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
  History of Jain Sects and Scriptures

ASHTAKARMA - Eight types of Karma


- By Manubhai Doshi

We have seen that the essence of religion is to know soul, the true Self, the consciousness. By true Self we mean the Self that stays, that lasts, that formless consciousness which existed prior to the present life and which is going to exist even after t he end of this life, that which is eternal. We have to get aware of our own Self in its true state as well as in its present state. In true state it is pure, enlightened, omnipercipient, omniscient. full of vigor and infinite bliss. These inherent attribu tes of soul are however not experienced in the present state because it is smeared with Karma particles that do not allow full manifestation of those attributes. Its being binded with Karma particles is known as Karmabandha. We would therefore examine Kar mas in respect of their types or Prakrities, duration or Sthiti, intensity or Anubhava (also written as Anubhaga) and areas or Pradesh of soul they get attached.

A: Prakrities or types of Karmas

Karmas are of innumerable types. Lord Umaswati in Tattwarthasutra mentions 97 types in all. Some others specify 148 types. All of them can however be broadly classified into 8 categories as detailed below. Of these the first four are called Ghatiya or of defiling types in the sense that they tend to defile the real nature of soul; they do not allow its true properties to be manifested. The remaining four are called Aghatiya or of undefiling types. Though the soul has to bear their consequences, the operat ion of these Karmas does not come in the way of manifestation of its true properties.

1)      Jnanavaraniya or Knowledge Obscuring Karma

Soul has infinite capacity of knowing anything and everything. We however do not realize this capacity because the knowing property of the soul is obscured by the operation of this Karma. It does not actually reduce its inherent capacity of knowing, but i ts operation remains restricted as the impact of sunlight gets limited when the sky is clouded. Similarly, the operation of this Karma hampers the manifestation of soul�s knowability. This type of Karma is acquired mainly by disregard of preceptors and of the sources of knowledge. Matijnan, Shrutjnan, Avadhijnan, Manahparyayjnan and Kewaljnan are the five divisions of Jnana. Therefore this obscuring Karma is also subdivided into those respective five subdivisions.

2)      Darshanavaraniya or Perception Obscuring Karma

Perceiving property of soul gets obscured by the operation of this Karma. This also does not reduce soul�s inherent capacity of perceiving, but restricts its manifestation. This Karma is acquired on account of absence of conviction and loss of faith in the tenets of truth. Chakshudarshan, Achakshudarshan, Avadhidarshan and Kewaldarshan are the four divisions of Darshan. Therefore, this obscuring Karma too is subdivided into those respective four subdivisions.

3)      Mohaniya or Deluding Karma

The operation of this Karma deludes the soul by causing wrong perception. On account of this Karma soul fails to perceive the realities and tends to identify itself with the ephemeral body, its worldly connections, acquisitions etc. Thereby the soul happe ns to perceive the comforts or discomforts of the body and its environments as its own happiness or misery. One feels pleased when such situations are comfortable and strives to maintain them as such. If the situations are not comfortable, he strives hard to change them to his liking and indulges in different types of defilements, when something does not happen to his liking. This arises from our basic ignorance on account of which our Self is smeared with defilements and we indulge in craving and aversio n.

This Karma is divided into two parts viz. Darshan Mohaniya and Charitra Mohaniya. The former arises on account of ignorance and the latter from indulgence in defilements. There are 28 subdivisions of this Karma.

4)      Antaraya or obstructing Karma

By the operation of this Karma we experience obstacles or obstructions in our effort of Self realization or in our intention to do something good. For instance, there may be a lecture of some enlightened person and we might be intending to attend it. But all of a sudden we may be overcome by some bodily pain, or some of our family members gets sick, or the car gets stuck or any such eventuality may arise preventing us from going to the lecture. It would be possible to conceive of such obstructions arising when we get ready for undertaking some good or desirable activity like charity, extending help to others, enjoying any situation etc. Danantaraya, Labhantaraya, Bhogantaraya, Upabhogantaraya and Viryantaraya are therefore five subdivisions of this Karma.

These are the four Ghatiya Karmas that handicap the full manifestation of the properties of consciousness. Usual pattern among Jain scholars is to describe the category of Antaraya Karma at the end after dealing with Aghatiya Karmas. For convenience sake we have however described it together with other Ghatiya Karmas. Now we turn to Aghatiya Karmas.

5)      Vedaniya or situation conferring Karma

By operation of this Karma a living being is endowed with comfortable or uncomfortable situations. Previous good deeds result in this Karma being Shatavedaniya or one that can be undergone with the feelings of happiness and pleasure; evil actions result i n this Karma being Ashatavedaniya or one that can be experienced with the feelings of unhappiness and miseries. Every one tries to be happy. One however hardly gets results in proportion to his efforts. Only so called lucky ones succeed and get happiness. That apparently inexplicable phenomenon is witnessed on account of the operation of this Karma.