Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions
  THE NATURE OF KARMA (Karma ka swroop)
  Vairagya Bhavana




     The ceaseless activity of the samsari soul, while responsible for its ever-renewing bondage, is also the cause of its constantly changing circumstances. As new particles of matter flow into the Karma sarira, they ceaselessly modify its constitution, ejecting and displacing those already there.


     In this respect the Karma sarira resembles the surface of a pond fed by a channel in which the processes of inflow and evaporation of water are constantly going on. This mechanical process of 'evaporation' of karmas is called savipaka nirjara, which means the removal of matter from the Karma sarira in the ordinary course of things. The other kind, called avipaka, is the process of the removal of matter, and the consequent destruction of karmic energies, by individual exertion; and it is this second kind of nirjara which is the direct cause of Moksha.


     The avipaka nirjara consists in the performance of Tapa, which literally means heating. As pure gold can be easily separated from alloy by putting the impure compound on fire, so can a Jiva free himself from the various kinds of karmas by Tapa (asceticism). It should be born in mind that dependence on any outside agency for the removal of one's karmic bonds not only means so much time wasted, but is also fraught with the most harmful consequences. Our investigation into the nature of the bonds which hold us tight in their grip has revealed the fact that they arise only from our own desires, beliefs, passions and the like, and cannot be destroyed, by any possibility, so long as we do not obtain full control on our own actions. The training of the individual will, then, is the only way to salvation, and it is no exaggeration to say that no one who does not seriously take himself in hand has the least shadow of a chance of acquiring the freedom of Gods.


     Tapa is of two kinds, bahya, and antaranga, the one signifying the controlling of body, and the other of mind. The former of these consists in the process of self- restraint, and is of the following six kinds:

     (i) Anashana, or fasting, the frequent observance of which is well-calculated to purify the sense organs, on the one hand, and to lessen the sense of attachment to the objects of bodily enjoyment on the other.

     (ii) Avamodarya, or the avoidance of full meals. The habitual practicing of this form of self-restraint would go a long way towards eradicating laziness from the system and would impart fresh energy to the mind.

     (iii) Vrita parisankhyana, putting restrictions on begging for food, for instance, taking the vow that nothing would be eaten on a certain day unless it be given by a raja, or in golden vessels, and so forth.

     (iv) Rasa parityaga, or abstaining from one or more of the six kinds of tasty articles of food, clarified butter, milk, Dahi (a kind of sour milk), sugar, salt and oil.

     (v) Bibikta shayyasana or living in unfrequented places, away from the haunts of men; staying in unoccupied houses, and the like.

     (vi) Kayaklesa, the practicing of bodily austerities such as remaining in the sun in summer, standing under a tree in rain, living on the bank of a river in winter, and the like. The object of kayaklesha is to get over the longing for bodily comfort, and to prepare the system to bear the inclemency's of seasons without disquietude of mind.


     The practicing of these six forms of physical austerities is necessary for perfection in the antaranga Tapa, which is also of six kinds, viz.,


(1) Prayashchita, the doing of penance for faults committed through Pramad (laziness).


(2) Vinaya which is of four kinds, viz.,

(a) Darshan Vinaya, the establishing of mind in right belief, or faith, and showing respect to those who have such belief;

(b)Jnana Vinaya, observing due respect for those who are endowed with true wisdom, and the acquisition of Jnana;

(c) Charitra Vinaya, the observance of the rules of conduct becoming a layman and a Sadhu (anascetic), and the reverence of those who follow these rules; and

(d) Upachara- Vinaya, behaving with great respect towards the Scripture of truth, saints and holy personages.


(3) Vaiyavritya, serving and attending upon holy saints, and offering them food, books, and the like.


(4) Svadhyaya, or the acquisition and spreading of truth with energy. This is of five kinds, viz., (i) reading Scripture, (ii) questioning those more learned than oneself, (iii) meditation, (iv) testing the accuracy of one's own conclusions with those arrived at by great Acharyas, and (v) the preaching of truth to others.


(5) Vyutsarga, discrimination between the Atma and the body.


(6) Dhyana, or contemplation, i.e., the concentration of mind on some object, and, in the highest sense, on the Atma.


     Of these six kinds of antarange Tapa, the last, called Dhyana, is the chief cause of Moksha, so that the remaining five forms of the internal and all the six of the physical austerities are only intended as preparatory steps for its practicing. It is to be observed that the desiring manes (mind) is an extremely swift rover, passing from object to object with the rapidity of thought, and the hardest thing to control. Unsteady, full of desires, constantly engrossed in sense-gratification, volatile and unaccustomed to restraint, it is the principal cause of disturbance in the purity of Dhyana, and capable of upsetting the determination of all but the most resolute ascetics of indomitable, iron will. The holy Acharyas have, therefore, laid down these scientific rules of austerity to bring this most intrepid enemy of mankind under the control of will, so as to enjoy undisturbed contemplation.


     Apart from this the analysis of the attitude of pure contemplation would show that its attainment is compatible only with quiescence of body and mind both. Hence, they both must be taken in hand for ascetic training, and completely subjugated to the aspirant's will. It must be remembered that ascetics do not drop from the sky, but come from the class of laymen, so that when a layman is impressed with the truth of the continuity of life in the future, he begins to reflect on the circumstances of the soul in which it would find itself after the somatic death in this world. Meditation on the nature of the soul and other substances convinces him of the fact that the making or marring of his future is a thing which is entirely his own concern, and that as a sensible man he ought to live the life which is conducive to his spiritual good rather than the life of an animal engrossed in the enjoyment of senses.


     Arrived at this conclusion, his mind longs to ascertain what others have said on the subject and to find out if his own conclusions are true. He then takes to the study of Scripture, which is the final authority on the subject. His faith in the Word of Truth increases with his insight into the nature of Tattvas, and he no longer ridicules the descriptions of things and events in the holy Sastras. His conduct also becomes characterized by purity of thought, speech and actions, and finally, when the longing for liberation from the bondage of samsara begins to actuate him intensely from within, he throws off the shackles of worldly attachment, and takes to Tapa. Thus, no one can become an ascetic without having first undergone the preparatory training enjoined on the laity, though owing to the fruition of Shubha (auspicious) karmas of a past life, or lives, the course of training may be considerably shortened in particular cases.


     Thus, the spiritual training of the soul consists of two sets of rules, one of which apply to the laity and the other to those who have reached the state of Vairagya (renunciation of the world). The dynamic power which enables a man to persevere in the observance of these rules lies in the craving of the soul for liberation, and the craving itself is rooted in the knowledge that the life is samsara is full of pain and misery, and that the Atma, the true source of immortality and bliss, is to be freed from the bondage of sin before it can manifest its natural attributes in perfection. It must be conceded that so long as the soul depends on any outside agency for the attainment of the highest state of existence known as the status of the Siddha Atma, it only betrays its inner emptiness and negativity which are a sure sign of failure in the spiritual realm.