pūrva’. As all the fourteen pre–canons have been lost, to the present generation of Jainas, due to the ravages of time; the original work is presently not available.

Presently the available works on Karma Theory are as follows: –

A. Works by Śvetāmbara masters –

a. Karma Prakṛti,

b. Pañca Saṅgraha,

c. Karma Granth,

d. Karmastava,

e. Karma Svāmitva,

f. Ṣaḍśītikā,

g. Śataka, and

h. Saptatikā.

The last six works from this list have been composed by Ācārya Devendrasūri, a Śvetāmbara Jaina master of the 14th century AD. They are, currently, more popularly known as first to sixth Karma Grantha and form the basis of the study of Karma Theory in the white clad sect of the Jainas.

B. Works by Digambara masters –

a. Mahākarma–prakṛti Prābhṛta, and

b. Kaṣāya Prābhṛta.

Both these works are believed to be quoted from the pre–canon referred to above.

The Existence Of The Soul –

The Jaina answer to the question “who gets bound by the karma and who suffers the retribution due to it?” is that it is the soul that is bound by the karma and it is the soul that suffers the inevitable retribution due to it. It is for this reason that we must establish the existence of the soul before we proceed any further with the subject of ‘Karma Theory’. The following seven proofs prove the existence of the soul: –

1. The self– experience,

2. Absence of any evidence to the contrary,

3. Denial also proves the existence of the denier,

4. Logic that like everything else in nature that exists in opposite pairs, the sentient soul exists as an opposite of insentient inanimate matter,

5. Scriptural proofs,

6. Opinions of the present day scientists, and

7. Rebirth.

The Beginningless Association Of Soul And Karma –

We have mentioned earlier that soul by itself is an independent entity, which is held in bondage by the karma–matter bonded with it. This bondage itself is the cause of its worldly existence and transmigration in various classes and species of worldly creatures. When the soul frees itself from the karmic bondage, it liberates and resides in the abode of the liberated souls called Siddhaloka or Siddhaśilā, never to return from there. This forces us to think as to when the initial association of the soul and the karmic matter took place. As the worldly soul, with its karmic encumbrance (without the karmic bondage the soul will not be a worldly soul but a liberated – siddha one), is supposed to be in this world from the beginningless time, from ever in the past, and no particular time or epoch can be assignedto its association with the karma–matter. Thus, as it is not possible totrace any beginning for this association, it is believed to be beginningless.

Soul And Karma Are Separable –

Though the soul and karma have a beginningless association, they are separable with due effort. This separation and consequent liberation of the soul from the mundane world is the ultimate goal of all spiritual practice. This separation is so much desired because it is the only escape for the soul to gain freedom from the miseries of the world and to attain the eternal bliss. It also stands to logic because the state of freedom is natural (Svabhāva) for every living being and that of bondage is unnatural (Vibhāva). Every organism wishes to move from the unnatural state of bondage to the natural one of freedom. The entire gamut of Karma–siddhānta is about achieving this state of separation or liberation from the karmic bondage.

The Jaina DOCTRINE OF Karma

Karma : Definition –

Karma is defined as the insentient matter (Pudgala dravya) that associates with the worldly soul, beset with attachment and aversion, because of the constant vibrations that take place due to the activities of its body, mind and speech (together known as yoga).

Causes Of Karmic Association –

The five causes that promote such spiritual vibrations and consequent karmic association and bondage are –

1. False View–Point – It makes the subject see things in a wrong perspective and consider spiritually harmful activities as beneficial.

2. Indulgence or Lack of Discipline – It keeps the embodied soul constantly engaged in intense activities, which incurs further karmic bondage.

3. Negligence – It causes unintentional activities yet it results in avoidable karmic bondage.

4. Passions – Passions like anger, pride, deceit and greed make one lose the sense of balance and discretion and under such a state of imbalance the soul indulges in unimaginable sins.

5. Yoga – In Jaina parlance the aggregate of body mind and speech is known as yoga. Though the reasons for indulging in any activity are the aforementioned four factors, all activities are carried out by these three agencies.

Karma At Material And Volitional Levels –

Although we have listed five causes of karmic association and bondage of the soul, they can all be contained in only the last two namely – Passions and Yoga. Also, it may not be incorrect if we said that the passions are primarily responsible for such an association and bondage for even the activities of the yoga do not result in karmic bondage in the absence of passions. Yet, again, the effect of four passions – anger, pride, guile and greed – may also be ascribed to only two reasons of attachment and aversion as these two only give rise to passions. We must be clear that what we do with our body and speech are actions, what we do with our mind are thoughts and passions or attachment and aversion are only psychic conditions or volitional dispositions.

Now, we may have the following two situations: –

1. Physical mental and vocal activities influenced by attachment and aversion.

2. Passionate thoughts without any activity of the body and speech.

It can be appreciated that in the first case the karma–matter (Karma pudgala vargaṇā ofmatter) is attracted towards the soul due to the vibrations caused by the physical, mental and vocal activities and they get bonded with it due to the presence of passions. These are referred to as material karma or Dravya karma. In the second case though there is every possibility of karmic bondage as soon as there is any yoga–activity, the actual bonding is not taking place due to the absence of such activity. This potentiality of attachment and aversion or passionate volitional disposition for incurring karmic bondage is said to be volitional karma or Bhāva karma.

Four Types Of Karmic Bondage –

We have seen that karmic bondage takes place due to passions and physical, mental or vocal activities. Depending upon the qualities and quantities of such actions and the intensity of passions while performing those activities, the karmic bondage may also be of varying degrees in respect of the following four variable parameters: –

1. Nature of bondage or quality–bondage (Prakṛti Bandha),

2. Quantity of bonded karmic matter (Pradeśa Bandha),

3. Intensity of retribution on fruition (Anubhāga Bandha), and

4. Duration of bondage (Sthiti Bandha).

We shall deal with these aspects of karmic bondage one by one.

Nature Of Bondage (Prakṛti–bandha)

The soul is endowed with infinite qualities. The karma–matter associated with it adversely affect one or the other of these qualities, depending upon the type of action and volitional disposition that resulted in the bondage and, which, in turn, attract and bond different types of karma–matter. By this reasoning the karma–matter and consequent nature of karmic bondage should also be of infinite varieties. They may well be. However, they have been grouped under one or the other of the following eight categories: –

1. Knowledge obscuring  (Jñānāvaraṇīya) karma,

2. Vision obscuring (Darśanāvaraṇīya) karma,

3. Feeling producing (Vedanīya) karma,

4. Delusion producing (Mohanīya) karma,

5. Life–span determining (Āyu) karma,

6. Genetic classification (physiques of different classes such as heavenly gods, human, animal or hellish denizens) determining (Nāma) karma,

7. Status (within a particular class) determining (Gotra) karma, and

8. Weal Obstructing (Antarāya) karma.

The functions of these different types of karma are obvious from their nomenclature itself. These have further been grouped in two groups, as follows, depending upon their ability to hinder the basic qualities of the soul or otherwise. The two groups are –

1. Destructive (Ghātiyā) karma, which inhibit the soul from realising it’s potential of enlightenment and omniscience–

a. Knowledge obscuring karma,

b. Vision obscuring karma,

c. Delusion producing karma, and

d. Obstructive karma.

2. Non–destructive (Aghātiyā) karma –

a. Feeling producing karma,

b. Life–span determining karma,

c. Genetic classification determining karma, and

d. Status determining karma.

This, however, is their basic classification. Each of thesetypes also has some sub–types, which are 158 in all, as under: –

Basic Karma TypeNo. Of Sub–types

Knowledge obscuring 005

Vision obscuring 009

Feeling producing 002

Delusion producing 028

Life–span determining 004

Physique determining 103

Status determining 002

Obstructive 005

Total :158

The sub–types of this secondary classification are as follows:–

1. Five subtypes of Knowledge obscuring karma are –

a. Sensory perception obscuring (Matijñānāvaraṇīya) karma,

b. Scriptural perception obscuring (Śrutajñānāvaraṇīya) karma,

c. Clairvoyant perception obscuring (Avadhijñānāvaraṇīya) karma,

d. Telepathic perception obscuring (Manaḥparyāyajñānā–varaṇīya) karma, and

e. Omniscience obscuring (Kevalajñānāvaraṇīya) karma.

2. Nine sub–types of Vision obscuring karma are –

a. Ocular vision obscuring (Cakṣu–Darśanāvaraṇīya) karma,

b. Non–ocular vision obscuring (Acakṣu–Darśanāvaraṇīya) karma,

c. Clairvoyant vision obscuring (Avadhi–Darśanāvaraṇīya) karma,

d. Omnivision obscuring (Kevala–Darśanāvaraṇīya) karma,

e. Sleep : Vision obscuring (Nidrā–Darśanāvaraṇīya) karma,

f. Deep sleep : Vision obscuring (Nidrānidrā– Darśanāvaraṇīya) karma,

g. Drowsiness : Vision obscuring (Pracalā– Darśanāvaraṇīya) karma,

h. Deep drowsiness : Vision obscuring (Pracalāpracalā– Darśanāvaraṇīya) karma, and

i. Very deep sleep : Vision obscuring (Styānagṛddhi– Darśanāvaraṇīya) karma.

3. Two sub–types of Feeling producing karma –

a. Pleasurable feeling (Śātāvedanīya) producing karma, and

b. Painful feeling producing (Aśātāvedanīya) karma.

4. Twenty–eight sub–types of delusion producing karma –

a. Three Vision deluding types –

1. Falsehood actuated delusion,

2. Mixed delusion and

3. Permanent right–vision obscuring.

b. Sixteen passions – anger, pride, guile and greed – actuated delusion producing karma –

1–4. Infinitely bonding passions actuated,

5–8. Partial renunciation obscuring passions actuated,

9–12. Renunciation obscuring passions actuated, and

13–16. Momentary passion actuated deluding karma, and

c. Nine quasi–passions deluding karma actuated by –

1. Laughter, 2. Attraction, 3. Distraction,

4. Fear, 5. Sorrow, 6. Hatred,

7. Female libido, 8. Male libido, 9. Neuter libido.

5. Four sub–types of Life–span determining karma –

a. Heavenly life–span determining karma,

b. Human life–span determining karma,

c. Hellish life–span determining karma,

d. Sub–human life–span determining karma,

6. 103 sub–types of genetic configuration determining karma fall in fourteen types of major body–configurations, eight types of peculiar physique giving karma, ten types of mobile physiques giving karma and ten types of immobile physiques giving karma which in turn, have their own sub categories.

A. Fourteen body–configuration (Pinda prakṛti) determiningkarma –

a. Four types of destiny–class (Gati nāma) determining karma,

b. Five types of organic–class (Jāti nāma) determining karma,

c. Five types of bodies (Śarīra nāma) determining karma,

d. Organs such as hands feet etc and sub–organs such as fingers etc determining (Aṅgopāṅga nāma) karma,

e. Physique bonding (Bandhana nāma) karma,

f. Physique making material collecting (Saṅghāta nāma) karma,

g. Six types of bone–joints (Saṁhanana nāma) determining karma,

h. Joint–nail determining (Kīlikā nāma) karma,

i. Six types of shapes (Saṁsthāna nāma) karma,

j. Complexion determining (Varṇa nāma) karma,

k. Body–odour determining (Gandha nāma) karma,

l. Body–taste determining (Rasa nāma) karma,

m. Body–touch determining (Sparśa nāma) karma,

n. Birth–order determining (Ānupūrvī nāma) karma, and

o. Auspicious and inauspicious body–ambulation determining (Vihāyogati nāma) karma.

B. Eight peculiar (Pratyeka prakṛti) physiques determining karma –

a. Victory giving (Parāghāta Nāma) karma,

b. Special respiratory power giving (Ucchavāsa Nāma) karma,

c. Special heat radiation power giving (Ātapa Nāma) karma,

d. Cool light radiation giving (Udyot Nāma) karma,

e. Neither light nor heavy body giving (Agurulaghu Nāma) karma,

f. Birth as a Tīrthankara giving (Tīrthaṅkara Nāma) karma,

g. Proper placement of body–organs giving (Nirmāṇa Nāma) karma, and

h. Painful organs such as split tongue or six fingers etc giving (Upaghāt Nāma) karma.

C. Ten types of mobile physiques giving karma (Trasa Daśaka) –

a. Mobile physique giving (Tras Nāma) karma,

b. Gross physique giving (Bādara Nāma) karma,

c. Developed physique giving (Paryāpta Nāma) karma,

d. Individual physique giving (Pratyeka Nāma) karma,

e. Stable physique giving (Sthira Nāma) karma,

f. Auspicious physique giving (Śubha Nāma) karma,

g. Beauty and fortune giving (Subhaga Nāma) karma,

h. Pleasant voiced physique giving (Susvara Nāma) karma,

i. Obedience yielding (Ādeya Nāma) karma, and

j. Name and fame giving (Yaśaḥ–kīrti Nāma) karma,

D. Ten types of immobile physiques giving karma (Sthāvara daśaka) –

a. Immobile physique giving (Sthāvara Nāma) karma,

b. Fine physique giving (Sūkṣma Nāma) karma,

c. Underdeveloped physique giving (Aparyāpt Nāma) karma,

d. Common physique giving (Sādhāraṇa Nāma) karma,

e. Unstable physique giving (Asthir Nāma) karma,

f. Inauspicious physique giving (Aśubha Nāma) karma,

g. Ugliness and misfortune giving (Durbhaga Nāma) karma,

h. Unpleasant voiced physique giving (Duḥsvara Nāma) karma,

i. Disobedience yielding giving (Anādeya Nāma) karma,

j. Name and fame depriving (Ayaṣaḥ–kīrti Nāma) karma,

7. Two types of status giving karma are –

a. High status giving (Ucca–Gotra) karma, and

b. Low status giving (Nīca–Gotra) karma,

8. Five types of Obstructive karma are –

a. Charity obstructing (Dānāntarāya) karma,

b. Gain obstructing (Lābhāntarāya) karma,

c. Major enjoyments obstructing (Bhogāntarāya) karma,

d. Minor enjoyments obstructing (Upabhogāntarāya) karma, and

e. Endeavour obstructing (Vīryāntarāya) karma,

Quantity Of Bonded Karma–matter (Pradeśa Bandha) –

The amount of karmic matter that the soul gathers and gets bonded with due to the activities of the body, it is embodied in, under the influence of passions or the delusory effects of attachment and aversion is said to be Pradeśa Bandha. Such karma–matter is bonded with the soul in the form of eight types of karma described under the head of Prakṛti Bandha. The comparative shares of each of the eight types is as follows: –

a. The share of the ‘Life–span determining (Āyu) karma’ is the least,

b. That of ‘Genetic classification determining (Nāma) karma’ is slightly greater,

c. The share of ‘Status determining (Gotra) karma’ is equal to that of the Āyu karma.

d. The shares of the ‘Knowledge obscuring (Jñānāvaraṇīya) karma’, ‘Vision obscuring (Darśanāvaraṇīya) karma’ and ‘Obstructive (Antarāya) karma’ are equal to each other but somewhat more than that of ‘Āyu karma’.

e. The share of the ‘Deluding (Mohanīya) karma’ is more still, and

f. That of the ‘Feeling producing (Vedanīya) karma’ is the greatest.

The amounts of karma–matter in these eight categories gets further divided into their sub–categories.

Intensity Of Karmic Bondage (Anubhāga Bandha) –

According to the ‘Jaina Karma Theory’ the intensity of karmic bondage depends upon the intensity of passions while performing the activities that bond it. The soul under the influence of more intense passions will incur more intense karmic bondage and the one with less intense ones will bond the karmic bondage of lesser intensity. In other words the greater the intensity of inauspicious psychic dispositions, the greater will be the intensity of the painful retribution yielding karmic bondage or sin. On the other hand the soul under the influence of highly intense pious volitional disposition will bond very intense pleasurable fruition yielding karmic bondage or piety. The intensity of pious karma is inversely proportional to that of the sinful ones and vice versa.

Duration Of Karmic Bondage (Sthiti Bandha)

The time–period for which any bonded karma remains associated with the soul before its separation therefrom is called ‘Duration Of Bondage’ or ‘Sthiti Bandha’. This period of association is described in terms of minimum and maximum possible in respect of each type of karmic bondage. In Jaina terminology the minimum possible period of association for a particular type of karma is termed as its ‘Jaghanya Sthiti’ and the maximum possible one as ‘Utkṛṣṭa Sthiti’. The maximum and minimum possible periods of association in respect of each type of karma are as follows: –

Ser Type Of KarmaMaximum Minimum

No. DurationDuration

1 Jñānāvaraṇīya 30 Koṭākoṭi Sāgaropama Antarmuhurta

2 Darśanāvaraṇīya 30 Koṭākoṭi Sāgaropama Antarmuhurta

3 Vedanīya 30 Koṭākoṭi Sāgaropama 12 Muhurta

4 Mohanīya 70 Koṭākoṭi Sāgaropama Antarmuhurta

5 Āyu 33 Koṭākoṭi Sāgaropama Antarmuhurta

6 Nāma 20 Koṭākoṭi Sāgaropama 8 Muhurta

7 Gotra 20 Koṭākoṭi Sāgaropama 8 Muhurta

8Antarāya 30 Koṭākoṭi Sāgaropama Antarmuhurta

Notes :

1. A period of 48 minutes is known as a ‘Muhurta’ less than that is an ‘Antarmuhurta’.

2. Sāgaropama (Ocean measure) is an immeasurably long period of time that is 1015 times the pit measure (Palyopama) estimated as the time taken to empty a large pit nearly eight miles cube and filled with smallest possible pieces of fine hair from which one piece is taken out after a lapse of 100 years.

3. Koṭākoṭi equals 1014.

Various Stages Of Karma –

The description of various stages – such as bonding, fruition, transformation, existence, destruction etc – of karma–matter associated with the soul is available in the Jaina Karma Theory. Various stages of karma are – 1. Bonding (bandhan), 2. Existence (Sattā), 3. Fruition (Udaya), 4. Premature fruition (Udīraṇā), 5. Augmentation (Udvartanā), 6. Reduction (Apavartanā), 7. Transformation (Saṅkramaṇa), 8. Suppression (Upaśaman), 9. Unchangeability except augmentation and reduction (Nidhatti), 10. Absolute unchangeability (Nikācan), 11. Gestation (Abādhākāla), and 12. Separation (Nirjarā).

A brief account of these stages is as under: –

1. Bonding – The process of association of karma–matter with the soul and their becoming intermingled like the water mixes with milk is said to be the process of bonding or ‘Bandhan’. It is of four types, namely – Nature, Quantity, Intensity and Duration of bondage.

2. Existence – The karma–matter so bonded with the soul remains associated with it up to the time that it (karma) separates from it (the soul) after yielding due fruition. This period of association is called ‘Sattā‘. It must be understood that the karma–matter remains associated with the soul even during its gestation when it is not yielding fruition.

3. Fruition – This is the stage when the bonded karma actually yields the due fruition in the form of pleasurable or painful retribution. This stage is called ‘Udaya’ and is followed by separation of the relevant karma–matter after yielding due retribution.

4. Premature Fruition – Bringing some types of karma–matter to yield fruition before their time with due effort, like penance etc, is called premature fruition or Udīraṇā’. It can be explained by the example of ripening of fruits – In the normal course a particular fruit may take a specified period of time for ripening. However, by suitable physical or chemical methods, such as warming or sprinkling Calcium Carbide (CaC2) powder, it can be made to ripen much earlier. Likewise the karma–matter of some kinds can be made to yield fruition before the lapse of their normal course of time. It must be noted that only those types of karma can be made to come forward for early fruition whose similar karma are yielding fruition at the time.

5. Augmentation – Increase in the intensity and duration of the bonded karma due to specific action or volitional disposition is called its augmentation or Udvartanā. It is also known as Utkarṣaṇa.

6. Reduction – Decrease in the intensity and duration of the bonded karma due to specific action or volitional disposition is called reduction or Apavartanā. It is also known as Apakarṣaṇā.

(From the principles of Udvartanā and Apavartanā it follows that the intensity or otherwise of some types of karma can be varied with due effort and under suitable states of volitional dispositions.)

7. Transformation – Changing the nature, duration, etc of one sub–type of karma–matter into another sub–type of the same basic type is known as transformation or Saṅkramaṇa.

(It must be noted that transformation is possible only amongst the sub–types of any basic type and not across the basic types. Only the karma–matters of similar nature are susceptible to transformation, those of different basic types are not so susceptible. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, too. No transformation is possible amongst the four sub–types of the Āyu karma as well as amongst the two sub–types of the deluding (Mohanīya) karma – Darśan Mohanīya and Cāritra Mohanīya.)

8. Suppression – The state of bonded karma–matter in which fruition, premature fruition, augmentation, reduction and unchanged retribution are not possible is said to be the state of suppression or subsidence or Upaśaman.

9. Exceptional Immutability (Nidhatti) – The state of the bonded karma–matter in which no changes like premature fruition, transformation, etc are possible is said to be that of Nidhatti. However, there are some exceptions. The changes in intensity and duration of the bonded karma–matter by way of augmentations and reductions are possible in this state.

10. Absolue Immutability – The state of karmic bondage in which no change what–so–ever is possible and its fruition compulsorily takes place in the same form as destined, is known as Nikācana or absolute immutability. This can also be referred to as destiny or Niyati.

11. Gestation Or Period of Inactivity – The time that elapses between the bonding of a particular karma and its coming to fruition is known as hibernation or Abādhākāla. It is part of existence of karma, which is defined as the period between bonding and separation. This is the period in which the karma remains associated with the soul in the same form as it was bonded. It must be appreciated that it starts changing its form in terms of quantity, intensity and duration on coming to fruition.

12. Separation – the state of karma–matter, bonded with the soul, when it gets separated from it after yielding due retribution is said to be the stage of separation or Nirjarā.

The Means of Achieving Karmic Separation –

We have understood that the soul that is naturally free, pure and flawless is flawed and bound to stay in the miserable mundane existence due to its association with the karma–matter. It is now time to dwell upon the means to achieve separation of the soul from bonded karma–matter so that it can reveal its true, pure and flawless form and liberate from the clutches of the worldly existence to dwell in the abode of the liberated perfect souls – the Siddhas.

Jainism prescribes three means to achieve such separation. They are – 1. Right–Vision 2. Right–Knowledge and 3. Right Conduct. Some thinkers mention only two – knowledge and action. They take it that right–vision is an integral part of right–knowledge because we have concluded earlier that right–knowledge is not possible in the absence of right–vision.Again, some others mention four means – right–vision, right–knowledge, right–conduct and right–penance. The advocates of this viewconsider penance as a separate means while those of the three–way path consider it included within the right–conduct.

Here, a question can be raised that when the Vedic philosophy considers the four–way path comprising action, knowledge, Yoga, and devotion as the liberating path, how is it that the Jaina philosophy advocates only a two or three way path for such an accomplishment? With a little thought it is not difficult to understand that the two out of four ingredients of Vedic path of liberation, namely action and yoga are included in the right–action of the Jaina path. Right–conduct of the Jaina pursuit includes – thought control, sensory organ control, purity of disposition, equanimity and the means to achieve them. The Vedic ingredient ‘action’ includes mind and body control and purity of disposition and equanimity are included in the ‘Yoga’ part. They are thus the same. The devotion part of the Vedic philosophy is equivalent to the right–vision of the Jaina philosophy. Both are based on belief. Knowledge ingredient is common to both these pursuits.

Like this, we can see that while the numbers and names of the means followed in the Jaina way and those prescribed by the philosophies of the Vedic stream, the three–way path prescribed by the Jaina seers is the aggregate of the liberating practices laid down by the other philosophies as well.

Karma : A Scientific Analysis –

Karma is a much talked–about word that has universal circulation. It has its application in all walks of life in all parts of the world. Not only Indian religious philosophies but also the western ones have given importance to karma by referring to it as good deeds and bad deeds. However, most philosophies do not go beyond action as its meaning. It is the Jaina philosophy that has given it a much wider meaning. In Jaina parlance the word ‘karma’ has two connotations – 1. The action and 2. The karma–matter.

Now, I present a scientific analysis of the nature of karma and the way it gets associated with the soul and affects its destiny. According to Jaina thought, karma–matter or ‘Karma pudgala–vargaṇā‘ is the finest variety of matter that has the capacity of invading the soul–space and associating with the soul. When we compare it with the existing scientific knowledge about matter and its wave and energy transformations, we can see that karma–matter may be in the form of some kind of electromagnetic waves that vibrate at different frequencies.

The fact that our thoughts and actions are affected by surrounding electromagnetic field is a foregone conclusion. People living in the vicinity of high tension (HT) electric transmission lines are known to suffer some neurological and psychosomatic disorders. It is because the strong electromagnetic field in their vicinity adversely affects their normal functioning and throws them out of tune. Similarly, the electromagnetic field created by the vibrations of karma–matter casts its influence on our neurological system and endocrine glands that are regulated by body–electricity and force us to behave in a particular manner.

The karmic (electromagnetic) waves are grouped in eight wave–bands, termed as aṣṭa–karma, just like normal electromagnetic waves are classified as Low–frequency band, High–fequency (HF) band, Very High Frequency (VHF) band, Ultra High–frequency (UHF) band, microwave band, etc. Each of these types gets attracted towards the soul when it performs any physical mental or vocal activity that itself causes it to vibrate at specific frequencies. Just like a radio receiver can select specific frequency–band when it is tuned to that frequency, the soul vibrating at a particular frequency also receives karmic waves of matching frequency and that is how some actions attract and bind knowledge obscuring karma–matter while some others bind other types.

Then comes the question of destiny and karmic retribution. Like a pre–set television–set, set to receive different channels atdifferent times, the karmic associations also have a built in clock that decides the dormancy (Abādhā–kāla) and the time of fruition (Udaya) of a particular type of karmic bondage.When the time of fruition of a particular type of karma comes, the karma–body (Kārmaṇa Śarīra) and the soul associated with it are forced to vibrate at a specific frequency. This vibration manifests itself in the form of tendencies (Bhāva) that forces the soul (in its corporeal state through its body, mind and speech) to act in a particular manner and generates a resonance in the environment which attracts only those types of people and objects that resonate with it, the others remain unaffected. This explains as to why out of a plethora of people and objects we rhyme and click with only a few. Such association with specific people and objects result in our pleasurable or painful experiences in accordance with our karmic adjunct. This is our karmic retribution and this is our destiny. This scientific model has been graphically illustrated in the flow–chart on the facing page.

The Spiritual Benefits Of The Doctrine Of Karma –

Spiritual benefits of a soul are directly linked with its capacity of looking at things in the right perspective, its victory over passions, overcoming attachment and aversion and development of a truly detached disposition. Attachment (rāga) and aversion (dveṣa) are the two generals of the army of delusion (moha) that constantly attack the worldly living beings. Succumbing to delusion and attendant attachment and aversion gives rise to passions like anger, pride, deceit and greed, which are, in turn, responsible for all worldly misery and karmic bondage. A proper understanding and appreciation of ‘Karma Theory’ helps us in understanding the mechanism of attachment and aversion and can become the means of breaking the bondage of delusion – ‘Mohanīya Karma’ with its attendant attachment, aversion and passions – and pave the way for not only a harmonious mundane life but also for the ultimate goal of liberation through consequentvictory over the delusion that causes attachment and aversion.

A little deliberation on how a lack of proper perspective results in attachment and aversion and how a proper understanding of the basic principles of karma–theory helps us in overcoming them will not be out of place. Lack of perspective distorts our thought–process and makes us think that the person detrimental to our worldly interests is responsible for our misery


Different thoughts, vocal and physical activities

Vibrations of different frequencies in the soul–field

Get bonded with the soul

Karma waves of matching frequencies

Karmic body or Kārmaṇa Śarīra

A pre–programmed karma–clock that goes off from time to time to give rise to relevant vibrations in the karma–matter associ–ated with the soul

Pleasant and unpleasant asso–ciations with animate beings and inanimate objects

Our neurons and endocrine glands and, thereby, our behaviour.

Which is,


Karmic retribution or DESTINY

bonded karma lie dormant before it comes to the fruition stage?” Can the predestined time of fruition be altered?” “If yes, how?” “What are the types of volitional dispositions and endeavours of the body, mind and speech are essential for such alteration?” “When can a particular type of karma be changed into another type?” “What are the limitations of such a change?” “How can the intensity and period of association of bonded karma be increased or decreased?” “How can the fruition of most potent karma be stopped by stronger spiritual force?” “Why the retribution of certain types of karma cannot be tampered with even through the most rigorous endeavour?” “How the soul and not the body is the doer and the enjoyer of karma and its fruits?” “How the spiritual force is able to dislodge the most strongly entrenched karma–matter from the soul–space and achieve separation?” Etc.

We can conclude this chapter by saying that the ‘Theory of Karma’ is not unique to the Jaina philosophy but its treatment by the Jaina masters, in unsurpassed details, certainly is.Svastika

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