Jainworld
Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions

Essence of Jainism

Search for Happiness
Know Thyself
SAMYAKTVA, the basis of Jainism
ASHTAKARMA - Eight types of Karma
  Theory of Karma and Cycle of Rebirth
  Questions and Answers about the Theory of Karma
  Shaddravya, The Six Substances
  NAV TATTVA : Punya and Paap
  NAV TATTVA : Asrava and Bandha
  Samvar and Nirjara
  Other factors conducive to Nirjara
  The Liberation
  Ladder of Elevation
  Syadvad
  History of Jain Sects and Scriptures
  Glossary

Samvar and Nirjara


 

- By Manubhai Doshi

Jain philosophy views all aspects of life in 3 categories viz. Jneya meaning those to be known, Heya meaning those to be avoided and Upadeya meaning those to be adopted. Of the six fundamentals that we have dealt with, Jiva and Ajivas are Jneya; Paap, Asr ava and Bandha are Heya; while Punya happens to have dual category. For worldly considerations Punya is meritorious. Therefore it can be considered Upadeya for laymen; but for those who are active aspirants of liberation it is considered Heya, because suc h aspirants have to avoid all sorts of Karmas. Punya results in wholesome Karma and that too binds the soul because it has to bear consequences of that Karma as well. Therefore wholesome Karma also has to be ultimately avoided.

The next two fundamentals that we are going to deal in this chapter are Samvar and Nirjara. Samvar means prevention of the incoming Karmas and Nirjara means the eradication of acquired ones. They are to be resorted to and are therefore considered Upadeya. We have to act with a view to achieve Samvar and Nirjara. They are therefore concerned with conduct or Charitra as we call it. They are meant to guide us in deciding the right conduct. After all, the purpose of studying religion is to learn the appropria te mode of behavior so as to attain salvation in the end. Samvar and Nirjara indicate us how we should act so as to get rid of Karmas and gain liberation. If bondage of Karma is taken as the disease that afflicts soul and Asrava, the door through which th e disease arrives, Samvar is the prevention of the disease and Nirjara is the cure. Since prevention is better than cure, let us first examine how to prevent the influx of Karmas.

It has been stated earlier that the worldly soul gains different types of situations according to its operative Karmas. One has to accept the given situation with a sense of equanimity. If he views it dispassionately without any way reacting to it, operat ive Karmas terminate in due course and he does not beget new Karma. Worldly soul is however conditioned to react to any given situation favorably or unfavorably. If the situation is to his liking, he feels happy over it and craves for its continuation. He usually tends to think that the happy situation has arisen as a result of his ability and takes pride for gaining it. He may also be led to think that people who are unhappy, have to blame themselves for their miseries; because in his opinion they might not be using their energy appropriately for improving their condition. As such, he could be overpowered by self esteem and it would be hard for him to cultivate the sense of compassion for the miseries and unhappiness of others. His arrogance may also mak e him prone to develop a sense of disgust and contempt for the miserables.

If the situation is not to one�s liking, the soul feels unhappy over it and strives to get rid of it. There is nothing wrong in striving to improve a given situation. Unfortunately however, worldly soul does not mind even resorting to foul means for this purpose. He usually tends to think that some extraneous factors or some people have contrived to create the unhappy conditions or they are otherwise instrumental in bringing unhappiness and misery to him. As such, he harbors ill feeling for them and culti vates the sense of jealousy or enmity towards those whom he suspects of perpetrating his misery or unhappiness. Thus, worldly soul is conditioned to interact to any given situation with sense of craving or aversion.

It was mentioned in the last chapter that wrong perception, absence of restraint, indolence and passions are the main causes of the influx of Karmas. Craving and aversion lead worldly soul to indulge in such defilements from time to time. Of all these, fo ur Kashayas of Krodh, Maan, Maya and Lobha are the principal defiling factors. If soul avoids them, it can stay equanimous in all conceivable situations. It can thereby prevent the incoming of new Karmas while facing the consequences of the current operat ive Karmas. This is similar to closing all openings of our house, when dirt and trash happen to be flung inside on account of a whirlwind. Staying equanimous may not seem as easy as closing the doors. It should not however be so hard, because staying so d oes not preclude efforts to change the given situation. Making effort is also Karma and if that Karma happens to give instant fruits, the situation may change. One should however avoid the sense of ego and arrogance in favorable circumstances and stop bla ming any thing or any one else for unfavorable circumstances. In short, one should have the right perception so as to avoid indulging in Kashayas in all circumstances. Staying free of Kashayas is Samvar and it helps in preventing the inflow of new Karmas .

Eradication of previously acquired Karma is Nirjara. This is similar to cleaning the inside of the house after closing the openings for preventing incoming dust, trash etc. The previously acquired Karmas that become operative, get extinguished as the cons equences are borne. This dripping of Karmas on their own at the end of their duration is called Akaam Nirjara. This type of Nirjara is automatic. Accumulated Karmas which are not operative however continue to stay with soul in dormant state. Efforts can b e made to eradicate them before they get operative. This process of eradication by deliberate effort is Sakaam Nirjara.

In Jain traditions, considerable emphasis has been laid for this purpose on Tapa. In Tattvarthasutra, Lord Umaswati states in this connection: �Tapasa Nirjara Cha� It means that Nirjara can be achieved by Tapa or austerities. Jains are accordingly encoura ged to observe Tapa. However, Tapa is usually taken as and is equated with fasting. Jains therefore undertake even long fasting with a view to achieve Nirjara. It is generally overlooked that our scriptures have laid down 12 types of Tapa and fasting is o nly one of them. Three stanzas from the Panchachar Sutra which are very pertinent in this respect, state as under:

Internal and external Tapa laid down by the Seers is of 12 types. When it is observed while staying unperturbed and without any other consideration, it is known as Tapachar or code of austerity.

Fasting, eating less than needed, contracting desires, relinquishing tastes, bearing physical pain and braving discomfort constitute the six types of external Tapa.

Repentance, courtesy, rendering service, self-study, meditation and concentration constitute the six types of internal Tapa.

When we talk of Tapa as a means for Nirjara, we evidently mean internal Tapa. External Tapa has importance so long as it is helpful and is conducive to internal one. In practice, however, we hardly think of internal Tapa and usually feel contented with ob serving fasts or Anashan, the first of the six external austerities. Ashan means eating and Anashan means non-eating or fasting. Thus eating and non-eating are rather physical phenomena. As long as the body survives, it is going to need food. The body can of course survive for some time without food. One however tends to get conditioned to eat at regular intervals. In order to inhibit this conditioning, it is useful to fast from time to time. Thus fasting has its own importance. Fasting by itself however , does not lead us any way closer to eradication of Karmas. For Nirjara, we have to resort to internal Tapa.

The term �Upavas� that we generally use for fasting is not synonym with Anashan. �Upa� means closer and �Vas� means abode. Thus Upavas really means abiding in proximity with or in tune with soul. If a person sincerely tries to stay in accordance with the real nature of soul, he can not indulge in any sense of craving or aversion. As such, he would stay away from all defilements and achieve a very high degree of Nirjara. Thus Upavas in the true sense of the term amounts to right activity and is as such pan acea for eradicating Karmas. We however hardly observe that kind of Upavas. It is, in a way, paradoxical to think that Upavas can be observed simply by abstaining from food.

Let us examine the entire aspect of Karma, Tapa and Nirjara scientifically. Now we know that every action generates Karma. When a person undertakes to do some thing wrong for the first time, he experiences inhibition from within, which indicates resistanc e from his conscience. If however he ignores the inhibition and indulges in the wrong act, that act leaves a mark of defilement on his conscience. His inhibition is reduced the next time he does the same thing. His conscience thus goes on losing its force and gets totally obscured, if he continues to repeat that type of activity. That way, he gets habituated to indulge in that activity. His initial wrong action is, thus, commencement of forming a wrong habit. Such habits leave indelible mark on his consc ience that steadily stops resisting. So he can indulge in that activity without any inhibition. Such uninhibited habits assume the form of strong tendencies and traits that stay with the conscience and are not left behind even at the time of soul migratin g to other embodiment. In spiritual terminology such traits are called Karmas.

Such traits set the behavioral pattern in the new life. As long as conscience remains obscured, one tends to behave impulsively according to that set pattern. In spiritual terms, we call this Ajnan which is the ignorance of soul about itself. As such, he fails to perceive rightly and instinctively stays tuned to the pursuit of sensuous pleasure and physical comforts. In order to come out of this, one needs to break this set pattern. For this purpose one has to strive very hard. First of all, one has to be come aware of his Self and of the traits that are unbecoming to himself. Then he tries to loosen the grip of such traits by repentance etc. This is beginning of internal Tapa. In order to get rid of the traits he has to remain more and more vigilant of th e defilements that try to overcome him from time to time. Eventually he reaches the stage of constant vigilance which he gains as a result of meditation and concentration, the ultimate two categories of internal Tapa.

While undertaking to remove the wrong traits, one has to sacrifice his sensuous pleasures and material comforts. In his endeavor he may face different types of hardships. Environments may not be conducive; he may get no food or insufficient food and whate ver he gets may not be to his taste; he may get exposed to different types of pain and physical discomforts. He must be willing to bear all these and any other type of hardship as well. In fact willingness to bear hardships is the prerequisite for refini ng himself and that constitutes his external Tapa. More patiently one faces the hardships patiently, the more intense would be his Tapa. In this way, with the help of external and internal Tapa, the aspirant ultimately succeeds in getting rid of all defi ling traits. This process of removing defiling traits is Nirjara. Therefore it is said that Nirjara can be achieved by Tapa.